Apple 13-inch MacBook Air (2013) - Better with Age

Launch SRP: S$1488

Performance Benchmarking (I)

Performance Benchmarking (I)

To evaluate the MacBook Air, we will be running tests in OS X and comparing it with a handful of Mac systems that we have tested in the past. Additionally, we will be running our usual Windows benchmark on it via boot camp.

The full list of benchmarks used are as follows:

  • Geekbench 2
  • PCMark 7
  • PCMark 8
  • 3DMark 11
  • 3DMark 2013
  • Far Cry 2
  • Battlefield Bad Company 2

Here is how the new 13-inch MacBook Air stacks up against comparable Windows-based notebooks.

Notebooks Compared
  Apple MacBook Air 13-inch (128GB) (2013) MSI Slidebook S20 (11.6-inch) Sony Vaio Duo 11 (Core i7-3517U) Samsung ATIV Smart PC Pro ASUS Taichi 21
Launch SRP
  • From S$1488
  • From S$1599
  • From S$2699
  • From S$2199
  • From S$2698
Processor and Chipset
  • Intel Core i5-4250U (1.3GHz dual-core, Turbo Boost up to 2.6GHz, 3MB shared L3 cache)
  • Intel Core i5-3337U (1.8GHz)
  • Intel HM77 chipset
  • Intel Core i7-3517U (1.9GHz)
  • HM76
  • Intel Core i5-3317U Processor (1.70GHz, 3MB L3 Cache)
  • Intel HM76 Chipset
  • Intel Core i7-3517U, 4M Cache, 1.9GHz with 3.0GHz Turbo Boost
Operating System
  • OS X Mountain Lion
  • Windows 8 Pro
  • Windows 8 Pro
  • Windows 8 Pro
  • Windows 8
System Memory
  • 4GB 1600MHz LPDDR3
  • 4GB DDR3
  • 8GB
  • 4GB DDR3 (1600MHz)
  • 1600MHz DDR3 4GB
Video & Display
  • Intel HD Graphics 5000
  • 13.3-inch, LED-backlit glossy widescreen display (1440 x 900)
  • 11.6-inch, 1920 x 1080 Full HD IPS Display (LED backlight)
  • Intel HD 4000 Graphics
  • 1920 x 1080 Full HD IPS Display
  • Intel HD 4000 Graphics
  • 11.6-inch, PLS type, 400 nits
  • Native Resolution: Full HD (1920 x 1080)
  • Tablet Mode (Outside): 11.6-inch, IPS Full HD (1920 x 1080), 10-point touch
  • Notebook Mode (Inside): 11.6-inch, IPS Full HD (1920 x 1080), non-touch
Storage
  • 128GB SSD
  • 128GB SSD
  • 256GB SSD
  • 128GB SSD
  • SSD SATA3 256GB
Connectivity
  • 802.11ac Wi-Fi networking, IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n compatible
  • Bluetooth v4.0
  • 802.11 b/g/n Wireless Lan
  • Gigabit Lan
  • Bluetooth v4.0
  • 802.11 b/g/n Wireless Lan
  • Intel WiDi
  • Gigabit Lan
  • Bluetooth v4.0
  • NFC support
  • 802.11 a/b/g/n Wireless LAN
  • USB-to-Ethernet Dongle
  • 4G/LTE, 3G
  • Bluetooth v4.0
  • 802.11a/b/g/n with Intel WiDi support, External cable supports 10/100Mbit/s, Ethernet, Bluetooth v4.0
Audio
  • Stereo speakers
  • Support for Apple iPhone headset with remote and microphone
  • THX TruStudio Pro surround sound certified
  • Dolby Home Theater technology v4
  • 2 speakers
I/O Ports
  • Two USB 3 ports (up to 5 Gbps)
  • Thunderbolt port (up to 10 Gbps)
  • MagSafe 2 power port
  • Headphone port
  • SDXC card slot
  • 1 x mini-HDMI
  • 1 x RJ45 LAN port
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • 1 x 3.5mm audio-out jack
  • 1 x SD card reader
  • 1 x HDMI
  • 1 x VGA
  • 1 x RJ-45
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • 1 x Multi-card reader
  • 1 x micro-HDMI
  • 1 x USB 3.0
  • 2 x USB 2.0
  • microSD card reader
  • 1 x mini VGA port
  • 2 x USB 3.0 ports
  • 1 x micro-HDMI 1.4 (1080p support)
  • 1 x audio jack combo
Miscellaneous
  • 720p FaceTime HD camera
  • Front Facing HD Webcam (30fps@720p)
  • Front and back 2.4MP Full HD web cameras powered by Exmor R for PC and microphone
  • Digitiser Stylus
  • Symantec Validation and ID Protection Service (VIP)
  • Trusted Platform Module (TCG ver. 1.2 certified)
  • Integrated Camera: 2MP (front) / 5MP (rear)
  • Input Devices: Keyboard (80/81keys), Digitizer Pen, Multi-Touch
  • Camera: Tablet Mode (Outside): 5 Megapixels with auto-focus & 1080p video recording / Notebook Mode (Inside): 720p HD camera
Battery Type
  • Built-in, 54W-hour lithium-polymer battery
  • 3-Cell, 35Whr
  • 36WHr
  • 49Wh
  • Up to 8 hours battery life (as printed)
  • Li-Polymer 35WH (4800mAh)
Dimensions
  • 325 x 227 x 3~17mm
  • 302.6 x 196.1 x 19.8mm
  • 320 x 199 x 17.85mm
  • 304.0 x 11.89 x 189.4mm (without keyboard)
  • 304.0 x 21.89 x 189.4mm (with keyboard)
  • 306.6 x 199.3 x 17.4mm
Weight
  • 1.35kg
  • 1.16kg
  • 1.3kg
  • 878g (without keyboard)
  • 1.6kg (with keyboard)
  • 1.25kg (with 6-cell Li-ion battery pack)

 

Geekbench 2

We begin by comparing looking at the new MacBook Air’s scores on Geekbench 2. Geekbench is a popular Mac benchmarking software that measures a Mac system’s performance by running a variety of tests that taxes individual components of a system such as the processor and memory and then gives an overall score of the system’s performance.

The new MacBook Air recorded a score of 6761, which represents a 12% improvement over a Mid 2011 MacBook Air. However, when compared to the newer MacBook Pro Retina and iMac from last year, we can see that there is a significant gulf in performance.

 

PCMark 7

Comparing the new MacBook Air against some of the latest Ultrabooks and hybrids that are powered by comparable processors, we can see that the new MacBook Air is competitive. Its overall score of 4460, puts it right smack in the middle pack. It was bested only by the Sony Vaio Duo 11 and ASUS Taichi 21, which have beefier Core i7-3517U processors. The Sony Vaio Duo 11 also has double the amount of memory. 

 

PCMark 8

PCMark 8 is the latest benchmarking utility from Futuremark and was designed to measure the performance of Windows 8 systems. We will be testing the system using four different scenarios, Home, Creative, Work and Storage, which simulates different workloads that a user might subject the system to.

Since PCMark 8 is still new and we could not recall the rest of the notebooks for re-evaluation, we will only be looking at the results of the new MacBook Air along with the recently reviewed MSI GE40 and Lenovo Y500. However, rest assured we will be populating this list moving forwards in future reviews.

To be sure, this not an entirely fair comparison given the gulf in specifications, but as we can see, for mainstream workloads, the MacBook Air is actually pretty decent. In the Home and Work scenarios, the new MacBook Air was actually very competitive. Obviously, considering it has an integrated GPU, it was not able to compete effectively on the Creative scenario which involves lots of video editing and manipulation. It’s Storage scores were the best thanks to its PCIe-based SSD. 

9.0
Design
8.5
Features
8.5
Performance
8.5
Value
9
Mobility
9.5
The Good
Long battery life
Top notch build quality
More affordable
Light and portable
The Bad
In need of a visual refresh
Not user upgradeable
Only 1440 x 900 pixels resolution