How much of a performance boost would this be?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by jojoba, Jul 22, 2013.

  1. jojoba macrumors 68000

    Dec 9, 2011
    I'm considering upgrading my 2011 Air (1.8 GHz Intel Core i7, 4GB, 256), but am wondering how much of a performance boost I would actually experience with my use pattern if I got a 2013 11" with the 1.7 processor and 8GB ram.

    I use my Air about 10 hours a day for work, and usually have the following apps going

    Scrivener (writing)
    Various note taking apps (Evernote, CPN, other outlining tools)
    Databases (DevonThink and Bookends)
    task manager

    So basically, nothing heavy duty, but I multitask a lot. I occasionally work with video.

    Any thoughts as to whether an upgrade would actually be worth the money? My hunch is that it's not, but I don't know much about what these specifications mean in practice. Performance at the moment is not bad at all, but I do have the fan going continuously at times, and I'm also thinking in terms of resale value (I feel I'm at a point now where waiting further would cause a massive decrease).
  2. luisito macrumors regular


    Nov 15, 2012

    For the apps you use, getting an i7 is massive overkill. Plus temperatures and fan speed may not decrease as you may desire.

    The more apps you run, the more RAM you need and not processing power as many people think. (For your particular use). Getting 8GB of RAM will allow to work smoother.

    I recommend you to get the i5/8GB, you will not only see an improvement on speed, but also in battery life, which may take your 10 hrs of work on a single charge, temperatures will decrease drastically, and you will never hear any fan. You won't be constrained by the power of the i5, even if its base clock is 1.3GHz, it can turbo all the way to 2.6GHz, and honestly, getting the i7 that goes up to 3.3GHz is no necessary for the apps that you are using at any given time.

    EDIT: If you want to upgrade it is between you and your wallet. I wouldn't upgrade. Your machine seems capable of giving you more still.
  3. mattferg macrumors 6502

    May 27, 2013
    What the guy said above is all completely valid, however I personally would wait another revision until upgrading - 2011 -> 2014 will probably be a better bet.
  4. m98custom1212 macrumors 6502

    Jul 20, 2013
    Toledo, Ohio
  5. iterva, Jul 22, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2013

    iterva macrumors regular


    Jun 16, 2013
    As already stated, go with the 8 GB of ram.

    Regarding choice of processor..i5 should def. suffice for your planned usage.

    However i think that this review from Anandtech regarding i5 vs i7 might be helpful in the decision making of what processor to choose with the 2013 MBA:s.

    I don´t think that the upgrade from 2011 to 2013 will be a "like night and day difference", but noticeable for sure. The biggest difference from 2011 to 2013 is the increase in battery life, and SSD speed (Although that will not be that noticeable for most people in normal usage), and much better graphics.

    Best of luck!
  6. jojoba thread starter macrumors 68000

    Dec 9, 2011
    Thanks a lot, everybody, really useful! So, if I upgrade I'll do the i5 - although at the moment I think I'm leaning towards keeping what I have for another year.
  7. ZBoater macrumors G3


    Jul 2, 2007
    Sunny Florida
    If you can live with what you have another year, that would be great. Every year brings incremental improvements. Having said that, I too upgraded from a 2011 to a 2013. I think the difference is significant. The extra memory and SSD space are great. If I spent that much time in front of the screen, I would not advise going down to the 11". You may find it cramped especially after two years of the model you have.

    Is it worth it?

    That is something only you can determine. My old model sells for $700, the new one was almost $2000. For $1300 you get double the memory, double the SSD space, more battery life, USB 3.0 and about a 20-25% CPU improvement, and a significant GPU improvement. I can play Civ V now where before it was too laggy for me.

    So for ME, it was worth it. YMMV.
  8. luisito macrumors regular


    Nov 15, 2012
    That is a good choice no matter how you look at it. :)
  9. Zaphyrus macrumors member

    Jun 20, 2013
    Agreed. Plus, if you are a person who buys apple care, it'll be at the end of its 3-year warranty so buying a new mac and selling your old one would work out nicely.
  10. jojoba thread starter macrumors 68000

    Dec 9, 2011
    Thanks a lot for that. I think I could cover about 40% of the price of a new one if I sell my 2011 now, so it would be a bit of an expense and while I could do it, it would be more sensible to put it off for a year. I wouldn't go down to 11", I really like the larger screen as I often work with different apps side by side. I do have apple care, didn't think of that bit but it makes sense.

    But now I'm tempted to upgrade again, as I just had a look in Activity Monitor and found that I'm using most of my RAM (my Air's fan has been going all day so I was getting annoyed). How can I see what's using the RAM? Is it the column that says 'real memory'? I've attached a screen shot.

    Attached Files:

  11. Zaphyrus macrumors member

    Jun 20, 2013
    Yup you are correct. You have about 1.5gbs inactive. You could download a free app in the App Store called Memory Clean. I use it a lot to monitor my RAM usage and also free up RAM by putting that inactive RAM to use. It's super handy. And if memory serves well, the 2011 MBA memory isn't soldered on, so you can actually opt to just upgrade to 8gb. You'll see a nice improvement in multi-tasking and it'll only cost 200 via the App Store. It could be cheaper if you bought it and did it yourself but then you'd void your Apple Care. It could be a fix until the next-gen comes out. Hope this helps!
  12. mattferg macrumors 6502

    May 27, 2013

    No MBA has ever had upgradeable RAM by any definition. Every model since 2008 has had chips directly soldered onto the motherboard.
  13. Zaphyrus macrumors member

    Jun 20, 2013
    Ah yes you're right! My mistake
  14. jojoba thread starter macrumors 68000

    Dec 9, 2011
    Thanks a lot for that - I downloaded the app and this certainly helps - 1GB extra ram in a few seconds.
  15. MikeyMike01 macrumors 6502

    Apr 4, 2010
    I struggled with whether or not to get the upgrades, particularly the RAM.

    I ended up going with the i5 and 4GB model. I ran a test just now:


    With all of that open (Safari had 5 youtube videos playing) I still didn't max out the RAM:


    Food for thought.
  16. jojoba thread starter macrumors 68000

    Dec 9, 2011
    So I'm using this and it's really helping, but I'm wondering: when I ask it to 'clean' my memory, what exactly does it do?

    I also closed down processes that were just running that I wasn't using (google drive, logmein, that kind of stuff), which I'd kind of forgotten about.

    Yes, that's pretty good. I think I've made a decision now to hold on to this for another year. But then I will get the 8GB RAM.
  17. Zaphyrus macrumors member

    Jun 20, 2013
    From my understanding, it takes inactive memory and purges it in attempt to free up RAM for active use. So you'll be freeing up memory without restarting or shutting down. There is however a downfall. If you have it set to clean memory every 5-10 minutes, then you'll see a decrease in performance during the cleaning process. I typically just monitor it and if it ever turns red or goes below 500mb I'll run it or close tabs in safari and see if that helps.


    Also, if it's any consolation the new MBA Haswell has pretty decent benchmarks when compared to the 13" rMBP. Obviously any quad-core MBP/rMBP will destroy the MBA but it's nice knowing it can keep up the 13"s. I can only assume next-gen's MBA will up performance even further, and possibly change the design a bit since this year was basically improvements "under the hood".
  18. Zuxor macrumors newbie

    Jul 20, 2013
    wow that's interesting. Why do people recommend 8GB so much?
  19. mattferg macrumors 6502

    May 27, 2013
    Since all of that is just the launch page for each app, it's not surprising it's not using that much ram. Try opening 4 programs with documents. Bye 300mb free.

    In fact, having that little left when the programs are doing so little is food for thought... it's quite worrying for 4GB owners.
  20. MikeyMike01 macrumors 6502

    Apr 4, 2010
    To take things even further, I opened up 15 different YouTube videos, plus every program on my Air (including Civilization V).Naturally, this exceeded the 4GB of RAM, which was my goal.

    With gigabytes of page outs, the system didn't skip a beat.

    Beats me. There are many people who are more interested in numbers than reality. There are those that engage in the laughable practice of "future proofing". Of course, there are people that read the comments of the first two groups and then spread it around.

    I'm sure there are many people who would benefit from having 8GB of RAM. But the idea that everyone needs to spend the money for the upgrade is unfounded.

    Just my opinion.

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