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BARE FEATS LAB - real world Mac speed tests

2018 MacBook Air? Or Used MacBook Pro 13-inch?

December 13th, 2018, by rob-ART morgan, mad scientist

The new MacBook Air is an improvement over the previous MacBook Air models -- especially with the addition of a Retina display. But is it really a better buy than a 13-inch MacBook Pro -- even a used one? We decided to challenge it to a shootout using a two year old MacBook Pro we happened to have in the lab.

GRAPH LEGEND
MacBook Air 2018 = 1.6GHz dual-core Intel Core i5, 16GB of 2133MHz LPDDR3 memory, Intel UHD Graphics 617
MacBook Pro 2016 = 3.3GHz dual-core Intel Core i7, 16GB of 2133MHz LPDDR3 memory, Intel Iris Graphics 550

GEEKBENCH MULTI CORE

The OVERALL score is a combination of integer, floating-point, and memory performance. (The HIGHER the SCORE, the FASTER the Mac.)

CINEBENCH MULTI CORE CPU

Render a 3D scene using all 4 threads of the 2-core CPU. (The HIGHER the SCORE, the FASTER the Mac.)

GEEKBENCH OPENCL GPU COMPUTE

The GPU various tests range from image processing to computer vision to number crunching. (The HIGHER the SCORE, the FASTER the Mac.)

GEEKBENCH METAL GPU COMPUTE

(The HIGHER the SCORE, the FASTER the Mac.)

GFXBENCH METAL

Aztec Ruins Normal OFFscreen 1920x1080. (The HIGHER the FPS, the FASTER the Mac.)

Car Chase Normal OFFscreen 1920x1080. (The HIGHER the FPS, the FASTER the Mac.)

HEAVEN OPENGL

We chose the Basic preset for this OpenGL benchmark. (The HIGHER the Frames per Second, the FASTER the Mac.)

DIRT RALLY

Using the built-in Benchmark mode, we selected Medium preset at 1280X800 Fullscreen, disabled Vsync, and disabled MSAA. The HIGHER the Frames per Second, the FASTER the Mac.)

RETURN OF TOMB RAIDER

A Metal based game, we used the built-in 3 phase benchmark at 1280x800 Medium preset. (The HIGHER the Frames per Second, the FASTER the Mac.)

WHY THIS PARTICULAR COMPARISON?

Let's talk money. The MacBook Air we tested (16G of memory, 512G of flash storage) is priced at $1799. The 2016 MacBook Pro we tested (16G of memory, 512G of flash storage) recently sold for $1545 on eBay. The 2018 "entry-level" MacBook Pro with 16G of memory and 512G flash is only $100 more than the MacBook Air we tested. Geekbench reports CPU and GPU numbers similar to the 2016 "top model" we featured here.

Let's talk weight. The MacBook Air weighs 2.75 lbs. The MacBook Pro weighs 3.02 lbs.

Let's talk size. The MacBook Air is 11.97 x 8.36 x .61 inches (at the thickest point). The MacBook Pro is 11.97 x 8.36 x .59 inches.

Let's talk ports. The MacBook Air has TWO USB-C ports (USB 3.1 Gen 2, Thunderbolt 3). The MacBook Pro we tested has FOUR USB-C ports (USB 3.1 Gen 2, Thunderbolt 3)

Seeing the performance comparison and knowing these specs, would you choose the MacBook Air over a MacBook Pro -- new or refurbished or used?

If you already bought a MacBook Air and are trying to do game play with it, there is a way to boost the framerates of GPU intensive games. Sonnet Technologies has a small eGPU they call the Breakaway Puck. We connected one with the Radeon RX 570 installed and got a 5X boost in FPS running Return of Tomb Raider:

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copyright 2018 Rob Art Morgan
"BARE facts on Macintosh speed FEATS"
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