- Good screen (for TN) with 1440 x 900 res
- Class-leading connectivity
- Sleek, attractive design
- Relatively powerful specifications
- Excellent usability
- No (Retina) upgrade to the display
- Same old chassis
- No Gigabit Ethernet or HDMI
- Non-standard screen resolution
- Noisy under load
- Review Price: £999.00
- 13.3in 1440 x 900 TN display
- Intel Ivy Bridge Core i5-i7, HD 4000 graphics
- 4-8GB RAM, 128-512GB SSD
- White-backlit keyboard
- USB 3.0, Thunderbolt, DisplayPort
The MacBook Air remains an iconic product in the laptop market. Not because it was the first premium ultraportable to be thin enough to fit in an envelope – Sony did that years earlier with its VAIO TZ1, among many other models – but because it achieved a higher level of market penetration and public awareness than others.
– Looking for the best MacBook Air rival? Have a read of our: MacBook Air Versus Samsung Series 9 showdown.
Even till early last year, the 2011 MacBook Air was one of the best ultraportables around, until the Samsung 900X3B came along and stole its crown. However, now Apple has upgraded its entire laptop range, so we’re testing the 13 inch MacBook Air 2012 to see how the new and improved model holds up.
Let’s start things off with a quick summary: the new MacBook Air is a relatively minor upgrade from its predecessor, especially when compared to the stunning overhaul that is the MacBook Pro with Retina Display. In stark contrast, the 2012 Air has the same chassis, layout and screen.
What’s new is that the internals have been upgraded to Ivy Bridge, which provides a modest CPU bump and a very noticeable GPU one. In other words, the new MacBook Air is better to game on, but of course the same goes for all its competitor Ultrabooks. Connectivity has also been given a major boost by the long-overdue addition of USB 3.0.
SEE ALSO: Best Laptops, Ultrabooks and Hybrids
MacBook Air 2012 Design and Build
At first glance, you might be forgiven for thinking this is the same machine as its predecessor – Apple simply hasn’t fixed what wasn’t broken. The 2012 MacBook Air 13 inch is still a gorgeously minimalist unibody affair sheathed in anodised aluminium, that’s just 17mm thick and weighs a mere 1.35kg. If it wasn’t made by Apple, it would be called an Ultrabook.
The same angular lines, glossy black screen, matt black keyboard and huge silver touchpad are all present to greet you, while build quality is just as superb. In fact, the only way you can tell anything’s different from the outside is by looking at its connectivity, and specifically at the slightly more elongated MagSafe 2 connector (and no, your old MagSafe kit won’t fit unless you buy an adapter).
Aside from softening a few edges, there’s really not too much we wanted to see changed, so we’re not complaining. Of the non-Apple ultraportable crowd, only the Samsung 900X3B, Dell XPS 13 and, to a lesser extent, Asus Zenbook are playing in the same field when it comes to the combination of premium looks, sleek lines and superb build on offer.
MacBook Air 2012 Connectivity
Though it might look identical, connectivity has seen a very significant update. Even if they haven’t changed their appearance, the USB ports are now of the speedy 3.0 variety, finally letting you plug in the multitude of high-speed memory sticks and other external storage on the market. This is the one area where Apple’s machines were lagging most when compared with their Windows PC competition, and we’re glad to see it finally rectified. Oh, incidentally, those on their way to Hell may wish to consider purchasing a pair of ice-skates.
Twin USB 3.0 ports aside, there’s the same SDXC card reader and headphone jack. Of course the Thunderbolt/DisplayPort connector also remains in place, along with Bluetooth 4.0 and Wi-Fi N – all helping to make the 13in MacBook Air one of the best-connected ultraportables on the market. If it had a Gigabit Ethernet jack and maybe HDMI, it would be in pole position. As is, it joins the Sony VAIO Z at the front of the ranks.
Unlike other sites, we thoroughly test every product we review. We use industry standard tests in order to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever accept money to review a product. Tell us what you think - send your emails to the Editor.