Apple MacBook Air 11 inch Review

$1,049.99 $1,199.00 SEE AT AMAZON

7.3 Total Score
GOOD

The Apple MacBook Air 11 inch is the best laptop for anyone looking for portability, solid performance, decent battery life and a colorful display.

PROS
  • Solid performance for the price
  • Elegant design
  • More than 11 hours of battery life
  • Very thin and light
CONS
  • Lacks HDMI and Ethernet ports
  • No SD card
  • 1,366-by-768-resolution display

In the past we’ve seen Core-M ultrabooks claim to be ultraportable as they become thinner and thinner, but the Apple MacBook Air 11 inches (MJVM2LL/A model)  redefines the entire fuss we’ve been hearing about ultraportability.

The latest models get a modest CPU update, that is more powerful than last year’s iteration, but while its bigger sibling, our Editors’ Choice the 2015 Apple MacBook Air MJVE2LL/A 13.3-inch, is designed to please a wider range of users, the svelte 11-inch ultraportable makes a few tradeoffs to become even thinner and lighter.

It compensates for the few rough edges with an Intel Core i5 processor which means that the system can breeze through tasks that would otherwise slow an Intel-Core-M-equipped system, and on top, it adds up to 11.5 hours of battery life. For regular commuters, the 11-inch MacBook Air is a wonderful machine for you, and it deserves a spot on your shortlist if you’re always on the move for business or even research. Its newer sibling, the Apple MacBook M2 (2022) has dominated our best laptops list since last year, for a good reason.

Apple MacBook Air (11-inch, 2015) Specs

CPU1.6-GHz Intel Core i5-5250U
Display Size11.6
Graphics CardIntel HD Graphics 6000
Hard Drive Size128GB
Native Resolution1366×768
Operating SystemOS X Yosemite
Ports (excluding USB)Headphone, Thunderbolt 2.0, USB 3.0
RAM4GB
RAM Upgradable to8GB
Size11.8 x 7.56 x 0.11-0.68 inches
USB Ports2
Video Memory1.5GB
Weight2.38 pounds
Wi-Fi802.11ac

Design and Features

The new MacBook Air lays claims of being the most svelte Apple laptop in the market so far, but the all-aluminum exterior looks familiar as the design has remained unchanged since 2010, and it’s carried over to the 12-inch MacBook model as well. It measures 7.5 long by 11.8 wide, and its thickness tapers from 0.68 inches from the back to 0.11 inches at the front. The laptop weighs 2.38 pounds, which is ever-so-slightly heavier than the last year’s model (2.31 pounds).

It is smaller and lighter than other ultraportables like the ASUS Zenbook UX305FA and the HP EliteBook Folio 1020, although those two are slimmer. However, it sacrifices I/O ports in favor of shaving off a few millimeters. This is expected as its Intel Core-i5 processor requires a fan for cooling, while the two models mentioned above use Intel Core M processors that don’t require active cooling.

Apple MacBook Air 11 inch keyboard

Connectivity

Ports remain unchanged from last year’s MacBook Air, typical of any Apple product released in the same series. On the left side are a headset jack, two microphones, a MagSafe 2 power jack, and a USB 3.0 port. The right side sports a Thunderbolt 2 port and a second USB 3.0 port. That’s a little sparse, but still far more than the MacBook with its single USB-C port. Sadly, it lacks an HDMI port and you don’t get an SD card slot here.

In comparison, the ASUS Zenbook UX305FA and the HP EliteBook Folio each offer a wider selection of ports, thanks to their larger side panels. You’ll need an adapter cable for HDMI or other display connectors, but the Thunderbolt port works just fine with mini-DisplayPort monitors. Wireless connectivity comes via integrated 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0.

Display and Keyboard

As with every MacBook Air model, the keys on the 11-inch MacBook Air are backlit, the chiclet-style keyboard feels excellent, and multitouch gestures work smoothly on the glass-covered trackpad. The trackpad doesn’t have the Force-Click capability of the MacBook or the Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch, but that feature is still unsupported in most third-party applications. Like all Mac laptops, the Air lacks a touch screen, but given that OS X doesn’t support touch gestures, it’s certainly not a deal breaker.

The main drawback of the MacBook Air is the 1,366-by-768 resolution display. The screen is bright and quite legible, but seems cramped in comparison with the Retina Display on the MacBook or any number of Windows laptops with 1080p- or higher-resolution screens, such as the ASUS Zenbook UX305FA. That said, you’ll still find 1,366-by-768 screens on some ultraportables, like the Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 11e.

Apple MacBook Air 11 inch (MJVM2LL:A) Review lid

Performance

The MJVM2LL/A is powered by a 1.6GHz Intel Core i5-5250U processor with integrated Intel HD Graphics 6000. This hardware is quite good for multimedia tasks, especially if you regularly use Adobe Photoshop Creative Suites. It will give you better and faster performance than you’d get from the more expensive models like the Dell XPS 13 Touch or even the 14-inch Lenovo Yoga 13.

However, systems with Intel Core i7 processors, like the Acer Aspire S7-393-7451 and the Dell Inspiron 13 7000 are notably faster than the svelte MacBook Air. The MacBook Air is even faster than last year’s Apple MacBook thanks to a more powerful processor and flash memory.

This machine comes with 4GB of RAM, upgradable to 8GB if you find it necessary. That’s still enough for multitasking in Mac OS X, but consider upgrading if you like to keep dozens of windows open simultaneously. There’s 128GB of flash storage on the system, which is adequate for day-to-day use, particularly if you supplement that with online cloud storage or an external drive, you can even upgrade the SSD storage for a few bucks more.

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The flash storage is PCIe-based, which makes it faster than the SATA-based solid-state drives (SSDs) and flash storage in older ultraportables. This helps the system boot in only a few seconds and apps to load quickly in testing. The MacBook Air comes with a one-year warranty, which is the same as most midrange Windows laptops.

Thankfully, the system is unencumbered by bloatware and it performs better than machines fitted with dual-core Intel Core i5 (3mb shared l3 cache) chips. If you plan on using it for 3D tasks, the results will be mediocre. The laptop should be fast enough for simpler games like Diablo III, but you wouldn’t want to run Grand Theft Auto V at Ultra-quality settings.

Battery Life

With its 38-watt battery, the MacBook Air 11-inch will give almost 11 hours and 33 minutes of battery life. This is far less than the astounding 17:36 of the Apple MacBook Air 13.3-inch and its larger 54-watt battery, but a much longer runtime than the Acer Aspire S7-393-7451 (9:57). The Air should last throughout a cross-country flight, and have juice left for another work session afterward.

Since the 11-inch MacBook Air packs the same memory, processor, and storage as its 13-inch big brother, it’s no surprise that the two will return almost identical performance scores save for battery life. If you can handle the larger size and the extra bucks, go for the 13-inch, the extra juice is worth it.

Should I buy the MacBook Air 11 inch?

Unless you’re looking for a MacBook Air at the lowest price possible. At launch in 2015, this was one of the best ultraportables around, but Apple has since upgraded its Air line to include the newer MacBook Air M2.

Consider buying it if you need to replace an older (maybe 3 years old) MacBook Air or Windows ultraportable, but you can probably skip it if you have last year’s model of the MacBook Air. The Apple MacBook Air 11 inch (MJVM2LL/A) lacks the props to unseat the 13-inch MacBook Air (MJVE2LL/A) as our Editors’ Choice in the midrange ultraportable laptop category, thanks to its larger screen and astounding (up to 17 hours) battery life for a few bucks more.

Is there a better alternative?

When we reviewed the Apple MacBook Air (MJVM2LL/A model) in 2015, it was among the best Air of that year, and it remained a favorite for many years since then. However, in 2022 Apple released the MacBook Air M2 (2022) that’s the ultimate productivity machine, packing Apple’s new M2 silicon and a refreshed, sleek design, alongside other accessories like the Apple Watch and the Mac Mini.

The new design nets a sleek and thin machine (though not much lighter than previous models), and it brings back our favorite MagSafe back. The 1080p camera is a much-needed upgrade we have all been looking out for, and you also get a bright screen and long battery life. Simply put, it feels like a breath of fresh air (which it is), despite being a series of modest upgrades and touch-ups.

If you want to be thin and fanless, the Apple MacBook Air M2 (2022) is a masterpiece. It’s powerful, lasts long on a single charge, looks fantastic, and is nice and thin while also feeling solid and well-built. The new (and returning features like MagSafe) are more than welcome. All you need is the willingness to spend that extra cash to get it. It’s our newest Editor’s Choice for Ultrabooks. We had a chance to tinker with it for a few weeks and the full Apple MacBook Air M2 (2022) Review is now available.

There are some things I don’t like about Apple’s Air M2, however. I just wish I would connect more than one external monitor and the notch at the top of the display is a bit of an eyesore. But for all its worth, I can’t recommend the MacBook Air M2 (2022) highly enough. It’s the new office laptop to beat.

Last update on 2023-03-21 at 14:21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


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2022 Apple MacBook Air Laptop with M2 chip: 13.6-inch Liquid Retina Display, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD Storage, Backlit Keyboard, 1080p FaceTime HD Camera. Works with iPhone and iPad; Midnight

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as of March 21, 2023 2:23 pm

 
Apple MacBook Air 11 inch Review
Apple MacBook Air 11 inch Review
$1,049.99 $1,199.00
Digital Weekly
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