Apple's Haswell-Powered 13-Inch MacBook Air - HotHardware

Apple's Haswell-Powered 13-Inch MacBook Air

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The MacBook Air we tested came with OS X 10.8.4, the latest version of Apple's Mountain Lion OS.  We have previously posted a full overview of the features of Mountain Lion, so we won't dive in too deep here.  However, Apple's operating system offers a lot of key functionality out of the box, that purists might argue is more full-featured than competitive Windows-driven alternatives in the market currently.



And we're not talking about bloatware, or trial versions of software either.  Whether you consider simple utilities like the integrated DVD player, iTunes or iPhoto, or more higher-end software suites like GarageBand and iMovie, Apple really does pack in quite a bit of useful software in their standard bundle.


But it's the little things sometimes that matter.  One small addition to Mountain Lion that we find comes in quite handy is the Downloads Stack.  In a Windows 7 environment, you can often times find yourself drilling down through folders to get to a file you've recently downloaded.  Windows 8, on the other hand, offers more shortcuts to downloads and a download manager with pause/resume functionality.  For Mac OS the Downloads Stack is Apple's convenient solution to this problem that Windows web browser implementations have yet to address cleanly.  Just hover over the stack at the bottom right of the Mac OS dock (next to the trash can) and you can scroll through your downloads or open the Finder app to browse the download folder directly.

And of course Apple has tightly coupled social integration with OS X 10.8.  Within the Mail, Contacts and Calendars you can plug in your credentials to various services like Twitter, Facebook and Flickr adding your contacts at these services to your mail, contacts, calendar and messaging apps in OS X. Facebook integration plays an prominent role in the experience, if you want it to. Linking your Facebook account to OS X merges your online friends into your Contacts, adds profile photos for contacts, and delivers Facebook notifications directly on your MacBook.



Once these services are connected to your Mac, you can also then share files and media just by clicking the share button and selecting the service you want to share over. Competitively speaking, though these aren't exactly ground-breaking features, it feels like Microsoft has been playing catch-up adding this level of functionality into Windows 8. Mac OS X in some ways has a cleaner implementation of the same functionality.  In addition, though Microsoft is currently evangelizing one primary, touch-capable UI for all platforms, Apple does a relatively good job of injecting the feel and familiarity of iOS into OS X. 



Finally, content creation has always been a strong suit for Mac OS, and that trend continues with apps like GarageBand offering powerful tools that might otherwise be consider expensive software packages on other platforms.  On the software side of things, you do get what you pay for with the MacBook Air, let's see if the hardware is up to the task as well.


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Nice little Lappy.

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How is a laptop with a Thunderbolt / Mini Display Port "Missing video output ports"???

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p4madeus:

How is a laptop with a Thunderbolt / Mini Display Port "Missing video output ports"???

Some might consider the lack of HDMI an issue.

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You can pickup a thunderbolt to HDMI adapter for $20. Or basically thunderbolt to anything for the same price: VGA: DVI: dual-link DVI: HDMI: Composite.

Thunderbolt is basically PCIe 4x & Display Port over the same connector, so besides hooking up your display, you can also get a 4x PCIe to plug in video cards, sound cards, whatever you want. I don't know if Thunderbolt 2.0 means PCIe 8x, but I doubt it. And 4x is a bit low for a video card, but I'd want to try it. \

Basically you plug in one thunderbolt cable to connect your PCIe 650Ti, 24" monitor, keyboard, mouse, ethernet and whatever else. Kind of like a docking port, but it's a cable.

Macsales.com (OWC) already has a PCI card chassis for sale too.

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Anthro, understood and that was duly noted in the review.

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Nice write-up, and a mean machine at that!

There are a couple of things I feel should be tested though, which have been asked numerous time in most forums regarding this machine :

* Accoustics (ie when and how loud do fans work )?

* How does i5 / i7 difference affect battery, heat, and accoustics (fan noise) under various loads?

* There are rumors that the 128Gb SSD performs differently than the 256Gb SSD and up (with much greater performance to the latter capacities) - can you confirm / deny these?

As far as I know, there have been some answers in forums, but most are empirical in nature ( as in "duh i7 has less battery time and heats up more" ). It would be nice to have some answer from an authoritative source that actually ran some tests though.

Thank you in advance for your answers, and keep up the good work!

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Hexblot, GREAT questions and you know, I was going to note acoustics in the battery test section of the article but forgot.  

I will update the piece now with my impressions.

In short though, this MacBook was dead (and I mean as in no noise whatsoever) in all but the toughest graphics tests.

Stay tuned!

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HB, I added a section to this effect, on the battery test page, now titled "Battery Life and Acoustics." Thanks!

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mac pro + SSD = speed freak

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Excellent review! :)

I'm still not convinced that Macs are worth the price tag though...

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