Performance

I was a bit apprehensive about installing Windows on the Apple machine but the process couldn’t have been any smoother. Using Apple’s Boot Camp, the application walked me through the entire process, from downloading Windows drivers and creating a partition to loading Windows alongside OS X.

I used a USB drive to install Windows since the Air doesn’t have an optical drive. I did try using an external USB drive but for some reason, the system wasn’t able to successfully read from my Windows 7 install disc.

Once installed, I was able to select which OS I wanted to boot from and everything worked well. I was able to finish the majority of our benchmark tests although PCMark Vantage kept erroring out in Windows.

Benchmark Results

The Ivy Bridge-equipped MacBook Air performed well, showing surprising results in our iTunes and File Copy tests even though it wasn't the only system running using a solid state drive. These three particular tests were ran in OS X.

Beyond those, most of our remaining tests (marked with an asterisk) had to be run on Windows for obvious reasons. 3DMark and PCMark are some of our standard synthetic tests. We added Geekbench to the list so we can continue to compare systems in the future regardless of platform, and also because we are working on a MacBook Pro Retina review.

Gaming benchmarks were also run on Windows so we could measure using Fraps. We tested Starcraft II under OS X and our informal observation is that performance was on par with that of Windows.

Synthetic Tests MacBook  Air Asus N56VZ
(HD 4000)
Asus N56VZ
(GT 650M)
Folio 13
3DMark 06
3DMark Score 5785 3DMarks* 7033 3DMarks 9665 3DMarks 3472 3DMarks
PCMark Vantage
PCMark Suite n/a 7349 PCMarks 8675 PCMarks 8594 PCMarks
Geekbench
Overall Score 6197 n/a n/a n/a

Application Tests MacBook Air Asus N56VZ Folio 13
iTunes Encoding Test 51 sec
1 min 5 sec
1 min 44 sec
File Transfer Test
Small files 22.3 sec
1 min 17 sec
1 min 2 sec
Large file 21.8 sec
57 sec
45 sec

The iTunes encoding tests consist of converting 14 MP3s (119MB) to 128Kbps ACC files and measuring the operation's duration in seconds. For the file transfer test, we measure how long it takes to copy two sets of files from one location to another on the same drive. On the small files test we transfer 557 MP3s, totaling 2.56GB. For the large file, these same MP3s were zipped into a single file measuring 2.52GB.

Gaming Performance MacBook  Air Asus N56VZ
(HD 4000)
Asus N56VZ
(GT 650M)
Folio 13
Far Cry 2
1024x768, Medium Quality 37.3 fps 43.3 fps 85.2 fps 26.3 fps
1366x768, High Quality 19.3 fps 20.5 fps 36.4 fps 24.9 fps
StarCraft 2
1024x768, Medium Quality 25.1 fps 31.2 fps 68.4 fps 14.4 fps
1366x768, High Quality 16.1 fps 17.6 fps 31.5 fps 11.4 fps

MacBook Air 13" (Mid 2012) Specs

  • 13.3" 1440x900 LED-backlit display
  • Intel Core i5-3427U (1.8GHz - 2.8GHz)
  • 4GB DDR3 SDRAM
  • Intel HD 4000 Graphics
  • 128GB SSD
  • Mac OS X, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

  • 15.6" LED-backlit Full HD 1920x1080 display
  • Intel Core i7-3620QM (2.6GHz - 3.8GHz, 8MB L3 cache)
  • 8GB of 1600MHz DDR3 memory
  • Nvidia GeForce GT 650M 2GB DDR3 VRAM
  • 750GB 7200RPM hard drive
  • Microsoft Windows 7 Professional (64-bit)

  • 13.3" 1366x768 LED-backlit display
  • Intel Core i5-2467M (1.6GHz - 2.3GHz)
  • 4GB DDR3 SDRAM
  • Intel HD 3000 Graphics
  • 128GB SSD (Samsung PM800, SATA 3Gb/s)
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit