Apple's Haswell-Powered 13-Inch MacBook Air

Windows 7 Boot Camp Performance Testing

Here we're evaluating the MacBook Air's performance in Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit, which we installed using Apple's Boot Camp utility. Boot Camp sets up a separate partition so that you can have a multi-boot environment on your Intel-based Mac system (yes, it only works with Intel) -- one for Mac OS X and the other for Windows 7. The neat thing about Boot Camp is that it allows you to run Windows natively, so you don't have to worry about losing performance to overhead like you do with virtualized solutions.

After installing Windows 7, we applied all the current updates and patches, including Service Pack 1.  Holding down the "Option" button upon bootup with the MacBook Air presents you with the above partition select option screen.  It works quite well and is a pretty convenient way of running either operating system when you need it.

Futuremark PCMark 7
Simulate Application Performance
This synthetic benchmark suite simulates a range of real-world scenarios and workloads, stressing various system components in the process. Everything you'd want to do with your PC--watching HD movies, music compression, image editing, gaming, and so forth--is represented here, and most of the tests are multi-threaded, making this a good indicator of all-around performance.

Interestingly enough, though PCMark 7 tends to favor systems with strong storage subsystem performance, the new MacBook Air just edges out last year's model and pulls up well short of the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon.  We'd caution, however, that driver packages for Apple's hardware implementation (especially things like their PCI Express SSD) under a Windows environment, may or may not be completely optimized for performance.

Futuremark 3DMark 11
Simulated DX11 Gaming Performance
The latest version of Futuremark's synthetic 3D gaming benchmark, 3DMark11 uses the advanced visual technologies and 3D effects that are only available with DirectX 11. 3DMark11 isn't simply a port of 3DMark Vantage to DirectX 11, though. With this latest version of the benchmark, Futuremark has incorporated four new graphics tests, a physics tests, and a new combined test. We tested the MacBook Air with 3DMark11's Performance preset option enabled.

13-Inch Apple MacBook Air 2H-2013 - Intel Haswell-Powered

13-Inch Apple MacBook Air 2H-2012 - Intel Ivy Bridge-Powered

Here the new MacBook Air is showing almost a 2x gain over last year's model.  Specifically, the 3DMark 11 Graphics Score recorded on the new MacBook Air offers nearly twice the performance, though the Physics score is roughly on par.

Far Cry 2
DirectX 10 Gaming Performance

FarCry 2

Like the original, FarCry 2 is one of the more visually impressive games to be released on the PC to date. Courtesy of the Dunia game engine developed by Ubisoft, FarCry 2's game-play is enhanced by advanced environment physics, destructible terrain, high resolution textures, complex shaders, realistic dynamic lighting, and motion-captured animations. We benchmarked the test systems in this article with the FarCry 2 benchmark tool using one of the built-in demo runs recorded in the "Ranch" map.

Here we see a 30+ percent gain for the new MacBook Air over its predecessor and one of the fastest ultralight notebook scores we've pulled to date in this benchmark.  Only Dell's Inspiron 14z (which is a heftier machine for sure) with discrete Radeon HD 7000 series graphics outpaced the MacBook Air.  Here we see the first evidence that Intel's latest integrated graphics engine can actually offer discrete-like graphics performance. What's interesting as well is the Core i5 4250U powering the MacBook Air doesn't sport Intel's higher-end Iris Graphics IGP.  It will be interesting to see what GT3e variants of Haswell can offer but in the meantime, it's impressive to see any ultralight machine like the MacBook Air offer playable frame rates at 1280 resolution and high image quality in this test.

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