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  • z4r0sp4c3 - Saturday, November 06, 2010 - link

    Apparently during the battery tests, the hard drive is allowed to sleep if idle...? So... always? or never? Is it like dividing by zero?
    Or simply a copy-and-paste fail.
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Saturday, November 06, 2010 - link


    That's simply what the setting is called under OS X, it doesn't change based on the type of storage in the system unfortunately :)

    Take care,
  • medi01 - Saturday, November 06, 2010 - link

    May I ask who made photos used in this article? Reply
  • bobcpg - Friday, November 12, 2010 - link

    Good Question, where did the photo's come from? Seem almost too good... Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Tuesday, January 18, 2011 - link

    I made them :)

    Take care,
  • solipsism - Saturday, November 06, 2010 - link

    Anand wrote, “...any way you look at it $1399 is a lot for a lightweight notebook.”

    Frankly, I don’t expect to pay less for an ultra-portabl than a regular notebook. Note that the original MBA started out higher than this upgraded machine, and the competitors that followed with the SFF LV C2Ds were just as expensive, if not more.

    Who else is using the ULV C2Ds from Intel? These new MBAs might be new, but these chips aren’t new.

    The closest competitor seems to be the Sony Vaio X that started at $1300 (and $1500 if you wanted gold colored plastic), but coincidentally dropped their prices by $200 this past Monday, yet still more than the 11” MBA with a processor and IGP that cost 7x(?) as much. How can Sony justify an Atom Z550 CPU + GM500 IGP for that price when the bulk of the cost has been reduced to a $30 CPU and IGP. If you use the extended battery that puts it inline with the 11” MBA in terms of weight and usage, but not in terms of performance.

    Anyway you can compare other ultra-portables?
  • bloodterfly - Saturday, November 06, 2010 - link

    You forgot to include the Dell Adamo- thinner, with a similar price, and specs (larger SSD/no 320m)
    Somehow no longer for sale from for some reason, was a month ago though. Refresh?

    Or the Vostro V13- even cheaper.

    The Vaio X is stupid thin. I think it's the thinnest traditional form factor laptop (i.e. adamo xps doesn't count) That's how they can charge so much for it. People pay for extremes.
  • solipsism - Saturday, November 06, 2010 - link

    In regards to the comparisons, I was looking for 11” ultra-portables with CULVs. I can’t find any, which makes me wonder how Anand can say the price is “a lot” when there is nothing to compare it to. If it’s just a personal thing, then there is a lot of history of ultra-portables that are vastly more expensive for performance making the 11” MBA the cheapest such machine he’s tested, that I can find.

    If you want to talk 13”, I like the styling of the Vostro but it isn’t close to the MBA. It starts with a single core Celeron and moves up to a 1.3GHz C2D. That is 1GHz less than the maxed out 13” MBA. Not to mention the size and weight. It’s an ultra-portable, I guess, but it’s not in the same class as the Adamo, MBA or now defunct Voodoo Envy.

    The first Adamo is a well engineered machine. I love the ports in the back. The 2nd design was very poor. There was no benefit to the user. They went thinner without adding functionality. » It does look like it even the first generation is gone. Hopefully they something else coming.

    Note, that Vaio X is thinner the new MBAs but with an Atom CPU+GM500 IGP and 3 hour battery. Could Sony put the same HW in the MBA in the Vaio X chassis? Is the Vaio X less total volume even though it’s thinner at its thickest point? I think many people underestimate the cost of quality engineering.
  • mino - Saturday, November 06, 2010 - link

    And no light in the tunnel. From Intel anyway. For the sake of performance Sandy will not be much better than Clarkdale in the CULV space.
    Thank god Ontario is coming soon.
  • nitrousoxide - Saturday, November 06, 2010 - link

    Ontario and Zactate are designated to compete with the "drive-you-crazy" Atom, not the CULV SNB. From preview on SNB destop we can expect 10% higher frequency and 10% higher performance vs. frequency with same power consumption, which means that the new CULV Core Series can provide up to 20% performance boost compared to current models. That is more than enough to overwhelm AMD's first-gen-Fusion APU. Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Saturday, November 06, 2010 - link

    As I mentioned in the conclusion, I easily paid more than this for my first Transmeta notebook (Sony's PictureBook C1VN). Back then, you expected to pay a lot for a lightweight notebook. Times have changed.

    To someone who needs the portability, I agree that the price is easy to justify. However if you look at it from the standpoint of what you're getting (performance-wise) for the money, it's an expensive notebook. Or as I mentioned in the original review, more of a luxury item.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm one of those people who believes that paying a premium for portability is justified. I don't need to be happy about it though :) I would like to put pressure on Apple to shift prices downward. I can at least cast one vote in the too expensive column.

    Take care,
  • right_geek - Wednesday, November 24, 2010 - link

    I do hope somebody is still reading this thread.

    I am considering buying such a machine. I currently own 17" MB Pro, 2.66 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 4 GB 1067 Mhz DDR3. However, there are two problems with this machine. First, it is too heavy to carry around casually and since I commute using public transport, it is a bit of a problem. Second, beach balls appear much too often to my liking which tells me the disk is too slow (or am I mistaken?).

    On a typical day, I usually use at the same time:
    - IBM Lotus Notes (which is a real hog) for work-related mail;
    – Mailplane for private mail;
    – IBM Lotus Sametime for work-related communication;
    – Adium for private communication;
    - a Web browser;
    – Forklift;
    – NetNewsWire;
    – Things;
    – CoRD or Remote Desktop Connection to connect to my Windows machine at work for Windows-only programs.

    Two questions then:
    1) Is MB Air adequate to my needs (see above)? Will SSD memory work equally good or better then a faster processor?

    2) I am sure I would like 4 GB of RAM, but is 1.6 GHz processor worth it?

    Thanks in advance. Any help would be much appreciated.
  • mmissire - Friday, January 07, 2011 - link

    I had the same machine at the same time. I had it when I met my wife, and to this day she recalls it as, "That stupid, slow little computer you had."

    It was awful, especially if you ugraded to Windows XP (mine shipped with Windows ME, if I recall correctly.). And I'd had such hopes for Transmeta!
  • acsa - Saturday, November 06, 2010 - link

    What about Acer 1830t or Asus UL30 or similar? OK, you can feel that they are cheap stuff but portability and performance is great due to i5. Reply
  • solipsism - Saturday, November 06, 2010 - link

    The Asus U30Jc is a great machine but it’s not an ultra-portable. It’s not even11.6”. I cannot find any 11.6” ultra-light notebooks* that use CULV C2D or Core-ix CPUs other than the MBAs.

    The closest I can find is an Acer 1830t. It’s 11.6”, uses a Core-i5, but it seems to offer no other real competitive advantage. It can be had for $200-300 less than the 11.6” MBA, but performance-wise it’s not going to be good. On top of that, it’s considerably larger and heavier than the 11” MBA which really means it’s not an ultra-light machine within the 11” footprint.

    This does not mean that Acer isn’t the perfect machine for someone, but when trying to compare ultra-light and thin machines within a size class, along with other features like LCD quality, battery life, overall performance I can find nothing).

    PS: Note that Intel prices that Core-i5 less than C2Ds found in the MBAs.
  • seanleeforever - Monday, November 08, 2010 - link


    so what makes a 11.6 inch a ultra portable not 12 inch? while we at it, how can you justify 11.6 is ultra portable when there is 8 inch PCs on the market that makes 11.6 a monster in comparison?

    i think you just trying to find ways to justify MBA's price. really. the true use of ultra- portable, in addition to look cool, is to be able to work in tight places, like during flights. thickness plays very small role when you think about portability. it is weight and over all size of the package.

    as to you "CULV C2D". there are plenty of them in 12/13 inch ultra portables. like the lenovo x201s/x301, which can be had for the same price as MBA at this configuration, and that is with configurations that no mac book can match to date (built in GPS, wifi, wi-max, 3 usb, vga, display port, PCMCIA , finger print reader, and, a expansion bay that you can use as secondary battery or CD rom), all for a sweet 2.48~2.93 lbs.

    try stuff those parts in a macbook, pro or air, and look at how much additional weight you need to carry.

    and MBA only has 2 usb, and only one is powered, are you serious... and in their infomercial keep stressing the "thinnest part", who the hell cares? i can stick a razor blade to my 17 inch elite workstation and it will be the thinnest computer according to apple standard. besides, i was a owner of x505, and you know what... it is thinner than MBA, and has 2 powered usb and pcmcia slot, a firewire port and it was available 10 years ago.

    despite how great and strong the "unibody enclosure" apply claims to be, why hasn't they pass any mil spec test? or perhaps they simply cannot pass mil spec at all?

    MBA is great for what it is, and it is a shinny little device, but to say it is the best is simply not true. macbook air was not the first to do ultra portable, is not the best in ultra portable, and it is not the most portable in ultra portable. and they basically recycles engineering over and over. how many years has apply use the C2D with 335? over 3 years for god sake and they still haven't moved on. and their only i7 device is suffering horribly from overheat.
  • solipsism - Tuesday, November 09, 2010 - link

    Oh yeah, an 8” display with a full-sized keyboard? Good one¡

    These ultra-light notebooks are easily defined. They are considerably more powerful than any current Atom-absed setup, they have full-sized keyboards and weigh about 3lb or less.

    You can say a netbook with an 8” display is just as good as these machines, but you’d be wrong. You can say that only Apple is making what you consider to be “crap” machines, but you’d be wrong.

    You can say there are plenty of these machines with CULVs but you didn’t list a single machine with these 10W CPUs with full-sized keyboards. Not one!
  • seanleeforever - Tuesday, November 09, 2010 - link

    here goes apple fan's argument. attacking without making points. posting without doing researching, saying without believing, writing with reading, doing without thinking.

    my post was just to show if 11.6 is your "ultra portable" what makes 12 inch not an ultra portable? i further mentioned that 8 inch pc was available long time ago, and you bring the argument back to full size keyboard, which is something you never mentioned before. (what's next? lack of apple logo?)

    get the fact straight. Dell M11x also has full size keyboard. pretty much all of 12 inch laptop have full size keyboard. why do i have to list every single 12 inch notebook out there? but I take the trouble to list them JUST FOR YOU, so you can stop trolling.

    take mba 11.6 for example. the package size is 11.8 *7.56*0.68, this is actually not much smaller than some of the 13.3 inch notebooks when you carry them, take ENVY 13 for example, the size is 12.6 x 8.5*0.8 (MBA 13.3 is 12.8 x 8.94, so it is actually bigger than some of the 13.3 notebook out there because it is thinner).

    you mentioned the following
    "10W CPUs" "full-sized keyboards" "CULV"

    here are some of the machines ranging from 11.1 to 13.3 inch.

    X301, SU9600 (same CPU as MBA, 10 W), best keyboard in business, with load of features i mentioned.

    Toughbook T8, , 12 inch, SU9600, MIL SPEC note book, full size keyboard and weight 3~4 lbs.

    HP Envy 13, SU9600, full size keyboard, a cd rom and load of connecting features.

    VAIO TT, 11.1 SU9600, full size keybard. blue ray player built in, vga, hdmi, 2 powered usb.

    HP TM2, SU9600, full size keyboard, 12.1 touch screen.

    Asus UL30A, SU9600, full size keyboard, and load of connections.

    Fujitsu LifeBook P8110, SU9600, full size keybaord, 12 inch.

    i guess i made my point clear. SU9600 is used on a lot of notebooks, especially ultra portables. most of them is 12 inch that has full size keyboards. what's your next argument, Mr solipsism?

    MBA 11.6 and 13.3 are great notebooks at great price. I have never denied it. they get respectable battery life and cool to look at. but they are not the best, not the most portable, and is quite expensive for the features you sacrificing. you are just paying for the "thinnest point", which i just argued that thinnest point is meaningless as i can stick a razor blade to even my desktop. i also point out how apple is basically recycle the engineering because, you know, design new MB and test them is actually quite expensive. why do it if you can sell the same thing?

    and Mr. solipsism, please do some research before making another post. something like "10W CPU" is really silly. what you ought to say is 10W duel core CPU with out of order architecture. because most Atom processor, even with duel cores, have TDP of 1W to 10W. but performance wise, it will take much longer to complete the same task.

    btw, the cpu used in 13.3 in MBA has tdp of 17w, which is the same as ULV core i series, but the i7 640 um is going to be at an entire different level than the SL9400.
  • 8steve8 - Saturday, November 06, 2010 - link

    thinkpad edge 11, acer timelineX, lenovo u160, alienware m11x, there are actually a good number of options. Reply
  • nitrousoxide - Saturday, November 06, 2010 - link

    Vaio X is an extreme design, it is a purely show of engineering power of Sony, just like the Z series which packs a power-hungry-griller i7 and GT330M into a 1.3kg ultra-thin form factor. Sony doesn't actually care whether it can compete with MBA. As long as X and Z series make customers think 'WOW, VAIO is so awesome", Sony can expect a good sale on its E and F series, which is what matters the most for Sony. Reply
  • solipsism - Saturday, November 06, 2010 - link

    "Vaio X is an extreme design, it is a purely show of engineering power of Sony, just like the Z series which packs a power-hungry-griller i7 and GT330M into a 1.3kg ultra-thin form factor.”

    Are you having a laugh? It’s not like the “Z series” and doesn’t pack a "power-hungry-griller i7”. As previously stated, it’s an Atom CPU with Intel GM500 IGP.

    On top of that, it was $500 more than the 11” MBA when it launched just a couple weeks ago, and now still $200 more than the 11” MBA’s starting price despite the much cheaper and weaker processing. On the one hand I can see that Sony isn’t trying to compete by selling a netbook is a fancy package for considerable slower than yet more costly than the MBA with the “Apple Tax”, but since they have placed a $400(?) “Sony Tax” on those ‘up-scale’ Atom netbooks.
  • san1s - Sunday, November 07, 2010 - link

    You either have poor reading comprehension or are not a native English speaker. Reply
  • bloodterfly - Saturday, November 06, 2010 - link

    Ok, so I didn't know you cared that much about 11" vs 13.3". Fair enough. Ultraportables are fairly niche and don't really have too much competition. Windows ones tend to be 13" for some reason. w.e.

    There's also size vs weight. Adamos are pretty heavy for such a small package. While the Vaio Z isn't ultraportable thin, but it is pretty dam light (lighter than an Adamo iirc)

    I like Adamo's styling- two toned brushed metal. Hotness. Different taste though. I find Macbooks bland. Monocolored aluminum with generic curves. Meh.

    If you want 11" you'll probably have to go netbook+. Dual core atoms aren't THAT bad. It's like a 10-20% clock for clock reduction from C2D? (iirc)

    about the m11x- it's just a 13" computer with a huge bezel so Dell can call it the most powerful 11" notebook.
  • darkchii - Sunday, November 07, 2010 - link

    I owned an 11.6inch 3lb culv... and now I own one of these 1.6ghz upgraded MBA... and I'm coming from a Dell inspiron 11z, which you can still get it from the dell outlet. They just stopped selling them. 11.6inch 3lbs, CULV same resolution 4gb of ram etc. Granted the processor was slower 1.3ghz dual core, and I had to pay 200$ to add my own 80gb intel SSD, but my total cost was about 600$, as I paid ~400 for the machine. I'm now selling it as I have the MBA 11.6 ultimate config which adds discrete video, but heck it did cost 1400+ with tax... which was 800$ more.

    I also agree with anand... I have a Vaio TR2... which was 10.6 3lbs with DVD-R lol and 2000$.... As for 11.6inch culv there's a whole range... and the MBA 11.6 1.6ghz 4gb is basically on top in terms of price.... except for the industrial toughbooks.
  • jonup - Saturday, November 06, 2010 - link

    While I agree that $1400 might not seems like a lot of money for a portable notebook compared to historical pricing, I think the market has change and manufacturers are not charging same margins any more. And this brings me to my point. The MBA Ubgrade is $400 or 40% more than the base model. 15% increase in the performance do not justify 40% increase in cost. Further, the performance is only achieved in tasks that should not be performed (read not commonly) on an notebook (ultra portable). Before you start disagreeing with me think about how much faster is video/photo editing on DTR or on a desctop. MBA is simply not targeted at such task. Therefore, I completely disagree with Anand that this is a worthy upgrade and I still think 13" MBA is the better buy.
    Anand, any work on a 15" MBA? I look at a lot of spreadsheets all day long but I really like the slim design and light weight.
  • pyrthas - Tuesday, November 09, 2010 - link

    I think your best comparisons are the Panasonic J and R series. Both have to be imported from Japan, and both are way more expensive. Both are thicker but smaller in every other dimension (including weight). The R (which I love for its tiny bezel) gives you an i7-640UM with 4GB for $2k through Dynamism right now. The J (which is widescreen) gives you an i3-370M with 2GB for $1900, and goes up from there. Resolution's bad, unfortunately, but they're 10" screens.

    I'm still using an R3 for work basic office tasks, and it's several years old now. For me, nothing beats the form factor, and I really wish someone else would come out with a laptop this size for a lower price, because $2k just feels like too much to pay for an i7-640UM on principle.
  • jasperjones - Saturday, November 06, 2010 - link

    sorry to be so blunt but, to me, this article is boring. it's similar to the article where you retested the ASUS U30JC after outfitting it with an SSD. from ANT's perspective, there might be some benefit to getting two articles out of one product. but, as a reader, i'm yawning. Reply
  • 8steve8 - Saturday, November 06, 2010 - link

    actually i agree, its not new information to see what a ~20% increase in clock frequency, and doubling the ram does to performance. But if he wants to write it....

    On the whole I'm excited to buy this formfactor when it gets ULV/LV sandy bridge.

    the tradeoff between cpu and gpu performance apple is making on their smaller laptops is silly... who's gamming on an 11" laptop with a 4 yr old cpu and 2GB ram (stock). no one.
  • iwodo - Saturday, November 06, 2010 - link

    Anand, if you have chance could you do a review of PhotoFast MBA SSD using Sandforce SSD controller and see if there is an performance difference. Reply
  • dsumanik - Saturday, November 06, 2010 - link

    "The 11-inch MacBook Air may be portable perfection, but by default it’s not the perfect notebook. It’s slow, the battery doesn’t last all that long....1399 is a lot for a lightweight notebook..... I do still miss the backlit keyboard. Apple really should bring that back"

    Also...wheres the mention of all the quality control / display issues these notebooks been experiencing...

    Ill sum this article up in one sentence:

    "The 11 inch MBA is an overpriced shiny POS in a high quality brushed alum clamshell with poor battery life."


  • barnett25 - Saturday, November 06, 2010 - link


    So if you were on Apple's design team and they said they wanted to make a laptop that was this thin, and that they would have to solder the memory on you would tell them to scrap the project?

    Cause there is no way they could have put an access door, socket and hold-down clips for memory, and still left room for the thickness of standard dimms.

    I admit that this product isn't for me, but I also understand that there are lots of different people out there with different needs and priorities. Just because their priorities are different than mine doesn't make them LOLFAILROFLCOPTER.
  • Ryan Smith - Saturday, November 06, 2010 - link

    Actually it's more complex than that. We're pretty sure Apple isn't even using standard DDR3, but rather they're using 1.35v DDR3L. This would allow Apple to save on RAM power consumption to further boost battery life, but it also means that RAM upgrades are made unavailable by the fact that you can't get DDR3L SO-DIMMs. Apple saves space by soldering the RAM on, but it also allows them to get away with lower power RAM in the process.

    Of course we can't confirm this - Apple's suppliers don't really talk about their parts. What we do know is that the DDR3 chips on the MBA have a part number that is not standard for 1.5v DDR3 parts.
  • dsumanik - Sunday, November 07, 2010 - link

    Listen im not a fanboy, i own an iPhone, i work on a pc, and my gf has macbook. Im also probably going to pick up a BB playbook and WP& handset for testing for some of my clients to see if its worth it....but who cares... im just saying im not a fanboy, i learn to use and administrate the tech my customers want and need or recommend products that i feel can solve their PROBLEMS.

    The problem I am having here is this:

    Anandtech HIGHLY recommended this laptop.

    $1299, for 2 year old processor tech in a non upgradeable form factor with poor battery life, mediocre performance and known display issues.

    Those are the facts.

    Exactly at what point does AT consider a notebook to be a "bad buy". LOL!!

    Everybody, please get past the nice aluminum cover and pretty OSX wallpaper. Just slow down and think about it?

    If they keep the same architecture in the next it still a good deal?

    Doesnt it suck if you buy a piece of hardware and then like 2 weeks later a company releases the next generation without warning for the same amount of money?

    Do you feel ripped off in this scenario?

    The MBA does this deliberately out of the box. You're buying outdated gear folks and it aint gettin any younger.

    This website used to be one of the most credible on the net, and while AT's reviews are still fairly in depth...over the last 5 years the conclusions leave me scratching my head more and more often.

    Imagine if this notebook was a dell, acer, hp......what are the odds AT would even do a review of a dell notebook based on a 2 year old platform priced for 1299 dollars?

    It would be laughed off the stage instantly.

    I understand the arguments you are trying to make, the engineering focus was obviously in form factor...ok fine. So why did they use old processor technology?

    They could have made it just as slim on the current intel core architecture. Why is 4gb not standard, 4 gigs of ram can be had for PEANUTS nowadays.

    You argue the ram was soldered onto the mobo in order to achieve "superior" battery life....

    .....this implies apple went to engineering extremes in order to achieve low power consumption...If apple is willing to go to the extreme of soldering memory in order to save a few miniscule milliamps of power.....why does the notebook have subpar battery performance if this was such a key design focus???

    They could have SIGNIFICANTLY IMPROVED BATTERY LIFE by SIMPLY basing the notebook on the latest intel would have improved performance and battery life FAR FAR more than soldering ram to the mobo !!!

    Now listen up and listen up good, because you guys already know everything ive stated here...but it has become foggy in your brain because of Apples PR and the media, and websites like AT. ..and don't feel bad Apple has gotten into my mind once or twice too...but for gods sakes guys we have to snap out of it.,


    The ram is soldered into the mobo because Apple doesnt want you to buy a cheap aftermarket upgrade for a 2 gb stick of ram when they can hammer you 300% markup for it, and get that all money themselves.


    Apple didnt want to put in the latest processor tech in the MBA because they saw an opportunity to make more money off of a simple form factor change for a platform they already had kicking around.


    They released this hardware deliberately even though they knew about the display issues


    They are probably making disgusting profits on each and every single sale of the MBA, and making you believe it is a good deal.

    Dont feel bad even managed to fool Anandtech.


    Get your balls back.
    Starting TODAY.
    Make this into the site it once was.
  • solipsism - Sunday, November 07, 2010 - link

    You act like Apple is the only one to solder RAM to the MoBo of ultra-light notebooks.

    You also ignore the space an heat issue with Apple going with Core-iX+dGPU over C2D+Nvidia 320M.

    On top of that, you’ve implied that the C2D+320M is somehow inexpensive compared to Core-iX without your statement about the price point.

    THE TRUTH IS you came in here with a bias and ignored all the facts.

    Just like with other ultra-light notebooks we’ll see competitors to these MBA with soldered LV RAM and other considerations that require the engineers to disregard upgradability in favour of svelte size and low weight for a given performance level. You can think this means it should be cheaper than a full-sized notebook for a given performance level... but you’d be wrong yet again.
  • dsumanik - Monday, November 08, 2010 - link


    All i know is this:

    I am typing on a 2 year old dell m1330 that even in its stock form factor has comparable or superior performance in all departments with the exception of the disk...and well luckily i could upgrade that, oh and the processor, oh and the ram....regardless...

    I picked it up 2 years ago for 899 brand new.


    You like to argue with me, but i HIGHLY doubt you'll be purchasing the MBA.

    Apple could have done better, and for cheaper....they just knew there are fools who would see a thin aluminum case and ignore the realities of the price tag.

    I like OSX in general and some of apples products have been great...but this is a ripoff people

  • solipsism - Tuesday, November 09, 2010 - link

    dsumanik foolishly wrote, "2 year old dell m1330 that even in its stock form factor has comparable or superior performance”

    So you’re going on record that:
    1) CCFL backlight is better than LED backlight.
    2) 65nm Merom w/800MHz FSB is more advanced than 45nm Penryn w/ 1066 FSB.
    3) 4.5lbs is lighter than 2.9lbs
    4) 12.5x9.4x0.87-1.3 inches smaller in footprint and volume than 12.8x8.94x0.11-0.68 inches.
    5) 4MB L2 is more than 6MB L2.
    6) 667MHz DDR2 is better than 1066MHz DDR3.
    7) 35W TDP is more power efficient than 17W TDP for ultra-light notebook.

    It’s one thing to think your machine is good enough but to say that it’s superior in every way except the drive speed is beyond asinine. I get it, you don’t like Apple. It’s silly to like or hate a company, but I’ll let you have your silly corporate bigotry. You probably don’t hate the Dell Adamo, but maybe you do because they copied Apple’s lead even thought they did some great things with that machine. I don’t care what you like or dislike but I would appreciate it if you’d at least tell the truth.
  • dsumanik - Tuesday, November 09, 2010 - link

    solo, stop making this apple vs PC...Again i dont hate apple i own a 3gs and love it to death (when its jailbroken lol)

    This is about AT recommending this laptop as a good buy even though they blatantly point out serious shortcomings in the article.

    Honestly the only thing i like better on the MBA is the size and the keyboard, m1330 keyboard sux. OSX is fun too but only for email, iphone sync and internet..for work it blows.

    So yes im going on record with this:

    1) CCFL backlight is better than LED backlight.
    -my m1330 has LED backlight too, you fail

    2) 65nm Merom w/800MHz FSB is more advanced than 45nm Penryn w/ 1066 FSB.

    - yes a 2.4 ghz merom eats a 1.6 penryn for lunch in most cases. I could also slap a 2.6 x9000 in there if i really wanted too, its a common mod...also the m1330 has a discrete gpu which i believe is slightly slower at games, but faster at encoding and seeing as how both gpus suck for games, the encoding becomes more relevant lol.

    3) 4.5lbs is lighter than 2.9lbs
    4) 12.5x9.4x0.87-1.3 inches smaller in footprint and volume than 12.8x8.94x0.11-0.68 inches.

    Yep 1330 is not as wide but deeper n thicker, i stated the MBA had superior form factor. But here's what you get in the extra 1.5 lb

    =slot load burner
    =remote control
    =up to 9 cell battery
    =ethernet port!!!! sucks when theres no wireless LOL
    =Expresscard slot (great for esata, more usb ports, second ethernet, usb 3.0 etc)
    =integrated Card reader
    =vga out (more usefull than mini dPort IMO)
    =upgradeable components

    Have fun with your usb burner that ONLY works on the MBA and is retardly overpriced. Please research the silliness of apple's MBA USB burner, they pissed a lot of folks off with that one.

    5) 4MB L2 is more than 6MB L2.
    6) 667MHz DDR2 is better than 1066MHz DDR3.

    lol actually its pretty damn close, the latency is lower and at 667 mhz C2D wasnt bandwidth starved...check the reviews, the fsb boost did basically nothing, it was the cpu architecture that made the diff, and while substantial it will not make up for 800mhz clockspeed.

    7) 35W TDP is more power efficient than 17W TDP for ultra-light notebook.

    Perhaps, but the 1330 comes with 4, 6 and 9 cell interchangeable batteries...i promise you itll be heavier....but guess what it lasts just as long too, a matter of raw amperage here.

    There are also 17-35w TDP processors of various frequency available for the m1330 as well. While dropping down to a 1.6 merom would negate the speed advantage, hey it sure is nice to have the option when there are $20 procs of all shapes and sizes floatin around ebay 8)


    Check out the new lenovo U260, its a slightly better deal IMO modern components and similar form factor....although battery life still gonna be a problem i bet.

    The MBA is a ripoff dude.

    It would be somewhat worth the price if it had modern internals or at the very least upgradeable components (sodimm/1.8"/ 2.5" drive)

    the fact an m1330 can even be mentioned in the same sentence is gonna make a ton of cash off of all the suckers like you solo.

    good for Mr. Jobs, but ill wait till next gen...IF it has modern internals.

  • iwodo - Saturday, November 06, 2010 - link

    One of the thing that i dont like about 11" MBA is the bezel is very thick compare to 13". I would consider even the 13" to be thick.

    Just when i am typing this, are there any measurement can be done on screen compare to actual object, Those image on Apple makes the screen looks larger and bezel looks thinner.
  • Chloiber - Saturday, November 06, 2010 - link

    Your comparison is strange. You say "Given the 15% average improvement in performance, a 6% average reduction in battery life isn’t bad."

    Well of course it's not bad, because you are comparing apples with oranges. You won't get a 15% performance improvement in web surfing - or do you? So either you don't directly compare the improvement vs. the batter life or you measure battery life with the same way you measure performance.
  • jonup - Saturday, November 06, 2010 - link

    I was thinking the same. I most battery test you are not getting the 15% performance increase. I think that even as insignificant it might be the added RAM (doesn't clock down in idle) and larger SSD contribute to the reduce battery life on top of the CPU upgrade. Reply
  • melgross - Saturday, November 06, 2010 - link

    I don't know. The tests seem to be pretty clear on this. And as for noticing the
    erformance increase, sure, under most conditions you should.

    Look, we've seen crazy PC overclockers pay hundreds for a 10% increase in cpu speed which translates most of the time to a useless 5% performance increase, totally unnoticable. A pretty big industry surrounds this overclocking, overpriced "enthusiast" chip market. At least here, you're getting the increase in performance you're paying for, and it's not really that much, considering what SSD's go for.
  • B3an - Saturday, November 06, 2010 - link

    Wow completely not understanding the overclocking market. .
    Some enthusiast overclockers will pay high amounts, but the vast majority of overclockers get a normal CPU that has an average price, maybe even below average price, then they overclock it. A lot of CPU's these days OC very well and will manage a lot more than a 10% performance increase from an OC even with average air cooling. You can see this yourself in countless CPU reviews.
    Most overclockers can get there mid-range priced PC performance matching a high end and way more expensive Mac. Not to mention also have things like USB3.0 support which still is not available for any Mac, and the latest graphics cards in there system.

    I'm actually an "enthusiast", so in the minority of the OC-ing crowd (but i actually use my PC for work mostly), but even my expensive system does not cost more than Apples top machines, yet it has faster RAID SSD's, more RAM (24GB) which is also faster, up to date dual GPU's (5870's), i've gained over 1.2GHz in CPU speed from an OC - no small performance incease, and it has all round higher quality components including a vastly higher quality case and power supply than anything Apple sells.
    Infact it costs less than apples highest priced Mac Pro, which ONLY has 6GB RAM and a single ATI 5770. Thats just... beyond ridiculous, theres not even a word for it.

    I'd also like to point out that the 24GB RAM that i have was under £500 ($800), now if i was to get the 24GB upgrade on Apples site for the Mac Pro, it would cost... £2040.00 ($3,300). It's also slower RAM! For that price you could buy a WHOLE PC with similar specs to a Mac Pro.
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Saturday, November 06, 2010 - link

    Agreed, I clarified the statement in the article. You get a 15% improvement in performance when you need it and don't pay too much (at least in terms of battery life) when you're looking for max lifespan.

    If you sat there and ran Cinebench all day the impact on battery life would be more in line with the performance improvement.

    Take care,
  • casteve - Saturday, November 06, 2010 - link

    Just wondering...if the larger capacity SSD is built with additional RAM chips rather than just larger RAM chips, then the additional read/write channels could be a major influence on the test results... Reply
  • tipoo - Saturday, November 06, 2010 - link

    Yeah I was thinking the same. Any chance you'll run the SSD benchmarks again on the larger one? Reply
  • tipoo - Saturday, November 06, 2010 - link

    Oh, and if you do could you throw the SSD results from the Adamo in there? Reply
  • pixelhaus - Saturday, November 06, 2010 - link

    I don't get the MBA.

    1) Upgrading the RAM is basically mandatory at the time of purchase because it cannot be bumped up at a later time; 2 GB simply isn't good enough to insure a decent computing experience unless all you ever really do is IM/chatting and light browsing (in which case, you should probably look at a $300 netbook). That $100 to bump the RAM is more or less a hidden fee.

    2) A fully upgraded 11-inch model with 4 GB of RAM, 128 GB SSD and 1.6 GHz CPU is $100 more expensive than a 13-inch model with a 1.86 GHz CPU (128 GB SSD, but only 2 GB of RAM); how does that make any sense?

    3) I understand the Air is about portability, but comparing it to other Apple notebooks, it seems you sacrifice an awful lot for the price; I guess that's moot if you're on the market for an ultra portable, but it doesn't sit well with me that an Air with proper RAM and CPU is as expensive as a much more powerful 15-inch MBP.

    4) The 11-inch model really is a $999 netbook; the 1.4 GHz C2D CPU is indeed more powerful than a lowly Atom, but in the end it's not adequate for much more than what you'd typically do with a netbook.
  • 7Enigma - Monday, November 08, 2010 - link

    That's my thinking as well. Unless you are completely infatuated with the 11", the 13" seems to be the obvious choice when comparing these 2. If you then use the "extra" $100 to bump up the 13" to 4GB of ram the performance would likely increase even more compared to the upgraded 11". And this doesn't even take into consideration the almost DOUBLING of battery life in the light-web browsing test.

    So basically unless you NEED to have the 11" there is absolutely nothing in it's favor when compared to the 13" IMO.
  • dagamer34 - Saturday, November 06, 2010 - link

    In other words, the MacBook Air continues to be a waste of money if you even slightly care about performance. Yay! Reply
  • jameskatt - Saturday, November 06, 2010 - link

    You forgot to mention that based on Anandtech's numbers, you get a 45% more battery life when you do not use Flash!!!!!


    This is one primary reason to leave Flash out of Mac OS X.

    This is true across all of the Mac Laptops tested.

    This proves how much of a power hog Flash is.
  • sprockkets - Saturday, November 06, 2010 - link

    Yes, and I'm sure you have 3 different web sites open with 1-4 flash animations all the time?

    HTML5 animations are a power hog too. No such thing as a free lunch.
  • DanielATMD - Saturday, November 06, 2010 - link

    Very good review.

    $1400 is a lot for many. But if one is going to use their computer to generate income, each model and is well worth serious consideration and should be spec'd accordingly.

    Anand, I would be interested in how the MacBook Airs functions connected to a Apple Cinema Display or any other 27-30 monitor.

    Right now, I have my MacBook Pro 15" connected to a 24 and a 28.5 inch LCD's, and am very interested in the MBA 11 for traveling.

    Thank you.
  • pixelhaus - Saturday, November 06, 2010 - link

    Ars Technica covered the part about using the new MBA with Apple's current 27-inch Cinema Display, it works just fine. The only weird bit is having to stretch the 3-way split cable for mini-DisplayPort, USB and MagSafe power connector; the power connector and mini-DisplayPort are on opposing sides of the MBA. Reply
  • Ronin48 - Saturday, November 06, 2010 - link

    Can you please add a 1.4GHz 11" MacBook Air 4GB machine to this comparison?

    And the 1,6GHz with only 2GB RAM as well?

    It would be really interesting to see how these middle-spec CTO units compare to the 1.4GHz 2GB base unit and the 1.6GHz 4GB ultimate unit that you compared here.

    It's likely that one of the middle-spec units is the best performance/price/battery combination don't you think?
  • nitrousoxide - Saturday, November 06, 2010 - link

    First I agree that this upgrade makes significant improvement compared to factory configurations, Anand gives us convincing results. It is a good deal compared to an MBA 11-inch by default, but what if compared to an MBA 13-inch which ships with a much faster CPU but $200 cheaper? Does 300 grams of weight really makes any difference in portability? Perhaps Anand is too focused on specific data, but not actual using experience. I currently use an MBA 13-inch and a SONY VAIO EA, 1.3kg and 2.3kg are exactly two different things, the MBA allows me to pack more learning material into my backpack when going to classes everyday so I just use the VAIO with i7 and discrete GPU as workstation. 1.0kg and 1.3kg, however, isn't that different, that's what I feel when I borrowed an MBA 11-inch from my friend and try to compare it to mine. Reply
  • blandead - Saturday, November 06, 2010 - link

    you also have to remember this is for people who use macs. they are used to paying up the ass for upgrade or anything so they would know better if this is a good upgrade or not when you stay within the mac world.

    if you use a PC and not Mac as a majority don't even try to think what makes more sense, they don't care about $400 extra when they buy $600 ipad

    hate macs....
  • solipsism - Saturday, November 06, 2010 - link

    It’s funny that you imply the iPad expensive when all the other vendors had to go back to the drawing board and are trying desperately to match the iPad’s price point with a clearly cheaper device. Reply
  • khimera2000 - Sunday, November 07, 2010 - link

    It takes years to divelop a product. apple just had a bigger splash with less horse power and a bigger price tag. if we wanted to match apples price point then all we have to do is put it up against a cheap android tablet. IPad and IPhone are vary simmilar in performance.

    it actualy looks like a step backwords in my eyes since ive seen tablet like devices in the past theres is nothing impressive about this divice. If they found a way to use a colored digital ink display in the divice then that would be intresting since it can be seen in direct sun light... near any direct sunlight.

    If other companies wanted to match ipad's performance they would most certainly have to downgrade all there hardware across the board (at least for the windwos based ones)

    if i where to get a tablet then it would probably be the new dell system that has a flip screen, at least then i can do work.
  • sprockkets - Saturday, November 06, 2010 - link

    "At $1399 there's almost no way to rationally justify the price and rest assured that within 12 - 18 months Apple will have a thinner version available, likely at the same price point."

  • tehjord - Saturday, November 06, 2010 - link

    Can't you overclock the 1.4ghz cpu to 1.6ghz or even more if it's safe. I mean, isn't the 1.4ghz cpu the same as the 1.6ghz cpu?

    So if you actually do need that extra 200mhz, just oc for the time of your workload?
  • khimera2000 - Saturday, November 06, 2010 - link

    the only portable i would try it on is a M11x (core2) it can overclocked out of the box, and was disinged to stan higher thermals then the core2 for future upgrading (hello i7 ).

    Looking at the 11 inch mac book there is not much for heat disipation when you get down that thin. according to intel's web sight the 1.4 and 1.6 variant have the same TDP so overclocking the 1.4 might make more heat then the 1.6.

    then again it might make an intresting test to see if that is in fact true.
  • tehjord - Saturday, November 06, 2010 - link

    Has it really? Because I mean, it must be the same piece of silicon by now, perhaps in the past with bad yields, but today, these are very old cpu. Reply
  • khimera2000 - Saturday, November 06, 2010 - link

    this is true that is probably a more refined fab, but the issue i have is that the mac book is uber thin, I have no idea if they took this into account in the desing, and i have no idea how it will effect the heat issues. I overclocked one notebook and found that it got so hot my SD card in the memory slot melted.

    Over clocking a notebook is not worth it to me. it will void a warenty and if something goes horrably wrong you still have to spend the full cost to replace the system, where as a DeskTop you can test components and salvage some of the components.
  • kmmatney - Saturday, November 06, 2010 - link

    Can you overclock a Macbook air? If so, then that would be the way to go. Googling found this:
  • StormyParis - Sunday, November 07, 2010 - link

    I don't understand how you can call such a glossy display "good". I would never, ever consider buying laptop with a mirror in place of a screen. Apple should at least offer a mate screen as an option. Reply
  • sa7078 - Sunday, November 07, 2010 - link

    I just upgraded from a late 2008 1.86 Air to a 2010 11" 1.6 ghz/4GB Air. While the new model may not match the old one it terms of raw CPU power, what most reviews, including Anandtech, are leaving out is that the old Airs got very hot, slowed down to cool down and vented constantly out of the bottom of the unit. This made them impossible to use on a bed and they frequently throttled back the CPU to cool down. They also struggled to play video. The 2010 model has no vents, runs very cool, and plays any video I've thrown at it, including Sling HD, which halted on my old Air. So the new Airs may not be the best choice for people who run processor intensive apps like Photoshop, but neither were the old Airs. And the new ones are simply a million times better at common tasks like Web video, word processing, email, etc. Simply put, the new 11" Air is the best laptop I've ever owned -- it just works. The old one was cool and light but it got too hot and couldn't run some of the most simple tasks like video, because of an old video subsystem and a constant need to cool down. Reply
  • johnspierce - Sunday, November 07, 2010 - link

    I would love to see performance comparisons between a Macbook Pro 13" 2.4ghz with an SSD in it.

    - Compare it to the two MBA's
    - Compare it to the MBP 13" stock
    - Compare it to the MBP 15" with i5 and i7

    I'm betting it will perform at least as well as the 15" i5 and more likely will be *almost* as good in overall performance mix as the i7.

    This could be the "sleeper" best deal for your money in a Mac notebook. Considering you can buy 128gb SSD's for under $200 now and Microcenter in Denver sells new MBP 13" for $999.

    You guys at Anandtech should do this!

    thanks for the articles, your stuff is my favorite!

  • Jon03021 - Monday, November 08, 2010 - link

    I second this! Reply
  • rgslater - Sunday, November 07, 2010 - link

    Way overpriced for me. The hardware is on par with the Acer Timeline 1810t (11", C2D, 4GB) that I bought over a year ago....for about $550. Where is the Timeline now?.......
    Core i7 ULV (1.46 GHz, turbo to 2.53 GHz)
    4 GB ram
    500 GB HDD
    more connectors (3 usb, HDMI, VGA, card reader)
    8 hrs battery life (claimed)

    Its a bit pricey at $849 (Newegg) but still far less than even the base model Mac. And the prices only go down from there, because you can choose from i5 and i3 processors as well.

    Sure it has some limitations, like the graphics. It's roughly the same dimensions, but half and inch thicker and about 12 ounces heavier. I guess that's why it isn't "portable perfection".

    As much as I don't get their products...actually I get the products, but not the pricing...I have to admire the company. They somehow make otherwise objective tech writers get misty-eyed over old tech at inflated prices.

    And the transmeta analogy is a non starter. Why does that even matter? Everything in tech has gotten cheaper. The fact that I paid $3000 for my first desktop (486) does not make me think that anything less than that today is a good deal.
  • MacTheSpoon - Monday, November 08, 2010 - link

    If it had a matte screen and battery life equal to the Vaio X, I would switch over. As it is, I'll stick with my Vaio X. Though honestly, if you're just writing and browsing the web like me, an Asus netbook these days is a fraction of the cost of either computer, has a matte screen, and its battery life is not quite up to the Vaio X but it's getting up there. The keyboard and screen are a little smaller than the MBA 11" and it's a tiny bit heavier, but really overall it's a great way to go. Reply
  • bozilla - Monday, November 08, 2010 - link

    Would someone be kind enough (Anand preferably) and tell me why Apple notebooks, considering they are using same chips, processors etc... are not compared performance wise to the comparable ultraportables and notebooks?

    Why this mac-to-mac only comparison? It just seems disingenuous to compare a PC based laptops (which Macs are) to only their previous versions.. It's always going to be faster.. so the comparison is kind of moot.

    What's more relevant to someone who is considering purchasing an ultraportable is comparing to other PCs and comparing performance, outputs and all the things you get, along with the price.

    For example.. Acer TimelineX series is an ultraportable that's not even comparable to Mac Book Air specs wise and it costs around $750 ($899) retail with i7 processor.

    I'm just curious as to why you have not compared performance in same applications on different PC ultraportables as well?

    I just find this separation of Macs vs everyone else a bit troubling.. It keeps people in the Apple bubble never showing them what the reality really is and to be frank, that''s kind of, one your jobs right? I mean you test and compare stuff to help consumers? Am I wrong?
  • rgslater - Monday, November 08, 2010 - link

    Agree 100%. Reply
  • solipsism - Tuesday, November 09, 2010 - link

    I agree with this. I look for a category that matches my needs and then choose from within that category. Reply
  • khimera2000 - Monday, November 08, 2010 - link

    I agree with him. there is no differance in hardware compatibility any more, there OS is based on a PC operating system, and they moved over to intel. there is no custom hardware other then the chips that they use to restrict softwear. there is no longer a reason to seperate them.

    place them against similarly priced PC systems. it cost 1000 for the base and 1300 after upgrades then there should be other systems that cost that much. Not including them looks... Off, like somthing is being hidden.
  • billy_kane - Monday, November 08, 2010 - link

    Backlit keyboard is indeed very useful, I also strongly agree with the author

    However, a thin and light ultra-portable notebooks are like to MBA11 this realm, how much more Mars techs within can you ask for it? Desire is endless, but it depends on what era, those requirements may lead to a breakthrough on behalf of the future direction but not now, In today's 11-inch netbook market, MBA11 has became the newest pinnacle in this area, prior to this, who had predicted such a unparalleled epoch-making masterpiece was build in such a light and thin case as the MBA11? we should not take too much desire pinned on it, which greatly exceeded it's their own position, the avant-garde is a luxury as expensive as its price , compared to the cost of 399 dollars is not expensive, If the value of spending $ 399 to be measured like this, even totally to measure the pros and cons of MBA11 are stupid, it everyone sure a true that is every 12 to 18 months there will be new listing refresh its performance level, thus providing better value for money, But everyone should realize a fact what you bought bring you the avant-garde enjoyment, in other words what you bought is the future, nothing more fair than this trade. the real imbalance is the consume mentality!
  • khimera2000 - Monday, November 08, 2010 - link

    I agree on the back lit keyboard. but how thin this thing is and how much performance it has... I only see it for buisness users, or people with a Beefcake of a desktop already. truth is that its a really thin notebook that uses last generations hardware. where as other companies are striving for a technical edge, it looks like this time around apple just went for form over function.

    You can keep the MBA11 after seeing how much these pritty apples warp when they drop im really hesitant to nab one of these systems. the one good thing is it does not have an optical drive so we dont have to worry about the slot warping and rendering it uselss like the other macbooks.
  • DrMorbius - Monday, November 08, 2010 - link

    "As I write this final paragraph in the dark cabin of a plane, I do still miss the back-lit keyboard. Apple really should bring that back."
    It should indeed.
  • lemonadesoda - Monday, November 08, 2010 - link

    Agree. In very low light levels the key need illuminating. But only a little. No need for "light the room" keys... just micro-glow so that you can orient your fingers on the appropriate keys. Reply
  • kenzo - Monday, November 08, 2010 - link

    what about trim support? Reply
  • khimera2000 - Monday, November 08, 2010 - link

    No osx does not support trim, but the SSD is to slow for you to notice the differance. its based on a samsung desing from 08 at a lower bandwith. its not ment for a significant performance, its more for the power saving then anything. Reply
  • Jon03021 - Monday, November 08, 2010 - link

    It seems Toshiba has released the exact same SSD blades used in the new MBAs.

    Anand, would you be so kind to see if the 11'' is upgradable to the 256gb stick when they become available? I would really appreciate it!

    Thank you,

  • lemonadesoda - Monday, November 08, 2010 - link

    Yes, the 256GB sticks are 8 chip rather than the current 4 chip designs. An 8 memory chip design should be faster... but also fatter. Will it fit? Reply
  • Rasterman - Monday, November 15, 2010 - link

    I would like to replace my 2008 13" MB with an 11" Air, but the features and options are poor.

    What I want in the 11":
    SD card reader
    Ethernet port
    HDMI port
    default 1.86Ghz cpu with 2.4Ghz upgrade

    If this were the case it would be a no-brainer upgrade for me for $1500, but as it stands I'll just keep what I have, maybe the second revision in 12 months will be better... Perhaps after i7 is 2 years old it will be in an Apple machine! lol
  • mevensen - Wednesday, November 17, 2010 - link

    Any chance of getting a similar comparison with the options available for the MBA 13?
    Also, I agree that doing head to head comparisons with other Windows ultra-portables would go a long way to providing some valuable decision points for (us) consumers.
  • roddiekn - Monday, November 22, 2010 - link

    I am glad with Apple’s new 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Airs. because new generation and new companies are demanding new technology in their filed.So that is one of the good reply on this way. I appreciates it.. Reply

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