2013 Macbook Air faster than 2009 Macbook Pro?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by james*b, Feb 10, 2015.

  1. james*b, Feb 10, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2015

    james*b macrumors regular

    Jan 2, 2011
    I was think of switching from my 2009 MacBook Pro 5,2 (2.8ghz c2d) to a 2013 Core i5 Macbook Air 6,2 - mostly for the portability.

    I currently use my Pro mostly for Mail, MS Word and MS Excel, and also Skype and Dropbox - usually all at the same time with many, many files open simultaneously - plus occasionally Photoshop Express for some basic photo manipulation and Open Office. I also sometimes use an external monitor as a second screen.

    Would a Macbook Air 2013 Core i5 (i5-4250U / 4GB Ram) be OK handling this lifting, and would I be losing anything in the switch other than the screen real estate? Also, is the Macbook Air ram user upgradable?

    Thanks in advance..
  2. motrek macrumors 68020

    Sep 14, 2012
    No, the RAM isn't user upgradeable, but I would expect the 2013 MBA to be about 50% faster than your 2009 MBP. Same number of cores, almost the same clock speed, and 4 years of Intel's improvements.

    Of course, if your MBP doesn't have an SSD, then the MBA will be about 234829834 times faster.
  3. james*b thread starter macrumors regular

    Jan 2, 2011
    Thanks - sounds like a good plan to swap - but isn't the clock speed of the 2013 MBA considerably faster than the 2009 MBP (1.3 Ghz vs 2.8 Ghz)?
  4. motrek macrumors 68020

    Sep 14, 2012
    I think you mean slower.

    The Core i5/i7 chips have a turbo boost mode so they will run at a higher clock speed if their temperature is low enough.

    The MacBook Airs have enough thermal headroom (since 2013) so they can run at the full turbo boost clock speed indefinitely.

    For the base models I believe this is 2.7GHz.

    So effectively both chips (the i5 and the C2D) have the same clock speed.
  5. cbautis2 macrumors 6502a

    Aug 17, 2013
  6. chabig macrumors 603

    Sep 6, 2002
    I have 11" i7 machine. It's the fastest Mac I've ever owned. Since it's not upgradable though, I'd recommend the 8GB model.
  7. james*b thread starter macrumors regular

    Jan 2, 2011
    Thanks everyone. Out of interest, how does the turbo boost behave when the temperature gets above 35 degrees centigrade?
  8. chabig macrumors 603

    Sep 6, 2002
    I don't know. I just use the machine, and it's great. You should probably read Intel's processor documentation for the answer to that.
  9. Gav2k macrumors G3


    Jul 24, 2009
    As above it'll clock the processor when it's demanded and due to improvements in the airs design it'll run at full speed indefinatly
  10. The-Pro macrumors 65816

    Dec 2, 2010
    You will find that the cpu will never run at 35°C unless your not using it. If its all idle you can expect round 40, if your doing even the most basic tasks 50°C is normal.
    Those cpus can heat up up to 103°C. Then they shut off to prevent damage.
    If your doing work that is using 1 or more cores to the max, the cpu will run at 80-95°C.
    Turbo boost is still used to 100% though. Thats how the MacBook Airs have been designed to operate.
    Temperature isnt a problem at all. You might find the bottom of the MacBook Air getting quite warm, but thats normal as the body acts as a heatsink. The fan can at times run quite fast too. The way apple has set up the cooling system is that the fan only kicks in to higher speeds if the cpu is hot for longer periods of time, this stops the random fan spin ups that are annoying. The cpu doesn't care if its running at 50°C or 95°C so its not necessary for it to be kept cool all the time.

    the 1.3GHz i5 is about 60% faster then the 2.8GHz C2D you have in the Pro. This is because it has hyper threading, so you essentially have 4 cores to use and turbo boost that increases the clock speed up to 2.7GHz when only 1 core is being used. When you are using 2 cores it should be around 2.3GHz (roughly, not sure of exact numbers) If all 4 cores are being used then all 4 cores will run at 1.3-1.5GHz depending on how hot the cpu is.
    Also have a look for a 8GB model. You cant upgrade it yourself and it is well invested money.
  11. james*b thread starter macrumors regular

    Jan 2, 2011
    Thanks - so a hot environment shouldn't have a major impact on processor speed?
  12. Boyd01 macrumors 601


    Feb 21, 2012
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    I don't know what else might be different, but I have a 2008 15" MBP Core2Duo 2.4ghz. I upgraded to 2011 i5 MBA and it was almost twice as fast (in other words, more like 90% faster). I now have a 2013 i7 MBA and it is probably 30% faster than my 2011 MBA. And I am only talking about CPU bound tasks here, when the SSD comes into play, it is probably 10x faster than the 2008 MBP. ;)

    However, for some tasks you will see a much greater performance increase, presumably due to the turbo mode on the i-series processors and software that takes advantage of it. For example, ripping an hour TV show in Handbrake was taking about 75 minutes on the 2008 MBP. On the 2013 MBA it takes 15 minutes (500% faster!). :)
  13. motrek macrumors 68020

    Sep 14, 2012
    Interesting question.

    When my 2014 MBA's processor is idle, it runs at around 30-35C in an environment that's around room temperature, i.e., 22C.

    Under full load, the fan has to spin at 4000-5000 RPM to keep the temperature under 100C. (The fan starts spinning up after the machine is under full load for about a minute.)

    I believe the fan's maximum speed is either 6000 RPM or 6500 RPM. So the question is, is that extra ~1500 RPM enough to cool the chip down an extra ~13C.

    Good question and I don't know the answer. Maybe somebody else can chime in.

    Of course, this is only relevant if you're going to run the machine at full load for longer than a minute or two.

    Short bursts of CPU activity, or medium load on the CPU, will not be enough to get it anywhere near 100C.
  14. Ronnoco macrumors 68030


    Oct 16, 2007
    United States of America
    My 2013 i7/8gb/512 13" MBA absolutely blows away my 2010 2.4GHz i5 MBP. It's like night and day. I upgraded the MBP's hard drive to a OWC SSD but still no comparison. The MBA is quite noticeably faster in every aspect...and the weight difference between the two is quite substantial as well (the MBP did have a built optical drive which adds quite a bit to the weight of it.).

    All in all, the 2010 MBP was no match for the later model maxed out MBA.

    Btw, my MBA rarely if ever runs over 70°C no matter what type of task I am doing. My MBP would often run well over 90°C when converting video.
  15. The-Pro macrumors 65816

    Dec 2, 2010
    It shouldn't be no.
    These computers are tested in very harsh environment, if a hot environment causes a noticeable difference it would say somewhere / you would have heard about it.
  16. motrek macrumors 68020

    Sep 14, 2012
    The computer will definitely still work at its specified clock speed (1.4GHz) in a hot environment, no doubt. The question is, will it be able to sustain turbo boost for long periods of time.

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