4 Reasons My Next Notebook PC Will Be A MacBook Air [Opinion]

Tim Brookes 08-03-2012

I’ve never owned a Mac before, and I never thought I’d be in a position where I intend to buy one. Growing up I was a die-hard Windows user, mainly for the many hours I’d spend gaming on my PC and the “Apple tax” that was once synonymous with seemingly overpriced hardware.


So why then, am I counting my pennies and preparing to drop around 1,800 of Australia’s strongest dollars on a shiny laptop that’s not built for gaming, ships with an unfamiliar OS and has a rather small screen? And more importantly is this the beginning of the end for my finances?


Let’s nip this one in the bud straight off. You’ve probably heard the term Ultrabook tossed around tech blogs, hardware review sites and your local Best Buy for the last year or so. The short story is that Intel threw money at laptop manufacturers in a bid to develop some slick, slim and competitively priced notebooks What Is An Ultrabook & Can It Succeed? [Technology Explained] Remember when the word laptop described virtually every mobile computer on the market? The choices were certainly easier back then (because there was simply less choice available), but today there’s a far wider variety including... Read More . This was arguably to help the Wintel market catch up to Apple in terms of desirability, build quality and form factor.

macbook air

Unfortunately these new Ultrabook computers aren’t the affordable and lightweight machines many of us hoped for. The new HP Envy Spectre 14 costs $100 more than an entry level 13-inch Air, and while it comes with a nice 1600×900 Radiance display there’s very little difference between the two in terms of innards. Dell are busy hyping their 13-inch XPS Ultrabook which is cheaper than the air but compromises on resolution and connectivity.

In fact one of the best value Ultrabooks at the moment is the HP Folio 13 which starts at around $900 and comes with the same 128GB SSD seen in the air but a lower clockspeed and a frustrating 1366×768 resolution.


apple macbook air

The point I’m making isn’t that the MacBook Air is cheap, but that it’s no longer expensive compared to the rest of the market. This makes it a viable option for me and many others who previously felt that Apple were deluding the public with a vastly inflated price.

Build Quality & Hardware

Don’t you just hate it when you settle down to do some typing and your notebook’s chassis creaks and bends with the lightest of touches? I’ve had enough poorly built laptops in the past to never want to buy another Asus, Acer or Dell after past run-ins. My first Acer creaked, bent and cooked itself 5 Cool DIY Ways To Keep Your Laptop Cool Read More from day one.

Despite an Akasa cooling stand How to Fix an Overheating Laptop: 3 Key Tips and Solutions The greatest threat to your laptop is overheating. Here's how to cool down your laptop and prevent it from getting too hot. Read More my last Asus suffered similar issues and eventually gave up altogether, the GPU eventually burnt out and now it’s quietly collecting dust in the corner. The Dell I am currently typing on suffers some terrible design flaws, including a touch-operated eject button that constantly self-activates (despite being serviced once). If I still used optical media this would be hell.


apple macbook air

After reading countless reviews, forum threads, scouring the likes of eBay and noting the large percentage of used Apple laptops that a) still work as advertised and b) hold some sort of value a year or two down the line I’ve decided that build quality is something I won’t have to worry about too much once I splash the cash, which (as mentioned above) won’t break the bank after all.

Opting for the more powerful Core i7 processor, larger 256GB SSD and standard 4GB of RAM will provide me with enough grunt under the hood, and the native 1440×900 resolution will be a step up from any of the 15-inch laptops I’ve ever owned.

Mac OS X & Windows

I’ve danced with Windows since I left my Amiga 1200 for an AMD K6-2 powered beast in 1998. Over the years I’ve flirted with Linux, occasionally using it solely for months at a time to complete my day-to-day computer needs. I’m not the most experienced OS X user, but I don’t dislike or feel I can’t work with it either.


Since iOS 5 landed I’ve been fairly reliant on iMessage to communicate with friends both local and thousands of miles away for free and now that this is making its way into OS X Mountain Lion sometime this summer, for me it’s another reason to give this Mac thing a punt.

apple macbook air

Luckily (like every Windows user who tries to justify his Apple purchase) I’m reassured that Windows will work (albeit with a few compromises) on Apple’s slimmest notebook. Getting there without an optical drive requires some bootloader fiddling, but overall the results are workable.

I already have a licence for Windows Professional so the “you’ll have to buy it first” argument doesn’t apply here. If anything I’m spending what I could spend on a similarly specified Ultrabook and getting the option to play with Mac OS X for free. Interestingly, Windows 8 What You Can Expect To See In Windows 8 No sooner had the dust settled over the bumpy transition from Windows Vista to Windows 7, than Microsoft started fueling interest around its upcoming new operating system, codenamed Windows 8, which is expected to be... Read More should (on paper) work pretty well on a Mac – those massive glass trackpads are ideal for the new gesture and touch approach Microsoft seems to be taking.


From a work standpoint much of my time is spent coming up with article ideas for this very website. A new OS to play with will actually give me more to write about, and I can quietly fool myself into believing I’ll make some money back on my purchase.

Gaming No Longer A Priority

The MacBook Air comes equipped with a not-so-hot Intel HD 3000 shared graphics chip which won’t chew through busy 3D applications in the same way a notebook with dedicated graphical abilities would. If you’re thinking of doing any latest-gen gaming then this is not going to suit you at all.

For me, it’s just fine. PC gaming has been on the decline for years now and if you don’t believe me check out the releases in 1998 and 1999 – Half-Life, Quake 3 Quake Live - Free Online Shooting Game in Your Browser More and more do we see an evolution of some kind, and do we meet a world where installing stuff becomes a thing of the past. Read More , Unreal Tournament, Thief, System Shock II, Homeworld, Rollercoaster Tycoon II, StarCraft and Age of Empires II to name but a few. A year later Deus Ex, The Sims and Diablo 2 made an appearance. Since then the situation has been slowly worsening thanks to sub-par console ports, fewer and fewer PC originals (give or take Half-Life and StarCraft sequels), lengthy delays in releases and an endless sea of Sims expansions.

macbook air

It’s sad, but PC gaming Five Important PC Gaming Terms Explained If you play a game on a console, the technical details are handled for you. Some players prefer this, but PC gamers often enjoy the greater degree of control they have over a game’s eye... Read More is no longer the be-all and end-all it once was. My gaming habits now reflect this – I don’t have space or money to invest in an ever-upgradeable rig and so I’m resigning myself to emulation, the classics and console versions instead.


As a first-time switcher I’m going to have to refute any claims of brand loyalty. Sure, I love my iPhone (it was given to me) but that’s a different device for a different purpose. Five years ago I would never have considered Apple hardware, and I know for a fact I’ll never be far away from a Windows laptop. But the truth is there’s very little else out there that excites me or offers considerably better value for my needs at the moment.

In six months the situation might be different, but right now I need a notebook. And it’s going to be a MacBook Air.

Have you got an Ultrabook? Maybe a MacBook Air? Would you buy either? Have you recently switched from Windows? Will you switch back? Let’s chat in the comments below this article.

Image Credits: MacBook Air 13″ Running Windows (/rnikko), Gaming Rig (Michael B.)

Related topics: Buying Tips, MacBook Air, Ultrabook, User Review.

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  1. Kenny Jackson
    July 31, 2012 at 9:15 pm

    Why does no one ever look at ThinkPads while complaining about HP's and Dell's offerings? The entry-level 12.5" ThinkPad X230 is $250 less than the 11" Air, has a better CPU, has a higher maximum RAM capacity ($90 on NewEgg upgrades it to 16GB), has a slightly larger display (same resolution, unfortunately), and comes with UEFI, which allows it to work correctly with pretty much any OS.

  2. Pierre
    May 26, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    A word of caution: I am a Windows and Mac OS user and---in my case---Snow Leopard was much more reliable than Windows, but upgrading to Lion was a mistake: my iMac was suddenly much slower. With my daughter, we made real life comparisons between her Snow Leopard iMac and my Lion machine, both with 4 GB. Things like opening a program would need 1/2 to 1 second on her iMac and 30 to 60 seconds on mine. I had to upgrade to 12 GB to solve this problem, and 16 GB would be better.
    It is not just me: if you go on Apple forums, you will find hundreds of messages about this problem. If I were you, I would buy a second hand MacBook Air with Snow Leopard on it.

    • Tina
      June 2, 2012 at 1:32 pm

      Thank you for the heads-up, Pierre!

  3. Mulch 47407
    March 24, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    Hmm i hope you do not get annoyed with this question, but how much does a site like yours earn?

  4. Nicole
    March 21, 2012 at 6:29 pm

    Nice article!

    After my PC croaked a while ago I was tied to one of the little G4 MacBooks I had picked up a few months before out of curiousity and while it was a cute little machine, it did show its age. I looked at many options, both on the netbook and tablet side, for a mobile solution, but since I have an Android phone (and a Kindle for my reading cravings) already I really wanted something I can be productive with. In the end I caved, grabbed my little G4 and went to the local Apple store to ask for "an upgrade". It's been a bit more than half a year since then and I never regretted my choice. In fact I am currently typing this on my Air. Never felt the need to load Win 7on it, I enjoy being able to work with both systems, but then again I don't have any expensive software that I need to be able to run.
    Also, I find myself bringing the Air along quite often, it is light enough for that, yet robust enough that I am not afraid of carrying it around. Battery life could be better but you can't have it all.
    I am sure you'll be happy with your choice!

  5. Robiul
    March 19, 2012 at 6:58 am

    Trying out the Consumer Preview may be a bit trying as I have done away with the optical drive, but I’m sure I could manage it. I would love to try on a MacBook Air.. gossip @

  6. Tim Brookes
    March 16, 2012 at 2:32 am

    Thanks for letting us know, if possible could you capture a screenshot and send it to tbrookes [at] (this website) [dot] com?

  7. Treselb
    March 15, 2012 at 7:33 am

    I'm a former PC'er and I love my Mac Book Air! I'm a web designer, jewelry designer and glass artist. The web design pays for my jewelry components and glass and I'm now doing a lot less of that and much more of the other 2. I take lots of photos of my jewelry and glass and the Mac Apps are so much better for photography.

    There's a learning curve and I'll admit I did get pretty frustrated in the beginning. I also had to learn how to use new web design software, extra frustrating. But once I got the hang of the Mac, I asked myself why I hadn't switched sooner. We also switched to the iPhone and the two together make my life so much better! The sheer quantity and quality of apps available is unreal and so much more affordable.

    I still use my PC laptop, but it's been relegated to an expensive storage unit for content I can't use or don't want on my Mac. If I need something from the PC, I just use Remote Desktop or the local network to get or do what I need and then back to my Mac.

    We are also waiting for delivery of the New iPads on Friday, March 16th. I've had to share my hubby's original iPad for the last 2 years and now I'll have one of my very own. The coolest one yet at that! I'm so excited!!

    I'll never go back to using a PC full time. Yes, there are things I wish the Mac would do and I miss from the PC, but the benefits far, far outweigh the small sacrifices. I'm a Mac now and will be for a long, long, long time!
    Steve Jobs and Apple got it right.

  8. Tim Brookes
    March 15, 2012 at 12:37 am

    Hmmm yeah I remember a few stories like that. I was browsing around for any info I could find yesterday and the Buyers' Guide on MacRumours gives a pretty good indication of update schedules based on previous update cycles and the time that's passed since the current model was introduced.

    Pretty useful. I personally couldn't care less what the refresh consists of (rumours etc) but would just rather not buy a laptop tomorrow and then have new models come out a few weeks later for the same price.

  9. Anthony Boone
    March 14, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    When the Developer Preview of Windows 8 came out, I loaded it into my Late-2009 MacBook through Windows 7 (booted the machine from a Win 8 VHD). I had a few hiccups getting BootCamp software to run (I had to grab the files from Lion as they weren't available via the Apple site), but once I got it up and running it did lack a little stability as compared to when I VHD booted on a native PC with common components.

    Trying out the Consumer Preview may be a bit trying as I have done away with the optical drive, but I'm sure I could manage it. I would love to try on a MacBook Air.

  10. Blair
    March 13, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    Once you get the MacBook Air, you'll never get a "PC" only laptop ever again! I've had mine 3 years and looking forward to the new models next month.

    • Tim Brookes
      March 13, 2012 at 10:27 pm

      Next month? Really? Well then I should probably wait for the refresh. Do you have a source?

      I know the refresh is overdue, and as desperate as I am for a new laptop I'll personally hang on a month if it means Ivy Bridge processors or battery improvements, or the absorption of the 13" MBP into the MBA line...

  11. Harshal Desai
    March 13, 2012 at 5:49 am

    I'm not sure if I should buy the big macbook air or the small macbook pro, any thoughts?

    • Tim Brookes
      March 13, 2012 at 10:29 pm

      Current rumours point to the 13" MacBook Pro taking on the MacBook Air form factor come the next refresh, which is bound to happen soon. If you can wait it might be worth seeing what happens over the next few months as Ivy Bridge processors start to roll out...

  12. Shawn Morgart
    March 12, 2012 at 9:58 pm

    A year ago I started new programming classes and the school "provided" me with a Macbook pro. I was always a pc user and had never considered going to Apple until that very moment. I immediately bootcamped the computer and put Windows 7 on it, but find myself spending more and more time on the Mac. I have upgraded to Lion (again, courtesy of school) and this has brought a few of my quirks with the Mac OS closer to what I was used to with Windows. At this point I am very happy with my Mac, the customer service/support and Apple in general. It would be hard to get me to go back and be exclusively a pc user again.

  13. tat_21
    March 12, 2012 at 9:24 pm

    I have MacBook Air! I love it very much)

  14. Hugoagogo
    March 12, 2012 at 9:22 am

    I don't think I could ever settle to get any variety of the mac family, simply from a price perspective, I much prefer a full size (14-15 inch) and full speced laptop, and from a perspective on price when even a the lowest spec 15" mac book pro costs 2k, and you can get a windows pc with the same processor, double the ram, higher res screen, a larger and faster HDD for under 1000.

  15. Dan
    March 10, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    The Macbook Air does look mouthwatering. Too bad it's hobbled with an OS I would prefer never to use. 

    • Tim Brookes
      March 13, 2012 at 12:02 am

      You could always BootCamp it, stick Windows on and... deal with Apple's sub-par driver support!

      It's rather a shame that Apple cripple the drivers so much on Windows. It's obvious why they do it, but in terms of hardware there's little else that comes close.

      If only they could hear the "I like Windows but I want a well-built laptop" market, screaming at the top of its lungs to improve support.

  16. Eddie
    March 10, 2012 at 9:08 am

    Last September I bought the 2011 MBA 13" with 4gb memory and 128ssd. I intended it to replace my 2010 thinkpad t410i. But after 1 month of dedicating myself to using it; learning and customizing the MAC os experience to a 'tolerable' liking... I sold it at a small loss.

    -- higher resolution! oh yea.
    -- backlit keyboard and very very light and feels durable.
    -- the trackpad + this software that allowed me to add custom gestures is awesome! I set it to switch tabs by just 'tip-tapping' left or right.
    -- no cd-drive = yey! rarely needed one.
    -- you will get 'the look' others when you take it out in public as compared when I take out my not-so-slim but blunt black thinkpad.

    -- 4gb feels so little for me; especially when I have 8gb on my windows laptop. And the fact that I can't expand that later on is a con. (I ran several VMs for work)
    -- the MBA hardware needs a keyboard protector, palm protector, a hard case and other pheripherals to be able to retain its pristine condition if I'm going to use it everyday for work and play.
    -- the OS. it makes me feel limited and I didn't want to sacrifice the trackpad and battery life if I bootcamp into windows.
    -- having to buy adapters for the mini-dvi so I can plug it to an external display.
    -- in the office i need to connect via wired LAN... so again I had to pay out for a USB to LAN adapter and the apple branded one is not cheap.

    -- the battery is not user repaceable. the battery is not included in the extended 3 yr apple protection plan so I still need to pay to have it replaced. Same for my thinkpad now.. its down to 1.5hrs; but I can buy a 9cell battery for $120.
    -- no issues with the i5 processor. I hardly hear the fan spinning on casual use.
    -- I don't play 3d games at all; so its a tie.
    -- I have a 120gb ssd in my windows laptop and the MBA had 128ssd so it doesn't feel faster on the MAC.

    what would make me try a MBA again?
    -- a 2012 model with ivy bridge or even a 2013 one which has the promised intel processor that they claim would be 20x more battery efficient.
    -- upto 8gb memory
    -- I will definitely want to have Windows on it so it should have a lot BETTER trackpad support for multi-gestures.
    -- some cool innovations by apple

  17. Odysseus
    March 10, 2012 at 8:59 am

    I agree with you 100%. Two years ago, after two cases of failures on our Sony Vaio's, I decided to switch all our team laptops to MacBook. Our use is mail, skype, and photos sharing. Being a nomad I picked up 11" MBA.
    Light, instant on, solid, consistently performing. 
    When I check an hotel name in the taxi or a Chinese town in the line for the ferry, I appreciate the value of this laptop.
    No regrets. That was the right decision.

  18. Spidouz
    March 10, 2012 at 4:32 am

    been there, done that... 4 years ago with Dell thought.

    So I switched for a MacBook 13" Unibody and 4 years later I just keep asking myself: Why didn't I switch earlier? Really!

    Even thought I was a Hardcore Windows users, from the 8086 and MS-DOS, all x86 CPU and all Windows until the release of Vista, which makes me switch.

    As probably all switchers, I kept a bootcamp Windows partition first... and then I realize I only needed to access to Windows really rarely, so I tried Virtualization with VMWare Fusion and it worked so well I removed the Bootcamp partition... And few months later I noticed I wasn't starting Fusion anymore.

    Now the only Microsoft device I've got is the Xbox and I'm not really seeking to switch back because I'm more than satisfied with Apple Hardware & Software...

    It's all started with an iPod... then an iPhone... and finally I can't use a Windows-PC devices anymore... from the iMac 27" to the iPhone, iPod, Apple TV, Time Capsule and soon the new iPad, I'm literally live in the Apple bubble. 

    Some might believe it's the "fanboy" syndrome, but not at all.. it's just part of the eco-system and perfect Apple strategy that will make you love an environment where everything from the brand "just work" smoothly as advertised. I also notice I'm getting rusty because I'm not doing any IT Maintenance anymore, seriously :)

    I'm so happy with that for the new business I'm starting, I want Apple products only, from computers, to tablets and phones. 

    I'm currently also seeking for a new MacBook and the MBA looks very interesting and might be the one, except if the future MacBook Pro would also be "Air" :) 

  19. Mike DeGeorge
    March 10, 2012 at 3:11 am

     comparing that to spending less money with another laptop and getting the same speed? I guess so. Funny, I got 12GB of RAM for about $150. LOL. O and did i mention, it's not soldered to the board? :)

  20. Contrarianrevolution
    March 9, 2012 at 7:59 pm

    Gaming is on the decline? Great new titles come out every year and most of the ones that come out on consoles also come out on PCs. That's total nonsense. As for price, you're deluding yourself if you think Macs are comparable to other models. the $1000 and $1200 air laptops have only 2GB or 4GB of RAM, shitty graphics cards, a mediocre processor, a tiny screen, inability to add HDD storage so you can actually fit a lot of stuff on them. I can probably think of 1000 better laptops to buy than a macbook.

    • Tim Brookes
      March 13, 2012 at 12:13 am

      1000 better laptops? Really?

      And I never said gaming is on the decline, but you'd be a fool not to notice that PC gaming has been going downhill for nearly a decade. Games now come out with the console market in mind, because that it where the money is. The average consumer does not spend $100s upgrading their machine every few months just to squeeze a few extra frames per second from the latest release. More and more games receive lazy console ports where little more than the control scheme is changed.

      As for price - the Air is really not that much more expensive than comparable laptops when you factor in battery life, form factor and - the big one - build quality.

  21. Yes
    March 9, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    I got an air some months ago and it's really amazing
    Best part is the instant on like the iPad; no whirring fan, clicking HD -- no weight!
    Connect to office pc's via windows rdp client (free, also open source cord app)
    No need for a laptop case, it's so shexy on its own

  22. eli
    March 9, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    I have an ASUS zenbook and just love it. Maybe bc it's my first machine with an SSD, but i'm impressed. Great built, great portability, impressive battery, no issue at all so far (no overhating, no bugs, no nothing). Only complain I have is lack of a Kensington lock slot. Other than that it's just perfect, to me.

  23. Nitin Rathore
    March 9, 2012 at 4:52 am

    What ever you said is correct, but still I will suggest to stick to a PC and not Mac. The reason is total cost of ownership, the total cost of ownership is very high for a MAC all the accessories are expensive, MAC portability with other devices like HDTV, HDMI port is very bad, you need converters that are $50 each. The quality of PC is going down day by day but still PC is more portable to work with other devices.

    Apple supporters will not feel good about this but it is what it is.My 2 cents to your discussion.

  24. Dave Parrack
    March 9, 2012 at 3:12 am

    You disappoint me, Tim, though I can fully understand the appeal of the MacBook Air at this point in time. I actually think the ultrabook market will mature over the next year or two, and there will be options that are both cheaper and better than the MacBook Air. The bonus being you don't have to buy into the Apple ecosystem!!!

    • Tim Brookes
      March 13, 2012 at 12:15 am

      I think the only way the Ultrabook market will recover is by lowering the price. Unfortunately I don't see this happening mainly due to the mentality of manufacturers.

      "Oh hey we made a nice, thin laptop with some money Intel gave us but we're still gonna manufacture crappy plastic ones and give them away for $500 while we charge $1500 for these new ones."

      That, and screen resolution!

      • Dave Parrack
        March 13, 2012 at 5:56 pm

        I think it will happen. There will be a $600 Ultrabook by the end of the year. And I'll buy it ;)

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        March 24, 2012 at 1:08 am

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  25. Greg
    March 9, 2012 at 2:59 am

    I never thought I'd like Apple products either, but the Pro has really caught my eye :)

    I would buy one off Ebay before straight off paying over $1000 for it.
    And Macs look really nice ;)

  26. Blaszta
    March 9, 2012 at 2:25 am

    I see that you're a writer & photographer, and MBA will suit you well. Actually quite surprising that as a photographer you never use Mac :)

    Related to your article about heat & VGA (Gaming), haven't you heard about Nvidia Optimus technology? You can switch between dedicated Nvidia VGA card and the onboard Intel VGA chip easily now. If you want to save battery, get less heat, just switch to Intel chip by pressing a button. And if you don't care about Gaming, an Intel VGA chip will do just fine.

    You also said "I’ve had enough poorly built laptops in the past to never want to buy another Asus, Acer or Dell after past run-ins". That's a very judging words. Did you know that the first Intel MacBook Pro is so hot that it will burn your thighs? And if you got this experience then you will said "never want to buy any Apple product"? If you use 90% of all their current product and found all is bad than you can create a conclusion. How can you create a conclusion by using 1 product is quite amazed me.

    Please notice that MBA storage is 128 GB, and as a photographer you know that it's very limiting. And you might check model with built in SD Card (if your camera use SD Card).

  27. Kimchi88
    March 8, 2012 at 11:34 pm

    Even the lowly white MacBook I bought years ago outshines and outperforms any Windows notebook in a similar price range.  My hubby now has the white MB and I have an MB Pro (older model now).  Would never go back to Windows and don't run Windows on my Mac.  My only compromise was to purchase MS Office for Mac to facilitate file sharing at work where it's all Windows.  I didn't buy MB Air because I like to have a CD/DVD drive and weight isn't a big issue.  I leave my computer at work on weeknights and take it home for the weekends.
    I get so tired of the argument "Macs are more expensive."  They are more expensive than low end notebooks, but I used to buy top end Windows machines for speed and power, etc and they are way more expensive than Macs.  I started with the lowly white Mac and it was as good as or better than the more expensive  Windows notebook I left behind.
    My hubby never turns off his MacBook, it doesn't crash, never needs rebooting, etc ...
    It takes about two weeks to adjust to the Mac OS.
    And my smartphone is an Android, so I'm not a one-eyed Apple supporter!  :)

  28. dsoonshi
    March 8, 2012 at 11:20 pm

    Its not about brand loyalty, its about the value you get from your tech gear and what you plan on using it for.  I'm not as up to date on hardware specs like yesteryears, but I know Macs are running intel processors now --- you did mention you'll be running both Windows and Mac OS on your Mac notebook.

    Though I would still prefer to stay on the notebook side for bigger screen real estate and having a dedicated graphics chip --- sure you don't game but maybe it runs Mac OS faster on a pc notebook than a mac notebook.  Plus if there was a game that did come out then you don't have to migrate to your desktop just to play it.  

    Is the manufacturer on Macbooks really that much better than other laptop manufacturers or have you just not found better alternatives?  Dell sucks bottom line, HP is like Apple lite -- they try really hard but come up short.  Personally I would go with Toshiba or Asus laptops, yes Asus customer service sucks but I have a brick and mortar people location by me so no issues.

    That mobo in your last pic looks like a microATX format, turn it into a media centre, there are some nice cases that use a full sized psu so you can reuse everything.

  29. 1231
    March 8, 2012 at 10:36 pm

    Don't overlook Parallels as a option for windows. With it you can use windows and OS X without rebooting. 

  30. LeeLamb
    March 8, 2012 at 10:30 pm

    As a long time mac user my only advice is to pack it full of ram. 8 gig is 3 times better than 4 gig of ram.

  31. Dj
    March 8, 2012 at 10:02 pm

    Why would you be factoring gaming into the equation if you are planning to buy an ultrabook anyway? Moot point...

    • Tim Brookes
      March 8, 2012 at 10:28 pm

      Mainly for Windows and its compatibility with a huge number of titles. I've also seen Ultrabooks with superior GPUs to that in the Air, but then the price on those models was way too high.

  32. andytgeezer
    March 8, 2012 at 9:01 pm

    I've just bought a macbook air myself and love it. Your article is spot on, especially with regards to the price. All the pretenders are way too expensive to be viable. I'm just fed up of Windows laptops burning out on me so thought I'd give it a punt and a week in it's love.

    Now considering whether my allegiance to Google is going to stand up against the iPhone. The same arguments apply here too. Already on my 3rd Android and the argument about it holding absolutely no value the minute it comes out the shop is so true and so frustrating, not to mention the countless crashes. 

    I think a macbook air is definitely the way to go

    • Tim Brookes
      March 8, 2012 at 9:35 pm

      Thanks for the words of wisdom. 

      I can't face dropping ~$1000+ on a plastic laptop only to have it cook itself/creak/snap/suck in a year's time!

    March 8, 2012 at 8:50 pm

    I know about the game for mac but its too far to come mac in gaming world ! and more over you cant config a mac system like PC .There is a chance of linux but for mac angry bird is enough.

    • Tim Brookes
      March 8, 2012 at 10:30 pm

      Yep, OS X isn't built for gaming at all. Sure, there's Steam and compatibility with HL2 and a couple of other decent titles but much of the catalogue is (and will remain) incompatible due to the core differences between the two platforms and the cost-effectiveness of converting all those awesome old games into Mac-friendly versions.

  34. Bakari Chavanu
    March 8, 2012 at 8:35 pm

    Tim, my 11" MBA is most cherished computer, even though I don't use it on a daily basis. I still get a kick out of just tossing it in my book bag and not hardly feeling the weight of the thing. When I first used it during air travel, other larger PCs around me looked like dinosaurs. My only mistake was not investing in the larger size memory. I think I'm down to about 2gigs. 

    • Tim Brookes
      March 8, 2012 at 10:07 pm

      I don't have any experience with Mac laptops but I have added RAM to other notebooks in the past. Would it be easy to upgrade, Bakari?

      The RAM might set you back $150+ but I'd have thought the benefits would be worth the upgrade.

  35. rja
    March 8, 2012 at 8:14 pm

    In the market for an ultraviolet and am considering Lenovo U300s or an Air. I need to use Indesign and Prezi on a regular basis. Final Cut Pro or Premiere would be ideal as well. Nothing super hardcore on the video editing, though. Anyone have insight on how these programs perform?

    • rja
      March 8, 2012 at 8:16 pm

      Nice, autocorrect. Ultraviolet=ultrabook.

    • tremms
      March 8, 2012 at 9:03 pm

      If you have the opportunity to use InDesign on a Mac platform, you will never again wish to use it in Windows, even on the most beefed up machines. There simply is no comparison when running any of Adobe's products -- there's a reason why the design industry uses Mac.

      • rja
        March 8, 2012 at 9:39 pm

         I've used InDesign on a Mac and would love to go back to that on a daily basis. But I've not used it on an Air.

        • Tim Brookes
          March 8, 2012 at 9:57 pm

          The trackpad is massive, the screen resolution bigger than any other laptop in its class (I think) and it's a joy to type on.

          I'd say get down to your local hardware boutique, play with it for a good while and then (if you like it) order one with the CPU (i7) upgrade from Apple!

    • Tim Brookes
      March 8, 2012 at 9:40 pm

      @46fc7ffa5df33f62fcf3f7daecb315aa:disqus - I love that auto-correction!
      I've actually done quite a bit of research about video editing on a MacBook Air, mainly because I want to edit video myself once I get mine. I stumbled across an article which might give you some hope and a little insight:

      The article refers to an even older model than the ones shipping now, so in theory performance should be even better. As far as I can tell the author's is using the same Intel HD 3000 graphics chip.

      I think provided you're not going to be editing feature-length films or doing loads of composite work it should be fine for your needs. Also worth noting is that many are switching to Premier on the basis that Final Cut Pro X seems to disappoint long-term users. I've used both in the past and I must say I preferred Final Cut but Premier has come a long way.

      Let us know what you decide! 


  36. sys64738
    March 8, 2012 at 7:40 pm

    +1 for the Amiga mention! :D

    • Tim Brookes
      March 8, 2012 at 9:41 pm

      I will never forget the excitement of putting a floppy disk in, listening to the crunching noise and enjoying a game that was 10 times superior to what the console gamers were enjoying at the time.

      My childhood took place on an Amiga!

  37. Jacob Santos
    March 8, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    I just can't see myself working on something with a 13 inch screen. That alone is a deal breaker.

    • Tim Brookes
      March 8, 2012 at 9:43 pm

      Yeah I can see your point, I also was a little unsure. Then I used one in a shop and have since seen plenty in the wild to convince me I'll be fine. The 11" is way too small for me, but the 13" with its larger resolution yet adequate real-estate isn't too bad.

      Text can be a bit small, but for photo editing and other such visual tasks on the go it's ideal.

      • Lindarose
        March 24, 2012 at 12:14 am

        Bronze Star Recipient/Author Joe Galloway to Speak in TiptonJoe Galloway, award winning war ncerespoodrnt and author of We Were Soldiers Once and Young, the book named one of the top ten books on war of all time by Military History Magazine will be in Tipton for a two day event beginning with the screening of the movie based on his book, We Were Soldiers at the Diana Theater, Wednesday, March 14, 2012 at 7:00 p.m. Galloway will speak on his four tours in Vietnam and the soldiers he thinks of as brothers at Tipton High School, on the following evening, Thursday, March 15, 2012, also at 7:00 p.m. Ticket cost: $10.00 for the movie, March 14th (Mr. Galloway will be appearing)Ticket cost: $15.00 for the speaking/book signing engagement, March 15th.Tickets available at the Tipton American Legion, Tipton Moose Lodge, The Wild Bookstore in Noblesville, or contact Debbie Frazier 765-860-7865.Tickets are available now, buy them early to be sure they don’t sell out Debbie FrazierPublic Safety Administrative CoordinatorTipton Police Department225 E Jefferson StreetTipton, IN 46072765-675-2152 (work #)765-675-3500 (fax #)765-860-7865 (cell #)

  38. Taosaur Ftagn
    March 8, 2012 at 6:10 pm

    I've come to the same conclusion, though I doubt I'll have the discretionary funds to move on any laptop soon. I've been 100% Windows for years and will be sticking with a Windows desktop as my main machine, but if I were going portable the Air would be a no-brainer.

    • Tim Brookes
      March 8, 2012 at 9:59 pm

      It's a great point, Windows has such market saturation that pretty much everyone has some hardware that will run it knocking around the house.

      I've got old laptops and even some old desktops that will always be running Windows, though I'm not sure I'll be bothering with Windows 8 just yet (but that's a whole other discussion)!

  39. Brandon Gee
    March 8, 2012 at 6:05 pm

    I just went through this as well. I always said I'd never get another Apple product aside from the iPhone (Only because I can jailbreak). 

    However, when you consider that the MBA is the same price as the Asus Zenbook or Toshiba Portege. The aluminum unibody is unparalleled in build quality in any laptop today. The other specs are the same. I recently bought the i7 with 4GB of ram and a 256 SSD. Best decision ever. I can even run Photoshop without hiccup and Premiere Pro runs okay. 

    I still need a desktop to render large movies or After Effects but so far everything I want to do I can easily do on my MBA. I even ran Windows 8 in VMWare Fusion and it was super quick. I will never buy another non-MBA laptop. 

    I do have a beef with Apple that there is not an option to unlock tons of customizing options but there are plenty of programs you can download to do the same thing. Bottom line. MBA is the best computer decision I've made. And that's coming from someone who has sworn his whole life against Apple products. 

    • Tim Brookes
      March 8, 2012 at 9:48 pm

      I think my iPhone had something to do with. I never bought it, but was lucky enough to be given it at a press event. I already knew they were meant to be good, but I was blown away by the software-hardware integration and build quality.

      I then noted how many sub-par Wintel laptops had failed on me (usually slowly, as bits just stopped working) and started examining other options. 

      Windows compatibility sold me, even if it's just a VM as you mention. I'm never going to be far away from a Windows machine, and that's what takes the sting out of switching to Mac OS X (in case I really don't like it).

      Thanks for your comments!

  40. {Phil}
    March 8, 2012 at 5:54 pm

    I have been using a MacBook Air (11'') as my notebook for 2 years, and I can't stress how much I love it. Your article is spot on, and I got it for exactly the same reason. I booted only once in Mac OS, and that was to install Bootcamp and Windows 7. Since that, I've been using it daily, exclusively as a Windows notebook, and it's great. It's a perfect little and light windows machine. I can even do gaming on it (of course it doesn't run Skyrim or any of the latest games, but games from 2-3 years ago are perfectly fine).

    • Stephen Rice
      March 8, 2012 at 7:40 pm

      I'm in the same situation. The thinness, size and weight of the 11" is really something you don't realise is good until you have one. I've got to the point where I pretty much always bring my laptop with me now.

      • Tim Brookes
        March 8, 2012 at 10:01 pm

        How is the 11" screen to live with? In the office I've been working at two guys often sit in front of me, both have the Air except one is 13" and one is 11". 

        The 11" looks noticeably smaller to the point where I don't think I'd get on too well with it after a while. I'm used to a 15" 1280xSomething laptop, and I think losing 4" off the screen would drive me a bit mad.

        • Stephen Rice
          March 8, 2012 at 10:13 pm

          I had similar thoughts when I got the 11". I went from a 15" HP to the 11" Air and I think the fairly high resolution (1366x768) on the 11" saves it. It's a small screen but there's a lot displayed on it.
          To be honest, if I'm at my desk I'll plug in an external monitor and keyboard/mouse but I have no problem when I'm out and about using the display. There's actually a weird effect that means it seems like a full size laptop when you're using it and you only realise its size when you compare it with another laptop.

        • Val
          March 13, 2012 at 2:54 am

          I have 13, my wife has 11.  The 11 is has a very nice feel, but the screen is just 1 click too small.  Also the fonts are smaller.

    • Tim Brookes
      March 8, 2012 at 9:50 pm

      Doesn't run Skyrim, eh? 

      No, but seriously I get your point! That video was probably cooking his Air!

      How do you find right-click and Apple's (intentionally) awful Windows driver support? Do you use any third party drivers?

  41. Nutz321
    March 8, 2012 at 5:24 pm

    Wise choice, young warlock!

  42. Chris Hoffman
    March 8, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    This definitely hits a nerve with me. I'm not an Apple fan (to put it lightly), but I've been thinking the same thing.

    Let's face it: PC hardware just sucks. It's way behind. I was looking forward to ultrabooks, but I'm really disappointed that they still aren't competitive with the Air. Maybe they will be by the time I want to buy my next laptop.

    Even if ultrabooks get better, PC manufacturers don't offer the actual support Apple does. Instead I have ASUS customer service lying to me (strong words, but I'm willing to stand behind them) and trying to upsell me a new computer when I call in with a problem.
    PC gaming is the one catch with me, though. I'm not willing to give up on it just yet -- but ultrabooks don't have amazing graphics hardware either.

    • Tim Brookes
      March 8, 2012 at 9:55 pm

      I'd like to think I'll eventually go back to PC gaming when I can afford a rig and see the need. Never say never, I guess!

      Ultrabooks are a massive disappointment. I've only seen one or two I actually liked, and neither as much as the Air (or even a standard MBP). Screen resolutions seem to be stuck in 2005, trackpads (even copies of Apple's click-pad like on the new Vaio machines) are often horrendous and too small and for the price they lack many of the features and overall build quality of the Air, even if it's stupid things like backlit keys.

      If only Apple designed better Windows drivers (ok, well all know why they don't) eh? They'd probably ship more hardware (though they'd lose out on Mac App Store purchases and the like).

      • Chris Hoffman
        March 9, 2012 at 9:03 am

        What a disaster.

        I was under the impression Apple's Windows drivers were solid -- what's the problem with them?

        • Mike DeGeorge
          March 10, 2012 at 3:05 am

           you say PC hardware 'sucks.' Ironically the 'PC hardware' is what's inside a Mac.

        • Chris Hoffman
          March 10, 2012 at 1:37 pm

          I mean the overall build quality, though.

          Really, I'm a PC fan -- I'm just very disappointed. The PC manufacturers can do better

    • Contrarianrevolution
      March 9, 2012 at 8:04 pm

      How is "PC" hardware behind? Apple buys their hardware from the same companies that other PC companies buy their hardware from. I'm sick of people lumping together all Windows PCs just because they have the same operating system. Some companies are a lot better than others (Asus, Acer, and MSI are some of the better ones). Mac PCs have shitty video cards, mediocre processors for the price, small screens for the price, etc.... I just don't get it

      • Chris Hoffman
        March 9, 2012 at 8:29 pm

        In terms of laptop build quality, they just don't compare. The Macbook Air has had no comparable PC alternative until recently, with the ultrabooks. And, as the article says here, the comparable ultrabooks are more expensive than the Air.

        You won't necessarily "get it" if you just compare specs, but place the actual machines next to each other. It's all about the build quality and the way Apple actually supports them.

        Asus has basically abandoned my laptop, so the graphics drivers are getting more outdated over time. Some games won't work with it, although the hardware would support it fine. It's not a cheap laptop, but they did a weird dirty hack with it and the main NVIDIA drivers won't work with it. That doesn't happen with Apple hardware.

        I mean, I really, really don't like Apple. But PC manufacturers have treated me so badly.

        • Mike DeGeorge
          March 10, 2012 at 3:07 am

           in terms of build quality, Macs aren't that great. Think about computer case(albeit my computer is a is an iMac, which is made of the same material as the laptops) is made of heavy duty steel. While Macs are made of aluminum.

        • Carlos
          March 13, 2012 at 10:44 pm

          Hmm... if you ever noticed it, it's the cheaper pc cases which are made of steel; the more expensive ones are made of aluminium.

        • IgorReidler
          March 14, 2012 at 1:49 pm

          Right.. and I suppose you don't like your home telephone's build quality either, because it's made of plastic while your car is made of steel.

          Desktop cases and laptop cases are two totally different beasts. They serve totally different functions and uou can't compare the two material-wise.I guess a 20 pound "ultrabook" case will have a great build quality, if you like getting in shape while computing :)

  43. Derek Rubright
    March 8, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    I'm looking for an Ultrabook to go back to school with. I am looking at the MacBook Air, but price is still an issue. Any thoughts on a Wintel alternative with a similar build quality ?

    • Stephen Rice
      March 8, 2012 at 7:38 pm

      Don't rule out a used or refurbished model. I think you should generally always buy computers refurbished (just like you should always buy used cars).

      • Bakari Chavanu
        March 8, 2012 at 8:38 pm

        Definitely agree. My wife and I saved a $150 with a refurbished iMac for my son. The savings went to the purchase of apps and peripherals. 

    • Tim Brookes
      March 8, 2012 at 10:04 pm

      If you do find an Ultrabook with the same build quality then let me know! I won't be changing my mind any time soon but I'd be interested in seeing what the price would be on one of those things.

      From what I've seen, you'll be spending even more than what an Air would cost you for something that appears to be as well built. This made it clear in my mind that the Air was a competitively priced machine that is probably worth the money.

    • Blaszta
      March 9, 2012 at 3:11 am
      • M.S. Smith
        March 10, 2012 at 3:24 am

        That's not an ultrabook and it doesn't have equivalent build quality.

    • M.S. Smith
      March 10, 2012 at 3:24 am

      HP Folio 13 or Dell XPS 13 are the best current alternatives.

      • jamesbirtwistle
        July 22, 2012 at 8:38 pm

        I like the Dell, it's not so flimsy as the other Dell's I have owned.

    • Mike_Scarborough
      March 12, 2012 at 1:46 pm

      I made the switch to MacBook Air after twenty years as a Windows user, and I have never looked back.  It's not about the operating system anymore, it's about getting the best hardware.  I wouldn't hesitate to buy a used 2010 MacBook Air or later at a good price.  Just make sure it's at least a 2010.  The original MacBook Air was more of a beta test proof of concept experiment.  By 2010 they had figured out how to make it the best notebook that has ever existed.  If price is an issue by a used one.  The Air is made from a single slab of aluminum so wear an tear fears are not as warranted as would be with any other laptop.  Run some bench tests on it before you buy it and you should be ok.