Lab tested: Haswell MacBook Air benefits from faster graphics, flash storage

James Galbraith
13 June, 2013
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Apple on Tuesday updated the MacBook Air with Intel’s fouth generation Core processors, code named Haswell. Macworld Lab has the new MacBook Air and the results are interesting, to say the least – the 2012 and 2013 13in models received the same overall system performance score in Speedmark 8, but individual tests tell a different story.

There are four standard models of the MacBook Air, but all four share many of the same internal parts. Each MacBook Air comes with a 1.3GHz dual-core fourth generation Core i5 processor, capable of reaching speeds of 2.6GHz using Turbo Boost. Not mentioned in the marketing materials is that Hyper-Threading is supported on these i5 processors, allowing multi-threaded applications to address four virtual processing cores on these dual core systems. All of the standard MacBook Airs ship with 4GB of 1600MHz LPDDR memory and use Intel’s new HD Graphics 5000 integrated graphics.

As you’d expect, the new 11in and 13in MacBook Airs’ performance was practically identical. Just one Speedmark point separated the 13in and 11in models and the individual test results between them were similarly similar.

The new 11in MacBook Air was nine percent faster overall than last year’s 11in 1.7GHz Core i5 Ivy Bridge model. The individual application tests (listed at the end of this story) show that many results were very close, with seven tests (including Photoshop and Aperture) within three percent of each other. The biggest differences were in graphics and storage tests. The Intel HD Graphics 5000 in the new system pushed 24 percent more frames per second in Cinebench’s Open GL test and produced an eight percent higher frame rate in Portal 2. The faster flash storage in the new MacBook Air lived up to the hype, transferring 6GB of files and folders 51 percent faster than last year’s Air. We ran Black Magic’s Disk Speed Test on the two systems and found the read speeds for the new 11in model were 667.7 MBps, versus 141.1 MBps on the 2012 11in Air’s 64GB of flash storage. Write speeds on the new 11in model hit 726.8 MBps, compared to 393.7 MBps on the 2012 Air.

“]

Testing MacBook Airs, new and old. [Mike Homnick

Comparing the 13in models, the new 1.3GHz Core i5 Haswell model and last year’s 1.8GHz Ivy Bridge model got identical overall Speedmark scores, but that belies the true back and forth battle that the individual test results show. The older system was faster in eight of the 15 tests, including our iMovie export, which was 34 percent faster on the older 13in. The new 13in model was faster in seven of the tests, with 30 percent faster frame rates in Cinebench’s Open GL test and a 28 percent faster file copy result.

Matching up the new 13in MacBook Air with the current 13in 2.6GHz core i5 dual core Ivy Bridge Retina MacBook Pro, the Pro earned a 14 percent faster Speedmark score. In the individual application tests, the Retina MacBook Pro was faster across the board – with the exception of graphics and storage speeds. The new 13in MacBook Air’s Intel HD Graphics 5000 was 31 percent faster in the Cinebench OpenGL test and 14 percent faster in Portal 2 than the Intel Graphics 4000 in the 13in MacBook Pro. The new Air was also 24 percent faster in our file copy test.

 

Mid 2013 MacBook Airs: Individual application scores

Duplicate
2GB Folder
Compress
6GB Folder
Uncompress
6GB Folder
13in MacBook Air/1.3GHz Core i5 (Mid 2013) 30.0 385.9 46.4
11in MacBook Air/1.3GHz Core i5 (Mid 2013) 29.3 383.2 47.6
13in MacBook Air/1.8GHz Core i5 (Mid 2012) 41.8 361.8 48.9
11in MacBook Air/1.7GHz Core i5 (Mid 2012) 59.9 391.8 63.4
13in MacBook Air/1.7GHz Core i5 (Mid 2011) 88.9 397.2 82.5
13in Retina MacBook Pro/2.6GHz Core i5 (Early 2013) 39.5 319.1 42.6

Results are in seconds. Lower results are better. Best result in bold. Reference models in italics.

Mid 2013 MacBook Airs: Individual application scores

Import
iMovie
Archive
iMovie
Share to
iTunes
HandBrake
Encode
13in MacBook Air/1.3GHz Core i5 (Mid 2013) 102.3 113.1 161.0
11in MacBook Air/1.3GHz Core i5 (Mid 2013) 102.2 113.3 161.3
13in MacBook Air/1.8GHz Core i5 (Mid 2012) 95.1 74.9 177.7
11in MacBook Air/1.7GHz Core i5 (Mid 2012) 101.3 78.4 196.0
13in MacBook Air/1.7GHz Core i5 (Mid 2011) 112.0 94.8 200.0
13in Retina MacBook Pro/2.6GHz Core i5 (Early 2013) 81.7 66.6 107.0

Results are in seconds. Lower results are better. Best result in bold. Reference models in italics.

Mid 2013 MacBook Airs: Individual application scores

iPhoto
Import
Aperture
Import
Photoshop
CS5 Action
13in MacBook Air/1.3GHz Core i5 (Mid 2013) 94.0 80.3 124.3
11in MacBook Air/1.3GHz Core i5 (Mid 2013) 94.3 79.7 123.7
13in MacBook Air/1.8GHz Core i5 (Mid 2012) 82.0 72.5 120.7
11in MacBook Air/1.7GHz Core i5 (Mid 2012) 90.5 79.2 123.3
13in MacBook Air/1.7GHz Core i5 (Mid 2011) 98.2 83.3 131.3
13in Retina MacBook Pro/2.6GHz Core i5 (Early 2013) 77.0 62.7 106.7

Results are in seconds. Lower results are better. Best result in bold. Reference models in italics.

Mid 2013 MacBook Airs: Individual application scores

iTunes
AAC to
MP3 Encode
Cinebench
CPU
VMware
PCMark
Mathe-
maticaMark 8
13in MacBook Air/1.3GHz Core i5 (Mid 2013) 119.3 168.0 2785.7 0.94
11in MacBook Air/1.3GHz Core i5 (Mid 2013) 119 168.3 2739.7 0.95
13in MacBook Air/1.8GHz Core i5 (Mid 2012) 115.7 170.3 2450.0 1.00
11in MacBook Air/1.7GHz Core i5 (Mid 2012) 123.7 173.0 2484.7 0.90
13in MacBook Air/1.7GHz Core i5 (Mid 2011) 127.3 210.3 2026.7 0.80
13in Retina MacBook Pro/2.6GHz Core i5 (Early 2013) 103.3 141.0 3286.0 1.07

iTunes and Cinebench CPU results are in seconds (lower results are better). VMware PCMark and MathematicaMark 8 are scores (higher results are better). Best result in bold. Reference models in italics.

Mid 2013 MacBook Airs: Individual application scores

Cinebench
OpenGL
Portal 2
13in MacBook Air/1.3GHz Core i5 (Mid 2013) 23.2 56.7
11in MacBook Air/1.3GHz Core i5 (Mid 2013) 21.9 54.8
13in MacBook Air/1.8GHz Core i5 (Mid 2012) 17.8 52.3
11in MacBook Air/1.7GHz Core i5 (Mid 2012) 17.6 50.6
13in MacBook Air/1.7GHz Core i5 (Mid 2011) 11.1 39.6
13in Retina MacBook Pro/2.6GHz Core i5 (Early 2013) 17.7 49.6

Results are in frames per second. Higher results are better. Best result in >bold. Reference models in italics.

 

Next from Macworld Lab: Battery life test results for the new MacBook Air and a full review. Also coming up: A look at an ultimate configuration 2013 MacBook Air.

By James Galbraith. Macworld

 

Check out the following links for more WWDC news, analysis and discussion:

iOS 7
Help: FAQ: everything you need to know about iOS 7
Blogs: 27 new iOS 7 features Apple didn’t talk about
News: Apple unveils iOS 7
Blogs: iOS 7: how its latest features stack up to Android
Blogs: Siri in iOS 7: Apple still playing catch up with Google, but moving aggressively
News: Siri gets smarter in iOS 7, ditches Google for search
Blogs: What Apple’s new AirDrop data sharing says about NFC
News: Apple’s law enforcement critics ‘appreciative’ of new activation lock

OS X Mavericks
Help: FAQ: everything you need to know about OS X Mavericks
News: Apple previews OS X ‘Mavericks’
News: iBooks to come to the Mac
News: Safari gets energy-efficient update in Mavericks

MacBook Air
Features: Lab tested: Haswell MacBook Air benefits from faster graphics, flash storage
News: New MacBook Airs get better battery life & graphics performance
News: Apple’s Mac move could spur PCIe flash flurry in notebooks, desktops
News: Intel’s new Haswell chips may be hot, but not in a good way

Mac Pro
News: The wait is nearly over: Apple unveils new Mac Pro
Features: The new Mac Pro: what you need to know
Help: Will your creative software run on the Mac Pro 2013?

Apple
Blogs: iOS 7, Mavericks and more: developers react to WWDC announcements
Blogs: Apple’s events move on, and so does the company
Blogs: Meet the new Apple, same as the old Apple
News: The Apple Design Award winners
News: Apple’s big-screen TV was a no-show at WWDC, but analysts say it’s coming soon
News: Anki’s AI cars show off App Store strength

iWork
News: Apple sees chance to compete with Office on the web
News: iWork for iCloud highlights productivity suite update

iTunes Radio
News: Apple gets into the stream of things with iTunes Radio

 

 

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