Retina better than old Air at displaying text on an old 1080p external monitor?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by AMSOS, Nov 5, 2018.

  1. AMSOS macrumors member

    Nov 21, 2010
    (1) I just noticed these interesting benchmarks results. I am guessing there is little chance that they’ll be drastically revised in the coming days.

    Single core performance
    2018 MacBook Air - 4248
    2017 MacBook Air - 3335

    Multi-core performance
    2018 MacBook Air - 7828
    2017 MacBook Air - 6119

    But aren’t these negligible differences? If my maximum demand from is basic post-processing of photos (say Lightroom or Darktable), then one should expect minor improvements in processing between the new and older Air. Am I correct?

    So, the lower quality screen of the older MacBook Air is the only factor working against it when compared to the Retina Air?

    (2) I do a lot of writing work on my old ViewSonic external monitor that is 1920*1080.

    Currently, I project my early 2015 13” MBP’s display to this monitor and the text looks smooth. Obviously, it’ll look similarly smooth with the new Retina Air.

    But should I expect any deteriorations in the text smoothness etc. if I hook my external monitor to the old MacBook Air? Will the old Air be able to make full use of my basic 1080p external monitor?

  2. turbineseaplane macrumors 68040


    Mar 19, 2008
    The new Air is really not a clear "win" in my opinion.

    They really refocused the new one to be a more lower end product (performance wise) than the Air had become over time.

    The old Airs were a tremendous value and performance package that could be scaled up to be a super flexible powerhouse of a machine that was still very thin/light/compelling.
  3. AMSOS thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 21, 2010
    Yep. That's what I realised over these past few days. But do you think the old Air will do much worse than the Retina Air when projecting on to an old 1080p external monitor?
  4. ChrisChaval, Nov 5, 2018
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2018

    ChrisChaval macrumors 6502


    Aug 30, 2016
  5. turbineseaplane macrumors 68040


    Mar 19, 2008
    I think either will do just fine outputting to a 1080p monitor. That isn’t taxing at all and will look and perform essentially identically I would think.
  6. AMSOS thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 21, 2010
    Oh, I didn't know that. When you say the system fonts "Require some kind of 'retina' resolution in order to look OK" do you mean the laptop should have a high enough resolution/Retina, the external monitor, or both?

    Basically, the old Air will cause a lot of eye strain or rough looking text if it's running Mojave and I connect it to my old monitor?
    --- Post Merged, Nov 5, 2018 ---
    That's so encouraging to hear. The more I think about it the more I feel I should get the old Air. The maximum I will demand will be when I am post-processing photos in Darktable. And I am an amateur so I should be able to live with the slower speed.
    I also realised that I need to add at least $100 to the price of the Retina Air because I will have to get a hub and card reader. With the old Air I'll get enough USB-A ports, charging port, and the important card reader.
    I aim to be able to use the machine for 3.5 years. In that time the changes at Apple will have settled down, and they will either have student friendly options. I can then weigh in on my options at that time.
    What do you think?
  7. turbineseaplane macrumors 68040


    Mar 19, 2008
    That's what I'd do, especially if you score a great deal on previous gen Air also.
    No reliability issues and all the ports and features you need built right in.

    In 3 years time I think the entire MacBook lineup will be ARM on Apple designed chips and so the upgrade situation will be a whole new analysis than right now. I'd spend the minimum you can on any Intel powered Mac laptops at this point.
  8. AMSOS thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 21, 2010
    Oh, this is interesting. Not sure what you mean Apple will be ARM. Isn't that chip architecture?
    If Intel make their chips who will? And when they are getting yearly improvements in performance why do Apple want to ditch Intel?
    Thanks! This is a shot in the arm - I was hoping someone will support my plans to get a new non-Retina Air :) The best part is that with student discount it'll be $850. I won't need to spend a penny on hubs, and with Apple care the whole thing should cost me $1000. For my current early 2015 MBP 13" that now has reliability issues, I should be able to get $500. So, an expenditure of $500 for the next 3 years is not bad, eh? ;p)
  9. turbineseaplane macrumors 68040


    Mar 19, 2008
    @AMSOS Apple designs their own chips, both CPU and GPU, for iOS devices at this point and it's widely believed that they are going to transition the Mac to that also and control the entire stack.

    Intel has let them down with bad and delayed releases for too long and Apple wants full control and the margins, specialization and performance that come with it.
  10. thunng8 macrumors 6502a

    Feb 8, 2006
    Yeah and the latest Apple A12X chip in the iPad Pro is a lot faster than what Apple puts in the MacBook Air.

    Check out the results for adobe premiere rush and Lightroom - it easily beats core i7 laptops
  11. friedkimchi macrumors regular


    Aug 13, 2011
    I'd put money on AMD Ryzen in upcoming Macbook/Air refreshes. But they'll need to lower the wattage from their current 15w chips.
    Intel will be used on their Pro lineup.

    That should be enough to differentiate the lineup.
  12. turbineseaplane macrumors 68040


    Mar 19, 2008
    I’d take that bet.

    Apple wants to own the whole stack and control releases and features and know and influence the roadmap of the chipset performance. The iOS hardware speed of development and performance gains are absolutely mouthwatering to imagine on Mac hardware.

    I don’t see them switching within x86 honestly.
  13. ChrisChaval macrumors 6502


    Aug 30, 2016
    yes, both displays should have a high enough resolution in order to allow Mojave to look its best

    I own a 2017 Air and the system fonts (just talking about the OS fonts here, not browser content) look thin and pixelated

    on an external full HD 23 inch monitor things get slightly better compared to the laptop screen

    things with Mojave fonts get better the higher the native resolution of your display (internal or external) and this is why I would not get the 2017 Air today, except maybe, you hook up some 4k display permanently and use it as a desktop replacement
  14. AMSOS thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 21, 2010
    I know what you mean. There is an obvious difference between the Retina of my 2015 MBP 13" and my friend's 2017 Air. But I have to say that you do get used to it after a point.
    What I am trying to figure out is if there will be a difference in quality between the Retina Air and old Air when you project their display to an old 1080p external?
    So, the display of the old Air will worsen when projected to an old 1080p external monitor?
    Sorry, I am a little confused and don't know much about resolution and external monitors :(
    My issue is simply this - the text on the 1080p external looks good when I use my Retina MBP 13". How much bad will it be when you project the old Air's display?
  15. ChrisChaval, Nov 6, 2018
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2018

    ChrisChaval macrumors 6502


    Aug 30, 2016
    no worries, in extended desktop mode the 1080p external will look just the same in both cases (as you do not really project the screen but drive a second display additionally to the internal one. So the internal display is not a limiting factor in a dual extended screen setup. What can limit the output is the graphics card, which in your case is not a problem at all and of course the resolution of the target monitor).

    Do you want to extend or mirror the internal display ?

    Mirroring can indeed have some limitations especially when dealing with different aspect ratios and resolutions
  16. AMSOS thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 21, 2010
    Oh I see. So, the graphics card of the old Air is good enough and that is what will matter when projecting to a 1080p display. Hence, there shouldn't be any difference between the MacBook Pro or other new Retina laptops and the old Air, because they are still outputting to an old external monitor.
    No, I shift the display on to the external and completely darken the laptop screen when I am writing on the external monitor.
    Btw, I know that Word for Mac 2016 had a feature about being able to use Retina displays. I am not sure if that will be negatively effected by using with an old Air.
    If I understand you right then it won't make any difference, because I am working on Word on an external display. It would only be an issue when I compare the lower quality display of the old Air to the newer Retina displays. Correct?
  17. ChrisChaval macrumors 6502


    Aug 30, 2016
    yes this is correct

    here, these are the 2017 MB Air specs taken from the official Apple website:

    Graphics and Video Support
    • Intel HD Graphics 6000
      • Dual display and video mirroring: Simultaneously supports full native resolution on the built-in display and up to 3840-by-2160 resolution at 60Hz on an external display, both at millions of colors.

    as you can see, the Air can go up to 4k at 60hz externally
  18. puma1552 macrumors 603

    Nov 20, 2008
    Those benchmarks indicate a 28% improvement YoY, I'd hardly call that negligible. Real world use case might be negligible, but the performance improvement is significant if basing on benchmarks.
  19. jacmacattack macrumors newbie

    Feb 18, 2013
    There's little chance at this point, though I know for sure they've been talking over the years. Now ARM is too close in terms of overall performance even with mobile (tablet) parts, and AMD's problem has always been TDP. Their mobile chips have always sucked. When was the last time you ran into an AMD powered notebook?

    It's MUCH harder to scale down performance chips for mobile TDP than to scale up mobile chips that are already performant.
  20. turbineseaplane macrumors 68040


    Mar 19, 2008
    I agree with the others about AMD.
    I don’t see apple bothering to switch within the x86 world.

    I think they will go full arm with their own chip designs, ala iOS hardware.
  21. EugW macrumors 601


    Jun 18, 2017
    The worse looking system fonts on non-Retina monitors are probably due to Mojave, since Apple turned off sub-pixel rendering in Mojave for some strange reason.

    It can reactivated with a Terminal command though.
  22. AMSOS thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 21, 2010
    Oh, I see. I've kind of heard about this issue but not sure as to the ramifications.
    If I don't turn it on, will it show while projecting the display of an non-Retina Air onto an older 1080p external monitor?
    If yes, maybe it may be a better idea to downgrade from Mojave to Sierra ;p)

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