2015 13" MacBook Air vs 2016 12" Macbook

Discussion in 'MacBook' started by Rory76, Apr 24, 2017.

  1. Rory76 macrumors member

    Apr 24, 2017
    I'm interested in "real world" performance comparisons between the 2015 13" MacBook Air with I5 and 8GB RAM and the 2016 12" MacBook with the M5. Are there things the Air can do that the MacBook is incapable of doing? Would appreciate hearing from anyone who has experience with both models. Thanks!
  2. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    Well more importantly what are you intending to use the computer for?? Neither will edit 4k video in any great way for example but both will handle web browsing and office and editing a few home photos just fine.

    In general they will both do the same things but the MacBook will throttle down more and be slower on occasion.
  3. RyawesomeU13 macrumors newbie

    Feb 24, 2011
    Just got a good deal on a MacBook m5 refurb, it will replace my 2015 13" mba with 4 gigs of ram. Based on my research the performance is very similar between these two with people often saying the MacBook just seems to work a bit better and smoother. Not a head to head comparison for you, but even though I love my MacBook, once you get used to retina screens and the force touch trackpads, the MacBook just feels like (and is), the next generation.
  4. Rory76 thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 24, 2017
    What type of stuff are you using it for?
  5. GoldfishRT macrumors 6502


    Jul 24, 2014
    Just going to throw out there that the screen on the Air is super lame.

    Neither are going to be doing anything super intensive like gaming or 4k all that well. I'd go for the modern one with no fan and a pretty screen.
  6. navaira macrumors 68040


    May 28, 2015
    Amsterdam, Netherlands
    Connecting stuff to it.
  7. RyawesomeU13 macrumors newbie

    Feb 24, 2011
    Nothing too exciting. Mail, safari, iTunes, some pdf stuff, excel. I don't get into big programming or photo/video editing stuff. I do find that I sometimes have slow-downs once a number of items are opened (think this is due to the 4gigs of ram). I have a MacBook pro 15 for my heavy-lifting stuff, but for on-the-go stuff like emails, some basic word processing, and so-on.
  8. Ixidor macrumors regular

    Mar 22, 2016
    From benchmarks, I recall that the 2016 MacBook is pretty much on par with the 2015 MacBook Air.

    In terms of performance, I think the macbook's lack of a fan can be an issue. If the processor runs hot, the MacBook will throttle and the laptop will lag. Otherwise, you probably wouldn't feel a difference in performance between the two.

    I have an M7 MacBook and I don't have any performance issues unless I have to edit very large spreadsheets (in which case, I switch to an iMac). I also noticed that Flash on Firefox tends to cause my MacBook to run hot, so that's a problem. Safari seems to work fine.
  9. Rory76 thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 24, 2017
    Are you referring to the i5 or i7 MacBook Air being comparable to the MacBook?
  10. Ixidor macrumors regular

    Mar 22, 2016
    I believe the benchmarks I read were against the i5. Should've specified.
  11. Rory76 thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 24, 2017
    No problem. Is the M7 faster than the I7?
  12. Ixidor, Apr 26, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2017

    Ixidor macrumors regular

    Mar 22, 2016

    The thread above compared m3,5 and 7 to a core i5 MacBook air. You can see that the m7 is quite noticeably faster than the i5. I haven't compared the benchmarks of the i7 but if you know the relative improvements of the i7 over the i5, that should give you some idea as to the m7 vs i7. That said, benchmarks may not reflect real world usage.

    I think the awesome thing about Core M processors is that they consume very low power and turbo-boosts if needed (until they run hot). That's why they can keep up their speed with the Core i variants in tasks that requires speed for a short period of time. If you do sustained heavy loads, then the laptop runs hot and throttles. So if your workflow requires heavy sustained workloads, then the Core M probably isn't a good idea.

    One thing not mentioned is the ability to charge the MacBook with a mobile phone power bank. You can't use this on the MacBook Air obviously (no USB C). I'm not sure if you have factored this in, but in my experience, having a power bank present to charge my phones and the MacBook is a huge advantage.

    Using a regular 2.4A, 5V power bank, my MacBook charges while simultaneously using it for low powered tasks. On the new MacBook Pros, the higher power consumption means even for the same task, the same power bank will not be able to keep up with the power consumption.

    I could even charge the MacBook with an iPad charger. It's just slower but works.


    Basically, the benefits of the MacBook far outweighs the MacBook Air.

    You get a better screen, lighter/smaller laptop and the ability to charge using a power bank with little sacrifice to processing speed. The only downside is cost.
  13. Rory76 thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 24, 2017
    Thanks for this info! I've looked into the USB C power banks, but haven't gotten one yet. Do you have one you'd recommend?
  14. Ixidor macrumors regular

    Mar 22, 2016
    This thread explains everything you need to know about charging a MacBook with a power bank, including some recommendations.


    Bear in mind that you need to consider the battery packs in terms of W-hour instead of mAh (the thread discusses this extensively).

    As for me, I use the Jackery Force 420 Pro. It adds a bit of bulk but has enough power to fully charge the MacBook once with some juice left over for my iPhone.

  15. asoksevil macrumors 6502

    Jun 7, 2010
    Taipei, Taiwan
    I have both and honestly the advantages you get over the MacBook far surpasses any downsides of it.
  16. Mike Boreham macrumors 65816

    Aug 10, 2006
  17. Ixidor macrumors regular

    Mar 22, 2016
    Yeah it doesn't, but workloads defer depending on a person's use case. In my case, my MacBook rarely throttles. For some weird reason, it runs super hot, drains battery and throttles when using Firefox to watch videos. But I think that has to do with Flash. I have no problems under Safari.
  18. Rory76 thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 24, 2017
    Is there a way or program to disable Flash?
  19. Mike Boreham macrumors 65816

    Aug 10, 2006


    I haven't had Flash on either of my macs for about three years.

    Nowadays I rarely run into a situation where a site needs it, and if I do I use the Safari/Develop/Open Page With menu item to quickly open it in Chrome. But I guess it will depend on your usage.
  20. Lawzen macrumors member


    Apr 28, 2017
    I recently got the 2015 MacBook Air 13 with 8GB of RAM and I have no issues with it. Now I don't do anything intense on it, just the everyday tasks of web browsing, emails, word processing. I've played around with the MacBook and for everyday light tasks, a difference in performance between the two is very minimal. Like what others have mentioned, the screen would be a big deciding factor.
  21. Erge macrumors newbie

    May 3, 2017
    Hi, been eyeing on macbook for quite some time and read interesting discussions in this forum. I like the portability of the macbook but wonder whether it will suit my use case. In my place once you buy the macbook means to keep it, 14 day return is unavailable.

    My job is interior designer. Currently I'm using macbook air i5 2013 for simple sketchUp drawing and interior modeling (kitchen, bathroom,etc) using home designer software. I'm planning to retire the old 2013 MBA but will macbook fit my use case?
  22. shr631, May 6, 2017
    Last edited: May 6, 2017

    shr631 macrumors regular

    Dec 13, 2013
    If you're using simple sketch software, rather than CAD for example, the MacBook should be fine for your use - assuming that's your most demanding software. But if you regularly edit 4K video or do a lot of Photoshop you might find the MacBook throttles under sustained load (high intensity tasks putting demand on the m processor for a long time) or just takes longer than a dual core i series processor, like those in the MacBook Air or Pro, would. The m5 and m7 will perform better under sustained load than the m3 so that's another thing to keep in mind. You might still be ok with the m3, if you are fine with batching your workflow so that you aren't running more than two high-demand processes for more than a few minutes.

    TL;DR: should be fine, depending on what you do and how you stack your workflow :)

    Edit: Thinking more about your situation though, if this is your only machine and you plan to eventually do more intensive tasks than you did with your MacBook Air, then you might want to consider the MacBook Pro (either 2015 or 2016, new and refurb). Simply because it's a no-brainer way to be more future proof for your workflow.

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