Apple 13″ MacBook Air

Last updated date: January 4, 2019

DWYM Score
9.1

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We looked at the top 1 Laptops and dug through the reviews from 8 of the most popular review sites including CNET, Tech Radar, Digital Trends, Consumer Reports, New York Times Wirecutter, PC Magazine, Trusted Reviews, Laptop Magazine and more. Through this analysis, we've determined the best Laptop you should buy.

Overall Take

The MacBook Air has narrowed the gap between itself and the MacBook Pro in recent years. It features impressive power and portability, as well as a long battery life. In our analysis of 94 expert reviews, the Apple Apple 13" MacBook Air placed 2nd when we looked at the top 18 products in the category. For the full ranking, see below.

Editor's Note March 15, 2019:
Checkout The Best Laptop for a detailed review of all the top laptops.

Expert Summarized Score
7.7
8 expert reviews
User Summarized Score
9.5
3,194 user reviews
Our Favorite Video Reviews
What experts liked
Now that it uses current-gen Intel CPUs, the MacBook is definitely a viable everyday laptop, rather than a specialty product--its performance was very close to the 2011 13-inch MacBook Pro in most of our benchmark tests, and its battery life similarly excellent.
- CNET
July 22, 2011 | Full review
Frankly, compared to most modern laptops, the MacBook Air is woefully out of date, but it may still be worth it for anyone that needs long battery life and a ton of storage.
- Tech Radar
January 16, 2018 | Full review
The trackpad is perfect for selecting text, dragging windows, or using multitouch gestures.
- Digital Trends
November 21, 2018 | Full review
• Among the faster models we've tested • Has a very long battery life • Better than usual sound • Comes with a fast, more-efficient solid-state drive
- Consumer Reports
It’s fast enough for the things that most people use a computer for—browsing, working on documents, and light photo editing—and it has an excellent high-resolution screen, a great trackpad, enough battery life to last most people through an eight-hour workday, and a (relatively) reasonable price.
- New York Times Wirecutter
November 20, 2018 | Full review
They're backlit and they have significantly greater travel than those on the newer Apple keyboards, but at the expense of much less stability.
- PC Magazine
August 9, 2018 | Full review
In addition, you get more up-to-date processors running the show and up to 16GB of RAM – a clear improvement on the 8GB maximum seen in the previous generation.
- Trusted Reviews
November 15, 2018 | Full review
The MacBook Air may be going gray (well, silver) as it ages, but we still love its long battery life, solid performance and safety-first MagSafe 2 power port.
- Laptop Magazine
November 6, 2018 | Full review
What experts didn't like
There's been some concern that Apple lists the MacBook Pro models on its Web site as having an SDXC card slot, for high-capacity SD cards, and only lists the card reader on the Air as an SD card one.
- CNET
July 22, 2011 | Full review
For the most part, the MacBook Air pretty much looks the same as it has since 2010, and there don’t appear to be any changes in tow, either. That’s a shame, especially because we’re starting to see a ton of bezel-less laptops with smaller footprints and high-resolution displays that put the MacBook Air in its place.
- Tech Radar
January 16, 2018 | Full review
However, our tests found it was still a bit sluggish for more demanding tasks like watching videos on a secondary 4K monitor.
- Digital Trends
November 21, 2018 | Full review
• No optical drive • Battery is not easily removable • Comes with only 3 months of tech support
- Consumer Reports
As mentioned above, current MacBook models use USB-C or Thunderbolt 3 for all connectivity, including power. This means that if you have any hard drives, scanners, printers, thumb drives, or card readers that use USB Type-A ports, you need a hub or adapter
- New York Times Wirecutter
November 20, 2018 | Full review
Two USB Type A ports and a dedicated charging jack seem downright luxurious by comparison, especially if you need to plug in older peripherals.
- PC Magazine
August 9, 2018 | Full review
Force Touch, a setting that lets you tap gently on the trackpad instead of clicking down, is turned on by default. Personally, I’m not a fan, as I find that it’s easy to mistakenly click on links when browsing the web.
- Trusted Reviews
November 15, 2018 | Full review
Two downsides, however, are that its display is stuck in the past decade, and it's up to a pound heavier than competitors.
- Laptop Magazine
November 6, 2018 | Full review

From The Manufacturer

The new MacBook Air is up to 2.5x faster than before. It features the latest Intel Core i5 dual-core processor, high-speed Thunderbolt I/O, a backlit keyboard, and OS X Lion, the next major release of the world's most advanced desktop operating system. MacBook Air also comes standard with flash storage, so it boots up in seconds, launches apps quickly, and wakes from sleep in an instant. And a long-lasting battery powers MacBook Air for up to 7 hours and offers up to 30 days of standby time. All in a durable unibody design that's thin, light, and ready for anything.

Overall Product Rankings

1. Acer Chromebook 14
Overall Score: 9.1
Expert Reviews: 8
2. Apple 13″ MacBook Air
Overall Score: 9.1
Expert Reviews: 8
3. Google Pixelbook
Overall Score: 8.6
Expert Reviews: 3
4. Samsung Chromebook 3
Overall Score: 8.4
Expert Reviews: 4
5. HP Spectre x360
Overall Score: 8.4
Expert Reviews: 8
6. ASUS C302CA-DHM4
Overall Score: 8.2
Expert Reviews: 4
7. Google Pixelbook
Overall Score: 8.0
Expert Reviews: 8
8. Acer Flagship CB3-532
Overall Score: 8.0
Expert Reviews: 3
9. Samsung Notebook 9 Pro
Overall Score: 8.0
Expert Reviews: 8
10. Acer Chromebook 11
Overall Score: 7.9
Expert Reviews: 4
11. ASUS Flip Touchscreen
Overall Score: 7.8
Expert Reviews: 2
12. Samsung Chromebook Pro
Overall Score: 7.8
Expert Reviews: 2
13. Samsung Chromebook 3
Overall Score: 7.7
Expert Reviews: 6
14. Acer Aspire
Overall Score: 7.6
Expert Reviews: 3
15. Acer Flagship 15″
Overall Score: 7.3
Expert Reviews: 4
16. Dell Chromebook 11
Overall Score: 7.2
Expert Reviews: 3
17. HP Chromebook N2840
Overall Score: 6.7
Expert Reviews: 4
18. Dell Inspiron 13 7000
Overall Score: 6.4
Expert Reviews: 4

An Overview On Laptops

The days of being stuck at a desk all day are history. Today, you can work from your home, an office or a beachfront vacation home. But to do that, you need a powerful, yet portable laptop. A laptop with a battery that can go for hours on a charge, while also letting you stream the latest season of “Stranger Things” while you scroll through your social media feed.

The good news is, laptops are becoming more lightweight and powerful each year. You no longer have to pay a fortune for a laptop that will handle everything you need to do, whether you’re a college student or a high-powered executive. Newer laptops are both affordable and robust, giving you a wide range of options for your budget.

But with the latest round of laptop models, peripheral support is a huge factor. As consumers have embraced streaming, manufacturers have done away with DVD-ROM drives. But now that streamlining also applies to USB ports, with many newer models coming only with two or three. As the market moves toward USB-C charging, you may also find you need connectors for each of the ports you don’t plan to use for your power cord.

Storage is another consideration when you’re choosing a computer. Yes, the cloud has made this less important, but you’ll still want plenty of space for all the applications and documents you’ll need to store. If you decide to download a few Netflix movies to watch on long flights, you’ll need at least 280 megabytes per hour of standard-definition video. Over time, you’ll also find operating system upgrades and software updates take up an increasing amount of hard drive space. All of that combined simply means that the more storage you invest in up front, the less likely you are to need a new computer in a few years.

Thanks to the app ecosystem, consumers have a wider range of options in the devices they use for work and play. This means you can buy an affordable laptop and rely on the power of the cloud for everything you need. This has also made it easier for manufacturers to create laptops that are inexpensive, making them accessible to a wider consumer market. But there are so many affordable laptops now on the market, it can be difficult to choose one. Fortunately, by looking at your own budget and listing the features you feel are most important, you can narrow down the options.

DYWM Fun Fact

Laptops date back much further than you probably realize. The first-known laptop was the Grid Compass, designed in 1979. It was later used as part of the space program. But the first fully functional laptop computer is often credited as being the Gavilan Computer, which was introduced in May 1983 as the smallest and lightest MS-DOS computer at the time. However, in 1982, Grid introduced the Compass 1101, which came up with the innovation of folding a screen over the keyboard. Even earlier than that, though, Osborne Computer Corporation released the Osborne 1, which was billed as a portable computer. Following these innovations, both IBM and Microsoft came out with their own laptops and the rest is history.

The Laptop Buying Guide

  • Before you shop for a laptop, take some time to outline the items that are most important to you. Look at your current devices and consider the things you like most and least about them. If you’re a gamer and your device overheats and locks up after a few minutes of play, CPU strength will be at the top of your list. If you still rely heavily on external hard drives and card readers, port count will be important.
  • Operating system preferences will narrow the field considerably. If you’re a Mac person, you probably won’t look any further than the latest MacBook Pro or MacBook Air, such as the 13” MacBook Air. If you prefer Google’s operating system, though, you have a wide range of choices. The Samsung Chromebook 3, for example, is both affordable and lightweight.
  • Performance is all in the processors, and many top-rated laptops pack plenty of power. The Google Pixelbook includes a 7th-generation Intel Core i5 processor, while the MacBook Air includes a dual-core 5th-generation Intel Core i5. Chromebooks use an Intel Celeron processor and in this area, the Samsung Chromebook’s N3060 slightly outperforms the Acer Chromebook’s Celeron N3160. Still, any variations you see in performance among newer processors will likely be minimal.
  • If you need more than one USB port, pay close attention to the options. You’ll get only two USB ports with most of the laptops you consider, but splitters are available if you need to hook up multiple devices.
  • As important as CPU power is while your laptop is running, wake-up times are also important. If you walk away or close your device lid, how long will you have to wait to use it again once you return? The Samsung Chromebook 3 wakes up quickly and can also boot up from shutdown in only five seconds.
  • If you own a laptop, chances are you’ll at least occasionally be carrying it around. In the race to provide the lightest laptop, the Google Pixelbook ranks toward the top, weighing in at only 2.45 pounds. Samsung’s Chromebook 3 is close, though, with a weight of only 2.54 pounds. Compare this to the MacBook Pro’s 3 to 4 pounds and you’ll see how much of a difference these Chromebooks make. Even the MacBook Air is on the heavier side, at 2.96 pounds.
  • Few things can be as annoying as getting away from home, only to have your battery die. The MacBook Air and Acer Chromebook boast up to 12 hours of battery life, while the Samsung Chromebook promises up to 11. Although the Google Pixelbook only offers up to 10 hours of battery life, you can get two hours of use on a 15-minute charge, thanks to its fast-charging technology.
  • We’ve all gotten used to touchscreen displays on our phones and tablets. If you want that same functionality in your laptop, check out the Google Pixelbook, which has a 360-degree touchscreen display.
  • If you’re tech-challenged, you may want to consider an extended warranty. Each laptop comes with a limited warranty, but you can upgrade to an extended warranty for a fee. AppleCare, for example, provides not only extended care for your devices, but technical support help as well.
  • When you’re in the office or at home, you may prefer to connect your laptop to a monitor. You can do this with the help of cables, but if it’s going to be a regular occurrence, a docking station will offer you easy access to a keyboard, mouse and monitor while you’re at your desk.
  • Another important consideration is whether you can use your laptop’s trackpad or an external mouse. A wireless mouse may be the best option, since you’ll be using it on the go.
  • Despite the name, your lap isn’t the best place to rest your laptop while you’re working. Laptops need good air circulation, so invest in a good laptop desk or make sure you always sit at a table while you’re working on it.
  • At one time, laptops used nickel-metal hydride batteries, which could eventually forget their charge capabilities if you only allowed them to drain halfway before recharging. Today’s lithium-ion batteries don’t have that issue. Still, some experts believe you can extend a battery’s life by avoiding letting it drain to less than 20 percent.
  • A laptop’s portability also makes it vulnerable to theft. A cable lock can help, but make sure you also equip your computer with a difficult-to-guess password. If your laptop is stolen, at least your personal information won’t be at risk.
  • For those times when you’re using your keyboard in a dimly-lit room, having light behind your keys can be a big help. The Google Pixelbook has a backlit keyboard, while many others don’t.
  • Traditionally, you’d purchase a laptop, then worry about loading it with software that you had to buy separately. But with today’s laptops, it’s all about the apps. If you opt for a MacBook, Apple’s basic office software is included. With Chromebook, you’ll be steered toward the Google Play store, where you can access Google Docs, as well as numerous other apps. You’ll still be able to purchase your favorite apps for your laptop, as well.
  • When it comes to price, it’s hard to ignore the affordability of Chromebooks. Sure, the MacBook Air has a long list of benefits, but so do both the Acer and Samsung Chromebooks. The Acer Chromebook retails for less than $300, while Samsung’s version drops down to less than $200. Compared to Apple’s almost-$1,000 price point, these two laptops are well worth considering.
  • Before you finalize your purchase, make sure you have a way to carry your new laptop around. Whether you choose a backpack or a laptop bag, make sure it’s padded enough to protect your laptop wherever you take it.
  • Once you have your laptop, make sure you protect it from viruses using the top software on the market. Both the Google Pixelbook and Samsung Chromebook have security features built in. Chromebooks are virus-resistant by nature, but it can’t hurt to look into antivirus apps for your chosen operating system.