Apple MacBook Air 11in (2011) review

Ultrathin, effortlessly elegant, and now with genuine power, Apple has fixed most of the flaws in its little marvel

David Bayon
28 Jul 2011
Price when reviewed 

Page 1 of 2 Apple MacBook Air 11in (2011) review

Ever since the MacBook Air 11in first wowed us late last year, we’ve had a soft spot for its thin and feather-light body. But as lovely as it was, at its heart was a simple Core 2 Duo – and a low-voltage one at that – at a time when the laptop world had moved onto better things. There was no denying it didn’t pack the necessary power to be your only computer.

Apple MacBook Air 11in (2011)

It does now, and then some. Apple has managed to step up to a Core i5 processor, albeit still an ultra-low-voltage model, without fattening the tiny frame with extra cooling. It’s a dual-core 1.6GHz Core i5-2467M with a maximum TDP of 17W – up from the 10W of last year’s model – and it can Turbo Boost up to 2.3GHz when required. (We checked using Intel’s monitoring utility and it boosts successfully in Windows 7, unlike some MacBook Pros.)

That more powerful processor and 4GB of RAM make this MacBook Air a very different beast indeed. In our Real World Benchmarks it raced to an overall score of 0.56, which puts it only a few percent behind the dearer 13in version. That’s not going to set the laptop world alight, but it’s plenty of power to run proper applications – it’s a much faster laptop than its skinny dimensions would suggest.

Apple MacBook Air 11in (2011)

It’s also more than capable of handling HD video smoothly, despite ditching discrete graphics in favour of the processor’s integrated Intel HD 3000 chip. We tested YouTube HD and iPlayer HD, as well as some MKV files, and it played everything back without a stutter. The only media that really stretches its capabilities is proper 3D gaming, and even then it’s a close-run thing: in our Low quality Crysis test at the native 1,366 x 768 resolution it averaged a playable 31fps, only slightly down from 36fps in the old version.

In short, the MacBook Air 11in will now safely handle any job you’d sensibly throw at an 11in laptop, and that removes any remaining argument that it might be closer to a netbook than a laptop. Paired with an external hard drive to supplement the relatively meagre SSD, this could undoubtedly be your main machine.

Page 1 of 2 Apple MacBook Air 11in (2011) review

Price when reviewed 
1,000(£833 exc VAT)

Physical specifications

Dimensions 300 x 192 x 17mm (WDH)
Weight 1.080kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core i5-2467M
RAM capacity 4.00GB
Memory type DDR3

Screen and video

Screen size 11.6in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,366
Resolution screen vertical 768
Resolution 1366 x 768
Graphics chipset Intel HD Graphics 3000
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 0
HDMI outputs 0
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 1


Capacity 128GB
Spindle speed N/A
Optical disc technology N/A
Optical drive None
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0


Wired adapter speed N/A
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Integrated 3G adapter no
Bluetooth support yes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch no
Wireless key-combination switch no
Modem no
ExpressCard34 slots 0
ExpressCard54 slots 0
PC Card slots 0
USB ports (downstream) 2
FireWire ports 0
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 0
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
3.5mm audio jacks 1
SD card reader no
Memory Stick reader no
MMC (multimedia card) reader no
Smart Media reader no
Compact Flash reader no
xD-card reader no
Pointing device type Multitouch touchpad
Speaker location Behind keyboard
Hardware volume control? no
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
TPM no
Fingerprint reader no
Smartcard reader no
Carry case no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 6hr 59min
Battery life, heavy use 1hr 32min
3D performance (crysis) low settings 31fps
3D performance setting Low
Overall Real World Benchmark score 0.56
Responsiveness score 0.73
Media score 0.56
Multitasking score 0.38

Operating system and software

Operating system OS X Lion
OS family Mac OS X

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