It shouldn’t surprise anyone but PCWorld put the smaller, lighter MacBook Air up against the fastest PC Netbooks out there.

Our WorldBench 6 software runs systems through a timed gantlet of popular consumer applications such as Adobe Photoshop and Mozilla Firefox, compiles the results, and spits out an overall score. The 11-inch Air earned a WorldBench 6 score of 74, very impressive given that the average WorldBench 6 score of the netbooks we’ve tested recently is 45.

Even more impressive was the 11-inch Air’s performance in our gaming tests: Most netbooks can’t run 3D games like DiRT 2 and Call of Duty 4 at all, but the Air managed to sustain a frame rate of 23 frames per second while running COD4 at 1024 by 768 resolution and high graphic settings; much of the credit probably should go to the Nvidia GeForce 320M graphics card, which comes standard in every Air model.

The one area that Netbooks were able to outperform the Air was in battery, with the much thicker Gateway LT2118u lasting double as long at 11 hours.

PCworld then proceeded to put the 13″ 1.86GHz Air up against Ultraportable PC laptops.  It fared almost as well…

The Asus U33jc was the only portable able to match the Air on its home Windows 7 Turf.  The much bigger (3.1 cm thick vs.1.7cm thick for the Air) machine was able to slightly outperform the Air in the Windows benchmarks.

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