The $279 MacBook Air KILLER!

It’s no secret that Apple thinks tabletcomputing is the future. I mean, at the end of the day… wHaT’sa ComPUtEr?! It’s kinda hard to blame them when theyabsolutely topple sales charts with over 70% tablet marketshare and for many people, somethinglike an iPad can be a genuine computer replacement. For others, however, it can’t. The problem is that Apple no longer offersa low-end Mac instead re-directing consumers to iPad. Well, they offer low-end Macs, but they don’toffer low-priced Macs. Apple is only the fourth-bestselling computermaker in the world with a mere 6.8% marketshare; however, their ASP (that’s average salesprice), is nearly $1,300 per Mac which puts them at #2 in total revenue—just behindLenovo—despite selling less than 1/3 the number of units. What I’m saying is… Apple’s not going to be offering a budgetMac anytime soon. If you want the macOS experience but can’tjustify buying Apple hardware, the hackintosh community has been thriving for a number ofyears and we’ve done several desktop builds in the past. But the reality is that most people own andpurchase laptops. So we’ve built what I believe to be thecheapest Mac you can get. Period. And it’s a 15.4” MacBook alternative for$279.

We call it, WhackBook Bro. The best part? Everything works. Well, everything except the SD card slot reader(which… who cares). But you’ll care about our sponsor for thisvideo, Dashlane! Protect yourself online and never forget anotherpassword with Dashlane Premium. Sign up free today with the link below. The Lenovo laptop used is currently listedfor $379 at, but we picked it up for $279 a couple weeks ago during a back-to-schoolpromotion deal. That specific BestBuy deal is now gone, butyou can find them elsewhere online for about the same price we did. For less than $300, you’ve really got totemper exceptions when it comes to specs. The CPU is a dual-core i3-8130U with a baseclockspeed of 2.2GHz and 3.5GHz boost with Intel UHD Graphics 620. It ships with 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD. These specs aren’t… horrible. They’re not good, but they’re fine forthe price. The biggest area of compromise is the displaywhich is… look, I’m kinda spoiled by good displays, but this thing is awful. It’s low-resolution at 1366×768 which whilepoor is tolerable. What’s not tolerable is the horrid viewingangles, uneven and dim backlighting, heinous color accuracy, and atrocious response time. It’s just a really, really, really bad display. Now, what we didn’t do because we were shorton time but what you could do for a massive quality-of-life improvement, is replace thedisplay with one of the many 3rd-party IPS models. Because of the pin configuration of the ribboncable,

you’ll sadly need to stick to the 768p resolution, but you can at least geta better quality display. Okay, so the laptop packs specs that are nearlysufficient to run macOS Mojave but not quite there. Apple recommends a minimum 8GB of RAM andwe’ve only got 4 gigs soldered to the board. Furthermore, the machine doesn’t have on-boardEthernet and the Wi-Fi card included with the laptop is not macOS compatible. So, I cracked this baby open (which was extremelyeasy to do, by the way) and did just that. I installed an extra 4GB of RAM which I gotfor less than $20 on Amazon (I’ll link all this stuff below, by the way), and fit itinto the single DIMM slot available on the motherboard. It’s cool that even though the base memoryis soldered, Lenovo permits additional user expansion. After that, I replaced the wireless LAN cardthat came with the laptop in favor of a Broadcom card that’s supported by macOS. This is a very easy process. Pull off the coax antenna connectors, remove,replace, repeat. And that’s it! But, before we seal the laptop back up, Ijust want to point out a few things that are pretty interesting and funny. For one, the battery is tiny.

Battery life with Windows 10 S (which thelaptop ships with) is similar to macOS and both are pretty terrible. Even doing light laptop work, you’ll belucky to get 3 hours out of this machine. The battery is only 30 Wh which is a clearcost-cutting measure to get this laptop out to consumers cheaply. There’s a huge amount of just… dead spaceinside the laptop where there aren’t any components in sight. Quite the contrast from a MacBook which arepacked so tightly with boards and batteries that they can barely close. There’s a generic 128GB SATA SSD which youcould upgrade cheaply if you wanted more storage which is nice. Also of note, the motherboard doesn’t haveany dGPU on it, but you can see that the board is ready to be flowed with components. There is space and solder for one. Why? They just use this same motherboard designon higher-end configurations that come with a graphics chip. Kinda neat. Once it’s sealed back up, it’s time toinstall macOS. Now, I’m not going to go step-by-step throughthis process because it’s boring and is subject to change in the future, but the installationwas refreshingly easy.

This is a pretty popular model of laptop andso there are a bunch of people that have already done the hard work of troubleshooting andgathering needed files. I’ll link below to a forum post that I’vecreated helping users through this process step-by-step to save you the pain and anguishof tracking down tutorials and files from all over the web like I had to do. All in all, this entire install should takeyou less than an hour. It’s not bad at all. Once the macOS install is complete, that’sabout it! You should note that everything works excellently. The trackpad works swell and even supportsmacOS’ multitouch gestures though, the location of the trackpad to the left of the laptop’schassis drives me absolutely bonkers. The keyboard adjusts the volume, supportsmodifier keys, and while there’s quite a lot of chassis flex, it actually feels nicerto type on than I expected; more than passable for a sub-$300 laptop. Audio works perfectly (although the speakersare pretty crappy), the microphone is supported which allows for integratedSiri support, nice… the built-in camera even works and [nothing says $279 laptop quitelike this webcam].

On second thought, that’s actually not horriblecompared to the dismal webcam on the current-gen MacBook Air. All our plentiful I/O works just great savefor the SD card slot, and boy… it feels super strange seeing this many ports on alaptop. Hope they bring that cutting-edge featureto the MacBook line some day. WiFi works swell and all the features you’dexpect like AirDrop, Continuity Clipboard, and more work just fine, though, I did havea bit of an issue getting the machine to show up in the Find My app. I did not setup iMessage nor FaceTime becauseI’m currently on the Galaxy Note 10, but others have reported success and I’ll linkto those tutorials in my forum post I mentioned earlier. So the screen kinda sucks, but general performanceis excellent. Better, in fact, than I expected. So I took to the benchmarks to see how she’dperform and holy smokes, this machine out-benches the newest MacBook Air in the new GeekBench5, as well as CineBench R20, and even during our in-house Final Cut benchmark, it camein closer to the base-model 13” MacBook Pro than it did the 13” MacBook Air. Nice! Because there is no dedicated GPU, gamingperformance is pretty dismal, although,

thanks to the insanely-low screen resolution, youcan play less-intensive titles just fine—so long as there is native macOS support. Does Apple need to be worried about this laptop? No, not really. This is a segment they have no interest inserving and the quality of the hardware—while passable—would never in a million yearsappear on That said, for students, beginning developers,and just normal users who want macOS but can’t afford an Apple laptop, this is a great optionyou should seriously consider. And I mean, look, it out-benches the MacBookAir for less than $300. Come on, Tim, at least admit that’s kindafunny. Do you know what else is funny? Someone logging into your bank account andstealing all your money cause you use the same password for your bank as Yahoo Answers. Oh wait, that’s not funny. That sucks. Protect yourself online with Dashlane whichcan generate, store, and autofill your passwords securely. But storing passwords is just one part ofthe equation and Dashlane Premium provides instant online protection.

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