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MacBook Air 13-inch (2014) Review

Introduction

MacBook Air with its aluminum body and slim and light design, is one of Apple’s most successful series and Apple doesn’t mess with success. The design of MacBook Air hasn’t changed much since its first launch. With its updated hardware, the MacBook Air 13-inch is one of the best, ultraportable laptops around; which offers the perfect balance of performance and portability.  It is now widely considered one of the best choice for mainstream ultraportable laptops.

Design and Features

With MacBook Air, Apple is still continuing the same unibody design it first introduced in 2010. The latest MacBook Air 13-inch is almost identical to its predecessors; on the outside it is literally the same as last year’s model. If placed side by side it is difficult to identify which is which. The unibody design is made from aluminum and, at just 0.68 inches thick, it is still very slim. Having such a slim design was once considered an achievement but has become fairly standard now-a-days. Some of the competitors like the Acer Aspire S7-392-6411 and ATIV Book 9 Plus are only 0.51 inches and 0.54 inches thick, respectively. The MacBook Air 13-inch only weighs 2.91 pounds but some of the competitors have managed devices even lighter than that. Due to its slim design MacBook Air 13-inch comes with a limited number of ports but includes two USB 3.0 ports, an SDCS card reader, a Thunderbolt port, and headphone jack. While that is a good start it also has some glaring omissions. It lacks even some of the most common ports like HDMI or Ethernet ports which have become necessities in the minds of users.

MacBook Air 13-inch comes with a 13.3-inch LED backlit display featuring a resolution of 1440 x 900 pixels. The display features a glossy finish and produces Apple’s trademark vibrant colors. Although the display is gorgeous to look at the resolution is sub-par as most of their rivals noe feature full HD resolution.  One such example is the Samsung Book 9 Plus which comes with a 3200 x 1800 pixel QHD+ display. Ever since the introduction of touch optimized Windows 8, laptops with touchscreens have flooded the market while the MacBook Air 13-inch (2014) still lacks a touchscreen display. A pair of stereo speakers can be found under the keyboard and the sound is pumped out through the keyboard. The speakers produce balanced and good quality sound which is loud enough to fill a small room. For wireless connectivity MacBook Air 13-inch (2014) features Bluetooth 4.0 and 802.11ac Wi-Fi.

Below the bright display is a beautiful keyboard with the famous backlit island-style keys. The MacBook Air 13-inch (2014) features an ambient light sensor for the keyboard which adjusts the keyboard’s backlight according to your current lighting condition. Below the keyboard is a large trackpad with Apple’s world famous glass-top. The trackpad is surprisingly accurate and supports all the different multi-touch gestures you’ve become used to like tapping and swiping. MacBook Air 13-inch (2014) features Apple’s latest OS X 10.9.2 also known as “Mavericks”, which is arguably the best desktop operating system among consumers. With MacBook Air 13-inch (2014) consumers also get Apple’s iLife and iWork suites. It also comes pre-installed with iCloud, Apple’s own cloud storage. It comes with a standard one-year warranty covered by Apple and 90 days of phone support.

Performance

MacBook Air 13-inch (2014) might be identical to last gen MacBook Air on the outside, but on the inside everything has been upgraded. It is equipped with Intel Core i5-4260U dual-core processor clocked at 1.6GHz with Intel HD Graphics 5000 and 128GB of flash storage. It comes with 4GB of RAM as standard, which can only be upgraded at the time of purchase since Apple solders the RAM stick on the motherboard.  As such, they cannot be upgraded once purchased. Instead of the conventional SATA SSD, with MacBook Air 13-inch (2014) Apple used a PCIe-based SSD for faster read and write speed.

During different benchmark tests MacBook Air 13-inch (2014) managed to hold its own against the competition. In Cinebench R11.5 it scored 2.57 points, while the Samsung Book 9 Plus managed to score 2.50 points. It completed the Handbrake test in 1 minute 18 seconds and Photoshop CS6 test in 5 minutes 5 seconds. While running Heaven, MacBook Air managed to score 24 frames per second, while the Samsung Book only managed 18 frames per second. MacBooks are famous for their excellent battery life, especially the MacBook Air series. During a battery test the 2014 MacBook Air 13-inch lasted 15 hours 51 minutes, while the Samsung Book 9 Plus lasted just 8 hours 15 minutes under identical test conditions.

Conclusion

The MacBook Air 13-inch (2014) features a slim and sleek design and is powered by Intel’s latest Haswell series processor, which are known worldwide for their low power consumption and superior performance. It gets a noticeable bump in performance and still retains the premium design MacBooks are famous for. MacBook Air 13-inch (2014) offers better performance and longer battery life than most of the competition and considered as one of the best ultraportable laptops.

8.5 Total Score

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