MBA 11" 1.4 versus 1.6

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Kiedoy, Apr 5, 2011.

  1. Kiedoy macrumors member

    Aug 18, 2008
    Hey everyone,

    I tried searching for an answer on the forums but couldn't find it.

    So I'm about to buy an 11" mba. Ideally I would get 1.6/64gb/4gbram, but you have to get the 128 hd as well taking on an extra $200.

    I feel the 4gb ram is a must have. I really dont need the extra hd space. So i was wondering will i really notice a difference in the 1.4 vs. 1.6?

    Only heavy lifting my mba would do is a little photoshop (which seems to be no issue) and possibly some logic express for single track recording at most.

    Any insight would be great. Thanks again!
  2. zinka macrumors regular

    Nov 27, 2009
  3. gcans macrumors member


    Mar 15, 2011
    Cincinnati, OH
    Go for the fully loaded 11" refurb version it will save you money and they are in perfect condition. It will save you around $200.
  4. Legion93 macrumors 6502a


    Apr 6, 2011
    Death Star, Rishi Maze

    11" ultimate refurb will save you cash and is in excellent condition. Speed differences are not noticeable in real world tests - however you would see a slightly better benchmarks on the 1.6.
  5. bmat macrumors 6502

    Nov 24, 2004
    East Coast, USA
    I have 1.6 4GB and my wife as 1.4 4GB, and we see no difference.
  6. zetsurin macrumors regular

    Nov 30, 2007
    Tokyo, Japan
    I suspect you won't notice the difference. The SSD and RAM will have the most influence on day to day performance/general usage. I did however choose the 1.6 as I had the spare money and thought it might help if I want to run a game, but even then it would be a small difference. If you have to choose one upgrade though, I'd go for the 4gb RAM.
  7. Cheffy Dave, Apr 9, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2011

    Cheffy Dave macrumors 68030

    Cheffy Dave

    Feb 5, 2007
    Sunny Florida, on the Gulf Coast in Homosassa Fl
    You are where I am, my decision is made, at least for me.

    1) go refurb, really will save you money, yes they are perfect, both our 2007 Black MacBooks were Refurbs, and are still working perfectly

    2) you won't (notice) any difference, but there has to be some, albiet however tiny, if there wasn't why would they bother offering 2 different CPU's, go for the 1.6, you might wish you had it when LION is released.

    3) go with the most RAM you can afford, and since it is soldered to the Motherboard, upgrading ISN'T an option, go with the 4 GB, you will thank me later!
  8. Stingray454 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 22, 2009
    Look at it like this: 1.6Ghz vs 1.4Ghz is 200Mhz difference. The 1.4 is (200/1600) = 12.5% slower in pure CPU speed.

    During "normal" usage like browsing and such you will probably never max out the CPU, or at least in such small bursts that the difference isn't noticeable. If you apply a photoshop filter or similar, you might notice it a bit though. Let's say a photoshop filter takes 10 seconds to apply on the 1.6, then it would take 10*112.5% = 11.25 seconds on the 1.4. It's really not the end of the world imo.

    If you're gaming or running other "heavy" software, you might want the 1.6. Let's say a game runs at 30 fps on the 1.4, it would run at about 34 fps on the 1.6 (assuming CPU is the bottleneck). It's not much, but if you feel you will do a lot of those things, it might be worth it.

    As you said, 4Gb is the major update that I wouldn't wanna be without. The 1.6 is more of a luxury. Get it if you got the money, but I doubt you'll notice much of a difference from the 1.4.
  9. Onimusha370 macrumors 6502a

    Aug 25, 2010
    good post :)
    the only difference i see between clock speeds is when encoding video, and even then, its very marginal. i'd say go with the 1.4, it'll stay cooler aswell
  10. Cheffy Dave macrumors 68030

    Cheffy Dave

    Feb 5, 2007
    Sunny Florida, on the Gulf Coast in Homosassa Fl
    Good Job, much more technical answer than mine!:D
  11. lucashungaro macrumors member

    Nov 20, 2010
    São Paulo, Brazil
    It makes a difference with tasks like:

    - Heavy games will gain some fps;
    - Video encoding will be a bit faster;
    - Compiling software (things that developers need to do) will be faster too;
    - Heavy photo editing with something like Photoshop/Pixelmator.

    It doesn't make a noticeable difference in tasks like:

    - Internet browsing;
    - Listening to music;
    - Playing simple games (things like World of Goo and the like);
    - Using iWork
    - Simple photo editing;
    - Watching movies.

    So, if you don't use it for games, heavy photo/video/music editing and tasks like that, you can go with the 1.4 Ghz.

    But if you find a refurbished unit with a lower price and the 1.6 Ghz processor, go for it. It will gain you some seconds here and there and that can't hurt you. :)

    Here, take a look:
  12. maclaptop macrumors 65816


    Apr 8, 2011
    Western Hemisphere
    CPU speed difference of only 12.5% is virtually unnoticeable no matter what you do with your iPad. In real world usage the bottleneck is the bus, and that rarely is as fast as the processor.

    The advantage of the faster processor in an iPad, is it's a money maker for Apple and Intel, that is the long and short of it. Period.

    I upgrade both my MBP and PC laptops every year as I do really heavy, resource intense scientific work. I've gone through over 35 new top of line, fully loaded laptops over the years and every time it's been the "next big thing" when it comes to the processor. Rarely is their a really big speed increase.

    Hope that helps.
  13. rrl macrumors 6502


    Jul 27, 2009
  14. SidBala macrumors 6502a

    Jun 27, 2010
    iPad? What iPad?

    Get the 4GB.

    Clock speed difference between the 1.6 and the 1.4 is only 12.5% as someone pointed out. So the performance difference will be even less.
  15. rkaufmann87 macrumors 68000


    Dec 17, 2009
    Folsom, CA
    When I was looking at the beginning of the year there weren't any MBA refurbs available. I was able to locate a 11" 1.4GHz, 4GB RAM with 128GB SSD new for $1235 shipped and no sales tax. Apparently this isn't a popular configuration and I don't know why, to me spending $100 for .2GHz doesn't make sense.

    Of course within a few weeks of my buying my machine refurbs became available and the ultimate 1.6GHz machine was on the list for $1189 however by the time I added CA sales tax and the recycling fee the price came to $1305. It's been about 3 months since I got mine so far it's a great little machine. If you can find one like mine that's the route I'd recommend.
  16. Kiedoy thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 18, 2008
    Thank you to all who have replied. HOwever, this post takes the cake! Thanks for breaking it down in numbers. That's what I wanted to see!

    Pure awesome. haha:D

  17. Ridley macrumors regular

    Mar 28, 2011
    If you've ever taken a computer architecture class though you'll know that the scenario described there is not accurate. He mentions that the test assumes that the bottleneck is the CPU ... even if that assumption was accurate, the estimate is only mostly accurate because of some technical details about processor overhead. That said, the assumption isn't valid, so you will not see those numbers or statistics play out.

    Processors are about instruction execution. Programmers and compilers use spacial locality to arrange the instructions sets so that once one instruction execute, the most likely, subsequent ones will be nearby and already loaded into cache, and if not cache hopefully RAM. Those are measured as hits and misses (like battleship) in the levels of cache, and RAM, etc. Worst case scenario is to miss all the way up that chain to your hard disk or SSD... those are measured in seconds where as RAM and cache are measured in milliseconds and nanoseconds.

    So cache is blazingly fast, but very expensive and for some complex reasons will always be so. Anyway, computer scientist can prove statically that this setup of: processor -> cache -> (now we have more levels of cache) -> ram -> disk is ~%98 as fast as having your entire computer one massive cache. You see increasing cache size or RAM size will increase your hit ratio of instruction sets but also increase your latency and overhead to keep those bits alive.

    Ok ok Ridley get the point... the point is given the frequency of instruction set misses in modern computers and their effect on performance, 2 computers that are exactly the same except for 200 mhz difference in clock speed would be extremely close in performance speed. In college I calculated a similar problem of two identical systems except with a 1Ghz vs 2Ghz processor and the 2Ghz one ended up being about ~20% faster. I reckon the difference here MIGHT be ~1-3% faster but i'm too lazy to calculate it out exactly since i'd have to look up a lot of old notes. Maybe 5% faster in ideal conditions?

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