AnandTech reviews Apple’s 11-inch MacBook Air: 1.6GHz and 4GB upgrades make a very big difference

Apple Online Store“The 11-inch MacBook Air may be portable perfection, but by default it’s not the perfect notebook,” Anand Lal Shimpi writes for AnandTech.

“The 1.6GHz/4GB upgrade comes at a steep cost but… I’d say that extra 10 – 20% performance increase you get from the upgraded CPU and memory makes a very big difference,” Lal Shimpi writes. “If all you’re doing is writing and web browsing I’m not sure it’s necessary, but anything beyond that could probably make use of the upgraded specs.”

Lal Shimpi writes, “Photoshop benefits tremendously from the upgrade to 4GB. The application takes advantage of both the faster CPU and larger memory size. The combination of the two bring the 11-inch system within 5% of the 1.86GHz, 2GB 13-inch MacBook Air. A 16% increase in performance over the base 11-inch configuration. Definitely, a tangible improvement.”

Much more in the full review, including benchmarks, here.

MacDailyNews Take: We love our 11-inch MacBook Air units and, yes, they are upgraded to 1.6GHz and 4GB RAM.

21 Comments

  1. It’s a bummer that Apple doesn’t stock the higher spec’d ones in their stores (or at least didn’t before I left for Europe and didn’t have time to order one online).

  2. CPU and ram are definitely not DIY upgradable. The SSD is DIY upgradable, if you are skilled.

    A 10% or greater improvement is noticeable. Anything less than 10% is not.

    Study Anand’s test charts carefully, as he does an excellent job in showing exactly were something is faster and where it’s not.

  3. I gave my (relatively) old MBP to my son – his 5-year-old one crapped out on him. I was debating on going with the 13″ MBA, and after messing around with it at the local Apple Store, I ordered the decked out 13″ with 4GB RAM, 2.13 gHz processor and 256GB SSD. I received it last Monday. I will never regret this decision – I travel all over the world, and the few sacrifices I have made in processor power, HD space and FW were irrelevant. Funny thing is – for what I do, my new MBA is FASTER and more responsive to my MBP, and that has to have something to do with the SSD. The thing screams. Oh yeah – I am running Photoshop, and while it’s not any faster at rendering, it really isn’t slower.

    @macslut: Some of the flagship stores have the higher spec’d models in stock. The North Michigan Avenue store has been keeping them in stock, and at one point some of the suburban stores had them. Check your local stores when you return.

  4. @ Chris. You could probably upgrade them with the 256Gb flash “SSD”, “stick”, “drive”, “part” – whatever you want to call it from the 13″ MBA if you ordered it as a service part from Apple. Or give the boys at Runcore a few months, and they’re likely to have one at better value.

    I’m happy with my MBA 11″ 1.6GHz 4Gb too, and that’s after “downgrading” from a 13″ 2.13GHz MBA. Flash makes “slower” machines feel much snappier.

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