13" MBA 2.13 faster than 2008 15" MBP 2.53?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by dfielder, Nov 12, 2010.

  1. dfielder macrumors newbie

    Nov 7, 2010
    I'm seriously considering replacing my '08 unibody 2.53Ghz MBP with a new 2.13Ghz 13" MBA, but want to make sure I'm not taking a step backwards from a processor perspective.

    I can't find a good comparison online, and I know it's not just a matter of comparing clock speeds.

    Can anyone tell me if I'll be "upgrading?"

  2. foiden, Nov 12, 2010
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2010

    foiden macrumors 6502a

    Dec 13, 2008
    A 2.53 with I believe a dedicated video card? I think you'll probably get the higher performance on the MBP. Heck, my late 2009 MBP 13" still seems to have the edge.Not surprisingly. Will it hold up? The verdict is still out on that one. I need to do more tests on the 13" air. Particularly for how much can I drive using GarageBand and such. I still need to do the GarageBand litmus test, which is very hard on the CPU. Now considering I push an orchestra-sized audio performance via Logic Pro, on my 13" Logic pro machine, with layers of realtime effects across many tracks; I pretty much put a pounding on the CPU.

    So be very wary of what you are using the computer for. it does make up for the lower CPU a bit, with the video card. it is, however, still an integrated graphics card.
  3. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010
    You are taking a step backwards from a processor perspective. Both the 2.53GHz and 2.13GHz models have 6MB of L2 cache, and the 2.13GHz model is 400MHz slower.

    I think what you are asking is whether the other upgrades (SSD, faster GPU) make up for it. It depends on what you are running. You are also losing the backlit keyboard, Firewire, and gigabit ethernet. If you want or need any of those things, then the MacBook Air might not work.

    Let us know more and we may be able to help answer your question.
  4. glhiii macrumors regular

    Nov 4, 2006
    Have both

    I happen to have both -- a 2008 Santa Rosa MBP, 2.5ghz, 512 graphics card, and the new maxed-out MBA. The MBA seems much faster, and I'm going to sell the MBP. It loads Windows 7 in Parallels in what seems about 1/5 the time. Of course, if you're doing something that is mainly processor-dependent, the MBP would be faster. But for everything I've used it for, there's no comparison. The new MBA is amazingly fast (faster even than the 8-core 2008 Mac Pro I use at work). If you got an ssd for the MBP, it would probably be faster than the MBA, but I'm not sure, as the MBA may have other optimizations.
  5. dfielder thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 7, 2010
    My main use (aside from the basics: surfing, email, iTunes) is photo editing. I just use iPhoto, but have about 28,000 images in a huge library.

    I'm going to have to keep my library on an external drive, and realize that may significantly slow things down, but I'm planning on keeping a smaller internal library to alleviate those things.

    Other than that, there's rare iMovie editing and some DVD ripping, but I'm not too worried about the speed issues there.

    Thanks again for your input.
  6. dfielder thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 7, 2010
    That's where I started out on this little project. I was going to drop an SSD in the optical drive slot, but I've become enamored with the size/weight of the MBA as well as much greater battery life.

    I think I'll be happy either way, just looking for a little reassurance.
  7. stockscalper macrumors 6502a


    Aug 1, 2003
    Area 51
    Here are a couple of xbench tests to help you decide. The maxed out MBA scored an over number of 176.1 with the CPU registering 151.4. The 15" MBP with 4 gigs of ram and a 2.53 Sana Rosa processor put up an over all score of 129.49 with its CPU clocking at 176.68.

    You can see how the MBA posts an overall higher score because of the SSD drive. But the MBP beat the MBA in processor intensive tasks as you would expect with a higher clock rate.

    In practical terms what does this mean? It means that for everyday tasks the MBA is going to be faster, but if you run something that really tasks the processor you're going to see an advantage from the MBP. I think there are very few programs out there that will task the CPU and that you'll likely find the MBA faster overall.

    Here are the results if you want to look at the details:

    2.13 GHZ 4GB Ram 2010 MBA: http://db.xbench.com/merge.xhtml?doc2=479731

    2.53 GHZ 4GB ram MBP: http://db.xbench.com/merge.xhtml?doc2=402499
  8. magbarn macrumors 68000

    Oct 25, 2008
    If you're still happy with the 15" MBP form factor, then I would just get a 120gb Sandforce SSD and get rid of the optical drive by placing your HD in an "opti-bay" type of device. You'll end up with a much faster machine than a MBA with less cash outlay. IF you really need the MBA's smaller size and don't game, then the MBA is a worthy switch.
  9. jamesryanbell macrumors 68020


    Mar 17, 2009
    He's primarily asking about the processor, and in that sense, '08 MBP > MBA.
  10. labmice3 macrumors newbie

    Oct 31, 2010
    On the same boat...


    I am in the exact same situation as you. I have a late 2008 MBP 2.53Ghz 4GB 320GB. I'm a researcher and, from time to time, I need to run some (python+scipy) scripts that make intensive use of the CPUs. However, most of the time I browse, read, search and write. My main concern is not for CPU (the 2.13ghz does not look like a huge step backwards considering the better GPU and faster storage) but screen size.

    Lately, I'm finding myself travelling much more and I could really take advantage of: 1)smaller footprint and 2)longer battery life in the MBA. However, I'm a bit scared of the screen. I've read reports of people saying that the colors look dull, and that the increased PPI makes text difficult to read. On the other hand, there seems to be quorum about the glossy screen being not as bloody reflecting as the MBPs.

    I know for a fact I'm going to change my machine. I just don't know whether to:
    - go for the maxed out 13'' MBA
    - go for the HiRes matte 15'' MBP (nice screen and great battery life, but quite heavy to carry around)
    - wait for an update of MBP 13'' (current version is not as attractive as MBA)

    Thanks in advance for your advice!
  11. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010

    There are several different display models floating around there. I have the 9CDF model, which is much nicer than my old Air or my mother's MacBook Pro, and is the consensus "better" model in the display threads (the other model is the 9CF0). Unfortunately, the only way to tell which display you have is by going into System Preferences and looking, which you can only tell after you've unboxed it. It might just be a matter of tuning, though, meaning you might be able to tinker with the display profile if you wind up with the 9CF0.

    I'm fine with the readability of the screen. Sure, it's bit tighter than the old screen, but you can change the resolution to 1280x800 if that works better for you. The screen isn't matte by any stretch, but it isn't as bad as the glossy MacBook Pros because there is no glass.
  12. Altered3 macrumors newbie

    Nov 1, 2010
    I have the exact same unibody 2008 MBP 2.53 model, and I debated replacing it with a MBA too... But I decided not to. Instead I followed the tips in this MacWorld article: http://www.macworld.com/article/145185/2009/12/mbpssdcard.html.

    The ExpressCard SSD is a very nice option for that model Macbook Pro, especially since Apple dropped Expresscard from 2009 MBP 15 inch models. I've set up my MBP to boot from the 48 GB Filemate SSD, and it flies. I'm booting in about 20 seconds, not far from MBA speeds. 48 GB holds plenty of applications, and they run extremely quickly from the SSD. Not bad for a $150 upgrade.

    Alternately you could try the Optibay SSD route, but you'd have to remove your Superdrive.

    Obviously the MBA is more portable, and it's hard to beat the size and weight if you travel a lot. However my portability needs are mainly around the house, so the MBA would be overkill.
  13. magbarn macrumors 68000

    Oct 25, 2008
    Depends on what you're going to do with the machine. As I'm an amateur photog on the side, after playing with my MBP 13 ultimate for a week, I've realized it can't replace my MBP 15 with hi res screen for heavy photo editing. You're right about the screen, while it's superior to seriously crappy 1300x768 screens found in the majority of PC laptops, it's color gamut and contrast ratio is blown away by the MBP 15 hi res screen. (even the current 13 MBP,whilst with lower res, has better color gamut than the 13 MBA) Even with 4gb I still pageout quite a bit vs. my 8gb equipped MBP when editing RAW photos on LR3/CS5. As my MBP i7 also has a 128gb Sandforce SSD, the MBA ultimate does not feel any faster, but is in fact slower.
  14. SidBala macrumors 6502a

    Jun 27, 2010
    Yes, from a processor perspective, the MBP kicks the MBA's ass. And this is probably true for the graphics as well.

    Why not just upgrade the 15's HDD to an SSD and have the best of both worlds? And it would be a lot cheaper too!
  15. labmice3 macrumors newbie

    Oct 31, 2010
    I would keep my MBP but battery life sucks (3h Word processing) and lately I'm finding myself in situations where I have to stop working after running out of battery. I still need to think about it. The new MBPs 15'' with that HiRes screen and long battery life look really tempting. Portability is not great, but I've been managing more or less fine with my current MBP 15''. Still, I think the MBA would do just fine for 99% of my processing activities and in addition has great portability.

    Thanks for your replies, folks!
  16. mongoos150 macrumors 6502a


    Sep 20, 2005
    ^^ I have similar reasoning. I occasionally work on large photo files and large HD video files for editing (photoshop + iPhoto + Aperture / Final Cut Pro), but only 10-15% of the time. The majority of my usage is web, music, light stuff.

    The MBP's processing prowess would really come in handy for that 15% of the time, but unless I purchase a new MBP and put an SSD inside (which for me would be cost prohibitive, as I have a max of $2K to spend), it seems a better option to go for the Ultimate MBA. The screen res is the same as the base 15" MBP (saw it in-store, it's beautiful, very rich to my eyes). During that 15% of the time when I'm crunching data, the computer will run slower, but overall, for my usage (and yours), the quickness of the MBA will likely prevail in overall usage satisfaction happiness. :)
  17. miata macrumors 6502

    Oct 22, 2010
    Silicon Valley, Earth
    You can get the MBP 13" with a fast 256 GB SSD, 8 GB of RAM and a faster CPU for the about same price as the Ultimate MBA 13.

    The Pros of the MBA are:

    - weight
    - size
    - higher resolution screen

    The Pros of the MBP are:

    - 8 GB max RAM
    - faster CPU
    - Firewire 800
    - backlit keyboard
    - SuperDrive (can be converted to seconda 2.5" SSD/HDD bay)
    - battery indicator lights
    - sleep indicator lights
    - iSight camera versus FaceTime camera
    - upgradable HDD/SSD bay
    - better battery life
  18. EspressoLove macrumors 6502


    Jun 29, 2007
    Bay Area
    What you just said sounds like a discussion between Mac OSX and Windows user ;)))
    - with first you get lots of style, ease and "just works",
    - and with latter "regular" Windows user arguments

    Just sayin :p
  19. miata macrumors 6502

    Oct 22, 2010
    Silicon Valley, Earth
    Kinda of a weird way of looking at it. MBPs also have lots of style, the same ease of use and they "just work" -- even when using exotic technologies like ethernet or firewire external storage. So, I don't quite get your comparison.
  20. itommyboy macrumors 6502a


    Feb 26, 2009
    Titletown USA

    ...megahertz myth.
  21. miata macrumors 6502

    Oct 22, 2010
    Silicon Valley, Earth
    The two systems have the same Intel Core 2 Duo processors with the same 6 MB shared L2 cache. They even have the same 1066 MHz memory bus. The only difference is the clock speed -- 2.53 versus 2.13.:confused:

    MBP spec

    MBA spec

    There are graphics differences and the SSD will make a big difference for storage speed, and there are even clocking differences, but if you are just concerned about the CPUs...
  22. Altered3 macrumors newbie

    Nov 1, 2010
    It's quite clear that the MBP has the processor speed advantage. Based on my research, the 9600GT dedicated graphics will beat the MBA 320M by ~30% or more. The MBA SSD will definitely beat a MBP with hard drive quite handily, but you can get a decent SSD for $200 or less, and even run it side by side with the hard drive.

    So it really comes down to size and battery life. How much do those mean to you?
  23. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010
    Exactly. Megahertz myth relates to attempting to compare different classes processors based on clock speed. A "slower" Core i5 or i7 can run circles around a Core 2 Duo with a higher clock speed, which itself can run circles around a Pentium 4 with the same clock speed.

    In this case, the MacBook Pro has better specs, apart from the SSD, which can be added. Apple hasn't changed the laws of physics. What they have done is "shrunk" last year's 13" MacBook Pro into a smaller package, ditching some ports and the optical drive along the way, but also lowering the price relative to a 2009 MPB with an SSD.
  24. jamesryanbell macrumors 68020


    Mar 17, 2009
    I'm not basing it solely on megahertz. It's just the case that the 2.53 is faster from everything I've seen. Am i wrong?

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