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Which is faster, a new MacBook Air with a 1.8 GHz i7 processor, or a prior-generation MacBook Air with 2.13 GHz Core 2 Duo?

I'm wondering if this would be a step down or a step up in speed and processing power. Both have a 256GB hard drive and 4GB of RAM – although I believe there's also a bump to the type of RAM (from 1067 to 1333 MHz) and the graphics card.

This computer is used for programming and development, running IDEs and virtualization when necessary. Gaming isn't important.

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

You haven't specified price in this equation, which allows for a simplified answer that does not depend on any personal preferences:

The new one is faster.

Why?

  • The i7 definitely beats the Core 2 Duo (even if the speed seems higher, the i7 delivers much more performance than a C2D)
  • 1333 MHz RAM beats 1067 MHz RAM.

You can look at some benchmarks that reveal quite a performance gain:

The following are from a fully decked out 2011 MacBook Air Core i7 at 1.8GHz, 4GB of RAM, and the 256GB SSD, and compare that model to the 2011 MacBook Pro Core i7′s as well as last years 2010 MacBook Air

Here's an example image from barefeats.com (see the bottom two rows):

enter image description here

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Wow, that's perfect... exactly what I was looking for. Thank you. And holy cow, that's a big difference. –  Bob Ralian Jul 30 '11 at 17:09
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This question is application dependant, as of the num of cache misses is one of many markers, and that - as you already said - is cpu core architecuter dependant. This question has no generally valid answer (imho).

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