Is the MacBook air just as powerful as a desktop on single thread tasks?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by greenbreadmmm, Feb 26, 2015.

  1. greenbreadmmm macrumors regular

    Jun 4, 2007
    So I have a nice maxed out iMac i use for graphic design but I want something mobile. I don't need the best cause I can use my iMac for the heavy lifting. So on single thread tasks (like Illustrator) with the turbo boost. Wouldn't the new airs (while turbo'd at 3.3) run fairly close to my 3.4 i7 Mac?

    I don't really need a rMBP and the soon to be refreshed airs seem plenty powerful enough for single thread tasks no?

    Any input would be appreciated.

    Thank ya
  2. motrek macrumors 68020

    Sep 14, 2012
    Yes, any current i5/i7 Haswell is going to run just as fast as any other i5/i7 Haswell at the same clock speed.

    The MBA has enough thermal headroom to run at maximum turbo boost all day. Although there does seem to be a problem somewhere with the base model MBA where nobody has seen clock speeds over 2.4GHz when it should be able to get up to 2.7GHz... :/
  3. venom600 macrumors 6502a

    Mar 23, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    Not true. According to Geek Bench, the fastest Macbook Air single core score is roughly 3300. iMac 3.4Ghz single core scores are over 4400. That's over 30% faster, not accounting for other differences such as RAM and disk speed.
  4. greenbreadmmm thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 4, 2007
    Thank you for that info. That was helpful. I'm hoping the newest update on the 9th tightens the gap a bit.
  5. motrek macrumors 68020

    Sep 14, 2012
    Check your numbers again.

    The fastest 64-bit single core iMac score is 4353, which isn't over 4400. And that's for a processor that's probably running at 4.4GHz.

    The fastest MBA score is 3149 for 3.3GHz.

    So, on a per-clock basis, that's a difference of 3.6 percent, which is probably within the margin of error. And really, why wouldn't it be. There's no reasonable explanation for one Haswell being able to do more work per clock tick than another Haswell.

    Interesting that what this all boils down to is that a Apple's ultra-portable 2.3 pound laptop that retails for $1049 is often within spitting distance, performance wise, of their $2749 desktop. Not bad. :)
  6. Meister Suspended


    Oct 10, 2013
    Well put.
    This seems to confuse people.
    Even the base mba can handle almost anything.
  7. venom600 macrumors 6502a

    Mar 23, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    On a per clock basis? Are you serious? That could not be more irrelevant. Look at his question again. "Is the MacBook air just as powerful as a desktop on single thread tasks?"

    The answer is "absolutely not". The desktop processor runs at a much, much faster clock speed and likely has more cache. I may have been off with my geekbench numbers, but yours show the same thing... the iMac is over 30% faster. That isn't spitting distance.
  8. motrek macrumors 68020

    Sep 14, 2012
    Look at my original post to this thread. I said "at the same clock speed" Haswells will be just as fast as e/o, which is useful information to anybody trying to evaluate speed differences between CPUs. You contradicted my post and you were wrong. You posted a bunch of benchmark numbers that were completely wrong. Instead of telling me that my points are irrelevant, you need to take some responsibility for the fact that almost everything you've posted to this thread has been inaccurate.

    Sorry if I'm being "rude" and you could argue that you were just trying to help and it's not your fault that you're not an expert about computers. But when you start telling people that they're wrong when they're posting accurate and useful information, you're crossing a line between accidentally unhelpful and being a negative influence on the forum.

    The OP's question was about the fastest air vs. a 3.4GHz iMac. Look at the benchmark list again. The fastest 3.4GHz iMac turbos up to 3.8GHz, which is not a "much, much faster" clock speed than 3.3GHz as you're claiming. It's 15% faster, which most people arguably wouldn't even notice. Go look at that benchmark page I linked to until you've figured out how to read it and stop telling me that my posts are wrong and irrelevant.
  9. tiartrop macrumors regular

    Oct 28, 2008
    Actually the base MBA isn't too bad, I have one, mid 2011 and probably due to upgrade soon, use Photoshop and Indesign from time to time with no problems, the only thing that hindered me from doing more is the screen, it's way too small.
  10. AroundTheFur922 macrumors member


    Jan 30, 2013
    I have a quad core i7 rMBP and a dual core i5 11" Air and only notice a difference between the two (performance-wise) in the heaviest of workloads (FCPX/After Effects). I know it's not the iMac comparison you were hoping for but I thought it might help nonetheless.

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