Retina MacBook 12″ vs MacBook Air Speed Tests (Lightroom & iMovie)

The brand new Apple Retina MacBook is not cheap. Infant, it’s pricier than an arguably more powerful MacBook Air. According to most benchmarks, the new MacBook has roughly the equivalent processing power of a two year old MacBook Air – except it’s smaller, lighter, newer… and more expensive!

YouTube user Zen has put it to the test against a brand new 2015 MacBook Air to see which one comes out on top. Of course, the usual benchmarking tools are great but they hardly give a clear indication on how a machine will cope with everyday resource-intensive tasks. So Zen ran speed tests using Adobe Lightroom and iMovie. Let’s see which one came out on top!

The MacBook used in this test is the baseline model with a 1.1GHz dual core Intel Core M processor and 8GB of RAM. The MacBook Air a slightly more powerful 1.4GHz dual core Intel i5 processor with the standard 4GB RAM and integrated Intel HD 5000 graphics.

The first test consists of importing fifteen high-res JPEG files in to Adobe Lightroom; the MacBook Air finished first.

The MacBook Air also just edged out on top in the second test of applying filters to images in Adobe Lightroom – however the difference was barely noticeable.

The MacBook Air also marginally beat the MacBook at exporting a video file from iMovie.

Surprisingly, the difference was not huge. The MacBook Air has a lot more power than the minuscule circuitry inside the new MacBook, but in small, everyday tests shown in the video the MacBook manages to keep up fairly well. Of course, it would be a completely different story if bigger files were used over an extended period of time along with multitasking – however, popular opinion remains that you should only purchase the MacBook if your money grows on trees.

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