I currently own or use a variety of Macs, and am approaching the end of a 'cycle' of Mac usage, where I need to decided what Mac I'd like to purchase next. Currently, I'm using a 27" iMac at work, an 11" MacBook Air (from work) for travel, and a 24" iMac at home. They're all great computers in their own right, and using Dropbox, MobileMe, and a couple other helper services, I can operate simultaneously on all three Macs, without any hiccups.
So, I'm thinking about getting a new Mac for hardcore development work (web and app), some graphic design, and possible portability. I have an iPad for lighter computing (reading, browsing, email, videos...), so even though the MacBook Air is probably the best thing to happen to a laptop in a very long time, I'm shying away from it as my primary personal computer.
One of the very few things that I really notice when switching from either of the iMacs (both with 2.8 Ghz processors - work with a quad core, home with core 2 duo) to the MacBook Air is the processor speed difference. (The MBA's SSD blows away the disk performance of either iMac—but that just masks the lower processor performance in many situations). Examples of times where it's painful to use the MacBook Air: Heavy Photoshop processing, Aperture photo adjustments (especially with a hundred or two photos on the road—the processor's pegged at 100% the whole time!), and building an App in Xcode for testing/debugging.
I'm thinking of going one of two routes:
- Simply purchase a monster 15" MacBook Pro (core i7, maxed out) with the high-res display, max out the RAM, and put in a 115 GB SSD drive, and stick the HDD drive into the Optical Drive slot with this nifty cage from OWC.
- iMac 21" middle-of-the-road, for heavier work, and 13" MacBook Air with 4GB RAM for travel.
No matter what route I go, I'm going to get very nice results—better than my current setup. But I think what it comes down to—for me—is whether I can suffer through a slow experience of batch-editing a few hundred Aperture photos, or waiting 1.5 minutes every time I build an iPhone app for testing...
So, for the rest of this post, I'm simply going to post some benchmarks (to be updated as I get time on friends' Macs, at the Apple Store, etc.) of processor speed, as tested using the nifty Power Fractal app that was written quite a long time ago, and is one of the only constant apps I've been able to trust for a processor-intense test throughout the G4->G5->Intel transition. I remember eeking every last bit of CPU out of my old G4/400 MHz to try to break the 1,000 Mflop barrier, by quitting every service that was running on that old Mac (10.1 or 10.2 at the time!).
For each Mac, I used '65536' for 'Maximum Count,' '10' for 'Color speed,' '2' for 'Zoom Factor,' and ran the test three times. Posted below are the averages for three tests.
|Mac Model||Processor Speed||Cores||Price||Gigaflops||Dollars per GFlop|
|MacBook Air 11” 1.3 i5 (2013)||1300||2||999||23.7||42|
|MacBook Air 11” 1.7 i7 (2013)||1700||2||1445||29.8||49|
|MacBook Air 11” 1.4 c2d (2010)||1400||2||999||9.6||104|
|MacBook Air 11” 1.6 c2d (2010)||1600||2||1299||11.1||117|
|MacBook Air 11" 1.6 i5 (2011)||1600||2||999||19.7||51|
|MacBook Air 13” 1.86 c2d||1860||2||1299||12.8||101|
|MacBook Air 13” 2.13 c2d||2130||2||1699||?||0|
|MacBook 13” 2.4 c2d||2400||2||999||16.6||60|
|MacBook Pro 13” 2.3 i5||2300||2||1199||26.5||45|
|MacBook Pro 13” 2.7 i7||2700||2||1499||31.4||48|
|Mac Mini 2.3 i5||2300||2||599||25.4||24|
|iMac 24” 2.8 c2d (2008)*||2800||2||1199||19.2||62|
|iMac 27” 2.66 i5q (2009)*||2660||4||1499||40.8||37|
|iMac 21” 3.2 i3||3200||2||1499||29.1||52|
|iMac 27” 2.8 i5q||2800||4||1999||43.2||46|
|MacBook Pro 15" 1.83 cd (2006)*||1830||2||350||3.6||97|
|MacBook Pro 15” 2.0 i7q||2000||4||1799||50.3||36|
|MacBook Pro 15” 2.2 i7q||2200||4||2199||51.8||42|
|MacBook Pro 15” 2.3 i7q||2300||4||2449||53.9||45|
|MacBook Pro 15" Retina 2.3 i7q||2300||4||1999||64.7||31|
|Macbook Pro 15" Retina 2.6 i7q||2600||4||2599||71.3||36|
|MacBook Pro 17” 2.2 i7q||2200||4||2499||57.4||44|
|MacBook Pro 17” 2.3 i7q||2300||4||2749||58.9||47|
|Mac Pro 2.8 Xeon quad||2800||4||2499||53.6||47|
*Prices are estimates from eBay, as of the writing of this post
Also for reference, here are the Geekbench results listings for Mac performance. The Geekbench benchmarks test a variety of things, not just CPU, so those benchmarks are slightly less relevant for my purchasing decision...