Benchmarked: Macbook Air 11″ (Late 2010) vs Macbook Pro 13 (Late 2009)

   Posted October 28, 2010 by Jimmy Selix in Apple Mac

As a new Macbook Air 11″ owner, my first impressions in regards to performance were very good.  Even though my MBA 11 is running a slower CPU than my late 2009 Macbook Pro 13 (1.6ghz vs 2.26ghz), the MBA just seemed faster. Today we will take a look at some unofficial 3DMark2006 tests ran on both of my setups.  These tests were ran in VMWare Fusion and in Boot Camp Windows 7 on both machines and in very similar test environments.  Keep reading for all of the stats and numbers.

First things first, here are the physical specs on each of the machines we tested.

Macbook Pro 13″ (Late 2009 Model)

Intel C2D 2.26Ghz (P7550)


5400 RPM, SATAII Western Digital Harddrive (500GB)

Nvidia GeForce 9400M video (246MB)

Boot Camp – Windows 7 Ultimate Ed 64-Bit

Macbook Air (Late 2010 Model)

Intel C2D 1.6Ghz (Shows as a U9600 in 3DMark)


128GB SSD Flash

Nvidia GeForce 320M (322MB)

Boot Camp – Windows 7 Ultimate Ed 64-Bit

Test Notes / Environment:

I have both Macbooks setup with Boot Camp and Windows 7 Ultimate Edition (64bit) on each.  Each is running the latest VMWare Fusion 3 for virtual machine testing and each VM is allocated the same 1 cpu core and 2GB of RAM.

I ran the default 3DMark 2006 benchmark on both machines in Windows 7 in both VMWare and booting to Windows 7 directly via Boot Camp.  My virtual machine used was my Boot Camp Partition.  I also ran each test twice to make sure results were not skewed.

The results may surprise and delight a few of you!

3D Mark Scores

SM2.0 Scores

HDR / SM3.0 Scores

CPU Scores


Some opponents and naysayers of the new Macbook Air 11″/13″ don’t really have much an argument against the CPU or overall speed of the laptop.  Compared to most netbooks, the Macbook Air surpasses any of them with ease.  Heck, it even bested my late 2009 Macbook Pro 13 on most tests except for the CPU score.

The numbers don’t lie and the experience you get does relate to the benchmark scores. I did feel like the Macbook Air felt faster and smoother running.  VMware Fusion ran rather well on it and loaded my virtual Windows 7 much faster (Flash SSD definitely makes a difference in overall system speed vs my 5400RPM platter harddrive in the Macbook Pro 13).  This test may not be the fairest one for the MBP13 since it didn’t have an SSD drive and in turn the numbers could jump back in its favor with such an upgrade.  So there you have it, the stats and benchmarks.

Detailed numbers are below for the stat freaks 🙂

Detailed Score Results:

System 3DMark Score SM2.0 Score HDR/SM3.0 Score CPU Score
MBP13 Win7 (Boot Camp) 2164 771 802 1992
MBP13 Win7 (Boot Camp) 2167 771 806 2002
MBP13 VMWare Win7 457 177 143 986
MBP13 VMWare Win7 477 190 143 991
MBA11 Win7 (Boot Camp) 4370 1681 1946 1450
MBA11 Win7 (Boot Camp) 4372 1686 1943 1452
MBA11 VMWare Win7 1165 356 523 707
MBA11 VMWare Win7 1163 356 523 704
MBP13 Win7 – Average 2165.5 771 804 1997
MBA11 Win7 – Average 4371 1683.5 1944.5 1451
MBA11 VMWare Win7 – Average 1164 356 523 705.5
MBP13 VMWare Win7 – Average 467 183.5 143 988.5


System GT1 – Return to Proxycon GT2 0 – Firefly Forest CPU1 – Red Valley
MBP13 Win7 (Boot Camp) 5.5 7.3 0.6
MBP13 Win7 (Boot Camp) 5.5 7.3 0.6
MBP13 VMWare Win7 1.5 1.4 0.3
MBP13 VMWare Win7 1.7 1.5 0.3
MBA11 Win7 (Boot Camp) 14.1 13.9 0.5
MBA11 Win7 (Boot Camp) 14.1 14 0.5
MBA11 VMWare Win7 2.2 3.8 0.2
MBA11 VMWare Win7 2.2 3.7 0.2
MBP13 Win7 – Average 5.5 7.3 0.6
MBA11 Win7 – Average 14.1 13.95 0.5
MBA11 VMWare Win7 – Average 2.2 3.75 0.2
MBP13 VMWare Win7 – Average 1.6 1.45 0.3


System CPU2 – Red Valley HDR1 – Canyon Flight HDR2 – Deep Freeze
MBP13 Win7 (Boot Camp) 1 6.6 9.4
MBP13 Win7 (Boot Camp) 1 6.7 9.4
MBP13 VMWare Win7 0.5 1.4 1.5
MBP13 VMWare Win7 0.5 1.4 1.5
MBA11 Win7 (Boot Camp) 0.7 16 23
MBA11 Win7 (Boot Camp) 0.7 15.9 23
MBA11 VMWare Win7 0.4 4.4 6.1
MBA11 VMWare Win7 0.4 4.4 6.1
MBP13 Win7 – Average 1 6.65 9.4
MBA11 Win7 – Average 0.7 15.95 23
MBA11 VMWare Win7 – Average 0.4 4.4 6.1
MBP13 VMWare Win7 – Average 0.5 1.4 1.5

About Jimmy Selix

Jimmy Selix is an early adopter that loves to be one of the first on the block to have the latest and greatest in technology and gadgets. Another love of his is being able to share his knowledge to others seeking it. Feel free to drop any comments or questions that you may have.
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The Conversation

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  • Anonymous

    Ouch! I think you just destroyed my ideas about the MBA! I’ll have to review the data in detail and see if I can revive my preconceived notions. 🙂

  • Try these tests with geekbench, you might get different results……..

    On OSX, MB PRO is still faster then MBA

    • working on those benchmarks as i type 🙂 going to be using geekbench too

      i’m assuming it would be too since OS X is optimized for the hardware unlike Win7 (even though drivers are decent, still not native OS X)

      the ssd really does it though since i only have a slower 5400rpm drive in the MBP13.

      GeekBench next up

    • geekbench and xbench scores are in the full review i did. 🙂

  • Hfs

    I like how it has win 7 on a mac…

    • i figure this will give those netbook comparers are real benchmark to run against their machines they so love 😉

      its NOT A NETBOOK!!

  • The comparisons in Fusion are interesting, and naturally the CPU scores would be half if you’ve only assigned 1 CPU core, wheras running natively gives you 2. I’d be interested to know if setting Fusion to run with 2 CPU’s assigned to the VM would yield a higher score.

  • Kamen

    That CPU score of 1451 would put it in the same league as the previous gen of MBA with 9400M. Thanks a ton for showing this info as it’s usually left out by less experienced testers, but is critical for users who do want a speedy notebook as opposed to a purely gaming one.

    • yea, it def feels snappier than the older MBA. i had a mba rev a with the ssd and my new mba 11″ keeps up just fine and then some since the ssd is actually flash and much faster. battery life is much improved too! however, i am missing the backlit keyboard and irda (used to use apple remote w/frontrow for movie watching in my bed on older mba and mbp13) though.

      thanks for stopping by!