Is it me, or is MacBook Air 2018 much slower than old ones?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by bearinthetown, Jan 15, 2019.

  1. bearinthetown macrumors member

    May 5, 2018
    I got a shiny MacBook Air 2018 with 16 GB of RAM.

    I feel like it's much slower than my previous one, MacBook Air from 2013. The SSD is supposed to be much better, I got double the RAM. But it still feels slower.

    Web browsing used to be smooth, even when I used MacBook Air 2013 in 2018. The pages scrolled smoothly. It's not the case with the new MacBook Air.

    Also, I need to now work with photos in Finder, 500 photos per folder. Moving them feels like I'm working on some ass cheap notebook. I mean, it's fast once it's requested, because new Apple filesystem works that way, but the animation of moving files is sluggish.

    Anyone can confirm?
  2. BLUEDOG314 macrumors 6502


    Dec 12, 2015
    It would help to know a little more info. Did you migrate your data from a backup, did you do drag and drop, did you allow everything to index before testing performance, is it in the process of encrypting with filevault etc? The new machine is faster than your old machine in every way, if it wasn't it would be the highlight of every review and no one would buy them. Can you provide some more info?
  3. bearinthetown thread starter macrumors member

    May 5, 2018
    I didn't use backup at all. It's brand new system. I feel like the delays are longer and FPS is lower during many operations, including scrolling websites in Chrome. It's not terrible, but as my MBA 2013 felt like premium hardware, despite lack of Retina display, this new one just feels cheap. I used to have a $350 netbook once and this new MacBook feels just a little better. I know the reviews are stating something, but the reviews also confirm the battery life of Apple's promises and I know nobody who can actually confirm that themselves. Makes me think the reviews are either paid or just lazy.
  4. lambertjohn macrumors 6502a

    Jun 17, 2012
    Let it index with use for a few days and I'll bet the speed will increase.
  5. bearinthetown thread starter macrumors member

    May 5, 2018
    Hopefully. I also got brand new iPad Pro 12.9 and iPhone XS Max and these two are as smooth as butter. I really want to like this new MacBook Air, because it's going to be my new working station.
  6. revmacian macrumors 6502a


    Oct 20, 2018
    I can give you a review that is neither paid nor lazy.

    I was looking into buying the 2018 MacBook Air and went to my local Best Buy and tested this machine on several occasions - several times per week for over a month. On each occasion I performed a different test and found that the base model 2018 MacBook Air that was on display was consistently fast - it outperformed the last non-Retina iMac and kept very close pace with the base model 2017 MacBook Pro. I won't buy a computer without extensive research, which was why I tested the MBA so much.

    My tests included launching every app in the default dock setup while running 5 tabs in Safari. I noticed no lag, no beach-balling, no buffering and the speed was impressive for what I felt was expected from the posted specs. My theory was that the T2 chip offloads much of the work from the CPU and that yielded performance above that which was suggested by the specs.

    I'll be honest, my original intent was to prove that the 2018 MBA was an entry-level laptop that wasn't up to the task of performing like a modern laptop.. I was proven wrong and felt genuinely amazed at this tiny machine.

    I also know that, from the many youtube videos I watched, the 2018 MacBook Air can edit 4K video - though it isn't recommended to do this type of work on this machine on a regular basis.

    In your case I can only suggest that you wait a few days for encryption and indexing to settle down and then see how it performs.
  7. bearinthetown thread starter macrumors member

    May 5, 2018
    So if you go to YouTube and resize the window, it's still smooth? To me, it's terrible on Chrome and just bad on Safari. I'm not sure how OCD are you in terms of hardware quality. I'm really looking for smooth experience and my MBA 2013 delivered that for several years. Then, the system was a little more sluggish on it, but still good. I feel like the framerate on this new MacBook Air is, most of the time, not more than 15 FPS. It reminds me of these cheap Android tablets.
  8. BLUEDOG314 macrumors 6502


    Dec 12, 2015
    I don't know what to tell you. Evidently some people "feel" a difference between retina and low resolution displays that they often describe as "lag" or "stuttering" which to me could be a perceived frame rate issue. If you think it is more prevalent in chrome, who knows, maybe chrome has issue with the intel graphics drivers newer intel cpus use? I am currently on my gaming computer, a windows box that only runs a 1080p monitor but is driven by a GTX 1070. If I resize chrome quickly it does seem to "stutter" around the edges of the window that are moving, but I don't think that is anything to worry about. To me it is subjective really. If you really aren't happy I'd say return it and stick with the old machine?
  9. Altis macrumors 68030

    Sep 10, 2013
    What OS were you using on the 2013? Could be that Mojave is performing poorly compared with the version you were using before. I know Mavericks runs really well on the 2014 MBA.
  10. bearinthetown thread starter macrumors member

    May 5, 2018
    I will need to compare at the store. It might be though that retina really takes away the ultra-smoothness, which is fine for most people. But please don't call it subjective :) It would be subjective if some people thought that retina is more smooth. We can't call Ferrari and Fiat equally fast just because they both go on a road with a speed limit. You know what I'm saying?
    --- Post Merged, Jan 15, 2019 ---
    I was using Mojave on my old MacBook too though. It was still more smooth than on MBA 2018.
  11. BLUEDOG314 macrumors 6502


    Dec 12, 2015
    Well I think using the term smooth is subjective unless you have two things to compare to each other like you do. I do not have an older machine to test with, however I am on my 2017 mbp 15" with a radeon pro 560 dedicated gpu. I ran the following test. Set the machine to use integrated graphics, then used a finder window, safari, chrome, and firefox with the same three tabs open, and microsoft teams. I grabbed the corner of each program's window and quickly moved my cursor around. Finder and safari seemed to be far smoother than the others, with microsoft teams being the worst by far. I then forced the dedicated gpu on and none of the apps seemed smoother in what my eyes could see. I would subjectively rate safari and finder near perfect, while teams looked like the framerate was horribly low. This to me can point only to the code for each application being different. Not sure if this helps.
  12. smaslov, Jan 16, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2019

    smaslov macrumors newbie

    Nov 27, 2018
    My two cents: I recently tried 2017 MBP nTB, 2018 MBA and 2018 MBP. If we take performance with what I'd call 'normal use' - a mix of web browsing, watching video and conf calls - then MBA feels somehow light - it works fine, but you feel the boundaries as soon as you start having video conf calls in either Skype or Hangout, or even FaceTime (the latter is optimised for MacOS and still takes about 60-70% of MBA CPU). MBA withstand video conf load for several minutes and then it starts spinning the fan at maximum RPM - which is way too loud for just a regular Skype call! It feels that this machine is effectively a type writing machine with an occasional extended use. Yes, I know about 4K editing - but where? in heavily optimised Final Cut Pro only. Is all software you want/need to use made by Apple? In my case - unfortunately not, so I felt the boundaries quite often.

    As for the smoothness - well, MBA GPU - Intel UHD 617 is weakest out of three, and although Retina resolution on Macbooks is there for more than 5 years now, it appears quite challenging sometimes for integrated graphics. Even MBP 13 2018 with Iris 655 struggles from time to time (especially while changing desktops). This is why non-Retina MBA works smoother - as its GPU albeit being even weaker, doesn't need to support that high retina resolution.

    Sad but MBA 2018 simply doesn't have enough raw power to couple with non-optimised things (MS Office, Skype, Google Apps etc.). Ultimately, I think it all depends on the intended purpose. I would not take MBA if you know that you may need to stretch it (using non-optimised software, especially Chrome-based, like Hangouts) - it's just not designed for this (poor cooling system in the first place, CPU throttles quite a lot).

    Saying this I found MBA the most pleasant Macbook to operate - it's a joy to hold, use in a various conditions (laying on the sofa, sitting on the train, using in a small meeting room). If only I could allow myself to limit my software list with Safari, iTunes and Pages/Numbers - I would take it in a heartbeat! It's great, but it's Casual not Pro, and it has inferior components (primarily screen and webcam), so taking MBA you need to switch off your rational thinking! :)

    A few words on 2017 MBP nTB - good choice, but a few BUTs for me: a) don't want to spend time in genius bar waiting for keyboard replacement when it fails - which seems to be almost a given with 2nd gen butterfly - don't care that it's a free of charge, our time is the most precious thing! b) subjective, but i like the feeling and the sound of 3rd gen much better - had enough time to be certain c) MBP nTB has compromised cooling system with 1 annoyingly high-pitched fan, so the laptop gets either quite warm (well, pretty much as 2018 MBP but that's whole different story) or noisy.

    Hope this helps - spent lots of time with 5 replacements. Good luck with your purchase!
  13. bluespark macrumors 68000

    Jul 11, 2009
    New York
    "Smoothness," used in a functional sense, is inherently subjective even if everyone agrees. It's not a pejorative, simply a description of a quality not subject to quantification.
  14. bearinthetown thread starter macrumors member

    May 5, 2018
    LOL, no. Smoothness is the amount of delay measured in time units and framerate expressed in the number of frames per time unit. People saying "oh, it's more smooth" can be wrong, but it doesn't mean that smoothness is subjective.
  15. KB23 macrumors member


    Nov 14, 2017
    Toronto, Canada
    Ok but by asking on this forum you are literally asking for a subjective opinion. If you really wanted an objective measure then you should measure the "amount of delay measured in time units and framerate expressed in the number of frames per time unit" as you have mentioned...
  16. bearinthetown thread starter macrumors member

    May 5, 2018
    Yes, because I asked to confirm or disagree with my suspicions. If I could measure that, I would. What’s your point anyway? Have you compared the new Air with old ones after all?
  17. lixuelai macrumors 6502a

    Oct 29, 2008
  18. bearinthetown thread starter macrumors member

    May 5, 2018
  19. mj_, Jan 20, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2019

    mj_ macrumors 6502


    May 18, 2017
    Austin, TX
    This perceived sluggishness is most likely due to the fact that your new Air has to push 4-6x the amount of pixels than your old Air, and GPUs simply have not gotten 6x faster in the last few years. They may be twice as fast now than they were in 2014, but that's about it.

    I can pretty much confirm your observations, although I'm using a 2017 MacBook and not a 2018 MacBook Air, but 2D accelerated GPU performance between those two models is pretty much identical. Resizing windows is sluggish, scrolling can be sluggish, and some applications such as LibreOffice are outright unusable.
  20. Mackinjosh macrumors 65816

    Aug 21, 2014
    The lack of fluidity in system animations and youtube videos was something I noticed immediately when I used the new Air directly next to a 2017 base model MPB and a 2018 15 inch MBP in Best Buy. The new Air just wasn't smooth at all, which imo it should be at that price. Especially given that it's in its first year of existence. If it doesn't perform great now, when will it?
  21. bearinthetown thread starter macrumors member

    May 5, 2018
    It’s 3 times the pixels, not „4-6x”. Do the simple math.
  22. Steve121178 macrumors 601


    Apr 13, 2010
    Bedfordshire, UK
    Yes, performance isn't very good. Others will try to convince you (and themselves) that it's acceptable, but it's not. It can never be great with a crappy processor. I'd take it back for a refund.
  23. bearinthetown thread starter macrumors member

    May 5, 2018
    What is sad is that the performance of my 5 and a half years old MacBook Air was really fine, even today. WTF is happening to Apple? They produce worse hardware for higher prices after so many years. This is beyond ridiculous. There is no spirit in this company anymore.
  24. L Oquence macrumors regular

    Jul 10, 2014
    It might be your particular model. That being said I know newer MacBooks have some issues with cooling due to being as ultra thin as they are, and so the CPUs underperform.
  25. bearinthetown, Jan 21, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2019

    bearinthetown thread starter macrumors member

    May 5, 2018
    They are not paper thin. Previous generation of MacBook Air was just slightly fatter.

    It annoys me especially that I got 16 GB version. And the battery life is worse too.

Share This Page