Switching to Mac Book Air, better performance?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by PostHate, Sep 14, 2012.

  1. PostHate macrumors member

    Sep 14, 2012
    Hello everyone.

    I currently have a 3+ year old iMac 24" that I use. I need a portable device to work on when in the field, originally I was planning on just getting an iPad, but for not too much more money I could get a Mac Book Air and have a lot more options.

    I think I would like to get a Mac Book Air for use in the field and that nice 27" monitor to connect to it while at home, and sell my current iMac altogether.

    My concern is if the Mac Book Air would have similar or better performance than my current iMac. I know the specs look better, but I'm not sure if there is more to it.

    The specs:

    Current 24" iMac
    2.66 Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo
    4 GB 1067 MHz DDR3
    NVIDIA GeForce 9400 256 MB
    I installed Lion on it.

    Base Mac Book Air
    1.7GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 (Turbo Boost up to 2.6GHz) with 3MB shared L3 cache
    4GB of 1600MHz DDR3L onboard memory
    Intel HD Graphics 4000

    So would the Mac Book Air be at least as good as far as performance as my iMac?

    FWIW, I do not game or do any type of heavy graphic or video work. Just general computing.

    Thanks for your help.
  2. wditters macrumors member

    Apr 10, 2012
    First off, the Passmark scores (www.cpubenchmark.net) for the CPU's are 1810 for the Core2Duo 2.66 compared to 3009 for the Ivy Bridge i5 1.7, roughly a 50% performance increase.

    That alone already is a significant performance boost. You will certainly notice that. In addition to that however, the fact that the 2012 Air has a Sata3 solid state is going to make an even bigger difference. Your disk performance is going to increase more than 400%

    The HD 4000 graphics are fine as long as you do not play GPU-intensive games, you should be fine there. The GPU however is integrated with the CPU so for day to day work also expect a nice performance increase.

    So in short, get ready for a world of (positive) difference :)
  3. PostHate thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 14, 2012
    Excellent, thanks for the reply.

    Quick question: with integrated graphics, when I connect it to the large monitor with high resolution, will I see any noticeable decrease in performance?
  4. Wokis macrumors regular

    Jul 3, 2012
    Stockholm, Sweden
    The GPU being a part of the CPU die is not going to yield any acceleration in day to day tasks. Not for that particular reason. It's in there doing graphics and OpenCL/GL like any discrete GPU would do as well.

    If you decide to play a game on say a 1920x1080 monitor then yes it's going to be noticeably slower. But I wouldn't worry about day to day desktop usage.
  5. tiwizard macrumors regular

    Jul 12, 2010
    Actually, any GPU accelerated tasks (especially Chrome/Safari CSS animations, which is a part of web browsing) will be more fluid due to the GPU, despite it being integrated. Also, video playback is GPU accelerated, as well as Core Animation, which is used in almost all animated transitions in the core operating system. There will probably be a noticeable increase in fluidity in these animations.

    This is very true. Some window animations get a little bit choppy (ie. press the green plus in the top left to expand a window), but it is very usable and not even noticeable unless you look for it. Otherwise, scrolling through web pages is just fine as is using the computer for other tasks (that aren't gaming).

    Though it is worth noting that the new Airs have pretty decent GPU performance and can even play games (such as Counter Strike: GO) at 60 fps on the built in display, high quality, full resolution. It won't be quite as fast on an external 1080p display, however.
  6. Dark Void macrumors 68030

    Dark Void

    Jun 1, 2011
    It should be fine handling everyday tasks.

    As far as performance in compared to the iMac, you will definitely see improvements - especially considering the SSD.
  7. halledise macrumors 65816

    May 7, 2009
    Hamilton Island, Whitsundays, QLD Australia
    you'd be better served buying a rMBPro and forgetting the idea of an external display.
    cheaper option than an Air + ext Display and also they are fast, clear, have a dedicated GPU and can handle anything you throw at it.

    and at a snip over 2kg, they're very portable too

    my $2 worth.
  8. PostHate, Sep 14, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2012

    PostHate thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 14, 2012
    A 15" display is way too small for me. I currently use a 24" and have been wanting bigger since the 27" iMacs came out :D

    Since my current iMac gives me the performance that I need and the Mac Book Air is even better, I'm sure I will be fine. The added performance of the MBP would not be necessary for me and what I do (web surfing, running Quick Books, Flat Rate pricing software {what I need to do in the field}, printing invoices, viewing PDFs, etc).

    BTW, the base MBP with Retina is $2,200. The MBAir is $1,000 and the 27" Thunderbolt display is $1,000, totaling $2,000.
  9. Bilalo macrumors 6502

    Aug 17, 2012
    Oxford, England
    Get 8 GB Ram
  10. rdas7 macrumors regular


    Nov 17, 2002
    London, England
    For what it's worth, I "upgraded" from a 2008 MacBook Pro 15" with similar specs of your iMac, to a 2011 13" MacBook Air. I would strongly recommend the upgrade.

    Day-to-day performance wise, for "general computing" as you call it, the MacBook Air is *noticeably* more responsive. The system rarely, if ever locks up.

    It's worth noting that the 13" Air has the same screen resolution as a 15" MacBook Pro (1440x900) despite the slightly smaller screen size, which is razor sharp (around 220PPI vs. the Retina MacBook Pro which is about 320PPI)

    At home, I use it to drive a 24" monitor, with a usb keyboard and mouse with no problem. In fact, because the screen is so large, and since I don't really use the 13" screen when it's docked, I simply close the lid on the Air. This has the added benefit of dedicating 100% of the integrated GPU to the single, larger screen (instead of trying to drive 2).

    If your budget allows, I would seriously consider the 27" Apple Thunderbolt Display as your second monitor.

    First of all, it offers the same screen size as your iMac, but most importantly it has integrated speakers, iSight camera, microphone, power charger and USB/Firewire hub that if you were to purchase separately would amount to a lot of wiring and roughly the same cost.

    This results in the ideal road-warrior setup. A powerful desktop computer at home when docked, and a featherweight portable to take on the road, without the need to ever transfer or synchronize documents .
  11. fleawannabe macrumors regular

    Dec 16, 2011
    Definitely get the 8GB of RAM, you can not do it in the future.
  12. Mike in Kansas macrumors 6502a

    Mike in Kansas

    Sep 2, 2008
    Metro Kansas City
    I'll mention it too - get the 8GB of RAM. Not only does it add to your RAM, but it also takes the vRAM that gets assigned to the HD4000 graphics from 384MB in the case of 4GB RAM to 512MB.
  13. Wokis macrumors regular

    Jul 3, 2012
    Stockholm, Sweden
    But this is not due to the IGP being where it is. A discrete GPU can do this as well. It's the "because it's integrated" in that response I was objecting to :)
  14. tiwizard, Sep 15, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2012

    tiwizard macrumors regular

    Jul 12, 2010
    Where a GPU is has no effect on whether it can perform a task or not. It's simply how much power the GPU has. (As long as there are appropriate drivers, etc)

    The integrated GPU works fine for accelerating tasks such as video and the user interface, despite not being "super powerful". It's leaps and bounds faster and any graphics task than a CPU. Where it *doesn't* excel is at high performance 3D rendering or demanding accelerated applications such as After Effects.

    See this article:

    The most important line is the very first one: "Graphics acceleration (Core Image, Quartz Extreme) for Intel HD Graphics 4000 (on Ivy Bridge processors) works in Mac OS X! The drivers are included in the MacBook Pro (Mid 2012) Software Update 1.0, Lion 10.7.5, or Mountain Lion 10.8. (Also found in BridgeHelper 5.0)."

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