MacBook Air: The one upgrade that would get me interested

Posted on by Mike Evans

My 11in MacBook Air is the best computer I've ever had. It even runs the iPad a close second for portability, heft and instant-on convenience. Despite the modest processor power (mine is the 1.6GHz but with 4GB¹ of memory and SSD) it flies along and I really don't feel short-changed. It is ideal as mobile computing platform but can tackle more exacting tasks without stress. It never overheats and it never panics when pressed too hard (both faults which plagued the 13in Air when it was first introduced).

This summer, though, we are promised upgrades to the 11in and 13in MacBook Airs and I have been pondering what would persuade me back to the Apple Store to replace the current model. A boost in processor speed is always welcome—the Airs will join the low end of the Sandy Bridge family—but this alone wouldn't prompt me to change because I am currently more than happy with performance.

The one thing that really would float my boat would be a doubling of the size of the SSD from 128GB to 256GB². I manage quite well with the current disk, but I have now used 95GB and have only 26GB to play with. That's getting into uncomfortable territory, especially now that I'm buying more HD video media. The Air is currently my only Mac (pending the arrival of the ordered iMac) and I am using it for iPad and iPhone sync. I thus have few options other than storing media on an external drive.

Since I travel a lot, the Air will have to remain my sync platform for iOS devices, so an upgrade to 256GB would be extremely welcome. I still hope that the solution to this particular problem will come with the introduction of the rumoured iCloud replacement for MobileMe. Wouldn't it be wonderful if Apple removed the iOS umbilical cord to iTunes and introduced over-air synchronisation via iCloud? We can dream.


¹ I know this is common knowledge, but the single most useful thing you can do to increase performance is to up the RAM. The standard 2GB on the MacBook Airs is now borderline and I would definitely recommend maxing out the memory if you are in the market for an Air.

² It is possible to upgrade the SSD storage of current model but not without some expert attention. See this article in ars technica.

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