Upgrade MacBook Air 2013 i5 to i7?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by kuzzkuzz, Jun 11, 2013.

  1. kuzzkuzz macrumors newbie

    Jun 11, 2013
    Hi guys, i have allready choosen to get the new macbook air 2013. I have choosen to upgrade the ram from 4 - 8.

    I am now wondering if i should upgrade from i5 - i7 aswell :)

    I will use the mac for school, small games(league of legends) and minor video.
    I would like to have the computer for many years(3-4).
  2. bp1000 macrumors 65816

    Jul 7, 2011
    Trying to put it simply

    You will not notice the processor upgrade in your daily tasks. You will rarely need to go above 1.3ghz and use both cores.

    Even though the chips draw the same power afaik, apple used the i5 for their battery tests and the i7 for their performance tests. No surprise there, so its probable the i7 will have shorter battery life. The i7 will always look better in benchmarks but quantifying this down a perceived speed increase is much less so.

    The time when you will see increased speed is during an event like encoding a 2 hour video. You might be able to complete this task 5-10 minutes quicker with the i7, lets say 35minutes instead of 45 minutes.
  3. kuzzkuzz thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 11, 2013
    Okay, thx for the answer. I think i will just go with the i5 then :)
  4. bp1000 macrumors 65816

    Jul 7, 2011
    Don't forget the top end is only 100mhz slower than last years equivelamt chip. On new architecture the benchmarks YoY would probably come out performing the same. But you get massive gpu increase and lower power consumption.

    They have clocked it low for max battery but it will still boost up to its theoretical max of 2.6ghz when you need it to.

    The i7 will go to 3.3ghz and I assume has no thermal throttling issues which prevent it from sustaining this clock speed.
  5. TC25 macrumors 68020

    Mar 28, 2011
    Wow, one comment from a stranger on the Internet and you've decided. You're easy. :D
  6. kuzzkuzz thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 11, 2013
    Well, I have looked in other forums and they said the same as him, soo... ;)


    But if you mean something ells, let me here...
  7. TC25 macrumors 68020

    Mar 28, 2011
    There have been PCs and Macs which offered different processors for more than a decade.

    While the processors change, the advice doesn't. Too bad people don't understand this.
  8. akad macrumors member

    Jan 27, 2010
    anyone else on this? Im set on the 8gb RAM, but not this. 1.3 seems so low (I know its just a lower clock speed with new tech), but I am coming from a 2.4 Core2Duo white macbook. 1.7 i7 vs 1.3 i5 for a new medical student? I'm on a limited budget, and kinda want applecare because nothing can be fixed DIY on this one, but is it worth the $140 to push my total to $1600 for a laptop I want to keep for about (at the least) 4 years?
  9. goldhunter macrumors newbie

    Aug 14, 2012
    Well i'm getting the new macbook air with the 8GB RAM boost and increasing storage to 512GB so I can store more stuff. I have considered bumping i5 to i7 but i've checked with some sites and they tell me that its basically the same if you are a regular user and not rampaging the mac, so why would I waste more money on superfluous things?
  10. techn0lady macrumors regular

    Apr 10, 2010
    You will absolutely notice a difference if you use of processor intensive applications and/or keep many applications open at the same time. The i7 has many more differences in internal architecture than just clock speed. Benchmarks seem to put it at a 16% difference form the i5 but those benchmarks do not represent real world use of many applications in a multi-app power user scenerio.

    Short story: if you are a power user then you will absolutely notice the difference.

    Also: don't get hung up on the 1.3 (or 1.8) speed. That represents the LOWER end of the spectrum which is used for power savings as needed (when idle or when you use apps with less processor requirements) - the processors top out at 2.6 and 3.3 respectively which is MUCH faster - those high end figures represent what the processors are actually capable of. If you're using the thing for email and browsing you do not need the higher CPU but if you are doing something like developing or graphics editing then the difference will be worth it.
  11. Steve121178 macrumors 601


    Apr 13, 2010
    Bedfordshire, UK
    Stick with i5.
  12. Saturn1217 macrumors 6502a

    Apr 28, 2008
    I have an i7 2012 13" MBA. I didn't really see that dramatic of an improvement going from a 2009 2.26 GHz Core 2 Duo to this machine (I had a fresh install of OSX and a SSD in the old machine). So I am assuming that going from i7 Ivy Bridge to i5 Haswell won't be a huge difference for real world use.

    The most demanding thing I do is some image processing in ImageJ (scientific imaging software) but I don't do that very often so I'm hoping the i5 Haswell will be ok?

    Does anyone have the i5 yet?
  13. mattopotamus macrumors G5


    Jun 12, 2012
    You can buy applecare any time within the first year. Wait until the last minute to save the money until that time.
  14. mortenandersen macrumors 6502

    Apr 9, 2011
    Interesting thread - what about fan noise - or propensity for fan activity??

    Can some of you more technological forum members please tell us whether there is a difference between Haswell i5 and i7 with regard to how often the fans will kick in, provided using the machine for tasks that do not demand much "power", as primarily word processing and some browsing. I also wonder not only how often the fans will kick in, but also how such moderate mentioned use of the machine will determine the level of heat that will lead the fans to kick in, and if there is this regard is a difference between the i5 and the i7.

    BTW, will RAM 8 or 4 have some impact or influence on these matters?

    I will be very thankful if there can be some illumination about these fan noise questions from the technical minded forum members.
  15. iamthedudeman macrumors 65816

    Jul 7, 2007
    This years MacBook Air difference between processors is greater than last years.

    Last years i5 and i7 ivy bridge did not show alot of difference between the two for performance.

    This year is different. There is a difference of 700mhz between the two when peak performance is concerned in every day tasks. That is alot. Also the GPU in the i7 is slightly better by 100mhz at 1100Mhz for the i7 compared to 1000Mhz for the i5. And has 4Mb cache compared to 3Mb cache.

    If you are keeping the notebook for 4 years I would top it out. It's only $230.00 with the education discount for 8GB of ram and the i7 upgrade. $140 for the processor upgrade.

    It's better to have it than not to have it. It's there when you need it. Better to have it than not.
  16. curtoise macrumors 6502a

    Apr 19, 2010
    Very interested on this too and also the impact on battery life between i7 and i5 (Apple tests are performed with the i5)
  17. ApplNat macrumors member


    May 18, 2013
    Here's a very informative article on the i5 vs i7:


    The dual-core i7 doesn’t really have much difference at all over a dual-core i5. Both have hyper-threading. Basically, you get a little higher clock speed, but that’s about it. So, when buying a laptop, pay attention to the number of cores the i7 has. Here’s why… [​IMG]

    This Macbook Pro has a base model which is the dual-core i5. For $300 more, you’re getting a dual-core i7. Now, you’re also getting more memory and a bigger hard drive, but the point is this… the two processors aren’t going to be very different. They’re the same except for the clock speed and a little extra cache internally. Worth it? Maybe not in your case.

    Bump up to a quad-core i7 and it is a different matter. A quad-core i7 will out-perform an i5 very easily. But, again, you have to think about what you’re going to be doing on the machine and if your habits need the extra power.

    The truth is, the extra processing power these upgrade prices will buy you – for most users – will sit there dormant and unused.

    So, Pay The Extra Money for the i7? Yes or No?

    If money isn’t the huge deciding factor and you want a PC which is more future-proof, then I would say go ahead and grab the i7 if we’re talking about a desktop computer.
    When it comes to mobile, consider the other upgrades you’re getting. Unless you bump up to a quad-core, the performance differences between the i5 and i7 are fairly negligible. Spending money on an SSD drive or more memory would be a better performance gain for the buck.

    The truth is, for most people reading this article, you will never personally notice the performance differences between an i5 and i7. In fact, almost all modern CPUs can crunch faster than we need these days. Processors are rarely the bottleneck anymore. Instead, focus on the speed of your storage (mechanical hard drive versus SSD, for instance) and the amount of memory in your machine. These things will be a lot more relevant to overall speed than your processor these days.

    CPU upgrades don’t provide the value for the buck that they used to.
  18. sick z33 macrumors 6502

    Sep 20, 2008
    Lots of great info in this thread! OP I would do the I5. I7 if you want to future proof.
  19. Acronym2013 macrumors newbie

    Jun 13, 2013
    Likewise, thanks for the posts so far - this thread is helping to clarify a lot of dilemmas for me!

    I'm in a similar position to many of the posters here: I've lugged a 2007 13" Macbook around with me for the last 6 years now; I now have a golden window of about a month between graduating & losing my student discount, and the release of these new models.

    Given the longevity of my current set-up (admittedly upgraded over the years), I'd like a pretty future-proof laptop - and I can see people above suggesting the i7 to 'future-proof' the MBA. But what exactly is this 'proofing' against? I'm still using Snow Leopard, as I don't think my 2GB RAM could handle Mountain Lion, but would a processor really be a bottleneck for future OS updates? I don't really see my own requirements changing much over the next 3 - 4 years.

    I'm also interested in the effect of i5 vs i7 on battery life - portability is a big thing for me, and being free of the power brick would be fantastic. But I do routinely run multiple apps - not anything like video processing, but Word, Excel, Papers, iTunes, Evernote, Firefox, Mail, and Calendar all running at once on my current laptop can really slow it down. Again, is this more a RAM issue, rather than a processor issue?

    Finally, I've been stuck with (the original) Starcraft and Civilization III for a while (!) now; I'd like to give SC2 and Civ4 (if not 5) a go (and possibly Half-Life 2, now that it's come to Mac at last); anyone know if the i5 would be a barrier to these? (Please don't laugh at me for being about a decade behind everyone else on games!)
  20. TC25 macrumors 68020

    Mar 28, 2011
    OP - The priorities are, and have been since the first PC;

    1. Disk Storage (SSD) - there are plenty of threads, starting with the 2010 models of people who thought external storage would be 'just as good'. It's not, from both performance and convenience.
    2. Memory - you can't add it later and it provides the best performance boost for the money.
    3. CPU - Unless you are doing compute intensive work (the vast majority of people are not), you will not see any improvement from a faster CPU.

    There's no such thing as 'future proofing'.
  21. Zedz macrumors newbie

    Jun 13, 2013
    Thanks for the interesting discussion and sharing of facts. I am planning to get a new MBA 13", but I would like to be able to do some heavier work on it as well. Like some offline video editing, - Avid 6.5 is known to work on MBA, FCP7 would be nice as well.

    While I know that a 15" MBpro would be ideal, I consciously choose portability after lugging around a 17" for a long time.

    In this case, would an upgrade from i5 to i7 be necessary or even essential?
  22. DoctorK4 macrumors regular

    Jan 31, 2011
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but that review is of different chip architecture. The Haswell chips are completely different from the two in the article. Neither is Quad Core and the majority of their speed comes from the Turbo Boost. I'm not sure if that review is valid for the Haswell processors in the new MBA.
  23. unless macrumors newbie

    Jun 13, 2013
    music recording/editing on air?

    everyone talks about video editing/rendering, but what about musical tasks?
    I need to at least a smoothly running Logic for recording/songwriting/fx (normal audio tracks + MIDI), and probably some other software like Ableton Live.

    My current 2011 MBP (13", standard i5) has sometimes problems with GarageBand and lots of tracks/effects/audio information, especially with a web browser in the background...

    I don't mind paying the extra for the i7 (will cost a fortune anyway with maxed out ram + ssd + 300$-), but i don't want a notebook that is significantly louder and more power consuming, especially during "everyday tasks"...

    The only thing that hinders me from ordering are the poor connections - i want to connect my current motu audio interface via firewire, and also 1 or 2 external screens.
    The only possibility for this seems to be to buy:
    - belkin thunderbolt express dock ($300, not even available yet, but in maybe two months according to some shops)
    - thunderbolt-dual-dvi-adapter ($100, only if 2 screens)

    (or i'd buy an apple cinema display -.-)
  24. sick z33 macrumors 6502

    Sep 20, 2008
    I just got an email that the Belkin dock was available today from Macmall. Still expensive though!
  25. gpeden macrumors regular

    Nov 24, 2007
    What I did, silly me

    I got my first MBA last September when my MBP died soon after the extended warranty. During my first expedition to the big city to price and compare, I stumbled across a manager's special at a London Drugs offering up the base 13" for $6 cheaper than an online purchase through an employee purchase plan, so I grabbed it. Like many, I was surprised how much I liked it, but soon enough I resolved to trade up within a year for the sake of getting 8g RAM and perhaps a bigger SSD.

    I was on the road on Monday, but I probably grabbed the i5, 8g/256G within a half hour of the store being opened.

    Once home I wished I'd ordered a TB cable and the only way to do add to the order online is to cancel and start over. What the heck, initial forum concerns about low clock speed had me reconsider and upgrade to the i7 while I was at it. I did that Tuesday night.

    Then I read more, and considered what my heaviest usage would be - perhaps some FCPx once in a awhile. I like the cool running of my current model and started to wonder if I really needed that upgrade to i7. So guess what I did last night? I cancelled and went back to the i5, LOL @ me.


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