When we look at performance of the new 2013 MacBook Air in its native OSX Mountain Lion environment, the Samsung NGFF PCIe SSD performs as one would expect and then some. It tops out at above 800MB/s high sequential transfer speeds and synthetic benchmarks also show the low 4K random aligned write speeds to top out at 75MB/s when testing in Zone Bench 2.0. Couple this performance with build, pricing, and a 12 hour battery life, and Apple has just introduced a top tier competitive product to the world.
What about the PC guy who wants the best ultra money can buy? We have no doubt that the 2013 Haswell based MBA appears to fit the bill and BootCamp enables a dual boot OSX/Windows environment with next to no effort whatsoever. Apple even includes a copy of BootCamp and BootCamp Assistant to help you along the way. How does performance stack up when we are working in Windows 7 on our MBA with the exact same hardware we just tested in Mac?
Things didn’t fare so well for us PC guys with this 2013 MBA and the low 4K synthetic results left us with the absolute worst PCMark Vantage performance we have ever seen from any SSD. We needed a way to display this first hand so we decided to transfer three different files (a compressed Program, 20GB of media and 20GB of Windows 7 OS) in order to show you first hand what we are seeing. Let’s take a look:
First and foremost, when examining the transfer performance of the 2013 MBA alone, all three results are excellent results and the transfer of MS Office in 2.8 seconds was unbelievable. Our 4K performance difficulties appear while working in Windows 7 on the new MBA when we transfer 20GB of Windows 7 OS files from one part on the Samsung SSD to another. The transfer time of just under 10 minutes is 7 times slower than the PC and the same when using the exact same hardware in OSX. This demonstrates that the problem with low 4K performance while using Windows in a Mac is not the fault of the SSD, but rather, something in the software, and quite possibly a configuration by Apple themselves. As we linked prior, this same problem was evident in the 2012 and previous Mac systems, regardless of the SSD that we tested.
BATTERY LIFE IN WINDOWS 7
We spoke to battery life of the 2013 MBA in our other report and needed to confirm similar while using the system in Windows 7. Following the exact same scenario, we found that the battery lasted for 11 hours and 23 minutes before dying. We found this very interesting as we also tested in PCMark 8 Home Battery Test which brought significantly different results:
Although we have no basis of comparison to other ultrabooks with this software yet, we can pretty much guarantee that they would ring similar and the battery life of all before the Haswell based 2013 MBA would have a significantly lower result.
If the best analysis of the 2013 MacBook Air comes through our use at the end of the day, than the MBA is a definite winner. Not only do I anticipate it to be an integral part of my tech travels throughout the year, but also, the fact that this system can tether via wifi, in both Windows 7 and OSX modes, to my Canon EOS 6D makes it an irreplaceable tool. Gone are the days where we take all our pictures, only to manipulate them well after the fact and realize that some of the most needed shots were left behind.
If you are a potential MBA buyer, don’t expect to see any visible difference in the 2013 MacBook Air if you are comparing the build quality and performance to the 2012 MBA. It looks and acts exactly the same in typical every day use. The saving grace comes with the MBA’s 12 hour battery life, made possible by the new Haswell chipset, along with the ability to now game on an ultra thanks to Intel’s HD5000 graphics. Considering this new beast is priced much the same as the former 2012 version, the choice is a no-brainer for those seeking the ‘Mac’ lifestyle.