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BARE FEATS - real world Mac speed tests

"BARE facts on Mac speed FEATS"

SHOOTOUT: MacBook Air
versus
MacBook Pro

Originally posted April 18th, 2008, by rob-ART morgan, mad scientist

We paid more for the 1.8GHz MacBook Air than we did for the 2.6GHz 15" MacBook Pro. After spending time using both side by side, we've decided to sell the MacBook Air. We'll explain but first, take a look at how they compare in performance.

GRAPH LEGEND:
MacBook Pro = 15" MacBook Pro 2.6GHz "Penryn"
MacBook Air = 13" MacBook Air 1.8GHz

INSIGHTS and ANALYSIS
As you can see, though the MacBook Air costs more, it is way behind the MacBook Pro 2.6 in performance. I know it's thinner and lighter but if you think the two are in any way close in performance, you are mistaken. Not only is the CPU in the MacBook Pro much faster but the graphics processor (GPU) is also much faster.

I don't just mean that the MBP runs games faster. Take a look at the last graph above. That's the speed at which both laptops render Core Image effects. The MacBook Pro is 7.5 times faster. Being addicted to speed, that was the last straw for me. Thin might be "in" but speed is what I crave.

But the distinctions are more than about speed. For example, when I ran the Halo benchmark, I realized that there were was no support in the MacBook Air's integrated GMA X1300 for advanced shaders such as transparency and reflectivity.

Finally, I found the single USB port to be "punitive." Not only is it a slow interface but having to share it between the the Verizon Wireless broadband USB modem, USB SuperDrive, and USB external drives was such a hassle. I know you can do many things via AirPort wireless including installing software from a remote SuperDrive, but that can be painfully slow -- even with an 802.11n netwok. I am just too used to having speedy internal slot-load SuperDrives and speedy FireWire ports as standard equipment in my laptop.

BTW, though the flip open port "door" is clever, two of our three USB jump drives could not be inserted fully into the USB port due to clearance issues.

I know there are USB Hubs. A very good one is the new SypderHUB from FirmTek which adds FireWire and eSATA connections. But the whole idea of the laptop is to be unencumbered and self contained -- especially on the road.

I acknowlege that the MacBook Air is a sweet setup for many of you with "normal" needs. It's not a bad laptop. Just not my cup of tea.

RELATED ARTICLES

Bare Feats compares the HDD to the SDD drive in the MacBook Air.

Bare Feats compares the features and specs of the MacBook Air versus the MacBook Pro.

Apple Online Store

WHERE TO BUY A MACBOOK AIR or PRO
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(DON'T LIVE in the USA? See links for Apple online stores in other countries.)

Also check with Small Dog Electronics and Power Max. (Power Max takes trade-ins.)

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2008 Rob Art Morgan
"BARE facts on Macintosh speed FEATS"
Email , the webmaster