Benchmarks of Apple's new MacBook Airs reveal superfast PCIe memory, Haswell power savings

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited January 2014
The most significant raw performance boost in Apple's updated MacBook Air lineup comes from new PCI Express flash memory, while Intel's latest Haswell processors are more focused on extending battery life than pushing horsepower.

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After getting his hands on Apple's new 2013 MacBook Air, Anand Lal Shimpi of AnandTech put the hardware through some initial tests to see how it performs. Equipped with a 1.3-gigahertz Core i5 Haswell processor, the 13-inch model is on par with the 1.8-gigahertz Core i5 Sandy Bridge processor found in last year's 13-inch model.

But of course Intel's new processors are really about the battery life: Apple has promised that the updated MacBook Air models will offer all-day battery life. Specifically, the 13-inch model is said to boast an average of 12 hours of use, while the 11-inch model will provide 9 hours of uptime.

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CPU performance test conducted by AnandTech. The most gains from Intel's Haswell come from battery life.


Those improvements come in spite of the fact that the battery capacities on both the 11- and 13-inch models are unchanged from their predecessors, owing the power improvements to Intel's latest chips.

Separate tests conducted by Primate Labs show the new 2013 MacBook Air offering performance improvements between 3 and 8 percent, while reducing power consumption by up to 25 percent.

The real speed boosts in Apple's new MacBook Airs come from the inclusion of flash memory that now uses ultrafast PCI Express connectivity. Tests show that the new storage method offers peak sequential read/write performance of nearly 800MB/s.

"This is a pretty big deal, as it is probably the first step towards PCIe storage in a mainstream consumer device that we've seen," Shimpi said.

Previous generation MacBook Air models used the SATA interface, which maxes out at about 600MB/s. Apple also plans to use PCI Express connectivity for its forthcoming overhaul of the Mac Pro desktop.

Not featured in the latest tests is the new 802.11ac Wi-Fi found in Apple's latest MacBook Air models. The high-speed wireless connectivity can be achieved when paired with Apple's new AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule models.

Aside from the aforementioned performance and battery life improvements, the new MacBook Air models also come with more storage at a lower price than their predecessors. The 11-inch MacBook Air now comes with 128 gigabytes of flash storage at its $999 starting price, while the 13-inch model also includes 128 gigabytes for a $1,099 entry price.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 49
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,335member
    It can also be configured with a dual core 1.7GHz i7 which is a good deal more powerful. So that config would be more powerful than last year's by a fair amount.

    I figure that Apple feels that for the base config, battery life is of utmost importance.
  • Reply 2 of 49
    gazoobeegazoobee Posts: 3,754member
    It's really unnecessarily confusing how this article refers to "Flash memory" when it's really talking about the Flash *drive*.
  • Reply 3 of 49
    scartartscartart Posts: 172member
    from my point of view I see no reason to upgrade from my 2012 MBA as I would like more CPU performance and memory capacity.

    Would have been nice to have an option for a more powerful cpu which retained the 2012 battery life performance.
  • Reply 4 of 49
    irelandireland Posts: 17,522member
    [I][/I]I'm selling my 2013 iMac and getting one of these. The 13". I'm not happy with the iMac for a number of reasons I won't go into now, because I'm not in the mood to defend the truth to a few defensive people.
  • Reply 5 of 49


    When Mavericks comes out, there will be even more battery savings. That demo suspending the safari window when you covered it up and starting it up again when you uncover it was amazing. I'm sure that feature will intelligently do it or have manual override based on the function. I wouldn't want a video render being suspended because I move another window over it.

  • Reply 6 of 49
    aaarrrggghaaarrrgggh Posts: 1,568member
    ireland wrote: »
    I'm not happy with the iMac for a number of reasons I won't go into now

    Seriously, why? I use the 2010 iMac, and with the humanscale arm and the lights off it works pretty well! I'll be getting an 13" i7 Air soon enough to supplement, but that is the whole ergonomic vs portability issue.
  • Reply 7 of 49

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Gazoobee View Post



    It's really unnecessarily confusing how this article refers to "Flash memory" when it's really talking about the Flash *drive*.


    It's possible that, taken in context, not many more than you were confused.

  • Reply 8 of 49
    pendergastpendergast Posts: 1,358member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by ScartArt View Post



    from my point of view I see no reason to upgrade from my 2012 MBA as I would like more CPU performance and memory capacity.



    Would have been nice to have an option for a more powerful cpu which retained the 2012 battery life performance.


     


    What are you doing on an Air that you need it to be faster?

  • Reply 9 of 49
    aaronjaaronj Posts: 1,595member


    *sigh* This looks like a really nice improvement.  But much like the Mac Pro (well, not quite as much as the Mac Pro :) ) there's absolutely no way I could justify getting one.


     


    But I want one!  heh.

  • Reply 10 of 49
    andysolandysol Posts: 2,506member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by ScartArt View Post



    from my point of view I see no reason to upgrade from my 2012 MBA as I would like more CPU performance and memory capacity.



    Would have been nice to have an option for a more powerful cpu which retained the 2012 battery life performance.


    They do.  Maybe not on the base model, but you can upgrade to the i7 1.7 GHz, which will likely easily best the i7 2.0 GHz of last year, while still maintaining significantly more battery life.


     


    As they mentioned on stage, they down clocked so they could get better battery life.  But I understand your point.  Maybe instead of going from 5 to 9 hours or 7 to 12 hours, they could have just gone to 8 and 10, respectively, and had it clocked higher for more performance?


    It's all about tradeoffs.  The increased speed of both RAM and Flash should make it feel much faster.  And to be honest- the 2012 flew through any task I could throw at it.  If you are running Pro apps that demand more- you likely shouldnt be using the Air anyway.  There is no reason to upgrade from your 2012.


     


    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Ireland View Post



    I'm selling my 2013 iMac and getting one of these. The 13". I'm not happy with the iMac for a number of reasons I won't go into now, because I'm not in the mood to defend the truth to a few defensive people.



    I'm actually interested as to why you don't like it- I value your opinion as you contribute quite a bit on the forum.  The 13" Air is absolutely an amazing choice.  We had the 2011 and 2012 models as well as the 2010 iMac (where all photo editing took place)- but ended up getting rid of the 2012 for the 15" rMBP.  Due to some health issues with our youngest and a lot of hospital time, she had to do all of her photo editing on the fly, and that is my only knock on the MBA- the screens are phenomenal unless you are editing and trying to do any color correction.  I won't call it "poor" viewing angles- just extremely varying.

  • Reply 11 of 49
    virtuavirtua Posts: 206member
    I'm wondering why the mac book pros weren't included in the line up - esp being haswell changes. The 13" is being rumoured as slimmer .....,could it become the first Mac Book pro air - or at least convergence in range. Doesn't look like they are coming till the fall and although the air news is big, there was no physical changes - more a spec bump, albeit a big one. Otherwise why not announce together at this point?
  • Reply 12 of 49
    pedromartinspedromartins Posts: 1,333member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by virtua View Post



    I'm wondering why the mac book pros weren't included in the line up - esp being haswell changes. The 13" is being rumoured as slimmer .....,could it become the first Mac Book pro air - or at least convergence in range. Doesn't look like they are coming till the fall and although the air news is big, there was no physical changes - more a spec bump, albeit a big one. Otherwise why not announce together at this point?


    No chips yet... waiting for the right tunned discrete GPU on the 13" retina, plus SLI on the 15" retina, and triple GPU on the new awesomeness 17" retina. 

  • Reply 13 of 49
    cash907cash907 Posts: 893member
    virtua wrote: »
    I'm wondering why the mac book pros weren't included in the line up - esp being haswell changes. The 13" is being rumoured as slimmer .....,could it become the first Mac Book pro air - or at least convergence in range. Doesn't look like they are coming till the fall and although the air news is big, there was no physical changes - more a spec bump, albeit a big one. Otherwise why not announce together at this point?

    My guess is because they are being jerks and holding it off until Mavericks is ready. They did the same thing to the Air refresh at the launch of Lion. And pretty much every iPhone update for the last three years. The hardware is ready months before the software, but apple has this thing about pairing the two up, like they're afraid minuscule software updates won't have much impact without a simultaneous hardware update.

    Yes, I'm bitter about this. I've been waiting 6 months for this refresh to replace my 2009 13" with a retina MacBook, and was literally sitting in front of the screen yesterday with credit card in hand, only to be crushed by no update for the MBP.
  • Reply 14 of 49
    pedromartinspedromartins Posts: 1,333member


    So...


     


    Can we have 16h battery life with mavericks? Oh boy... I believe they did the right thing. The air is so fast for every costumer that buys them, and they have the retina ass kickers for the rest. Clearly, they focused on the right thing. It's Air, after all.


     


    However, after this amazing keynote, I believe they will go ballistic on the retina line, and will need Mavericks for significant battery life improvements on the 13" retina, especially if discrete graphics is an option.


     


    C'mon AMD! PS 4 + xBox crap + wii + Entire Mac line. There's no excuse anymore! 

  • Reply 15 of 49
    cash907cash907 Posts: 893member
    No chips yet... waiting for the right tunned discrete GPU on the 13" retina, plus SLI on the 15" retina, and triple GPU on the new awesomeness 17" retina. 

    Nope. The 13" will be getting an Iris-packing CPU which are already on the market, therefor it won't need a discrete GPU. And there is no way Apple would ever go with SLI, it's too glitchy and they already have a problem with graphical issues as it is. A 17" anything at this point is a delusional expectation, as that size was long since discontinued for a reason: minimal demand didn't justify the separate production line.
  • Reply 16 of 49
    pedromartinspedromartins Posts: 1,333member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Cash907 View Post




    Quote:

    Originally Posted by virtua View Post



    I'm wondering why the mac book pros weren't included in the line up - esp being haswell changes. The 13" is being rumoured as slimmer .....,could it become the first Mac Book pro air - or at least convergence in range. Doesn't look like they are coming till the fall and although the air news is big, there was no physical changes - more a spec bump, albeit a big one. Otherwise why not announce together at this point?




    My guess is because they are being jerks and holding it off until Mavericks is ready. They did the same thing to the Air refresh at the launch of Lion. And pretty much every iPhone update for the last three years. The hardware is ready months before the software, but apple has this thing about pairing the two up, like they're afraid minuscule software updates won't have much impact without a simultaneous hardware update.



    Yes, I'm bitter about this. I've been waiting 6 months for this refresh to replace my 2009 13" with a retina MacBook, and was literally sitting in front of the screen yesterday with credit card in hand, only to be crushed by no update for the MBP.


    your guess means nothing. If you watch the keynote, you will realize that new release has a lot of improvements under the hood. Since they are using new flash tech, etc etc, doesn't it make sense that Mavericks is absolutely crucial for any significant improvement on a line that is based on pure performance and high end features?


     


    Haswell means almost 0 for performance.

  • Reply 17 of 49
    pedromartinspedromartins Posts: 1,333member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Cash907 View Post




    Quote:

    Originally Posted by pedromartins View Post



    No chips yet... waiting for the right tunned discrete GPU on the 13" retina, plus SLI on the 15" retina, and triple GPU on the new awesomeness 17" retina. 




    Nope. The 13" will be getting an Iris-packing CPU which are already on the market, therefor it won't need a discrete GPU. And there is no way Apple would ever go with SLI, it's too glitchy and they already have a problem with graphical issues as it is. A 17" anything at this point is a delusional expectation, as that size was long since discontinued for a reason: minimal demand didn't justify the separate production line.


    *to think that anyone would think this after the wwdc keynote.

  • Reply 18 of 49
    andysolandysol Posts: 2,506member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by pedromartins View Post


    Haswell means almost 0 for performance.



    To apple.  It is a performance increase- tests have it at around 15%.  Thats not a slouch.  Apple just chooses to downclock them for more battery life.  So again- means almost 0 for performance.... to Apple.


     


    And 16 hours of battery life is lunacy.  Currently- the 13" rMBP and 15" rMBP only have 7 hours- like the previous iteration of MBA.  Why would you think it would be any different than going from 7 to 12 like the MBA did.  You think Mavericks extends it another 4 hours?  Give me what you're smoking.

  • Reply 19 of 49
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,667member
    Well flash is a from of memory. Anyhow I have to agree, when I first saw the heading I had to ask myself what are these idiots talking about. Then again this is AI where any technical illiterate can write an article.
    gazoobee wrote: »
    It's really unnecessarily confusing how this article refers to "Flash memory" when it's really talking about the Flash *drive*.
  • Reply 20 of 49
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,667member
    scartart wrote: »
    from my point of view I see no reason to upgrade from my 2012 MBA as I would like more CPU performance and memory capacity.
    Actually there is a processor option which would give you increased performance. More so this option is a significant upgrade which is almost out of character for Apple. If you want more CPU performance it can be had as a worthwhile upgrade.

    Apple also has a flash drive up grade to 512GB for $300. All in all this machine is an impressive release.
    Would have been nice to have an option for a more powerful cpu which retained the 2012 battery life performance.
    Well look in the options for a custom build. As for battery life that always falls to performance.
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