13-inch MacBook Air: Does Air 2013 provide all-day battery life?

13-inch MacBook Air: Apple’s longstanding but never quite perfect ultraportable is now in its sixth generation, boasting improved solid-state storage speed, graphics power, battery life and wireless capabilities at the expense of slower CPU clock rates. While this revision equals or outperforms its predecessor in most real world applications, the 2013 MacBook Air still lacks some key improvements that made its predecessor so successful.

The mid-2013 MacBook Air update brings two 11-inch and 13-inch models, both featuring Haswell 1.3GHz Intel Core i5 dual core CPUs with Intel HD Graphics 5000. All run OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, which will be replaced by OS X Mavericks shortly thereafter.

13-inch MacBook Air: Specs

The 2013 13-inch MacBook Airs feature Intels latest Haswell CPUs, featuring dual core 1.3GHz Intel Core i5 processors.

Hyper-Threading allows each core to run two threads concurrently, creating four virtual cores. Underutilized resources may be reassigned so they can be Turbo Boosted up to 2.6GHz in speed.

Haswell CPUs are faster than their predecessors dual-core 1.8GHz Intel Core i5, though their clock speed is slower.

Haswell CPUs’ Intel HD Graphics 5000 offer up to 40% greater graphics power than 2012 MacBook Airs. Furthermore, the MacBook Airs feature faster flash storage: 9x faster than regular hard disc and 45% faster than its predecessor.

New MacBook Airs come with 802.11ac Wi-Fi, offering three times faster data transfer than wireless n and with a longer range. Beam shaping helps focus the signal on ac devices for an even stronger connection.

Apple boasts that MacBook Air models with Haswell CPUs offer impressive battery life: the 13-inch model lasts 12 hours on a single charge and 10 hours of iTunes movie playing time.

Modern MacBook Airs enter Standby Mode when closed, which may last up to 30 days on a full battery. When opened again, however, it turns on instantly due to its solid-state storage which ensures quick bootup even when idle.

The new 13-inch MacBook Air includes a second microphone for FaceTime and Dictation, similar to the mid-2013 and mid-2012 models except for an extra hole on the left side.

Retina screens were promised but never arrived – their ultra-high resolution makes it hard to discern individual pixels from a standard viewing distance, yet our 2013 MacBook Airs didn’t come with one even as an optional extra. Could this have sapped the battery life?

Performance of 13-inch MacBook Air

The latest Haswell CPUs provide the 2013 13-inch MacBook Air amazing battery life. In our test, the laptop lasted nine hours while streaming BBC News on iPlayer wirelessly. It’s better than the 11-inch MacBook Air’s 7 hours 15 minutes and the 2012 model’s 5.5 hours.

Since the late 2010 upgrade to solid-state storage, the MacBook Air has had excellent battery life. With Haswell, it’s beautiful. Finally, a single charge lasts all day.

13-inch MacBook Air

Benchmarks

Xbench: 357.50
Cinebench 10 Single core: 4242
Cinebench 10 Multi-core: 8636
iTunes encoding (USB SuperDrive): 452 seconds
Movie encoding (iMovie): 242.6 seconds
Doom 3: 68.9fps
Call of Duty 4: 67.8fps
Battery: 9 hours
Novabench, Total: 589
Novabench, Graphics: 44

Though the CPUs in this generation are slower than their predecessors, over all performance has seen an improvement.

The 13-inch MacBook Air played Call of Dutys 4 at 67.8 frames per second, compared to 59.5fps on its 2012 counterpart with its 1.8GHz dual core Intel Core i5. Additionally, Doom 3 ran at 68.9% frame rate on the 2013 Air and 83.000 frames per second on last year’s model.

Our new MacBook Air’s faster storage proved advantageous in our CPU and storage Xbench test, where it scored 357.50, 5.4% higher than last year.

Our Cinebench test of the new MacBook Air reveals some interesting trends. While its single core score of 4242 is 3.9% higher than last year’s model, when all cores are active, its performance drops off drastically to 1.8% lower.
iMovie encoded our 5-minute test video into iPod format at a slower speed of 40 seconds.

Laptop displays haven’t changed much over the years. A 13.3-inch LED-backlits glossy widescreen display with 1440 x 900 resolution, vibrant colors, and exceptional viewing angles remain unchanged.

The new MacBook Airs are just as lightweight as their predecessors, measuring 0.3-0.17cm tall, 32.5 cm wide and 22.7cm (8.94 inches). Weighing 1.35kg (3.96lbs), these laptops make portability a breeze – so if you’re looking to ditch the heavy laptop for something lighter, opt for the MacBook Air!

What we liked about the 13-inch MacBook Air

Battery Life… Haswell CPUs are incredibly power-efficient. The new 13-inch MacBook Air boasts impressive battery life – up to 12 hours for basic tasks and 9 hours live video streaming! These numbers are incredible considering the new storage is 45% faster than before and graphics 40% faster. Furthermore, Wi-Fi ac and second microphone reduce ambient noise levels significantly.

The key features of the original MacBook Airs remain. It’s lightweight and portable, yet robust with a lighted keyboard. Furthermore, its multitouch trackpad adds to its convenience.

What we Disliked about the 13-inch MacBook Air

Why did Apple slow the processor speed? Dual-core Intel Core i5 CPUs have been reduced from 1.8GHz to 1.3GHz in the new MacBook Air’s processor, making it less noticeable but stills wishing they were fasters.

Retina screens never materialized, even as a custom option on Apple’s online shop. We have mixed feelings about whether their beauty would have compromised battery life. If you need to update your MacBook Air, do it now at the Apple online shop – there will be no later options.

Conclusion

Despite inconsistent benchmarks, the new MacBook Air is an improvement over previous year’s model. Amazing battery life. Business travellers on lengthy flights and students who require it for lectures and essay writing will adore its all-day power.

New MacBook Airs include Wi-Fi ac for faster, more consistent wireless connections if your network is too.

Faster graphics and storage compensate for slower CPUs, although we wish Apple had matched the 2012 MacBook Air’s clock rates.

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