MacBook Air 2011 Benchmarks Show Huge Speed & Performance Gains

Jul 20, 2011 - 25 Comments

MacBook Air 2011 Benchmarks

The first benchmarks for the MacBook Air 2011 refresh (released alongside Lion) are rolling in, and they show that the Intel Core i5 processor in both the 13″ and 11″ variation are screamers. How fast? Well, just check out the Geekbench scores, which for both models are at least double the speed of the 2010 Core 2 Duo’s they replaced. In fact, the new MacBook Air’s are so fast that the speed of the new 1.7GHz Core i5 13″ model is faster than the 2010 MacBook Pro 17″ that was a 2.6GHz Core i7, as ElectricPig says:

To put these benchmarks into perspective, the 2010 17-inch 2.67 GHz Core i7 MacBook Pro scored 5423. For [$999] the 11-inch MacBook Air offers a benchmark on par with last year’s [$2499] 17-inch MacBook Pro.

Undoubtedly some of the speed increase is due to the ultrafast SSD, but it also shows the new Intel Core i5 contained within the 2011 MBA refresh is a screamer.

GeekBench scores are all well and good, but let’s see some real world tests shall we? MacWorld shows us their preliminary results of the 2011 MacBook Air 13″ Core i5 (times in seconds):
MacBook Air 2011 Benchmarks via MacWorld

MacBook Air Core i5 2011 Benchmarks

In the real world tests, the MacBook Air 1.7GHz Core i5 beats out both a 2010 MacBook Air Core 2 Duo and a 2011 MacBook Pro 13″ 2.3GHz Core i5 in some tests, especially anything dependent on the SSD like file duplication and ZIP archive manipulation. The only place where it scores lower than the model it replaces is with a GPU intensive task, which is unsurprising considering the relatively underperforming Intel HD 3000 GPU.

All in all these look like killer Macs, I can’t wait to try one out.

Update: More benchmark results! The following are from a fully decked out 2011 MacBook Air Core i7 at 1.8GHz, 4GB of RAM, and the 256GB SSD, and compare that model to the 2011 MacBook Pro Core i7’s as well as last years 2010 MacBook Air. Results courtesy of BareFeats:

MacBook Air 2011 Core i7 benchmarks

MacBook Air 2011 Core i7 benchmarks 2

Arguably the most disappointing results come from Portal 2 (gaming) performance, but that isn’t surprising considering the Intel HD 3000 Graphics GPU is relatively weak in comparison to the beefy GPU on the top of the line 2011 MacBook Pro:

MacBook Air 2011 Core i7 Portal 2 benchmarks

These are killer Macs, I can’t wait to get one!

Amazon is selling some of these at a discount, be sure to check them out:

MacBook Air MC968LL/A 11.6-Inch Laptop (NEWEST VERSION) – $949.99 from Amazon


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Posted by: Matt Chan in Hardware, Mac


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  1. test3r says:

    you’re comparing apples and oranges here. if you do a comparison between a mbp and a mba, make sure both are equipped with the same ssd. else you simply measure the performance difference between a classical hard drive and an ssd. which is obvious.

    i’m also looking for a benchmark comparison of gpus only.

    • Pitcher says:

      It’s not really “Apples” and Oranges when comparing the stock 13″ MBA (with Flash HD standard) to the base model 13″ MBP (with stock HDD) as they are at the same price point. Therefore, I imagine many potential buyers (myself included) are trying to decide between the early 2011 13″ MBP 2.3 GHz i5 and the Late Summer 2011 13″ MBA 1.7 GHz i5. If you buy the base model 13″ MBP and upgrade to a 128GB SSD the price goes up by $250 so obviously it should have a higher performance.

      All that said, there are buyers at all different price points (well, “high”, “higher” and “money is no object”, because lets face it, we’re talking about Apple notebooks here – not cheap) so I do think it would be helpful to include a benchmark of the various MBP models with the SSD upgrade as well as it would be helpful on deciding whether or not it is worth your $250 to spring for the SSD. Another perk of the SSD is durability and it is totally silent and I imagine cooler. Also I believe the MBA has no fan so it is even quieter (yet stays cooler than any laptop on the market that I am aware of).

      I am sure these benchmarks are available somewhere on the web if you look hard enough.

      Based on this information, unless you edit videos, need a bunch of extra ports, or are a hardcore gaming nerd (and therefore wouldn’t get caught dead with a Mac anyway as you probably run in circles of anti-Apple trolls) I think the MBA is the way to go. I am actually having a hard time deciding about the high end 11″ MBA or the base model 13″ MBP as they basically have the same specs (except for the monitor size of course). I was worried the 11″ would be way too small but I checked it out in the store and I’m sure I would be worth it for it’s increased portability (although it would be a minor concern that it has decreased battery life vs. the 13″).

      • Mark says:

        Hi, I am in the same boat as you, debating whether to get the 2011 MBA i5 with 256G flash, or by a 2011 MBP i5 2.8Ghz 500GB hard drive. Both are priced around the same, but as soon as I add an 256Gb SSD on the MBP, the price shoots up. So I ordered the MBA hoping that the SSD would make up the slower CPU and less RAM. We shall see.

  2. […] und in einigen Bereichen auch das eine oder andere MacBook Pro abhängt. In diesem Zusammenhang hat OSXDaily einen umfangreichen Benchmarktest zum neuen MacBook Air veröffentlicht, der die Ergebnisse […]

  3. margaret says:

    I bought the latest Macbook Air 11.6, last week – cost $1000 Australian – reduced from $1099 –
    so far very happy – Seems fast and user friendly.
    I want to put word processing on it, and bought the software at the same time but i have no idea of how to get the word processing onto the Air.
    I would recommend some kind of a clip on case to protect the Air – as the metal casing looks like it would scratch easily

  4. robrxgz says:

    Are here any comparisons between the 2011 MacBook Air and the late-2009 MacBook White Unibody?

  5. Jason says:

    Am I reading this right, but the MBPro 2.3 beats the more expensive 2.7?

    I’d like to see the 2.2 quad core thrown in there just for some more perspective.

  6. […] new 11 and 13-inch MacBook Airs are just so fast (faster than a 2010 Core i7 17-inch MacBook Pro) that it wouldn’t be too hard to stuff a […]

  7. […] new 11 and 13-inch MacBook Airs are just so fast (faster than a 2010 Core i7 17-inch MacBook Pro) that it wouldn’t be too hard to stuff a […]

  8. galven says:

    Just to let you know there is no “13” MBA 1.6 GHz. I think the first image you have has a typo. Perhaps you mean 11″ MBA 1.6GHz?

  9. Ordered my 13 inch mac, getting it on thursday! :D
    I’m not a gamer so I don’t really care about graphics. As long as it can playback 1080 HD movies I’m fine..

  10. Asif says:

    how dependent is the Geekbench benchmark on hard drive performance? I think the difference in the benchmarks between the 2011 MBA and the 2010 MBP is due mainly to the SSD in the MBA. Are there any benchmarks for the 2010 MBP’s configured with an SSD (albeit it would just be an SSD harddrive as opposed to being mounted to the motherboard like the MBA). The only other appreciable differences is the increase in memory frequence from 1066 to 1333 MHz.

    • Matt says:

      You could probably find some GeekBench results on their website with SSD’s, but yes the MacBook Pro series with SSD is also very fast. That said, the Core i5 and Core i7 CPU is vastly superior to the Core 2 Duo, so even lower clock speeds can outperform the older chipset.

  11. […] Air a much faster computer than the apparent small processor speed increase suggests according to OS X Daily who have some benchmark tests and call these new versions, “screamers”. Like the Mac […]

  12. […] blowing away early benchmarks, in some cases doubling their predecessors and even outperforming the impressive MacBook Air 2011 benchmarks. Not bad for a tiny Mac are they? Unsurprisingly, the Mac Mini Core i7 model is the most […]

  13. Jen Smart says:

    I am about to buy a set of new Mac Laptops, I just find it curious that everyone is comparing the new Air to the 2010 MBP when they were updated in Feb of 2011. The 15 inch Quad-core MBP gets 8804 on the benchmark score, so that is good compared to the MBA.

    I like them both so may just get one of each. The MBP for video import / editing and audio and the Air for my daily.

    Would like to see you compare with the current shipping models sometime.


  14. […] OS X Daily, GeekBench Related Posts :Browser Comparison: Blackberry 9900 vs iPhone… Google+ now officially […]

  15. Ted says:

    I wish they supported 8GB RAM, but I am going to upgrade from my rapidly aging MacBook Pro and am quite excited about it really.

    • shawn says:

      Every imac and MBP I’ve had I maxed out the RAM and saw really little need post install.

      With the SSD you be swapping RAM at a rate that will make no difference between a 4 or 16 machine for 99% of the users out there…

  16. Sam says:

    Little confused is this in seconds?

  17. The Dude says:

    I am going to buy one the moment my store has the base 13″ model in stock.

  18. […] Read the entire article here:  MacBook Air 2011 Benchmarks Show Huge Speed & Performance Gains. […]

  19. […] MacBook Air 2011 Benchmarks Show Huge Speed & Performance Gains Benchmarki! Komputer: iMac 27' i3/8GB Ram Telefon: 16GB iPhone 4 Odtwarzacz: […]

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