Like all the other fanboys, I was fawning over the new MacBook Air. So sexy, so svelte. But Mac-user Second Lifers like me want to know, will it run Second Life? Based on the SL tech specs, it looks like the MacBook Air meets some requirements, including the processor (Intel Core 2 Duo processor) and included RAM (2 gigs). The problem starts with the operating system. The Air comes loaded with Leopard (OS X 10.5). The forums and blogs are reporting lots of problems with how SL runs on the new OS. There are tweaks to your settings you can do, but generally performance is sub-par in comparison with older versions of OS X. And as usual, SL runs fastest on Windows. Sigh.

Another big question is the graphics card: an Intel GMA X3100. This is the same card that comes with the recent iteration of MacBooks, which SL Mac-users have been complaining about on the forums. There are various workarounds that people are talking about, including running Windows XP on the MacBook. The Intel GMA graphics processor will likely work, but so far it is unsupported officially by Linden Lab.

The other problem is the “air”-iness of the Air. The MacBook Air is intended to be used on a wifi network and has no built-in ethernet port. Second Life is not meant to be used on a wifi connection, even a 802.11n wifi connection. So to really rock in SL, you will need to purchase an extra $30 dongle that connects the Air to a wired network.

So, in short, if you are looking for a portable, Mac solution for running SL, the MacBook Pro is still your best bet.

This of course is largely speculative since I haven’t had a chance to try Second Life on an actual Air. If any Apple representatives would like to send me a MacBook Air to test on, I would not refuse it. 😉