We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message
Laptops Reviews
15,670 Reviews PC Advisor Recommended

Apple MacBook Air 13in (Late 2010) review

£1349 inc VAT

Manufacturer: Apple

Our Rating: We rate this 4 out of 5

An ultra-slim, attractive laptop, the MacBook Air is oozing with style. Updated 11 May 2011

An ultra-slim, attractive laptop, the Apple MacBook Air 13in is oozing with style. Its build quality, both in terms of the materials used and its construction, sets it apart from the competition. And for once, Apple doesn’t offer the most expensive laptop in our recent ultraportable laptops round-up. Updated 11 May 2011

This is the joint-lightest laptop on test, with both the MacBook Air and the Samsung NP900X3A tipping the scales at 1.32kg. It’s also the thinnest overall, and ideal for a life on the road at 325x227x17mm.

Our WorldBench 6 speed test works only in Windows, so we used Boot Camp to dual-boot Windows 7 with the native Mac OS X operating system. The ease with which this is possible is notable, affording you the ability to keep running your favourite programs if you’re upgrading from a Windows PC. Running Windows, its 1.86GHz Intel Core 2 Duo L9400 CPU and 2GB of DDR3 RAM won it a respectable 94 points.

The process of installing Windows using Boot Camp is remarkably straightforward, and installing the correct drivers is a one-click process. The lack of dedicated Home and End keys may frustrate those who plan to use the MacBook Air with Windows (use Fn and cursor Left/Right keys). Right-click is available in the usual way on the pivoted trackpad, or you can tap with two fingers together.

But Mac OS X is an intuitive platform with some decent bundled software, including iLife, which covers most of your creative needs.

MacBook Air 13in

The 13.3in (1440x900-pixel) screen offers brilliant depth of colour and sharp, distinct visuals. It’s a glossy screen, although an anti-glare coating makes it more usable than most in bright light. 

A near-silent SSD is used in place of a traditional hard drive. Flash-based memory offers many advantages, including speedy data access, but it’s pricey. The trade-off here is that you have just 128GB of storage, whereas the hard-drive-based competition offer upwards of 250GB, with the Asus U36J supplying 500GB.

For graphics, the MacBook runs a close second to the Asus. Its nVidia GeForce 320M graphics chip with 256MB of video memory powered it to a 73fps average in Fear; four of the other laptops we looked at use integrated Intel graphics and scored between 19 and 34fps.

We recorded the MacBook Air’s battery life at 394 minutes, but you can expect it to last longer in its native Mac OS X environment.

Ben Camm-Jones

13-inch MacBook Air (Late 2010) Expert Verdict »
Apple MacBook Air MC503B/A Scores 9.2 out of 10 based on 26 reviews
1.86GHz Intel Core 2 Duo SL9400
13in (1440 x 900) LED-backlit glossy LCD display
Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard
2GB DDR3 RAM
256GB SSD
nVidia GeForce 320M with 256MB system RAM
Mini DisplayPort
2 x USB 2.0
SD/SDXC card slot
3.5mm headphone jack
802.11a/b/g/n
Bluetooth 2.1 with EDR
glass multi-touch trackpad
webcam
mic
lithium polymer battery
iLife ’11
325 227 x 17mm
1333g
  • Build Quality: We give this item 9 of 10 for build quality
  • Features: We give this item 8 of 10 for features
  • Value for Money: We give this item 8 of 10 for value for money
  • Overall: We give this item 8 of 10 overall

What really sets the MacBook Air apart from the competition is the all-round quality, both in terms of materials used and the construction of the device. Clever features such as the MagSafe power connector that disconnects should you trip over it - rather than pull the whole thing off the desk - are appreciated, as is the eye-catching design. If you can afford one, it'll be an investment you won't regret.

There are currently no price comparisons for this product.
  • Apple MacBook Air 11in and 13in (Early 2014) review: true laptop longevity now available

    Apple MacBook Air 11in and 13in (Early 2014): true laptop longevity now available

    Apple's new MacBook Air marks the day we can expect true all-day battery life from a performance laptop. Read our review of the Apple MacBook Air 11in and 13in (Early-2014) laptops to find out...

  • Apple MacBook Air review

    Apple MacBook Air

    In many ways the story of the MacBook Air is the story of a series of compromises, all made in order to fit an entire Mac in a 1.3kg package that's 4mm thick at its thinnest point.

  • Apple MacBook Air 11in (Late 2010) review

    Apple MacBook Air 11in (Late 2010)

    The new 11.6-inch MacBook Air is the smallest and lightest Apple laptop of all time, and its base price of £849 ties it with the plastic MacBook as the cheapest Mac laptop available - REVISED 17 DEC 2010

  • 2014 MacBook Pro vs MacBook Air comparison review: Apple laptop buying advice UK

    2014 MacBook Pro vs MacBook Air comparison: Apple laptop buying advice UK

    The MacBook Air and the Retina MacBook Pro are portable, beautiful and high-performance laptops. But there is a £250 price difference between the two types of MacBook. Find out what you get for your money in our MacBook Pro vs MacBook Air comparison review. MacBook Pro vs MacBook Air benchmarks, specs, features and buying advice.

  • Apple MacBook (2.26GHz; Late 2009)

    The MacBook is the best-selling Mac model in Apple's history. So it makes a lot of sense that Apple has given its entry-level white laptop a considered makeover - UPDATED 8 JAN 2010


IDG UK Sites

Exclusive: Samsung exits laptop market including Chromebooks

IDG UK Sites

Is Apple losing confidence in itself?

IDG UK Sites

How a London VFX studio is ditching desktop workstations for cloud-based creative power

IDG UK Sites

iOS 8 tips & tricks: Get to know iOS 8's handy new features