Apple MacBook Air 13in (2012) review

14 Jun 2012

The same flawless design, now with Ivy Bridge and more RAM – all at a lower price

Price when reviewed: 
1,249(£999 inc VAT)
5

We were desperately hoping the MacBook Air would get the Retina screen it deserves, but Apple has kept that upgrade for professionals. Instead, both the 11in and 13in MacBook Air models receive a modest spring clean for 2012, with new internals and a few tweaks to the port line-up. We have the 13in model on test.

Apple has opted to leave the physical dimensions as they were, so it’s still 17mm thick at the rear, tapering to almost nothing at the front. There’s now a USB 3 port on either flank, joined by Thunderbolt and the SD card slot on the right and the headphone socket on the left. The labels have moved to the near side of each port, making them easier to see where cables previously blocked the view.

Apple MacBook Air 13in (2012)

The MacBook Air now uses the new MagSafe 2 power adapter. It’s wider (and only compatible with the original MagSafe via a £9 adapter), and the cable now extends directly outwards rather than at a right angle on the old adapter. That means it can be pulled out from any direction when tripped, which is theoretically safer, but in our experience it now pops out at the slightest provocation.

The bigger changes occur inside, with the headline being the introduction of Intel’s Ivy Bridge processors, and we were surprised to see a rather large step forward in application speed. Powered by a 1.8GHz Core i5-3427U, it scored 0.68 in our benchmarks, up from 0.58 last year. The 4GB of RAM certainly helps, and there’s no doubt the new HD Graphics 4000 core also plays its part in several of our tests.

Details

Price ex VAT £1,041
Price inc VAT £1,249
Overall rating 5
Features & Design 6
Value for Money 5
Performance 4

Warranty

Warranty 1 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions 325 x 227 x 17mm (WDH)
Weight 1.350kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core i5-3427U
RAM capacity 4.00GB
Memory type DDR3

Screen and video

Screen size 13.3in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,440
Resolution screen vertical 900
Resolution 1440 x 900
Graphics chipset Intel HD Graphics 4000
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 0
HDMI outputs 0
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 1

Drives

Capacity 256GB
Hard disk 256GB SSD
Optical disc technology N/A
Optical drive N/A
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

Wired adapter speed N/A
802.11a support no
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Integrated 3G adapter no
Bluetooth support yes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch no
Wireless key-combination switch yes
Modem no
FireWire ports 0
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel ports 0
3.5mm audio jacks 1
SD card reader yes
Memory Stick reader no
MMC (multimedia card) reader no
Smart Media reader no
Compact Flash reader no
xD-card reader no
Pointing device type Multitouch trackpad
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 0.9mp
Fingerprint reader no

Battery and performance tests

3D performance (crysis) low settings 37fps
3D performance setting Low
Overall Real World Benchmark score 0.68
Responsiveness score 0.83
Media score 0.68
Multitasking score 0.53

Operating system and software

Operating system OS X Lion
OS family Mac OS X
Recovery method Partition