Mid 2011 MacBook Air versus late 2010 MacBook Air

Posted on January 30, 2012

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MBA 13.3″ Mid 2011

MBA 11.6 ” Late 2010

The mid to late 2011 MBA is a higher specs model in everything from  a 13.3″ screen and a  1.8 Ghz  Core i7 processor  (4GB ram, 256 GB disk space ) versus the older 11.6 ” screen and 1.4 Ghz ( 2 GB ram, 128 disk space ).  It comes preloaded with Apple’s latest OS Lion 10.7 versus Snow Leopard on the older MBA. Summarized below are the major hardware differences between the 2 models:

Model MBA 11.6 ” Late 2010 MBA 13.3 ” Mid 2011
Processor Type: 1.4 Ghz Core 2 Duo 1.8 Ghz Core i7
 Price  RM 3899  RM 5303
Standard RAM: 2 GB 1066 MHz DDR3 SDRam 4 GB 1333 Mhz DDR3 SDRam
 Backlighted Keyboard  NO  YES
Internal Storage: 128 GB 256 GB
Graphics Processor: NVIDIA GeForce 320M Intel HD Graphics 3000
Shared VRAM: 256 MB 384 MB
Display Size: 11.6″ Widescreen 13.3″ Widescreen
Display Resolution: 1366×768 TFT LED 1440×900 LG  WXGA+  Glossy
Battery Life: 5 -6 Hours 7 – 8 Hours
SDXC Card Slot: No Yes
Dimensions: 29.67 x 29.97 x 19.20 cm 29.67 x 32.51 x 22.71 cm
Weight: 1.04 kg 1.46 kg
Order Numbers: MC505LL/A MC966LL/A

Being a newer model with higher specs, one would expect a much improved performance compared to the older lower specs model. However the end results was disappointing. Perhaps it is due to the newer LION O/S, I do not feel that are major significant improvements. My  impressions using it :

– Bootup time of the old model just took 12 secs while the new MBA took close to 16 secs . Only its shutdown was faster by about under 1 sec.
– it feels warmer and I could feel the warmness on the palm rest areas while this was absent in the older model – a higher and faster processor perhaps ??
– launch up of programs is slower by 1-2 secs
– battery life is generally better at 7-8 hours against 5-6 hours of the older MBA
– the backlighted keyboard and presence of a SD card slot was an added advantage
– the WXGA+ LCD display however do looks better than the older MBA. The 13” version also maintains a 16:10 aspect ratio, which makes easier viewing. It offers a high contrast ratio and colors are lush and watching movies and photos looks better. The screen is too bright and I always need to tone it down.
– the bigger touchpad is a slight improvement over the older MBA as is slightly quieter, and a more solid feel clicking it .
– the keyboard feel is similar to the older model which I am happy with it. The backlighted keyboard is a big bonus when using in dimmed areas
– Unlike the older MBA, the newer model does not come with a USB backup OS installation thumb drive. Instead, the new MBA comes with a recovery partition. If you restart your Air with the partition wiped, after you hear the ding, hit the option key and it’ll show the recovery partition, allowing you to re-install the OS.

Just on performance alone,  the extra RM 1400 is not worth the upgrade . Most of the web reviews praising its improve performance I deemed as b***s**t
The additional Thunderbolt port looks good and to quote Apple , ” is the latest I/O technology allows one to move data between your devices and your computer with unprecedented speed. With two channels of 10-Gbps throughput in both directions, it’s up to 20 times faster than USB 2.0 and up to 12 times faster than FireWire 800. And it allows you to connect as many as six devices through a single, compact port.”. One can experienced this buying a Apple Thunderbolt Display which is going to cost one a fortune , RM 3099 !!! Probably we will be seeing more Thunderbolt enabled devices later this year eg hard drives and I believe it will not be cheap either

I would say the new MBA is still just good for basic usage eg word processing, e-mail, web browsing, listening to music, and basic photo editing ; something which the older MBA performs equally well

My review of the older MBA 11.6 ” 1.4 Ghz ( Late 2010 ) : https://leemn.wordpress.com/2010/11/17/macbook-air-11-2010-model-my-impressions-and-brief-review/