Monday , 22 December 2014
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Is Apple’s 2013 MacBook Air the Absolute Best and Untouchable by Ultra Standards Today?

Not so long ago, I was the leader of the pack when it came to speaking against the Mac crowd.  I couldn’t have spoken enough about such things as Mac pricing, Apple’s proprietary nature when it came to upgrading with their ‘return and replace for an arm or a leg’ SSD upgrade, or even how OSX just wasn’t an easy OS to learn.  Let’s face it; the Mac was a very expensive and niche product, well out of the reach of the typical consumer.  And then something changed…

MBA 1

Apple followed a new path with the Mac family, the most obvious changes reflected in pricing and the fact that they have created a product competitive enough to lure PC lovers to the dark side.  To add to this seemingly ‘Mac daze’ that I found myself in, each and every MBA contains BootCamp software, along with easy to follow directions that allow the user to install a copy of Windows right there beside OSX.  The anti-Mac stance for the PC Guy just changed a bit.     MBA Price Check

BootCamp

BACKGROUND

I am an ultra nut!  My first system worthy of mentioning was the Dell XPS M1210, followed by the XPS M1330 in 2007 (which I still have by the way), a ton of trial laptops in between, the Toshiba Portege Z830, several Samsung Series 9 ultras, the Acer S7, the 2012 MBA and now the 2013 MBA of which I am compiling this article on as we speak.  Yes, I actually choose typing on this to the several desktop systems in my office as well.  I am on a constant search for the best ultra as we (my ultra and I) spend hours communicating back and forth each and every day, much more than I do with my wife actually and that’s a bit unsettling.

MAKING THE CASE FOR THE 2013 MACBOOK AIR

If you are in a real hurry, let’s cut to the chase.  Looking at performance and performance alone, the 2013 MBA can push up to 800MB/s MPCIe SSD data transfer rates, over 3X faster 802.11acn Wifi speeds, and is capable of giving you up to 12 hours battery life.  Those three things alone are not matched by any other portable (much less ultra) system in the world and that doesn’t include the fact that the MBA has ThunderBolt and a magnetic power adapter, eliminating the possibility of breaking the adapter while the system is in your lap. Cap these characteristics off with a starting price tag of $999 and Apple seems to have reversed the pricing model displayed only a few years back. 

Let’s look a bit closer and examine ONLY the characteristics that aren’t the norm for all portable systems, characteristics that we would probably agree might be included in the ideal perfect ultra build.

2013 MACBOOK AIR EXTERIOR DESIGN

The 2013 MBA consists of a unibody design and its aluminum finish never seems to show finger residue which is a sharp contrast to the Samsung Series 9.  Around the bottom of the lid is a rubber gasket that prevents metal on metal contact and future damage to the surface, and even the screen.  As much as I like the Toshiba Z830, this type of wear became very evident after the first few weeks of use and is common with many laptops today.

MBA Closed

MAGSAFE 2 POWER ADAPTER AND CORD

I have purchased no less than 7 replacement power adapters over the years as my family uses their laptops everywhere except on a desktop so it seems. Apple’s MagSafe 2 adapter simply connects to your MBA magnetically and there is no connector to bend or break.  This adapter can be used at it’s normal 6 foot length or an standard adapter added which allows for a total 12 foot cord.

MagSafe2

About Les Tokar

is a technology nut and Founder of The SSD Review. His early work includes the first consumer SSD review along with MS Vista, Win 7 and SSD Optimization Guides. Les is fortunate to, not only evaluate and provide opinion on consumer and enterprise solid state storage but also, travel the world in search of new technologies and great friendships. Google+
  • Cape Dave

    I totally agree. I think it is the very best Ultra out there. And I also hail from die hard PC land. When they went to Intel cpu’s, that was a huge game changer. I still hated, but not as much. Then, like you said, when Bootcamp became the standard, and I saw how well Windows ran, and the hardware had matured to an amazing degree, well, I type this in Win 8 on a Mac Mini. I still think Win 7 / 8 is a better OS, but there are things I like about OSX. Just not daily user.

  • Michael Kelley

    Woah. Sorry but the Lenovo x1 Carbon Touch beats the pants of the Mac Book. i-7, Win8 PRO, 180GB SSD, Intel HD Graphics 4000 and 8GB ram for $1649

    • http://www.thessdreview.com Les@TheSSDReview

      Thanks for replying Mike but I can’t say as I agree. I can put that same i7 with 8GB RAM, HD 5000 and then up the SSD to 256GB for $100 less. Now, add the increased performance and battery life 12hrs) of the MPCIe design, not to mention MagSafe2 and so many other benefits and there still isnt any comparison by hardware alone. Got a great contact that can get me any updated X1 if need be.

      • iCrunch

        Exactly. And then there is the Thunderbolt port, which opens up the MBA to ridiculous speeds and flexibility (thanks to daisy-chaining). For example, if you, say, needed 4 USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI port, eSATA and/or FireWire for any legacy devices you may have, you can just grab a Thunderbolt dock.

        I’ve used TB since mid-2011 and can only say “Wow!” at both the speeds of external RAID arrays and reliability. These Thunderbolt chains actually do work. I definitely didn’t expect a brand new technology (at the time in 2011) to be as stable as it was and has been for me.

      • Jim

        How are you getting an i7 into the MBA? The Apple site shows only i5 variants?

      • Jim

        Ahh…regional issues :)

  • Dimitrios

    I am a dedicated Windows user but I totally agree that the new MacBook Air has many advantages that the PC competiotion has to catch.
    Only one BIG drawback though: screen resolution!
    It just needs a full-HD display or even better e retina display then it would be perfect in my opinion

    • http://www.thessdreview.com Les@TheSSDReview

      Agree totally! This is where I definitely don’t like the way Apple does things. I believe this is one of the clear dividers that separates MBA and MBP. On one hand you can get an amazinbg display, whereas on the other, you get MPCIe and all that comes with it.

  • Antonio Avila

    Hey, I have several questions and I hope you guys can answer this.

    Does windows 7 run exactly as it should?
    or should I be aware of some drawbacks?
    (I still prefer the windows version of word and excel.) I been a PC guy my whole life and I am still running a very old lap top. (http://www.cnet.com/laptops/fujitsu-lifebook-a6025-core/4505-3121_7-32552138.html) I might FINALLY make the jump to a MBA.

    Nice read BTW.

    • http://www.thessdreview.com Les@TheSSDReview

      Yes Win 7 runs as it should…and then some with Flash. The ONLY intricacy that took a bit of time was getting the touchpad set up just right but there is nothing that cant be found on the net.

    • http://www.thessdreview.com Les@TheSSDReview

      Actually I should clarify..BootCamp includes an installation assistant that has all the drivers to match up the hardware with Windows 7. Windows 7 is nmot included and you need to supply that for the installation process. It is a very easy setup. One complete, you will find that there are a few things that still need to be fine tuned, such as the way you use the right mouse key and whatnot, all of which can be fixed to mimic how they are used in Windows.

      • Antonio Avila

        That is good to hear. Luckily I have win 7 on a USB stick ready for installation. Have you tried installing win 8? My college gave me the win 8 upgrade codes but I do not know if that is a good idea since it is relatively a new OS. Would you recommend holding off to wait and see what apple releases this month before I buy a MBA?

      • http://www.thessdreview.com Les@TheSSDReview

        The 2013 MBA is solid and won’t be updated any time soon so if I was topurchase, there would be no reason to wait. If you might consider the jump to MBP, they have to finish the transition in that system sooner or later, but it is not an ultra.
        As for Windows 8, I find it to be a very poor OS when not on a
        touchscreen. I have Windows 8 on a system right behind me with a 27” touch screen and it, for the most part, never
        gets used whatsoever. If you do buy, please consider following our Amazon links if possible. Thanks ahead!

      • Antonio Avila

        Thanks for your input!

    • iCrunch

      Yes. Windows 7 (and now 8 as well) are officially supported by drivers made by Apple! (Yes, you read that correctly lol).

      Parallels Desktop 9 was just released for existing licensees, and the virtualization software’s latest and greatest is about to be released to the public on Sept. 5, meaning you can have your cake and eat it, too, and run Windows and OS X side by side without having to reboot. This is one example where 16GB of RAM is not overkill. You could run Office 2010/2013 for Windows side-by-side Office 2011 for Mac, if you wanted to.

      Until mid-2010, I was a hardcore ThinkPad guy who loved Windows 7 and while I’m not a Windows hater by any stretch, you might be surprised how much you like OS X.

      • Antonio Avila

        I hope I do like OS X because to some people $1,000+ might not be much but to me it is!

        16 GB? So you have a MBP? I thought MBA could only support 8GB?

  • talonts

    Dude, site suggestion – if you’re going to left-justify everything, DO NOT put the social media bar on the left side. I’m reading this on a 13″ MBP (Bootcamped in W7 right now), and I shouldn’t have to maximize the window to read the text that the social bar is covering up.

    • http://thessdreview.com Les@TheSSDReview

      Its on the right side…better? Thanks for letting us know.

  • Baagii

    macbook 2013 for mac os x install?

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