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March 14, 2008

Performance Problems Plague MacBook Air, Apple Responds with Patch

By Raju Shanbhag, TMCnet Contributing Editor

All is not well with the ultra-thin Macbook Air laptop. Users have provided mixed reviews regarding the laptop’s performance.
While many like the Air’s thin design and light weight, some complain that the laptop overheats and comes to a stop when watching video or playing games, PC World reported Thursday.  
Such complaints surfaced right away when the laptop became available in early February. Users complained that the machine overheats and then either turns off one the Intel (News - Alert) Core 2 Duo segments or shuts down completely, PC World said in its report. Some users have voiced major displeasure about this problem, while others simply chalk it up to limitations inherent to the laptop given its unusual design.

Apple (News - Alert) responded to the complaints with a recently released MacBook Air patch dubbed “SMC Update 1.0,” PC World said. Although the company did not specify which particular problems the patch is intended to fix, it did not that the update “fine tunes the speed and operation of the internal fan.” SMC stands for System Management Controller, which is a chip on the laptop's motherboard responsible for power management.
The PC World report quoted a user named RichardY who wrote in a message posted to the Apple support forum, “My MBA would freeze up and then unfreeze and then freeze again, at an interval of about 10 to 15 seconds. This happens when I watch video on iTunes, QuickTime or even those Flash based videos such as YouTube (News - Alert). CPU monitor shows one core shutting down itself when this happens, and the other core would run at 100 percent (roughly half for user and half for system).”
Unfortunately, many users aren’t seeing any difference even after applying the SMC update, PC World said. They complain that the problem persists and they can see no difference in the performance of the laptop.

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Raju Shanbhag is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Raju’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

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