Tested my new 2013 13" i7 MBA next to 2012 13" i5 MBA

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by amitdoc2b, Jul 1, 2013.

  1. amitdoc2b, Jul 1, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2013

    amitdoc2b macrumors 6502a

    Feb 25, 2008
    Hi everyone. I ordered a 13" MBA i7/256/8GB on the first night they were available because of the upgraded battery life. I was out of town since then and got home just Sunday morning, so I started to test it out immediately when I got back. That was a long three weeks waiting period, and I read a lot of forum posts here to learn as much as I could about how the new i7 stacks up to the i5 and older models. I don't have an i5 2013, but I do have a pristine i5/128/4GB 2012 13" MBA that I'll be selling to offset the costs of this one. I'm just an amateur and don't know as much as the rest of you here, but I thought I would share what I did find since this forum has always been so helpful to me over the years.

    Two two models being compared:
    2012 MBA 13" i5 (1.8GHz) / 128 / 4GB / Samsung Display / Toshiba SSD
    2013 MBA 13" i7 (1.7GHz) / 256 / 8GB / LG Display / Samsung SSD

    My 2012 13" MBA has a Samsung display screen and a Toshiba 128 SSD, while the 2013 13" MBA has a LG display screen and a Samsung 256 SSD. If you compare them side-by-side, it is quite obvious the Samsung display is much better. The LG screen DOES look washed out as people on the forums say, but it was not as apparent to me till I put it next the Samsung display. I used the MacRumors calibration profile on the LG after that and it improved the LG screen quite a bit, but the blacks are still not as black and the whites are still not as white as Samsung. The rest of the colors are close to similar to me, but I am just an amateur.. overall Samsung colors are more crisp. The brightness appears equal, but when the LG was washed out it appeared slightly brighter than the Samsung screen. As long as I don't compare the two side by side, the LG is still a great screen and I can live with it. I probably would not have noticed the difference (post-Calibration) unless I didn't have a Samsung screen from last year to compare with.

    I downloaded Geekbench software and found the 2012 MBA to have a Geekbench score of 6140 and the 2013 MBA to have a Geekbench score of 7483. I've only done light tasks like web-surfing, watching some videos on Apple's website, and random video clips or commercials on the web. Although nobody will probably notice the difference, side by side the 2013 i7 will load a webpage about half a second quicker than the 2012 i5. When clicking on videos on Apple's website and waiting for them to load and run, the 2013 i7 loaded, streamed, and finished watching about 2 seconds quicker than the 2012 i5. Interestingly, when comparing WIFI speeds through Speedtest.net, on the same old router I've been using since 2011 (its N-capable, but not the new AC-capable).. the 2012 MBA gets speeds of approximately 20 down/5 up, while the 2013 MBA gets speeds of 35 down/5 up. My internet connection that I pay for promises me speeds "up to 30 mb" so it was weird to see it being slightly faster than that. That being said, my 2012 has never broke the 30mb mark and the 2013 did it on the first test.

    Battery Life
    This is probably the most anticipated part of the comparison, especially with all the i5 vs i7 debates going on. At 100% charge and full brightness, my 2012 MBA said it would deliver 6 hrs and 20 mins of battery. At 100% charge and full brightness, my 2013 MBA said it would delivery 8 hrs and 15 mins of battery. I was disappointed at first, but as I completed similar tasks on both (light web browsing, reading MacRumors, checking out baseball scores, and downloading apps like Coconut Battery, iStat, and Geekbench software), I found that the 2013 i7 started promising more and more battery as I used it more. In fact, when the 2013 MBA battery percentage dropped down to 70%, it was still suggesting I have 8 hours of usage time left (just like it did at 100% levels), and at that point I had already used the laptop for 3 hours. At 70% battery life on the 2012 MBA, I was being promised about 3 hrs and 50 mins. Long story short, the 2012 MBA lasted about 5 hours and 40 mins of full brightness and light usage. The 2013 MBA lasted about 10 hours 30 mins of full brightness and light usage, which includes 3 hours of usage + 10 hours of sleep +7.5 more hours of usage. I am confident it will last up to 12 hours (or more) as advertised with 75% brightness as Apple tested it that way. EDIT: I would also like to add that during the 10 hours of sleep of the 2013 i7, about 3-4% of the battery was consumed. MORE EDITS: The 2012 MBA shows to have a design capacity of 6700 mAh with about 6400 current capacity, while the 2013 MBA shows 7150 design capacity with about 7650 current capacity (that's not a typo!).

    None at all. The temperatures on the 2013 MBA i7 are lower than the temperature of 2012 MBA i5 across the board when comparing on iStat. The 2012 MBA has the following temp (Celsius): 38 enclosure base, 38 enclosure base 2, 35 Enclosure Base 3, 34 Heatsink B, 44 Mem Bank A1, 38 Mem Controller. In the same order, the 2013 MBA had a 31 enclosure base, 31 enlosure base 2, 33 Enclosure Base 3, 31 Heatsink B, 31 Mem Bank A1, 31 Mem Controller. Coconut Battery shows the wattage use of 8.5 for the 2012 MBA and 4.8 watts for the 2013 i7. The battery temp of the 2012 i5 is 31.2 deg, while the 2013 i7 is 30.2 deg (and used over a much longer period of time because of greater longetivity). The Fans of the 2013 i7 only kicked up once, and that was only lightly during the end of the Geekbench software testing for a few seconds, otherwise it is completely silent. Never heard the fans at all of the 2012 i5 but they run at a constant speed of 1997 rpm according to iStat, while the 2013 i7 run at a constant speed of 1194 rpm.

    Final Conclusion:
    Overall, I am happy with the i7 and glad I did not get the i5. I don't see any battery compromise with the majority of light usage that I do when using the i7 because 10.5 hours at FULL brightness is outstanding, and if I ever need the turboboost I can take advantage of it when needed. As much as I use the battery outside, this is my primary computer so I will have it plugged in much more at home.. which also means that the difference of power consumption between i5 and i7 is negligible when plugged in majority of the time. If there's anything I regret, its that I don't have the Samsung screen.. but I don't control that and its still a good screen if not comparing side by side. I've had my eyes set on a retina screen, but the slimmer form factor (not the weight) is the big deal to me because looks matter to me and I don't want the overall .71 to .75 thickness in my face when the front tapered end of the MBA that's in my face all day is only .11 inches. So it really comes down to that .11 inches or a retina screen (plus an extra $100 or so) with comparable specs and battery after the 2013 retina MBP is eventually released later this year.

    I hope this helped, let me know if you have any questions. I probably won't have time to perform anymore tests because of work but I will try to answer general questions or if anything I wrote above needs clarification. :)
  2. calvol macrumors 6502a

    Feb 3, 2011
    Thanks, great review from a user perspective. Interesting on the WiFi performance, I've always thought a faster chip helps throughput, but wonder if it's actually the 8 MB RAM in the 2013.
  3. amitdoc2b thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Feb 25, 2008

    Thanks for the comments. I can confirm its not the 8GB RAM in the 2013 because I originally also owned a 8GB RAM 2012 MBA (but I accidentally damaged it and replaced it with the base model 6 months later). My original 2012 MBA with 8GB RAM had similar internet speeds on speedtest.net as the replacement, neither of which ever came close to 30mb speeds on this router that I use.
  4. HiDEF macrumors 68000


    Jun 23, 2010
    Miami, FL
    Are you staying with the MBA? How much does the LG display bother you now that you've compared it to Samsung display?
  5. amitdoc2b thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Feb 25, 2008
    It doesn't bother me when the Samsung display isn't next to me. It bothered me a lot when side-by-side. But on its own alone I forget the differences but remember in the back of my head the Samsung is crisper. To be honest, it bothers me most for whites and blacks (the whites are a little more yellow in the LG and the blacks are not as dark), the other colors aren't a big deal they are very close. It also didn't bother me enough to return the computer once using it alone without the Samsung by its side.

    As for your first question (sorry I answered them out of order), the way I look at it.. I want the retina screen, but I feel I am trading away too much just for a better screen. You get double the screen resolution with retina, but you also add 7x more thickness at the front (.11 vs .75) and thats assuming battery life will still be equal. All specs and cost (after edu discounts) otherwise for the most part will be the same if you upgrade the MBA specs like I did and compare it to the retina pro with assumed 2013 fall specs. The only major difference besides thickness may be the battery life will be 10 hours for a retina and not 12 hours.

    Apple advertises that the retina pro is as thick as the thickest part of the air, but that thickest part of the air is in the back and is hidden when the screen is opened up. On the air, all I ever see most of the time is the .11 inch thickness, not .75 thickness. As one of my friend's jokingly said, its like picking between a slender girl with a nice body and an average face or a chubby girl with a beautiful face.. both their personalities are the same. Which would you like to keep? You're superficial either way (and Apple does care about its looks as well), we would preferably want to have both all in 1 girl but for now that's our dream girl, so for now you either just get the hot face or the hot body...your choice. Speaking of the body, I believe the classic pro (atleast my old 17-inch) was .95 inches thick, so the .75 inches that it is right now now is not that big of a trim in my opinion. If Apple ever cuts it down from .75 to .3-.4 then I think its a fair tradeoff for me, but at that point they might as well merge the 13" air and 13" retina pro. So long story short, I likely will be keeping the Air if the thickness is not reduced of the pro (and it probably will not be reduced even in the upcoming model).
  6. amitdoc2b thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Feb 25, 2008
    I had some thoughts of returning the LG for Samsung, but was leaning towards not to. Now that I've been included in the Back to School Promo with a $100 gift card, I'll be keeping it without any second thoughts.:D
  7. Mezmorizor macrumors member

    Jul 1, 2013
    Good post, but the actual test is a little bit flawed. My 2013 i5 MBA with 8GB of RAM is coming in today, so I'll try to post the Geekbench score along with some battery life updates within the next couple of days. I'm mainly looking forward to the Geekbench score though. I can't imagine that an i7 really takes up that much more power.

    Then again this might just be an exercise in futility because of that Anand review coming out tomorrow, but I'll still probably do it.
  8. amitdoc2b thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Feb 25, 2008
    It's definitely not perfect, as I mentioned I'm just an amateur and testing it according to my real-world usage. But despite these approximations, they come out supporting Apple's battery life claims even on the I7. I look forward to what Anand has to say tomorrow.

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