The i5 1.7 GHz is a jewel

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Roman2K~, Jul 26, 2011.

  1. Roman2K~, Jul 26, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2011

    Roman2K~ macrumors 6502a

    Mar 11, 2011
    Since I received my base 13" MBA yesterday, I have fallen in love with its little i5 1.7 GHz processor. It's running like a charm: lightning fast and power efficient.

    I switched from a late 2010 13" equipped with a C2D 2.13 GHz, and did not expect such a difference. I'm very impressed. To think that, initially, I only wanted to try it out for 14 days, now I know the 2010 has to go.

    Like the 2010, apps start snappily. Unlike the 2010, the CPU handles running them like it's nothing:
    • In Chrome, I have yet to see pages stutter while scrolling (CPU never spikes above 10%*, even in endless Google Reader pages).
    • I'm not afraid to run Activity Monitor while on battery anymore. It used to reach 5% just for refreshing a list of processes. Now, it rarely touches 2%.
    • For a given 720p movie, VLC used to use 30-35% CPU. Now, 11-12%. That's about 3 times as efficient at software H.264 decoding.
    • Playing a 1080p movie (variable 10-20 mbps bitrate), VLC plays it smooth as can be using 15-17% CPU.
    • On YouTube, I can finally watch videos for hours on end with ridiculously low CPU usage in HTML5-mode (with YouTube5 on Safari [hardware decoding], *not* Chrome [software]). I can now focus on the videos rather than the little battery icon.
    • Plugging in a TV did not seem to make a difference on battery drain. The HD 3000 seems very energy efficient at handling multiple video outputs.
    Plus the other advantages of the mid-2011 MBA: backlit keyboard, "springier" keys & even faster SSD. The former two were unexpectedly excellent surprises :cool:.

    * CPU usage percentages in this post are expressed on a scale of 0 .. 100%, not 0 .. thread-count * 100% (like 200% on the C2D and 400% on the i5).
  2. parapup macrumors 65816


    Oct 31, 2006
    Man you just made me to drop $1599 out my pocket :D . Kidding aside this is very useful information.

    I had very similar concerns plus problems with 2GB RAM when I returned my 2010 model in 3 days. Sounds like there is no doubting the 2011 13".
  3. Roman2K~ thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Mar 11, 2011
    Haha! Thanks. These 1.6K would be put to good use :D.
  4. daleski75 macrumors 68000


    Dec 10, 2008
    Northampton, UK
    I came from a 2010 MBA 2.13 and the difference is like night and day.
  5. Roman2K~ thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Mar 11, 2011
    I investigated that yesterday as I wanted to find out what effect this tripled efficiency had on battery life.

    On both the 2010 and 2011 models with Lion and the same apps opened (Chrome with 1 tab, Mail, Safari with 1 tab, iTunes paused), I played the same 720p movie in VLC, waited 3 minutes for the battery life estimate (in the menu bar) to stablize. From the displayed duration, I determined what would be the battery life at 100% while playing this movie (with a dumb rule of three).

    Late 2010: 3h21m
    Mid 2011: 3h58m

    I expected the 2011 to last a lot longer compared to the 2010, given how easier it is for its CPU to decode this same H.264 video. I don't know how to explain this number.
  6. marzxbarz macrumors member

    Apr 23, 2009
    I had the same feeling when I sold my 2010 13" MBA Ultimate and decided to give the 2011 13" MBA base model a try. There is no way that I am going to return this machine. It is extremely snappier compared to last year's Air.. everything seems to load without any stuttering. As much as I didn't care too much for the lack of a backlit keyboard, now that I have it back, it is just icing on the cake. Also, watching flash videos are not enough to make the fans spin like crazy (the previous gen did).. it is almost always silent!

    The only caveat I have with the 2011 MBA is the heat. It runs noticeably warmer than my 2010 Air used to. If I left the 2010 Air on to idle, it would be cold to the touch. Doing the same with the 2011, the Air is warm no matter what. It is a bit of a bother, but not enough for me to want to send it back :)
  7. Roman2K~ thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Mar 11, 2011
    Agreed, all around. Now I have to find somebody to buy the old one :eek:.

    Also agreed. It does feel generally hotter than the previous generation, despite only slightly higher CPU core temperatures.

    And in this generation MBA, the heat is not just located above the keyboard. It spreads through the top-left keys to the center, though not as warm as the top-left area.

    Unless the thermal paste settles in over the next few days, I'll have to find a pentabole screwdriver and apply some MX-4.
  8. OSMac macrumors 65816

    Jun 14, 2010
    The 2010 13 was cooler but the fans seemed to run more often ?
  9. Roman2K~ thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Mar 11, 2011
    The CPU ran a little cooler. The case was also cooler to the touch at a given core temperature. But since the CPU had to work harder for the same jobs, the fans sped up about as often as the 2011 MBA.
  10. P0stalTek macrumors 6502


    Feb 25, 2011
    I found the OP very useful! It let's me feel even more like I got a heck of a value with my base 13.3" 2011.

    My 2011 runs pretty darn cool. The fans never spin unless I load up a graphical game (Eve comes to mind), and while the left side does radiate a very slight amount of heat over time, coming from a PC laptop, this is a DREAM! I can't imagine how cool the 2010 must have been for this to be considered warm :p
  11. No-Me macrumors 6502a

    Jul 3, 2011
    Anyone in here switched from a late 2010 11" to a 13" i7?

    I'm doubting if I want the extra speed, and also doubting if I should use the 13" as main machine en also sell my 15"

  12. Roman2K~, Jul 28, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2011

    Roman2K~ thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Mar 11, 2011
    The 13" is definitely a great value. I would even say it's the best value out of the whole range.

    With the 2010 13", I came from a 15" MBP (early 2011). I don't regret the switch in the least:
    • The bigger screen was nice, but the 13" MBA offers the same resolution with a higher pixel density: sharper text, crisper videos.
    • Most importantly: no more glass over the display panel!
    • No more dealing with graphics switching.
    • The battery did last longer but I had to watch out for the discrete GPU kicking in for no reason (real PITA).
    • And I don't miss the 2 extra cores.
    The 13" is the neatest package of all MacBooks:
    • [Air] simple, light, elegant
    • [Air 13"] comfortable size, high DPI
    • [Air 13" base] value
    • [Air 13" base, mid 2011] powerful
    If I was you, I would sell both the 11" MBA and 15" MBP and get a nice 2011 base 13" MBA :cool:.
  13. Gemütlichkeit macrumors 65816


    Nov 17, 2010
    Moved from early 2008 mbp to the 13" air

    love it
  14. Jaro65 macrumors 68040


    Mar 27, 2009
    Seattle, WA
    I got the new 13" MBA ultimate about a week ago as a replacement for the 2010 13" MBA ultimate model. Frankly, I wasn't certain what to expect and I'm still sort of deciding what to do, especially now realizing that I'll be taking at least an $800 hit in the resale value on the 2010 model. One thing that was annoying me a bit with the 2010 model was the audible fan spin when on Skype video calls. This appears to be much better on the 2011 model. So yes...the new CPU is indeed quite nice as its higher processing power is relatively easy to observe.
  15. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010
    Apple's selling the refurbished 2010 Ultimate 13s for $1399, so I'd guess you could probably get $1200 for it. Also, if you drop down to the Core i5 13" you can save another $100. AnandTech's tests show only an 8% difference between the 1.7GHz Core i5 and 1.8GHz Core i7 (vs. a 25% difference between the 1.6GHz Core i5 and 1.8GHz Core i7). That might get you a little closer. :)
  16. rust1234 macrumors newbie

    Jul 28, 2011
    Did you have the opportunity to see how it handles 1080p movies? This is something my current C2D (Win7) can't handle very well and a reason why I am considering the MBA.
  17. Roman2K~ thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Mar 11, 2011
    I will try this tonight and report back.

    I find surprising that your C2D can't decode 1080p videos properly. Mine can, easily (with VLC on OS X). You must have one very old C2D or the bitrate of your videos is very high.
  18. holterzoff macrumors newbie

    Jul 25, 2011
    2010 2.13 and games

    i don't want to spit in your soup, but the 2010 macbook air runs games and other 3d-graphics tasks considerably better. That' s the downside of the new graphics onboard.
    I had the opportunity to confirm this.
    So for me, who likes a game now and then the old macbook air is preferable.
  19. Roman2K~, Jul 28, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2011

    Roman2K~ thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Mar 11, 2011
    No problem, spit away :D.

    Thanks for the link. The 2010 is quite a bit faster in CoD4 indeed (39 vs 25 fps).
  20. Salty Pirate macrumors 6502

    Salty Pirate

    Oct 5, 2005
    kansas city
    This is most excellent news. Now if macmall could just ship one........
  21. Apple Expert macrumors 65816

    Jan 31, 2010
    Was curious why you went i5 over i7?
  22. Roman2K~ thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Mar 11, 2011
    The upgrade is only available for the 256 GB model (I don't need that much space). If it was available for the 128 GB, I'm not even sure I would have chosen the i7 since the i5 has all the same features, just .1 GHz lower base clock, .2 GHz lower max Turbo Boost clock. Plus, I like round numbers (OCD): 1.7 GHz (base) .. 2.7 GHz (Turbo) => 1.0 GHz :D.
  23. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010
    Yes, the availability of the i7 on the 128GB 11" is one positive about it. Had I went with the 13" model, I probably would have chosen the i5 for the same reasons. The i7 is a bigger step up from the 1.6GHz i5.
  24. Apple Expert macrumors 65816

    Jan 31, 2010
    Thanks for the feedback. I have the i7 and my wife has the i5. I do notice mine does run warmer than hers. Any where from 5-10C degrees warmer. When it's idle they are about the same. Just sucks to see hers running in the 40'sC while I'm constantly in 50'sC doing the same task. I'm leaning toward exchanging for the i5. The small speed increase might not be worth it for the warmer CPU. Andatech did their review and claiming about 8% faster for warmer CPU. Not sure I want that. I've done test on both. While te i7 is faster it'd mainly faster when your doing heavy task suck as importing lots of photos or video editing. But even then it's not light speed faster. Decisions decisions.
  25. Stein357 macrumors 6502

    Jun 18, 2010
    Rip City
    I'm going to be purchasing a 13" i5. The slight bump up in speed is just not necessary for what I do in exhange for more heat, not to mention being considerably more expensive as I don't need 256GB of space.

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