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Macbook Air reliability

6801 Views 16 Replies Latest reply: Mar 13, 2011 8:20 AM by bionic75007 RSS
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Paul Goldsack Calculating status...
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Feb 22, 2011 4:48 AM
My wife bought a macbook air 13" 128SSD at the end of november last year. It kernel panicked on a regular basis (ie, daily), so after trying a few things, took it back to the applestore just after christmas (26th in fact), it got replaced.
This one kernel panicked a few times a week. after 3 weeks, went back to the apple store, they advised a clean install and not to put too much software on it. Went back, tried that, it kernel panicked just after a clean install from the USB stick. Went back, the week after and it was replaced for another one.

This still kernel panics, although less than the previous two (times in the last 3 weeks).

Given it is a 100 mile round trip to the nearest applestore, and shipping would mean a loss of the machine for a week, what would people recommend I did, especially as I am not overly confident that taking it back would replace it.
Do all of them do this or are we just fantastically unlucky? My macbook pro and my wifes previous macbook have never done this.
She still loves the machine, but it has certainly taken the shine off it.
Mabook air 13" SSD 2010, Mac OS X (10.6.6)
  • Hutch51 Level 1 Level 1 (125 points)
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    Feb 22, 2011 9:03 AM (in response to Paul Goldsack)
    Call Apple and speak to them about it. It sounds like bad luck to me. You also need to be aware of what you're doing when you experience a kernel panic. I had an issue with my MBP and was able to trace it to Safari 5. Every time I encountered pages with lots of Flash, my MBP would experience kernel panic causing a forced restart. If you can pinpoint the problem (like it happens every time you check Mail) or something, you'll be in a better position.

    But the bottom line is that this should not be a regular occurrence. You're better off being without the machine for a week and getting it fixed now than dealing with a problem that may or may not resolve on its own.
    Mac OS X (10.5.3)
  • iPhoton Calculating status...
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    Feb 22, 2011 12:46 PM (in response to Paul Goldsack)
    My wife and I bought two identical 13" MacBook Airs (MBAs) with 256 GBytes flash, 4 GBytes RAM and processor upgrades, i.e., both are maximum configurations. These are fantastic computers, easily the fastest we own, including my desktop spec'd below. There may be a limit to what we can do with our MBAs, but it is not obvious and it makes me rethink owning a desktop computer.

    Nonetheless, BOTH of our MBAs have kernel panicked and BOTH had to have a clean install from their USB sticks. So, what your wife is experiencing is not unusual, although it is unusual that it is as severe as she is experiencing.

    The good news ... you can solve the problem by doing a clean install off the USB stick. Just be sure that you have a reliable backup strategy so little is lost if it happens again. The bad news ... it may happen again!

    The late-2010 MBA is a radical redesign of the laptop computer ... Apple truly is "out there alone" with this design. Notice what the competition is doing ... abandoning their current ultralight laptops (e.g., Dell's Adamo and HP's Envy) or rushing similar designs into production (e.g., Samsung Series 9).

    However, there is a price to be paid for such a radical redesign ... there's a weak link somewhere, but we don't know where! It may be the custom flash memory and controller stick that has never been used before, it may be the issue of flash memory having a limit on the number of times it can be erased and rewritten or it could be ... something else entirely ... and it probably is!

    Be sure your wife's MBA has the latest software, watch for Apple to "sneak in" a firmware upgrade without mentioning why they had to upgrade and be prepared for the next kernel panic. Eventually, they will stop and you will know that Apple found and fixed the problem, but they may not tell us.

    P.S. Macs don't crash ... they kernel panic Every Mac I've owned has kernel panicked, but it is so infrequent that it is more interesting rather than annoying and hardly a problem. As my Time Machine backs up everything every hour, the worst that could happen is to lose an hour of work ... and some time to run diagnostics and reinstall the operating system.
    Dual Quad 2.93 GHz Xeon, 8 GBytes RAM, Three 1 TByte HDs, 30" ACD, Mac OS X (10.6.6), Mac Pro RAID Card
  • slyguy_28 Level 2 Level 2 (165 points)
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    Feb 22, 2011 10:24 PM (in response to Paul Goldsack)
    I too have an MBA 13.3" with 128GB SSD and 2MB RAM. I haven't had a moments problem with this machine and it is the best I've ever owned-Mac/PC or otherwise. I had complete confidence, but I'll be on the lookout for any kernel panics and what instigates/provokes them in the future...
    Sly
    Apple Macbook Air 13", iOS 4, iPhone 4, iPad 16GB wifi
  • Phoney Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)
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    Feb 23, 2011 9:33 AM (in response to Paul Goldsack)
    My wife has a MacBook Pro and it crashes often --when running MS Windows! But her Mac applications never crash or cause kernel panics. Not once. It's been a rock-solid machine for over a year now. I think you should ask Apple to replace your machine with one that works, either another Air or a MacBook Pro.

    My wife requires Windows for specific work purposes. Using VMWare creates a perfect partition scheme, so her MS Windows "system" is very clean and fast. She never does anything with it except read her work email and run her work applications. She brought it into her office for support with the applications. At first the IT guy refused to look at it, but once he did, he said it's the fastest Windows computer he's ever seen.
    iPhone 4, iPad, MacBook Pro, iOS 4
  • Hutch51 Level 1 Level 1 (125 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Feb 24, 2011 2:46 PM (in response to iPhoton)
    I beg to differ. No offense intended but I run an office of mixed Macs and I can count on my hands the number of times they've experienced. That's 15 desktops and at least 10 laptops and 3 servers over 6 years. OSX does a good job of sandboxing applications so that when one freaks out it doesn't drag the entire system down with it. Kernel panics are frequently the sign of a hardware issue. That's not to say that software interactions can't cause it, as was the case with Flash in Safari 5, but generally those situations are fairly rare.

    No, this person shouldn't have to be running hourly backups as a solution to his problem. Scheduled backups are always a good idea however that is a stop-gap measure. Experiencing even one kernel panic a month is more than the norm unless running on a system with customized hardware (user replaced RAM or an aftermarket HDD). Kernel panics of the frequency indicated by the OP are cause for concern and he should have it examined by Apple.
    Mac OS X (10.5.3)
  • hawleyrw Level 3 Level 3 (625 points)
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    Feb 24, 2011 5:47 PM (in response to Paul Goldsack)
    I find it strange....I'm on my 3rd mac (eMac, then Black Macbook, now this 13" late 2010 model)...and (crossing my fingers..) have yet to see a kernel panic.

    I did have a problem just a few weeks ago...boot/power issue. Took it in to an authorized repair - a week later, was fixed and still working fine. All under warranty, which was cool.

    The only thing I have happen every so often is an app which will hang (have to force quit). Has only happened a few times, so not chalking it up to any real problem yet.

    Still...the MBA is the fastest laptop I've ever run. I don't do a lot of heavy work on it (some Aperture and some Final Cut Express), so far holds up very well...still a lot snappier than the Macbook Pro's I setup for work.

    Very happy customer....

    Cheers!
    iPad WiFi/3G, MBA 13" (2010), Mac OS X (10.6.6)
  • Hutch51 Level 1 Level 1 (125 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Feb 25, 2011 5:24 AM (in response to Paul Goldsack)
    No problem. Search the boards here. I seem to remember a couple of threads where people were having similar problems of kernel panics related to sleep. I'm not sure I'm remembering correctly so you're best off searching for the thread, but I believe it was related to leaving certain programs open when putting the computer to sleep and then waking it up. I apologize if I'm misremembering this but I would swear there are a couple of threads on these discussion boards about that particular problem.

    Good luck!
    Mac OS X (10.5.3)
  • wizdomonwheels Level 3 Level 3 (610 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Feb 25, 2011 6:45 PM (in response to Paul Goldsack)
    I've been dealing with wake from sleep issues (kernel panics) for the past few weeks since I got my 11" Air (128GB SSD).

    I read your comments mentioning replacing the system a few times.

    I finally spoke with AppleCare and there seems to be a known issue with Adobe Flash and kernel panicking after waking from sleep.

    My recommendation is to do what I'm doing and make extra sure to update all software/firmware, including periodically checking for newer releases of Adobe Flash.

    I installed click-to-flash to block flash content on Safari and Adblock plus on Firefox to try and keep flash from running when I don't really need it. I'm not sure if that's helping yet, but the last time it KPed was on the 22nd (3 days ago), so perhaps it may work well.

    Good luck!
    MacBook Air 11" 1.6Ghz, Mac OS X (10.6.6), 128GB SSD
  • jengel100 Calculating status...
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    Mar 10, 2011 4:23 PM (in response to wizdomonwheels)
    I have an 11" Macbook Air. Have spoken to Apple twice about continued kernel panics. They say they are working on a fix. Should I hold my breath?
    mac air 11, Mac OS X (10.6.6)
  • Hugo_theMac Calculating status...
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    Mar 12, 2011 10:45 AM (in response to jengel100)
    My 13" MBA experienced a kernel panic, followed by inability to launch applications. This happened upon waking from sleep. Safari had been opened with (Adobe) Flash content previous to sleep.
    OS reinstall solved the issue. Took the machine to the Genius Bar and hardware checked out fine after an overnight (2-3 hr) diagnostic.
    They stated that there is a known problem with Flash and wake from sleep, and there should be an update to address this issue 'soon'. For now I have uninstalled Flash.
    Other than this issue the MBA is incredible.
    MBA 13" late 2010, iOS 4
  • slyguy_28 Level 2 Level 2 (165 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 12, 2011 3:32 PM (in response to Paul Goldsack)
    My MBA 13 has been amazing...
    Sly
    Apple Macbook Air 13", iOS 4, iPhone 4, iPad 16GB wifi
  • Mikki_10 Calculating status...
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    Mar 12, 2011 8:13 PM (in response to Paul Goldsack)
    I sympathize and I don't know what to tell you.. demand another model all together? A macbook rather than an air?

    I have had similar problems, first couple of weeks constant kernel panic, then I did a software update and it seemed to help a bit, but it is inconsistent. I haven't installed any files on it yet and I bought it back in December. I am used to better quality from Apple. My problem with 11" MBA now aside from inconsistency is that the fan is out of control...it runs constantly. I don't know why....no pattern whether video or not. I had a powerbook (2007) before with a similar problem and I am certain it lead to the rapid demise of that machine...which included two hard drive replacements, one 3 days after my 12 month warranty expired. I love apple, grew up with apple...but I am starting to think that it is not worth the money, and perhaps just get a PC and install linux. i am so frustrated. I feel like I bought a sleek, beautiful piece of crap.
    "
    Macbook Intel Core Duo, Mac OS X (10.6.6)
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