MacBook Air 11" 2013 Review: From a Windows Perspective
Windows Experience and Storage Performance
Even though I use OS X as my main Operating System, I wanted to use this new MacBook as a chance to look at how far running Windows on a Mac has progressed.
For those of you not in the know, Apple officially supports the dual booting of Microsoft Operating Systems through a method they call Boot Camp. Setup being with the Boot Camp Assistant program in OS X, which will automatically download the latest Windows drivers for your machine, and partition your drive for an additional operating system.
Considering I was installing Windows on machine that had been released only 3 days prior, I was pleasantly surprised to find the Apple had done a good job at bundling all of the appropriate drivers. Support was included for trackpad gestures, the function key on the keyboard were mapped, and even the Broadcom 802.11ac wireless radio.
After the driver package was installed, Windows operated like any other native install, for the most part. One of the oddities I found while testing is that Thunderbolt hot plugging did not work. The device had to be connected before boot for the Windows install to detect it, which could be a major downside if you plan on using Thunderbolt devices often.
I also found the right click gesture (clicking with two fingers on the trackpad) to be way more hit or miss than the same gesture on OS X, which is obvious an issue with the Windows drivers for the trackpad.
The new PCI-Express based storage that Apple implemented on this laptop also functioned as expected under Windows.
When I first got the system, I did a quick disk speed test under OS X, as a baseline. As you can see, I got speeds of 720 MB/s read, and 550MB/s write. Impressive speeds, considering the read speed is faster than the theoretical maximum throughput of SATA 6G.
Booting into Windows, I decided to run ATTO to verify that the SSD was being used at the same performance levels. As you can see, the performance actually peaked higher than the benchmark under OS X was able to display. This is most likely a fault of the OS X benchmarking application though, not the system level implementation.
Overall, this SSD performance is very impressive, and makes me anxious to see these new PCI-E controllers adopted into many other form factors and machines.
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