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Which is faster - 2.13GHz/2GB or 1.86GHz/4GB

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by MBASH01, Jan 9, 2011.

  1. macrumors newbie

    I just bought a MBA 13in with 1.86GHz, 4GB RAM, 256GB SSD and quite happy with the performance running both OSX and Bootcamp Win7. But I am just wondering the performance, or speed will be better with 2.13GHz CPU but only 2GB RAM. Anyone can shed some light will be much appreciated.
  2. 2IS
    macrumors 68030

    I think you made the right choice personally. If you only have a couple apps open at a time and don't do anything remotely memory intensive than technically the 2.13GHz would give you better performance. But then again, if everything you do can easily run in 2GB of memory space then it most likely isn't very CPU hungry either.

    On the flip side, once you exceed 2GB of ram usage and the OS needs to swap data in and out of RAM then performance suffers a LOT
  3. macrumors 6502

    I would say 4GB means more than a few ghz....good call.
  4. macrumors 65816

    You made the right choice, for sure.
  5. macrumors G4

    Agreed. RAM provides a better return on investment than a small bump in processor speed. 4GB gives you more of the benefit of the 64-bit operating system, and helps keep OS X from paging out to your SSD as often.
  6. macrumors 6502

    4GB should be standard....seriously.

    At this point with dual, quad, hex core dual processors....huge L2 and L3 caches, fast ram, SSDs....MHZ isn't as important as it once was. Back a few years ago it was way more a big deal than now..
  7. Ronnoco, Jan 9, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2011

    macrumors 68020


    Especially if this is their only computer...I understand that some didn't opt for the extra 2GB of RAM because they don't rely on the air for much in the way of heavy computing, but if the Air is either your only machine or the one you rely on the most it would be smart to get the upgraded RAM (and of course if you are planning on keeping the computer for at least a couple of years, the increased RAM will come in very handy and if you are planning on selling it the 4GB version will certainly have better resale value)...
  8. macrumors 6502a

    4GB of RAM is the right choice. But the 2.13Ghz would be faster - until you hit that RAM ceiling, and force the OS to page-out to the SSD.
  9. macrumors 6502

    No way the difference between a 1.86 and a 2.1ghz processor is noticable....not when were talking 2 individual cores, SSDs, 1066 RAM...forget it. Its all benchmark stuff. I could clock my AMD X4 to 3.4GHZ and no way I'd notice the difference...forget it. The GHZ battles made a lot of money for processor companies over the years.
  10. macrumors 6502a


    You're wrong about overclocking your CPU. On a gaming system a good overclock is quite noticeable in many games. On the MBA, however, the difference won't be huge because there will be other bottlenecks such as aforementioned low RAM.
  11. macrumors 65816

    memory triumphs over processor speed - always.

    (same as mercy triumphs over justice)
  12. macrumors newbie

    Appreciate all the replies. My MBA is a replacement for my IBM X31 which is a fantastic XP machine that served me relentlessly for the past 5 years, but just decided to rest couple of weeks ago. The MBA will likely get the same mileage - at least 5 years of use. I am already hooked to its less than 10 sec OSX, and less than 15 secs Win7 start ups.

    The comments you made is very comforting, as I know it has enough juice to run Office suites, Lightroom, and other softwares along the line, especially apps are now available to MBA. Only thing I missed are the indicator lights - disc access, power, etc., that I am so used to on Win machines, but knowing that I am contributing to the environment - highly recyclable aluminum and rubber - makes it an even better experience.

    Thanks again.
  13. macrumors 68000


    The 2.16ghz machine will be faster if you don't exceed the 2gb of ram. If you exceed that much memory usage and it starts swapping to the hard disk then it will slow to a crawl and the 1.86 with 4gb will be faster...how often you will exceed 2gb of ram used is dependant on your personal usage habits but the 2.16ghz machine won't be much faster at that point, but will be extreme amounts slower when your ram usage exceeds 2gb so in the end you made the right choice.
  14. macrumors regular

    If you are planning 5 years ahead, you really want the RAM. Web pages get more bloated every day, and you will be probably running a VM with Windows 8, and that won't be slim ...

    The faster CPU is ~10% faster. The RAM is future proofing.
  15. macrumors member

    I've wondered about this for a while. Since the SSD is so much faster than a mechanical drive, wouldn't the page outs be less noticeable?

    I'd like to see some tests done, but I'm not sure how they would measure what the speed loss (of writing to an SSD vs mechanical) feels like to the user.
  16. macrumors 68000


    It seems to me that the MBA's lightning fast flash storage has made page outs much less significant than they are on machines with conventional hard drives. Although I accumulate some page outs on my MBA, they do not create any problems I can detect with either the speed or stability of operations. I run Windows 7 in VMware Fusion's Unity mode and routinely leave at least a couple of Windows apps running on the OS X desktop along with 5 or 6 OS X apps. I ran the same setup on my old MBP and, although the MBP has 6GB of RAM, the setup runs just as well on the MBA, the page outs notwithstanding
  17. macrumors 6502a

    What other posters have said: exceeding the available memory is a performance killer, while the difference between a 1.86GHz and 2.13GHz CPU is only about 15%. In most situations it would be correct to go with the faster CPU since RAM is normally cheap (and usually only gets cheaper) and easy to upgrade, while you're typically stuck with the CPU you originally purchased. With the Macbook Air, however, getting the machine with more RAM is the right choice since neither the CPU nor the RAM is upgradable.
  18. macrumors 6502

    This whole thread begs the obvious question then - what will the 2.13 processor do with 4gb over the 1.8 with 4?
  19. macrumors 65816

    go faster? :eek:
  20. 2IS
    macrumors 68030

    Paging out to a SSD drive will indeed be better than paging out to a mechanical drive, but flash storage is still quite a bit slower than RAM
  21. macrumors 68000


    Although flash storage is, indeed, slower than RAM, its read/write speeds are nonetheless exponentially faster than those of a mechanical drive. Page outs on my MBA usually amount to no more than two percent of page ins but a significant number of page ins do accumulate over time. In the old days they would have caused a performance hit. Thanks to the MBA's flash storage, though, my page outs have created no performance hit at all, at least none I could see. Given a choice, I would have loved to be able to get an MBA with 8GB of RAM. That not being possible, though, I was gratified to establish that 4GB, combined with the MBA's flash storage, were enough for my setup.
  22. macrumors 68000

    Either way won't be much of a difference in speed.

    I have 2gb in my Imac and have quite a few apps open and it is quite fast. Don't often hit the limit. Even have 4gb sitting here in its packaging and haven't seen a need to install it yet.

    Having a SSD improves the biggest bottleneck and in the MBA that is taken care of no matter which model you choose.

    When your programs launch in a second or two from the SSD then it doesn't matter much if it wasn't in memory to begin with and has to be paged into memory from the SSD.
  23. macrumors member

  24. macrumors 68040

    Apple OC

    so close ... you would hardly notice a change :cool:
  25. macrumors 6502


    Thats the answer right there.

    I know there is a speed difference between the 1.86 and the 2.1 but unless you have bench mark software forget about telling the difference. These systems are FAST. The only thing the extra 100 bucks gets you is a higher number on your "About Mac" specs.

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