Apple MacBook Air (2013)

This update to Apple’s most portable notebook gives a huge boost to battery

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Apple MacBook Air (2013)
  • Apple MacBook Air (2013)
  • Apple MacBook Air (2013)
  • Apple MacBook Air (2013)
  • Expert Rating

    4.50 / 5
  • User Rating

    2.50 / 5 (of 2 Reviews)


  • Excellent battery life, quick charge time
  • More than enough power for everyday tasks
  • Same (excellent) design and build


  • Still carries a premium price tag
  • Need serious power? Step up to the Pro
  • Same (excellent) design and build

Bottom Line

Apple’s newest, most powerful, and most refined MacBook Air finally reaches that ‘all-day-playback’ milestone that is so crucial for a portable device. It’s got enough battery life to last a full day of video, or even longer if you’re just browsing the Web or working. For the student or professional it’s a brilliant machine.

Would you buy this?

Apple’s MacBook Air is, in a way, the descendant of the netbook of 2007 — it's a small, light, simple notebook made more for portability than power.

It’s the Californian electronics giant’s natural rival to Intel’s Ultrabook standard, which itself is exemplified by the Samsung Series 9. The eternal battle between Apple and Samsung rages on, and the newest MacBook Air is a strong barrage in Apple’s favour.

Apple MacBook Air (2013): Design and features

The new MacBook Air looks just like the old MacBook Air. This shouldn’t come as any surprise to anyone; when it’s on to a good thing, Apple doesn’t normally change its designs for no good reason. As a result, there isn’t anything that we dislike about the Air’s design — it’s exceptionally thin for a notebook, with a leading edge that’s only 3mm thick up, to a maximum of 17mm at its bulkiest. Apple’s simple, excellent backlit chiclet keyboard makes another welcome appearance.

In terms of ports, the 13-inch Air we tested splits its ports between the right-hand — SDXC card, USB, and Thunderbolt — and the left-hand — power, USB, and headphone, alongside dual mics that complement the 720p FaceTime HD camera in the notebook’s centre top bezel.


The screen of the 13-inch MacBook Air is a 1440x900 pixel one, LED back-lit and glossy, with a bezel that’s not especially small but not annoyingly thick. It looks very nice, with good colour reproduction, a high maximum brightness level, and a level of detail appropriate for its size and resolution. It’s a screen that you’re going to be working close to, if you’re typing on the Air’s keyboard, and you won’t be disappointed.

The latest MacBook Air includes support for the 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard, so super-fast wireless networks are supported if you happen to have one. The change to a newer, faster PCIe solid-state drive makes an already speedy hard drive system even more responsive — enough so that you really won’t notice the loading times of any but the most bloated apps.

Apple MacBook Air (2013): Performance

Apple’s most recent refresh of the MacBook Air updates the processor to Intel’s fourth-generation, ultra-low-voltage Core i5-4250U, which nominally runs at 1.3GHz, although it’ll ramp up and down as needs require, with Turbo Boost up to 2.6GHz. There’s an option to upgrade to a Core i7-4650U, at 1.7GHz Boosting up to 3.3GHz (although this will take a small toll on battery life, we’d expect around 20 per cent).

GeekBench reported a score of 6051 for the MacBook Air, a large improvement from the 4543 of the previous mid-2011 Air, and moreso from the 2045 of the mid-2010 Air before. The new Intel processor has a lot of power up its sleeve when you need it, but it’s able to ramp down when you don’t, using barely any processing power unless you’re typing or clicking away.

No component of the MacBook Air is easily user-serviceable, so if you want more RAM or a bigger solid-state drive, you’re better off just choosing these when you initially purchase the Air. This is a downside for those that want to tinker, but the trade-off of this entirely closed-off system is the extra space can be filled by a particularly impressive battery — increased in size, but not weight, over the previous iteration.

The battery life of the 13-inch MacBook Air, naturally the more impressive of the two models available, is impressive. Apple claims battery life of up to 12 hours of ‘wireless Web’, up to 10 hours of iTunes movie playback, and up to 30 days of standby time as made possible by the fourth-generation Intel chipset’s excellent energy-saving states.

We managed a full 9hrs 20min of battery life from the MacBook Air while playing 720p HD video through VLC, with Wi-Fi running in the background, and the display back-light at 75 per cent. Playing back 1080p Full HD video, this figure drops to 5hrs 41min, still excellent.

We measured an average time of 1hr 53min for the MacBook Air to charge from completely empty to completely full (averaged over half a dozen charge cycles), with the majority of the charging (up to 95 per cent) happening in the first 90 minutes. These kind of battery figures are brilliant, especially from a notebook of the miniscule dimensions and overall power of the Air.

Apple MacBook Air (2013): Conclusion

The combination of new battery plus increasingly efficient processor and hardware means that the 2013 MacBook Air is an entirely portable notebook that can genuinely be used flat-out for a full day of work. Take the brightness down a few notches and you’ll be able to use it on the couch in the evening too, with a quick overnight recharge setting it up for another busy day.

The MacBook Air is reasonably expensive for what is quite a basic notebook in terms of outright performance. It always has been, and that’s not going to change any time soon. But if you’re a user that values ease of use and a capacious battery moreso than grunt — and this should be most people — we think the Air is definitely a worthwhile purchase.

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Lee McFarlane


Love this notebook!!! I bought mine 4 weeks ago and it's very user friendly, the light weight and the battery life makes moving it around so simple. And as you mentioned just charge it overnight and it's ready for the next day. Cheers



ti is so kull.



Just what the PC doctor ordered!



I might get me one!! It sounds so cool I curenly have a tobisha(don't know Wich one but very SLOW).



if your looking for a cheaper alternative try on-line and maybe pick up one second hand in good condition, would recommend having it to be picked up rather then posted, personally I got my mac on-line for $300!! and was in brand new condition, nothing wrong and got here safely in the post, but if it can be helped pick up is a cheaper and safer alternative, hope this could be of some help.

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Mac book air 2013
• • •

Crap device full of wifi connection problems. Returning my second MacBook air in 2 months for full refund. Wasted a lot of time.

D Bogart



Battery life, graphics, solid state drive, sleek design, great feel
• • •

A few months ago, I was torn between the new Macbook Pro Retina and the Macbook Air. Since the 13" Retina and Air had about the same battery life at the time (May 2013) and there was only about 1/2lb difference between the two, I decided to go with the Retina because of the incredible screen resolution. It does provide a gorgeous picture, but I kept coming back to the fact that in the store I just liked the feel of the Air so much more. After about two weeks, I received an Apple email announcing the release of the new 12hr Macbook Air and the debate in my mind was over -- I knew the Air was the machine for me! I took the Retina back to the Apple Store and exchanged it for the new Macbook Air and I'm so glad I did. Even though it's just a 1/2lb difference, I really notice it. I also love how the shape of the Air makes it so easy to slide in and out of the bag I carry back and forth from work to home with my papers and such. Plus, the tapered edges don't cut into my wrists when typing the way the Retina did. I went with an upgraded version of the 13"Air - 8gb memory, 512gb SSD, 1.7ghz dual core processer. Of course the resolution on the Retina is better, but I hardly notice a difference. Whether I'm watching movies, TV, baseball games, or simply typing a document, the Air's screen is crisp and bright and noticeably better than anything I've used in the past. The Air also comes with the latest WiFi technology (802.11ac) which is 3x faster than the wifi used in the MB Pro Retina. Plus, the new Air comes with HD Graphics 5000 as opposed to 4000 in the previous models. Finally, if you're like me and hate being tethered to an outlet, the Air is for you. The battery life is truly phenomenal, as advertised, and it completely recharges in about an hour, much faster than I expected. I'm sure the next version of the MB Pro Retina will incorporate many of the advantages I pointed out above and likewise, the next Air will come with Retina screens. So, I guess what I'm saying is that if you're torn between getting the Macbook Pro Retina or the Macbook Air, go with the one that feels best to you, either way you can't go wrong.

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