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The MacBook Air 11″ Laptop: Affordable and Fun

You may have heard about the MacBook Air—Apple’s most affordable laptop ever—and you’re wondering if this might be a good buy for your personal computing needs. You may be wondering, though, what Apple sacrificed in order to create and sell such an affordable laptop.

The MacBook Air has a full-size keyboard, a thin, lightweight build, and a machined aluminum case in the more modern versions. The Air was first positioned as a high-end, ultraportable, “above the previous MacBook” range. However, since then, the original MacBook’s discontinuation in 2011 and decreased prices on subsequent iterations have made the Air Apple’s entry-level laptop. As a result, the MacBook Air is now positioned below the MacBook Pro in terms of performance.

History of MacBook Air Laptops

The 13.3″ MacBook Air, powered by Intel, debuted in January 2008. It was advertised as the thinnest laptop in the world, launching the ultrabook family of laptops. In October 2010, Apple introduced the second-generation MacBook Air, which featured a new tapered chassis, standard solid-state storage, and a smaller 11.6” model. Later versions included Thunderbolt ports and Intel Core i5 or i7 processors.

The third iteration, released in October 2018, which has smaller dimensions, a Retina display, and combined USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 connections for data and power. A new variant featuring the Magic Keyboard and the choice of an Intel Core i7 processor was released in February 2020.

The first MacBook Air with Apple silicon based on the Apple M1 processor was released by Apple in November 2020. In June 2022, Apple revealed a new MacBook Air featuring an M2 processor.

Read on for a few best options for MacBook Air laptops.

Early 2015 Apple MacBook Air with 1.6GHz Intel Core i5 (11.6”, 128 GB SSD, 4 GB RAM) Silver (Renewed)

In 2015, the Apple MacBook Air MJVM2LL/A was Apple’s newest, smallest, and most affordable laptop and is still a solid choice for all your computing needs. This MacBook Air offers strong and reliable performance with a stylish design and all-day battery life.

Early 2015Apple MacBook Air with 1.6GHz Intel Core i5
Photo source: amazon.com

Features

2015’s 11” Apple MacBook Air is all about efficiency. In addition to its 11.5 hours of battery life, it has an Intel Core i5 processor, allowing it to quickly complete tasks that would cause other Intel Core M-equipped devices to lag.

Design

The 2015 11” MacBook Air is still one of the thinnest Apple laptops available in 2022. The 11.6”, 1,366 by 768 LED-backlit display, one-piece multitouch touchpad, and strong aluminum body carry over to the 2015 model. Its dimensions are 7.5” X 11.8” and 0.68” X 0.11” thick at the back and front, respectively.

It’s worth noting that the Intel Core i5 chip in the MacBook Air 11” requires a fan to keep it cool, while other slim laptops, including the HP EliteBook Folio 1020 and the Asus Zenbook UX305FA-ASM1, use Intel Core M CPUs that don’t need active cooling.

Ports

As with any Apple device introduced in this series, the ports are the same as those on the MacBook Air from 2014. There are two microphones, a USB 3.0 port, a MagSafe 2 power jack, and a headset jack on the left side. Two USB 3.0 ports and a Thunderbolt 2 port are on the right side.

Comparatively, the larger side panels of the HP EliteBook Folio and ASUS Zenbook UX305FA allow for a greater variety of ports.

For HDMI or other display connectors, you’ll need an adapter cable. However, mini-DisplayPort displays are compatible with the Thunderbolt port without any issues. Additionally, 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 are built-in and provide wireless communication.

Early 2015Apple MacBook Air with 1.6GHz Intel Core i5 side view
Photo source: amazon.com

Keyboard and Display

The 11” MacBook Air’s chiclet-style keyboard feels great, the keys are backlit, and multitouch gestures are easy to use on the glass-covered trackpad. The trackpad lacks the Force Click functionality of the MacBook or the MacBook Pro 13”. The majority of third-party programs still do not support this feature. The lack of a touchscreen on the MacBook Air is a common feature of all Mac laptops, but since OS X doesn’t enable touch gestures, it’s not a deal-breaker.

The device’s most notable flaw is the 1,366 by 768-pixel display on the 11” MacBook Air. Even though the screen is bright and easily readable, it feels crowded compared to the Retina Display on the MacBook or other Windows laptops with 1080p or better quality screens, like the ASUS Zenbook UX305FA.

Performance

An Intel Core i5-5250U CPU runs at 1.6GHz and features integrated Intel HD Graphics 6000 power for the 2015 11” MacBook Air. If you frequently utilize the Adobe Photoshop Creative Suites, this hardware performs pretty well for multimedia jobs. Performance-wise, it will be superior to those of more expensive versions like the Dell XPS 13 Touch.

This MacBook Air has 4GB of RAM out of the box, but you can upgrade it to 8GB if you need more. That’s plenty for multi-tasking in Mac OS X, but if you prefer having hundreds of windows open, think about upgrading. In addition, the system comes with 128GB of flash storage, which is sufficient for daily usage, especially if you supplement it with cloud storage or an external drive. For a few extra dollars, you can even expand the SSD.

Its flash storage is PCIe-based, making it faster than other ultra-portable laptops’ SSDs and flash storage, which are SATA-based, so the system boots up rapidly and programs load quickly.

Battery

The 11” MacBook Air has a 38-watt battery with a battery life of about 11 hours and 33 minutes, which is significantly less than the amazing 17 hours and 36 minutes of the 13.3” Apple MacBook Air and its larger 54-watt battery. Still, this was expected, given its smaller size.

Apple MacBook Air MD711LL/A 11.6” Laptop – Intel Core i5 1.3GHz – 4GB RAM – 128GB SSD (Renewed)

The Apple MacBook Air MD711LL/A performs faster and has a longer battery life than similar ultraportable laptops.

Apple MacBook Air MD711LL-A 11.6-inch Laptop
Photo source: amazon.com

Features

Apple claims that the slim aluminum design of the Apple MacBook Air MD711LL/A has a battery that can last five hours longer, thanks to Intel’s new Haswell CPU. In addition, although the appearance and display are unchanged, the new Air has speedier flash memory, more powerful graphics, and the most advanced 802.11ac Wi-Fi.

Design

The MacBook Air has now established itself as a modern classic. The swooping curves, the strong aluminum unibody chassis, and the sizable front lip for lifting the lid all feel impressive. In addition, the keyboard’s slight bend and the display lid’s robust metal build support the feeling that this is a sturdy device. The Apple logo adorns the lid and illuminates when you turn on the MacBook.

Additionally, the delicate texture of the MacBook Air 11” 2013 makes it seem cool to the touch. Another noteworthy feature is the laptop’s aluminum body’s ability to repel fingerprints.

Like before, the MacBook Air’s left side is home to dual microphones, a headphone jack, a MagSafe 2 power connector, and a USB 3.0 port. The Thunderbolt port, a second USB 3.0 port, and SD Card Slot are on the right side.

Display & Graphics

This 11” MacBook Air has an HD (1366 x 768 pixel) resolution display, maybe to conserve battery life and keep the price low. Other ultraportable laptops include screens with full HD resolutions equal to or higher than the MacBook Air’s.

The Apple MacBook Air MD711LL/A’s screen is nevertheless pleasurable despite this resolution difference since it offers better contrast, wide viewing angles, and brilliant colors.

The 11” MacBook Air offers up to 40% higher performance than its forerunner and is among the first ultraportable laptops to include Intel HD 5000 graphics.

Apple MacBook Air MD711LL-A 11.6-inch Laptop side view
Photo source: amazon.com

Performance

A 1.3-GHz Intel Haswell ULT processor, 4GB of RAM, and new flash storage were all included by Apple with the 2013 MacBook Air (based on PCI Express). As a result, it can perform more work per clock cycle than its predecessor (1.8 GHz), despite the seemingly decreased clock speed.

The new Air also claims 40% better graphics performance thanks to its Intel HD 5000 GPU and 45% faster flash memory.

This MacBook Air immediately impresses the user by starting OS X Mountain Lion in just 10 seconds, which is a few seconds quicker than the previous Air. The most recent Air also wakes from sleep around two seconds quicker, allowing you to resume working as soon as you raise the lid.

Software

The OS X Mountain Lion operating system that comes preinstalled on the MacBook Air MD711LL/A features a helpful Notification Center, enhanced iCloud integration with apps like Messages, documents stored in the cloud, and the capacity to share content via Facebook and Twitter from a variety of apps.

Apple also released OS X Mavericks that fall, featuring iBooks, Maps, and other useful enhancements for power users. As well as enjoying tabs in the Finder to reduce clutter, you’ll be able to tag files to make them easier to find. In addition, you can expect an even longer battery life because OS X Mavericks has various power-saving features.

This Air comes with FaceTime, Mail, Mac App Store, and the great iLife suite (iMovie, iPhoto, and GarageBand). In addition, the App Store has many helpful games and programs that can be downloaded immediately to the Launchpad, similar to iOS, for easy access.

Apple MacBook Air MD711LL/B 11.6” Widescreen LED Backlit HD Laptop, Intel Dual-Core i5 up to 2.7GHz, 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD, HD Camera, USB 3.0, 802.11ac, Bluetooth, Mac OS X (Renewed)

The Apple MacBook Air MD711LL/B is a durable laptop with an Intel Core i5 processor, which works faster, and has a longer battery life than similar ultraportable laptops.

Your choice of Air ultimately comes down to your preference for a larger or smaller screen, as the 11” Air has more features than ever before: identical fourth-generation Intel Haswell processors, storage options, RAM, and enhanced 802.11ac Wi-Fi.

Apple MacBook Air MD711LL-B 11.6in Widescreen LED Backlit HD Laptop
Photo source: amazon.com

Design and Features

In terms of appearance, this Air is identical to the one from the previous year, the Apple MacBook Air MD711LL/A (and a few models before that as well): same aluminum unibody design, same connectors, same 11.6” display with 1,366  X 768 pixels, same keyboard, and same clickable trackpad.

Apple put considerable effort into making the Air feel cozy, which paid off with a long shelf life. Unfortunately, even though the surface area on the 11” Air is smaller and narrower, the glass multitouch trackpad is still the most responsive available, making four-finger movements uncomfortable.

The display’s 1,366 X 768 pixel resolution is undoubtedly quite sharp and has a light anti-glare coating. However, all it necessitates is a quick look at your iPad’s Retina display to see what a more detailed, higher-res display would resemble.

Although both 11” MacBook Air models lack some of the newest bells and whistles (edge-to-edge glass, touch displays, better display resolutions), they are still trouble-free and useful laptops.

Performance and Connections

The new CPU represents a modest performance improvement, which is advantageous because the 2013 Air’s CPU has a lower clock speed and slightly lower benchmark results than its 2012 Air counterpart.

The base model of the Apple MacBook Air MD711LL/B model has a 1.4GHz Intel Core i5 – an improvement from the previous 1.3GHz processor – setting it apart from the Apple MacBook Air MD711LL/A models.

The Airs’ Intel HD 5000 graphics are slightly superior to the norm for ultrabooks. There aren’t as many fantastic Mac games as on Windows for benchmarking, but Tomb Raider, a reasonably recent game, played at the laptop’s native 1,366 x 768 pixel resolution at 21.9 frames per second on medium settings. This small Air can handle casual gaming better than you might expect, but it’s not intended to be a top-tier gaming laptop. It’s not for “serious” gamers.

Apple MacBook Air MD711LL-B Laptop side view
Photo source: amazon.com

Battery

In a video playback battery-drain test, the 11” Air lasted an incredibly astounding 12 hours, which is roughly 90 minutes longer than the Apple MacBook Air MD711LL/A model. That’s a HUGE increase, possibly due to minor upgrades to Apple’s OS X and Intel’s Core i-series CPUs.

The Apple MacBook Air MD711LL/B is all about battery life and portability, just like the largely comparable Apple MacBook Air MD711LL/A model. However, this 11” laptop, which is almost as big as an iPad, can now last almost as long.

Discontinuity

The item is deemed obsolete since seven years have passed since Apple last distributed the item for sale. However, the MacBook models mentioned above may still be eligible for battery-only repairs in a few countries for a short while after Apple stops providing hardware servicing for outdated products.

Customers will no longer be able to get their models fixed by Apple or one of its Authorized Repairs Providers after their products are officially declared obsolete; you can no longer receive hardware service from a repair facility. Of course, you can still have your obsolete product fixed by a third party, but Apple does not guarantee those fixes.

Apple is renowned for offering its customers ongoing, active support. Customers find this very comforting since everyone wants this peace of mind. Accidents and malfunctions can and do occur; thus, not having access to reliable repair services can be problematic and highly frustrating for many users. But just as all wonderful things in life eventually come to an end, so does Apple’s official support for its products.

Following its October 2016 event where it unveiled the first MacBook Pro with a Touch Bar, Apple announced that the 11” MacBook Air (Early 2014), 13” MacBook Air (Early 2014), and 13” MacBook Pro (Mid 2014) would all be rendered outdated.

Final Thoughts

Apple played it safe with its latest MacBook Air. Nothing has changed beyond the processor when compared to earlier devices. The keyboard, trackpad, and speakers are identical to before. The designers have avoided headlines like, “Don’t buy the new MacBook Air with M1,” which would have come if another new feature had not worked properly. But there wasn’t. Instead, Apple Silicon’s launch went as smoothly as it could.

The old MacBook Air, however, is hardly usable beyond light surfing. It got better with the Intel CPU’s upgrade, but was again very close in price to the MacBook Pro. MacBook Pro offered better thermal performance and thus made the entire Air lineup (almost) redundant.

The M1 in the new MacBook Air throttles after almost 10 minutes of continuous load. The speakers could also be a bit better. Only USB Type-C/Thunderbolt seems like a limitation in the first step but then turns into a speed and convenience boost – except with multiple displays.

The outstanding performance and passive cooling make the MacBook Air one of the better laptops on the market. Depending on your requirements, the MacBook Air is a gadget worth your attention when you’re on the market for a new laptop.