Apple MacBook Air (13in, mid-2011)
Apple MacBook Air review: The Air remains a relatively expensive proposition, but Apple's entry level MacBook offers excellent performance and portability
- Excellent performance
- Superb design
- Great battery life
- RAM isn't replaceable
- No matte screen option
- Still pretty pricey
Apple's latest MacBook Air still lacks replaceable components, still has an annoying glossy screen and remains relatively expensive. However, its performance upgrades with new Core i5 processors give it the extra grunt previous models were missing. Combined with a superb design and great battery life, the MacBook Air is an excellent notebook for any user after a combination of speed and portability.
Price$ 1,799.00 (AUD)
Best Deals (Selling at 3 stores)
- Apple MacBook Air 11.6 (MJVM2 4GB RAM 128GB) 1179.95
- Apple MacBook Air i5 256GB 13-Inch Laptop (MMGG... 1421.00
- Apple MacBook Air 11.6 (MJVP2 4GB RAM 256GB) 1499.95
Apple MacBook Air: Internals, performance and battery life
The new MacBook Air's biggest upgrade comes in the form of Intel's Core i5 and Core i7 processors. Apple claims the processor upgrade makes the Air up to 2.5 times faster than the previous model. Both the 11in and 13in models (four in total) all come standard with Core i5 processors, but the top 11in and 13 in models can be built-to-order (BTO) with an optional 1.8GHz Core i7 processor for an extra $100.
Our review model was the top of the range 13in model, which comes with 4GB RAM, an Intel HD Graphics processor with 384MB of memory and a 256GB SSD hard drive. The SSD makes the Air a speedy machine, with Apple's "instant on" feature particularly impressive. While it is not exactly instant, the Air wakes up from sleep in less than three seconds, and boots up from power-off in just over 10, giving it immense appeal as a grab-and-go computing device.
The Apple MacBook Air delivered excellent performance in our tests. It took just 57sec to encode 53min worth of WAV files to 192Kbps MP3s. We also benchmarked the MacBook Air using Geekbench; it scored 5443 — by comparison, the previous 11in model scored just 2045. The MacBook Air has no trouble running multiple applications and felt fast and snappy throughout testing. The lack of serious graphics power means it will never be a gaming machine, but the MacBook Air has enough grunt for serious business or power users.
The biggest disadvantage of the MacBook Air is the fact that it isn't designed to be opened, so users wanting to upgrade RAM or hard drive modules will remain disappointed. The fact that the RAM isn't replaceable in particular is a concern, given that it is relatively cheap to upgrade this component. Technically, the MacBook Air case can be opened, but doing so will void the Apple warranty.
The new MacBook Air now has a Thunderbolt port, Apple's official name for Intel's Light Peak technology. Thunderbolt is an input/output port like USB, but much faster. It's twice the speed of USB 3.0, 20 times faster than USB 2.0, and about 12 times faster than FireWire 800. It employs the connector Apple has been using for its Mini DisplayPort since late 2008.
Thunderbolt is an excellent connection standard — it's fast at up to 10Gbps transmission, supports bus power at up to 10W and has plenty of future potential. However, at the current point in time, there is next to no accessories that make use of it. Though these will come in time, Thunderbolt remains a future proposition rather than a current one, so it is unlikely to add any value to a MacBook Air right now.
Apple claims that the MacBook Air's battery life is "up to seven" hours; it lasted almost six hours in our battery rundown test, where we looped an XviD file in full screen mode. Just like the MacBook Pro, the MacBook Air has a non-removable lithium-polymer battery.
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 2016 Ford Mustang EcoBoost review
- 2 Synology DS216+ Review
- 3 Review: TCL C1 series 4K TV
- 4 Sony 75-inch UHD TV (X9400C) review: Sony and Android are a winning duo
- 5 LG 55EG960T OLED UHD TV
Best Deals on Good Gear Guide
Latest News Articles
- Surface Pro 3's massive battery drain is a software problem, Microsoft says
- Early Android app support rolls out to two more Chromebooks
- Microsoft's pricey Surface Book is getting stomped by the ancient Surface Pro 3
- Alienware's tiny Alpha gaming PC gets bigger muscles... in the US
- Why Apple's new MacBook Pro needs more than just one USB-C port
GGG Evaluation Team
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.
The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.
My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.
- FTSocial Media AssistantQLD
- CCProject Engineer -VIC
- CCPortfolio AnalystVIC
- CCUI/UX DeveloperVIC
- CCBusiness AnalystQLD
- FTFull stack (back end focus) Java Developer | Defence | NV1ACT
- CCSenior Agile Java/Spring/AngularJS EngineerNSW
- FTSAS Support SpecialistNSW
- CCContract Analyst Programmer (JAVA/J2EE/Oracle) 160801/AP/258Asia
- FTBusiness Development ManagerVIC
- FTMobile DeveloperWA
- CCOracle Pl/SQL DeveloperNSW
- CCInformatica DeveloperNSW
- CCTest ManagerNSW
- FTSenior Technical ConsultantVIC
- CCNetwork Engineer - NV2 ClearanceVIC
- CCSenior Change ManagerVIC
- CCProject Manager- transformation from SAP Oracle to SAP HANANSW
- CC.NET DeveloperQLD
- CCSAP FICO Consultant/SAP FICO Stream LeadNSW
- CCUX/UI Designer DeveloperWA
- CCSenior Automation Engineer / TelecommunicationsNSW
- CCSenior Contracts Officer/Procurement -Governmen BckgrndNSW
- CCChange Analysts - multiple rolesNSW
- CCAgile Performance Tester- Bamboo, Jenkins, Confluence, JiraNSW