New MacBook Air Easily Outperforms Win7 Netbooks

Dennis Faas's picture

Apple's new, 11.6-inch MacBook Air might look a little bit like a Windows 7 netbook, but it sure doesn't perform like one.

According to recent reports, the super-light and very small Air easily outperforms its PC brethren, backing up Apple CEO Steve Jobs' claim that this piece of hardware is most definitely not a netbook.

The new MacBook Air, available in 11.6-inch and 13.3-inch models, shipped in mid-October of this year. Within a couple weeks, the company received mixed reviews: some analysts criticized the device for not offering enough processing power for the price at $999 -- which is considerably more than the average PC netbook. Others, however, felt the 11.6-inch Air in particular did a fine job of blending style and functionality, something most netbooks can't claim.

11.6-inch MacBook Air Put to the Test

In order to find some consensus on the Air's place in the computer market (is it a netbook, or not?), PC World recently put the 11.6-inch version to the test, stacking it up against several different netbooks running Windows 7. PC World used WorldBench 6 software to test the performance of several applications, including Adobe Photoshop, Mozilla Firefox, and more. WorldBench 6 then produced some interesting results. (Source:

PC World's test found that the 11.6-inch Air was approximately 1.5 times faster than even the highest-performing Windows 7 netbooks. Many experts weren't surprised with the findings; after all, the Air's processor is an underclocked Core 2 Duo (dual core processor), a much heftier component than single-core Intel Atom CPU's found in most netbooks. Also, the Solid State Drive (SSD) storage component added considerable speed to the Air.

Speed Comes at a Cost to Battery Life

But not all was glorious for the Air in this test. PC World found that the 11.6-inch model achieved a battery life only half as long as most netbooks, meaning those who opt for the beefier MacBook Air will need to ask themselves which is more important: portability, or speed? They'll also have to consider the cost issue, since the Air retails for about twice the price of most netbooks.

If you're wondering, the highest-scoring PC netbooks included the MSI Wind 12 and the Lenovo ThinkPad X100e. Competition from Samsung, HP, and Acer settled for considerably lower scores. (Source:

If you're a gamer, the extra cost is definitely worth it. Most newer titles, such as Call of Duty 4, won't run at all on netbooks, but they move along at a fairly impressive 23 frames per second on Apple's 11.6-inch Air.

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