Previous 1 2 3 Next 34 Replies Latest reply: Feb 12, 2010 1:50 AM by werpu
EdmundHeaphy Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
Hi, my Macbook Air bought last December (2008) becomes very sluggish, as in really slow after some very light usage.

It usually happens when I'm watching a YouTube video (or any .flv video) in either Firefox or Safari or if I'm browsing for a long period. It's not just the browser that becomes slow, it's the whole computer. The video cannot be watched and it becomes all jittery. Switching between tabs takes a while, and even scrolling down a page has a delay. Typing also has a delay, and the whole experience is just horrible. Moving along the dock, the icons magnify at irregular intervals and launching an application takes extremely long, even the System Preferences Pane.

The happens whether I have three or four applications open with twenty tabs in Firefox or with just my browser and only two tabs. Along with the sluggishness, the fan starts very loud and to get rid of the slow behavior and loud fan noise (the noise wouldn't bother me, but I associate it with slow, slow problems) I have to flip the lid down and leave it go to sleep. When I return, watching the video is ok for a while, but if I have to pause it to do something else or if I do something other than view light web pages like change tabs, the computer slows again.

It's a Macbook Air 1,1 with a 1.6GHz processor and 2GB of ram. I have 50GB of the 73GB of hard drive space empty.

I recently updated it and left if off for a couple of days, but this hasn't helped.

There are only two applications which open when I log-in also, so I have no idea what the **** the problem could be.

Any ideas, and what could I do to fix it?

Your help is EXTREMELY appreciated by this very frustrated Air owner!


Macbook Air 1,1 1.6GHz with 2GB memory, Mac OS X (10.5.7), 50GB hard drive space (of around 75 GB) free.
  • Mac Medic ( Level 6 Level 6 (17,290 points)
    Login to another User account. Is it faster there?

    Check your Activity Monitor for excessive CPU power and memory usage.

    Dave M.
    MacOSG Founder/Ambassador  An Apple User Group  iTunes: MacOSG Podcast
    Macsimum News Associate Editor  Creator of 'Mac611 - Mobile Mac Support'

  • knet Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    My first generation Air was sluggish from day one. Part of the problem is overheating, you can see that in the Activity Monitor as process 'kernel_task' taking 150% CPU or more. My fist generation machine crashed a lot, but that was eventually fixed with a firmware update that I suspect made the machine even slower. If I lift my machine up and hold it against a table fan, I can watch the 'kernel_task' CPU % claim down to almost zero.

    I suspect another defect with the Air is the disk I/O system. I know the disk is not supposed to be the fastest, but if you have one application that do anything on the disk, everything else slows down to a halt. DMA (direct memory access) was invented 1989 or earlier, so I really don't know why the CPU should stall when some I/O is ongoing. It is so frustrating to watch a CPU load of 20%, have two CPUs, and still have a machine that is so sluggish that it is practically unusable.

    I'm a double idiot, because when my first MacBook Air broke (the common hinge problem) I bought a second generation one, thinking that Apple fixed the problems. To be sure I was not the cause, I did a clean install.

    Now I sit here tilting my almost new MacBook Air to give free airflow under my machine by my table fan, and still can't really use more than one application at the time, constantly restarting web browsers to be able to scroll pages, exactly the same problems as the first one.....

    I have hopes for Snow Leopard fixing part of my problems, the disk I/O problem, but who knows.

    I do think I will buy a new copy of CoolBook, the tool that saved me with my first MacBook Air. If underclocking and undervolting, it was kind of usable, could even watch videos!!!

    Apple, please, fix MacBook Air!!!!
  • Mac Medic ( Level 6 Level 6 (17,290 points)
    I would keep after Apple to fix it. After 3 repair attempts, call Customer Relations and request a new unit or exchange for a different Mac.

    150% CPU power for the kernel_task is not normal. I just bought a used 1st gen MBA and am running a webcam on the Internet via the iSight using EvoCam software. The fan just idles at 2000RPM.

    Dave M.
    MacOSG Founder/Ambassador  An Apple User Group  iTunes: MacOSG Podcast
    Macsimum News Associate Editor  Creator of 'Mac611 - Mobile Mac Support'

    Message was edited by: Mac Medic (

  • JonNYC Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    My first generation Air has the same problem described here (and many other places) Any kind of youtube or hulu type video (Flash I assume?) won't run smoothly-- or at least not for long. Quicktime trailers in HD run just fine.
    I'm under applecare and have had 3, 1-hour+ sessions with three helpful and friendly phone reps who have run through all the suggested trouble-shooting steps detailed here and elsewhere-- to no avail.
    It will -almost- make it through non HD stuff if the weather is cold. But put it in a hot room (even with a spacer underneath) and it just can't hack it.
    I'm sure it 'aint gonna' happen but IMHO I sure wish Apple would do a sort of "soft recall" and allow those of us who paid a good chunk of change for these, IMHO, clearly somewhat-short-of-defective machines to get them replaced.
  • acoyne Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Is the latest version any better on this score?
  • onebitmask Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    I've been having SERIOUS issues with my Air, especially since the last system update to 10.5.7. I could be desperately looking for redemption here but the latest SMC firmware update (1.23f20) MAY have improved the situation (for me anyway).
  • basshead Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    10.5.7 and the firmware update have made my macbook air almost unusable. It was slow before but now it's dog slow. Hard to switch between apps. No real problem with cpu usage, just doesn't run well at all and is extraordinarily sticky and sluggish.
  • dkz Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Mine became so slow after 10.5.7 update. It is a hot aluminum frying book. It seemed like the SMC firmware update solved the problem, but didn't. The CPU usage of kernel_task goes higher than 100 when the temperature goes high. I cannot use any app at all especially during the time machine back up.
    I'd set Coolbook inactive after SMC update, but reactivating it still doesn't solve the problem.
  • Mac Medic ( Level 6 Level 6 (17,290 points)
    I'd set Coolbook inactive after SMC update, but reactivating it still doesn't solve the problem.

    I would not mess with Coolbook and changing processor voltages. If Apple knew you were doing that, they would void your warranty. You may have self-inflicted problems.

    If the unit is not working properly on its own, keep after Apple to fix it or replace it. It's that simple. I got a new replacement MacBook once after 3 repair attempts.

    Dave M.
    MacOSG Founder/Ambassador  An Apple User Group  iTunes: MacOSG Podcast
    Macsimum News Associate Editor  Creator of 'Mac611 - Mobile Mac Support'

  • stoleyourbike Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    This is far from a complete fix, but I've found that installing Clicktoflash has helped.

    In its preferences, it gives you the option of viewing Youtube clips in h.264 rather than .flv format, which Macs seem to cope with far better. The quality of the clips is better as well.
  • baforer Level 1 Level 1 (35 points)
    I have an original MBA, and have come to the conclusion that it is just for email and web surfing, not video. At the best, I can get about 10 minutes of video before the processor overheats and can no longer process the video stream. I was hoping that the newer MBAs which I believe have a separate video card did better with the video, but it doesn't sound like that is the case.
  • mybittenapple Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    hey EdmundHeaphy.

    hey men, i have a macbook with exactly the same problems... i'm desperate; i update my ram from 1gb to 2gb and still having the same problem. did you find any solution?? i wonder if you could tellme about this men; i really appreciate it. this is a macbook intel core duo, 2 GHz, 667 MHz, 2 GB ram. but. exactly the same problems men. you described at all. plizz let me know if you find any solution or how did you fix it if it's done. thanks man.

    good luck!
  • basshead Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    I rolled mine back to 10.5.6 and that helped immensely. 10.5.7 killed the MBA performance but an archive and install back to 10.5.6 really helped. Apparently 10.5.7 is the kiss of death on an Air.
  • RZ500 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    I have the same problem and no solution yet, my Kernel goes between 130 and 150 and the computer is ultra slow.
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