i7-5650U vs. i5-5287U (MBA vs. rMBP)

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by zephonic, Nov 4, 2015.

  1. zephonic macrumors 65816


    Feb 7, 2011
    greater L.A. area
    I have a 2013 13" MacBook Air (Haswell) that I absolutely love to bits, by far my favorite computer ever (including my MacPro).

    However it is a little under-powered for Mainstage, and while Omnisphere in VSTLord yields surprisingly good results (CPU usage rarely more than 30%), I need Mainstage's flexibility for live use.

    I'm not ready to pull the trigger quite yet, but I really prefer the MBA's form factor over the MacBook Pro.

    So I started comparing the two, and whaddayaknow, a tricked-out MBA costs $1749, that means the i7-5650U with 8GB RAM and 512GB storage.

    A comparable 13" rMBP would be the stock 2.9GHz/8GB/512GB at $1799, which has the i5-5287U.

    Now I know the processors in the MBA's are energy-savers, not really meant to do prolonged heavy-duty work, but seeing how close my current Air is, I wondered if the i7-5650U would suffice for live use?

    On a deeper level, I would like to understand better what exactly the differences are between these CPU's? Is the i5-5287U really more of a workhorse processor? Both are dual-core only, the quad-cores are reserved for the 15" rMBP's, unfortunately.



    Apart from clock speed and graphics, it looks like the i7 is actually a better processor:

    Since the MBA doesn't have a retina display, I doubt graphics performance is much of an issue. Which leaves clock speed as the determining factor?
  2. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    Basically the i5 will run at a higher clock speed without using turbo and can run both cores at that base speed pretty much indefinitely, so yes it's a better CPU.

    Will they both do the job?? Only you will know that, but I can't see there being much overall difference. I personally wouldn't buy a non retina screen for that sort of moeny but everyone to their own
  3. keysofanxiety macrumors G3


    Nov 23, 2011
    i7-5650U benchmarks at 4269.
    i5-5287U benchmarks at 4615.

    Although the i5 is more powerful it's still not going to offer a great deal of longevity for your usage IMHO. It really would be better off trying to make the plunge to the 15". To put it in perspective, the base 15" 2.2GHz processor (i7-4770HQ) has a Passmark of 8971. The higher ones are around 10,000 - some more powerful than the previous gen desktop i7. They really are workhorses.

    And as you get double the RAM with the 15", coupled with a larger screen, it might just be a little better for your usage. Just thinking about futureproofing really, rather than what you could get away with here and now.

    Otherwise just stick with the 13" rMBP. :)
  4. zephonic thread starter macrumors 65816


    Feb 7, 2011
    greater L.A. area
    Thanks for your replies.

    Of course, I know the 15" quad is in a different league, but it is also bigger, heavier, and a lot more expensive.

    If I had money to burn, I'd buy one just for gigs and be done with it, but that is not the case, and I do prefer the 13" form as a better all-rounder.

    I'm still trying to figure out if the i5 would give noticeably better real-world performance than the i7.

    The retina display is nice, but not really a priority. My current MBA looks just fine, and the lower resolution could also mean less strain on the processor for GPU-related tasks.

    The 15" would only be a viable option if I replaced my MacPro with it, but I'm not quite ready to do that yet.
  5. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    I would say get the rMBP and test drive it, you have 14 days to return no questions asked, if after 4-5 days you can go back to the air screen without hating it then the air may be for you.

    I will say that the retina screen is the only thing worth worrying about, it is much better on glare it is ultra sharp and brilliant for text as it looks like print and overall it seems to strain the eyes far less. To be honest the difference in processors means jack in overall terms but the difference in screen through which all your interactions with the computer are performed is a game changer.

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