Early Benchmarks on the New 13-Inch and 11-Inch MacBook Air

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Primate Labs publishes initial benchmarks for Apple's new 13-inch and 11-inch MacBook Air, comparing the new models to earlier generations of the MacBook Air, the current 13-inch MacBook Pro, and the iPad.
There are two ways you can look at the new 11-inch MacBook Air; it's either a much smaller but slower MacBook Pro, or a much faster but larger iPad. The 11-inch MacBook Air is small enough that I'd consider bringing it instead of an iPad, but I'd worry it's not fast enough (or have enough screen space) to be my primary laptop.

The 13-inch MacBook Air is a much more straightforward produc; it has 80% of the processor performance of the latest 13-inch Pro, making it an acceptable substitute for users looking for a slightly more portable Pro.
The report emphasizes, however, that Geekbench only measures processor and memory performance, leaving out what is expected to be significant overall performance improvements over earlier generations due to the use of the NVIDIA GeForce 320M video card and flash storage across all models.

Article Link: Early Benchmarks on the New 13-Inch and 11-Inch MacBook Air
 

macduke

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I feel like my early 2008 MBP is too slow, and it clocks in around 3400 on Geekbench. I guess this might work for some people, but I wonder how long until Apple abandons C2D? As for me, I'm not upgrading until I can snag a quad-core MBP, hopefully by Lion next summer with Sandy Bridge or similar.
 

seb-opp

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I expect the new Airs feel fast to use due to the use of flash storage rather than hard drives, so I don't think these benchmarks alone are very useful.
 

evilspoons

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I feel compelled to run Geekbench on my Santa Rosa 2.2 GHz MBP to see how far along the Air has come... although spending well over a thousand bucks to end up with something that's likely about the same speed as what I already have seems a bit silly.

Edit: Oh wait, there it is in their results database. Score: 2891. Looks like I'll be waiting for a new 15" MBP with a quad core, because I'm sure as heck not downgrading.
 

segfaultdotorg

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I'm kind of surprised that the new Air (apparently) supports Boot Camp, since there appears to be a lot of proprietary hardware in it.
 

wisty

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I expect the new Airs feel fast to use due to the use of flash storage rather than hard drives, so I don't think these benchmarks alone are very useful.
This.

Unless you want to play games (and then, the small resolution and half-decent GPU will make the 11" fly) or do industrial strength computing (PS, scientific computing, etc ... why are you using a laptop?) the HDD will matter more than the CPU.
 

Lone Deranger

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As soon as I take delivery of my specced out 11" MBA you better believe I'm trying out Maya, ZBrush and perhaps even a bootcamped SoftImage on the thing. Just for the heck of it! :D :cool:
That should give us some practical numbers, because these benchmark figures leave quite a bit to be desired.
 

Jefe

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Oct 1, 2002
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I wish they had included the Macbook (white) in this testing. It seems like a lot of folks would be comparing the 11.6 MBA vs. the white MB since they come in at the same price.

I know I am. It's hard to justify the huge drop in Ghz and RAM and screen size and harddrive storage, etc. etc. etc.

I did get to hold a MBA over the weekend and .. wow.. it's so light.
 

cg0def

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I feel like my early 2008 MBP is too slow, and it clocks in around 3400 on Geekbench. I guess this might work for some people, but I wonder how long until Apple abandons C2D? As for me, I'm not upgrading until I can snag a quad-core MBP, hopefully by Lion next summer with Sandy Bridge or similar.
There is absolutely no benefit to having a quad core CPU over a dual core one in a notebook. You are most likely not going to do any encoding or hard core rendering so you will see absolutely no performance gain provide that we are talking about the same generation CPU and the same frequency. Which is why Apple will most likely not opt in for a quad core CPU as a standard option. If anything it will be the top of the line model and even there I doubt that you will see a quad core option early next year. Quad cores simply drain your battery too fast. Actually I think even the automatic overclocking is disabled on the i5 and i7 that come with MBPs (or at least I have never seen it kick in).
 

ctdonath

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That pretty much fills in the entire Mac line. The MBA2/11 seems everything naysayers lamented the iPad lacking short of the old MBA; any complaints about any model are addressed by the next model or two up the food chain.
 

Caliber26

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Sep 25, 2009
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These benchmarks mean very little to the general group of users Apple is attempting to target with this product. Most people buying these notebooks will primarily be doing web-browsing, emails, maybe some writing, downloading music, and watching YouTube; nothing that the base model can't handle perfectly.
 

koobcamuk

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I feel like my early 2008 MBP is too slow, and it clocks in around 3400 on Geekbench. I guess this might work for some people, but I wonder how long until Apple abandons C2D? As for me, I'm not upgrading until I can snag a quad-core MBP, hopefully by Lion next summer with Sandy Bridge or similar.
Mine's here:



I think the 11" MBA wouldn't be a huge step back... I wonder if the SSD would make up for the difference...
 

KPOM

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Oct 23, 2010
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I'm kind of surprised that the new Air (apparently) supports Boot Camp, since there appears to be a lot of proprietary hardware in it.
It does, but only for Windows 7.

Regarding the benchmarks, I am a little curious as to how the current 1.86GHz model comes in about 10% faster than the previous version even though the processor and memory spec the same. Were there any more changes under the hood? Also, the 1.4GHz is about the same as the original 1.6GHz Air.

Overall, the addition of the GeForce 320m should help even more.
 

KPOM

macrumors P6
Oct 23, 2010
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Mine's here:

I think the 11" MBA wouldn't be a huge step back... I wonder if the SSD would make up for the difference...
From my experience with a November 2008 SSD model (1.86GHz), the SSD helps on reboots (it takes about 12 seconds and is almost "instant on" from sleep), and launching of programs. The SSD won't really address performance issues on write-intensive or CPU-intensive tasks. That said, my biggest complaint about the old Air was their limitation to 2GB of RAM. I'd highly advise anyone getting any model to get 4GB RAM. Safari slows to a crawl with 2GB if you have more than 8 or 9 tabs open.
 

eddidem

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Oct 25, 2010
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My july 2007 MBP: 2.4GHZ c2d with 4gb of ram just scored about 3400 on geekbench 32 bit version.

I really would like to see a test that incorporates the hard drive speed, as I feel that the biggest bottle neck in my laptop is the hard drive, and I have a 500gb 7200 drive in it...
 

Thomas Harte

macrumors 6502
Nov 30, 2005
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This.

Unless you want to play games (and then, the small resolution and half-decent GPU will make the 11" fly) or do industrial strength computing (PS, scientific computing, etc ... why are you using a laptop?) the HDD will matter more than the CPU.
I'd go further than that and say that the Geekbench scores for this laptop are downright misleading. The HDD plus the GPU (as alluded to in the article; the new GPUs are OpenCL capable and expose the video acceleration API used by QuickTime, Flash, etc) mean for substantial gains in just about everything you're likely to want to do on a tiny screen when compared to the Core 2 Duos of a few years ago. The most I'd really conclude from the scores is that you shouldn't think you can hook them up to a huge monitor and get similar performance to a current desktop.

Conversely, if you're still using the same productivity tools as three years ago, you're probably even fine with that. It'll be interesting to see to what extent Apple extend GPU/CPU load sharing technologies like OpenCL across their software to match their hardware release cycles compared to companies like Adobe that have the substantial headaches of trying to maintain cross-platform support.
 

jeznav

macrumors 6502
Aug 10, 2007
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Eh?
It does, but only for Windows 7.

Regarding the benchmarks, I am a little curious as to how the current 1.86GHz model comes in about 10% faster than the previous version even though the processor and memory spec the same. Were there any more changes under the hood? Also, the 1.4GHz is about the same as the original 1.6GHz Air.

Overall, the addition of the GeForce 320m should help even more.
I think some of Snow Leopard's API such as Accelerate.framework (which is a mathematical library) actually uses OpenCL to get more performance. So in this case having a 320M GPU over 9400M would get you a better score.
 
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