The MacBook Air-Dell Adamo deathmatch

Two laptops: One's a Mac, one's a PC. Which is better? PC World takes both notebooks and stages a computer kumite to make a few quick calls.

The Tale of the Tape



You know all about the on-again, off-again PC-Mac turf war, of course. Which is better? One thing we can tell you is that PC makers sure are taking note of Apple's awesome design work. And that's the setup for the welterweight matchup we have going on today.

In this corner (pictured at right), the MacBook Air, the sleek standard-bearer for how Apple does computing. In the other, the Dell Adamo, the spunky up-and-comer that packs on ports…and takes some not-so-subtle jabs at the big "A."

Neither company really positions its ultraslim ultraportable as a high-performance hot rod. Heck, both of them eschew optical drives to stay lean and mean. But they're both expensive — very, very expensive. We figured it was time to find out if either the Air or the Adamo has what it takes to win.

Now before these two palookas start mixing it up, let's look at what they each bring to tonight's fight. The MacBook Air is the cagey vet. Since it first showed up on the scene, it has improved its game by providing better processors and an honest-to-goodness graphics card, nVidia's GeForce 9400M. That means it can actually play some games — not many, but some.

The Air we last reviewed offered a 1.86GHz Core 2 Duo CPU and 2GB of RAM, and scored a 78 in WorldBench 6. In our battery-life tests, the Air survived for about 2.5 hours before sputtering out. It can accommodate a 120GB hard disk (our more-expensive model came with a 128GB solid-state drive). But then, of course, there's also the dreaded "Apple Tax": These machines range in price from US$1799 to $2499.

The Dell Adamo, on the other hand, offers lesser parts and…charges…more? Really? Let's go over this. Dell's high-style PCs cost between $1999 and $2699. The Adamo maxes out at a 1.4GHz CPU but compensates with 4GB of RAM to handle a 64-bit version of Windows Vista Home Premium. Supposedly its battery will last 5 hours in tests, if we're to believe promotional materials. In our internal battery life tests, it lasted four hours. Still, that's way better than how MacBook Air fared. But, not much of a surprise, the Adamo got slapped around by our PC WorldBench 6 suite. It scored a 64. As far as ultraportable performance goes, it's sad. Very sad. That's probably the biggest mark against the Adamo, up front. But there are some more features that are worth consideration besides horsepower.

So buckle up for a feature-by-feature smackdown.

Hey, you two silicon status symbols: Are you ready to rumble? FIGHT!

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