Apple MacBook Air 11in 2012
For the love of Ivy Bridge
Review The 11in MacBook Air took top spot in El Reg's recent round-up of the best Ultrabooks – even though, strictly speaking, it isn’t actually an Ultrabook, according to Intel’s proprietary definition of the term. This 2012 model doesn’t tamper with the winning formula, but it does provide a respectable update that should keep it at the head of the pack.
The MacBook Air is as portable and usable as ever - but it's faster now
Prices start, as they did for last year’s model, at £849, but the previous 1.6GHz Sandy Bridge Core-i5 processor has been replaced with this year’s Ivy Bridge version running at 1.7GHz. The Ivy Bridge chip also introduces the new Intel HD 4000 integrated graphics core and, thankfully, the measly 2GB of 1333MHz DDR 3 Ram that was soldered into last year’s model has now expanded to a more respectable 4GB running at 1600MHz.
Apple claims that the SSD drive is faster too, although the size of the drive is still a rather tight-fisted 64GB. You can double that up to 128GB for £80 extra, while a further £130 buys you an Core-i7 processor clocked to 2.0GHz.
USB 3.0 at last
The 1366 x 768 screen remains unchanged – there’s no Retina Display this time around. I’m not too bothered about that, and I suspect that Apple has left the screen alone in order to preserve battery life – which remains a healthy five hours for browsing on a wireless network. However, I would have liked Apple to tone down the glare reflection on the MacBook Air as it has done with the new MacBook Pro.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to install Windows in order to run Reg Hardware's customary PCMark 7 benchmarks, as Apple’s Software Update service doesn’t yet have the necessary Boot Camp drivers available. However, using the alternative GeekBench, the MacBook Air achieved a score of 5790 compared to 4700 for last year’s model, representing a healthy 23 per cent improvement in performance.
But an SD slot and/or Gigabit Ethernet would have been nice
There have been some other changes too. The Thunderbolt interface introduced on last year’s model probably didn’t get used much, since the handful of Thunderbolt drives released so far have all been outrageously expensive. But, like all the other new laptops introduced by Apple this month, the MacBook Air has finally gained a pair of USB 3.0 ports. The arrival of SuperSpeed USB was long overdue, especially since the MacBook Air didn’t feature Firewire either.
Next page: Ultra 'book
I do wish there was some sort of filter for this crap.
Yes, Apple make expensive consumer-centric products which are annoying locked down (Retina MBP battery gluing and RAM-soldering are 2012's idiotic ideas it seems). Yes, they attract zealots. My experience is that a Macs allows me to get more work done with less faffing around - people time is more expensive than kit.
At out small software development services company we started using Macs to do iOS development only, but now we're replacing the Windows boxes with Macs as they reach end of life. I tried a couple of flavours of GNU/Linux a couple of years back but it was too painful on laptops - wireless, 3G, suspend/resume issues, audio and printer driver issues. With Macs we get all the handy command line tooling (out of the box and with Macports) without the GNU/Linux laptop pain or the Windows cygwin pain.
YMMV, buy what makes you happy. TBH I miss my old Thinkpads, before Lenovo started making them out of cheese.
Re: No Ethernet
>Renaming it to "Overpriced metal sheened wireless deelie for mugs" would be better, and far more accurate without calling iTards what they actually are.
Does posting dumb shit like that make you feel better about your miserable self?
I second the motion for an iHater filter. They can be allowed back in when they back up their claims with evidence.
They are especially irritating because the rest of us would like to talk rationality about the future of the kit that we use, and new ideas and standards often pop up on Apple kit. I'm a PC user. Take the ThunderBolt interface for instance - that has the potential to blur the distinction between desktop and laptop, offering as it does the ability to offload a discrete graphics card into a docking station, as Sony have used it for on the equally pricey Vaio Z (along with fast external storage and a monitor to boot). Exciting stuff, in so far as tech goes.
That's high end kit at the moment, but give it a year or two. This stuff will affect us more than one manufacturer deciding now that many of its users don't use Ethernet enough to warrant a dedicated socket. Shit, one relative of mine bought a new laptop purely because her old Toshiba didn't have a caps-lock light or a SD Card slot...
Viva la difference.
Re: No Ethernet
> Renaming it to "Overpriced metal sheened wireless deelie for mugs" would be better, and far more accurate without calling iTards what they actually are.
Strange how tossers like you can't support their overpriced claim with links to where one can find a comparable PC for half the price of a Mac. Put up or shut up, please.
Re: No Ethernet
It's funny, because so many professional musicians use Mac laptops. Even Kraftwerk who aren't "tards" by any stretch of the imagination.