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Apple's new 11" MacBook Air a "much faster iPad" or "much slower MacBook Pro"

post #1 of 76
Thread Starter 
The first benchmarks on Apple's new MacBook Airs have hit the web, revealing that the 13.3-inch models trail the company's similarly-sized MacBook Pros by a small margin while the 11.6-inch models fall far shorter in processing power, and may be more appropriately categorized as a larger, faster iPad.

Geekbench developer Primate Labs has compiled scores from the Geekbench Result Browser for all the standard MacBook Air CPU configurations dating back to 2008 and pit them against scores for the iPad and the latest 13-inch MacBook Pro models, as those are the two products most customers will use as comparisons.

The new 13.3-inch MacBook Airs, which include a 1.86GHz Core 2 Duo processor, faired pretty well, posting scores that suggest it's capable of roughly 80% of the performance of the latest 13.3-inch MacBook Pros, which ship with 2.4GHz and 2.66GHz Core 2 Duo chips.

On the other hand, the 11.6-inch MacBook Air, which includes a 1.4GHz Core 2 Duo, was only capable of reaching 60% of the performance of the 2.4GHz 13.3-inch MacBook Pro, raising questions as to whether it would make a good fit as a primary machine.

"There are two ways you can look at the new 11-inch MacBook Air; it's either a much smaller but slower MacBook Pro, or a much faster but larger iPad," wrote Geekbench author John Poole. "The 11-inch MacBook Air is small enough that I'd consider bringing it instead of an iPad, but I'd worry it's not fast enough (or have enough screen space) to be my primary laptop."



It should be noted that Poole did not include scores for Late 2010 1.6GHz or 2.13GHz MacBook Airs, which are $100 build-to-order options for the 11.6- and 13.3-inch models, respectively, through Apple's online store.

AppleInsider recently published a first look at the new Airs ahead of its formal review. It also lined up a deal with reseller MacMall, which is currently offering AppleInsider readers an additional 3% off its already reduced pricing when ordering online using the links in the chart below, or through AppleInsider's full-fledged Mac Price Guide. It's also offering $102 savings off a high-end, non-standard 13.3-inch configuration that includes the 2.13GHz Core 2 Duo processor mentioned above.

post #2 of 76
I doubt this performance is a shock to anyone. The thing that sells the Air is the size/portability of the device - not performance. There has always been a performance gap but it is acceptable to those with this need.

I personally would take the extra weight for performance and display size but I think what they have squeezed into these small pkgs is amazing.
post #3 of 76
Benchmark performance differences:

Between 13"MBP 2.4GHz and 11"Air 1.4GHz 1332

Between 11"Air 1.4GHz and iPad 1573

Conclusion, the 11"Air 1.4GHz is more similar in performance stats to a MBP, therefore it is more analogous of a slower MBP.
post #4 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by RepreeThis View Post

Benchmark performance differences:

Between 13"MBP 2.4GHz and 11"Air 1.4GHz — 1332

Between 11"Air 1.4GHz and iPad — 1573

Conclusion, the 11"Air 1.4GHz is more similar in performance stats to a MBP, therefore it is more analogous of a slower MBP.

Note that the test was done based on browsing. Add to that the fact that the Air has a full operating system to run real programs (i.e. more than just apps...you can do your taxes on it, for example), has USB ports for extra storage and connectivity, has a keyboard, etc....it's even more obvious that it's a slow MBP, and not a fast iPad.

Plus....the iPad needs a 'real' computer to snyc with. It's not stand-alone. You can sync an iPad with a Macbook Air, just like any other Mac.
post #5 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by RepreeThis View Post

Benchmark performance differences:

Between 13"MBP 2.4GHz and 11"Air 1.4GHz 1332

Between 11"Air 1.4GHz and iPad 1573

Conclusion, the 11"Air 1.4GHz is more similar in performance stats to a MBP, therefore it is more analogous of a slower MBP.

I'll buy that. Discussion closed.
post #6 of 76
I think the new macbook air is analogous to a really really fast ipod nano with a way bigger screen and a keyboard
post #7 of 76
I don't think it's for me, but it's perfect for so many other people. One day the same sizes will contain the fastest processors available, at which time my interest will peak.
post #8 of 76
For me, the Air is unquestionably "snappier" than the Macbook Pro in real-world use. I realize that the Air has a slower CPU so it's no surprise that the Air performs worse on the benchmark tests. I've used a 2.33Ghz Macbook Pro for years but for the past two days, I've been using 1.4Ghz 11" Air, and the Air starts up in seconds, apps open almost instantly, web pages load instantly, and every task takes much less time to complete than on my Macbook Pro. Maybe this is because the Air is newer and has fewer resident processes, maybe the faster Flash drive on the Air makes up for the CPU, maybe the Air will suffer during heavy-CPU tasks, or maybe I just have a slow Macbook Pro, but whatever the reason, the Air completes the mundane tasks much faster.
post #9 of 76
Okay, the Macbook Air is slower than a Macbook Pro....we get it.

But, I don't think that matters to a majority of the people who will buy one. My new Macbook Air is perfect as my primary computer (on my desk), while the Mac Mini is connected to the TV. I don't think many hard-core geeks/computer folks understand that such a small and lightweight machine is fine for a vast majority of the people "out there". I won't do photoshop on this machine, but I don't use photoshot....the only heavy duty program I use is Arc GIS (on the Windows 7 partition) when connected to my desktop LCD monitor. The rest? email, web browsing, music, videos, etc. It works just fine.

So, for those who don't like it, don't buy it.
post #10 of 76
There's objective performance measurements (CPU speed, etc) and then there's perceived performance. My experience playing with both Airs at the Apple Store, as well as reviews, tell me that the flash ram more than makes up for the CPU differences.
The damned thing just FEELS fast, and frankly that's all that matters to me, particularly if I need its other features (e.g. ultra-light portability.)

But as much as I drool over this thing, I just don't need it for my own use cases.
An iMac at home and an iPhone in my pocket, and when necessary, an iPad in my bag, and I have yet to find a situation where I'm wanting.

I think they've filled the niches pretty completely now.
post #11 of 76
Notice that this year's 1.86Ghz Macbook Air is faster than the last model's 1.86GHz Macbook Air which is 251 geek points higher. They both are using the same L9400 Core 2 Duo.
post #12 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

"There are two ways you can look at the new 11-inch MacBook Air; it's either a much smaller but slower MacBook Pro, or a much faster but larger iPad," wrote Geekbench author John Poole. "The 11-inch MacBook Air is small enough that I'd consider bringing it instead of an iPad, but I'd worry it's not fast enough (or have enough screen space) to be my primary laptop."

Its a silly article. I am not sure the Airs were ever really designed to be anyone's primary machine. Having said that, it totally depends on your requirements. If you want a small lightweight laptop, primarily use it for email, web surfing and some basic office stuff, and possibly some iPhoto and iTunes, I am sure the 11" will suffice. If you absolutely need to work with all of the above applications at the same time you'd be pretty daft to get the 11". If you also require peripherals, lots of storage and CS5 and FCP, then you deserve what you get if you shell out for the small Air.

In other words my primary machine might be your Super Computer and likewise your primary machine may be my pocket calculator. Its relative.
post #13 of 76
GeekBench illustrates how irrelevant traditional benchmark scores are. Most folks are more interested in real world numbers like app launch and OS boot times, importing photos and videos, encoding video to H.264, and frame rate for popular games.
post #14 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by GQB View Post

There's objective performance measurements (CPU speed, etc) and then there's perceived performance. My experience playing with both Airs at the Apple Store, as well as reviews, tell me that the flash ram more than makes up for the CPU differences.
The damned thing just FEELS fast, and frankly that's all that matters to me, particularly if I need its other features (e.g. ultra-light portability.)

But as much as I drool over this thing, I just don't need it for my own use cases.
An iMac at home and an iPhone in my pocket, and when necessary, an iPad in my bag, and I have yet to find a situation where I'm wanting.

I think they've filled the niches pretty completely now.

You've got it right. Benchmark scores don't necessarily translate well to the experience of using a device. I have been using the 11.6" Air for a few days now, and have sold my MBP and iPad, and have not regretted it yet. It is quite liberating to forget about specs and just use the machine as the tool that it is!
post #15 of 76
I think that the upticks in processor speed recently have been of more interest to computerphiles, in the same way that audiophiles are obsessed with characteristics beyond the reach of the human ear.
i.e., processor speed has largely gotten to be a "mine's bigger than yours" issue.
Irrelevant for the vast majority of real world users.
post #16 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by jetlaw View Post

You've got it right. Benchmark scores don't necessarily translate well to the experience of using a device. I have been using the 11.6" Air for a few days now, and have sold my MBP and iPad, and have not regretted it yet. It is quite liberating to forget about specs and just use the machine as the tool that it is!

-2

You sold an iPad.
post #17 of 76
Macbook PRO machines are not "consumer level machines" really. They are supposed to be aimed at the PRO marketplace.

The Macbook AIR models should not so much be compared with the PRO models as they should the regular Macbook models.

If anything, all this comparison does is highlight that the Macbook PRO models are in need of a product refresh...

How do they compare to the Macbook?
post #18 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by RepreeThis View Post

Benchmark performance differences:

Between 13"MBP 2.4GHz and 11"Air 1.4GHz 1332

Between 11"Air 1.4GHz and iPad 1573

Conclusion, the 11"Air 1.4GHz is more similar in performance stats to a MBP, therefore it is more analogous of a slower MBP.

Probably a better way of comparing them is:

iPad runs iOS4, MBA runs Mac OS X 10.6
MBA is 4.5 TIMES faster than iPad

C'mon everyone. The MBA is a Mac, and the iPad is a very different animal altogether.
post #19 of 76
"... and may be more appropriately categorized as a larger, faster iPad".

Except that the Macbook Air not a tablet, has no touch interface, can't be held like a tablet, doesn't operate like a tablet, doesn't look like a tablet and is not an iPad. Other than that, it's a faster iPad I guess.
post #20 of 76
Quote:
The report emphasizes, however, that Geekbench only measures processor and memory performance, leaving out what is expected to be significant overall performance improvements over earlier generations due to the use of the NVIDIA GeForce 320M video card and flash storage across all models.

No offense to Geekbench, but i would like to see Flash drive and video card benchmarks, too.
post #21 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by axual View Post

"... and may be more appropriately categorized as a larger, faster iPad".

Except that the Macbook Air not a tablet, has no touch interface, can't be held like a tablet, doesn't operate like a tablet, doesn't look like a tablet and is not an iPad. Other than that, it's a faster iPad I guess.

:-) Its really a lighter and faster PowerBook 100

post #22 of 76
Cool it shows me that 1,4 Intel Core 2 Duo is slower than 2,66 Intel Core 2 Duo. Very impressive, indeed.

Still I wait when they answer my question about the comparison of iMac and a new iPod nano.



VS

post #23 of 76
I own a 15" MBP and if I wanted anything as small as the 11" Air, I feel more inclined to buy an iPad instead. More portable, can do all the browsing, email etc and have the added benefits of game apps, and 3G subscriptions if needed.
post #24 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by ddesignboy View Post

For me, the Air is unquestionably "snappier" than the Macbook Pro in real-world use. I realize that the Air has a slower CPU so it's no surprise that the Air performs worse on the benchmark tests. I've used a 2.33Ghz Macbook Pro for years but for the past two days, I've been using 1.4Ghz 11" Air, and the Air starts up in seconds, apps open almost instantly, web pages load instantly, and every task takes much less time to complete than on my Macbook Pro. Maybe this is because the Air is newer and has fewer resident processes, maybe the faster Flash drive on the Air makes up for the CPU, maybe the Air will suffer during heavy-CPU tasks, or maybe I just have a slow Macbook Pro, but whatever the reason, the Air completes the mundane tasks much faster.

Thx. That's good to hear a real-life report.
I admit, I was one of the 'despisers' when the Air came out in its first iteration. I even remember speaking about its shortcomings to an Apple rep at the time who just wouldn't hear my comments.

But now... now that I do more repair work at client sites, and it seems "snappier" and at least has two USBs (albeit one may be filled with the USB-to-Ethernet), I might have to start thinking of it as a possible contender for my next portable computing purchase. (Please God, send me more paying clients so I can justify and cover the costs... )
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post #25 of 76
"Apple's new 11" MacBook Air a "much faster iPad" or "much slower MacBook Pro""

Both.
post #26 of 76
Such a stupid article!

Slower than a MBP, really? Wow ...

Faster than an iPad, really? Wow ...

Are you serious?
post #27 of 76
I hear it's more portable than a MacPro, too!
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post #28 of 76
I note with interest that the new 11" at 1.4GHz is almost as fast as my first-gen MBA at 1.6GHz. Since I don't have any performance complaints about my MBA, perhaps I can save $100 and stick with the 1.4 rather than upgrading to 1.6. On the other hand, it's only $100...
post #29 of 76
I'd certainly look at the 11" as an alternative to purchasing the iPad. With Lion taking on many of the features of iOS the Mac platform is starting to look fresh once more. I'm glad Apple isn't abandoning the Mac as they've appeared to be doing by not having sessions at WWDC for it.
post #30 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by lamewing View Post

Okay, the Macbook Air is slower than a Macbook Pro....we get it.

But, I don't think that matters to a majority of the people who will buy one. My new Macbook Air is perfect as my primary computer (on my desk), while the Mac Mini is connected to the TV. I don't think many hard-core geeks/computer folks understand that such a small and lightweight machine is fine for a vast majority of the people "out there". I won't do photoshop on this machine, but I don't use photoshot....the only heavy duty program I use is Arc GIS (on the Windows 7 partition) when connected to my desktop LCD monitor. The rest? email, web browsing, music, videos, etc. It works just fine.

So, for those who don't like it, don't buy it.

But if you're looking for "The rest? email, web browsing, music, videos, etc. It works just fine." then why not an iPad?
post #31 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by ddesignboy View Post

For me, the Air is unquestionably "snappier" than the Macbook Pro in real-world use. I realize that the Air has a slower CPU so it's no surprise that the Air performs worse on the benchmark tests. I've used a 2.33Ghz Macbook Pro for years but for the past two days, I've been using 1.4Ghz 11" Air, and the Air starts up in seconds, apps open almost instantly, web pages load instantly, and every task takes much less time to complete than on my Macbook Pro. Maybe this is because the Air is newer and has fewer resident processes, maybe the faster Flash drive on the Air makes up for the CPU, maybe the Air will suffer during heavy-CPU tasks, or maybe I just have a slow Macbook Pro, but whatever the reason, the Air completes the mundane tasks much faster.

It is snappier but that is from the SSD*. If you replace the HDD in any PC you get the same results.


* It uses NAND for storage with a controller with Serial-ATA on a card connected via mini-PCIe. That is a Solid State Drive, even though currently not adhering to the form factor of a 2.5 HDD.
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post #32 of 76
I just wish they'd add a Nvidia 335M option for the 13"

Would be teh perfect notebook *-*

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post #33 of 76
A 1.4 GHz Core 2 Duo is faster than what I was using just two years ago, and I did what I had to do then.
post #34 of 76
Title should be Apple's new 11" MacBook Air a "much faster iPad" or "much slower MacBook Pro ... Duh!!" ..

AI Seriously ? things should be really slow today huh ?
post #35 of 76
At the end of the day, people need what they need. All of this hypothesizing and postulating about what can/can't be done on the Air versus the iPad is silly. If you're making a LIST of things you need your device to be able to do, then you need to buy a COMPUTER, which means the Air, not the iPad.
post #36 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by axual View Post

"... and may be more appropriately categorized as a larger, faster iPad".

Except that the Macbook Air not a tablet, has no touch interface, can't be held like a tablet, doesn't operate like a tablet, doesn't look like a tablet and is not an iPad. Other than that, it's a faster iPad I guess.

or maybe dare I say it a "netbook" hmmm seems to fit the mold doesn't it.........

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post #37 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by paxman View Post

:-) Its really a lighter and faster PowerBook 100


Built for Apple by Sony.
post #38 of 76
Weird thing about the iPad is everything felt instant to me. I don't actually have one at the present so i am going by memory but it was such a totally different experience from my MBP or Mac Pro I guess didn't mentally compare them.
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post #39 of 76
Yep, stating the obvious...Apple's very elegant mobile computer platforms run the entire spectrum....

On one side, you have the lightest (i.e., most portable), least powerful, and smallest screen size-iPod, iPhone.

Then comes the iPad, MBA and lastly, the MBP's culminating with the 17" MBP being the heaviest, most powerful and with the largest screen size.

For me, weight is my main priority. Carrying the MBP 17" is like carrying around your own tombstone. I certainly can see MBP's worth carrying for some users. Just not me. Carrying a SuperDrive everywhere I go and never use, just seems daft!

I have an iPhone 4 for those times I want to be out and about (E.g., on my day off) but still connected to my business (Real Estate),

I will be getting a second gen. iPad for presentations and fun stuff. I will be getting a 11" MBA with 4gig of RAM, soon for updating my website, creating reports, etc., sitting at a restaurant, by the lake...working, somewhat.

To be honest, most of the time is spent dreaming and thinking "big!"

And, I will sell my iMac!

Gone are the days, where I want to sit at a desk, in my den, on my iMac...working! I may as well be in a cubicle. Who wants to work on a computer anymore, anyway? Ugggh!

Best
post #40 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by leesure View Post

But if you're looking for "The rest? email, web browsing, music, videos, etc. It works just fine." then why not an iPad?

The main reason? The iPad cannot exist without a computer. It is not an autonomous device. I am going to need a computer to transfer to and from the iPad. If Apple would not limit the device as such...it would do just fine so SO many people as a basic computer.
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