Saturday, April 15, 2017

Bought a new laptop to replace the ageing MacBook Air

I finally pulled the trigger on a new laptop.

I didn't go with Apple, Dell or any other mainstream brands. I went with Metabox. Yes, you read it right: Metabox. They are also known as Clevo in other parts of the world. Gigabyte also seem to have these laptops sold with a Sager branding.

The model I went with is called Alpha N850HJ. It's cheap (for the specs) and pretty fast for what I want to use it; that is everything, but gaming. I don't plan to game on this laptops. The memory, storage and Wi-Fi options are user configurable, so I simply took the base model, upgraded the memory to 16GB and added the Intel 8265 Wi-Fi card. They had a promotion on the Hynix 512GB SATA M.2 SSD, so I went with that instead of an NVMe drive. I won't benefit from an NVMe drive; it's only for the bragging rights. I also decided not an operating system as I have a license I can use with the Windows 10 Creators Update, which just came in time for the laptop.

It ended up costing me AUD 1,487 although if you tried building it on Metabox website it would have cost AUD 1,507 + AUD 30 for shipping. I bought it from Kong Computers which saved me $50 including shipping. It took a week to get the laptop built, tested and delivered.

In terms of future expansion options, I can add another 16GB RAM card, a 2.5" SSD and replace the battery if it goes bad. Of course the existing M.2 SSD and the Wi-Fi cards are replaceable as well.

I will talk about my initial impressions about it in another post.

CPU temps of the Mid 2011 MacBook Air

I know my MacBook Air can get pretty warm, but I never measured it quantitatively. I don't know what people use to measure those in OSX; but luckily I have Windows 10 installed via BootCamp (i.e. natively) and I am familiar with the tools in Windows.

I downloaded the trusty duo: CPU-Z and Realtemp. This is the Mid-2011 MacBook Air from the SandyBridge era. The CPU is a Core i5 2557M, which runs at 1.7GHz with a max boost of 2.7GHz.

I didn't want to run any stress tests straight away. But I ran Windows Update and updated the other software installed in there while monitoring the temps. It was astonishing to see the temps hover around 85-90C with a CPU utilisation of around 50% according to task manager, while hitting a max of 95C. I have no doubt it will throttle if the CPU runs at 100%, and probably burn a hole in the bottom of the aluminum unibody chassis if I attempted to run Prime95. So I didn't. This was good enough proof that the temps were terrible in such a thin chassis. I wonder if dust has something to do with it, because it is a 5.5 year old laptop. It cannot be free of dust.

I wonder if it is worth getting it serviced at the Apple store along with the battery. It won't be cheap @ AUD 189. Honestly, I don't want to spend any money on such an old laptop.

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