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3 reasons to buy Apple MacBook Air (13-inch, June 2013) 


The Good New Intel fourth-gen CPUs help the updated MacBook Air achieve amazing battery life. The multitouch trackpad is still the industry’s best, and even better, the 13-inch MacBook Air now starts at $100 less than the previous model.

The Bad Newer features such as touch screens and higher resolution displays are still missing. The ultrabook competition is catching up in terms of design.

The Bottom Line Apple keeps the latest MacBook Air updates inside, but the significantly improved battery life and lower starting price make up for the lack of flashy design changes.

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8.2 Overall

  • Design
  • Features
  • Performance
  • Battery

Revision Note, June 27, 2017: Apple has updated the 13-inch MacBook Air a handful of times since debuting the 2013 version reviewed below. The most recent update came in June 2017, when Apple delivered faster, more powerful Intel processors to the $999 13-inch model and the $1,299 12-inch MacBook . At the same time, the company introduced new MacBook Pros — the $1,299 13-inch, $1,799 13-inch with Touch Bar, and $2,399 15-inch with Touch Bar  — which have those new chips, too, along with upgraded graphics hardware. 

Otherwise, aside from a RAM bump here and a slight price drop there, the 2017 batch is very similar to the one from 2016, with the same enclosures, ports, trackpads and screens ( full listing of changes and additions). Note that the 13-inch MacBook Pro from 2015 has been discontinued though the $1,999 15-inch model from that year remains available for those who want all the ports and fewer dongles. 

This may be the case “the more things change, the more they stay the same.”

The new 2013 versions of both the 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Air look very familiar, as these slim systems have hardly changed physically in the last few generations.

Air was the only line of Apple laptops to receive an update in June 2013 at the Apple WWDC conference. At first glance, this looks like a relatively minor set of changes. The main selling point is the transition to the new Core i fourth-generation Core i processors, also known as Haswell. However, new models have one very important difference, and this is a special note if you spend a lot of time on the road and away from the power adapter.

We’ve previously tested Haswell chips on several laptops, both were impressed with both performance and battery life (to be realistic, the latter is much more important to consumers). Adding Haswell to Apple’s already stellar battery reputation will give you a 13-inch system that Apple’s applications will run for up to 12 hours, and our tests (spoiler alerts) take even longer.

Sarah Tew

The presence of the Haswell generation processor also gives Intel an improved HD5000 graphics, which promises improved gaming performance over last year’s HD4000 graphics (an improvement over the previous HD3000, etc.). It’s still not like having a discrete graphics processor like that of a 15-inch Retina Pro , but if gaming services such as Steam and EA Origin are now compatible with the Mac, it may take some small action on OS X games.

Also new is 802.11ac Wi-Fi , a new standard that will eventually be found in wireless routers, and the new Apple AirPort Extreme and Temporary AirPort capsule equipment. If you have an 802.11n router, which is a much more likely scenario, it may not help, but it’s a nice snippet for future testing. Apple also says that a solid-state drive included with Air laptops is faster now, though I believe the base 11-inch models are $ 999 up to a full 128GB SSD (from the small 64GB previously sold for that one) price) is a much more important development.

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Sarah Tew

It’s easy to say that this new version of the 13-inch MacBook Air is a modest step forward with no physical changes to the outside, and there is still no higher resolution display, touch screen or HDMI ports. However, battery life is a big deal, and when you combine that with a $ 100 price reduction on the base model, up to $ 1,099, the 13-inch MacBook Air is there, even though it’s not the latest design on the block, are still the most versatile useful laptops you can buy.

13-inch MacBook Air (June 2013) 11-inch MacBook Air (June 2013) Sony Vaio Pro 13
Price $1099 $999 $1249
Display size/resolution 13.3-inch, 1,440×900 screen 11.6-inch, 1,766×768 screen 13.3-inch, 1,920×1,080 touchscreen
PC CPU 1.3GHz Intel Core i5-4250U 1.3GHz Intel Core i5-4250U 1.6GHz Intel Core i5-4200U
PC Memory 4,096MB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz 4,096MB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz 4,096MB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz
Graphics 1,024MB Intel HD Graphics 5000 1,024MB Intel HD Graphics 5000 1,659MB Intel HD Graphics 4400
Storage 128GB SSD 128GB SSD 128GB SSD
Optical drive None None None
Networking 802.11a/c wireless, Bluetooth 4.0 802.11a/c wireless, Bluetooth 4.0 802.11b/g/n wireless, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC
Operating system OS X Mountain Lion 10.8.4 OS X Mountain Lion 10.8.4 Windows 8 (64-bit)

Design and features

The MacBook Air retains the same look as the previous couple generations – a look that still competes with the latest ultrabooks, though some newer systems, such as Sony Vaio Pro line , get thinner and lighter without losing much of your productivity efforts.

Both the 11- and 13-inch versions of the MacBook Air have the same thickness, ranging from 0.11-inch to 0.68-inch. The 13-inch version of the 13-inch version still feels pretty thin.

The Vaio Pro 13 next to the 13-inch MacBook Air.

Sarah Tew

As in the previous version, the rigid aluminum construction makes the Air durable enough to just throw it in a bag and carry with it without a protective case or sleeve, and it is interesting to contrast the aluminum body design with the lighter carbon fiber in the aforementioned Vaio Pro. I would still have more confidence in the Air and its unshakable lid in the baggage throw test box.

The backlit keyboard and trackpad are the same as in previous models, and the trackpad is especially the standard by which all others are rated. Many other laptop makers have moved to wider clickpad-style touch panels, but we haven’t yet found a touchpad that comes close to that for multi-touch gestures. The pad is again hung at the top, allowing the entire pad to press down, and we strongly advise you to go to the Settings menu and include all the push options for further ease of use.

It will be interesting to see how Apple’s user interfaces evolve in the face of both Windows 8, which is trying (not so terribly successfully) to invent the whole concept of working with a computer OS, and the future OS X Mavericks Update . At present, swiping with three and four finger gestures on the MacBook’s trackpad remains the most seamless way of sharing between windows and applications, at least in my experience.

Unlike the 11-inch MacBook Air, the 13-inch screen is still not a 16: 9 screen. The screen area also lacks edge-to-edge glasses on the black panel found in the MacBook Pro; instead, the screen, like in previous years, is surrounded by a thick silver rim.

On the plus side, the built-in display resolution is 1440×900 pixels, which is better than the 1366×768 that you will find in many 13-inch laptops, though even the mid-sized models quickly go beyond 1600×900 or even 1,920×1,080. Of course, Retina Pro models, as well as several notebooks from Toshiba, HP and Dell, are experimenting with even higher HD resolution.

Although the Air screen is not matt, it also does not reflect very much, which is a step up to the “mirror image” effect that you get on some laptop screens.

Apple MacBook Air (13 inches, June 2013)

Video DisplayPort/Thunderbolt
Audio Stereo speakers, headphone jack
Data 2 USB 3.0, SD card reader
Networking 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Optical drive None

Connectivity, performance and battery

Ports and connections remain the same in this version of the MacBook Air. It gives you two USB 3.0 ports and a Thunderbolt port for gaming, with the latter being used for both external accessory and video connection. Faster Wi-Fi 802.11ac will play great with future new Apple AirPort Extreme and AirPort Time Capsule hardware, but I suspect you are still working with the 802.11n router. There is more on what 802.11ac means to you here .

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Sarah Tew

The base configuration for the 13-inch Air now costs $ 1,099 versus $ 1,199 previously. Most systems are unchanged, the main difference is the new processor and Intel platform of the Haswell generation. Interestingly, last year’s base processor model was a 1.8-GHz dual-core Intel Core i5, while the newer Haswell version is a 1.3GHz Intel Core i5-4250U. The increased $ 1299 configuration supports the same processor as the $ 1099, but doubles the SSD up to 256GB.

The actual difference in the results of our tests between the 2012 and 2013 models was negligible. The annual app performance for the year shows no real improvement, and the new Air has actually done some hair testing slower. As a longtime MacBook Air user, in everyday use – surfing, social networking, HD video playback – the 2013 MacBook Air felt nothing like the previous version. Any of the last few generations is more than powerful for the major users.

However, Intel’s integrated HD 5000 graphics are clearly different, a step up from the HD 4000 in the previous Air. In our older test of Call of Duty 4 (one of the few standard OS X game benchmarks), in native resolution of 1,440×900 pixels, the game on the web in 2013 was 39.0 frames per second and in 2012, 21.9 frames per second Air.

Not a slot machine (and you’ll have to move up to the top 15-inch Retina Pro to get a discrete Nvidia GPU), but our anecdotal portal 2 gameplay tests show that Air can handle major games that tend to be a little more casual.

Sarah Tew

Battery life is one where the new MacBook Air (both the 11-inch and 13-inch versions) really stands out. The 13-inch previous generation aired 7 hours and 27 minutes in our battery tracking test for video playback. The 2013 version explodes with amazing 14 hours and 25 minutes on the same test. This is better than Apple’s 12-hour rating, and one of the only times our tests have indicated a longer battery life than the manufacturer’s application.

Now, before we get too excited, there are some caveats to this number. Much of the credit goes to the fourth-generation Core i-th platform, which has become extremely energy efficient. Our early tests confirm this: the new 13-inch Sony Vaio Pro 13 runs for almost 9 hours. While this is a much better performance than last year’s Air, the processor itself runs at a lower clock speed, and the new Intel chips are especially optimized for video playback, which is the heart of our battery test. Heavy use of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth or playing 3D games will reduce this number.

But even with these factors in mind, Apple’s typically stellar performance and Intel’s new Haswell chips combine to make it a truly all-day laptop.


For a laptop that looks so identical to last year’s model (and frankly, the previous year as well), there is actually a lot behind the scenes in the new 13-inch MacBook Air.

Excessive design and lack of trendy new features (touch screens, higher resolution displays, NFCs) may complicate the airwaves of 2013, especially since the main performance of the program is so similar to the 2012 version. Intel’s upgraded graphics processor is welcome even in an even rarer OS X gaming environment, and the lower launch price also helps make it just a few steps above impulse buying, at least for laptops.

But if all this contributes to the modest step forward, the amazing battery life that Apple and Intel deserve to participate (with an Intel-leaning scale) makes it a new era for the MacBook. Even if we cut our 14-hour real-time video playback time by a third or more, you still have a real all-day computer. Coupled with OS X and the best trackpad and gestures, it’s hard for me to think of one competitor that comes close to the ubiquitous utility of this system.

Multimedia Task Test

(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

13 “MacBook Pro Retina Display (October 2012)


13-inch MacBook Air (June 2012)


13-inch MacBook Air (June 2013)


11-inch MacBook Air (June 2013)


Sony Vaio Pro 13


Adobe Photoshop CS5 Image Processing Test (in seconds)

(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

13 “MacBook Pro Retina Display (October 2012)


13-inch MacBook Air (June 2012)


Sony Vaio Pro 13


11-inch MacBook Air (June 2013))


13-inch MacBook Air (June 2013)


Apple iTunes Coding Test (in seconds)

(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

13 “MacBook Pro Retina Display (October 2012)


13-inch MacBook Air (June 2012)


13-inch MacBook Air (June 2013)


11-inch MacBook Air (June 2013)


Sony Vaio Pro 13


Video Trial Video Play Video (in minutes)

(Longer bars indicate better performance)

13-inch MacBook Air (June 2013)


11-inch MacBook Air (June 2013)


Sony Vaio Pro 13


13-inch MacBook Air (June 2012)


13 “MacBook Pro Retina Display (October 2012)


Hand brake multitasking

(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

13-inch MacBook Air (June 2012)


13-inch MacBook Air (June 2013)


Sony Vaio Pro 13


MacBook Air 11-inch (June 2013


Learn more about how we test laptops.

System configurations

MacBook Air 13-inch (June 2013)
OSX 10.8.4 Mountain Lion; 1.3 GHz Intel Core i5-4240U; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1600MHz; 1,024 MB (Shared) Intel HD Graphics 4000; 128GB Apple SSD

11-inch MacBook Air (June 2013)
OSX 10.8.4 Mountain Lion; 1.3 GHz Intel Core i5-4240U; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1600MHz; 1,024 MB (Shared) Intel HD Graphics 4000; 128GB Apple SSD

13 “Apple MacBook Pro Retina Display (October 2012)
OSX 10.8.2 Mountain Lion; 2.5 GHz Intel Core i5-3210; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1600 MHz; 768 MB (Shared) Intel HD 4000; 256GB Apple SSD

Sony Vaio Pro 13
Windows 8 (64-bit); 1.6 GHz Intel Core i5-4200U; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1600MHz; 1,659 MB (Shared) Intel HD Graphics 4400; 128GB Samsung SSD

13-inch MacBook Air (June 2012)
OSX Lion 10.7.4; 1.8 GHz Intel Core i5-3427U; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1600; 384 MB (Shared) Intel HD Graphics 4000; 128GB Apple SSD

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