2013 Macbook Air: Haswell in practice

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apple-logo.pngUltrabooks and lower powered CPU parts are what Haswell is all about and it’s about time  we see those parts in action. AnandTech have taken the 2013 13″ Macbook Air and put it through its paces.

The results were extremely impressive.

The Haswell platform increased battery life from:

  • ~7.5 hours to ~11 hours in light workloads
  • ~5 hours to ~9 hours in medium workloads
  • ~3.5 hours to ~5.5 hours in heavy workloads

Those are astonishing numbers for a laptop. Apple achieved this feat by installing a CPU that’s more-or-less comparable to last year’s offerings. They also managed to increase GPU performance by approximately 16% compared to the HD 4000 graphics. When you compare to 2011’s HD 3000 graphics (my MacBook Air), the performance increase is as much as 65%.

This is the computing future that I’m intrigued by: how to get more performance while sipping as few watts as possible. Chasing performance with no regard for power envelopes or efficiency is easy, and frankly, unimpressive.

Checkpoint: Haswell Edition


Reviews of Intel’s 4th generation Core are out and for they are revolutionary as per usual. I’ve stopped caring about large double digit improvements on desktop CPUs since Sandy Bridge’s introduction. It was then that I noticed CPUs were not the primary limiting factor for games; the GPUs are usually the weaker links.

I’m far more concerned with features and power consumption. The lack of overclocking potential doesn’t bother me. I don’t even want the “K” series of chips because they lack features like VT-d which will be invaluable in a virtualization environment. I am planning this Haswell PC becoming my new home server in like 5 year’s time.

A handful of the major computer parts retailers are accepting pre-orders but their prices have inflated over the MSRP by several dollars. I don’t appreciate this kind of gouging. I’m also interested in the Intel Core i5 4670S which is proving difficult to locate early on. Is it not available through retail channels? I may have to settle with the regular Core i5 4670.

Waiting will also give me time to look into the latest mITX motherboards based on Intel’s brand new 8 series chipsets. I hear the first revisions have USB 3.0 issues which should be addressed in July. The issues are not show stoppers but why put up with a known fault?

A few blemishes during this launch but it hasn’t stopped me from wanting to build a new PC around Haswell.

I wrapped up Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon. A review of it should be up by midweek. I’m nearing the end of God of War: Ascension as well. Both games have underwhelmed me in different ways but I feel Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon was far more grating on me.

I started Fire Emblem: Awakening. So far, so good.



Watch My Next PC Being Built

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Well isn’t this a bit of a coincidence. The guys at Tested.com are building what is essentially my next PC. They’ve recorded an instructional “How-to” video of them assembling it and since I’m waiting for CentOS to install, I’ve decided to give it a watch.

My system isn’t going to be as hardcore or high grade as theirs. It’s not going to sport a Core i7, or a Geforce Titan or a $155 Seasonic PSU despite how awesome it looks. Here’s a spec sheet for a PC if I were building it today:

CPU: Intel Core i5-3570K – $226.99 @ NewEgg.ca

MB: GIGABYTE GA-Z77N-WIFI – $128.99 @ NewEgg.ca
ASRock Z77E-ITX LGA 1155 Intel Z77 – $174.99 @ NewEgg.ca

RAM: CORSAIR Vengeance LP 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3-1600 – $93.99 @ NewEgg.ca

SSD/HDD: SAMSUNG 840 120GB – $99.99 @ NewEgg.ca

Case: Bitfenix Prodigy White – $79.99 @ NCIX.com

GPU: Radeon 7850 1GB – $169.99 @ NCIX.com
PowerColor Radeon 7870 PCS+ – $235.99 @ NCIX.com

PSU: CORSAIR HX series HX650 650W @ $119.99 @ NewEgg.ca
Rosewill Capstone-650 650W @ $94.99 @ NewEgg.ca
Rosewill CAPSTONE Series CAPSTONE-550-M 550W – $94.99 @ NewEgg.ca
SeaSonic G Series SSR-550RM 550W – $89.99 @ NewEgg.ca

Cooler: Corsair H100 @ $116.99 @ NewEgg.ca

It’s not too expensive but like I said I’m not planning to build it now. I am planning to build a new PC for Intel’s upcoming Haswell CPUs which should arrive sometime this summer. I miss getting my hands on new hardware so I’m looking forward to that build very much.

Checkpoint: Overclocking Edition


I’ve overclocked my CPU and/or GPU since my first ever computer. Pushing an Intel Core 2 Duo E6400 from 2.13 GHz all the way to 3.2 GHz was a very nice bonus. That was my last major overclock. After I acquired my Intel Core i5 750, I decided it wasn’t worth pushing for GHz since most games didn’t take advantage of it and I wasn’t willing to lose the dynamic varying of clockspeed and voltage that came with a “stock” processor.

I looked into “dynamic overclocking” a couple of years ago but the initial clockspeeds I set it at were not stable and I didn’t want to sink anymore time subjecting my brand new PC to Prime95 tests. Bored and curious I performed another search and found this wonderful “Efficiency” article from Tom’s Hardware. Apparently I was close the last time around.

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