1.6GHz MacBook Air - Performance

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by kolax, Mar 7, 2009.

  1. kolax macrumors G3

    kolax

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2007
    #1
    Okay, I've been longing for a 13" MacBook for a while, and I am really considering getting the Air, and then some point down the line buying an iMac for doing CPU intensive stuff.

    For anyone that owns the 1.6GHz MacBook Air, what is the performance like? I'll be coming from a 2.4GHz MacBook Pro, but I'm not going to be running anything too intensive on it.

    I'll be watching TV on it via EyeTV - does this run smoothly with the MacBook Air? Also, is it any good at encoding video? Or does it suck at that? Finally, what about the odd game such as Tiger Woods 08, which runs well on the 9400M (though I have to bear in mind the Air's is probably crippled slightly).

    Aside from the odd video encode odd game, most of my time using it will be programming (PHP/HTML in Dreamweaver, Java and Objective-C) which it'll handle fine, as well as general web surfing.

    What are your guys thoughts on this? Good choice to downgrade to the Air and buy an iMac for power sometime in the future?
     
  2. OllyW Moderator

    OllyW

    Staff Member

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    The Black Country, England
    #2
    They have the XBench results of 1.6 MacBook Air as a comparison in this test of the new white MacBook as well as other various MacBooks which gives you an idea of it's relative performance.
     
  3. kolax thread starter macrumors G3

    kolax

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    Mar 20, 2007
    #3
    Doesn't look bad at all!

    I'm just worried about the heat issues if I were to leave it encoding video overnight for 10 hours?

    What about performance of encoding? I mean I know it isn't going to be great, but compared to a MacBook Pro, what differences in time/fps for encoding am I likely to see?
     
  4. jimboutilier macrumors 6502a

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    Denver
    #4
    A little less than a year ago I transitioned from a 2.2ghz/4gb/250-72k MBP to a 1.6ghz/2/80 MBA. I used to have a Black Macbook (2ghz/3gb/160gb-72k) before then and I have an iMac (2.16ghz/3gb/2TB-72k) and 2.4ghz/4gb/320gb-72K MB now.

    Speed is all relative. I'd say CPU wise the MBA was maybe 75% as fast as the MBP, Video performance was maybe 50% and HD maybe 25%. I was able to use the MBA as my primary machine all that time and with some tuning (reinstall OSX with just the stuff you use, run XSLIMMER on all the apps, use SmartSleep pref pane, run iFreemem and periodically use iDefrag) it worked out great for business applications. I was pleasantly surprised how well it did compared to other thin and light notebooks I've owned. Even running XP under Parallels was quite doable. Other than the occasional utube video I stayed away from video which is not the MBAs strong suit and I tried once to rip a DVD than religated that task back to my iMac (painfully slow).

    Supposedly the new revB MBA helps in all areas, particularly if you get the 128gb SSD but its expensive and its still only 128gb which is very confining for me. Due to a HD issue with my MBA I picked up a new 2.4/4/320 MB and while its screen is not so great and its not the joy to carry around the MBA was, its nice to have yery fast performance again and not have to worry about capacity. When I applied the same performance tweaks as I did the MBA its blindingly fast.

    For me a MBA / iMac combo worked out very well but I travel all the time so while the MB won't travel as well, it'll be nice to have all my stuff with me rather than remotely on my iMac. I feel with the MB I could trade my iMac in for a TimeCapsule and External monitor and not have to deal with syncing issues across machines.
     
  5. kolax thread starter macrumors G3

    kolax

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    #5
    So you had a rev A MacBook Air? I've heard the rev B has much much greater performance. Will the rev B play HD stuff and YouTube all fine? No pauses/stutters?
     
  6. jimboutilier macrumors 6502a

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    #6
    Not having a RevB all I can say is that Apple says the RevB video performance is about 4x that of the RevA and I've seen many posts of people being happy with normal and HD video performance of the RevB.

    My RevA never had any core shutdown issues and normal resolution videos never stuttered but others have complained bitterly in this area. I've never played any HD video on the MBA so I really can't comment there. I would stay away from the HDD and go with the SSD as you are never going to get good performance out of a 4200rpm 1.8" HDD SATA or not.

    I was happy living with the overall performance of my tuned RevA, but the capacity was a constant struggle and Rev B did nothing for Ram and only went to 128gb for storage so I went with a MB for now and will consider the next generation MBA if memory and storage capacity gets to levels I'm comfortable with.
     
  7. dubhe macrumors 65816

    dubhe

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    May 1, 2007
    Location:
    Norwich, UK
    #7
    I 'upgraded' to a Rev.B 1.6 HDD MBA from a BlackBook 2.4 (the last of the Black MBs). I have found it to be just as fast on everyday tasks (internet, emails, iPhoto etc).

    I watch lots of movies on it, albeit from an external HD, and I have encoded once using Handbrake, converting to H.264 with two passes (turbo first pass) it took about 2 hours to do a movie. I don't remember it getting too hot, the fans on the MBA are so quiet!

    In fact at the moment I am on MacRumors, have the wife open on iChat (she thinks I am looking for Baby clothes ;) ) and have been editing a pages file whilst listening to music (which happens to be a music video) in iTunes. My fan is running at 4760rpm (though I can't hear it), CPU temp 61 degrees C.

    I have played vdrift, which is a graphics intensive game (didn't work on my old BlackBook) on the MBA no problem. I think your only concern would be the video encoding for so long, and also consider you can not plug in your external drive at the same time as your superdrive, unless you buy the apple LED display.
     
  8. tsubikiddo macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2008
    Location:
    Melbourne, AUS
    #8
    I have a MBA rev.B (base spec)

    The rev.B handles youtube, video & HDs fine, never had a shut down problem.
    for HD materials, MBA rev.B may (or may not) stutter when you are sliding the the time line, I blame the codec for this.

    On the other hand, the MBA is prbly not the best thing you want to throw ripping/encoding work on, the 1.6/1.86GHz CPU is prbly lacking some 'muscles' that would have provided the same experience when you are on your Pro/iMac

    in fact, I would prbly even go for the HDD base spec if you are determined to use your MBA as encoding/redering machine, the reason behind is, sequential read/write is the weakest link of SSD, traditional HDD still out performs SSD in this area.

    so there you go, happy MBA purchase xD
     
  9. aveda6 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2008
    #9
    I have a Rev A and have never felt that it was underpowered for my needs. I use it as my main computer and with a wireless access point (airport extreme) with an attached hard drive, I don't miss the desktop (imac) at all. The limitations that some have listed are all relative but the main concern I've had is the storage. At 80gb it can fill fast but with external drives so cheap that's no longer a concern.
     
  10. Scottsdale macrumors 601

    Scottsdale

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    U.S.A.
    #10
    I wouldn't recommend the refurbished original if you are already concerned.

    Any rev B is nicer, better, faster, less problematic, and cool compared to fastest and best original MBA.

    I own a rev B, 1.86 with SSD. It is very fast. Faster than my unibody 2.4 MB and my 2.33 GHz MBP. Both have 4 GB RAM and 7200 rpm drives.

    The SSD is making the rev B MBA incredibly fast. And with its components, the rev B MBA is incredibly powerful.

    Keep in mind that the low end rev B still has a 45 NM Penryn CPU that has 6 MB L2 cache. The low end has same 2 GB DDR3 RAM. The low end has the Nvidia GPU with Mini Display Port capable of driving up to a 30" ACD.

    The 1.86 GHz isn't making my MBA extremely fast. The SSD makes the MBA incredibly fast. Until today, you had to pay $500 and could only upgrade via Apple. Today, a person posted how he bought a SATA SSD for $300 and converted the MBA's cable via soldering. This also means a 256 GB option is possible in the future. He had a HD version. So the point is the potential is there to change it in the future.

    His thread is in the MBA section under something like converting micro SATA drive. Towards the top of section.

    One last thing. My MBA feels like a Mac Pro when I connect it to my new 24" ACD. Plus, the new ACD is like a docking station for MBA. Has USB hub built in and charges MBA. It's really amazing how portable the MBA is yet how powerful it is once plugged into an external display.

    Best wishes whichever route you go.
     
  11. Maks macrumors member

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    Feb 26, 2009
    #11
    :rolleyes:
     
  12. Maks macrumors member

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    Feb 26, 2009
    #12
    How does plugging a MBA into a monitor make it more powerful?
     
  13. Scottsdale macrumors 601

    Scottsdale

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    #13
    If you like desktops, the MBA feels like a Mac Pro when plugged into an ACD. It becomes a lot more powerful in the sense of having the larger monitor for more workable area. It allows all wireless peripherals to work great and yet keep clean minimal look. Reduces need to plug in all devices like "normal" from laptops, as the ACD has USB built in. Plus, don't have to take out battery charger and plug in laptop.

    Having the SSD makes the MBA fast, but when sitting at a desk, and feeling like you're working on a Mac Pro, I would say that's pretty cool. Because, you can walk away from the desk and have an ultra portable MBA that weighs 3 lbs.

    You really don't see more power in plugging in an ACD and all of the capabilities that are instantly there??? And how it no longer seems like a MBA. AND, that the Nvidia graphics in the new MBA can be plugged into up to a 30" ACD and drive it perfectly? That means POWER of super capabilities of desktop yet ultra portable all in one.

    Having one computer works much better for me. And the ACD means the MBA is a ONE COMPUTER SYSTEM.
     
  14. justit macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2007
    #14
    "It" isn't fast, it's SSD is but then if you put an SSD in a MB it would be fast as well. Do take the time to search the threads here with benchmarks and real world uses of the MBA.

    Let's not get carried away, especially to those about to make a purchasing decision. :rolleyes:

    Write speeds for the SSD are not as good as the HDD. Again please read the threads.
     
  15. dubhe macrumors 65816

    dubhe

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    Norwich, UK
    #15
    Justit, I think you are being a bit harsh, as a MBA owner I can say the above comments are 'real' world. It is a fast machine, enough for what the OP requires.
     
  16. Scottsdale macrumors 601

    Scottsdale

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    #16
    Some people cannot think in "REAL WORLD" performance. The MBA is very fast, and I clearly explain that it is the SSD. Sure, a MB buyer can buy an SSD. At the same time, the MB has HALF the L2 cache as the CPU in the MBA.

    Even at a slightly slower clock speed, I will take the MBA's CPU over the MB's CPU. And Real World use is what really matters. To someone buying a MBA, they are going to feel like it's incredibly fast with SSD. Without SSD, it's not quite as fast as MB... but it isn't slow either.
     
  17. Scottsdale macrumors 601

    Scottsdale

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    #17
    I think you need to wise up about what the rev B MBA is and isn't. I own it, and I use Mac Pros on occasion. When you see a 24" or 30" ACD driven by a MBA at the same resolution as a Mac Pro can drive it at, maybe you will think a little more about what I am stating. FOR THE AVERAGE OR COMMON USERS COMPUTING TASKS, THE REV B MBA WITH SSD IS EXTREMELY FAST. MOST Mac users would state that for "common" uses the MBA is fast.

    Also, I clearly stated the SSD was making the MBA very fast. That part is true. Read some reviews on what it's capable of. For someone doing "Mac Pro" type extremely large files and very intensive tasks, NO THE MBA IS NOT GOING TO COMPARE... but to the average user, probably 90+ percent of Mac users, the MBA will Rock and SCREAM for COMMON tasks.

    Someone buying a MBA or MB isn't doing extremely intensive tasks, and isn't opening Gigabyte sized files and isn't doing advanced 3D graphics or editing. Someone comparing the two is going to have a faster experience from a MBA in standard configuration at 1.86 GHz with SSD, than they would with a standard high-end MB configuration of 2.4 GHz.

    How about you read the facts... understand the difference between "out of the box" standard configurations... learn about SSD... and understand that the comparisons I made were extremely accurate and ANY rev B MBA owner with SSD will verify this.
     
  18. justit macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2007
    #18
    I agree what the OP needs the MBA can deliver. What the OP states and what Scottsdale states are two different things. Many come to these forums to get buying advice, so stating that an MBA is like a Mac Pro is a disservice to the reader.
     
  19. justit macrumors 6502a

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    Dec 1, 2007
    #19
    Having owned a Rev A,Rev B and a Mac Pro you refer to, I think I know and live with the differences.

    I've run my own "real world" tests and have posted the results here. Facts over feelings is the way I like to compare.

    Please re-read what the OP was actually asking. The OP doesn't even mention the word "SSD", rather asking for performance on a 1.6 and also using an iMac for power: A far better combo than only an MBA SSD for the needs the OP was asking for.
     
  20. kolax thread starter macrumors G3

    kolax

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    Mar 20, 2007
    #20
    Good discussion.

    I'm aware the MacBook Air will not even be level to the Mac Pro's performance, I'm not after that.

    All I want is for it to be able to handle video encoding without overheating. I'm not bothered about duration, as I'll be doing it during the night. As long as it can encode an HD .mkv (3 hours would be acceptable, my current Pro can do a 30min 720p .mkv in about an hour and half) without problems then I'm happy.

    Can you confirm that? I've read so many reports on the rev A's being useless for anything like that, and I'm hoping the rev B will handle what I want. It isn't performance, but just being able to do it without failure.

    I won't be able to buy an iMac for 6 months, need to save up the pennies. That's why I'm hoping the Air will be able to handle what I want..

    I took Tiger Woods 08 on my USB drive to my local retailer, but couldn't test it as they didn't have the USB optical drive in stock! Doh.
     
  21. justit macrumors 6502a

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    Dec 1, 2007
    #21
    The MBA can encode http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=610234

    It will just take longer (2x time). The fans will rev to 6400RPM and using coolbook helps.

    For all those that have posted the purchase of the $999 Rev A refurbs have had no core shutdowns due to heat. There have been several reporting that the refurbs are actually late summer 08 models that seemed to have fixed many of the instability issues.

    Your sig shows a 2.4 MBP, so why an iMac, MBP and MBA? Would just getting an external 24" monitor for the MBP make better sense?
     

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