i5 vs i7

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by 31rhcp, Jun 11, 2012.

  1. 31rhcp macrumors member

    May 18, 2010
    Seeing as how there is a similar thread for 4GB vs 8GB RAM, I thought I'd start a thread about the processors since they're both $100 US upgrades.

    Do you have to be a high-end power user to reap the benefits of the i7 or would the i7 simply be better in the long run as software requirements increase over time?
  2. Spoonz macrumors member

    May 16, 2012
    I'm not intending to be annoying, but although it is $100 for the upgrade to i7 itself, you've also got to fork out for the 256GB SSD in order to get the i7 in the first place. What I mean is, the upgrade from i5 to i7 is much more expensive in reality than going from 4GB to 8Gb and its put me off.
  3. kwijbo macrumors regular

    Jan 28, 2012
    Anandtech did a great comparison of the i5 vs i7 in the 11" model last year, here's what he had to say:

    I'd assume the gap between the two should be similar this year. If you want to dig a bit deeper into the numbers and speculate a bit:

    Processor Number	i5-2467M 	i7-2677M 	i5-3317U        i7-3667U 	 	
    Launch Date	        Q2'11        	Q2'11	        Q2'12	        Q2'12	
    # of Cores	        2	        2	        2	        2	
    # of Threads	        4        	4        	4	        4	
    Cache	                3.0 MB	        4.0 MB	        3.0 MB	        4.0 MB	
    Clock Speed	        1.60 GHz	1.80 GHz	1.70 GHz	2.00 GHz	
    Max Turbo Frequency	2.30 GHz	2.90 GHz	2.60 GHz	3.20 GHz	
    Bus/Core Ratio	        16	        18	        17        	20
    The differences between this year's low and high end chips is slightly larger, so maybe a 25% difference between the two?
  4. tbobmccoy macrumors 6502a


    Jul 24, 2007
    Austin, TX
    If you're choosing between RAM and processor, go RAM. The Processor difference has made 0 practical difference in the 2011 models for most users. I don't think that system requirements will require an i7 vs. an i5, and if they do, you're probably not going to get a lot of benefit using that app on your MBA in the future anyway.
  5. 31rhcp thread starter macrumors member

    May 18, 2010
    Fair enough, but I can't use 128GB. That's just too small, especially since I have a Windows partition. So given that the customer is shopping only for 256GB or more, would the i7 be worth it?
  6. Spoonz macrumors member

    May 16, 2012
    Fair enough, I'm trying to work out whether or not I'll need 256GB or not myself :/ As for the i7, I think it really depends what you're intending to use your laptop for - RAM is far more important for everyday stuff, moreover if you're using a lot of applications at once. If you're encoding video and stuff though a better CPU will help, however as someone else said above, those kind of tasks probably won't perform well on a MBA anyway and you'd be better off going with a MBP.
  7. 31rhcp thread starter macrumors member

    May 18, 2010
    Thanks for the detailed reply! I take it a 25% difference begins to "feel" significantly faster, but I'm not too familiar with performance increases as %. Is 25% significant?

    I'm not on too tight of a budget here (I wouldn't be buying a MBA if I was), so I'm not choosing between one or the other. My current mid 2007 MB will turn 5 this September, but is clearly showing its age. I want a computer that can last me at least 5 years. Will an i7 be beneficial at all or will it only help for more processor intensive activities?
  8. emartins macrumors newbie

    Jul 24, 2011
    I saved the $100 and bought the i5 with a 512GB. You dont have to get the i7 in order to get the 256GB. I decided on the 512GB since its cheaper than the 480GB from OWC.
  9. Jensen G macrumors member

    Jun 29, 2009
    25% faster on benchmarks does not translate to "feeling" 25% faster. The only time that might be true would be for applications that are particularly processor-intensive (not, for example, browsing the web or reading email) or that are in some way optimized for the i7 chip.

    My 2 cents!
  10. 31rhcp thread starter macrumors member

    May 18, 2010
    I see. I guess the new MBA can fit a lot of different needs with the new configuration options. In general, it seems like the 8GB upgrade is worth it almost all the time, but the i7 may not be.
  11. Jaro65 macrumors 68040


    Mar 27, 2009
    Seattle, WA
    That's basically it. The CPU upgrade is really only worth it if you're intending to do some video encoding or some other CPU-intensive tasks. The existing CPUs are plenty powerful for most users.
  12. roland.g macrumors 603


    Apr 11, 2005
    One mile up and soaring
    I would go for a base 13" with 8GB and the i7, but I don't want to spend the $$ on the high end 13" just to get the i7 option and I don't want an 11", which oddly has an i7 option. For me I think the 8GB RAM is a no brainer.
  13. jonomo macrumors regular

    Apr 28, 2005
    Yeah.. it's quite sneaky of them to only allow i7 on the 256gb model.. that's an additional $300 bux on top of the $100 for the i7.. These days almost all my data is on cloud, so I don't need that much space on my notebook.. however, I'm planning on keeping this Air for a while, so I'd like to spec it up but don't wanna waste the 300 extra clams to get the i7...
  14. PeterJP macrumors 6502


    Feb 2, 2012
    Leuven, Belgium
    I remember that article. The reviewer said that battery life was quite similar but for processing, the i7 had a big edge in the 11". The 13" i5 was closer to the i7 so the difference wasn't sufficient to pay extra for. That made me want to go for an 11" i7.

    On the other hand, on this forum, several people started reporting that the i7 ran noticeably hotter than the i5 even in idle. I have direct experience with laptops running hot when new and after a few years, they give up. There is no way that I will get the i7. I don't do so much processing anyway. If I would, I would consider an MBP, or an Air with the i5 and a good desktop for the real work. The 11" is supposed to be like my PDA (for the bits that I can't do easily with my smartphone, like writing).

  15. theSeb macrumors 604


    Aug 10, 2010
    Poole, England
    Spot on. 99% of users will see a lot more benefit from the extra RAM rather than CPU speed.
  16. jgbr, Jun 12, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2012

    jgbr macrumors 6502a

    Sep 14, 2007
    the review coming out for ivybridge show it is considerably cooler and even more efficent then its i5 little brother.

    Their are other discrete differences between the i5 and i7, graphics are slightly faster, little impact on battery and some very specific changes (not really for joe public).

    Hunting around the net also shows further gains when the i7 was coupled with more ram.

    (Intel confirms that i5 and i7 have same 14W stock power usage at either speed unless you speed step)
  17. roland.g macrumors 603


    Apr 11, 2005
    One mile up and soaring
    With an edu discount, the difference between a

    13" MBA 8GB RAM 128 GB SSD 1.8 GHZ i5 base model other than RAM at $1239

    and a

    13" MBA 8GB RAM 256 GB SSD 2.0 GHZ i7 high end model with RAM & CPU upgrades at $1629

    is $390 plus tax. I don't care about the 256 v 128 difference and would opt for the 11" to get the 2.0 i7 if I didn't feel the 11" was too small. So it seems that it is $390 essentially for the i7 because the cost of the higher end with the option is so much more.

    Is the i7 really worth it?
  18. jgbr macrumors 6502a

    Sep 14, 2007
    the 8gb ram is one that everyone should consider, the i7 is another issue dependent on how you are going to use the machine.

    Let's face it an 8gb , i7 11inch machine with the new SSD is one beast of a machine!
  19. bit density macrumors 6502

    Mar 5, 2004
    The disk size is really worth it. If this is your primary computer, you will use all that space. You still need swap space and if you have any sort of media you get to 128G very quick.

    4-8g seems to get the ok here, but I find that I don't run into that at all. But I am only running iPhone photo's through it, and video seems to run just fine, and I always have a ton of tabs open and always running flash something or another. I have never had an issue with 4G. I have had issues when disk space gets too low. I have gotten to 0 and that was tons of problems, but getting over 90% full also has a tons of problems.

    I7 v I5? Nope, that is just burning battery off for nearly no benefit most of the time. If you are doing just one off high processor activities you're spending hundreds to save seconds. If you're gaming you have the wrong computer.

    As to 11 v 13? Small is awesome. Small is way more useful, and the 11" 4g 128 works really well. The only regret is only 128g drive. I am working around this by moving syncing to my desktop iMac. This should save me tons of space. But not enough to run Parallels, which I still want for chess.
  20. jgbr macrumors 6502a

    Sep 14, 2007
    their is no proof that having the higher spec cpu effects battery life. at stock speed it consumes the same Wattage as the i5
  21. jameswdmb macrumors member

    Jun 4, 2012
    I was origionally getting an i7 w/ education discount, but couldnt swallow the difference of nearly $400. I didn't think the processor was worth the difference, my only concern was storage. I also went with the i5 and 128GB SSD, 8 GB RAM, then used the discount to also order a $279 Time Capsule. I will use it as a NAS and Backup device (2TB) and saved myself over $100. I dont need access to all of my entertainment data 100% of the time. I can manage songs and movies through the device and have peace of mind that I have a backup as well. If it really becomes an issue I will buy a larger SSD down the road when they become more affordable.
  22. roland.g macrumors 603


    Apr 11, 2005
    One mile up and soaring
    I have a 2011 27" iMac and plan to use it as a Thunderbolt display as needed for the Air, but mostly I will use the Air in classes to follow powerpoint/keynote presentations, take notes, read textbooks on the Nook Study app, and some word processing, spreadsheet, web, and mail usage. I don't really see the need for the i7 except that I have a quad core iMac so I am used to the power. But my 2008 MacBook is a 2.4 Core 2 Duo I think. For me you can almost never have enough RAM. As for storage, I don't really plan to have anything on this drive. OS, some books, some docs, etc. No media. I use an external 2TB drive for iTunes on my iMac. No movies, etc.
  23. kodeman53 macrumors 65816

    May 4, 2012
    No one but you can answer this question because only you know how you currently, and how you will, use the MBA. I included the 'how you will' because it's easy to forget to think how you will use the MBA in the future.

    Memory constraints affect performance the most since when you run out of memory, swapping to the disk/SSD must happen. Not only is a disk/SSD slower than memory, the operating system must use CPU cycles to manage all the swapping.

    Unless someone has a CPU intensive application, e.g., a huge Excel spreadsheet that contains lots of formulas, for most people, the priority is;

    1. Memory
    2. Disk
    3. CPU

    Disk - Too many people dismiss a bigger hard drive/SSD with the anser, I can always use external drives. While external drives are small, a laptop is about portability. Do you really want to have to carry a separate hard drive around with you?

    I7 v I5 - Modern CPU chips designed for laptops don't burn that much more battery than the standard chip.
  24. TallManNY macrumors 601


    Nov 5, 2007
  25. bit density macrumors 6502

    Mar 5, 2004
    An I5 and I7 of the same generation at the same clock speed use essentially the same amount of power.

    A higher clocked processor uses more power, for proof just look at all the hits you see when you google clock frequency and power consumption. There is a direct correlation between the two. Always has been. It is not just a "free" power boost.

    And not only does it use more power, it creates more heat (more indication of increased power use), and depending what you are doing with the laptop this may make an issue for a variety of reasons.

    Both of these things may be just fine, if you need them. But in the case of the air, most of the time this will be the least important practical difference when compared to SSD size and Memory. SSD size was getting short shrift here, and for ME it was the only thing that was a practical difference (well that and moving from 2 to 4 gigs. 2 caused actual slow downs). 4 gigs and i5 are just fine and you won't notice for most things most of the time (and if you're a regular old non-game player that translates to generally all of the time. And if it isn't this may very well NOT be the computer for you). But 128g to 256g is a real practical wall if this is your primary computer.



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