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Review: Apple's Haswell-Powered 13-Inch MacBook Air

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News Posted: Wed, Jul 24 2013 11:43 AM
Intel's roll-out of their 4th generation Haswell-based Core series processors has been a little pokey, quite frankly, when you compare this launch to the deluge of products that hit the market when Ivy Bridge broke cover last year.  Regardless, Apple always seems to have an inside track on Intel's latest technology and so, as it turns out, our first Haswell-powered notebook has finally arrived and it's none other than the Apple MacBook Air. The new MacBook Air for 2013 is virtually indistinguishable from the previous gen model, though if you'll look closely there actually two tiny pinholes on its left edge, for dual omnidirectional microphones, versus a single mic on previous models. Beyond that, it's the guts of the new Air that bring the glory.

In addition to the anticipated performance gains that Intel's new CPU might bring to the table for the MacBook Air, there are additional component-level enhancements that Apple baked in to their new ultra-light machine; namely a higher capacity 54 Whr battery and a PCI Express-based Solid State Drive (SSD)...



Let's see what the new MacBook Air is made of and if it holds its own versus Windows-based Ultrabook offerings in the market.
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realneil replied on Wed, Jul 24 2013 9:19 PM

Nice little Lappy.

Dogs are great judges of character, and if your dog doesn't like somebody being around, you shouldn't trust them.

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p4madeus replied on Wed, Jul 24 2013 10:15 PM

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

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Dave_HH replied on Wed, Jul 24 2013 10:21 PM

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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Anthrobug replied on Thu, Jul 25 2013 2:28 AM

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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hexblot replied on Thu, Jul 25 2013 4:21 AM

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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Dave_HH replied on Thu, Jul 25 2013 8:36 AM

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

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Dave_HH replied on Thu, Jul 25 2013 8:39 AM

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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Dave_HH replied on Thu, Jul 25 2013 4:24 PM

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

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slimfit replied on Fri, Jul 26 2013 7:28 PM

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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