18-07-2019
review

Apple MacBook Air 13″ after 1 and a half year

Overview

Apple MacBook Air 13″ (MBA) – Early 2015
The laptop is custom configured to order having the following specs:
  • Upgraded to macOS High Sierra 10.13.2
  • Memory 8Gb 1600 MHz DD3
  • SSD 500 Gb
  • Processor 2.2 Ghz Intel i7
I have owned 2 MacBook Air since July 2016 until now, the first one was with exactly the same specs but smaller SSD – 256 GB. Both were the configurable versions, but I bought them from the refurbished store at apple.com. There, the products are just like new, I guess its something Apple stands for.

Pros:

Keyboard feel

The keys give a good feel because of their short travel distance which require a small force to be pressed in order to be recognized.

Keyboard with backlight

It has adjustable backlight that can be increased or decreased depending on the room brightness or your preferences.

Keys for most of the shortcuts you may need

The F1-F12 keys are built in with assigned actions, which are primary, whereas the standard functions are activated by holding fn  + the function key (Ex: fn + F8) :

  • F1 & F2 – display brightness control
  • F3 – mission control key that allows you to see minimized all the opened windows and desktops
  • F4 – launchpad
  • F5 & F6 – keyboard brightness
  • F7 – forward button
  • F8 -play/pause button
  • F9 – forward button
  • F10 – mute
  • F11 – volume Down
  • F12 – volume Up

Also some other useful shortcuts:

  • Esc – exits the full screen mode
  • Command + Esc – exits from an edit window without exiting the full scree mode
  • Command + Q – Closes the app
  • Space bar – on a selected file, shows a quick view of that file
  • Command + Space bar – opens a search bar on top of any app and gives you any results on internet and from the things saved locally.

Trackpad

I just love the trackpad, the way the scroll works, the multi touch 2, 3, 4 fingers, the possibility to click anywhere on it, the way you can drag scroll and drop and also all the shortcuts it has.

Battery life

Up to 12h for browsing the web, watching youtube videos, listening to itunes, reading etc.

Fast storage

Below are some benchmarking test I did for the SSD flash drive with Blackmagic speed test.

Size and weight which puts it through ultraportables

Size – small and thin:

  • Height:   0.3-1.7 cm
  • Width: 32.5 cm
  • Depth: 22.7 cm
  • Weight – light: 1.35 kg

Great performance

The processor is a 5th generation Intel 2.2 Ghz  Brodwell chipset that also has a turbo boost feature that can get up to 3.2Ghz.

Below some pictures of the benchmark test I did with the Geekbench software, double score indicates double performance:

 

You can also check the results of another test with CINEBENCH R15

These tests helped me to get an idea of where is my machine situated between others. So I think for me it is ok.

Sound

Great stereo sound with enough bass to be heard in a regular 15′ x 15′ room, dorm, living room.

OS

No need to pay for OS upgrade whenever there is one available. I have upgraded my MBA to High Sierra 10.13.2, and beside solving some bugs, like any other update it brought out some new video codecs and a nice feature to unlock the apple computer with the apple watch whenever it is in the nearby. Even though I don’t have an apple watch and never tried it, it seems a cool and maybe a handy feature.
Another nice thing I like that it was implemented since Sierra OS is that you can use multiple tabs in other apps and not just in the web browser, I personally use this for the finder app.

Hardware

Extendable power cord which came in boxed with the laptop – which can be found here. Never had to call the customer service for any issue, I had just some easy troubleshooting that I’ve fixed myself (see cons).

Cons:

The display

The display has a LED-backlit glossy widescreen display, with the resolution 1440×900 pixels at 128ppi, but is not as smooth as the 13″ Retina MacBook Pro display that has 2560×1600 resolution at 227ppi.
Though, when compared to other laptops: Dell, Asus, HP notebooks that I’ve checked out, MBA 13.3″ has a fair display.

The graphic card

To mention I didn’t try to edit pictures using Photoshop, or videos, neither I didn’t try to play games on it. Many people say it does not have the best graphical performance for this. Though I’ve done some 2D drawings and 3D modeling for engineering and it behaved alright, without feeling any lags.
You can also see the benchmark I did for the graphics with Geekbench and CINEBENCH R15:
       

The ports

It is not necessary characteristic only to MBA, but to most thin notebooks – they don’t have a, mic jack, HDMI, VGA port, Ethernet and other ports. For these you will need external adapters are needed.

Paid software

Most software is paid, some softwares don’t even have versions for macOS. You need a paid software to be able to copy on a NTFS file system flash drive, unless the drive is formatted in MS-DOS (FAT/FAT32) or exFAT.

Not very future proof

It doesn’t have usb type-c port, which makes it less future proof.
Furthermore, it can’t be any more upgraded. Adding RAM or changing existing one can’t be done to this configuration as it is soldered to the motherboard, so it cannot be modified after purchase.

The troubleshooting

For example I usually have opened many tabs in the web browser, over 30, and run some program in the background, like Viber and some 2D drawing software, sometimes doing something in the terminal too. After a while of having this all working the fans might start spinning faster to cool down the processor. At the beginning I thought that something is wrong, but I’ve learned that its fine. So I’ve just closed half of the safari tabs and whatever else I was not using so processor load decreased and fans slowed down.

Conclusions

For the time being a student I was able to complete all the necessary tasks like writing text, spreadsheet documents, reading PDFs, drawing 2D, 3D objects, watching YouTube videos, learning programming and all of this using this Notebook. And now for the same type of work that I do, I would say that it is more than satisfying. It offers both great portability and great performance giving you a feeling of comfort while doing productive work. I strongly recommend this notebook to students, some who are a bit more then regular computer users such as beginner developers and freelancers and any others of you which find this tech specs suited for your needs.

Vasile

Self Made Blogger

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