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Old Aug 5, 2012, 09:35 PM   #1
thunderclap
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Speed Difference i7 (2011) vs i5 (2012)

I have a 2011 MBP I'm considering selling for a MBA. I want something a bit lighter and compact. I know the difference of i5 and i7 in the PC world is multithreading; unless you're using applications that can take advantage of multithreading for video or photo editing then i7 is overkill. Can I assume this is the same for the MBA?

I've seen a speed comparison of the i5 2011 and 2012 and there is a noticeable speed difference, but the $1200 is out of my price range for the newer model. (The 11" is too small for me.) I have found i7 2011 models for about $1000 so I'm wondering that if multithreading isn't the only factor, will an i7 2011 model be similar in speed to an i5 2012 model?
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Old Aug 5, 2012, 10:11 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by thunderclap View Post
I have a 2011 MBP I'm considering selling for a MBA. I want something a bit lighter and compact. I know the difference of i5 and i7 in the PC world is multithreading; unless you're using applications that can take advantage of multithreading for video or photo editing then i7 is overkill. Can I assume this is the same for the MBA?

I've seen a speed comparison of the i5 2011 and 2012 and there is a noticeable speed difference, but the $1200 is out of my price range for the newer model. (The 11" is too small for me.) I have found i7 2011 models for about $1000 so I'm wondering that if multithreading isn't the only factor, will an i7 2011 model be similar in speed to an i5 2012 model?
The SSD in the 2012 is also almost twice as fast. You also get USB3.0. Much easier to find external drives etc. vs. Thunderbolt. Faster GPU, HD4000 vs HD3000.
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Old Aug 5, 2012, 10:18 PM   #3
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The i5 in the base 2012 MacBook Air is roughly as fast as the i7 in the 2011 MacBook Air. So it will be roughly comparable (perhaps slightly slower) on CPU tasks than the i5 in the base 2011 MPB, but it may be offset in part by the faster SSD.
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Old Aug 5, 2012, 11:11 PM   #4
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...
I've seen a speed comparison of the i5 2011 and 2012 and there is a noticeable speed difference, but the $1200 is out of my price range for the newer model. (The 11" is too small for me.) I have found i7 2011 models for about $1000 so I'm wondering that if multithreading isn't the only factor, will an i7 2011 model be similar in speed to an i5 2012 model?
So you've saved $1,000 for a laptop but you are going to settle for an older model instead of saving just a little longer to get an extra $200?

I don't mean to pretend to know your financial situation but I just don't get this. Why not just save a bit longer and get the one you actually want? I mean, you've already made it this far, right?
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Old Aug 6, 2012, 01:19 AM   #5
Barna Biro
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I agree with sn0warmy... Buying an older model for 200$ difference just makes no sense. Other than that, not sure where you read about that miltithreading jumbo, but it's off... Both the i7 and i5 are dual core processors and can create the same amount of threads if needed. The speed difference is caused by the CPU clock speed difference ( the i7 being slightly faster when it comes to "raw crunching" than the i5 ). That being said, if you are not sure which to get, then you most likely don't need the fastest CPU available, so go with the cheaper i5 but do please get the 2012 model ( throwing out 1000$ for the older model is just d.mb... )...
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Old Aug 6, 2012, 01:34 AM   #6
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Other than that, not sure where you read about that miltithreading jumbo, but it's off... Both the i7 and i5 are dual core processors and can create the same amount of threads if needed.
In desktop and to an extent the standard voltage laptop CPUs, i7 usually means it has Hyper Threading while the i5 doesn't. But yes, there is no such difference on the ULV dual cores. Both are dual cores with hyper threading.

Though what they have carried over to the ULV line is that the i7 has more L3 cache.
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Old Aug 6, 2012, 02:23 AM   #7
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True, the slightly higher cache on the i7 can also be quite important in certain situations.
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Old Aug 6, 2012, 02:34 AM   #8
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In desktop and to an extent the standard voltage laptop CPUs, i7 usually means it has Hyper Threading while the i5 doesn't. But yes, there is no such difference on the ULV dual cores. Both are dual cores with hyper threading.
Just be careful... Hyper-threading is a FORM of multi-threading ( we were talking about "multi-threading" here in general, and not a specific feature that certain Intel CPUs have, called "hyper-threading" - which is in essence just simultaneous multi-threading ). While there are quite a few applications and games "out in the wild" that can leverage the power of "multi-threading", there are not as many applications and games that can leverage "hyper-threading" ( mainly because software producers in general can't rely on their customers having hyper-threaded CPUs - but there are of course exceptions too ). It's true that it's getting more and more common, but it's far from being a deal-breaker for 99% ( yep, made that number up ) of the "normal users".

Some tests show that hyper-threaded processors can be up to 25-30% faster than "plain" multi-threaded processors when executing certain algorithms and correctly optimized software. In real life however, for 99% of the users, the differences aren't that astonishing... simple multi-threaded software used by most of the people is already really, really fast... of course, optimizing it for hyper-theading is always welcome, but again, the lack of it is NOT a deal-breaker in any way for 99% of the users.

PS: To conclude, in the MBA's case: i7 > i5, if you can afford it, then there's no reason not to get it... if you can't afford it, then you'll FOR SURE be more than happy with the i5 ( but again, for a 200$ difference, do please get the 2012 model... not that you'd regret getting the 2011 model or that the 2011 ain't great, but since you're already willing to spend 1000$ on the notebook, then what's 200$ more for a brand new 2012 model? Just like sn0warmy, I don't get it either... ).

Last edited by Barna Biro; Aug 6, 2012 at 02:44 AM.
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Old Aug 6, 2012, 07:12 AM   #9
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So you've saved $1,000 for a laptop but you are going to settle for an older model instead of saving just a little longer to get an extra $200?

I don't mean to pretend to know your financial situation but I just don't get this. Why not just save a bit longer and get the one you actually want? I mean, you've already made it this far, right?
I also agree with this. Unless you really just want a mac, I advise saving a little extra if possible.
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Old Aug 6, 2012, 07:30 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Wokis View Post
In desktop and to an extent the standard voltage laptop CPUs, i7 usually means it has Hyper Threading while the i5 doesn't. But yes, there is no such difference on the ULV dual cores. Both are dual cores with hyper threading.

Though what they have carried over to the ULV line is that the i7 has more L3 cache.
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Originally Posted by Barna Biro View Post

PS: To conclude, in the MBA's case: i7 > i5, if you can afford it, then there's no reason not to get it... if you can't afford it, then you'll FOR SURE be more than happy with the i5 ( but again, for a 200$ difference, do please get the 2012 model... not that you'd regret getting the 2011 model or that the 2011 ain't great, but since you're already willing to spend 1000$ on the notebook, then what's 200$ more for a brand new 2012 model? Just like sn0warmy, I don't get it either... ).
Intel's whole i3/i5/i7 branding is mostly marketing. They mean different things at the desktop vs. mobile processor level. They are all built on the same underlying technology. To use 1990s language, think of the i3 as the "SX" version (e.g. 386SX or 486SX), meaning that it is a stripped down version. i3s tend to lack Turbo Boost.

In the desktop processors, i5s do not support hyperthreading, but they have at least 4 physical cores, so they can still process 4 tasks all at once. i7s have 4 physical cores plus hyperthreading, so they appear to the OS that they have 8 cores. They can still process only 4 tasks at once, but they can have 8 tasks "in the hopper" so that they can keep busier more of the time.

On the mobile side, the i5s and i7s both support hyperthreading. The ultra low voltage processors, whether i5 or i7, have 2 physical cores, so they can process 2 tasks at once. However, both appear to the OS to have 4 cores. The main differences between i5 and i7 ULV processors are that the i7s usually have a slightly higher Turbo Boost (usually 100Mhz), and 1MB additional cache.
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Old Aug 6, 2012, 11:13 AM   #11
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Been doing some researching and I have to admit that the Samsung Series 9 13.3" 2012 model looks stunning.

Now, this is not to start a flamewar by any means, but one grudge I have with Apple products is the glossy screen. I work a lot in conference rooms with a lot of open windows, and I always have terrible reflections and glares with my Macbook Pro. The Samsung has a nice matte that minimizes this.

I was looking at matte screen protectors for the MBA but none seem to get very good reviews. Can someone recommend one that could cut down on the reflection and glare?
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Old Aug 6, 2012, 12:40 PM   #12
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Been doing some researching and I have to admit that the Samsung Series 9 13.3" 2012 model looks stunning.

Now, this is not to start a flamewar by any means, but one grudge I have with Apple products is the glossy screen. I work a lot in conference rooms with a lot of open windows, and I always have terrible reflections and glares with my Macbook Pro. The Samsung has a nice matte that minimizes this.
I can't help you with the screen covers, however I have also seen the Series 9. It does look sharp, and Samsung definitely seems to be adopting a refined approach to design throughout its product line. That said, it is $100 more expensive than the MacBook Air, is less expandable, and the trackpad still isn't quite up to snuff.
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Old Aug 6, 2012, 12:55 PM   #13
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I can't help you with the screen covers, however I have also seen the Series 9. It does look sharp, and Samsung definitely seems to be adopting a refined approach to design throughout its product line. That said, it is $100 more expensive than the MacBook Air, is less expandable, and the trackpad still isn't quite up to snuff.
The track pad was just unbearably unresponsive on the series 9 when I used it for a week. Gesture response was very iffy and delayed.
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Old Aug 7, 2012, 10:17 AM   #14
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The track pad was just unbearably unresponsive on the series 9 when I used it for a week. Gesture response was very iffy and delayed.
Same here! I initially bought the Series 9 from the local Microsoft store because I convinced myself it would be more compatible with my work software due to running Windows 7 natively. However, after about 4 days of use I realized that it still had issues (mainly because of Windows) but the trackpad was just not what I was used to on the Mac.

I ended up returning it and walking straight over to the Apple store and picking up a 13" Air. I'm glad I did too because it really is much more solid all around.
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