Thermals & Power

The big concern about having a faster chip is the added heat it can dissipate. The 11-inch MacBook Air already gets noticeably warmer than the 13, so the i7 switching at up to 2.9GHz isn't going to help matters at all.

Despite the fact that both the i5 and i7 are rated at 17W, in reality the i7 likely gets closer to that max TDP than the i5. The max turbo on the i5 is clearly artificially capped, so it shouldn't be a surprise that the i7 does get warmer - particularly in the 11-inch chassis.

Let's first look at peak power consumption:

Maximum Power Draw - Cinebench R11.5

Cinebench shows noticeably higher power consumption, however I will say that although the upgraded 11 peaked at 36.2W it quickly dropped back down to and remained at 31 - 33.5W throughout the majority of the render.

Maximum Power Draw - Half Life 2: Episode 2

The same is true for our GPU power consumption test. While power maxed at 41.5W, it dropped down to the mid to upper 30s over an extended period of time.

What about the resulting impact on thermals?

The upgraded 11 is slightly warmer just browsing the web and much warmer running anything CPU intensive. The max exhaust temperature is a very hot 45.9C. Although it's still usable on your lap (cooler than the 2011 15-inch MacBook Pro under load) it does get pretty warm.

Surface Temperature - Web Browsing

Surface Temperature - Half Life 2: Episode 2

Max Temperature - Half Life 2 Episode 2

I'd say overall the system is noticeably warmer but livable if you need the power.

GPU Performance Battery Life
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  • jsbruner - Monday, August 01, 2011 - link

    Graphs on the performance page all show i5, should those be i7? Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Monday, August 01, 2011 - link

    Correct - fixed :) Reply
  • vol7ron - Tuesday, August 02, 2011 - link

    Nice article, considering purchasing my first Apple laptop to release some apps to the App Store. I'm going to give this (Air vs Pro) some more thought, since other than XCode, I probably won't be using it. Reply
  • Jamezrp - Monday, August 01, 2011 - link

    So the i7 is a huge difference...glad I picked up that over the i5. I still got much higher numbers with Cinebench 10 than you Anand, and I'm not really sure why. Were you running any other applications when testing? I ran Win7 Ultimate on a fresh install, with 150GB dedicated to Windows. And it was a 256GB hdd, if that makes any difference.

    Also, all the charts show the i7 chip as an i5.
    Reply
  • Jamezrp - Monday, August 01, 2011 - link

    Oh, and my scores can be seen here, just scroll down to the charts: http://www.gadgetreview.com/2011/07/apple-macbook-... Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Monday, August 01, 2011 - link

    You're testing under Windows 7, I'm testing under OS X :)

    Cinebench 10 under Windows 7 is faster than OS X, Cinebench 11.5 is relatively similar between OSes.
    Reply
  • KPOM - Monday, August 01, 2011 - link

    Thanks for the update, and with 3 days left in my 14-day return window, you have validated my decision to go with the Core i7 in my 11". I was wondering about the heat and battery life differences, and it appears they are about the same with either processor, but with a noticeable edge in performance to the i7.

    Also, I lucked out with a Samsung SSD. I have the LG display, but it has never bothered me. I had the 11" 2010 model with a Toshiba drive and LG display, so perhaps I was already used to the viewing angles.

    Thanks for the effort. Another good review.
    Reply
  • dagamer34 - Monday, August 01, 2011 - link

    Looking at a lot of graphs in this points continually show one subtle thing, the days of the 13" MacBook Pro are numbered. At this point, there is no way I would even think to consider that laptop seeing as how the 1.8 Ghz CPU performs well against the 2.3/2.7 Ghz CPUs. CPUs are rarely pegged at 100% anyway in typical usage.

    My hope is that Apple extends this concept with a 15" MacBook Pro with an Air-styled body. Ditch the optical drive. Ditch rarely used ports and move all but the most necessary ports to a Thunderbolt dock. Switch from a standard 2.5" storage drive to a slimmer model to save space.

    It'd be perfect. The new 15" MacBook Pro. 3.9lbs. "All the speed, none of the weight"
    Reply
  • AssBall - Tuesday, August 02, 2011 - link

    Yeah, It would sure suck to hurt yourself lugging around all of that weight.

    .....
    Reply
  • Rasterman - Wednesday, August 03, 2011 - link

    I totally agree but the only thing that sucks for me is the lack of dedicated ethernet port. I still plan on replacing my old macbook with an air though. I need a dedicated port because I do xcode development and files are over the network, when compiling each time xcode must check all files, over wireless compile time is like 1-2 minutes, but when using ethernet the time is less than 10 seconds, its a huge difference. With the air I can still use a USB to ethernet adapter though, or a thunderbolt to ethernet adapther when they come out. Reply

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