Macbook Air 13" (13/14) with SSD VS Macbook Pro mid 2009 - Is it faster

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by m.quine, Feb 1, 2014.

  1. m.quine, Feb 1, 2014
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2014

    m.quine macrumors newbie

    Feb 1, 2014
    Hi All,

    New to this site but wanted to ask a quick question.

    I have to reduce my tax and am going to do that by salary sacrificing a laptop. I was thinking about getting a Macbook Air 13" fully spec'd (8gbRam, SSD) ($2028AUD with applecare). I currently have a mid 2009 macbook pro with a 256SSD and 8GB of ram (see attached).

    I only really watch HD movies; word process, internet usage and I also need to be able to efficiently run windows through parallel desktop; nothing more graphics intensive than that.

    My question is - Will I see a significant speed difference when I change to the i7 processor even though the clock speed drops slightly. I have limited knowledge about processors.

    The reason I don’t want to get another macbook pro is the slight decrease in weight, price and the fact that I don’t want to spend 3grand (with applecare) for something that can never be upgraded (HD and RAM). I realise the macbook air can’t be either but it’s cheaper, lighter and lik;ey to be adequate for my needs; BUT I’m only going to get it if I notice a significant jump in speed.

    Thanks all.

    Attached Files:

  2. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    I'd say that you'll not really notice a difference between the i7 and i5 processors. The only other piece of advice I will say is that if you watch HD movies, I think the retina display is a huge advantage.

    I understand your angst against buying a machine that is not upgradeable, but let me point out two things.
    1. Most people who buy laptops don't ever upgrade them. Of course many folks here at MR are not your typical consumer but the point remains. Laptops and upgradeability have always been limited, yet I know apple has taken that to a new level.

    2. You already are buying a laptop, albeit less expensive, that cannot be upgraded.

    The differences between the MBA and the MPB.
    MBA, better battery, and lighter.
    MBP, better screen, better performance, more ports

    Either computer will have a nice improvement over what you already have and I understand and can empathize with budget constraints.
  3. m.quine thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 1, 2014
    Thanks for the reply Mike.

    Good points you raise.

    I didn't explain myself overly well about the processor speed but the comparison i was referring to was whether the i7 is significantly faster than my current core 2 duo.

    After my applecare ran out on my current 2009 mac i upgraded everything and it was like a new computer. The SSD makes a huge difference but i am still limited in connectivity. I have extremely slow USB connections, no thunderbolt and no way to sent audio and video out of the same port. Actually the more i write this the more i am convincing myself that either choice (MBA or MBP) would be better.

    But, as you say, perhaps the Retina display may be worthwhile. However, i may be able to partially solve the display issue by buying apple tv and streaming to my HDTV?

    It all could be worse, i could be getting no mac Mac at all :)
  4. Boyd01 macrumors 68040


    Feb 21, 2012
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    The MBA will leave your old core2 duo machine in the dust. I replaced my 2008 15" MPB core2 duo 2.4ghz/4gb/160gb with a 2011 13" MBA i5/4gb/256gb and it was almost twice as fast for CPU bound tasks. Things like rendering in Final Cut Pro and Photoshop were much faster.

    I now have a 2013 11" i7/8gb/512gb MBA and it is a really fast little machine, maybe 30% faster CPU than my 2013 MBA - the i7 will be more than twice as fast as your old MBP. Even though you have a SSD on your old MBP, it will not even come close to the 512gb SSD on the new MBA. I get 700MB/s write and over 700MB/s read on mine. You can try the Blackmagic speed test, I'll bet you don't get more than 150MB/s.

    My 2013 MBA renders even faster in Final Cut Pro and latency dropped from 13ms to 9ms in Logic Pro compared to the 2011 MBA. So you will find the 2013 a huge upgrade from your old MBP. As long as you don't have an issue with the lack of ethernet, firewire and a DVD drive, I think you will be very happy.

    I also went from the 2011 13" MBA to the smaller 2013 11" MBA and I just love this little machine. So small and light, you can carry it around all day and never even know it's there. And the battery life is phenomenal. Even when it was new, I could barely squeeze 3 hours runtime out of my 2008 MBP. I have never run the MBA completely down, but it can easily make it through a long day. I can watch movies or web surf for almost an hour and the battery meter still shows 100%.
  5. scaredpoet macrumors 604


    Apr 6, 2007
    In short: Yes. Even an i5 processor will be much faster compared to your existing Core 2 Duo processor in that 2009 MacBook.

    For quite a while now, actual computing power has not been strictly dictated by clock speeds. It's a reality now that a new generation Intel processor will still be "faster" than one from 5 years ago, even though the clock speed is "slower."

    FWIW: it's not guaranteed that the SSD on the Macbook pro will not be upgradeable. The same was said about SSDs in previous versions of MacBook Airs and Pros, but companies like OWC came out with upgrade kits later. It's possible (though not definite) that the same could happen of current models.

    All that aside though: most people are doing something different from upgrading their existing hardware... instead, they're taking advantage of the fact that Apple hardware retains resale value far better than most other brands, and selling their old gear to defray the cost of purchasing new equipment. In a way, they're upgrading without replacing individual components.

    Even your 2009 MacBook Pro will fetch a rather good price, despite it being so old.
  6. Doctor Mabuse, Feb 2, 2014
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2014

    Doctor Mabuse macrumors newbie

    Feb 24, 2013
    My mid-2012 Air has a much better screen than the 2009 MBP I have to use at work, and is a lot quicker. I miss the connectivity of the Pro though - I can't get a Thunderbolt and a Firewire out without either buying a 27" monitor or an expensive FW hub. I also wish I'd bitten the bullet and gone for 512SSD. i5 vs i7? meh
  7. awair, Feb 2, 2014
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2014

    awair macrumors regular

    Sep 6, 2011
    I would echo most of what is stated here, you will be very happy with a noticeable improvement of a 2013 (or 2014?) MBA.

    Battery Life
    Suspend/Resume time

    On the performance side, I had a 2010 MBP (i7 dual-core) 2.66GHz, 8GB Ram & 3rd-party SSD. My new 2013 MBA excels at nearly every task and is a close match for my new (refurb) 2011 MBP with 16GB & 3rd Party SSD.

    For travel, the MBA suits me better (due to weight, battery life & suspend/resume: I can go away for 24-hours and not bother with the charger). For home use, the screen size makes the MBP my preference (it doesn't like suspend/resume - possibly due to the extra Ram(?), but it starts up super quickly due to the SSD). I wouldn't go with the 13" MBP, as for me, this would be the worst of both worlds: too heavy, and too small a screen.

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