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  • C1aymore - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    Nothing, just want to be the first Reply
  • krylon - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    how about I go first all over your face? Reply
  • Spunjji - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    Bahaha Reply
  • ssddaydream - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    I really hate it when people do that^
    I am wondering what percentage of "power users" will start trending towards machines like the MacBook Air and Pro. It seems that the cost differences are eroding away between the likes of computers like Clevo-based Malibal and Apple products.
    It seems to me that the Apple products are priced pretty competitively, and offer more flexibility by being able run OSX as well as Windows or Linux.
    I doubt I'll purchase an Apple computer, but it seems more compelling than ever, especially with the display on the MacBook Pro.
    Reply
  • ananduser - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    Yes...Apple is to be commended for allowing choice in the OS department, unlike other OEMs.

    Only the boss is qualified to review them apples, eh Anand :)
    Reply
  • Samus - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    what? choice in os? every 'OEM' that's tried to make a Mac OSX compatible computer has been sued out of business by Apple.

    I don't see how Apple giving you choice because they don't allow their competitors to have any is something to be commended!
    Reply
  • OCedHrt - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    And compatibility issues (USD 3.0, WIFI) is the peripheral's manufacturer's fault on OS X. But on Windows damn that Microsoft!!! Reply
  • KPOM - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    Where has Anand ever blamed Microsoft because some random peripheral doesn't work right? In general, it's up to the peripheral manufacturer to write decent drivers. Because of OS X's small market share, a lot of manufacturers don't bother, or at least don't do as good a job of writing OS X drivers as they do Windows drivers. Reply
  • ananduser - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    Apple is the one in control of OSX' drivers. The manufacturers of various interfaces have no say. Reply
  • KPOM - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    No, individual peripheral manufacturers write their own OS X drivers. Apple has standards, but even Microsoft requires digital signing.

    Apple isn't in the business of writing drivers for every peripheral out there. They provide APIs to let peripheral manufacturer write their own drivers.
    Reply
  • name99 - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    The most likely reason for the USB3 problems is devices that are just slightly out of spec, demanding more power than USB3 can deliver. The larger rMBP is willing to give them this extra power, the smaller MBAs cannot.

    This is a very common problem these days with flash storage. Look at a table of the power demands of various disks for either startup or sustained writes --- it is depressing how many are almost (but just over) the USB3 limit --- and there are plenty of manufacturers (yeah, OCZ, I'm looking at you) who are quite willing to sell you a "USB3" drive which kinda sorta appears to run until you generate a long series of sustained writes at which point it hangs.

    So why does the failure for these drives appear at plugin time?
    One possibility is that they need a burst of juice to start themselves going, another is that they negotiate with the host and can't negotiate as much power as they want. (I don't know the USB3 power negotiation protocol.)

    It would be an interesting experiment, IMHO, for Anand to try the problematic devices again with a Y cable that could deliver extra USB power from a second port.
    Reply
  • jospoortvliet - Wednesday, July 18, 2012 - link

    On a related note - neither can anyone sell the nice magsafe(2) adaptors, it seems. Quite annoying - I don't really get why it's legal that Apple can stop others from making those? I get they have patents on it, but wasn't the idea of the patent system to ensure inventors get decently renumerated, not to let them block others from using their inventions? I thought you HAVE to license your patents for a 'reasonable' fee... Still, all other laptops come without a magsafe-like plug... Reply
  • Romberry - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    ...or drowning in Kool-Aid. Apple cripples other OS's on their hardware (and does so for no good technical reason at all.) See my previous comment for more. Or take a look at Ed Bott's recent article on another site concerning battery life on a Mac running Windows. Or fire up Google. Reply
  • KPOM - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    Here's what Ed Bott said:

    "I don’t blame Apple for this terrible performance. They’ve focused their engineering resources on their own hardware and their own operating system. For Apple, Boot Camp is a tool to use occasionally, when you need to run a Windows program without virtualization software getting in the way."

    It's always been obvious that Boot Camp drivers are subpar, though it is getting better. However, most people aren't buying Macs to run Windows as the primary OS. They do enough to get Windows running occasionally, but they rightfully spend their time and effort optimizing their hardware for OS X. What's the issue there?

    Incidentally, the new Boot Camp drivers do enable AHCI support, so TRIM, etc. will work in Windows 7 and Windows 8. They also generally deliver decent performance (the Core i7 bug notwithstanding). Apple doesn't need to make Boot Camp available at all.
    Reply
  • Spunjji - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    No good technical reason, for sure. Business reasons, on the other hand... There are many people out there who don't get the technical side of it, they just get what works and what doesn't. They see Windows running poorly on the same hardware, so they assume that with all things being equal that Windows is the source of the problem. Makes a simple kind of sense unless you know that Apple are responsible for tying the 2 together. They could easily do it properly, but they never will. Because they're Captialist Pigs! Yaaayyy! :D Reply
  • Freakie - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    Wait wut... Are you being sarcastic? o_O It's not Apple's choice to allow other OS's on their laptop, it's the hardwork of the programmers for the other OS's that allow their OS's to be compatible with an incredibly large range of hardware. Unlike OSX which can't even figure out it's own small range of hardware. It's out of Microsoft's own decision that it can run on non-partnered computers that you build yourself, or buy from a company that doesn't make Windows computers. In fact. Apple puts specific features in OSX to make it not run on any hardware but theirs and users have to hack in order to get it to run on anything else.

    Apple should be hanged for their nonexistent allowances of other OS's.
    Reply
  • KPOM - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    Uh, without Boot Camp, it would be very difficult to run Windows, because Windows doesn't support Apple's implementation of EFI (which predates Windows' support for UEFI). Also, they do write drivers for their components. Microsoft's stock drivers don't support all the hardware used. Reply
  • Freakie - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    Yes, Microsoft uses a new, more advanced, and completely 64bit compatible version of EFI. Just because Apple did it first, doesn't mean they somehow do it better now xP Though from what I've seen, the ability to put Windows on a Mac without any modifications isn't a fault of Windows, but differences between the two OS's as well as Apple's insistence of only allowing Windows on their system under their own terms. If Apple was more open about things, then hackers would have had to work less =P

    I also never said they didn't write their own drivers? o_O I mean, they obviously don't write all of their own drivers 100%, as I am sure that the hardware manufacturers have to give them something to start with.

    And Microsoft's stock drivers are actually quite impressive. Of course they can' support every little peripheral, but they do an amazing job of supporting a countless range of combinations of hardware. There is no doubt that Microsoft's view on how it develops drivers is much more open than Apple's. Microsoft support DIY builders and system integrators as well, while Apple does not.
    Reply
  • KPOM - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    Boot Camp came out before Windows supported EFI at all. Apple has no real incentive to switch to UEFI because it doesn't really offer significant benefits, and they'd have to modify UEFI anyway to keep OS X proprietary.

    My point wasn't about UEFI, though. It is about Apple enabling other operating systems to run on their computers. They actively added that capability when they didn't need to.

    Your point about MS' openness vs. Apple is well known. Microsoft is primarily a software company. Up to now, they haven't cared whether you installed Windows 7 on an Apple, a Dell, HP, or something you built yourself. However, with Windows RT, they are going partly the Apple route, since they won't sell the OS separately, and will individually approve manufacturers and designs. So apparently even they recognize there are advantages to a closed model.
    Reply
  • Spunjji - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    "When they didn't need to" <- What nonsense is this? A market requirement translates as a need. They would have lost all of the customers out there who require genuine Windows applications running under non-virtualised Windows. This is a non-trivial portion of the market.

    Apple do not do anything out of the generosity of their hearts. What wealthy company does?
    Reply
  • KPOM - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    It was a selling point during the "Switcher" campaign, but I doubt that today many people are buying Macs to run Windows. They haven't run the Switcher or "I'm a Mac" ads in years.

    At this point, being able to run Windows natively is a bonus, more than a key selling point.
    Reply
  • ananduser - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    Only that it is not native. There's still some virtualization overhead due to bootcamp. Reply
  • KPOM - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    It's native. There is some emulation of BIOS commands (since Macs lack a BIOS), but it isn't running in virtualization. Reply
  • phillyry - Tuesday, March 26, 2013 - link

    Kind of opposite views between Apple and Microsoft, with regards to driver support aren't they?

    MS makes it easy for the user to tinker around with or build a PC by embedding a huge number of drivers in the OS. However, this accounts for a large amount of the Windows' install.

    Apple, on the other hand, go for the 'streamline just for our own hardware' approach, which seems to make sense for them because they sell hardware, as well as software. You end up with a cleaner install of the OS but at the expense of DIY. Apple also focuses on the premium build and you are really paying a lot for the hardware, when you consider that you can buy OS X for $30.

    Should Apple be allowed to make it difficult to build your own Mac? Should they offer a non-upgrade retail OS X for $180? I'd say sure to the second one, as a consumer but don't see how it makes sense for Apple. They would be diverting resources away from their core product lines and diluting their premium brand. Again, should they be forced to at least make it easier for DYIers and legal for OEMs? I dunno. I'd like that but, so far, the legal system doesn't seem to be going for it.
    Reply
  • KPOM - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    Microsoft won't allow Windows RT to run on any tablets other than those that it specifies. So no Android tablet or iPad will be able to run Windows RT even if it is running identical hardware to Microsoft's Surface, for example.

    Should we "hang" Microsoft for not allowing their OS to run on other devices?
    Reply
  • Freakie - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    Sort of a blurry line you are crossing there. Windows RT isn't quite a full OS like OSX and regular Windows in that it needs very specific optimizations and programming techniques. Not only that, but the other "hardware" that you would be running it on isn't meant for a full OS like Windows RT mostly is. While it may technically have the same CPU and GPU, *maybe* even the same wireless radios, the chances of it having the same cameras, same screens, same circuit boards and everything is actually quite improbable =P So it wouldn't be "identical" hardware. I think that Windows RT is so optimized for its specific hardware that it will be running on, that it would be rather unhappy on other things xP That's not to say that Microsoft made the right choice in just flat-out disallowing anyone from trying to put it on other devices. It's a similar boat they are in that Apple is in. OSX is not good at running on hardware that it is not specifically optimized for, and to allow people to easily put it on other hardware would degrade OSX's image. Reply
  • KPOM - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    They aren't marketing the Surface as an "incomplete" PC. All Metro apps will need to run on Windows RT in order to get a "designed for Windows 8" certification. Windows RT just won't run the x86 legacy applications because ARM processors don't have the capability to emulate x86 or x64 without a huge performance hit.

    The rest of your point is entirely in line with mine. Apple designed OS X for its own line of computers. They don't want it running on other PCs and so have designed it so that it relies upon, among other things, Apple's proprietary EFI. Microsoft had previously billed itself as selling an OS that would run on practically anything. Of course, Windows has long had a reputation (somewhat undeserved) of being crash prone and buggy, most of which can be ascribed to legacy support. Windows on one of Microsoft's reference designs runs quite well. So it's no surprise they are mandating the use of reference designs for Windows RT, even though they intend the devices to be more powerful than the current generation of iPads or Android tablets.

    I think Microsoft would like to get to a point where people are indifferent about Windows RT vs. Windows 8 and ARM vs Intel.
    Reply
  • Sufo - Wednesday, July 18, 2012 - link

    Compare OSX to Windows 8 and Windows RT to iOS. Comparing a mobile to a desktop OS is misleading at best. Reply
  • KPOM - Friday, July 20, 2012 - link

    That's certainly not how Microsoft is marketing Windows RT. Reply
  • Starmast3r - Thursday, August 09, 2012 - link

    That is exactly how Microsoft is marketing Windows RT. It is an environment designed for mobile devices. Reply
  • phillyry - Tuesday, March 26, 2013 - link

    Windows 8 is meant to be an OS for all. A hybrid OS, if you will.

    RT is not meant to be solely compared to iOS and Android, that's where Windows Phone 8 comes in. Hence, the name 'Phone' ascribing it to mobile (smartphones).

    The whole point of Windows 8 is to blur the lines between laptop and desktop and tablet. Microsoft sees an opportunity to capitalise on a market by creating a new way of computing. The lines between RT and Pro are meant to be blurred. That's the point. That's where all these class defining devices like the Transformer line or the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga come in. Microsoft wants you to rethink the PC in the 'post-PC' era. They want you to blend you laptop/desktop into your tablet. Or, better yet, buy a Surface.
    Reply
  • Spunjji - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    "Unlike other OEMs"

    This statement qualifies you as a troll. Good day, sir!
    Reply
  • Romberry - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    Bootcamp for running Windows results in a host of issues. (I can't speak to whether these same issues apply to Linux, but I expect they do.) Example: Battery life will decline by 20-40 percent.

    The issues aren't related to other OS's like Windows and Linux, they're related directly to Apple's implementation of..well...I'll let a commenter at Ed Bott's place spell it out: "they use an unoptimized BIOS software emulation for non-OS X operating systems, and as such, the drivers don't take advantage of a lot of PC standards like AHCI or full-speed PCI-e in anything except their own OS. The PnPID's that they use don't match generic hardware using the same vendor's chips so you need to get almost all drivers direct from Apple and they don't update them enough to make it worthwhile running Windows on their machines."
    Reply
  • KPOM - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    The current Boot Camp drivers enable AHCI.

    That said, If I'm an Apple customer, chances are pretty good I'd rather have them spend their time supporting OS X than Windows.
    Reply
  • ananduser - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    Apple's AHCI drivers are generic. Among laptop computers these drivers are very model specific, to the extreme; even between a single OEM's lineup these drivers differ. This is why bootcamp delivers battery penalties. Reply
  • KPOM - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    I didn't say Apple's drivers were optimized for Windows. I said that they enable ACHI. They are getting better, but they don't optimize all their drivers. There is nothing stopping the individual device manufacturers themselves from writing new drivers, but I'm guessing they have little incentive to do so, as well.

    Microsoft yesterday announced a brand new version of Office. However, they didn't announce a Mac version, instead offering a quick fix to make the current Mac version work with their cloud product. Office 2008 didn't even support VBA. They make Office for Mac available but don't optimize it for OS X. I don't blame them, since the Mac isn't a big market for them. Similarly, few people who buy Macs intend for them to be primarily Windows PCs. Apple adds Windows support to provide basic support for people who need to use Windows sometimes.
    Reply
  • tuxRoller - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    It can run Linux, just not always terribly easily. I even wonder if it gimps windows a bit.
    You see, I really wish another manufacturer would look at Apple and realize they can do the same thing (purely in terms of hardware). Nothing particularly innovative, and always just about the most conservative design one can imagine. However, they actually put together a good product (again, purely from a hardware perspective) that no one else seems to be able to match.
    Superb build quality, nicely spec'd internals, good screens, great battery life, good touchpad, decent keyboard, and the prices are quite reasonable. To anyone who doubts the later, here's a challenge: find a laptop that is as good as this Air (I haven't been able to find one yet at any price, but maybe there are some niche companies I'm not aware of). The one's that come closest, IMHO, are the lenovo X220/230, but while they have technically better screens (being ips), they are pretty low res. The HP Elitebooks offer some amazing screens but not so much battery life, price, or keyboard (IMHO).
    Anyways, despite making superb laptops, I will not purchase any Apple product. So, I am still waiting for an oem to realize that there is a market for really well made pcs, but they can't forget ANY of the formula above (Asus, I'm looking at you with your bleeding screens, and average battery life and ssd).
    Please Mister OEM-Man, let me give you my money:)
    Reply
  • MobiusStrip - Wednesday, July 18, 2012 - link

    First to be derided as a dumbshit? Reply
  • abrowne1993 - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    I know you did a prerelease review for the UX21A, but it'd be nice to have a full review of the shipping 13 inch model, especially since comparisons could be drawn to the new MBA now. I liked that the screens were compared in this review. Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    I'm working on the UX32 now, Jarred will be doing the final UX31A :)

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • flying_butt_pliers - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    Wow, superb on the UX32, Anand! Just what I was in the market for. Bonus points if you can run the Photoshop speed test in your review (perty please).

    I'm currently looking at this beauty to be my desktop replacement (for photo retouching) soon hopefully with a swapped out SSD instead of the hybrid drive and upgraded RAM.
    Reply
  • kmmatney - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    "Similar to the rMBP, the actual power adapters themselves haven't changed: 45W is all you need for both systems. "

    Nice. My new Ivy Bridge Dell requires a 130W adapter, and gives me an error message and runs at reduced speed with a 90W adapter. These same adapters worked fine on my older, supposedly more power hungry, 17" laptop. Lame.
    Reply
  • SodaAnt - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    Well, it depends on the philosophy of how they design the power adapter. My dell actually has a 180W power adapter, but there's a good reason for it. They designed it for the worst case, where you have to charge the battery at 50W, have full GPU+CPU load, HDD load, burning a DVD, full brightness, and while charging multiple devices. On the other hand, I can't imagine apple's power adapter could handle full charging speed while charging an iPad and handling cpu intensive tasks. Reply
  • KPOM - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    It's partly this "just in case" thinking that can slow progress, particularly in the Windows world. My employer has HP Elitebooks as late as 2011, and they still include VGA and modem ports "just in case" they are needed. VGA I can almost see, but modems? Reply
  • Pessimism - Tuesday, July 31, 2012 - link

    VGA: Eleventy five billion legacy digital projectors in schools and businesses (case in point: my workplace is just now upgrading from a fully working 10+ year old 1024x768 projector that has a VGA input and no digital inputs)

    Modems: Dial-up internet and PC Faxing transmissions from hotels in third-world countries. Yes, there are business people obsessive enough with their jobs that these two functions are mission-critical to them.

    All it takes are a few LARGE, corporate customers who lease or purchase these laptops by the thousands of units to keep such legacy ports in-place. Someone using an Apple product would need a bag full of $49-99 dongles along with their svelte macbook to replicate this functionality.
    Reply
  • name99 - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    You can buy a larger power supply if you like. Apple sells both 65W and 85W MagSafe(2) power supplies. But of course they are larger. Most people prefer a smaller power supply for traveling.

    It's silly to complain that Apple is not serving your very particular needs when they are probably matching most people's needs optimally, and when they DO provide an alternative for your very particular needs.
    Reply
  • Galatian - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    I've just recently switched from my late 2008 15" MacBook Pro to the 2012 13" MacBook Air. I needed the discrete graphic card when I was still on duty onboard ship but now that I am at university that tradeoff was just to cumbersome, so I decided to purchase the new MacBook Air, as my university participates on the Apple on Campus project and the back to school event is just on. I was really not sure if I should go with the 13" or the 11", but the deciding factor was the battery. Turns out, with my light working load at university (just Word and Preview with some pdf open), screen brightness to 50%, backlight from the keyboard off, airport off I actually get around 10 hours of battery life, which is completely nuts compared to the 3 hours I got on my old MacBook Pro with the screen on lowest brightness setting. I have to add though that I manually set the time for the hard disk to power off to 3 minutes via Terminal (10 min are standard by Apple).
    Next years Haswell should bring further energy saving increases, hence allowing me to get the 11" with comparable battery life. On top of that maybe some of my games I played on the MacBook Pro 15" might be possible to run (Civilization 5, Deus Ex, Skyrim). Looks to be an exciting time in roughly 1 year ;-)
    Reply
  • tipoo - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    I've seen skyrim play manageably on an Atom + Ion netbook, so this should be fine. Reply
  • mastertoller - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    lawl Reply
  • Damienstensonphotography - Saturday, July 21, 2012 - link

    Hi Galatain,
    Impressive battery life you're getting. Out of interest, is it the i5 or i7 you have?
    Cheers
    Damien
    Reply
  • LuckyKnight - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    I've contemplated a MBA for some time - however I wish they would make a MacBook Pro 13" with dedicated graphics like the ASUS UX32VD.

    The MBA only has 1 thunderbolt connector, which means there's no cheap way of connecting my existing DVI monitor, HDMI to my TV and gigabit ethernet all at the same time (if that is possible at all).

    The MBA also presumably suffers from the 23.967Hz bug as it uses Intel graphics. So it's use as a XBMC client is reduced for me.

    I don't want a 15" model any more. This is just too big for me.

    The MBA is a very nice product. I would consider the ASUS if they keyboard didn't bend? and it was available in the UK! Despite the faults, still considering it.

    If ASUS were to resolve their issues I would probably get that however.
    Reply
  • Elwe - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    "The MBA only has 1 thunderbolt connector, which means there's no cheap way of connecting my existing DVI monitor, HDMI to my TV and gigabit ethernet all at the same time (if that is possible at all)."

    This is true. But you do have a couple of options. One is to use the Apple USB to Ethernet Adapter (http://store.apple.com/us_smb_78313/product/MC704Z... It was made for prior years' models, and it will only 10/100Mb/s. Not anywhere close to ideal, but there it is.

    Your other options is to wait and see if something with the ASIX AX88179 chip (or some such) gets released (http://www.asix.com.tw/products.php?op=pItemdetail... I guess USB 3.0 to GigE is not really desired by the market (I guess because most people are either already in a tower and so have other options or are fully OK with wireless).

    In this form factor, one has to ask how many high-speed sports are realistic . . . Three? If so, perhaps they have it right (two USB 3.0 and one Thunderbolt given how much people have been screaming for USB 3.0). Or perhaps it should be the other way (I think I would personally rather have the two Thunderbolt and do use either an adapter from Thunderbolt or a USB hub when I need two or more USB ports). Four? Well, I am not sure I know of any Ultrabooks that that this configuration but it would be nice.
    Reply
  • reactor - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    I have a previous gen MBA and tried out the new one in store. Not nearly enough of a leap for me to think about upgrading. Hopefully Haswell comes through with the supposed GPU bump(and maybe, hopefully, a retina display), my old MBA handles everything I need it to do except graphics heavy things and I like the form factor too much to go up to the 15" retina. Reply
  • KPOM - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    Ivy Bridge is the "tick" part of the tick-tock cycle. It is a small upgrade to the CPU, though the GPU is a bit more of an improvement. Consider that in 2011, Apple switched to the Sandy Bridge from the 5 year-old Core 2 processor. I don't think the 2012 is aimed at 2011 owners as much as it is 2010 and earlier owners, as well as those new to the platform. Reply
  • mastertoller - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    well with the 2x faster SSD, 8gb ram option, it makes up for it. Reply
  • ltcommanderdata - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    Great review. How's OpenCL performance like on the HD4000 since that was a sore point with Sandy Bridge that Ivy Bridge corrects? A comparison between the HD4000, 320M and an older discrete GPU like a 330M GT or 6490M would be informative.

    You've consistently noted in your reviews that Apple's desires for smaller enclosures, GPGPU, and smaller displays are constrained by GPU hardware, particularly from Intel. With Mountain Lion's upcoming release, I wonder if you'll consider examining the software side of things to see how much effort has been put into the GPU drivers and whether they are now up to par with Windows GPU drivers? Once they are released, perhaps a comparison between 10.7.5, 10.8, and Windows 7 with the best recent GPUs from each vendor (Intel HD4000, nVidia GT 650M, AMD 6970M) and one example of an older GPU that still supports OpenCL (nVidia 8xxx/9xxx or ATI HD4xxx) to see if all Macs are seeing development effort or only recent ones. Ideally the benchmarks would not only be games (Portal 2, SC2, Civ V, and a non-Source Engine shooter or two like Deus Ex Human Revolution or Bioshock 2), but also OpenGL accelerated applications (such as Cinebench and Photoshop) and OpenCL accelerated applications (the new OpenCL Photoshop CS5 filters).
    Reply
  • De_Com - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    As a long time reader of AT, I must say how nauseating it has become to read any Apple reviews nowadays, especially Anand's.

    I believe all objectivity has gone out the window, and that someone else should be given a crack at reviewing Apple products. Both Brian and Dustin have done some cracking reviews lately and I'd like one of these guys to be given a shot at reviewing the next Apple laptop.

    Reading the words "awesome", "amazing","infatuated", "it just works"...etc, the reviews have morphed into what seems like some weird sales pitch, seriously am I the only one to notice this?
    You'd be hard pressed telling this review apart from the sales blurb direct from the Apple website.

    Whenever there's a bad word to be said, like f/f camera, wifi, there are immediate excuses made overlooking them. The camera is crap, unless you've excellent lighting, again glossed over with "well the software is easy and starts quickly". I could go on.

    Don't wanna overgripe the situation, most reviews are excellent and well informed, but Anand's Apple reviews have just got so lopsided lately that they have become hard to stomach.

    Please try and bring back the objectivity, it's what brought me here in the first place.
    Reply
  • KPOM - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    "As the MacBook Air retains its TN display, for the first time we can actually say that ASUS' Ultrabook offers better viewing angles than the Air. The difference is quite noticeable: ...

    There's no denying that what ASUS has done is better,"

    Yeah, Anand NEVER acknowledges when other products are better than Apple.
    Reply
  • De_Com - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    "The MacBook Air is no longer competing against poorly designed netbooks, but a bunch of clones that are quickly approaching parity across the board. The MBA panel isn't bad, but it needs to be better.

    Even without a new display however, the MacBook Air continues to be one of the best executed ultraportables on the market today"

    Your missing the point, being objective is taking similar products, stepping back and reviewing both in an unbiased way. Never did I accuse Anand of not acknowledging other good products, however I did accuse him of making a bad point followed by glossing over it with a good one, and you sir have made my point for me.
    Reply
  • KPOM - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    On the whole, it IS still one of the best executed ultraportables on the market today. I have seen other ultraportables, and the only ones that I have seen that come close or exceed the Air are the Samsung 9 series and the ASUS Zenbook. They are also priced similarly.

    Anand's review of the 2011 was far more glowing. This was an evolutionary update, and so the difference isn't as stark, and the display is starting to become more ordinary. However, the rest of the machine is still very good.

    Being objective sometimes means praising a product.
    Reply
  • EnzoFX - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    but it's so cool to hate apple! Some people just can't stand when Apple has the overall better package. The thing I don't get with these haters is that they never, ever understand half the story. They get caught up in specs, they don't see that Apple consistently has solid drivers and software that other's solutions pale by comparison. Take touchpad drivers, they are still hit or miss, and not as good as Apple's Laptops. Those easy to get going apps? Well what do you think the average consumer wants? Actually, who doesn't want easy to set up? What good is an amazing camera if it has a cumbersome application to go with. I'm not saying one thing is more important than the other, just that it's all about the overall package, people like him clearly miss the more important components of it. Reply
  • Sunburn74 - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    Its not hating apple. More like how an increasing number of reviewers walk in with pre-established beliefs concerning apple and those subconcious beliefs are evident in their writing. Its kind of like having a thing for blondes and then being a reviewer of good looks at a modeling contest. You can try your best to be perfectly objective, but geez your preferences will come out, especially to people who don't give a care about hair color or even more so to people who prefer brunettes and etc.

    Anand may not believe it (the people on engadget as well, and the verge is horribly pro apple), but he has pre-determinined beliefs about apple (like we all do) which come out in his writings. Just think about it like this. Anand's primary machines are macs. If he were to say mac's are crap, he'd be slighting himself in a way. I realize saying macs are crap are the extreme, but the point is the same. Saying something negative about apple is saying something negative about himself.
    Reply
  • KPOM - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    It's true the other way, though. Read the Macalope column in Macworld and you'll see examples of some of the nonsense put out (Katherine Noyes is a frequent target).

    Anand is pretty upfront that he uses Apple devices. However, he did point out the weak spot in the 2012 MacBook Air, which is that the display hasn't evolved along with the rest of the device. Otherwise, it's hard to argue with their choice of components. The keyboard and trackpad are still top notch (only now, about 4 years after Apple, are Windows OEMs starting to get multitouch trackpad drivers running smoothly, for instance). The SSDs are Samsung or SandForce based (in line with the industry). They are offering 256GB and 512GB SSD capacities (which are rare), an 8GB RAM option, and the 2.0GHz Core i7 option (many others are topping out at 4GB and the 1.7GHz or 1.9GHz i7). The camera and wi-fi components are competent. Objectively, it is difficult to argue that the MacBook Air isn't one of the higher end ultraportables.
    Reply
  • mavere - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    Anand states that the MBA is a top-tier competitor in the ultrabook market. Unless you care to refute that conclusion, the obvious implication is that Good >> Bad, which was the exact tone of the review.

    Five pages of bashing trivialities and concluding with "oh I guess this is one of the best products in its category" (not exactly a controversial statement here) would have served no one.
    Reply
  • Freakie - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    Yet other Anandtech writers do EXACTLY that. They will nit-pick over very many small "trivialities" but they will not go and use them to say that it is a crap product. There is a difference between objectively reviewing a product and then acknowledging its stance in the market, be it one of the best or one of the worst, and writing like a fanboy. Reply
  • Galatian - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    On a side note I actually also did not see any improvement in camera to my MacBook Pro 15" from 2008 which was still the normal "SD" quality...then again I never used it for anything anyway...

    I just checked out: I do have the Samsung screen but Toshiba SSDs...The boot time IS amazing. Being able to work within 20s from pushing the button is invaluable to me, not that i got used to working my new Air.

    By the way Anand: Am I just stupid or did you say you were going to post the screen profiles?
    Reply
  • GotThumbs - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    I totally agree.

    Objectivity and Independence is missing in this "Review".

    Endorsement is more like it " buy the 11."

    I've been Reading this site for over 9 years. Very disappointed with Anand.
    Reply
  • uhuznaa - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    Well, either Anand is mutating into an Apple fanboi or these things are really just good. Judging from the benchmarks and the pure facts (as well as my own limited experiences) I tend to the latter.

    [BTW, what's up with the login here? Neither Chrome nor Firefox are able to save and restore my password here. This really is getting on my nerves since I use strong, unique passwords everywhere and looking it up every fscking time I want to post a comment is somewhat uncomfortable.]
    Reply
  • EnzoFX - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    Works with 1Password =p. Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    The FaceTime HD camera in the MBA appears to be one of the best out there, at least in what I've seen compared to most notebooks. My point wasn't to balance out the negative, but rather put it in perspective. The comment about needing good lighting applies to every single integrated webcam shipping in a notebook today.

    The same for WiFi. The MBA's WiFi is competitive with everything else in its class, no one offers anything better in this chassis size while many offer something worse. Until recently many Ultrabooks were still shipping 1x1:1 configurations. The 3x3:3 setup is just something you get when going to the more expensive Pro models.

    The real disappointment here is the display, not in that it's bad but that it's not as good as the new bar set by the ASUS Zenbook Prime.

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • Pneumothorax - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    The only way some of the anti-apple fanbois here are going to be placated is if you filled the review with "This laptop is too expensive" "All the other PC ultrabooks including Acer is better" "Don't drink the Apple kool-aid"

    As a Win7/OSX user myself, I find your reviews to be the most fair and thorough in reviewing Apple products. The earlier rMBP/MBA reviews by others seemed to just read as a re-written Apple press-release.

    PS Your rMBP review finally convinced me to get the rMBP, so you could be an Apple shill after all lol.
    Reply
  • ananduser - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    How do you like it so far ?
    Is 3rd party compatibility an issue with the large panel ?
    Have you noticed the UI lag(from the review) when you're mulitasking ?
    Does it really get that hot ?
    Reply
  • Pneumothorax - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    Best laptop I've owned and I've had Alienware, Dell, Asus, Lenovo, and the worst - HP. The panel still has teething issues with MS office and lightroom/CS5. The lag is there, but the screen is so good it's overlooked. Tried a buddy's rMBP that has the golden master Mountain Lion installed on it and it's much much smoother than Lion. Mountain lion is to Lion like Win7 was to Vista. Lion is a slow/memory hog.
    Heatwise, it's much cooler and QUIETER than my 2011 MBP 15. D3 on my 2011 MBP would remind me of Delta CPU fans on prescott CPU ages ago, D3 on my rMBP = fans barely audible.
    Reply
  • KoolAidMan1 - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    Sounds like you're angry because of your own personal bias Reply
  • Lepton87 - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    Sadly, I must agree. Lines like that"
    There's no denying that what ASUS has done is better, it's just not perfect. And as Apple has shown us in the past, it's not fond of stopgap solutions."

    Seriously? 200dpi on a 11'' screen is a stopgap solution?

    I'm never reading an apple review made by anand again.
    Reply
  • KPOM - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    What he means is that Apple likely won't change the screen resolution until they can quadruple it (2880x1800 on the 13.3" and 2732x1536 on the 11.6"). If they go with straight 1080p on the 13" or 11" as ASUS is doing, they would likely have to use a 1.5x scaling option to avoid small text. That isn't something that Apple is likely to do in OS X. So yes, it would be stop gap for Apple, even though it might not be a stop gap for ASUS. Reply
  • Freakie - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    I agree with you De_Com. While Anand still adheres to relatively object testing methods, there is no doubt that the tone throughout any of these Apple products reviews clearly shows Anand's personal opinion towards Apple products. It is a bit disconcerting to come to Anandtech and have just this one little niche seemingly out of place in the large supply of amazing reviews. Thankfully it doesn't happen very often, but it does feel like it totally goes against the grain of all of the other Anandtech reviews.

    And I echo that I would love to see one of the other writers do one of these Apple reviews. It does seem odd that Anand is always the reviewer, when other reviewers mention owning Apple products and would seem to be able to have the ability to compare Apples to Apples just fine, as well as the rest of the market.

    But in the end, this IS Anand's website, and I of course still respect him and the website he has built and while I may not agree with every part of it, I also do not understand every part of him and his opinions and decisions so there very well could just be something that we are missing from our own opinions on the matter.
    Reply
  • De_Com - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    Nice to see my comment sparked a bit of lively debate, although I did know I'd get one or two thoughtless responses i.e "oh these Apple haters" or "but it's cool to bash Apple", EnzoFX and Kpom I'm looking at you !

    Also nice to see Anand respond as well.

    I believe Sunburn74 said it best when he likened our subconscious wish not to dismiss or deconstruct the things we use ourselves as it somehow goes against our own wishes.

    It was nice to see others also call for another reviewer to be given a crack at an Apple Notebook.

    One more thing :- Love the site, Love the reviews, keep it up Anand.
    Reply
  • KPOM - Friday, July 20, 2012 - link

    Thoughtless response? That describes you a lot more than me. Also, in case you didn't notice, Anand did NOT review the new non-Retina MacBook Pro. Reply
  • phillyry - Tuesday, March 26, 2013 - link

    Precisely because he didn't care about the non-retina 15" MBP (that's my conclusion anyways).

    I mean, if you were the head of this website wouldn't you choose to do the reviews that you actually cared about?

    I think Anand's been pretty clear about his preference for MacBooks and his absolute obsession with SSDs. Why wouldn't he have a preference (or bias, if you must) for the best excited hardware, with software that he likes, that's going in the direction that he thinks is the future of the notebook industry, namely small form factor ultraportables based on SSDs.

    I really don't see the fuss and actually enjoy seeing Anand enjoy doing his work (writing reviews).

    It would be nice if people could move past the fanboism debate that rages across the Internet nd just discuss the points made in the review and, imagine this, even the device itself!
    Reply
  • repoman27 - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    "Thunderbolt support comes courtesy of a 2-channel Cactus Ridge controller."

    Umm, no it doesn't. It comes courtesy of a 4-channel Cactus Ridge DSL3510L as can be seen in the iFixit teardown photos. It can also be deduced from the fact that you can drive 2 Thunderbolt displays with any of the 2012 MBAs.
    Reply
  • G3t/All - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    Hey Anand, I was under the impression that the function keys are indeed ever so slightly smaller on the 11" than the 13". Please advise if I am incorrect. Reply
  • KPOM - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    They are half-height on the 11". Reply
  • G3t/All - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    Yea, he mentions this later in the article. Thats what I get for not reading first. My Bad! In my defense though, he did say they were identical the first time, which is technically untrue. I didn't know he was going to contradict himself later. Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    Fixed that, sorry didn't mean to confuse :) Reply
  • G3t/All - Wednesday, July 18, 2012 - link

    No worries, just wanted to make it clear because it's one of the sole reasons I'm not getting an 11" air. :P Reply
  • Death666Angel - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    Less choice is always great for the consumer! Reply
  • phillyry - Tuesday, March 26, 2013 - link

    It could be, if it means lower prices and higher quality products. Reply
  • phillyry - Tuesday, March 26, 2013 - link

    Economies of scale btw Reply
  • TareX - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    If I slap Windows 7 onto the Mac, will I be able to normally play PC games as if I'm doing it on a PC, or are there gonna be driver/emulation/compatibility problems? Reply
  • G3t/All - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    If by games you mean very light duty stuff then yes. It uses an Intel HD4000 graphics chip which translates into no discrete graphics card. This is intended for mobility and not gaming performance. As far as driver problems, you can download all the windows 7 drivers from Apple, or they are included using "Boot Camp". Can't remember which. Driver issues are not the problem, the lack of a discrete graphics card is. Google whatever games your planning on playing and see what kind of framerate they return running on Intel HD4000 graphics. If those numbers are acceptable, then you should be fine. Reply
  • khimera2000 - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    I avoid Intel as much as possible for gaming. Yes there graphic hardware might be improving, but I hate the bugs. Optimus never worked right on my notebook, my older notebooks always bugged out with dedicated Intel, or some other issue would creep out of the wood work.

    Your not getting a MacBook air for gaming, ya there's Steam but the thought of gaming on a system like this is in fifth place behind Productivity, Portability, Battery Life, and Build quality. I would go for the Pro with a dedicated Video if your prioritizing anything 3D (games or otherwise.)
    Reply
  • KPOM - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    Be aware of the "bug" affecting the Core i7 models. There is a workaround for the CPU (install a program called ThrottleStop 5.00 beta), but it also seems to have some impact on the GPU right now. Apple is working on a fix, but hasn't said when it will be out. Reply
  • KPOM - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    The bug is that it doesn't fully enable turbo boost. The i7 is supposed to go up to 3.2GHz, but seems to be topping out around 2.4GHz. Reply
  • KPOM - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    And note it is only on Windows (Turbo Boost works fine on OS X). Reply
  • ananduser - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    Yes you will, but windows on a mac incurs some penalties to the battery life and overall performance of the system. Too bad Apple forces you to deal with bootcamp. Reply
  • CharonPDX - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    "With the 13-inch MBA significantly outpacing even the rMBP with its 95Wh battery, while doing the exact same amount of work."

    I have to disagree. The MBA isn't doing the same amount of "work", it is performing under a similar effective "load".

    Something tells me that if you were performing a fixed amount of work via heavily CPU/GPU-intensive tasks on both the 13" Air and the rMBP, the rMBP would get a lot more of that work done before its battery died than the Air would, even though the Air would run longer. (Say, transcoding twenty hours of HD footage using a transcoder that uses all CPU cores plus the GPU - those four cores and discrete GPU would get a lot more of that twenty hours done than the dual cores with integrated GPU.)
    Reply
  • Karltheghost - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    The Macbook Air is supposed to be an ultraportable, hence to be carried around the whole day. Can it stand a rough use? Since this is an ability that most new notebooks lack, i'm still stuck with my old IBM. You can close the lid, wreck a car using the Tinkpad as a club, open it again and continue working. But does the MBA work after you drop it of the table, for example? Reply
  • tipoo - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    The aluminium is pretty dent prone, I've seen lots of nasty dings in aluminium macs. If the dent is deep enough it could damage something vital. The SSD does help with durability though since there are no moving heads and spinning platters to crash. Reply
  • GotThumbs - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    Over the 9+ years that I've been visiting AnandTech, I've never felt more disappointed. This "Review" (reads more like a paid endorsement) lacks a sense of independent subjectivity and over flows with Fanboism.

    I'm really disappointed in this read.

    " tons of power plus upgradability" (New technical term..."tons")
    " It was a bold move but one that was very forward looking."
    " If Apple were to do the Retina treatment on here, it'd be magnificent."
    " If carrying anything larger than a tablet upsets you, buy the 11."

    "The new 11-inch model would start at just $999. And the 13-inch would only cost $300 more. The very first MacBook Air, by comparison, retailed for $1800"

    Anyone with a brain knows that by Apple using its existing parts bins (the case and what ever else) over 3 years and factoring the scale of economics....the cost was overdue for being dropped. (although 999 is not a price drop from 999 for the 11") It's only that Apple is now experiencing competition to its existing limited product pool, that it's decided to "lower" the cost of its products. Still, how much does Apple charge for a memory upgrade, compared to the cost of upgrading any PC these days? The cost of consumer SSD's had dropped, yet how much does apple upgrade cost? Apple has and continues to overcharge when doing a spec to spec comparison.

    In the past I recognized that Anand was careful to remain impartial and fair is His reviews and commentaries.....Today He has failed to do so and It has just weakened the foundation of this sites independence and impartiality in the computer industry. At least for me it has.

    Very disappointed Anand. Very disappointed with you.
    Reply
  • KPOM - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    Yes, this sounds like the words of an Apple fanboy:

    "The same is starting to be true outside of Apple as well. The competition has simply caught up and surpassed Apple in the low-cost, but high-quality display business. The MacBook Air is no longer competing against poorly designed netbooks, but a bunch of clones that are quickly approaching parity across the board. The MBA panel isn't bad, but it needs to be better."
    Reply
  • KPOM - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    What do you want him to say "This is an overpriced piece of junk and no one should buy it"? Would that be objective enough for you? Reply
  • Karltheghost - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    No, thats not objectice either. But calling a laptop "flexible" (according to upgrades), which isn't upgradeable at all and has to send in to service for several hundred dollars and some weeks time isn't more objective. Reply
  • Karltheghost - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    send in to just change a battery i meant to write. . . Reply
  • Tegeril - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    The expected lifespan of the batteries in these systems is 1000 cycles @ 80% of original life. Many users of this system will never reach that number of cycles at all (and may not even consider it in need of replacement at that time!). Making the battery replacement out to be that much of a con is preposterous.

    I just sold a MBP that I used pretty heavily over the course of 2 years and it had just shy of 400 cycles on the battery. Overall battery health was 96% of new. They just don't need to be replaced much at all.

    http://www.apple.com/batteries/notebooks.html
    Reply
  • Karltheghost - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    While you're nearly right (it's said 500 to 1000 cycles) at the expected lifespan of a battery, there are enough batterys who die a lot sooner. If one cell has a flaw, the whole pack will be useless. And this happens quite often these days, i know a lot of people who had that problem. I once got a bad battery myself, it went dead after maybe 25 cycles. And giving away your Laptop for several weeks to have a battery changed is as improper as giving your bicycle away for a month just to get a flat tire patched . . . Not to mention the exaggerated costs if this happens out of Warranty time of the battery. Reply
  • phillyry - Tuesday, March 26, 2013 - link

    On non-Apple, cheapo-generic batteries that some OEM puts in your build just because it's a 6-cell instead of a 4-cell.

    Better OEMs will (hopefully) use better batteries. Apple definitely uses top-notch batteries that rarely need to be replaced within their lifetime.
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    Unfortunately these tradeoffs apply to everything in this form factor going forward. I believe that once you've made the commitment to opt for this form factor, whether MacBook Air or Ultrabook, you've accepted the lack of user removable components. It's the appliance-ification of the PC, and the tradeoff you make for portability.

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • MrJim - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    Dear Anand!

    I remember back in the days when we were finding out viral marketing guys from Nvidia focus groups on the forum.

    Just to keep that in mind i love your site and your reviews.

    BUT for example with the asus ux32vd (which is cheaper than the Air)i can add memory (for 10GB of RAM-godness) and whatever SSD i like that fits. Of course there is a extra cost but it still isnt as much as for the Air.

    Ultrabooks doesnt need to be like a stone.

    I think that model i namned above is a good example of that. And i hope you will discuss this in your review of it.

    Sincerely from North Sweden.
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    The UX32 is a great example, but it is thicker than the MBA/ultrabooks that don't offer that flexibility. In pursuit of ultimate portability, soldered DRAM (and soon to be soldered SSDs, just wait until you see some of the Windows 8 designs later this year) are necessary tradeoffs.

    That being said, as I mentioned in the conclusion of my rMBP review, I would like to see OEMs focus on introducing ultra small form factor removable DRAM standards. And I'd love to see them standardize on some ultra small form factor, high performance SSDs. We'll get there, but the pendulum isn't done swinging yet.

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • MrJim - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    Thanks for the reply sir!

    I would like "ultra small form factor removable DRAM standards" and i think many of us would. But it also seems for me that this is part of a corporate strategy, car makers have done this for years. "You can only buy stuff from us, good quality we promise, and of course alot more expensive than some of the other 200 makers of that perticulur car engine part".

    To say the least for changing batteries. And i did expect you to sit on information that we ordinary people doesnt have. Im looking forward to the future, but i like choice thats all.
    Reply
  • Karltheghost - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    Sure you're right. If i buy a Notebook, it is less serviceable than a full size desktop PC. And if i buy an Ultrabook it is even less serviceable. But being able to change the only wearing part in an expensive part of Elecronics, that is not likely to last as long as the rest of the Laptop is the least i want to do. By the way it's the same for Smartphones. I just don't want to buy a product which i need to replace completely if the battery wears out because i cannot change it myself and having it replaced is nearly as expensive as a new Laptop/Smartphone. And because there are manufactors who sell Smartphones and Ultrabooks with changeable batteries, your argument, as far as it goes to batteries, is not very convincing. As for other parts you're right, demanding switchable CPUs or something like that in an Ultrabook would be hilarious. Reply
  • KPOM - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    There are more and more Ultrabooks sold with non removable batteries now. The Samsung Series 9 is one example. Reply
  • Tegeril - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    "Very disappointed Anand. Very disappointed with you."

    Hilarious.

    The MBA is still a class leading entry in the ultraportable market. It no longer wins in every single category (see: display), but that does not mean it is not a great system.

    You ignore things like consumer SSDs being consumer SSDs in large packages without custom manufacturing. Apple's memory upgrades have always been more expensive than retail and have actually come closer to reality recently. But again, this is not a stick of mass produced memory, it's not an apples to apples comparison. As far as overcharging in any other area of the system, you fail to accurately include chassis, trackpad, magsafe, and other superior elements that can't be compared in the way you want to do spec to spec comparisons.

    Being melodramatic about this review is what's disappointing. It very accurately describes why Apple is selling these and their pro systems so much more successfully than in the past. They're very good systems.
    Reply
  • KoolAidMan1 - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    The Apple haters are out in force, as usual.

    So mad.
    Reply
  • Karltheghost - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    So everyone who criticises Apple is automatically a hater? Seems like you're as differenciating as the haters . . . In fact, there are plenty of people out there who had an apple product and are therefore not very fond of apple. For example i bought an Ipod because i wanted a good Mp3-player. It did everything except from playing Mp3s in a proper way and i wasn't the only one who had this issue (Referring to an Ipod nano 3g, the bad sound without equalizer and the scratching noises with equalizer turned on).
    And i know a lot of people who sold their Macbook Pros 2 weeks after purchasing and bought regular windows machines because there are flaws that the technical specs don't reveal . . .
    Reply
  • KPOM - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    "Macs are garbage and I should know because I bought an iPod once and it didn't work right, plus my friend returned a MacBook Pro 2 weeks after buying it." These are anecdotes.

    It's OK to criticize Apple. Heck, the original MacBook Air got a lot of criticism from hard core Mac fans when it first came out. However, few company's products inspire the fierce criticism that anything Apple puts out does.

    I get the sense that if Apple stuck its logo on hardware completely identical to an ASUS Zenbook or Samsung Series 9, there would be 6 pages of comments on this site from many of the Apple bashers criticizing every little flaw, but when the actual product reviews come out those same people won't be posting anything but praise for the product.
    Reply
  • Karltheghost - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    Of course that are anecdotes, hence i wrote "For example" at the beginning . . .
    But actually i rely more on my personal experience and that of others, by whom i know what they're doing with their stuff than on some fanboyspeech (this is not intendet as criticism for this review). What i can say is that i made bad experiences with apple and friends too and there are much more bad experiences than good ones. So i am very sceptical. On the other hand i had very bad experiences with other brands too (e.g. i had 2 HP Notebooks that lastet less than 3 months), but there are plenty of others who hadn't problems for years. So what i'm referring to is kind of a good/bad-balance . . .

    It's not that i wouldn't buy a product just because it has an apple on it. In fact i would buy one if it fulfills my needs. But as long they're charging premium prices for machines that you can literarily throw away as soon the warranty runs out and have horrible software restrictions i'll stick with the bulky, ugly things that other manufactures are producing
    Reply
  • KPOM - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    What makes an Apple a throwaway product after a year? It still functions. My sister has a 2006 MacBook that is in almost new condition (though she hasn't used it much since getting a 2011 MacBook Air).

    Also, there are no software restrictions on OS X. Even with Mountain Lion, you can purchase and install your own software. This isn't iOS or Windows RT, where you must purchase from an App Store. The Mac App Store is optional.

    Sure, it won't run Windows as good as a PC with the same specs will, but it will run pretty well. I think what most Mac users who run Windows find is that over time, they use Windows less and less, perhaps just for that old program that just doesn't have a Mac equivalent. Heck, even Windows 7 includes an "XP Mode" to run XP in virtualization, so it isn't unique to the Mac. I can quibble a lot about how Microsoft has "crippled" support for 16-bit apps, or how the 64-bit version dropped support for some old peripheral that worked just fine in XP.
    Reply
  • Karltheghost - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    Just personal experience. After 2 Years or so most products get faulty, even if it's just the battery or a fan. On most Apple products you can't change that yourself as it's tightly integrated in the system and for example, a friend of mine payed 170€ just for a new iphone battery . Thats a financial write-of.

    With software restrictions i was referring to the windows/linux thing. The only reason windows runs slow is that apple provides bad drivers so you stick with osx.
    A bunch of horses won't get me to use OSX, i tried it once and it felt like a cage where the restrictions are covered by a lot bling-bling animation. While there are some nice things about it, like the touchpad integration you have even less system access than under windows. Nothing to convince a linux user and also nothing to replace windows on the gaming machine ;)
    The license agreement does the rest (yeah, i actually read that thing)
    Reply
  • KPOM - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    If you want to tinker with the system, get to know Terminal. It's a fully functional, full-blown Unix command line. Lots of Mac "tricks" involve using Terminal.

    There is a lot of eye candy in OS X, and unlike Windows, the standard utilities don't include lots of customizations, as that's a deliberate design decision. However, the functionality is there. OS X provides X Window support as well.

    Apple isn't a Windows OEM. They aren't obligated to optimize their PCs to run Windows. They make it available as a backstop. It isn't a matter of "forcing" people to us OS X. No one is "forced" to use OS X or buy a Mac. Boot Camp makes it less "risky" for someone with a lot of legacy software to make the switch since it provides a way for it to work. It doesn't promise and Apple doesn't advertise a system optimized to run Windows.
    Reply
  • Karltheghost - Wednesday, July 18, 2012 - link

    I think you're still getting me wrong. . .
    I live in Europe and here apple isn't as strong as in the USA for example. 90% are using Windows here. However, there are many people who would like to buy a macbook to run another OS on it, because they like the hardware. And actually it is officialy sold to possibly be used with Windows (If you go into a store, ask the guy at the counter if you can use windows the answer is yes) . But that's only possible with huge restrictions. They would sell a ton more machines if they would give full support for other OS.

    And the other matter according OSX that you've overlooked is their privacy policy and license agreement. Data privacy is quite a big deal to many persons here and to me it's one, if not the main reason not to use OSX
    Reply
  • pmhparis - Wednesday, July 18, 2012 - link

    You vastly overstate the problems with using Windows on Apple Hardware to the point that I see sour grapes in your comments.

    I'm coming from a background of years of Windows PCs. For the last few years I was a regular user of VMWare to get access to the different OS environments I need.

    I bought a rMBP to replace a Dell e6500 that was coming to the end of it's rope and my collegues are all drooling over how relatively Parralels makes using Windows VMs in OSX. The fact that it just works largely overcomes the minor problem of any performance hit. Besides, the rMBP is brand new and thus faster than all the other PCs so the Windows VMs are still faster than their PCs.

    I very rarely see the need to actually boot to windows using bootcamp as the windows bootcamp partition is shared with a VM instance btw so it's the same "machine" whether in a VM or in parallels, When using bootcamp the battery drains faster but even so the rMBP has a longer battery life.

    As someone actually using windows on a a rMBP the only reasons I can see for your comments are all irrational
    Reply
  • Karltheghost - Wednesday, July 18, 2012 - link

    "Besides, the rMBP is brand new and thus faster than all the other PCs so the Windows VMs are still faster than their PCs."

    But what you don't mention is, that it is still slower than it would be with decent drivers . . . or still slower than a PC Laptop with similar hardware.
    I don't want to run Windows in a VM, i want Windows (or Linux) ONLY, no OSX at all.

    "When using bootcamp the battery drains faster "
    This sounds like a restriction to me. I don't know about the new rMBP but with the 2011er MBP it was like 30 or 40% battery capacity just vanished.

    Don't get me wrong, if i would get the same battery life and computing power running Windows (or Linux) on the MBA, i would buy it. But as it seems to me i may be overstating a bit but you are trying to sweep this (nevertheless existing) problem under the carpet
    Reply
  • KPOM - Friday, July 20, 2012 - link

    But again, you don't seem to "get" that Apple doesn't want to sell you a Mac so that you can run Windows on it. They try to sell an integrated experience.

    Would the iPhone sell more if they let you run Android on it? Do you think Apple would ever do that? Would you expect them to?
    Reply
  • phillyry - Tuesday, March 26, 2013 - link

    Battery life doesn't magically disappear. It's just not as good under Window 7 as it is under OS X. Reply
  • phillyry - Tuesday, March 26, 2013 - link

    But the point was that some people just want the hardware.

    The point was also made that the sales reps at the Apple Stores say that if runs Windows.

    Hopefully we all know to take the words of sales reps with a grain of salt.

    Win7 runs alright and they did improve the battery life with the last update but the trackpad lacking all the OS X gestures is a real nag.
    Reply
  • phillyry - Tuesday, March 26, 2013 - link

    "a friend of mine payed 170€ just for a new iphone battery". Seriously?

    Where I live you can walk in to any Apple store with any iOS device and, if they can't fix it on the spot (okay, appointment required), then they'll offer you a replacement of the device for $100.
    Reply
  • KoolAidMan1 - Wednesday, July 18, 2012 - link

    Not at all, its just that the hater posts are irrational as usual.

    As for being disposable as you said in a post below, nonsense. Macs hold their resale value VERY well, I wish that my PC parts could be sold for as much after 2-3 years. The longest I've ever held any of my machines were my Macs (6 years for one of my production desktops).

    The rest of your post is based around anecdotal evidence. I don't know a single person who returned their Macs after only a few weeks based around "flaws" that you don't go into. Again, quite the opposite, longevity and high resale value are two huge things you're getting with one.
    Reply
  • Karltheghost - Wednesday, July 18, 2012 - link

    Fanboys are irrational as well ;)

    Actually there are PC parts which can be resold for a good price, look at the Thinkpads or Toughbooks.

    Of course it's anecdotal evidence, like i said so in my posts . . . but actually you'll find some manufactor whose "official" reputation is a lot better than personal experience in every market. Usually where you've got so aggressive Marketing, that objectivity is lost. For example there is FOX for mountainbike suspension or beats in the audio sector. And it seems to me it is apple in the computer sector . . .

    The flaws are mainly compatibility issues, if you have expensive software that is supposed to run on mac and if you install it, it is heavily crippled you sure are not very enthusiastic
    Reply
  • pmhparis - Wednesday, July 18, 2012 - link

    What software is heavily crippled on Macs? Other than CAM/CAD which is very specialized, needs specific harware & is only used by a tiny minority, I cannot think of any.

    Either be specific or admit that you're full of FUD.
    Reply
  • Tegeril - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    I've seen a lot of discussion on the AT forums and elsewhere, trying to tangibly represent the changes in GPU performance over a number of generations of Mac laptops and desktops, but specifically what you really get out of Intel's new graphics versus the older Nvidia solutions.

    I'd love to see some kind of reporting on the relative performance of things like:

    Intel 2000
    Intel 3000
    Intel 4000
    Nvidia 9400m
    Nvidia 320m
    ----
    Nvidia 330m/gt/whatever it was
    AMD 6630M

    Basically to see how Intel's graphics stack up against the systems that many people are currently using and upon which they are contemplating an upgrade. Perhaps it will be best times for a Haswell comparison so you can throw in Intel 5000 or whatever they decide to call it. But I do think people would find it valuable when considering something like:

    "I have this first gen Core i7 CPU MacBook Pro with a 330m/gt in it, if I don't want a retina MBP, my only graphics option without spending $1800 is Intel 4000, how does that stand up to what I'm using now" etc etc.

    Anyway, great review as usual, if i weren't already an rMBP owner, I'd be gunning for a 13" MBA.
    Reply
  • tipoo - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    I agree, they should be added to Bench

    http://www.anandtech.com/bench/GPU12/372
    Reply
  • Tegeril - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    I can attest to frequent GPU issues, display corruption, other nonsense with my AMD equipped (6970M) iMac.

    I'd much rather they keep diversity between manufacturers in their product lines (even if it is generation to generation), but the drivers are kinda crap.
    Reply
  • Death666Angel - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    If I remember correctly, IGZO will be able to reduce the amount of backlight that is caught in the panel. So a higher resolution panel would not necessarily mean increasing the backlight to get the same brightness. :-) Reply
  • TEAMSWITCHER - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    When I was in college my computer traveled back and forth with me in multiple large boxes. These new MacBook Airs (and the PC Ultra-books) are dream machines for college bound young people, vastly more powerful than the machines I used back in the day. As a Computer Science major having such a device constantly at my fingertips would have been truly life changing! So...Use them for good, and not evil. Reply
  • wditters - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    Hi Anand, are you sure about the Samsung color profile that your put up for download? It seems awfully off and washed out ... Cheers. Reply
  • billgerr - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    May get high-end 11-inch MBA as replacement when E4300 bites the dust. I like the E4300, but to this day have not owned a successor to Digital Equipment Co. (can't use term DEC anymore, as few recognize brand) Hi-Note Ultra. IMHO one of the sweetest designs ever, even with its blazingly fast 486DX CPU and floppy-disc wedge. Reply
  • Osamede - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    This article claims:
    "....Ultraportables prior to the MacBook Air's arrival in 2008 typically sacrificed in one or more of the above areas......"

    Wrong, wrong, wrong. There was the Panasonic Y series Toughbook, as well as the Soy SZ and Z. All of which far outperformed the MacBook Air. I had the Y5 with 14" screen 1400x1050 resolution, 8 hours useful life and it was 3.5 lbs WITH a DVD drive. The Sony Z11 and 12 for example pack power that even the most recent Macbook Air released NOW in 2012 still cannot match - and they also had 13" 1920x1080 screen and a "low end" model with 13" 1600x900 screen.

    The way Apple fans are trying to re-write history is scary.
    Reply
  • KPOM - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    What part of "typically" you understand? That doesn't mean that there weren't ANY notebooks, just that they weren't typical of the class.

    Here is the full context:

    Despite the recent Ultrabook frenzy, the MacBook Air was one of the first (if not the first) to marry performance with usability, screen size/resolution, portability and battery life. Ultraportables prior to the MacBook Air's arrival in 2008 typically sacrificed in one or more of the above areas.

    The Panasonic Toughbook was 1.9" thick. That fails the portability test:
    http://www.cnet.com/4505-3121_7-32309222.html

    The Vaio Z series fits the bill, but is significantly more expensive than the MacBook Air. Ultraportables have been around for years, but mostly they had small screens, were thick, had bad keyboards. Heck, even Apple had the Powerbook Duo in the early 1990s.

    The Air in 2010 was the first successful attempt to make the ultraportable mainstream. In 2008, it did offer a full size screen and keyboard, and was extremely thin, though it was still pricey.

    The way some anti-Apple people are trying to re-write history is scary.
    Reply
  • Osamede - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    This Y5 was highly portable. If you never used one you have no idea. It was wedge shaped. And the shape allowed for durablity. It was military grade and rated to survive a drop of several feet. And yes STILL only 3.5 lbs, In 2004.

    Besides its now 2012, give us a call when Apple manages to bring to market a 14" laptop with optical drive at 3.5 lbs.. Only God knows the kind of hype we would have heard it it was Apple doing what Panasonic managed damn near a decade ag.

    There was also the even smaller Panasonic W series and before that Sharp had some really good products with the Actius series at really good prices. And now thats going back to probably 1998 or even earlier

    Of course Apple fanboys imagine that the world began when Apple launched the MacBook Air. Pschew.....
    Reply
  • KPOM - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    Apple isn't going to make any more notebooks with optical drives. Once the classic MacBook Pro is phased out, optical drives are history at Apple. If you notice, most Ultrabooks lack them, as well.

    A wedge design topping out at 1.9" thick is still pretty bulky. Obviously it was designed for a niche audience, since they aren't selling them anymore. From the specs in 2007 it had a Core Duo 1.66GHz, topped out at 1.5GB RAM, and was very expensive. The keyboard also looks cramped.

    http://www.trustedreviews.com/Panasonic-ToughBook-...

    I'm not disputing that there were ultraportables before the MacBook Air. Heck, I've even pointed to the PowerBook Duo. I've always been a fan of ultraportables and though they were a long-neglected category. Apple itself didn't have one for 2 years after the 12" Powerbook was dropped.

    Most ultraportables were slow sellers that were quietly abandoned. To its credit, Apple stuck with the MacBook Air. A lot of Apple fans were even calling for Apple to drop the MacBook Air as late as September 2010. However, they stuck with it and continued to perfect the design. It's indisputable that the release of the $999 11.6" MacBook Air in October 2010 launched the concept of a mainstream ultraportable.
    Reply
  • Osamede - Friday, July 20, 2012 - link

    Nice try with the red herring about optical drive.

    The Panasonic was 3.5 lbs with Optical dive. Take that weight out and you have a 14" laptop with 1400 x 1050 at 3.2 lbs.....in 2006.

    And yet according to you we are all supposed to roll over in supplication because in 2012 Apple is selling 13" laptops that weight 3lbs. Spare me the hype. Even The 2010 Sony Z is already a superior laptop compared to even todays "latest" MacBook Air, let alone the 7 year old Panasonic model.

    Some of you swallow marketing BS and think it is fact.
    Reply
  • KPOM - Friday, July 20, 2012 - link

    Red herring? You are the one claiming that Apple should be putting in optical drives if they want to brag. My point is that optical drives are mostly passé. Intel hasn't made it part of the Ultrabook standard. Sony's Vaio Z is an impressive machine, but at more than twice the cost of the base MacBook Air it had better be.

    I'm not saying we need to roll over in supplication. What I am saying is that Apple transformed the ultraportable from a niche device to a mainstream device. My whole point, which your red herring about Panasonic Toughbooks and Sony Vaios ignores, is that ultraportables had been around for a decade but weren't popular devices until Apple got the formula right. Maybe Panasonic could have made a 14" laptop with 1400x1050 at 3.2lbs in 2006, but they didn't. Maybe Sony could have made a $999 Sony Vaio in 2010, but they didn't. Apple DID make a $999 MacBook Air in 2010. Apple DID make an ultraportable with a full size keyboard and super slick trackpad in 2008, and they DID make it affordable in 2010, and they DID take the drastic step of dropping hard drives and going exclusively with SSD storage in 2010.
    Reply
  • phillyry - Tuesday, March 26, 2013 - link

    You can't just say that this other laptop was lighter than it actually was because it would be lighter if it didn't have an optical drive that it did have. Confused much? That's because it doesn't make sense. Your logic is flawed. It either had the drive and the weight and bulk that go with it (as it did) or it didn't (as in your imaginary best case). Reply
  • phillyry - Tuesday, March 26, 2013 - link

    Also, Apple is phasing out the optical drive. No red herring there. Reply
  • KPOM - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    "Of course Apple fanboys imagine that the world began when Apple launched the MacBook Air. Pschew..... "

    Actually a lot of "Apple fanboys" HATED the original MacBook Air.

    Read some of the comments to this article: http://www.macworld.com/article/1131583/macbookair...

    As for optical drives, it's 2012. Did you complain when Apple stopped supporting the floppy drive, too? I don't see any optical drives on Microsoft's Surface Pro.
    Reply
  • phillyry - Tuesday, March 26, 2013 - link

    The devices you refer to were not mainstream. Reply
  • will54 - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    "While 1440 x 900 is a bit much on a 15-inch MacBook Pro, I'd say it's near perfect on the 13-inch Air. If Apple were to do the Retina treatment on here, it'd be magnificent." This line is a bit confusing, can you explain further? Reply
  • Tegeril - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    I assume he intended to mean that the 15" screen is too large for 1440x900 as the pixels are quite large, but on a 13" screen it is ideal. Reply
  • ShadeZeRO - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    I'm curious as to why you haven't held the apple line to the normal scrutiny typically found in your other notebook reviews.

    I've noticed a certain level of bias on most review sites most likely caused by the sudden trend in popularity of Apple products.

    If this was branded differently I'm positive the display for one would have been ridiculed as a poultry offering.

    Overall a fine review, it's not on the level of a gizmodo/engadget/etc apple circle jerk so I still respect it.

    /rant
    Reply
  • KoolAidMan1 - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    He criticized the display and compared it unfavorably against other ultrabooks that use IPS panels. It is one of the few points of criticism, but its there. Is your problem that he doesn't say that the MBA is a complete piece of trash?

    Anand gave a very well balanced review as per usual.
    Reply
  • Super56K - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    I would gladly take a 1440x900 TN display like the Air's in a 13" Sandy/Ivy Bridge Windows laptop. Reply
  • notposting - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    Paltry offering.

    Unless they are offering up some turkeys, ducks, and chickens for sacrifice.
    Reply
  • Alameda - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    First of all, Anand, I want to tell you that you've once again written up an excellent review, and I'm very impressed with your thoroughness and clarity. I just purchased a 2011 MBA, so of course I read your review to justify that I made the right decision. While I understand the need for benchmarks and the real-world tests such as Photoshop and so forth, I think most people do not use their computers the way your tests imply.

    In my daily use, the performance bottleneck I experience is when making a Time Machine backup, which the new machines should improve upon -- USB 2.0 is very slow, and Thunderbolt drives are too expensive. USB 3.0 is the right solution for most users. I would also like to see networking tests. This machine needs wifi to work, and there's a lot of performance variance from one 802.11n to another. Last, sincecthe RAM is soldered, adding guidance about memory use would be useful. On my MBA, if I open all of my applications at once (except VMWare), I use less than 2 of my 4 GB of RAM. So it seems to me that 8+ GB only matters if you have a specific power-user need, particularly in a simultaneous Mac/Windows setup, but for most users, 4 GB and the stock CPU exceeds what you can use.

    I personally think these sorts of real world tests would make your reviews better reflect what most users actually do. I also feel that many people want to make excuses for taxing a machine to its limits, but we simply don't have such issues in actual use.
    Reply
  • name99 - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    Basically 2GiB is tight for pretty much any OSX user nowadays, but swapping on even the 2011 SSDs is fast enough that you don't really notice it. You can live it, but you will notice occasional pauses.

    You want 4GiB if you tend to keep a lot of browser windows open. Safari is a pig in this respect (hopefully improved somewhat in ML) and Chrome is not that much better.
    My collection of always-running apps is Finder, Mail, iChat, Skype, iTunes and Safari; something like this is, I think, pretty standard across most users. That, with 20 or so browser windows, will fit OK in 4GiB, but will start obviously paging if you add a few more apps, eg throw in Word or Excel or an Adobe app.

    (
    Where does it go?
    Essentially the OS is using about 500MB for misc [process management, memory management, network buffers, that sort of thing] and about 1GB for file buffers of various sorts. Of the 2.5 GB that's left, the worst offenders:
    WebProcess, essentially the guts of Safari, is currently using 1.2GB which is pathetic, the actual Safari process, basically UI, is using 200MB, also pathetic, and iTunes is using 530 MB --- TRULY pathetic, but what else would you expect from, iTunes, apparently the team to which Apple retires their most doddering and incompetent programmers.
    )

    For most people, however, I'd recommend 8GiB purely because
    - it's not that much more in cost.
    - you may not need it now, but you're future-proofing yourself since most normal people use their laptops for at least 3yrs before replacing them
    - the extra retail value when you do retire it is probably worth more than the extra cost now --- just think of the comparable desirability today of a 2GB vs a 4GB 2010 MBA.
    Reply
  • Freakie - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    I'd definitely agree with you that 8GB really should be what most people get. Even though they wont know or understand the difference, it makes a difference in how much they will enjoy any computer, PC or Mac. You just never know when someone will do something that eats up a ton of RAM, whether it be running a game without closing their browser, or opening up 100+ browser tabs, 4 word documents, and 4 excel books (my girlfriend does that a lot, and it makes her 8GB rather unhappy).

    And if you have an Windows computer with a 64bit install, more RAM is even more important for getting the best possible experience. While I can't say while OSX seems to have such RAM hungry programs that don't offer performance gains for so much usage, I can say that I put specific 64bit programs on my Windows laptop knowing that they will perform better and be able to use more RAM and use it more effectively. My 64bit Firefox browser is a great example of that. I don't mind it using 2-3GB of RAM because I have a crap ton of stuff open, multiple flash based videos, a flash game, ect... because it's just a nice experience. Not to mention this 64bit version is way faster than the regular one :P Regular users could be having these nice experiences too if the general consensus on what a good amount of RAM is would increase.

    On a side note... I'm thinking of going up to 16GB on my laptop, maybe 24GB... Just because I'm greedy :P Might even go the full 32GB and put a RAMdisk... who knows! So many possibilities when you have MORE RAM!
    Reply
  • phillyry - Tuesday, March 26, 2013 - link

    'Future proofing' = illusion

    Here's your future proofing. Buy what you need now of will likely need in the near future and save your pennies (or, in this case hundreds of dollars with of upgrades) for your next upgrade. And by upgrade, I mean your next laptop or whatever the hell else you want to do wig your money. Why leave an extra $100 lying inside a computer chassis in the shape of some soldered on RAM, if you can keep that money in your bank account and buy whatever else you want or, maybe even, actually need with it.

    Really, the upgrades should only be for the hardcore users and should not be a concern for most people.
    Reply
  • name99 - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    What sort of compression does Sandforce use?

    More specifically, I imagine that within a file they use some sort of LZ variant --- it's easy, it's known to work well for this sort of problem, and there's hardware to handle it.

    More interesting is the question of what sort of cross-file de-duplication they use. The obvious thing would be some sort of hash of each 4kiB block to something like a 128b signature, then compare each incoming block to that map. But that would require an in-memory table of hashes that would be of order 256MiB in size for a 64GB drive (and twice that for a 128GB drive), which, while obviously technically possible, doesn't seem to match their actual hardware setup. You could drop the hash to 64b, at the cost of more frequent collisions (and thus having to waste time reading the drive to compare with the incoming block) and that would halve your table size --- again possible, but still looking like it uses more RAM than they have available.

    So what's the deal? They don't actually do cross block de-dup? They do it in some fashion (eg using larger blocks than 4kiB) which, while it works, is not as optimal for small files?
    Reply
  • desmoboy - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    Excellent Review Anand. Do you have a explanation why the 13" MBA i7 is 28 sec slower in the iMovie '11 (Import + Optimize) benchmark than the i5 version? Seems bit strange when the i7 scores higher on every other of your benchmarks (as one would expect) Reply
  • notposting - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    Anand, the 2012's are obviously superior (especially in the graphics department, wow!) than the 2011 models, but if someone is looking for their first "modern" Mac, do you think the 2011 13" MBA would hold up well?

    Apple offers their refurbed 2011 fully loaded model (1.8GHz i7, 4GB/256GB SSD) for only $1199 with full Apple warranty which seems like a pretty good value for the dollar...assuming the machine isn't used for any sort of demanding games (ie Solitaire at the max), just your basic web, movies/music, office, etc, it seems like it would be a good deal.

    For that matter they offer the i5 with 4/128 for only 929 which might be even better though I think the increased storage would be a good idea....

    What are your thoughts on this?
    Reply
  • phillyry - Tuesday, March 26, 2013 - link

    Either will do all of your basic tasks and you likely won't notice the difference unless you do stuff that is GPU intensive (which these things aren't really designed for anyways).

    Traded in a 128GB one for a 256GB one because storage is the real limitation.
    Reply
  • PatM - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    Have been waiting for this review since their announcement! I'm trying to decide between the i5 & i7. The issue is performance vs temp (and fan noise). And wouldn't you know it, every chart in the review separates the 13" i5 & i7 until the temp section, and all of a sudden, it's just 11" vs 13".

    Is there a reason for this that I'm missing? Does anybody know if the i7 runs hotter (and is louder) than the i5? If so, how much?

    Thanks!
    Reply
  • yuanshec - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    Anand:

    Great review again.
    I just wondering do you have testing results on 4G vs 8G RAM?
    Does the extra performance gain outside 4GB worth the $100 upgrade fee?
    Reply
  • Deepcover96 - Wednesday, July 18, 2012 - link

    I think if you do anything more than web-browsing and document editing, then the $100 upgrade is a no-brainer. But I'm not Anand. Reply
  • phillyry - Tuesday, March 26, 2013 - link

    Increasing RAM doesn't increase performance.

    It just makes it so that your less likely to hit the ceiling and suffer performance degradation as a result of page file swapping (or whatever, correct me if I'm wrong). But most 'normal people', e.g. non-Anandtech readers, would never notice the difference - especially since the MBAs are pure SSD with no nechanical hard drive to slow you down (when you do need to access it).
    Reply
  • Spunjji - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    Pleeeaaaassseeee can we get some meaningful comparisons to non-Apple hardware in the benchmarks? Boot Camp is definitely a thing now. It exists. It is there. Install Windows, run the benchmarks. I want to know how their hardware compares to other machines, not just Apple machines. Some of us care about this. :( Reply
  • Galatian - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    Anand, thanks (again) for your review. I downloaded your profile for my MacBook Air 13" 2012 which has the Samsung screen, but I feel it is completely off. Blues become a little to greenish and everything just seems dull. Blacks are now...well shades of gray...hard to explain. Are you sure you have uploaded the right profiles? Reply
  • wditters - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    It seems that there are more users commenting about the Samsung profile. I have the same experience as you have. Somehow it seems to be way off target, and actually makes the screen look worse. Reply
  • aliceyoung - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    Please, guys, if you're going to publish all these nice tables, check to make sure they are correct. There is no 11 inch i7 2010 MBA. And "Intel HD 4000 graphics" is not a "base clock speed." I found those two errors and I barely skimmed 20% of the article. There must be many more. Reply
  • robco - Wednesday, July 18, 2012 - link

    I have a few friends who upgraded to the new Airs and love them. I'm holding onto my 3 year old MBP for another year until Haswell comes out. Though it looks like the HD 4000 can keep up with or even surpass the 9600M in mine.

    I'm leaning toward the Air, though my personal prediction (hope?) is that when Haswell comes out next year, that will have enough oomph for Apple to launch the 13" rMBP with a 2560x1600 display. If they can keep the weight under 4 lbs., that would be awesome.

    As for Apple not being the first, being first isn't always best. There were other ultraportables before the 2010 Air, but few sold in large volume. There were tablets before the iPad, but relatively few sales. There were smartphones before the iPhone, but few consumers wanted them. Being first isn't important, executing a good product is.

    And for the anecdotal stories, how a company handles a problem is also quite important. I'm on my second Apple laptop, but each one has had issues (I get AppleCare). On my 2006 MB, the trim started pulling away, made an appointment at the Apple Store, they replaced the top case the same day. A week before AppleCare expired, I noticed the optical drive had failed (never really used it), they not only replaced it, but found that one of the cooling fans wasn't operating quite as fast as it should, they replaced that too. When I got my 2009 MBP, the trackpad started sticking and wouldn't click, fixed same day. I got a battery error, that was replaced in about 20 mins. No waiting on hold for hours, going through a bunch of repetitive nonsense. Fixed quickly, no questions asked. I don't expect to never have an issue, I'm hardly gentle with my laptops, but when something does happen, it's nice to know things get fixed quickly without a lot of hassle. Then again, that's just my own personal experience...
    Reply
  • MobiusStrip - Wednesday, July 18, 2012 - link

    Yay, more Apple computers with mandatory, shitty glossy screens.

    What kind of "leader" takes its cues from the third-tier plastic schlock being peddled at Best Buy? Glossy screens are the biggest regression in computing ever. Absolutely moronic.
    Reply
  • Deepcover96 - Wednesday, July 18, 2012 - link

    I hadn't noticed that my 2012 MacBook Air's screen was glossy. Maybe they made it less glossy? Reply
  • phillyry - Tuesday, March 26, 2013 - link

    Maybe they made them extra glossy on purpose so that we wouldn't be able to notice the terrible viewing angles for all the glare! Reply
  • phillyry - Thursday, March 28, 2013 - link

    Also helps to hide the pixelation. Reply
  • Lepton87 - Wednesday, July 18, 2012 - link

    I have something to say regarding anand's conclusion that 1920x1200 on a 11' is a stopgap solution and apple is too great to settle for something so mediocre. 2732x1536 on the 11.6 is totally idiotic. You don't need more than 120PPI on a desktop and 140PPI on a laptop for a screen to be considered retina.(remember viewing distance is a big factor) So why waste all that processing power? Even retina Macbook pro can't render everything silky smooth. Even my 2560x1440 desktop 27'' "lowly" resolution screen is 90% retina, taking into account my less than perfect eyesight into equation it's probably very close all that I need to not seen individual pixels from normal viewing distance. 2880x1800 on 27' would make it a perfect screen for my, everthing more than that would choke my already outdated quadfire 2x6990 CF set-up. The boss probably won't honor me with answering this personally :( I would really like to know his view on increasing resolution way past what would be considered retina, i.e making pixels much smaller than the necessary size for them to be not discernible individually from normal viewing distance. Reply
  • Znarkus - Thursday, July 19, 2012 - link

    It would've been awesome to compare max power draw and surface temperature with the different CPUs, especially the i7 :) Reply
  • Alameda - Saturday, July 21, 2012 - link

    I have a 2011 MacBook Air. I think the big improvement in 2012 is USB 3. Time Machine backups take a very long time (I backup once every few days). USB 3 would clearly make a big difference here. Thunderbolt, sadly, is too expensive to justify, unless you're backing up to a RAID or some such. Reply
  • Galatian - Sunday, July 22, 2012 - link

    Hey Anand,

    I have yet to get back to you again concerning the Gaming Performance on the i5 ULV with HD4000. I was coming from a 2008 Unibody MacBook Pro (2,53 GHz, 8 GB RAM, Vertex 2, nVidia 9600M 512 MB vRAM), so I naturally expected that Civilization V would not run as fast on my new MacBook Air under Windows than it did on my old MacBook Pro. At least your charts suggest so. According to FRAPS I would get around 22 fps, which is not stellar but enough for turn based strategy game.

    I don't know if there has been any update on the driver or what, but Civilization V is actually more playable on my MacBook Air then on my old MacBook Pro. The CPU of course is faster. My MacBook Pro would overheat and hence the Core 2 Duo only ran with like 2,0 GHz while playing the game, while the Ivy Bridge ULV actually still has enough headroom to Turbo Boost. The big surprise to me was actually the graphic performance, which has been much smoother. For the sake of it I would really like to know how you get your extremely low fps while testing Civilization V? Are you running the newest version w/o Gods & Kings add-on? Do other persons have the same experience? I thought I would make a step back in gaming performance when I switched to the MacBook Air, but to my surprise this isn't the case. I sure would like other people to know this, so they can put the Ivy Bridge ULV in better perspective.

    Along the line I would really like to see a comparison between AMDs and Intels ULV offerings. The tests I see only only compare the A10 (which has a much higher TDP) to Intels ULV platform. From my understanding only the Bobcat should be comparable to Intels ULV offering. Then again I really can't follow what is what with AMD especially I don't which ones are released and which ones are not...
    Reply
  • cookiezulu - Monday, July 30, 2012 - link

    Hi Anand, thank you for yet another excellent review! I was worried for a sec there that you might be busy with other things and skip the review for the MBA this year.

    The MBA 2012 (8GB, stock processor) is my first ever MAC and also my first computer with an SSD drive. I'm not very familiar with how the SD Card slots work in these SSD machines and/or in Mac machines and I would like to buy one of these:
    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1342319572/the...

    It's essential a microSD card holder that sits flush with the MBA (rather than sticking out). I held out because of the issue of the SD card preventing the computer from going into deep sleep mode, as per Apple support article here:
    https://support.apple.com/kb/HT4392

    Somebody then thought to ask what happens if the SD/microSD card is left in place but it is unmounted on a software level. In theory this should allow the Macs to go into deep sleep (standby) mode as the SD card slot would be just as 'dead' as if the card wasn't there.

    I'm definitely looking to always have an SD card into the slot, both to increase storage but also, and more importantly, to use it for exactly the types of activities that you mention in the article as slowing it down. I want the SSD to run just operating system and installed programs. All others (downloads, music, photo, etc) I want to keep on external devices.

    Can you, by any chance, offer any help/info/clarification on this one?

    Thanks ever so much
    Reply
  • TechKnow12 - Saturday, September 22, 2012 - link

    I too was planning on buying an SD card to use as extra storage. I just bought a 128Gb MBA rather than 256Gb as it was $300 cheaper. Firstly, I wasn't aware of the deep sleep issue with the SD card however I discovered the same issue with leaving a USB drive connected. I'll investigate your two solutions below. Thanks for posting that info!
    Lastly, I did some research on SD card performance/speed. Something to keep in mind for anyone who is also planning to do this, the cheaper ones only have a speed of around 30MB/s and the faster, more expensive ones with a speed of 95MB/s. When you compare the cost of the faster cards to the option of buying a MBA with the 256Gb's, the best option would have been to buy the 256Gb MBA.
    The following is a short speed comparison of SD cards vs. USB vs. MBA SSD:
    SD 30MB/s = 240mbps
    SD 45MB/s = 360mbps
    SD 65MB/s = 520mbps
    SD 95MB/s = 760mbps
    USB 2.0 (60MB/s) = 480mbps
    USB 3.0 (625MB/s) = 5000mbps
    MacBook Air 2012 SSD: writes at 364MB/sec, reads at 461MB/sec

    In speed order:
    SD 30MB/s = 240mbps
    SD 45MB/s = 360mbps
    * MacBook Air 2012 SSD: writes at 364MB/sec, reads at 461MB/sec
    USB 2.0 (60MB/s) = 480mbps
    SD 60MB/s = 480mbps
    SD 95MB/s = 760mbps
    USB 3.0 (625MB/s) = 5000mbps

    So for best performance (read/write speeds) I would go with the 60MB/s SD card however it is expensive. Around $300 for 128Gb. Thus it probably would have been better to buy the MBA 256Gb version. Or you could go for a Sandisk 128Gb 45MB/s card for $170. Slightly slower then MBA's SSD but should be good enough for music and video files (I think). Would be good to find out from anyone using an SD card for storage what they think.
    :)
    Reply
  • TechKnow12 - Saturday, September 22, 2012 - link

    Sorry, made an error with the SD 65MB/s in the first list. Should have read:
    SD 60MB/s = 480mbps not SD 65MB/s = 520mbps

    :)
    Reply
  • phillyry - Thursday, March 28, 2013 - link

    Dude. The ssd speeds and sizes are both in MB/s and GB, not Mb/s and Gb. So, the internal storage (SSD) is running at 360-460MB/s and your SD cards are capped out at 95MB/s.
    400MB/s is clearly better than 95MB/s. No need for conversions, as they're both already in MB/s.

    The Sandisk 45 MB/s SD card is an ORDER OF MAGNITUDE SLOWER (10x) than the SSD in the MBA.

    You would only buy an SD for either transferring files or getting a little extra (non-critical) storage capacity.

    Not only will the drive be slower than a typical mechanical hard drive - only the 95MB/s ones will pass a basic 80MB/s HDD - it will be around 1/10 to 1/5 the speed of the SSDs in the 2012 MBA.
    Reply
  • cookiezulu - Wednesday, August 01, 2012 - link

    In the meantime I have found (via another user - thanks Ken Ng) that there are too apps on Mac App store for this purpose (unmounting external devices when laptop goes to sleep and remounting them automatically when laptop is taken out of sleep):

    - AutoEJECT (by DragonBTV developer)
    - Jetisson (by StClair Software)
    Reply
  • TechKnow12 - Saturday, September 22, 2012 - link

    Well, I got really fed up with the performance of my WIndows 7 based netbook and the lack of good and abundant support from the netbook manufacturers website. Apple has that many forums that you can always get some sort of assistance somewhere. As for Windows 7 it is less intuitive than Windows XP which for me personally resulted in a less than desirable user experience. My netbook had a multitouch touch pad but not as advanced as MBA.
    I was rather impressed with the performance and quality of the MBA that I decided to take the plunge and get one. Now this is my first ever experience with Mac and OSX. It took me a little bit of acclimatising however OSX is so much easier to use, more intuitive. The experience so far has been awesome. There are lots of hidden tricks with the touch pad which are awesome too.

    There are too many PROs to list. As for CONs there are just a couple which I've encountered. One that is easily fixable is the auto adjusting screen brightness. On a cloudy day where ambient brightness can change constantly as clouds move by, the brightness fluctuates constantly to match. Not very pleasant for the eyes. Simple fix is to turn off this function. The other is web page loading where Safari just hangs and does nothing until you re click on the link or cancel the page load then hit refresh. Doesnt seem to be a problem with Firefox.

    Battery life is good and as stated. Cut a couple of hours off that if you're streaming Youtube clips or playing music. But again, as it goes with battery life, it is all subjective to how you use the MBA.

    So will I ever go back to Windows? No.
    I've been running Windows 8 RC on a spare PC and it is less intuitive than Win 7. It's actually quite horrible. Not something I would want to use permanently.

    I think more people are going to be making the switch to Mac in future.
    Reply
  • TechKnow12 - Monday, October 01, 2012 - link

    Heh hehhh! I'm going back on my word or rather on my statement above regarding Windows. :p
    Since actually having tried out Bootcamp and installing Windows 7, I can now run Win 7 natively and run Win only programs. Win 7 runs really well on MBA. Battery life is about the same. Voice control works well with the inbuilt microphone.
    I love how Bootcamp has given me dual boot functionality as I originally thought Bootcamp was akin to VMWare.
    It's virtually like having two ultrabooks in one. One Mac and one Windows.
    Unfortunately Safari swipe gestures (back & fwd) aren't supported under Windows.
    And OSX doesn't have voice control to control everything like Win 7 does. But I guess that will come soon as Siri develops and hopefully makes it to OSX. :)
    Reply
  • ald - Friday, November 16, 2012 - link

    I was wondering about the calibration profile provided for the LG display of Macbook air, to me it seems like it makes greys a little brown and whites a little yellow, and when you look at the display from side it has a weird green tint. Does anyone else have the same problem. I have downloaded this profile from http://osxdaily.com/2011/10/30/how-to-check-for-an... which seems to do a much better job. Reply
  • tdtran1025 - Tuesday, November 27, 2012 - link

    The time is right for Apple to deploy their brew of ARM-based SoC in Airs, basing on the performance of the latest iPad. It would make sense for Apple to indulge this form factor to increase their gross margin, and for those who despise touch typing. I am sure Apple will find ways to increase the performance of the current ARM processors to match that of low end Intel C2D within 18 months. All that power saving may push battery performance to beyond 5 hours in the Airs, something we can all go for. Reply
  • phillyry - Thursday, March 28, 2013 - link

    Are you crazy?

    Arm is nowhere near where it needs to be to run OS X.
    Reply
  • DPsocial - Wednesday, January 09, 2013 - link

    This computer is absolutely perfect for college http://bit.ly/MacBook_Air_DPS My roommate used this computer through college, very light and perfect for going to class. Highly recommended. Reply

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