3DMark 2013 is the latest graphics benchmarking utility from FutureMark and we will be gauging the systems’ performance using the Cloud Gate benchmark, which was designed to measure the performance of integrated and entry-level discrete GPUs, as well as mobile GPUs. Just for fun, we have also included results from the intensive Fire Strike benchmark.
Clearly, the new Intel HD Graphics 5000 integrated GPU is a completely different animal when compared to its predecessor - the Intel HD Graphics 4000. The new MacBook Air scored 4644 on the Cloud Gate benchmark which was comfortably double that of both the AMD reference Kabini notebook and the ASUS VIvobook X202 - the latter has an Intel HD Graphics 4000 integrated GPU. While the Intel HD Graphics 5000 is much improved over its predecessor, it was no match for the MSI GE40’s discrete NVIDIA GTX 760M graphics engine.
Next, we took a step back to run 3DMark 11 where we've more comparable results from other Windows Ultrabooks. Here, we can see that new MacBook Air and its more powerful Intel HD Graphics 5000 integrated GPU has the upper-hand against last generation’s models - all of which were using Intel HD Graphics 4000 core. Its score of 2041 was almost double that of all the other contenders.
Moving to real-world gaming benchmarks, the new MacBook Air was the undisputed leader in Far Cry 2, racking up nearly double the frame rates when compared to last generation’s Ultrabooks and hybrids.
On Battlefield Bad Company 2, the MacBook Air retained its lead over the other systems with the Intel HD Graphics 4000 integrated GPU and managed to attain just above 30 fps. However, it was bested by the AMD reference Trinity notebook, which was running an A10-4600M APU which has a Radeon HD 7660G integrated GPU. Having said that, a notebook based on a high-speed Trinity APU cannot match the slim build of the MacBook Air.
Overall, the performance of the new MacBook Air is finally reaching levels where entry-level gaming is fluid with headroom to activate higher quality settings. It is definitely the biggest appreciable gain we've seen to-date on any major processing platform revamp.