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MacBook Air: A little faster, a little slower, a little more affordable

James Galbraith | May 7, 2014
While its flash storage didn't always perform as well as expected, it is still a great portable system.

If you're looking for a more powerful portable, the $1499 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro with 256GB flash storage, 8GB of RAM and 2.4GHz dual-core Haswell processor was 22 percent faster overall than the new 13-inch 256GB MacBook Air. The 13-inch MacBook Pro also has the benefit of a high-resolution Retina display, two Thunderbolt 2 ports, and faster Intel Iris graphics.

Our battery tests showed that the new MacBook Air was able to maintain its superior battery life. We looped a movie file in iTunes at 200 CD/m2 brightness, with Wi-Fi off and the keyboard dimmed. The 11-inch MacBook Air lasted 9 hours and 39 minutes, 20 minutes longer than last year's 11-inch. The new 13-inch MacBook Air lasted 12 hours and 13 minutes, 23 minutes longer than our previous 13-inch MacBook Air. The 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display lasted 9 hours and 48 minutes.

Bottom line

The MacBook Air is a great portable system. Thin and light with long battery life, the MacBook Air's inclusion of Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 ports also allow them to work respectably as a desktop system when at the office. The 128GB flash storage isn't as fast as larger capacities, so I'd recommend going with one of the models outfitted with 256GB.


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