Apple MacBook Air 13-inch Review

The 13-inch MacBook Air essentially forced competitors to create an entirely new class of laptop, but this venerable ultra-portable hasn’t received much love from Apple in the past few years. While the latest Air is powered by new 5th-generation Core processor and faster flash storage, it doesn’t get the Retina display found on just about every other Apple laptop, a redesigned chassis and new features like the Force-Pad.

Image Source: Tech Radar

Image Source: Tech Radar

The price of MacBook Air 13-inch starts from $999 (approx Rs 67,000). The Air’s combination of class-leading battery life (14 hours) and faster performance make it one of the best values around. Here is our review on MacBook Air 13-inch

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Apple MacBook Air 13-inch

Apple MacBook Air 13-inch

Design

The 13-inch Air looks the same as the last few models, sporting a svelte and elegant unibody aluminum chassis with rounded corners. The machine also feels sturdy. We’ve used another 13-inch Air for a few years in a row without so much as a dent or worn-down key. Apple’s logo glows on the smooth lid, which doesn’t pick up fingerprints.

Image Source: Apple.com

Image Source: Apple.com

We still like the silver treatment on the Air, but we’d like to see Apple push the aesthetic envelope further, with color options or perhaps different materials. For instance, the Dell XPS 13 has a soft-touch deck that feels comfy on the wrists. Though, the Air remains very portable. You’ll barely notice this system in a backpack.

Image Source: Pc Mag

Image Source: Pc Mag

Unlike the 12-inch MacBook, which has just one USB-C port, the 13-inch Air continues to keep ports to a minimum, but at least it includes an SD Card slot on the right side (unlike the 11-inch version). This side of the system also houses USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt ports. The MagSafe adapter for power, a second USB 3.0 port, headphone jack and two mics line the left side of the Air. While most Windows PC makers seem to have given up on their webcams, the 720p FaceTime camera on the Air delivers warm colors and crisp detail.

Image Source: Mac World

Image Source: Mac World

At 2.98 pounds, the Air is light enough to carry around all day, but it’s heavier than the Dell XPS 13, the Asus ZenBook UX305, each of which weighs about 2.6 pounds. The HP Spectre x360 is heavier, at 3.26 pounds, but it also has a flip-around screen.

Keyboard and TouchPad

Perfectly spaced and sized for a 13-inch notebook, the MacBook Air’s keyboard remains a strength. It provides snappy feedback, allowing for comfortable typing over long stretches. The top of the layout has shortcut keys for brightness, Mission Control, Launchpad, the keyboard backlight, and media and volume controls. With key travel of 1 mm and actuation weight of 55 grams, the typing on MacBook’s keyboard is quite comfortable.

Image Source: Mac World

Image Source: Mac World

Apple’s Track-pad makes navigating OS X Mavericks a breeze. Not only does the pad provide pinpoint accuracy and a satisfying click, it also allowed us to smoothly perform gestures like a three-finger swipe-up for activating Mission Control.

Display

The MacBook Air features a 1440 * 900 pixels 13-inch display panel. The screen is fairly bright, with wide viewing angles. You can look out almost every detail of picture while watching any video or movie on MacBook Air.

At 334 nits, the Air’s brightness is on a par brighter than the typical ultraportable (272 nits), the non-touch XPS 13 (298), the Asus UX305 (281). However, the HP Spectre 15t mustered just 246 nits.

Image Source: Cnet

Image Source: Cnet

However, the Air’s display falls down on some other display metrics. As per the Laptop Mag, it can produce just 65.8 percent of the sRGB gamut, which makes it far less colorful than not only the average ultraportable (78.7 percent), but the XPS 13 (92), the HP Spectre 15t (118.6) and even the less expensive Asus ZenBook UX305 (94).

And the colors it can display aren’t very accurate. With a Delta-E score of 4.3 (numbers closer to zero are better), the Air didn’t fare as well as the average (3.4), the x360 (1.3) or the UX305 (1.5). The Dell XPS 13, however, was even worse, at 8.1.

Graphics and Audio

Although Apple now features the Intel 6000 Graphics in the 2015 MacBook Air as better than ever, we saw only marginal gains, over last year’s model.

As per the Laptop Mag, In World of Warcraft, the 2015 Air hit 32 frames per second with the resolution at 1440 x 900 and the effects on Good. That’s just barely better than what we consider playable (30 fps). At a higher resolution of 1080p, the Dell XPS 13 notched 33 fps on Good, and 24 fps on Full.

The Air’s speakers, which are located beneath the keyboard, got plenty loud while playing music on full volume. Overall, the speakers of MacBook Air’s are enough to fill a room with its quality sound.

Performance

The MacBook Air 13-inch 2015 model is powered by Intel’s 5th Gen Core i5-5250U processor that comes with 4 GB RAM and 128 GB Flash Storage based on PCIe.

As per Laptop Mag, on Geekbench 3, which measures overall performance, the Air scored 5,783, the HP x360 (5,614), which have slightly less powerful Core i5-5200U CPUs. The average ultraportable scored 4,523. But the score was less than the Dell XPS 13 that scored 6,374.

Image Source: Laptop Mag

Image Source: Laptop Mag

The 128 GB PCIe-based flash storage in the Air is leagues better than that offered by the competition. It duplicated 4.97 GB of multimedia files at a rate of 358.4 Mbps. That’s twice as fast as its predecessor (190.3 Mbps), the Asus UX305 (154.2 Mbps) and the HP x360 (141.4 Mbps).

Image Source: Laptop Mag

Image Source: Laptop Mag

 

The Air also dominated the competition on our Spreadsheet test, matching 20,000 names and addresses in 4 minutes and 3 seconds. That’s a minute faster than the XPS 13 (5:02) and the HP x360 (5:04), and more than twice as fast as the average (8:33). However, the 2014 Air was even faster, completing the task in 3 minutes and 46 seconds.

Battery Life

The battery life of the past few generations of the MacBook Air has been impressive, and the 2015 model is no different in that regard. On the Laptop Mag Battery Test (Web surfing at 100 nits of brightness), the notebook lasted an epic 14 hours. That’s 2 hours longer than Apple’s claim as well as last year’s Air (12:20), and 6 hours better than the ultraportable average of 8:05.

Image Source: Laptop Mag

Image Source: Laptop Mag

Among competing systems, only the non-touch version of the XPS 13 came close, at 11:42. While better than average, the Asus UX305 (9:38) and HP x360 (9:28) simply can’t match the Air’s endurance.

Configuration Option

The MacBook Air 13-inch Air offers a modest amount of configuration tweaks. One we’d recommend is stepping up from 128 GB of flash storage to 256 GB, for $200 more. Other upgrade options include a 1.7 GHz Core i7 CPU for $150 and jumping from 4 GB to 8 GB of RAM for $100. Various Mini Display-Port (VGA, HDMI) and Thunderbolt adapters (Ethernet, Firewire) cost $29 each.

Verdict

The 2015 MacBook Air is a very good upgrade over last year’s model. You get better performance and better battery life, all for $999 (more if you prefer higher configs). Even though it lacks the Force touch track-pad, we like the comfortable keyboard and accurate touch-pad.

There are other Ultrabooks such as Asus Zenbook UX305, Dell XPS etc that gives you same expectations and also costs less than that of MacBook Air. But, but Mac fans who value endurance above all else will find the new 13-inch Air the best there is.

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Apple MacBook Air 13-inch

Apple MacBook Air 13-inch

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