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MacBook Air Buying Advice

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
So the new MacBook Airs are getting a lot of attention, and interesting discussions are taking place around the net. It's difficult sometimes to read through all of the posts to find practical buying information. This thread is for actual buying advice.

How much RAM? There are options for 2 GB or built to order 4 GB of RAM. Which configuration would best suit which users? Which applications would benefit from the 4 GB configuration? As a current owner of a 2 GB MBA, I don't believe that I have had problems with insufficient RAM, but would, like many potential customers, like to know if the 4 GB configuration would be better, especially moving into the future.

Lack of a backlit keyboard. What difference does it actually make in practice?
As a current owner of a old MacBook air, I find that when I need the backlit keyboard on at the ambient light is dark enough so that actually the light coming from the screen is uncomfortable on my eyes. So, I seldom actually need the backlit keyboard, but tend to use it because it's there. Are the keys on the new keyboard easily visible in low light conditions?

Lastly, though I assume that many people will actually choose based on physical size, what is the practical real-life difference in the CPU rating of the two machines, 1.4 versus 1.86?

 

Your = the possessive of you, as in, "Your name is Tom, right?" or "What is your name?"

 

You're = a contraction of YOU + ARE as in, "You are right" --> "You're right."

 

 

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Your = the possessive of you, as in, "Your name is Tom, right?" or "What is your name?"

 

You're = a contraction of YOU + ARE as in, "You are right" --> "You're right."

 

 

Reply
post #2 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bergermeister View Post

So the new MacBook Airs are getting a lot of attention, and interesting discussions are taking place around the net. It's difficult sometimes to read through all of the posts to find practical buying information. This thread is for actual buying advice.

How much RAM? There are options for 2 GB or built to order 4 GB of RAM. Which configuration would best suit which users? Which applications would benefit from the 4 GB configuration? As a current owner of a 2 GB MBA, I don't believe that I have had problems with insufficient RAM, but would, like many potential customers, like to know if the 4 GB configuration would be better, especially moving into the future.

Since it's not user upgradeable I can't imagine getting one of these without springing for the extra. Apple's pricing isn't even terribly rapacious, by their standards.

Even if you're not experiencing any performance hits currently, newer apps and OS iterations tend to want more ram over time, so if you're planning on keeping the machine for a while it just makes sense.

Quote:
Lack of a backlit keyboard. What difference does it actually make in practice?
As a current owner of a old MacBook air, I find that when I need the backlit keyboard on at the ambient light is dark enough so that actually the light coming from the screen is uncomfortable on my eyes. So, I seldom actually need the backlit keyboard, but tend to use it because it's there. Are the keys on the new keyboard easily visible in low light conditions?

It will look exactly like your current machine with the keyboard backlight turned off, so you might check that out.
They spoke of the sayings and doings of their commander, the grand duke, and told stories of his kindness and irascibility.
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They spoke of the sayings and doings of their commander, the grand duke, and told stories of his kindness and irascibility.
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post #3 of 9
Oh yeah, and on the ram thing, I should also note that SDDs have a finite read/write cycles, and limiting ram increases paging-- which over time will actually have an effect on the lifespan of the drive.
They spoke of the sayings and doings of their commander, the grand duke, and told stories of his kindness and irascibility.
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They spoke of the sayings and doings of their commander, the grand duke, and told stories of his kindness and irascibility.
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post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 
Cool. Hope your answers help some people make good choices for them.

As for me, I'm going with an 11", 4GB RAM, 64GB storage. Should be here within two weeks, and I will certainly post my impressions.

One more difference between the machines that I want to touch on: the 11" doesn't have the SD card reader the 13" has. My camera connects easily enough with a USB cable (which I always have with my camera anyways) and I almost never fill the primary SD card for it, so this wasn't a decision for me. Having a smaller, lighter form factor blows away the desire for the SD reader. As for external storage, I have enough USB memory sicks to build a log cabin out of, so I won't be moving to SD for a while yet.

 

Your = the possessive of you, as in, "Your name is Tom, right?" or "What is your name?"

 

You're = a contraction of YOU + ARE as in, "You are right" --> "You're right."

 

 

Reply

 

Your = the possessive of you, as in, "Your name is Tom, right?" or "What is your name?"

 

You're = a contraction of YOU + ARE as in, "You are right" --> "You're right."

 

 

Reply
post #5 of 9
On the RAM issue, I'm with Addabox on this. I wouldn't get any Mac without 4 gbs of RAM. On the MBA it seems almost mandatory since RAM can't be upgraded later.

The new MBAs are really appealing but choosing your configuration carefully will be extremely important. AFAICT, nothing can be upgraded later on if your original config is insufficient in some regard.

Also it would seem that AMD Llano would have been really interesting in this machine. Apple seem committed to OCL graphics chips and AMD would seem to have the most flexible options in this regard.
post #6 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by backtomac View Post

On the RAM issue, I'm with Addabox on this. I wouldn't get any Mac without 4 gbs of RAM. On the MBA it seems almost mandatory since RAM can't be upgraded later.

The new MBAs are really appealing but choosing your configuration carefully will be extremely important. AFAICT, nothing can be upgraded later on if your original config is insufficient in some regard.

Also it would seem that AMD Llano would have been really interesting in this machine. Apple seem committed to OCL graphics chips and AMD would seem to have the most flexible options in this regard.

Despite some apparent falling out with Intel around mobile chips, I would imagine that Apple still would like to maintain at least cordial relations. Jumping ships on laptop processors at this point would probably doom any special considerations in the future, such as getting first crack at anything.
They spoke of the sayings and doings of their commander, the grand duke, and told stories of his kindness and irascibility.
Reply
They spoke of the sayings and doings of their commander, the grand duke, and told stories of his kindness and irascibility.
Reply
post #7 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by addabox View Post

Despite some apparent falling out with Intel around mobile chips, I would imagine that Apple still would like to maintain at least cordial relations. Jumping ships on laptop processors at this point would probably doom any special considerations in the future, such as getting first crack at anything.

Eventually a sacred cow must go, OCL gpus or Intel cpus.

The day seems to be coming. One or the other.
post #8 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by addabox View Post

Oh yeah, and on the ram thing, I should also note that SDDs have a finite read/write cycles, and limiting ram increases paging-- which over time will actually have an effect on the lifespan of the drive.

ram ? SDD ? You mean SSD storage ?

Can you (or others) tell more on this ? What can we expect with the MBA ? If the storage SSD fails, the whole MBA will be unusable, especially if we can't replace the storage medium.

What average lifetime can we expect, for a MBA as a main work computer, with its finite read/write SSD ?

Mac mini 2.53 GHz, 4 GB, NVidia's 9400M.
13" MacBook Pro 2.66 GHz, 8 GB, NVidia's 320M.
OS X Snow Leopard 10.6.8

Reply

Mac mini 2.53 GHz, 4 GB, NVidia's 9400M.
13" MacBook Pro 2.66 GHz, 8 GB, NVidia's 320M.
OS X Snow Leopard 10.6.8

Reply
post #9 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kali View Post

Can you (or others) tell more on this ? What can we expect with the MBA ? If the storage SSD fails, the whole MBA will be unusable, especially if we can't replace the storage medium.

What average lifetime can we expect, for a MBA as a main work computer, with its finite read/write SSD ?

No opinions on this ?

Mac mini 2.53 GHz, 4 GB, NVidia's 9400M.
13" MacBook Pro 2.66 GHz, 8 GB, NVidia's 320M.
OS X Snow Leopard 10.6.8

Reply

Mac mini 2.53 GHz, 4 GB, NVidia's 9400M.
13" MacBook Pro 2.66 GHz, 8 GB, NVidia's 320M.
OS X Snow Leopard 10.6.8

Reply
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