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11-inch MacBook Air 2011 review

Can this 1.8GHz Core i7 marvel justify its asking price?

11 inch 1 8ghz macbook air review  main view

The mid-2011 MacBook Air refresh sees the range move to Intel's new Sandy Bridge Core i-series processors. The backlit keyboard makes a welcome return, while the Mini DisplayPort has been replaced by a Thunderbolt port.

The new Airs have the same form factor as the previous generation and also retain many of the features, such as the solid state drive and LED backlit widescreen display. The MacBook Air reviewed here is the more expensive of the two 11-inch models, augmented with a 1.8GHz Intel Core i7 processor and 256GB SSD, which are available as options when ordering on Apple's online store.

We liked

The new Sandy Bridge processors are awesome, with Hyper Threading and Turbo Boost features giving them a real advantage over the previous generation's Core 2 Duo chips. The backlit keyboard is a real boon and a feature that was sorely missed when dropped for the 2010 release. Meanwhile, the Thunderbolt port will prove its worth over time as more peripherals are released.

We disliked

The Air's graphical abilities have stood still. Although far from poor, this area doesn't benefit from the same kind of great leap forward that processing power has enjoyed. The model reviewed here could struggle to find its niche too, proving too small to use as a main Mac and too expensive to be a convenient portable. It's a call only you as the end user can make, but an entry-level 11-inch MacBook Air might be more appropriate for your needs.

Verdict

We have no hesitation in recommending the 2011 11-inch MacBook Air, but before spending £1,399 on this expensively customised model, you should ask yourself if you really need the extra power and storage. If you want your Air as a convenient portable Mac to supplement to your main machine, you might be better off with an entry-level model.

Tech Specs

Product TypeNotebook
Green CompliantYes
Processor ManufacturerIntel
Graphics Controller ManufacturerIntel
Graphics Controller ModelHD 3000
BluetoothYes
Wireless LANYes
Graphics Memory AccessibilityShared
Maximum Battery Run Time5 Hour
WebcamYes
Backlight TechnologyLED
DisplayPortYes
Product FamilyMacBook Air
Keyboard BacklightYes
ThunderboltYes
Operating SystemMac OS X 10.7 Lion
Brand NameApple
Processor Speed1.60 GHz
Processor TypeCore i5
Screen Size29.5 cm (11.6")
Screen Resolution1366 x 768
Standard Memory4 GB
Weight (Approximate)1.08 kg
Cache3 MB
Processor CoreDual-core (2 Core)
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityENERGY STAR, EPEAT Gold
Display Screen TypeActive Matrix TFT Colour LCD
Wireless LAN StandardIEEE 802.11n
Bluetooth StandardBluetooth 4.0
Total Number of USB Ports2
Memory StandardDDR3-1333/PC3-10600
Height17.3 mm
Width299.7 mm
Depth192 mm
Screen ModeWXGA
Memory TechnologyDDR3 SDRAM
ManufacturerApple, Inc
Product ModelMC968B/A
Product NameMacBook Air MC968B/A Notebook
Pointing Device TypeTrack Pad
Product LineMacBook Air
Aspect Ratio16:9
Manufacturer Part NumberMC969B/A
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.apple.com/uk
Marketing Information

Thin, light, durable. Thank you, flash storage

Even at less than an inch thin, MacBook Air sets a pretty high standard - by making flash storage standard. Flash chips are very small, allowing MacBook Air to be incredibly thin and light. Flash is also solid state, meaning there are no moving parts. Which makes it reliable, durable, and quiet. And because we place the flash chips directly on the logic board, they take up much less space - about 90 percent less, in fact. That creates room for other important things, like a bigger battery. So you have a notebook that weighs almost nothing and runs for hours on a single charge. That's mobility mastered.

Maximum Memory4 GB
Battery ChemistryLithium Polymer (Li-Polymer)
Package Contents
  • MacBook Air MC968B/A Notebook
  • Lithium Polymer Battery
  • AC Adapter
  • Power Cord
  • Printed and Electronic Documentation
Limited Warranty1 Year