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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Notebooks > How much faster are the new Macbooks?

How much faster are the new Macbooks?
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Oct 31, 2013, 12:01 PM
 
I have a 2009 macbook pro, 2.2 GHZ, 8 GB ram and 480 gb SSD. How much faster are the mid-level macbook pro retina and macbook air? I am wondering mostly about real world results for processor intensive apps such as handbrake coding, imovie, etc. For example, if it takes an hour with handbrake now, will it be about 30 minutes on a new machine or what.
     
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Oct 31, 2013, 01:10 PM
 
The 2009 model was still a Core 2, which means that you do not have the integrated memory controller. That helps enormously for certain CPU tasks. In addition, Intel has added AVX and AVX2 to later generations, so any code that makes use of them is going to be further improved. What benches I can dig up indicate that if you go to the mid 13", it will not quite double performance for video encoding, but it will be fairly close - a 1 hour task will take somewhere around 35 minutes. If you go to the quadcore in the mid 15", you will easily double performance again, because tasks like this generally thread well.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
Wayland  (op)
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Nov 1, 2013, 09:24 AM
 
Thanks for the info. This is disappointing as I thought by now everything would be at least twice as fast. I guess Moore's law doesn't hold, at least for notebooks. I'll probably wait one more year before upgrading.
     
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Nov 1, 2013, 11:39 AM
 
Originally Posted by Wayland View Post
I have a 2009 macbook pro, 2.2 GHZ, 8 GB ram and 480 gb SSD. How much faster are the mid-level macbook pro retina and macbook air? I am wondering mostly about real world results for processor intensive apps such as handbrake coding, imovie, etc. For example, if it takes an hour with handbrake now, will it be about 30 minutes on a new machine or what.
According to Geekbench (surely not the most reliable all-around benchmark, but good enough to ballpark the performance) your current machine is a little slower than the iPad Air. (Of course, this part of Geekbench doesn't take RAM or storage into account which is still faster on your machine.)

That should give you an idea how far things have progressed in the meantime.
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Nov 1, 2013, 11:43 AM
 
Originally Posted by Wayland View Post
Thanks for the info. This is disappointing as I thought by now everything would be at least twice as fast. I guess Moore's law doesn't hold, at least for notebooks. I'll probably wait one more year before upgrading.
The focus of the improvements wasn't performance but battery life: in 2010, a 11" MacBook Air had an advertised battery life of ~5 hours while the battery life of the current model is up to ~11 hours in real-world tests. It's bigger brother has been tested to get in excess of 14 hours of battery life.* So Moore's law still holds, but instead of using it to drive performance, it's being used to prolong battery life.

* Of course, if you run your CPU full throttle, the battery won't last that long.
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Nov 2, 2013, 12:51 PM
 
Is it me or people have no use for 11 hours battery life, sacrificing performance? this is a MacBook Pro... Nowadays, people have laptops as primary computers and remains plugged 99% of the times. And as a pro machine, we expect high performance. For people who may eventually need 11 hours battery life (why? that's more than a typical work day...), they can make a souped down version, and call it a MacBook or MacBook Air...

I didn't have time to compare, but can I expect similar performance results as the new iMac? I'm doing a lot of iMovie editing but my computer will remain at my desk most of the time, but I still need a laptop for those few times a year.
     
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Nov 2, 2013, 02:00 PM
 
Originally Posted by FireWire View Post
I didn't have time to compare, but can I expect similar performance results as the new iMac?
The iMac seems faster.

2013 Retina MacBook Pro - pro app benchmarks
     
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Nov 2, 2013, 02:01 PM
 
@FireWire
If you really don't need portability, an iMac is significantly faster than any portable Mac, the cpus are clocked higher, they are less thermally constrained and include much beefier gpus as well.

But overall, I think you have it backwards, FireWire: people plug in their machines, because they would not survive a whole day of work without it! But if they happen to use an iPad, they don't plug it in for use. Also, keep in mind that you only reach this battery life if you don't constantly tax your CPU and GPU; if you do, battery life will be significantly shorter (it reduces to ~6 hours under heavy load for the 13" model).

Once battery life exceeds a certain threshold, completely new use cases emerge, e. g. about 10 years ago, the then-insane battery life of my iBook allowed me to take notes in three classes a day. If it had only 3 hours of battery life, that wouldn't have been possible. Ditto for weight: at the time, a 2.2 kg notebook was extremely light (it is still 300 g lighter than my current machine). For instance, Apple can now decide to make its notebooks smaller, lighter and cheaper while keeping battery life constant just as they did with the iPads.

Also, CPU performance is no longer the decisive factor for most users, because »they have enough«. Most tasks are not CPU bound or need only bursts of CPU power (e. g. when you load a web page) and you can race to sleep afterwards.

Many of the advances here are beneficial to desktop users as well. Mavericks' tricks to put apps to sleep not just improves battery life, but also responsiveness because 10.9 dedicates more resources to the user facing app rather than background processes.

For Intel, this race to the bottom (in terms of power consumption) is about survival, plain and simple. ARM is eating their lunch on the low end, and while ARM is racing up to higher and higher CPU power while keeping power consumption on moderate levels, Intel tries to make its CPUs more and more power efficient. The question is where they will meet? It looks like Apple has set the bar very, very high with its A7 design. If you were to have a 4-core incarnation, you'd reach ~2011 MacBook Air levels of speed at lower power consumption and much higher GPU performance (especially considering that the MacBook Airs don't have Retina screens).*

* Of course my argument is naïve since many apps are limited by single thread performance. And I'm using a single, rather simplistic benchmark.
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Nov 11, 2013, 05:53 PM
 
after seeing the benchmark, I was worried there was a big difference between the base MBP, the MBP with separate graphic card and the iMac, so I went to the Apple store with my video files and did a quick montage on iMovie. It was a 15 minutes HD 720 video, with transitions and a bit of slow motion. The quoted rendering time on the best MBP was 8 minutes but it finished in under 4. The regular MBP took maybe 1 minute more. I didn't bother testing the iMac since the performance were more than satisfying (it currently takes about 1 hour on my 2007 iMac...). Interestingly, the copying from the SD card to the SSD was faster on the regular MBP (2.0 i7 with 8 GB RAM). Also, during my testing, iMovie crashed on the best MBP and I had to force quit it on the lower MBP... I'd go with the lower end because the graphic card seems sufficient, but when spec'd equally, the price is the same so I think I'll go with the one with the dedicated graphic card.
     
   
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