Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Testing the MacBook Air 13 "mid-2012 1.8 GHz Core i5 - I

This is a virtual twin of the previous model that offers Apple MacBook Air with this 13 "version 2012. One year to another, the designers have made to the exterior of the machine and only minor changes that it sees only the AC power really evolve. The outline of this family remains the same since its birth in early 2008. The number of times we have seen manufacturers take inspiration from this design is sufficient to demonstrate its relevance.

This notebook is still rather thin and light but sturdily built with its aluminum chassis. Except to completely remove the connector is difficult to imagine how further refine very significantly. Or rather, if this product exists is the iPad ...

The main visible change, and even for a trained eye, focuses on the renamed MagSafe power connector 2. It has already been fully described, it is thinner and wider. It also requires the purchase of an adapter (10 €) if you plan to use this laptop with a second power supply already in your possession. Second evolution, the tip of the power cable that recovers its shape "T". The previous design proposed an end in the extension of the cable (called "L") and was more solid. The other exterior changes are anecdotal (moving logos connectors) and the keyboard is identical to the previous model. It is always backlit; it's a real comfort when working in dim light.

New engine, new connectors

Inside, the machine is equipped with the Intel Core architecture of third generation, aka Ivy Bridge. She brings a processor engraved in 22 nm and a graphics chip every two faster than USB and 3, for the first time at Apple. Another welcome development, the RAM can be increased to 8 GB 4 GB max against previously.

The MacBook Air, as the Pro Retina, features the new design of fan blades with these spacing between each of which is irregular (2.8 mm to 3.6 mm, via iFixit). This is to distribute the noise on several frequencies instead of one that would be more noticeable. What we can say is that Internet use in a broad sense, this laptop is quiet and usually cold. When it comes to life with encoding tasks, the noise is quite tolerable, just like the heat. Our test machine is the second model of the MacBook Air 13 ", which was mounted to 8 GB of RAM (100 €), a total of € 1649. At that rate setting is:

- Core i5 (ref 3427U) and two 1.8 GHz cores (quad core logic with Hyperthreading). Turbo Boost is capable of a frequency of 2.8 GHz point on a single core.
- Definition screen 1440 x 900
- 256 GB SSD (251 GB in practice and management of Trim). The 512 GB SSD option adds to the € 500 note.
- HD 4000 graphics chip Intel 350 MHz (or 1.05 GHz peak).
- 2 USB ports 3 backwards compatible with USB 2
- 1 port Thunderbolt (it can handle an external monitor in 2560 x 1600)
- 1 SD card reader
- A webcam FaceTime HD 720p
- A microphone mounted on the left edge of the chassis, two stereo speakers and a headphone output.
- Wi-Fi 802.11n and Bluetooth 4.

Raw performance

It goes with the MacBook Air 13 "as the MacBook Air 11" 1.7 GHz Core i5 tested before him, up a very logical performance. With Geekbench, our Core i5 at 1.8 GHz is 6% faster than the high end of a year ago with him a Core i7 to 1.8 GHz as well. Faced with a 13 "MacBook Pro early 2011, i5 also, but with a much higher frequency of 2.3 GHz, our machine is a touch faster (+2.5%).

Identical finding with Cinebench testing the graphics chip. The Intel HD Graphics 4000 shows 55% faster than 3000 on the calculations of OpenGL applications on software.

More meaningful to the user application tests are. We conducted the same set of measures with software varied. Without surprise, the differences are all in favor of the new model (with the notable exception of iPhoto, slower export than the previous 13 "Core i7). Aperture Thus 12.5% faster, the iMovie is 10%, 11% has encoded Handbrake faster; Photoshop CS5 was 37.5% better.

When exporting iMovie, which lasts about fifteen minutes and we chained twice, the heat was evident, located under the laptop (a strip running along the hinge, the left half of the laptop). The laptop on your lap, it felt good this localized release. It was in the register of warm / hot but not burning. Ventilation was sometimes completely silent sometimes present, but in moderation for the ear.

However, this was a day of high temperature. We have extended the same test in a more temperate afternoon, launching simultaneously encoding in iMovie and GarageBand in another. The fan activity was noticeable in a quiet room, but his sound remained fairly discreet presence. The base under the screen was still hot, without excess, in the sense that it can be kept on the lap without problems.

A detour Diablo III results in a relatively positive findings vis-à-vis the graphics chip. In native resolution of 1440x900 you can play with high quality textures and rendering physical density of detail set to medium and shadows disabled. A player will lower even more demanding certain details to gain fluency, but the previous profile can play in decent conditions.

As for Starcraft II we use in the test battery with maximum options, performance has been doubled with the introduction of the Intel Graphics HD 4000 instead of 3000.

During use that we imagine quite common with this machine (internet, mail, writing), you can count on a complete silent operation and a basic cold or barely warm in the worst case. Users accustomed to the previous generation MacBook Air 13 “appreciate. The test results also show the SSD progress. We obtained an average of 482 MB / s read and 404 MB / s write. There is a year values ranged between 250 and 300 MB / s on 13 "Core i7. The boot time with a new installation of Leo, because you landed on the desk, ready to work in just over 10 seconds. Note that the flash memory module uses a drawing pin different from the old model. Manufacturers of extension bars will have to create new ones.

The USB 3 is another attraction of this machine, with Intel's standard integrated its platform to Ivy Bridge, in turn benefits from Apple. We successively connected to the MacBook Air as well as an MBA in 2011 from two USB, a USB Dock 3 containing a 2.5 "hard drive 500 GB

Copying to the hard disk of a 2.9 GB folder containing 9000 items was 2.7 times faster than USB 3 USB 2 (41 seconds against 114 seconds). In the opposite direction, since the external drive to the Mac, it was 2.3 times faster (52s against 120 seconds). Differences also worn by the increased speed of the new SSD.

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