MBA C2D vs i5

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by EmaDaCuz, Apr 30, 2012.

  1. EmaDaCuz macrumors regular

    Apr 30, 2012
    First of all, this is my first post so I want to thank you all for your hospitality.
    Now, coming to the topic. My early 2008 MacBook died a couple of weeks ago and I have to replace it. I have to admit the MBA has always been on the top of my wishlist and now I finally have the chance to buy it.

    I have found a brand new 11" MBA with C2D 1.6GHz, 128 GB SSD and 4GB of RAM for 860 euros. For the same prize I can get an entry level i5, with 64 GB SSD and 2 GB RAM. I am not really in the position for waiting until ??? for the new MBAs to be out.

    Question: what shall I go for? I have the desktop for heavy tasks, so the MBA would only be a terminal for basic tasks (mainly presentation, browsing and youtubing) and some basic data analysis (R and ImageJ).

    Thanks for your patience.
  2. Epic Xbox Revie macrumors 6502a

    Epic Xbox Revie

    Jun 15, 2010
    Washington, D.C.
    I'd get the newer one unless you can get the older one for less money.
  3. BluePhilG macrumors member

    Oct 29, 2010
    I have the completely opposite view :)

    I have a C2D 11", 4gb 128gb and use it as my main machine. I still find the 128gb storage the biggest limiting factor, so I think unless you have very basic requirement the 2gb/64gb model would be very limiting indeed!

    I find the CPU plenty fast enough, although the most taxing thing I do is process some jogs to lower res for fb uploading.

    As an aside, I am hoping for a refresh soon so I can upgrade to something with 256gb or even 512gb, but the CPU is fine.
  4. EmaDaCuz thread starter macrumors regular

    Apr 30, 2012
    First of all, thanks for your replies.

    Storage would not really be a problem, as I would just need to install some GB of software (Office, Latex, R) and the file I am elaborating with it. No movies, no music. My concern is the CPU, even if I am not going to do CPU intensive tasks a slow-down processor may be a bit of a problem. I was pretty happy with my MB having a 2.1 GHz C2D, I really don't know how this would compare to the ULV mounted on the MBA.

    I will go to the shop tomorrow and give it a serious try, maybe comparing with the recent i5.
  5. calvol macrumors 6502a

    Feb 3, 2011
    You won't notice any difference between a C2D and i5 in normal tasks where the CPU is not the bottleneck (C2D/320M renders faster in certain scenarios). You would only notice a difference in cases where the CPU is maxed out-- i.e. Handbracke or other encoding apps.
  6. JonLa macrumors 6502

    Dec 22, 2009
    Actually in this case for day to day usage (not converting any videos are you?) I'd go with more RAM for the OS to run smoothly - so go for the 4GB machine. You can't upgrade it. Storage space can be managed, even expanded with USB sticks, cloud storage, Time Capsule, but RAM will help the OS run smoothly more than the processor
  7. QCassidy352 macrumors G4


    Mar 20, 2003
    Bay Area
    IMO processors are very rarely the limiting factor for most people these days. I'd go for more RAM and storage.
  8. Medic278 macrumors 6502a


    Feb 1, 2012
    New York
    I would go with the i5. The jump from c2d to core i5/i7 is really leaps and bounds. While the i5 only has a 64GB HDD there are options out there to expand you memory, SD cards for example. Plus the core i5 is far more powerful and in the end you'll be happier with the more up to date machine. The only downside to the i5 is it only has 2GB of RAM.
  9. QCassidy352 macrumors G4


    Mar 20, 2003
    Bay Area
    Yes the i5 is much more powerful. But most programs don't use more than a fraction of that power. Unless you're maxing out the c2d, the difference will be there but invisible for all intents and purposes.
  10. BluePhilG macrumors member

    Oct 29, 2010
    Whereas the difference between 2gig and 4gig RAM will be much more profound :)
  11. r6girl Administrator/Editor


    Staff Member

    Sep 6, 2003
    I would suggest going for the i5 MacBook Air.

    From Anandtech's review of the 2011 MacBook Airs:

    I recently upgraded from a late 2008 1.86 C2D MacBook Air to the 11-inch i5 model and there is a noticeable difference in performance between the two in everyday tasks (web browsing, light photo editing, etc.).
  12. EZMacCPA macrumors newbie

    May 1, 2012
    Phoenix, Arizona
    You'll only notice the CPU speed difference if you truly are running programs that are CPU bound rather than disk bound. The primary limiting factor for most programs I use day to day comes from the disk and not the CPU. So while I have an i5 MacBook Air, I doubt I'd see a major difference if I had the prior Core 2 Duo model for most of what I do.

    The RAM is a far bigger problem, and not one that can be fixed later. That is far more likely to create performance issues as OSX gets forced to page to disk more often--it will page a lot faster, but it will still be a performance hit. The extra drive space will also come in handy, as 64GB is tight.

    The base MBA was, in my view, designed primarily to hit a U.S. price target of less than $1,000. Without that psychological price point, I actually wonder if we would still see a 2GB RAM, 64GB SSD drive machine.
  13. throAU macrumors 603


    Feb 13, 2012
    Perth, Western Australia
    They're much of a muchness except for the CPU. The i5 is massively faster in anything CPU bound (i.e. video conversion with handbrake, real time conversion on the fly with PS3 media server, etc) and supports new processor instructions that the C2D doesn't. Like AES encryption instructions which will make a 30x (yes that is TIMES and not PERCENT) difference in CPU utilisation when using disk encryption.

    Unless you really can't afford it, get the i5.
  14. iAppl3Fan macrumors 6502a


    Sep 8, 2011
    For everyday usage, the 2010 model will suffice. The i5 with 2gb ram is very limiting as OS X itself would take 1.5 gb ram which doesn't leave much room for opening applications.
  15. Xgm541 macrumors 65816

    May 3, 2011
    I vote for the c2d. Even though it has a slower processor the ram makes it more future proof. Unless of course you get the 2011 with 4gb.
  16. Dangerous Theory macrumors 68000

    Jul 28, 2011
    C2Ds aren't terrible, but I would never recommend downgrading to one slower than you previously use. Then again, if it's your first time using an SSD then the performance you'll notice from that will far outweigh the CPU downgrade.
  17. Cheffy Dave macrumors 68030

    Cheffy Dave

    Feb 5, 2007
    Sunny Florida, on the Gulf Coast in Homosassa Fl
    I agree,

    4 GB of RAM is a must,128 is doable, and if you find it's to small, OWC offers a
    480 GB SSD,get the C2D, we have 3 with the OWC SSD, and it screams, and has the NVIDIA graphics, vs INTEL's 3000. The only thing you won't have is a backlit
    Keyboard, no biggie for me,maybe it will be for you.
    I only buy refurbs,great savings.:cool:
  18. Vantage Point macrumors 65816

    Mar 1, 2010
    New Jersey
    As you consider the above two options, keep an eye out for a third option. 4gb of ram and more storage with an iX MA will be an investment in the future - assuming you want to keep it for a long time.
  19. EZMacCPA macrumors newbie

    May 1, 2012
    Phoenix, Arizona
    I would generally agree, but if we are going to live with the stated "either/or" constraints, I'd pick the C2D with the 4GB (nonexpandable) over an i5 with 2GB (also nonexpandable).

    If the user is does a lot of CPU bound work that doesn't consume RAM I suppose the opposite choice might be better--but then I'd have to wonder about getting either Air to begin with (seems like a MacBook Pro with a faster i5 and expandability in the future would make more sense than either Air).
  20. jamesr19 macrumors 6502

    Nov 7, 2009
    neither! Wait a little and the Sandy Bridge i5s will come down in price because hopefully Ivy Bridge i5s will be out soon so new MBAs
  21. KohPhiPhi macrumors 6502a

    Feb 9, 2011
    I would prefer C2D / 4gb RAM / 128 SSD to i5 / 2gb / 64 SSD.

    The processor is hardly ever the bottleneck for everyday's usage. Ram and storage often are.

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