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macbook air 11

Page history last edited by Tantek 10 years, 11 months ago

Apple MacBook Air 11"

The Apple MacBook Air 11" (MBA11) and thoughts on ideal configuration, written 2010-298 (2010-10-25).


Apple MacBookAir with 11.6 inch diagonal screen size

Preferred BTO Options

While you can pre-order a MacBook Air 11" at 994.00 from Amazon (even with free Amazon Prime shipping), these are my preferred (and recommended) Apple Store build to order (BTO) options for the MacBook Air 11" with preliminary reasoning for each. I plan on making this purchase soon.

  • Start with the MacBook Air 11" with 128GB Flash Storage -
    • 11" over 13" because with portable electronics size does matter. Like cameras, the laptop you use is the one you carry. The smaller size and weight might not seem like a lot, but it is one of those things that will make/break the difference for numerous situations where you might be on the fence about bringing it with you. I know this from experiences with carrying my PowerBook G4 12" vs. my MacBook 13" vs. a former work-related MacBook Pro 15". Every inch counts - as things get smaller, the bag options go up dramatically. Many museums (e.g. SFMOMA) will allow small "purse-like" bags, but not "laptop-holding-like" bags. And you should never check your laptop.
    • 128GB over 64GB Flash Storage. Maxing out the Flash Storage for $200 more makes sense because you can't upgrade it later, and maxing out features tends to better "future-proof" your purchase in terms of uses/use-cases (that require more space), and potential resale value. As an example, used PowerBook G4 12" models that had the most RAM etc. garner significantly more than their lower RAM/disk/speed versions. 
  • 1.6GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor for $100 more. Maxing out the processor is more about resale value than actual utility, though it's possible the occasional calculation task (image editing?) will get a minor speed boost.
  • 4GB 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM for $100 more. RAM is the #1 typical thing you can increase to improve the speed of your computer (due to how virtual memory works etc.) The next thing is the drive speed (Flash Storage is better already than HD), and finally the processor speed.
  • Ethernet Adapter for $29 more. Absolutely required for road warriors. All too often I've been to hotels with Ethernet but no wifi. Also useful for directly plugging into your Airport Express (which you should bring with you when traveling) to reprogram it.
  • AppleCare Protection Plan for $249 more. I've bought AppleCare and used it for repairs on every Mac laptop that I've purchased, possibly because I use my laptop(s) a lot. It's worth ordering alongside the MBA11 for the time savings of auto-registration and one fewer transaction.
  • Mini DisplayPort to DVI Adapter for $29. Another road warrior must for traveling + presenting. I've been in situations (e.g. conference rooms) where the only video input was DVI (no VGA).
  • Mini DisplayPort to VGA Adapter for $29. VGA is the most common video/projector connector. Thus another road warrior / presenter must have. 


Maybe BTO Options

Build to order options that I'm only partially considering, and why.

  • MacBook Air SuperDrive for $79 more.  Could be a good idea. I watch DVDs when I travel, and occasionally rip CDs. Also seems like something I could buy later if I wanted, so I'm leaning towards trying to go without a CD/DVD drive to see what happens.



Dimensions: height:0.11-0.68in, width:11.8in, depth:7.56in (89.2 sq in), weight:2.3 pounds per Apple MacBook Air Technical Specs) Yes, Apple finally made a laptop physically smaller than the PowerBook G4 12" but with a display that has 33% more pixels in width.


Related Pages

  • LaptopCriteria - more general thoughts on how and why to purchase what kind of laptop with what features etc. A couple of years old but still quite applicable in general.
  • MacBook - the previous refurbished computer that I bought in order to have a shared HouseMacBook for guests to use. Eventually with enough web-based work it became my main machine, which I'd like to undo and return to its shared guest state.


Performance Tests

Benchmarks etc.

  • http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9192978/Lab_report_MacBook_Air_benchmark_results?taxonomyId=12 - basically the MacBook Air 11" kicks butt (even at 1.4GHz!), and is equivalent in many performance respects to the 13" MacBook Pro 2.4GHz. Processor speed is not everything (Computer Science folks already know this), and this article does a good job of documenting *numerous* instances where the numerically smaller processor speed (but architecturally superior, better graphics accelerated, faster IO) MacBook Air 11" is actually *faster* than machines with much higher processor speeds.


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Comments (1)

Chris Wilson said

at 10:20 am on Oct 26, 2010

I wouldn't bother with the SuperDrive, as long as you have a DVD drive somewhere. I rip all DVDs immediately, and since DRM isn't standard anymore, pretty much stopped buying CDs.

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