Thursday, July 21, 2011

MacBook Pros, Hit the Bench: The Air Is Gaining Muscle

MacBook Pros, Hit the Bench: The Air Is Gaining Muscle: "

The new MacBook Airs' i5 processor and backlit keyboard make it a speedy, slick machine

If you bought a MacBook Pro last year, it just got outflanked by its slimmer, smaller cousin, the MacBook Air.

According to benchmark tests, the 2011 MacBook Air outperforms every 2010 MacBook Pro.

Laptop magazine reports that the 13-inch Air had a performance boost of 100 percent over last year’s Air, scoring 5,860 on the Geekbench test. It boots in 17 seconds, and has a 6.25-hour battery life. The 11-inch Air jumped 149 percent, for a Geekbench score of 5,040, compared to 2,024 for last year’s model. It took 19 seconds to boot up, and its battery lasted just over 4.75 hours.

As a direct comparison, the 2010 17-inch MacBook Pro scored 5,423 on its benchmark test — so the new 13-inch Mac Book Air is more powerful than the 17-inch Pro, and the 11-inch Air is on par with it. Kind of mind blowing.

The MacBook Pro line, particularly the 2010 MacBook Pros, have been a big target audience for Apple. Available in 13-inch, 15-inch, and 17-inch sizes, they featured the most powerful processors in Apple’s line of portables (the 15 and 17-inchers came standard with a 2.6 GHz Intel Core i5 Chip).

Apple’s big performance boost for the MacBook Air illustrates its larger plan. The company in recent years has invested less on products for the professional marketplace to focus on hardware for general consumers, including iPhones, iPads and now, the MacBook Air.

Apple’s steady strides away from the professional marketplace are exemplified by the recent release of Final Cut Pro X, a dumbed-down version of the video-editing tool, which angered many professional video editors. Also, Apple in recent years has been slower with releasing upgrades for the Mac Pro.

And here’s an obvious tell: Apple hasn’t updated its Pro webpage in two years.

Last year’s MacBook Airs were lauded for their super-slim .76-inch thickness and less than 3-pound heft. That frame came at a price, though: they housed less impressive Core 2 Duo processors, relegating the Air to niche markets like frequent travelers who were looking for just a decently-performing ultra-portable notebook. Since Apple unveiled their newer, faster MacBook Airs yesterday, it looks like the MacBook Air will be taking the front seat to the Pro.

It looks like size doesn’t matter. Well, when it comes to Apple notebooks, at least.


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