2 reasons to buy Apple MacBook Air (2018) 


The Good The MacBook is now smaller and lighter, with a better display, faster processors and a larger touchpad. MacOS experience and all-day battery life are still big selling points.

The Bad The initial price has increased significantly despite adherence to dual-core processors. The shallow butterfly keyboard and limited ports can feel like a step back from the previous Air.

The Bottom Line The long overdue version of the MacBook Air adds additional extras such as a high resolution screen and Touch ID, but it does include some unwanted compromises – including a much higher price tag.

8.1 Overall

  • Design
  • Features
  • Performance
  • Battery

Editor’s note, November 16: Originally published on November 6, this review has been updated with definitive benchmarking and battery life as well as review rating.

The Apple MacBook Air has received a much-needed reboot, keeping the name but changing almost everything else, both externally and inches. This means that the new 8th-generation Intel Core i5 processor, more RAM and SSD, retina with high resolution display and transition to USB-C Thunderbolt 3. And while it’s still called the MacBook Air, this new version can to call it “MacBook Pro Lite”, because it is, in fact, what it is.

For most of my 10-year life, classic MacBook Air was the default laptop for almost everyone – from college students to creative types to aspiring entrepreneurs. For many years, I have called it the only universally useful laptop to buy.

But over the years, competition has shifted to higher resolution displays, slimmer screen panels, larger touchpads, regular component updates, and slimmer and lighter bodies.

The old MacBook’s deep keys and multiple ports are gone.

Sarah Tew

Although this redesigned MacBook Air fixes almost all previous design issues, it adds a couple of its own. This fits in much better with the rest of the current sensitivity of Mac design: More Than 12-inch MacBook , smaller than the 13-inch Pro, and significantly different from the classic Air that Apple has been selling for at least.

This means that the old design with its thick screens, small touchpad, deep keys and multiple ports is missing. If anything, the new air looks and feels halfway between a 12-inch MacBook and 13-inch MacBook Pro .

Its price jumped and joined the rest of the MacBooks. For most of his life, the air was $ 999. Not cheap, but reasonably achievable luxury, especially for a reliable laptop that could last for years.

Less powerful than the MacBook Pro, but more portable.

Sarah Tew

The new starting price is $ 1,199 (£ 1,199, $ 1849), which is a heavy blow to the generations raised to get the first MacBook for a hefty sum. Currently, it’s only $ 100 less than a 12-inch MacBook or a 13-inch base MacBook Pro, so there are more mathematical values ​​compared to the features.

My cheat sheet for this is as follows. Compared to the new MacBook Air:

  • The MacBook Pro is more expensive, more powerful and less portable.
  • The 12-inch MacBook is more expensive, less powerful and more portable.

With every laptop that wins in a different field and only $ 100 sharing their base models, there won’t be one right answer for everyone. However, this new Air is a safe middle ground between the two extremes.

Apple MacBook Air for 2018 is new inside and out

Body double

Having picked one up, it immediately feels lighter and smaller than the current Air I am familiar with. At 2.7 pounds (1.25 kilograms) and about 15 millimeters thick, it’s actually pretty average when it comes to 13-inch laptops. Some similar systems get less than 10mm, but at the expense of battery, features and CPU power. As it is now, the new MacBook Air is firmly in the mainstream of thin laptops, but not the leading one.

One bit of the brace is in the design of the screen, which cuts the thick border of the frame around it by about half and adds a glass trim to the edge. It’s a sharper, more modern look and a long overdue upgrade.

The older MacBook Air bezel versus the new version.

Sarah Tew

Like the current Pro and 12-inch MacBook, the new Air still feels like a reservoir, with its integral aluminum construction (now Apple is 100 percent aluminum processing aluminum, Apple reports). This is one of the reasons that the MacBooks, both Air and Pro, have been able to command premium prices for so long, because you are investing in a product that we hope will last for many years.

It’s all about the keyboard

Being the only MacBook with a traditional keyboard on the island, the MacBook Air was a haven from those who disliked the keyboard of the super-flat butterfly mechanisms in the new MacBooks. The air is now firmly in the same camp as the other models. Some may complain about losing the old keyboard style, but I think the butterfly keyboard has never been as troublesome as people imagine, and I certainly dealt with more complex keyboards in more expensive products.

You may never love the new butterfly keyboard, but you’ll learn to live with it.

Sarah Tew

In this new broadcast, you get the latest butterfly keyboard, with a a new membrane underneath to keep dust from thickening the keys. To our knowledge, Air and Touch Bar Pro versions have this version, while other MacBooks have the previous version.

Getting used to fine tactile feedback requires a period of correction, but once you get used to it, it’s good even for typing long. But yeah, you may never do that.

The benefit is that the new Air also includes a much larger touchpad, the same Force Touch style as other MacBooks. This means that there is no snorkeling hinge on the back, and instead uses four angular sensors to record clicks, allowing the body to be thinner.

Is it difficult to accept this change? They can, but this old keyboard has never been as big as you remember.

USB-C for you and me

If you are concerned about changing the keyboard, the port situation will not be much better. After the march of not only other Apple laptops, but also many premium Windows laptops over the past two years, the MacBook Air is now just USB-C.

This means that it has two USB-C ports rather than one on a 12-inch MacBook, so you can do more than one (for example, connect a peripheral network). and power cord, as there is no favorite MagSafe connector either). And these are Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports that can output to two 4K or one 5K displays.

It’s USB-C only, but you get two ports.

Sarah Tew

The 13-inch MacBook Pro 13-inch has a similar pair of USB-C Thunderbolt ports, but it lacks a Touch ID fingerprint reader. The fingerprint reader is really the best part of the Touch Touch experience and is a great addition to the MacBook Air. The Touch ID sensor is regulated by the Apple T2 chip, which also handles Siri encryption and voice activation.

About this processor

What is this sound? I looked around the room and realized that the sound was somewhere near me. Lifting the MacBook Air to his ear, he reached inside the laptop. The fan on the new MacBook Air does not often get clogged, but when it does, you will hear it in another quiet room. After using a 12 inch MacBook and other fan PCs such as Acer Swift 7 or Surface Laptop 2 , it’s a bit of a shock to hear a fan on something such a slender twist.

Good amount of digital ink has already been spilled onto the processor in this new MacBook Air. The Intel-specific processor inside is a dual-core Intel Y-Series processor. The 12-inch MacBook uses single-family circuits, while the MacBook Pro and most Windows-based laptops use U. Series quad-core processors. This is an oversimplification, but the Y-Series typically means less power, but better battery life and less heat. The U Series means more power (but still not close to that found in gaming laptops, desktops, etc.), but at the expense of battery life and cooling. As they say, Apple tweaks these processors, so they are not like spare chips.

You’ll rarely need the fan. But you’ll hear it when it’s running.

Sarah Tew

To help demystify the problem, the new MacBook Air is much faster than the previous model. (But since these Intel chips are a few generations behind, this is not a huge achievement.) It’s also faster than the current 12-inch MacBook, which still runs on Intel chips in 2017, but is slower than some comparable Windows laptops in its price range and a basic 13-inch MacBook Pro.

So: Are you getting better than before? So. Should you expect more CPU power from a $ 1199 laptop that weighs in at 2.7 pounds and has serious fans? Also so.

Battery life, a traditionally durable suit for MacBooks, continues to impress, though the best Windows laptops can now pair or beat them. Here, we get 10:46 in our streaming video test, which is a solid number, if not something I would yell from the rooftops. Processor efficiency and Apple’s improved ability to fit as much battery as possible into the body of the device are of great merit.


Replay videoLarge play-pause toggle Unlocking the new MacBook Air AutoplayOnOff 00:00 03:14 Settings

You can spend an extra $ 100 and get something more portable and less powerful (12-inch MacBook) or spend the same extra $ 100 and get something less portable and more powerful (MacBook Pro). Where the new MacBook Air is right between the two other options, that seems to be the lane on which it must travel. If you’re ready to upgrade to the Windows platform, specs, performance, and pricing are greatly expanded, but you’re losing access to MacOS, which is a driver for many Mac users.

Those involved in 4K video editing, high-end professional photography, or the advanced 3D modeling business should really look at the MacBook Pro. For all other MacBook Air, it’s usually more than fast, like the latest version of the 12-inch MacBook. This new Air is faster than any of them, so I’m not particularly concerned with the specific processor inside.

But to get Devil’s Advocate for a second for an extra $ 100, the basic 13-inch MacBook Pro is really much more powerful in terms of processor performance.

The new Air sits on top of the previous version.

Sarah Tew

Still a higher student laptop?

One area where the new MacBook Air may lose some role is the default student laptop at many college campuses (and the default working laptop at many companies). Although it is a much better laptop in almost every respect, it loses one big advantage that the previous MacBook Air had – its price.

At $ 999 in the US, the MacBook Air was an affordable luxury for many students, artists, writers, and anyone who wanted a premium experience for less than a premium. The new Air starts at $ 1,199, a premium of 20 percent, though both the old and the new entry-level models have 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of solid state storage.

At least that Old-School Air is still available, just like the old 13-inch MacBook Pro was more than a year after its 2016 design debut. If you firmly need USB-A or HDMI ports or an island-style keyboard, choose one now, because who knows how long it will take. But given the problems we’ve had over the last few years regarding low resolution screen, thick display panel and outdated processor, it’s hard to recommend this classic model right now.

Fortunately, the new model has such an extensive overall design, ease of use and component upgrade that it is definitely worth at least $ 200 more than the old one. It’s a pity that since the MacBook Air is again one of the most versatile laptops you can buy, it is a much larger volume for potential owners.

Battery playback video test (current minute)

Video playback battery-drain test (streaming minutes)
Dell XPS 13 (2018) 738
Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 671
Apple MacBook Air (13-inch, 2018) 646
Apple MacBook (12-inch, 2017) 626
Apple MacBook Air (13-inch, 2017) 610
Acer Swift 7 561
Apple MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2017) 430

Geekbench 4 (multi-core)

Dell XPS 13 (2018) 12,855 Microsoft 2 Surface Laptop 11,983 Apple MacBook Pro (13 inches, 2017) 9,032 Apple MacBook Air (13 inches, 2018) 7,870 Apple MacBook Air (13 inches, 2017) 7,490 Apple MacBook (12 inches, 2017) 6,898 Acer Swift 7 6,027


Longer bars indicate better performance

Cinebench R15 processor (multi-core)

Dell XPS 13 (2018) 629 Microsoft 2 Surface Laptop 589 Apple MacBook Pro (13 inches, 2017) 381 Acer Swift 7 263 Apple MacBook Air (13 inches, 2018) 253 Apple MacBook (12 inches, 2017) 252


Longer bars indicate better performance

System configurations

Apple MacBook Air (13-inch, 2018) Apple MacOS Mojave 10.14; 1.6GHz Intel Core i5-8210Y; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 2,133MHz; 1,536MB Intel UHD Graphics 617; 256GB SSD
Apple MacBook Air (13-inch, 2017) Apple MacOS Sierra 10.12.6; 2.2GHz Intel Core i7-56500U; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 1,536MB Intel HD Graphics 6000; 256GB SSD
Apple MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2017) Apple MacOS Sierra 10.12.6; 3.1GHz Intel Core i5-7267; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 2,133MHz; 1,536MB Intel Iris Plus Graphics 650; 512GB SSD
Apple MacBook (12-inch, 2017) Apple MacOS Sierra 10.12.5; 1.2GHz Intel Core m3-7Y32; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,866MHz; 1,536MB Intel HD Graphics 615; 256GB SSD
Dell XPS 13 (2018) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 1.8GHz Intel Core i7-8550U; 8GB DDR4 SDRAM 1,866MHz; 128MB (dedicated) Intel HD Graphics 620; 256GB SSD
Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 1.6GHz Intel Core i5-8250U; 8GB DDR4 SDRAM 1,866MHz; 128MB dedicated Intel UHD Graphics 620; 256GB
Acer Swift 7 Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 1.3GHz Intel Core i7-7Y75; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,866MHz; 128MB dedicated Intel HD Graphics 615; 256GB SSD

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