MacBook Air Benchmarks: Fast Enough For Everyday Use, But The Slow Processor Does Hurt Performance

You know, it’s one thing to use subjective and entirely unscientific terms like “feels” or “seems” when it comes to reviewing computers, but there’s something to be said about actually running benchmarks and comparing the numbers to other comparable computers. Numbers don’t lie. So kudos to MacWorld for actually taking the time to see just how impressive, or not, the new MacBook Air is.

Compared to the previous edition of the MacBook Air, the new version performs better in every way, most of which can be attributed to the elimination of tractional hard disk drives (HDD) and the transition to solid state drives (SSD). SSDs don’t need to spin up to a useable state, and their access and write times run circles around HDDs.

Not surprising, however, is that the MacBook Air doesn’t really compare to MacBook Pros featuring Intel Core i5 processors. You may think your MacBook Air is “faster” than your MacBook Pro if all you’re doing is reading Facebook messages, typing in Microsoft Word, or even doing some basic Photoshop editing. The SSDs will make your browser launch faster, for example, so you could simply say, “Oh, it’s faster.”

Well yeah: you’re comparing two different types of storage, one of which is demonstrably faster than the other.

But, try to render a high-resolution video using the MacBook Air, with its Core 2 Duo, then you’ll see how “fast” it is.

We actually had this argument with John. The MacBook Air is great, and probably will be “faster” for your day-to-day use thanks to the SSD, but to have purchased the computer with the express intention of editing video on it may have been a misstep on his part.

Bottom line: the MacBook Air is a state-of-the-art computer in a lot of ways, particularly when it comes to design. And for your average use, the SSDs will be a huge benefit. But don’t think that you’ll be churning out video in Premiere or Final Cut Pro as effectively as you would using a computer with a modern processor.

Then again, how often are you rendering video in the first place?