Initial 2018 MacBook Air benchmarks show modest improvement over 2017 MacBook

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited November 2018
Results posted to benchmarking service Geekbench this week purportedly show Apple's new MacBook Air outperforming last year's 12-inch MacBook with Intel Core i5 processor, but falling short of the same model equipped with a Core i7 CPU.

MacBook Air Benchmark
Supposed MacBook Air benchmark from Geekbench.


If numbers from Geekbench 4, posted to the service's Geekbench Browser on Wednesday, are legitimate, Apple's new thin-and-light is indeed powered by Intel's new Core i5-8210Y.

The chip was officially announced through Intel's ARK database this week shortly after Apple unveiled its MacBook Air refresh. Specifications provided by Intel and Apple detail a 1.6GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor with Turbo Boost up to 3.6GHz, 4MB of L3 cache, support for up to 16GB of 2133MHz LPDDR3 memory and integrated UHD Graphics 617.

Performance metrics for the Y-series silicon have been unavailable, as the CPU remained under wraps until the MacBook Air reveal.

According to Geekbench, Apple's new Air clocks in with a single-core score of 4,248 and a multi-core score of 7,828. The single-core performance is roughly equivalent to an aggregate of scores reported for the 2017 12-inch MacBook with Core i7 clocked at 1.4GHz. MacBook Air's multi-core scores fall expectedly short of the i7, but are higher than those put in by Core i5 MacBooks.

Existing MacBook models rely on 7th generation Core i5 and i7 Kaby Lake technology -- or Core m for base configurations -- while the MacBook Air's i5 is an 8th generation Amber Lake chip. Both families are built on Intel's 14-nanometer process.

Apple is trading performance potential for efficiency by opting for Amber Lake, though the newly designed CPU and integrated GPU pairing is a step up from the Broadwell architecture currently used by the non-Retina display MacBook Air. Apple's 2015 MacBook Air models relied on 5th generation Intel Core i5 and i7 U-series processors.

Interestingly, Apple has opted to incorporate an "active cooling system" -- a fan -- in the latest MacBook Air iteration despite the Y-series' low 7 watt TDP. By comparison, the previous Air's Broadwell chips ran at 15W, configurable down to 9.5W.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 49
    asciiascii Posts: 5,941member
    The new Macbook Air is not very compelling honestly. As the Zone of Tech guy pointed out, it's only a little bit more for the 13" Macbook Pro which is better on nearly every metric.
    bigpicswilliamlondonbaconstang
  • Reply 2 of 49
    I often find myself wishing for a technical expose of Apple design decisions... Is trading retina graphics for i7 multicore speeds applicable here, and then perhaps a BTO option (same bezel lower res) for those who might prefer the reverse...?
    edited November 2018 elijahgbaconstang
  • Reply 3 of 49
    Apple's new MacBook Air is their entry level notebook for the next 5 years. After that they will drop it for the MacBook form factor.

    After that the MacBook will be the first touch screen Apple NoteBook.

    Over time, the Air's price will come down and the specs will go up.

    Basically, like the iPad, the goal is to get off the 'every year redesign crazy train!'

    It's a very strong offering, with a smaller form factor, Touch ID, improved trackpad and a Retina display.

    Unfortunately, it's the Retina display that has made the price over the $1,000 price point. But they had do it!

    As far as the MacBook...it can still remain in the lineup as a premium device focusing on being the ultimate in a portability device (that isn't an iPad). .75 pounds less than the new MacBook Air is a lot.

    Next year, the MacBook could have the upgraded trackpad, TouchID, be a little lighter, less bezel around the screen, another port or two and faster processors.

    I paid a little more for my rose gold 2017 MacBook most importantly for the two pounds. I would do it again. :)
    edited November 2018 caladanianurashidjeroenhmg
  • Reply 4 of 49
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,433member
    Wasn't the passive airflow through the keyboard with previous models? If so, wouldn't that now be inhibited by these new keyboards with silicon dirt and crumb protector, which may be why a fan is now required?
  • Reply 5 of 49
    coolfactorcoolfactor Posts: 1,345member
    They should have unveiled a new MacBook Air with a Liquid Retina display (rounded corners). That would have made all the difference.
  • Reply 6 of 49
    lennlenn Posts: 36member
    Can't wait to see the reports of the thermal throttling this does.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 7 of 49
    That benchmark only reveals a modest improvement of the Intel chip, not of the MBA as a whole.

    Actually it means nothing in terms of machine performance, because the SSD controller is tied to the T2 chip, not Intel and the benchmark cannot take that into account, obviously. Since the SSD controller is driven by the T2 chip the two processors work in tandem, probably in a high level of parallelism.
    williamlondonelijahgGeorgeBMac
  • Reply 8 of 49
    Leo Laporte warned about this on MacBreak Weekly as he’s been using a Surface Go which uses the same whisky lake chips.
  • Reply 9 of 49
    ascii said:
    The new Macbook Air is not very compelling honestly. As the Zone of Tech guy pointed out, it's only a little bit more for the 13" Macbook Pro which is better on nearly every metric.
    Seeing these benchmarks I really don’t get the point of this machine now. All the reasons people were buying the older model (price, ports, keyboard, MagSafe) are missing. I guess buy this over the nTB MBP if you must have Touch ID? Is the nTB MBP that much heavier?
    asciiwilliamlondonelijahg
  • Reply 10 of 49
    entropysentropys Posts: 1,431member
    lenn said:
    Can't wait to see the reports of the thermal throttling this does.
    Apple has put a chip designed for fanless notebooks in a notebook with a fan.  I would think this chip will perform better in the MBA than in competitor products precisely because  there will be very little throttling at all.
    To me this issue is, is the nTB MBP a better buy? It isn’t a straight forward decision. The MBP has a seventh gen chip, and a second gen butterfly keyboard.
    edited November 2018 williamlondon
  • Reply 11 of 49
    patsupatsu Posts: 424member
    That benchmark only reveals a modest improvement of the Intel chip, not of the MBA as a whole.

    Actually it means nothing in terms of machine performance, because the SSD controller is tied to the T2 chip, not Intel and the benchmark cannot take that into account, obviously. Since the SSD controller is driven by the T2 chip the two processors work in tandem, probably in a high level of parallelism.
    Yep. The T2 performs quite a few tasks, including system and storage management, image signal processing, and audio. The main CPU and GPU will be more free compared to old MBAs.

    The benchmark may be outdated or misleading on the new Macs.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 12 of 49
    bigpicsbigpics Posts: 1,350member
    I've given up trying to understand Apple's decision-making on portable Macs the last four years.  Anemic performance for $1800 (with 16GB Ram and 512 SDD) and "You VILL like our butterfly keyboard EFFEN IF you don't".....??? Do people like a nice screen and an orangey gold color that much? 

    It does make the 13" MBP more appealing at least, though still not thrilled at the notion of $2899 for the fairly well-equipped with the dead end touch bar and.... ....that Keyboard.  Clackety-clack here I come...??

    Maybe Intel will deliver in 2019 and they'll deliver a less thermally constrained 15" with 32GB of lower power RAM and drain my wallet of $4,000 for a pretty great machine with still challenged input (with a year to show that the KB holds up to the crumb menace). And finally start doing all of those power-needing projects I've been deferring.....

    Still it seems clear that the iOS stuff is getting the real performance love and the most innovative thinking - check how the Geekbench scores on the new iPad Pros absolutely smoke this machine - and even the higher end stuff, and how this is the first time in a while there's only one processor option on a new portable Mac.  But I have a tablet that works fine - and it just sits doing nada.  My phone gives me enough when I'm mobile and don't need real PC class apps and input tools.

    "Geekbench 4 benchmarks have already leaked, revealing the new iPad Pro's processor is nearing the performance of Apple's new 15-inch MacBook Pro, and it's even closer to the performance of the best processor in the 2017 5K iMac. The new iPad Pro actually outperforms the best processor in the 2018 13-inch MacBook Pro, and even the best processor in the 2017 15-inch MacBook Pro."



    edited November 2018 asciiwilliamlondonelijahgbaconstang
  • Reply 13 of 49
    The better screen is more import on the AIR than the i7.  Using the i5 is a perfect transition point to the A Series chips in a few years...

    Obviously, if portability and battery life isn’t priority #1 and #2, then the Pro models is the way to go.

    My only complaint is price.  I suspect the AIR will be Apple’s most popular laptop, so my complaint isn’t worth much.

    Personally, I’d rather have an IPad 12.9 but Apple has filled out their product line nicely.

    My wish list is LTE everywhere and better support for NFC for 2FA (security).
  • Reply 14 of 49
    I just don’t get the new MacBook Air. Why not update the MacBook line and get rid of the Air altogether?
    Besides this is not a very compelling product. Get a MacBook Pro 13” instead for just a bit more and have much more power available. 

    Ps: am I seeing this right - is the new iPad much faster benchmark wise?
    edited November 2018 williamlondonrogifan_newelijahg
  • Reply 15 of 49
    ascii said:
    The new Macbook Air is not very compelling honestly. As the Zone of Tech guy pointed out, it's only a little bit more for the 13" Macbook Pro which is better on nearly every metric.
    Except weight and thinness.
    christopher126williamlondon
  • Reply 16 of 49
    ascii said:
    The new Macbook Air is not very compelling honestly. As the Zone of Tech guy pointed out, it's only a little bit more for the 13" Macbook Pro which is better on nearly every metric.
    Seeing these benchmarks I really don’t get the point of this machine now. All the reasons people were buying the older model (price, ports, keyboard, MagSafe) are missing. I guess buy this over the nTB MBP if you must have Touch ID? Is the nTB MBP that much heavier?
    I think we have little to no insight as to why people are buying a particular machine. We live in a tech centered bubble 99% of the world doesn’t care about. All the reasons you listed are straight from the list of reasons tech people give to try to discern why people wouldn’t want the best that’s offered. 
  • Reply 17 of 49
    Why not use the same 15W processor? 
  • Reply 18 of 49
    Leo Laporte warned about this on MacBreak Weekly as he’s been using a Surface Go which uses the same whisky lake chips.
    Not even close, the Surface Go is less than half the performance of the air:

    http://browser.geekbench.com/v4/cpu/10588316
    williamlondon
  • Reply 19 of 49
    ascii said:
    The new Macbook Air is not very compelling honestly. As the Zone of Tech guy pointed out, it's only a little bit more for the 13" Macbook Pro which is better on nearly every metric.
    Seeing these benchmarks I really don’t get the point of this machine now. All the reasons people were buying the older model (price, ports, keyboard, MagSafe) are missing. I guess buy this over the nTB MBP if you must have Touch ID? Is the nTB MBP that much heavier?
    I think we have little to no insight as to why people are buying a particular machine. We live in a tech centered bubble 99% of the world doesn’t care about. All the reasons you listed are straight from the list of reasons tech people give to try to discern why people wouldn’t want the best that’s offered. 
    What other reason would people have been buying the old Air? 
    elijahg
  • Reply 20 of 49

    Leo Laporte warned about this on MacBreak Weekly as he’s been using a Surface Go which uses the same whisky lake chips.
    Not even close, the Surface Go is less than half the performance of the air:

    http://browser.geekbench.com/v4/cpu/10588316
    Hmm...I believe Laporte said they were using the same processors.
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