The Apple MMGF2LL/A MacBook Air 13.3-Inch Laptop throws in a few upgrades here-and-there to its predecessor including a faster Intel Core i5 processors, bumps up the system memory to 8GB and good battery life.
PROS: Sleek design. Updated Intel Core i5 CPU. Enough 8GB RAM. Good battery life. No bloatware.
CONS: Lacks HDMI and Ethernet ports. Relatively low-resolution display. Limited storage capacity.
The folks at Cupertino CA, tend to change things only when they need to.Yes, Apple often treats us to upgrades to its line of gadgets instead of completely redesigning them. Case in point: The newest 13-inch Apple MMGF2LL/A, which only features incremental, yet impactful upgrades. It uses the same aluminum unibody design and it overly maintains the same components as its predecessor from last year. While using the same exterior, the latest MacBook Air 13-inch is updated with one of the newest Intel Core i5 CPUs, and it bumps up the system memory from 4GB to 8GB.
As Apple fan #46, I find the upgrades quite appreciable, something I’m sure will keep most “fanboys” smiling too. The improvements are modest, but they keep the newest MacBook Air ahead of the pack in terms of performance, and the 12+ hours battery life is more than acceptable. All these make the MacBook Air an easy choice for general computing tasks, and is our top pick for midrange ultraportables.
The newest MacBook Air still maintains the slims profile: measuring 10.5 inches long and 14.2 inches wide, and weighs in at 5.3 pounds. Compared with other 13-inchers, they come out as slightly thinner and lighter, like the Asus Zenbook UX305FA, and the Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro. Still, you won’t have any trouble toting the Mac Air around. If you need it thinner, you’ve got the 12-inch MacBook that’s currently Apple’s thinnest and lightest laptop at 0.52 by 11 by 7.75 inches (HWD) and 1.98 pounds.
The keys on the backlit, chiclet-style keyboard have an excellent feel, and it’s easy to use the glass-covered trackpad for multitouch gestures. The extra Force-Click on the trackpad that awed us on the 12-inch Apple MacBook and the MacBook Pro laptops is missing, but we can let that pass.
Like all other Macs, a touch screen is unheard of in this side of town. Its biggest performance coup must be the 54Wh battery that promises anything more than 11 hours on a single charge, quite excellent. That’s an insane amount of battery power for a traditional laptop.
Powered by a 1.6GHz Intel Core i5 processor (a 5th generation dual-core chip) with base clock speed of 1.6GHz and 2.7GHz turbo speed, the MacBook Air is powerful enough for daily computing tasks. Its windows counterparts are boasting of energy efficient, at least on paper, Skylake processor, but the Mac still holds its own.
All these combined with Intel HD Graphics 6000 card, the system is definitely a good performer on multimedia tasks. Performance-wise, it eschews other Intel Core i5 equipped machines like, the Dell XPS 13 Touch, and even the Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro that sports an Intel Core M CPU. As expected, system with Skylake Intel Core i7 processors including the ASUS ZenBook UX303UB and Dell XPS XPS9350-5341SLV are predictably faster in multimedia tasks and offer better overall performance.
For gaming, the system will allow you play. Simple games. Here we’re looking at basic games like Diablo III, but rest assured you won’t be able to run Grand Theft Auto V at Ultra-quality settings. If you’re looking for a gaming rig, you can look at the ASUS K501UW-AB78, or bump up everything and go for the ASUS ROG GL552VW-DH74 that features a discrete GPU. The integrated Intel HD Graphics 6000 offer mediocre 3D scores which is something we anticipated all along.
The 128GB storage is PCIe-based, which makes it snappier than the SATA-based solid-state-drives (SSDs) and flash storage we’ve seen in older ultraportables. You may not store many movies with the limited space, but the system will boot in only a few seconds and apps will load quickly. The 8GB system memory is enough for multitasking, and it’s a notable upgrade from the 4GB in the previous model.
On most midrange Windows laptops, we’re seeing 1,920-by-1,080 or higher resolution as the base standard, but the MacBook Air’s 1,440-by-900 resolution seems relatively deficient, at least on paper. However, the screen appears clear and bright in real-world use. It should be sufficient for day-to-day tasks, like writing office documents and Web browsing.
If you need a higher-resolution Mac laptop, you’ll have to go for the pricier Apple MacBook and its 2,304-by-1,400-resolution screen. There is currently no option to add a high-resolution Retina Display to the MacBook Air; it would increase the system’s cost and weight and decrease battery life.
Ports remain unchanged from the other models. Here you have (left side) a headset jack, two microphones, a MagSafe 2 power jack, and a USB 3.0 port. The right side hosts an SDXC card slot, a Thunderbolt 2 port, and a second USB 3.0 port.
While it seems mean, it’s pretty typical for the ultraportable category and will be sufficient for most users. An adapter cable is needed for HDMI or other display connectors, but the Thunderbolt port works pretty well with Display port-equipped monitors without an adapter. Wireless connectivity comes via 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0.
The Bottom Line
The 13.3-inch Apple MMGF2LL/A MacBook Air out muscles its Core M-equipped competitors, and does so with more system memory and even more battery life. It still keeps the same classic design that other ultraportables have been attempting to mirror for the past 5 years, with some succeeding, some failing flat; but we all know there can only be one Air… Apple’s MacBook Air.
It has 4GB more of system memory than the configuration we tested last year, meaning it allows you to multitask more. Given its solid performance and upgrades, though modest, the Apple MMGF2LL/A MacBook Air supplants its predecessor as our top pick midrange ultraportable laptop.