This is one of 5 articles dedicated to Apple’s Macbooks:

1. How you can choose the ideal Macbook 12″
2. How to choose the best Macbook Air 11.6″ (this article)
3. How to choose the best Macbook Air 13.3″
4. How to choose the best Macbook Pro 13.3″
5. How to choose the best Apple 15.4″ Macbook Pro

Who is the 11.6″ Macbook Air ideal for?

Anyone who wants a laptop that’s solid, light weight, with an excellent battery life, great backlit keyboard and trackpad, higher CPU performance and a lower price than the Macbook 12″.

The Macbook is incredibly thin: 0.11-0.52".

The Macbook Air is very thin: 0.11-0.68″

What is the Macbook Air 11.6″ good for?

  • Web browsing, e-mails, school or office work  (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc.)
  • Listening to music
  • Watching TV/movies. Note that you may need an adapter to connect a monitor or HDTV.
  • Lightweight audio/photo/video editing. If you’re a professional working with audio/photo/video, you’ll be much better off with the more powerful Macbook Pro.

Why do you want the 11.6″ Macbook Air: Pros

  • Least expensive Macbook laptop, less expensive than the new Macbook 12″
  • Incredibly thin and lightweight: Only 2.38lbs and 0.11-0.68″ thick. Perfect if you’re traveling and often on the move.
  • It’s an Apple computer: Mac OS X, Time Machine backup (automatically backs up system data to an external hard drive), many built-in apps, highly reliable, excellent customer service
  • Excellent keyboard, great for typing
  • Backlit keyboard
  • High-end performance storage makes your computer feel more responsive.
  • Very quiet: The fan is hardly audible, unless you push the CPU to 100% for a long time.
  • Long battery life: 9 hours of web browsing
  • Solid chassis: All-aluminum unibody
  • Solid screen hinge
  • Excellent trackpad, with great multi-touch support
  • MagSafe power connector which automatically detaches from your laptop if you pull on it, preventing your Macbook from accidentally falling if you trip on the power cord.
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • Latest generation 802.11ac WiFi

Why you might not want the 11.6″ Macbook Air: Cons

  • Limited amount of ports: 2x USB 3.0, one ThunderBolt 2 (Mini DisplayPort via Thunderbolt port) and a combo audio jack.
  • Low screen resolution: Only 1366 x 768 resolution. Poor compared to the Macbook 12″ or Macbook Pro with their high-resolution Retina displays.
  • Average CPU performance: Great for web browsing, music, Office work and lightweight programs. Not ideal for heavy photo/video editing, heavy multitasking or demanding programs where high sustained CPU performance is required. You’ll want a more powerful CPU and possibly more RAM for better performance, so consider a Macbook Pro instead.
  • Limited GPU (video card) performance. Forget playing modern video games or 3D rendering: you want a dedicated video card for that. Once again, a Macbook Pro would be a better option.
  • No LAN port
  • No optical drive. You can get an external USB powered optical drive, if you want to.
  • No Numpad
  • The Macbook Air RAM cannot be upgraded: It’s soldered. The SSD storage can be upgraded if you have the right tool, don’t mind following a guide to disassemble your Macbook Air and a guide to copy your data.

How to Choose your Macbook 11.6″

What you need to know:

All models have this in common:

Dimensions: Height: 0.11-0.68″/0.35-1.72cm, Width: 11.8″/30.0cm, Depth: 7.6″/19.3cm
Weight: 2.38 lbs (1.08kg)
GPU: Intel HD Graphics 6000
Screen: 11.6″, resolution: 1366 x 768
Storage: High performance PCI-Express based SSDs (Solid State Drive) storage. This offers you a better computer experience because it responds to your inputs much more quickly. Programs launch far more quickly, the Operating System starts in seconds and resumes from sleep instantaneously. No noise, no vibration, higher reliability and higher resistance to shocks. See the SSD FAQ for more details on SSDs.
Ports: 2xUSB 3, 1xThunderBolt 2 (Mini DisplayPort via Thunderbolt port), 3.5mm combo jack
Networking: 802.11ac 2×2:2, Bluetooth 4.0
Battery: Up to 9 hours
OS: Mac OS X Yosemite or El Capitan: free upgrade to macOS Sierra, with many built-in apps. Windows through Bootcamp, if needed.

The 3 differences between all the models:

1. Choose between two levels of CPU performance:

– Intel Core i5 5250U Broadwell, Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 1.6-2.7GHz
– Intel Core i7 5650U Broadwell, Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.2-3.1GHz

The difference is in the base and Turbo clock frequencies (speed). Higher frequencies (GHz) mean higher performance.

2. Three storage capacities:
128GB, 256GB or 512GB

Unsure about how whether you want 128GB, 256GB or 512GB of storage? Read our article on How to choose the right SSD storage capacity and pay less for your computer to figure it out.

3. Choose between 4GB or 8GB of memory (RAM)

4GB_RAM_macbook_air You have the choice between 4GB and 8GB of memory.

Is 4GB of RAM enough for you or do you want 8GB?

It depends on what you intend to do with your Macbook Air.

If you only use your MacBook Air to run one, two, or three basic programs at once, like email, a web browser, and iTunes, 4GB is plenty of memory.

On the other hand, if you run multiple programs at once, run heavier programs (audio/photo/video/3D), like to multitask and have no time to lose, 8GB is the wiser option.

If you intend on keeping your Macbook Air for many years, going with 8GB is a good idea, as newer versions of programs tend to use more and more memory.

Apple Macbook Air 11.6″:
The 12 available configurations

1. Intel Core i5 1.6-2.7GHz, 4GB RAM, 128GB storage

Click here to see the price on Amazon
$849.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$799.99 at Newegg

– Intel Core i5 5250U Broadwell, Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 1.6-2.7GHz CPU
– 4GB RAM
– 128GB of storage

A good choice if you want a Macbook Air at the lowest price possible. You do get a good CPU, 128GB of storage and only 4GB of RAM, which is fine for web browsing, e-mail and basic Office work.

Lower cost Alternative

You can get the same Macbook, but at a significantly lower cost by getting a refurbished model. It is a certified refurbished product which is tested and certified to look and work like new.
Click here to check the price on Amazon

2. Intel Core i5 1.6-2.7GHz, 4GB RAM, 256GB storage

Click here to see the price on Amazon
$999.00 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$968.99 at Newegg

– Intel Core i5 5250U Broadwell, Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 1.6-2.7GHz CPU
– 4GB RAM
– 256GB of storage

Same model as above, but with twice the storage capacity.

A good choice if you want 256GB of storage at a low price. You do get a good CPU and only 4GB of RAM, which is fine for web browsing, e-mail and basic Office work.

Lower cost Alternative

You can get the same Macbook, but at a significantly lower cost by getting a refurbished model. It is a certified refurbished product which is tested and certified to look and work like new.
Click here to check the price on Amazon

3. Intel Core i5 1.6-2.7GHz, 8GB RAM, 128GB storage

$999.00 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

– Intel Core i5 5250U Broadwell, Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 1.6-2.7GHz CPU
– 8GB RAM
– 128GB of storage

A tradeoff between memory (RAM) and storage capacity. You get 8GB of memory at a low price, but you also only get 128GB of storage. The 8GB of RAM will help with running multiple programs, multi-tasking and running heavy programs such as audio, photo or video editing more smoothly.

4. Intel Core i7 2.2-3.1GHz, 4GB RAM, 128GB storage

$1029.00 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

– Higher performance CPU: Intel Core i7 5650U Broadwell, Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.2-3.1GHz
– 4GB RAM
– 128GB of storage

A good choice if you the highest performance CPU available for the Macbook Air 11.6″ at a low price. You do get only 128GB of storage and only 4GB of RAM.

5. Intel Core i7 2.2-3.1GHz, 8GB RAM, 128GB storage

$1149.00 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

– Higher performance CPU: Intel Core i7 5650U Broadwell, Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.2-3.1GHz
– 8GB RAM
– 128GB of storage

Same as above, but with 8GB of RAM instead of 4GB. You still do get only 128GB of storage.

6. Intel Core i5 1.6-2.7GHz, 8GB RAM, 256GB storage

$1179.00 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

– Intel Core i5 5250U Broadwell, Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 1.6-2.7GHz CPU
– 8GB RAM
– 256GB of storage
Lowest cost for 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. A well balanced choice at a reasonable price.

7. Intel Core i7 2.2-3.1GHz, 4GB RAM, 256GB storage

$1244.00 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

– Higher performance CPU: Intel Core i7 5650U Broadwell, Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.2-3.1GHz
– 4GB RAM
– 256GB of storage

Lowest cost if you want the highest performance CPU available for the Macbook Air 11.6″, but with 256GB of storage. You still do get only 4GB of RAM. See the next option below if you want this configuration but with 8GB of RAM.

8. Intel Core i5 1.6-2.7GHz, 4GB RAM, 512GB storage

$1249.00 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

– Intel Core i5 5250U Broadwell, Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 1.6-2.7GHz CPU
– 4GB RAM
– 512GB of storage

A good choice if you want 512GB of storage at a low price. You get a good CPU and only 4GB of RAM though.

9. Intel Core i7 2.2-3.1GHz, 8GB RAM, 256GB storage

$1279.00 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

– Higher performance CPU: Intel Core i7 5650U Broadwell, Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.2-3.1GHz
– 8GB RAM
– 256GB of storage

A good choice if you want the highest performance CPU available for the Macbook Air 11.6″, with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage.

10. Intel Core i5 1.6-2.7GHz, 8GB RAM, 512GB storage

$1379.00 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

– Intel Core i5 5250U Broadwell, Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 1.6-2.7GHz CPU
– 8GB RAM
– 512GB of storage

A good choice if you want 512GB of storage but with 8GB of RAM.

11. Intel Core i7 2.2-3.1GHz, 4GB RAM, 512GB storage

$1549.00 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

– Higher performance Intel Core i7 5650U Broadwell, Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.2-3.1GHz
– 4GB RAM
– 512GB of storage
A good choice if you want a faster CPU and 512GB of storage at a low cost. You only get 4GB of RAM though

12. Intel Core i7 2.2-3.1GHz, 8GB RAM, 512GB storage

$1649.00 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

– Higher performance CPU: Intel Core i7 5650U Broadwell, Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.2-3.1GHz
– 8GB RAM
– 512GB of storage

This is the highest-end configuration for the Macbook Air 11.6″. You get a higher performance CPU, 8GB of RAM and 512GB of storage.

Conclusion

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this article on how you can choose the ideal Macbook Air 11.6″.

Do you have any feedback or any questions? Are you unsure which Macbook Air 11.6″ is the best one for you?

Please leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.