Apple MacBook Air 13 – Specs, Battery, Value and Verdict
MacBook Air 2012 Specifications
Along with its connectivity, specifications is the other area where the new MacBook Air has received a major update. The biggest news here is of course Intel’s Ivy Bridge, its third-gen processor and integrated graphics architecture. The Air comes with your choice of dual-core Core i5 or i7 CPUs which will give it plenty of speed for even the most demanding tasks.
Graphics are handled by the HD 4000, which improves performance significantly over Intel’s previous HD 3000 effort. While we wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s a gamer-worthy chip, at least a few demanding titles are now actually playable, even if you still have to make sacrifices in detail and resolution.
Pretty much every premium consumer laptop on the market comes with 4GB of RAM as standard; the one exception was the Air, which started you off with an anaemic 2GB of 1,333MHz DDR3. Thankfully, Apple has now upped that to match the competition, and increased the ultraportable’s maximum to a generous 8GB of 1,600MHz RAM, which should be plenty for even the most demanding user. Better yet, the £80 it demands for the upgrade is actually somewhat reasonable.
With a baseline 128GB SSD, minimum storage remains the same as before but the largest capacity choice has increased from 256GB to 512GB and the actual drives used are faster than before. There are very few other ultraportables available offering this much memory and solid state storage capacity, putting the 2012 Air at the top of its game – for now.
MacBook Air 2012 Battery
Unfortunately, Apple claims the exact same 7-hour battery life figure for its new 13in Air as on the old model – despite the slightly more efficient processor and graphics chip. This is a shame as, in our light productivity test, the previous 13in MacBook Air only managed under five hours - though admittedly this was running Windows 7, which may have had an impact.
Still, with many Ultrabooks clocking up seven hours or more in the same scenario, this relatively low figure joins its screen as one important aspect where the MacBook Air 2012 still hasn’t caught up to the best of the rest.
MacBook Air 2012 Value
With a starting price of £999, the new Macbook Air 13in is solidly positioned at the premium end of the market. After all, you’re getting one of the best-built laptops available with unmatched connectivity, a relatively impressive screen and a flexible range of high-end specs.
There are cheaper Ultrabooks available but most don’t match up – the main exception being the £1,030 Samsung Series 9 900X3B with its superior PLS screen and lighter weight. Once that machine receives its Ivy Bridge update and presumably higher spec options, only the Air’s Thunderbolt connectivity will still give it an edge, but we’ll cross that (Ivy) bridge when we come to it.
MacBook Air 2012 Verdict
Apple has updated what was already one of the better ultraportable laptops on the market to keep it competitive, with an impressive set of specification upgrades and the best connectivity going thanks to its dual USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt combination. However, we can’t say we’re not disappointed to have the same old screen rather than an IPS-panel Retina display, especially since some of the competition will be packing 1080p IPS screens on 11- and 13in Ultrabooks.
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