13-inch MacBook Air: The sixth-generation MacBook Air, Apple’s often-imitated but never-bettered ultraportable, is robust but not flawless. It improves solid-state storage speed, graphics power, battery life, and wireless capabilities, but CPU clock rates go down. The MacBook Air 2013 equals or outperforms its predecessor in most real-world applications.
The mid-2013 MacBook Air update provides two 11-inch and two 13-inch variants. All utilise Haswell 1.3GHz Intel Core i5 dual-core CPUs with Intel HD Graphics 5000. They all run OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, which will be replaced by OS X Mavericks.
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13-inch MacBook Air: Specs
The 2013 13-inch MacBook Airs employ Intel’s newest Haswell CPUs. Dual-core 1.3GHz Intel Core i5 processors.
Hyper-Threading allows each of the two cores to operate two threads concurrently, for four virtual cores. Underused resources may be reassigned to Turbo Boost their speeds to 2.6GHz.
Haswell CPUs are faster than the previous generation’s dual-core 1.8GHz Intel Core i5, although their clock speed is slower.
Haswell CPUs’ Intel HD Graphics 5000 give up to 40% greater graphics power than 2012 MacBook Airs. MacBook Airs have quicker flash storage. It’s 9x faster than a regular hard disc and 45% faster than the previous version.
New MacBook Airs include 802.11ac Wi-Fi. If your router supports ac, it’s three times as fast as wireless n and has a longer range. Beam shaping concentrates the signal on ac devices for a more reliable connection.
Haswell CPUs shine in battery life. Apple says the 13-inch MacBook Air lasts 12 hours on a single charge, or 10 hours of iTunes movie playing.
When you shut the lid of a modern MacBook Air, it enters Standby Mode, which may last 30 days on a full battery. While you lift the lid, it turns on immediately, but its solid-state storage means it boots quickly even when off.
The new 13-inch MacBook Air boasts a second microphone for FaceTime and Dictation. The mid-2013 and mid-2012 models are similar save for a second microphone hole on the left side.
The Retina screen never materialised. Retina panels have such a high resolution that it’s hard to detect individual pixels from a typical viewing distance. Yet we didn’t receive one on the 2013 MacBook Airs, even as a bespoke option. Maybe it would’ve drained the battery.
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.
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
Although the CPUs are slower than the previous generation, overall performance has improved.
The 2013 13-inch MacBook Air played Call of Duty 4 at 67.8 frames per second, compared to 59.5fps on the 2012 model’s 1.8GHz dual core Intel Core i5.
Doom 3 ran at 68.9fps on the 2013 Air and 83.0fps on last year’s model.
The new MacBook Air’s quicker storage helped it in our CPU and storage Xbench test. It scored 357.50, 5.4% higher than previous year.
The swings-and-roundabouts increase of the new MacBook Air is shown by our Cinebench test, which measures graphics and processing power using a single core and subsequently all four cores (on dual-core, Hyper-Threading CPUs). Using one core, the 2013 MacBook Air’s score of 4242 is 3.9% higher than last year’s model, but with all cores in play, the 2013 model is 1.8% lower.
iMovie encodes our 5-minute test video to iPod format 40 seconds slower.
Laptop displays haven’t changed. 13.3-inch LED-backlit glossy widescreen display with 1440 x 900 resolution, vivid colours, and exceptional viewing angles.
The new MacBook Airs are equally as portable as their predecessors, with a height of 0.3-1.7cm, width of 32.5cm, and depth of 22.7cm (8.94 inches). It’s 1.35kg, which is remarkable (2.96lbs). If you’re tired of carrying around a heavy laptop, choose a MacBook Air.
What we liked about the 13-inch MacBook Air
Battery life… Haswell CPUs are power-efficient. The new 13-inch MacBook Air lasts 12 hours for basic work and 9 hours for live video streaming. Excellent numbers. The new storage is 45% faster than the previous generation, and the graphics are 40% faster. The transition to Wi-Fi ac and second mic reduce ambient noise.
Previous MacBook Airs’ key features remain. It’s light and portable, but robust and includes a lighted keyboard. Multitouch trackpad is a plus.
What we Disliked about the 13-inch MacBook Air
Why did Apple slow the processor? Dual-core Intel Core i5 CPUs have dropped from 1.8GHz to 1.3GHz. The new MacBook Air’s graphics and storage make it less noticeable, but we wish the CPUs were faster.
The promised Retina screen never appeared, even as a custom option on Apple’s online shop, yet we have mixed thoughts about it. Would its beauty have hampered battery life? If you wish to update your MacBook Air, you should do it at the Apple online shop since you can’t do so later.
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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