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BARE FEATS LAB - real world Mac speed tests

SHOOTOUT: Fastest 2012 MacBook Air
versus Fastest 2011 MacBook Air

Originally posted Tuesday, June 13th, 2012, by rob-ART morgan, mad scientist
June 14th, 2012, added "Retina" MacBook Pro to the graphs
June 15th, 2012, changed WoW quality to "HIGH"

As we reported June 12th, the 'mid 2012' MacBook Air has significant performance advances over the 2011 model. We decided to compare the two fastest configurations of each. And for reality check, we included results from the fastest 2011 MacBook Pro and fastest 2012 "Retina" MacBook Pro.

GRAPH LEGEND
2012 RMBP 2.7 = 'mid 2012' Retina MacBook Pro 2.7GHz Quad-Core i7 with 16GB of RAM and GeForce GT 650M GPU
2011 MBP 2.5 = 'late 2011' MacBook Pro 2.5GHz Quad-Core i7 with 16GB of RAM and Radeon HD 6770M GPU.
2012 MBA 2.0 = 'mid 2012' MacBook Air 2.0GHz Dual-Core i7 with 8GB of RAM and Intel HD 4000 GPU.
2011 MBA 1.8 = 'mid 2011' MacBook Air 1.8GHz Dual-Core i7 with 4GB of RAM and Intel HD 3000 GPU.

CPU and MEMORY BENCHMARKS
Cinebench 11.5 uses all cores to render a 3D image. Geekbench 2.3.3 measures Integer and Floating Point computations as well as memory speed. we ran it in 64-bit mode.
RED bar means fastest.

GPU BENCHMARKS
Cinebench includes a "car chase" 3D animation to measure OpenGL speed in frames per second.
RED bar means fastest.

For Portal 2, the settings were 4X MSAA, 4X Anisotropic Filtering, Vertical Sync Disabled, Multicore Rendering Enabled, Shader Detail High, Effect Detail High, Model/Texture Detail High.

For World of Warcraft Cataclysm (4.3.4), we did our Narache Village Totem to Tree to Totem Run. The Performance module from the TItan Panel Addon computes average frames per second. Settings were "HIGH" preset with Liquid Detail set to FAIR and Sunshafts DISABLED. (settings updated 6/15/12)

STORAGE BENCHMARKS
Using QuickBench we ran the Custom Sequential Test with 1GB test size and averaged 5 cycles. The three internal flash storage examples?
Aura 6G = OWC Mercury Aura Pro Express 6Gb/s 240GB Solid State Drive
2012 MBA 2.0 = Factory 6Gb/s 251GB Solid State Drive
2011 MBA 1.8 = Factory 3Gb/s 256GB Solid State Drive

INSIGHTS and ANALYSIS
CPU AND MEMORY SPEED
The 'mid 2012'
MacBook Air ran the Cinebench CPU test 26% faster than the 2011 MacBook Air even though the CPU core frequency was only 11% faster. Memory performance was 22% faster.

GPU SPEED
Cinebench's OpenGL test ran 58% faster on the 2012 MacBook Air with Intel HD 4000 GPU compared to the 2011 MacBook Air with Intel HD 3000 GPU. At the settings we used, Portal 2 ran 54% faster while World of Warcraft ran only slightly faster on the 2012 MacBook Air compared to the 2011 MacBook Air.

STORAGE
Good news! The 2012 MacBook Air's factory SSD is now 6Gb/s rated. That's why it ran much faster than the 2011 MacBook Air's 3Gb/s factory SSD. (The "Retina" MacBook Pro clocked the same transfer speeds as the 2012 MacBook Air.) We included the OWC Aura 6Gb/s MacBook Air SSD Upgrade to show that the SandForce based module goes even faster.

For performance of the MacBook Air's USB 3.0 ports, be sure to see our test page on that subject.

REALITY CHECK from MBPs
As we indicated at the top of this article, we decided to include the results for the 'late 2011' MacBook Pro to show how Apple's "Thick Pro" laptop compares to the "Light and Thin" laptops. And as of June 14th, we added the 'mid 2012'
MacBook Pro "Retina to the mix. The take away is twofold.

  • Both MacBook Pros are much faster than both MacBook Airs with the exception of Memory Performance which is close.
  • The 2012 "Retina" MacBook Pro 2.7GHz has an 8% faster core clock compared to the 2011 MacBook Pro 2.5GHz but it runs the Cinebench CPU test 20% faster, Geekbench overall 15% faster, and Geekbench Memory Performance test 24% faster. The GeForce GPU is 10% slower in the Cinebench OpenGL animation but 72% faster running World of Warcraft at the "Good" preset.

MORE TO COME
Testing continues with real world pro apps like Photoshop, After Effects, Final Cut Pro, Motion, etc. We'll will post those results asap. If there is a certain test you want to see, feel free to make suggestions.

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Twitter @barefeats

WHERE TO BUY NEW APPLE PRODUCTS
USA readers can help us earn a commission by using this Apple Store USA link or by clicking on any Apple display ad. For UK readers, visit Apple Store UK.

WHERE TO BUY FACTORY REFURBISHED MACS
Apple offers refurbished Macs with 12 month warranty that can be extended to 36 months with AppleCare.

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copyright 2012 Rob Art Morgan
"BARE facts on Macintosh speed FEATS"
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