11 Replies Latest reply: Mar 24, 2011 4:53 PM by MrSteveee
MrSteveee Level 1 Level 1 (70 points)
I was reading the specs of the MBA and see that the top-of-the-line Air has a processor rated at 2.13 Ghz with 6MB of L2 cache. My current MBP has nearly identical processor specs, only .3 difference at 2.4 Ghz with a 3MB L2 cache. I realize that the SSD will of course make a big difference in speed. However, in terms of pure processor performance, will there be much difference between these two computers? Are there any reasons the Air's processor would be slower?

Thanks!

MBP 2.4 Core2 Duo, Mac OS X (10.6.2)
  • Kappy Level 10 Level 10 (257,625 points)
    It's most likely that the MBA and your MBP are close in speed, but raw processing power favors the faster processor.

    Why does this even matter?
  • Furi0us.Bee Level 2 Level 2 (400 points)
    Even though I gave up CPU speed to my 15" MBP (mid-2009), my maxed-out 13" MBA is faster. Without getting technical, the CPU is ready to do something at any given second, but if the HDD can't get it what it needs in a timely manner, then it's wasted cycles. The SSD is like the Nile and my 5400 HDD was like the Hudson.

    The time you save by being able to read/write to the disk way offsets the speed degradation of the CPU for my purposes. All I know is Photoshop opens about 75% faster on my MBA. I do web graphics, and never work with anything more than 10MB in size. For what I do and use it for, the MBA is the only computer I use. I get home and hook it up to the 24" Cinema and I feel like an iMac.

    Bryan
  • hawleyrw Level 3 Level 3 (625 points)
    I agree..the SSD makes a BIG difference - these new Macbook Air's are amazingly fast.

    You also have to factor in, that the industry has not been in a sheer Ghz game for some time now - or we'd be running processors that would be running 5, 6 or 7Ghz or better by now. The idea is to think smarter, not faster - which this means that your higher speed mid 2009 CPU isn't necessarily faster overall than some of the newer processors.
  • Furi0us.Bee Level 2 Level 2 (400 points)
    Good point hawleyrw. A moron who can speed read isn't as effective as a Ph.D who finger reads:)

    Those Intel P4 chips way back got high in GHz, but they can't compare to today's slower multi-core CPUs. If you would have told me back in 2002 that I'd be using a slower processor in 2010, in my 2.13GHz MBA, I would have laughed at you. We had all that speed back then, but we were wasting much of it.

    Bryan
  • hawleyrw Level 3 Level 3 (625 points)
    When researching performance results for the MBA, it was difficult to compare apples to apples (no pun intended) because though Apple stated the clock speed of the MBA models, I couldn't find disclosure on the actual processor to compare by benchmark to other processors. Various labs test processors for overall speed and responsiveness using industry standard tests- usually always proving that even though newer, slower clocked processors are being manufactured, they still beat the pants off their predecessors. I can't even compare my 1.86ghz MBA to my black MacBook 2.0ghz. MBA wins by a long shot. I'm happy with my decision to not max out my 13" and just save that money for what I use mine for.
  • Scott Newman Level 2 Level 2 (220 points)
    I had a new 1.83ghz MB Air for 4 days until the hardware failed. I'm got a full refund and I'm about to place a new order. During that time, I can say that doing Internet, email, Open Office, Microsoft Office, GIMP, etc., it felt faster than any Mac I've ever owned.

    Also, a few months ago I put one of the really fast Other World Computing SSD's (with the Sandforce controller) in a mid-2007 MacBook that has a 2.16 Core2Duo processor and the REALLY SLOW Intel 950 integrated graphics. Doing "regular stuff" like that described above, this MacBook was way faster than my wife's 2.4ghz Core2Duo iMac with separate graphics processor. This MacBook boots in about 13 seconds. Microsoft Word cold boots for the first time after booting the machine in about 4 seconds. Safari cold boots in 2 seconds. Firefox cold boots in 3 seconds. Web pages load far faster because of the slight lag that normally occurs when a new web page is written to the disk cache. That lag doesn't exist with a fast SSD.

    My point is that as long as you are not doing "pure" processor intensive tasks like encoding video or ripping audio CD's, the new MacBook Airs "feel" so much faster than their clock speeds would suggest.

    As I said above, I'm waiting to re-order another 13" MBA. The wait is killing me. They are sooooooooooo nice.
  • hawleyrw Level 3 Level 3 (625 points)
    Thanks Furi0us.Bee...

    Well stated: "A moron who can speed read isn't as effective as a Ph.D who finger reads"

    I hope you don't mind - I had to post that on my Facebook page "from a very wise man". I was able to apply that same philosophy to a situation around a friend of mine who's having trouble seeing issues clearly (not literally) at work.

    thanks!
  • hawleyrw Level 3 Level 3 (625 points)
    To Scott...thanks for the reply -

    I'm a previous Black Macbook 2.0Ghz (2006) owner. What caught my eye originally with the new MBA was the weight (of course), but more importantly the instant sleep/instant wake. No other system I've ever used does this like the new MBA. Then I got the chance to play with a couple in the store, for just a bit. Even with the limited usability at a local electronics store (blocked web, etc), was able to see how snappy the new units were since I was used to getting around in OSX. Still, realtime use has blown me away. I'm fully aware that the MBA might not hold the top notch with apps that are truly CPU intensive - have to give it to the MacPro for that. BUT, I'm configuring 3 MacPro's at work for corporate use - been working on these for the past few days, setting them up with Adobe Design CS5, Parallels with Windows XP (yes, XP - this is a corporate environment :-o), Symantec Antivirus, Office Mac 2008, Quark,8, etc.. I STILL think this MBA does better for general work. I'm going to finally setup Parallels here with Windows for a more comparative analysis between the Pro and MBA.
  • Furi0us.Bee Level 2 Level 2 (400 points)
    hawleyrw wrote:
    Thanks Furi0us.Bee...

    Well stated: "A moron who can speed read isn't as effective as a Ph.D who finger reads"

    I hope you don't mind - I had to post that on my Facebook page "from a very wise man". I was able to apply that same philosophy to a situation around a friend of mine who's having trouble seeing issues clearly (not literally) at work.

    thanks!


    Feel free to use that one any time:) I wanted to convey that fast for the sake of fast isn't necessarily better. Then that line came out. I like it. I used to keep a log of stuff I wrote in forums just so I could go back one day and see some of the strange stuff I made up. I stopped keeping track as I posted so much stuff.

    Bottom line is that the new MBA is no slouch, even compared to the higher-end (power-wise) Mac products.

    Bryan
  • MrSteveee Level 1 Level 1 (70 points)
    I bought a MBA and love it! My only complaints are with the light-up keyboard and when I play StarCraft II sometimes it slows down during big battles. Otherwise, it's great!

    I am hoping that the new Airs will bring back the keyboard, get the new processor thats in the new Pros, and also get Thunderbolt. That would make them perfect!