Apple MacBook Air 1.8GHz - 64GB SSD full review

Macworld’s initial review of the MacBook Air was based on its stock £1,199 configuration, which features a 1.6GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor and 80GB of storage provided by a 1.8in traditional hard drive. Since then, we’ve obtained two 1.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo MacBook Airs: one with the same 1.8in 80GB hard drive, and one with 64GB of flash memory as its primary internal storage device (what Apple calls a solid-state drive, or SSD.)

With those three models, we can begin to assess the effects of the MacBook Air’s two main build-to-order configuration options, the £190 processor-speed upgrade and the £639 SSD upgrade.

Both upgrades did improve things. The processor upgrade improved calculation-based tasks such as 3D rendering and video encoding and the SSD upgrade enhanced disk-intensive tasks such as duplicating a file or launching Photoshop.

In terms of Speedmark, our battery of general-use tests, the base MacBook Air scored 124. The MacBook Air with the same hard drive but a 1.8GHz processor improved to a score of 130. The model with the 1.8GHz processor and the SSD earned 140. To put that in percentage terms, the £190 processor upgrade improved the overall speed of the system by 4.8 per cent, while the £639 drive upgrade improved speed by 7.7 per cent.

Of course, speed isn’t the only reason to invest in the SSD option. In theory, its lack of moving parts makes it a safer storage device, because it’s not exposed to the mechanical failures that hard drives with spinning platters can suffer. However, until we get a long-term read on the reliability of the SSD, that advantage remains theoretical.

NEXT: Life with the SSD

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