New MacBook Air: Slow MacBook or Fast iPad?
According to early benchmark results
of the new MacBook Air line, it would appear that tradeoff of speed versus portability is still significant but less dramatic than it was in previous models. Primate Labs, the devs behind Geekbench, took a look at the new 13-inch MacBook Air and found it faster than the previous Air models but slower than the 13-inch MacBook Pro. The all-new "mini" MBA, though, is still way off in the weeds with its 1.4 GHz Core 2 Duo. However, tests don't take into account performance improvements from the flash drive and fast graphics card.
Geekbench is a set of benchmark tests
that are intended to serve as a reasonable standard for measuring the relative processor and memory performance of computers running different hardware and operating systems. Primate Labs used their Geekbench Browser to aggregate results from the MacBook Airs that users had benchmarked so far. The results were interesting, showing somewhat improved performance, but still on the wrong end end of the price/performance curve.
Since the release of the smaller MacBook Air, pundits have been trying to figure out the target market
for the new product. The 13-inch model seems clearly focused at power users who want a lighter, slimmer laptop. And in point of fact, the performance statistics
are respectable, if underwhelming for the price: the top-of-the-line MacBook Air scores a 2695 as compared to a 3349 for a MacBook that costs $600 less, and a 3358 for a MacBook Pro that costs $300 less. The 11-inch MacBook Air, however, is a bit harder to classify: it's a small, light, and very slow laptop. Primate gave it their best shot, saying that there's "two ways you can look at the new 11-inch MacBook Air; it's either a much smaller but slower MacBook Pro, or a much faster but larger iPad." However, a significant caveat is that Geekbench focuses only on CPU and memory. Actual performance of the new MBA should be notably faster due to the improved access time on the solid-state drive and the faster NVIDIA 320M that the Air shares with the MacBook.
The bottom line is that the 2010 MBAs are still a niche product, mostly targeted at people who are willing to pay a premium for Apple's fit and finish. However, the formerly huge distance between the Air and the regular MacBook line has decreased significantly, especially when you take the flash drive into consideration.