New MBA vs Black MacBook

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by nobodyfresh, Nov 15, 2010.

  1. nobodyfresh macrumors newbie

    Nov 15, 2010
    I have a plastic black MacBook with the following specs:

    Core 2 Duo 2.4 GHz
    2.0 GB RAM
    250 GB 5400rpm HD
    Intel GMA X3100
    13" 1280x800 LCD

    I use the laptop mostly for web browsing, MS Office, PDF editing, and light photoshop work.

    How will the performance of a new 13" MBA with 2.13 GHz C2D and 4GB of RAM compare to what I have now?
  2. jamone13 macrumors regular

    Apr 20, 2010
    It will blow it out of the water, for day to day use. I have that spec MBA and for most things its faster feeling then my 17" i7 2.66ghz 8GB RAM, 500GB 7200RPM system. Everything on the MBA is faster then the MB you mentioned.
  3. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010
    The MacBook Air will definitely be faster. Here's why:
    - The 2.13GHz processor has 6MB of cache vs. 3MB in yours, so the CPU difference will be neglible
    - The SSD is blazing fast compared to any hard drive.
    - The nVidia GeForce 320M is significantly faster on graphics tasks than the integrated graphics on your BlackBook. Snow Leopard, Photoshop and iPhoto are able to make use of the nVidia GPU instead of the CPU for certain tasks.
  4. Bluemeanie1976 macrumors 6502a


    Nov 1, 2009
    Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria
    Would the plastic macbooks be greatly improved with an SSD, or is it not really worth it? I've been considering it, but not sure who it would react.
  5. jamone13 macrumors regular

    Apr 20, 2010
    I wouldn't, you won't be as happy as you will, for selling your plastic macbook and just getting an air... Yes it will help, (if its a good SSD) but why dump $ into something older?
  6. gwsat macrumors 68000


    Apr 12, 2008
    The most dramatic improvement I have noticed on my 13 inch MBA over all previous Macs I have used has been attributable to its flash storage. My setup is so RAM hungry that my MBA has setup a 1GB swap file to supplement its 4GB of RAM. Although I have had nearly 31,000 page outs in the 4 days since I last rebooted, I have noticed no significant degradation in either speed or stability compared to how the same setup runs on my MBP, which has 6GB of RAM and never has page outs. That is to say, my MBA is plenty fast and totally stable.
  7. Wicked1 macrumors 68040


    Apr 13, 2009
    New Jersey
    Unfair comparrison

    That's like comparing a 1969 VW Bug to a 2010 VW Bug

    May be made by the same folks, but miles apart in comparisson.
  8. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010
    Just about any computer would benefit from an SSD. Look for a top performer with a SandForce controller. I've also heard good things about the OWC Mercury Extreme SSD.
  9. Over Achiever macrumors 68000

    Over Achiever

    Jul 22, 2002
    Toledo, OH, formerly Twin Cities, MN
    Upgrade the HD to an SSD ... it's the cheaper route to speed up your computer.

    I upgraded from a 2.0 GHz Core Duo BlackBook. Is it much faster? Maybe a little, but an SSD will make some difference. I put an SSD in my 1.33 GHz Core Duo Dell XT, and it boots, shuts down, and sleeps in about the same time my Macbook Air does. It opens Outlook within 1-2 seconds (previously up to 10 seconds). SSD will make a big difference for you.

    As for the graphics, I never had a problem with my BlackBook (I don't game), and I don't with the MBA, so I'm not sure what the difference would be.
  10. molala macrumors 6502a

    Oct 25, 2008
    Cambridge, UK
    Looking into the SSD upgrade well, I have the same black MacBook except with 4GB RAM. The problem is in the UK, I'd have to spend £400+ to get a 256GB SSD and smaller just wouldn't suffice. If I really wanted more speed, I'd be better off selling my MacBook and getting the new MBA – might be the more cost-effective solution for you too. Personally, I'll stick with my blackbook a while longer (until SSD goes down in price enough for me to get it, or I start needing a lot more speed and will upgrade to a new machine).
  11. Bluemeanie1976 macrumors 6502a


    Nov 1, 2009
    Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria
    I have an air. The 11.6.
  12. abuleban macrumors member

    Nov 13, 2010
    Saudi Arabia
    I have a first gen

    Black Macbook, and its pretty much just my TV, which it still is quite good at.

    That said, the ultimate config MBA is great; battery life, SSD, screen res, and it is so damn light!

  13. aberrero macrumors 6502a

    Jan 12, 2010
    Just wait a couple of months for the new generation of SSDs to come out and buy one for your BMB. It will not be quite as fast at certain things as the MBA because of Apples optimizations, but overall performance because of the processor will be better.

    Then when Apple releases the Core i7 MBAs next year, put your ssd in your desktop/on ebay and buy the MBA then. The BMB is still a fully capable machine, there is not much point in upgrading/downgrading to the MBA unless it is broken in some way.

    Also, get 4GB of ram for your macbook as a bonus. Not really necessary, but it will make you feel better about having an older laptop.
  14. C64 macrumors 65816


    Sep 3, 2008
    You made me laugh :D
  15. wirelessmacuser macrumors 68000


    Dec 20, 2009
    It's not a fair comparison, the MBA will certainly be a lot faster. Yet do you need it? Wanting it just for the sake of having something new I understand. Let's say that you do buy an MBA. Two months or so after you buy it, you will have become accustomed to the speed and it will be just another Mac.

    So, here's what I suggest right now for you. I would upgrade your ram to 4GB and install an SSD. That will make your BMB like a new machine for a fraction of the cost of a new MBA. Also this is the first gen MBA and they are not all that everyone says. This is typical, when any new product is released all you see are glowing reports. I have had two MBA's die on me and I'm still waiting for AppleCare to return one repaired. The first one they exchanged for a new one and it died in just a day. So I say upgrade yours, then wait. If you absolutely have to have a new one, then buy the second generation. Apples 2nd generation products are always better than the first gen ones.

    Cheers.... :)
  16. aberrero macrumors 6502a

    Jan 12, 2010
    Intel makes dual core ULV 1.33Ghz i7s. The sandy bridge equivalents will hopefully have higher clockspeeds and potentially mid-2Ghz Turbo modes.
  17. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010

    To be fair, Apple has been making MacBook Airs since February 2008. It is the second major revision (the first was in November 2008 to add the nVidia GPU).

    I have heard a number of reports of issues with the new models, though, and had to have my own "Ultimate 13" replaced. I wonder if it's just a bad batch or if these were rushed through.
  18. Burnsey macrumors 6502a

    Jul 1, 2007
    Is it going to be noticeably faster? yes. Is it worth upgrading, no. Your blackbook should serve you well for another year or so, by then the MBA would have undergone a refresh with better specs that would make the upgrade worth it. Who knows what Apple plans to do with the 13inch MBP as well, they might make it thinner and give it an SSD too, but at a lower price perhaps.

    I was in the same boat as you but with my MBP (sig). Ultimately I decided to keep the machine for another year and see how these new Airs play out.
  19. Scottsdale macrumors 601


    Sep 19, 2008
    Worth upgrading is relevant to the situation the buyer is in. If they have the money and want to upgrade it can be worth it for them. It all comes down to utility and happiness. These "better" specs you're talking about may not happen in the guidelines you want them to happen in too. It may not be a Core i-series CPU and could ultimately be an AMD CPU.

    There is a reason Apple is ignoring the Core i-series CPUs, as it would result in a loss to the entire experience for the Mac users. Nvidia GPU and C2D CPU, along with the other advancements in the new MBAs blows away a Core i-series CPU with a worthless IGP. OS X is built better than that IGP is capable of (OpenCL and etc). The Intel chipset and Core series CPUs would not provide 13" Mac users with a better experience than the C2D CPU and Nvidia 320m GPU is capable of in MBAs right now.
  20. aberrero macrumors 6502a

    Jan 12, 2010
    It is funny though, because the BMB has integrated intel video.

    I'll be honest, the Core i5 CPUs aren't as great as I thought they were going to be when I went insane after Apple didn't put them in the 13" MBP. They seemed better on paper than they were in real life, and the extra performance does come at a fairly significant power and heat cost.

    That said, they are, in theory, massively better processors. I think the biggest advantage to them is the hardware accelerated AES encryption(which isn't available, IIRC, on the 400 series i5s that Apple apparently uses interchangeably with the i520m in the MBP 15). When you have an SSD, encrypting it using a CPU like the one in the MBA is going to kill both performance and battery life. The i5 can handle the 100 - 300MB/s speeds without breaking a sweat.

    Full drive encryption saved my bacon on my previous laptop when it got stolen(which had the i5 and an intel SSD). I had tons of sensitive information on there, but I am quite comfortable that nobody can ever hope to access any of it. I want to encrypt my MBA, but I am really worried about it stressing the CPU.
  21. nobodyfresh thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 15, 2010
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_1 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/532.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0.5 Mobile/8B117 Safari/6531.22.7)

    Lots of awesome replies, thanks everyone!

    I'm still torn on what to do. I think I'm leaning towards buying the MBA since I can repurpose my blackbook for my kids so it wouldn't be totally wasted. It's not critical that I buy the new MBA now, but if the specs stay the same for the next 6 months it makes more sense to get it sooner rather than later.

    I can always sell the blackbook or the MBA and let the kids use the other one if the next MBP is a must-have for me.
  22. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010
    True. Intel's Core i3/i5/i7 branding is a bit confusing. While i3 clearly is the "budget" Nehalem processor (lacking TurboBoost), the distinction between i5 and i7 isn't always clear. Things were a lot easier when we knew that a 486 was better than a 386, or a 68040 better than a 68030.

    That said, I think Apple will likely skip the Core i3 and go right to the Core i5 or i7 if Sandy Bridge or Ivy Bridge are up to snuff. They might consider AMD, but its financial viability is far from certain (unless Apple plans to buy the company or a big stake in it with some of its $50 billion stockpile).
  23. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010
    Since it's just been released I doubt it will change anytime soon. Figure early fall 2011 is the earliest for a new MacBook Air. I think the Pro is due for an upgrade in January or February, particularly the 13", since it's been a while, and the top MacBook Air is now very close to the low-end Pro, particularly if you factor in the price of an SSD on the Pro.
  24. aberrero macrumors 6502a

    Jan 12, 2010
    You are right about that, make your decision now. Waiting is pointless unless you think you might want a refreshed MBP instead.
  25. aberrero macrumors 6502a

    Jan 12, 2010
    AMD is much more financially stable now than they were before. Their manufacturing arm had basically exponentially increasing R&D costs that they just couldn't keep up with. By spinning them off and allowing other companies to manufacture their stuff there as well to help pay for that R&D, they have gotten their costs under control. They have also stopped bleeding money from the ATI acquisition and are now doing extremely well in the graphics market. They also have some really promising products in the pipeline for next year, so the stars might align for them and apple.

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