The MacBook Air: Thoroughly Reviewedby Anand Lal Shimpi on February 13, 2008 12:00 AM EST
- Posted in
Little or No Upgrade Path
Allow me to make this very clear: the useful lifespan of the MacBook Air is very limited. Because you're mostly paying for the portability of the notebook, the Air isn't blessed with particularly speedy internals. Thankfully Apple outfitted it with a reasonably clocked Core 2 Duo, but in a year's time 1.8GHz won't really be all that impressive. We'll be seeing mobile Nehalem, which will continue to improve performance while dropping power consumption. While I don't expect the clock speeds to increase that much at the same TDP (Apple might be able to get a 2.0GHz chip in here), the performance and battery life changes will be noticeable.
The CPU in the Air is soldered on to the motherboard, so there's no replacing it. Even worse, the memory is also soldered on the board and there are no expansion slots. So you're stuck with 2GB of memory from now until the day you buy a new notebook. The only component you can really upgrade is the hard drive, which helps this from being completely depressing but isn't enough.
The CPU and half of the Air's memory are visible here, all soldered onto the motherboard
Obviously you can continue to use the MacBook Air as long as you'd like, but be aware of its planned obsolescence. The lack of memory slots is quite possibly the biggest issue, especially as applications grow in size. I remember reviewing the first Mac mini and complaining about not having 512MB of memory standard; these days 2GB is my sweet spot for OS X, and luckily Apple has outfitted the Air with just that. It'll be another year or two before 4GB is the minimum smooth requirement for a decent OS X machine, but when that rolls around you're out of luck with the Air.
Don't buy this notebook if you're not comfortable with having to buy a new one in another year or two. For the target market with the sort of disposable income necessary for such a habit, it's not a terrible commitment.