Honestly, for me, this is by far the most important part of the review. With there being not much in the way of performance upgrades or new features compared to previous generation Airs, the battery life improvement is basically at the heart of what makes the new Air attractive. Obviously, this isn’t exclusive to just Apple—any Haswell ULT Ultrabook with 40-50Wh of battery capacity should get you 8-10 hours of battery life.

Tablet Web Browsing Battery Life (WiFi)

But it’s honestly amazing to use a fully fledged notebook that can battle Atom and ARM for battery life. The image from Anand’s 13” Air review showing an estimated 16 hours of battery life was awesome, even if the OS X battery runtime estimate tends to be wildly optimistic in the early part of a battery cycle. The 11” isn’t quite that far, but it still has better battery life than my iPad. Granted, my 3rd-generation iPad now has a year of wear on the battery, but still—it’s longer lasting than my iPad was when new, and it’s also longer lasting than the 4th gen iPad. And not just by a little, it’s a pretty significant step up. That’s a really important corner to turn for the notebook market, double digit battery life without having to resort to an extended or secondary battery like some business notebooks have offered in the past.

As Anand covered in his recent Haswell ULT battery life article, Intel still needs to work on the power efficiency of the Haswell video decode engine, since ARM-based SoCs still hold a sizable advantage there. But other than that caveat, the overall power consumption of Haswell is an absolute game changer. I’ve never even thought to take the power cord with me anywhere in the month that I’ve had it. Want to take the Air for a weekend away and not plug it in once, iPad style? Depending on how much of your usage can get pushed to a smartphone, that’s a legitimate and realistic possibility.

The 11” Air, by virtue of its smaller display, is slightly more efficient than its larger sibling, but the 42% advantage in battery capacity pushes the 13” Air’s battery life into the insane range. Being able to rely on nearly 10 hours of battery life or more in most normal use cases is just ridiculous. The 11” is a bit less phenomenal, but anything that can claim better battery life than the iPad, even with a smaller battery, is doing just fine.

Light Workload Battery Life

Medium Workload Battery Life

Heavy Workload Battery Life

At 8.5 hours dead on in our usual Mac light browsing test, the 2013 11” is three hours ahead of the 2012. That’s 54.5%. It’s nuts, the end. That advantage holds basically through the rest of our more strenuous battery life tests. The previous 11” really had an issue with battery life—the real-world 5 hours of runtime just didn’t cut it given the sacrifices made for mobility; it made much more sense to get a 13”. Now, with 8+ hours of runtime, it’s easier to ignore. The jump from 5.5 to 7.5 hours of battery life makes a pretty significant difference in how the system gets used, but I’m less sure about the difference between 8.5 and 11. Once you’re already in that 8-10 hour battery life range, adding two or three hours on top of that is a lot less valuable than it would be in a situation where you’re adding that amount to get to that range. This isn’t to say that more battery life isn’t always better, just that at some point it becomes something that is nice to have rather than something that changes the essence of the system, almost like the difference between an i5 and an i7 CPU.

 
2013 MacBook Air 11" - Introduction and Hardware CPU Performance
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  • solipsism - Saturday, August 10, 2013 - link

    Your first paragraph compares a RAIDed system to a single drive system that then says it's "just as fast" then your 2nd paragraph argues that the MBA can't benefit from having a PCIe SSD over a SATA SSD.

    Do you honestly don't know what faster storage can do for disk reads and writes? Do you think Anand lied about the results of his 2013 13" MBA comparison?

    128K Sequntial Writes:
    2010 MBP — 89 MB/s
    2013 MBA — 714.2 MB/s

    How exactly does that not offer any benefit?
    Reply
  • ESC2000 - Saturday, August 10, 2013 - link

    Anyone who reads this review and thinks there is anti apple bias is himself biased toward Apple. You've made your position pretty clear.

    Anandtech has done three major articles/reviews of Mac laptops in the past two months and basically none on any other laptops. That should be pro Apple enough for you.
    Reply
  • ESC2000 - Saturday, August 10, 2013 - link

    Just to be clear, that is a response to darwinosx not Vivek. Reply
  • IHateMyJob2004 - Friday, August 9, 2013 - link

    $999? Who would spend that much on a small screen laptop? Only fools .... Reply
  • solipsism - Friday, August 9, 2013 - link

    Because the performance, quality and utility of a device is based solely on the size of the display? I guess that means it's foolish to even spend $200 on a cheap cellphone since the display on those is much smaller¡ Reply
  • purerice - Friday, August 9, 2013 - link

    Good point. Actually in the end you end up paying over $600 for that $200 cell which just adds to your point. This can handle 1600p resolution on an external display. Not for Crysis but it will run Excel fine.
    I used to have a 12" laptop with 1024x768 screen that I attached to a Dell 2407 when at my home office. At the time 4.6 lb (2.1kg) was light for a laptop. Having a small laptop for the road that you can plug in to a beautiful display at home is the best of both worlds. I would rather have a fully functional, 2.4 lb 11" laptop with SSD for $1000 than 15" laptop that weighs 3x and has a 5400 rpm hard drive for $600.
    I replaced that 12" laptop with a 6 lb, 15" Penryn-based Dell laptop that got 90 minutes of battery life new, that was about $600. I use it when I have to for work and looking back I gladly would trade portability, HD speed, and battery life for the higher screen resolution, a little speed, and $400. Most gladly.
    Though now that Toshiba's IB-based U925 is no longer available, I am hoping they replace it with a Haswell version. Touchscreen+tablet mode are features I would rarely use, but in certain cases they would be extremely helpful.
    Reply
  • jutre - Friday, August 9, 2013 - link

    And what about the RAM ? Is 4GB (not up-gradable) acceptable for anybody ? If you buy your laptop today, it is for using it for the next couple years. I guess forking 100$ for the extra RAM in order to futureproof your laptop a no brainer ? Reply
  • purerice - Friday, August 9, 2013 - link

    I think so. LPDDR3 memory that Apple uses here and Sony uses with the Vaio Duo is (almost?) always attached to the motherboard, unlike most DDR3L memory. There will likely be other bottlenecks for sure, but especially with shared vram, the 4GB is closer to 3-3.5GB. Reply
  • name99 - Saturday, August 10, 2013 - link

    Are you people retarded?
    This is not a machine being sold to run huge Mathematica simulations, or to host 4 simultaneous VMs. It's a machine sold to people who perform "normal" computing tasks, basically email, web, reading PDFs, maybe MS Office, maybe some arranging photos, maybe some light gaming.

    You're like people who look at the specs for a 2-door sedan and complain "But what if I want to use it to tow my boat 24 hours a day?"

    If it doesn't fit your computing needs, don't fscking buy it. It doesn't meet my needs (which DO include substantial Mathematic usage), so I bought a quad-core 16GB 15" rMBP. The difference is I don't waste everyone's time by claiming that the entire damn world has the same computing needs that I do.
    Does it meet my GF's needs? My mother's needs? My two sister's needs? Yes, yes and yes.
    My programmer brother's needs? No.
    That's why Apple makes multiple laptops!!!
    Reply
  • TheinsanegamerN - Sunday, August 11, 2013 - link

    dude, roid rage much?
    nobody is retarded here. they were having a legitimate conversation on the ram found in the macbook air, and then you butted in.
    normal users can run over 4 GB of ram usage. ask anyone who runs multiple tabs while a video is playing in the background.
    and nobody was claiming that the world has the same computational needs as them.
    so kindly shut up and go back to your "Mathematical equations" and leave socializing to people who are not incredibly rude morons.
    Reply

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