Apple's Haswell-Powered 13-Inch MacBook Air

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Battery Life and Acoustics

To measure battery life expectations of the MacBook Air, we ran three different tests. First, we subjected the Mac OS X 10.8.4 installation to our web browsing test as a best-case, light workload test condition. Then we loaded up BatteryEater Pro on the Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit partition (Boot Camp) to see how it compared with an assortment of Ultrabooks under a heavy-load test condition.  Finally, as a baseline mainstream usage model test, we looped a 1080p HD QuickTime movie trailer until the machine ran down and powered off.

For many of you, battery life is one of the most important metrics when shopping a notebook. Here's how the new MacBook Air 13 stacks up.


Battery Life Tests 
Light and Heavy-Duty Workloads



We tested and re-tested the MacBook Air in our light-duty web browsing workload but the results were consistently the same.  The new MacBook Air lasted over 12.5 hours on a single charge. with its display set at 50% brightness.  This result was impressive to say the least and is easily the best up-time number we've ever seen from any notebook in this test.  In fact, the new Haswell-driven MacBook Air blew every other Intel Sandy Bridge or Ivy Bridge-based notebook right out of the water in this metric.  No doubt this is the result of Haswell's significantly improved power consumption characteristics and features, that we've covered here previously.



Our Battery Eater Pro testing shows the opposite end of the spectrum, with the new MacBook Air managing only to edge out last year's model by a few minutes, in terms of worst-case, heavy workload battery life.  In reality, this is not always such a bad thing. The MacBook Air' s processing power is there when you need it. This test aims to pull 100% of the system's resources where possible, so it ends up chewing through an ultralight's smaller battery pretty quickly.


RED 2 1080p H.264 Movie Trailer - The MacBook Air stayed up for 9 hours, 47 minutes

Looping the RED (Retired and Extreme Dangerous) 2 trailer was just what the doctor ordered for our last battery life test (it's hilariously funny and Catherine is easy on the eyes too).  In this scenario we're looping a 1080p H.264-encoded QuickTime movie clip over and over until the system powers down.  We realized 9 hours and 47 minutes of untethered up-time - just 13 minutes short of Apple's top-end claim.  Again, in a word, "impressive."  In general, Apple's "all day battery life" claim was confirmed and proven in our real-world testing efforts.

Update, 7/25 - A note on acoustics -
I was previously remiss when I brought this section to a close without mentioning how quite the 2013 MacBook Air 13 is.  Under most test loads, even during our HD video loop test above, the MacBook Air was virtually silent - as in, stick your ear right up next to it and you won't hear a thing.  We did, however, notice its cooling fan spin up under heavier-duty game tests and our Battery Eater Pro test run, both of which exercise the graphics core in Intel's Haswell Core i5 processor that is tasked with pushing the pixels.  In short, you really have to push the machine hard graphically otherwise you won't hear a peep out of it.  Even under a heavy graphics processing demand, the rare time its cooling fan spins up, noise levels are completely tolerable.
 


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