Upgrading a Mac Air with Windows 7– is it worth it?

I’m lucky, I have a few machines I use for work and for home. When I was a kid the Mattel Aquarius was an amazement. Later the Commodore 64 a dream, and writing space invaders on Acorn and RM Nimbus machines was a breeze. As developed from X-Windows, to Sun to various Windows platforms and languages I continued to be less interested in the platform and more interested in the task at hand - writing applications.

As a consumer of software I’m continually amazed at the progress and form factors of new machines, the Mac Air being a classic, but also how picking a machine is difficult. I have a 18 month old Mac Air, running Windows 7 and for the most part its fine. Its lightweight, has a great screen but when it gets hot and it gets hot often the CPU slows down and the battery life is shocking. Heat is a problem for my Macs (the new Mac Mini imploded on me at the weekend due to inexplicable heat issues). Its also an expensive NetBook for its three primary tasks Mathletics, Skype and Internet Explorer (some web puzzles and the BBC mostly).

So the advent of a new Mac Air I look to the new features. The CPU is slower (what the?) the graphics are better (this could help my video conferencing?) and the battery lasts for a bit  longer – oh yes and it looks neater. The beautiful screen is much the same but sports more and better resolutions.

But what's Windows 7 say about performance (Windows Experience Index) on my work/home and proposed system?



mac air 13.3

(18 month old home computer)

lenovo x61T (3 year old work computer) +SSD)

mac air 11

(new 2010) from Apple Forums



3.9 4.1
Memory 5.5 4.7 4.9
Aero 4.6 3.4 4.9
Gaming 4.1 3.1 5.9
Disk 5.9 7.1 6.9


This says to me that over time, CPU speeds are levelling out, graphics are catching up with the CPU and disks are becoming faster with SSDs. It doesn't tell me if the machine will overheat, whether it will run a video conference smoothly or if the network is any better.

So, unless I do some extensive tests its a gamble. What do I realistically get if I upgrade – a slightly nicer looking machine, a slower processor and perhaps some money back on an trade-in of my Older Mac Air. But even with these handy Mac Air Windows 7 installation instructions  it  is still an hour fiddling around. All this and I could buy a system for 400 bucks less and have less cuteness and similar oomph.

I’ll probably make the move just for the challenge – I’ll log here my findings and networking tests – any good suggestions for tools welcome. I blogged previously by testing average transfer between machines on my home network.