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

1. How you can choose the best Apple Macbook 12
2. How to choose the best Apple Macbook Air 11
3. How to choose the best Apple Macbook Air 13 (this article)
4. How to choose the best Apple Macbook Pro 13
5. How to choose the best Apple Macbook Pro 15

Who is the Macbook Air 13 ideal for?

The Macbook is incredibly thin: 0.11-0.52".

The Macbook Air is very thin: 0.11-0.68″

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

What is the Macbook Air 13 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 Macbook Air 13: Pros

  • This is the least expensive Apple Macbook laptop
  • Thin and lightweight: Only 2.96lbs and 0.11-0.68″ thick. Second only to the Macbook 12. 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: 12 hours of web browsing, the best of all Macbooks.
  • 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
  • More ports than the Macbook Pro 13: 2x USB 3.0, one ThunderBolt 2 (Mini DisplayPort via Thunderbolt port), SDXC card reader and a combo audio jack.
  • 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.

Why you might not want the Macbook Air 13: Cons

  • Limited amount of ports: 2 x USB 3.0, ThunderBolt 2, SDXC card reader, 3.5mm combo jack
  • No modern ports: No USB Type-C, no Thunderbolt 3
  • Low screen resolution: Only 1440 x 900 resolution. Poor compared to the Macbook 12″ or Macbook Pro with their high-resolution Retina displays.
  • It’s still available in just the one color, unlike the 12-inch MacBook (Silver, Space Grey, Gold, or Rose Gold) or MacBook Pro 13 and 15 (Silver or Space Grey).
  • 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.

How to Choose your Macbook Air 13

What you need to know:

All models have this in common:

Dimensions: Height: 0.11-0.68″/0.35-1.72cm, Width: 12.8″/32.5cm, Depth: 8.9″/22.6cm
Weight: 2.96 lbs (1.34kg)
– RAM: 8GB LPDDR3 1600MHz
GPU: Intel HD Graphics 6000
Screen: 13.3″, resolution: 1440 x 900
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: 2 x USB 3.0, ThunderBolt 2 (Mini DisplayPort via Thunderbolt port), SDXC card reader, 3.5mm combo jack
Networking: 802.11ac 2×2:2, Bluetooth 4.0
Battery: Up to 12 hours

Mid 2017 models compared to the Early 2015 models:

Apple did a minor update to the Macbook Air 13 in June 2017. I refer to those updated models as the Mid 2017 models through this article. Compared to the older model, referred as Early 2015 through the article, there are two changes:

1. Higher performance CPU: While the CPU in the Macbook Air remains built on the Intel Core 5th generation Broadwell architecture, it now comes with higher frequencies. The Intel Core i5 model gets an extra +200MHz base frequency and turbo boost frequency while the Intel Core i7 model gets a +100MHz turbo boost frequency.
2. Higher performance storage: According to Apple, you get a faster storage solution, twice as fast as the previous model.

Other than those two changes, the Early 2015 and Mid 2017 models are identical. 

The Early 2015 models are still available and are competitively priced, so I recommend both the Early 2015 models and the Mid 2017 models.

The 3 differences between all the Macbook Air 13 models:

1. Choose between four levels of CPU performance:

From the lowest to highest performance:
All Macbook Air 13 models feature Intel Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading (4 threads) CPUs based on the Intel Broadwell 5th generation Core architecture.

The difference between the four available CPUs is in the base and Turbo clock frequencies. Higher numbers (frequencies, in GHz) mean higher performance.

1. Intel Core i5 5250U 1.6-2.7GHz (Early 2015 models)
2. Intel Core i5 5350U 1.8-2.9GHz (Mid 2017 models)
3. Intel Core i7 5650U 2.2-3.1GHz (Early 2015 models)
4. Intel Core i7-5650U 2.2-3.2GHz (Mid 2017 models) 

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. Two levels of storage performance:

The Mid 2017 models offer storage that’s twice as fast as the storage on the early 2015 models.

Apple Macbook Air 13:
The 10 recommended configurations

1. Intel Core i5 1.6-2.7GHz, 128GB storage (Early 2015)

$899.00 at B&H

– Intel Core i5 1.6-2.7GHz CPU
– 128GB of storage
– Lower-end storage performance

This is the least expensive model that I recommend.

You do get a low-end CPU and only 128GB of storage.

2. Intel Core i5 1.8-2.9GHz, 128GB storage (Mid 2017)

$979.00 at B&H

– Newest Macbook Air 13 model
– Intel Core i5 1.8-2.9GHz CPU
– 128GB of higher-end storage

Compared to the model above, you get a slightly faster CPU as well as twice the storage performance.

3. Intel Core i5 1.6-2.7GHz, 256GB storage (Early 2015)

$1069.00 at B&H

– Intel Core i5 5250U Broadwell, Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 1.6-2.7GHz
– 256GB of storage
– Lower-end storage performance

Compared to the model above, you get a slightly slower CPU, but twice the storage capacity, with 256GB, but with half the storage performance.

4. Intel Core i7 2.2-3.1GHz, 128GB storage (Early 2015)

$1099.00 at B&H

– Higher performance CPU: Intel Core i7 2.2-3.1GHz
– 128GB of storage
– Lower-end storage performance

A good choice if you want an higher performance CPU in the Macbook Air 13, at the lowest price possible.

The trade off is that you get only 128GB of storage and it’s the lower-end performance storage.

5. Intel Core i7 2.2-3.2GHz, 128GB storage (Mid 2017)

$1149.00 at B&H

– Newest Macbook Air model
– Highest performance CPU available on the Macbook Air 13: Intel Core i7 2.2-3.2GHz
– 128GB of higher-end performance storage

Compared to the model above, you get a very slightly faster CPU.

More importantly, you get the storage that offers twice the performance compared to the model above.

6. Intel Core i5 1.8-2.9GHz, 256GB storage (Mid 2017)

$1179.00 at B&H

– Newest Macbook Air model
– Intel Core i5 1.8-2.9GHz
– 256GB of higher-end performance storage

Compared to the model above, you get a slower CPU, but twice the storage capacity.

7. Intel Core i7 2.2-3.1GHz, 256GB storage (Early 2015)

$1239.00 at B&H

– Higher performance CPU: Intel Core i7 5650U 2.2-3.1GHz
– 256GB of storage
– Lower-end storage performance

Compared to the model above, you get a faster CPU, as much storage capacity (256GB), but it’s the lower-end level of storage performance.

8. Intel Core i7 2.2-3.2GHz, 256GB storage (Mid 2017)

$1349.00 at B&H

– Newest Macbook Air model
– Highest performance CPU: Intel Core i7 2.2-3.2GHz
– 256GB of high-performance storage

Compared to the model above, you get a very slightly faster CPU, but most importantly, you get the storage that offers twice the performance compared to the model above.

9. Intel Core i5 1.8-2.9GHz, 512GB storage (Mid 2017)

$1399.00 at B&H

– Newest Macbook Air model
– Intel Core i5 1.8-2.9GHz
– 512GB of storage

A good choice if you want 512GB of storage at the lowest cost for the newest 2017 model.

You do get the entry-level CPU though. See the model below if you want the faster CPU variant.

10. Intel Core i7 2.2-3.2GHz, 512GB storage (Mid 2017)

$1549.00 at B&H

– Newest Macbook Air model
– Higher performance CPU: Intel Core i7 Broadwell, Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.2-3.2GHz
– 512GB of storage

This is the highest-end configuration for the Macbook Air 13. You get the fastest CPU available for a Macbook Air 13 and 512GB of storage.

Conclusion

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this article on how to choose the best Macbook Air 13.

Do you have any feedback or any questions? Are you unsure which Macbook Air 13 is the best one for you?

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