This is one of 4 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 (this article)
3. How to choose the best Apple Macbook Pro 13
4. How to choose the best Apple Macbook Pro 15

Who is the Macbook Air ideal for?

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

What is the Macbook Air 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: Pros

  • This is the least expensive Apple Macbook laptop
  • Thin and lightweight: Only 2.75lbs and .41-1.56cm 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
  • 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.
  • Great display: 2560 x 1600 Retina IPS
  • Long battery life: 12 hours of web browsing, the best of all Macbooks.
  • Solid chassis: All-aluminum unibody
  • Available in multiple colors
  • Solid screen hinge
  • Excellent trackpad, with great multi-touch support
  • Bluetooth
  • Latest generation 802.11ac WiFi
  • More ports than the Macbook Pro 13: 2x USB 3.0 Type-C with ThunderBolt 3 and a combo audio jack.

Why you might not want the Macbook Air: Cons

  • Limited amount of ports
  • 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

What you need to know:

Late 2018 models:

All models have this in common:

Dimensions: Height: 0.41-1.56cm, Width: 30.4cm, Depth: 21.2cm
Weight: 2.75 lbs (1.25kg)
– CPU: Intel Core i5-8210Y Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 1.6-3.6GHz 7W TDP
– RAM:
8GB LPDDR3 2133MHz
GPU: Intel UHD 617
Screen: 13.3″, resolution: 2560 x 1600 Retina IPS
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 Type-C with ThunderBolt 3, 3.5mm combo jack
Networking: 802.11ac 2×2:2, Bluetooth
Battery: Up to 12 hours

Late 2018 models compared to the Mid 2017 models:

Apple did a major update to the Macbook Air in October 2018. I refer to those updated models as the Late 2018 models through this article. Compared to the older model, referred as Mid 2017, here are the changes:

1. Higher performance CPU: You now get an 8th generation Core CPU, instead of the old Intel Core 5th generation Broadwell. You also get a boost in frequency, with a maximum Turbo frequency of 3.6GHz.
2. Higher performance storage: Thanks to the Apple T2 co-processor that also acts as the storage controller, storage performance is improved.
3. Higher performance RAM: You now get DDR3 2133MHz instead of DDR3 1600MHz.
4. New Force Touch trackpad: The Macbook Air gets the Force Touch trackpad that has been in the Macbook and Macbook Pro for years.
5. New butterfly keyboard: The Macbook Air gets the butterfly switch keyboard that has been in the Macbook and Macbook Pro for years.
6. Slightly lighter
7. New ports: You now get two USB Type-C, with Thunderbolt 3 and charging support.
8. 16GB RAM available as an option
9. Touch ID
10. Much better display: 2560 x 1600 Retina IPS display
11. Available in multiple colors

What about older models of the Apple Macbook Air? Are they worth it?

Some Mid 2017 models can be worth it, if you want a Macbook Air but have a tight budget. That said, I’d spend a bit more to get the newer models, just the much better display of the Late 2018 models alone justifies it in my opinion.

Models that are older than Mid 2017? Stay away from them. They are equipped with only 4GB of memory (RAM), which is hardly enough for anything more demanding than basic tasks (word processing, web browsing, listening to music). This lack of memory will become a bigger limiting factor in performance as time goes on, forcing you to change computer sooner and spend more in the long run.

The 2 differences between all the Macbook Air Late 2018 models:

1. Choose between 8GB or 16GB of memory (RAM)

4GB_RAM_macbook_airYou have the choice between 8GB and 16GB of memory.

Is 8GB of RAM enough for you or do you want 16GB?

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

If you only use your MacBook Air to run a few basic programs at once, like email, some Excel, Word, a web browser, and iTunes, 8GB 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, 16 GB is the wiser option.

If you intend on keeping your Macbook Air for many years, going with 16GB is a good idea, seeing as memory usage keeps increasing, with newer versions of programs using more and more memory.

Keep in mind that the memory is soldered in the Macbook Air computer, so you cannot add memory to upgrade your computer.

2. Four storage capacities:
128GB, 256GB, 512GB or 1.5TB (1536GB)

Unsure about how whether you want 128GB, 256GB, 512GB or 1.5TB of storage? Read our article on How to choose the right SSD storage capacity and pay less for your computer to figure it out.

Apple Macbook Air Late 2018:
The 8 recommended configurations

1. 8GB RAM, 128GB storage

$1099.00 at B&H

– Newest Macbook Air model
– 8GB of RAM
– 128GB of storage

Is it safe to buy a Mac from B&H Photo Video instead of the Apple Store? 

B&H Photo Video is an Authorized Apple Reseller. That means B&H has received authorization from Apple to sell Macs, iPods, etc. This is great for you because B&H prices are generally much lower than the Apple Store. Items ship promptly and you receive the same warranty as if you had made the purchase at the Apple Store. In fact, you still receive all the benefits of the Apple Store (classes, Genius Bar access, etc.) when you buy from B&H Photo Video. So really, the only difference between buying from B&H and the Apple Store is that with B&H you will probably save a lot of money!

2. 8GB RAM, 256GB storage

$1399.00 at B&H

– Newest Macbook Air model
– 8GB of RAM
– 256GB of storage

Compared to the model above, you get twice the storage capacity.

3. 16GB RAM, 128GB storage

$1399.00 at B&H

– Newest Macbook Air model
– 16GB of RAM
– 128GB of storage

Compared to the model above, you get twice the RAM, but half the storage capacity.

4. 16GB RAM, 256GB storage

$1449.00 at B&H

– Newest Macbook Air model
– 16GB of RAM
– 256GB of storage

Compared to the model above, you get twice the storage capacity.

5. 8GB RAM, 512GB storage (Mid 2017)

$1499.00 at B&H

– Newest Macbook Air model
– 8GB RAM
– 512GB of storage

A good choice if you want 512GB of storage at the lowest cost.

You do get only 8GB of RAM though. See the model below if you want 16GB of RAM instead.

6. 16GB RAM, 512GB storage (Mid 2017)

$1699.00 at B&H

– Newest Macbook Air model
– 16GB RAM
– 512GB of storage

A good amount of storage with 16GB of RAM. See the models below if you want 1.5TB of storage.

7. 8GB RAM, 1.5TB storage

$2399.00 at B&H

– Newest Macbook Air model
– 8GB RAM
– 1.5TB of storage

A good choice if you want 1.5TB of storage at the lowest cost.

You do get only 8GB of RAM though. See the model below if you want 16GB of RAM instead.

8. 16GB RAM, 1.5TB storage

$2599.00 at B&H

– Newest Macbook Air model
– 16GB RAM
– 1.5TB of storage

This is the highest-end configuration for the Macbook Air. You get 16GB of RAM and 1.5TB of storage.

Mid 2017 models:

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:

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.

What about older models of the Apple Macbook Air? Are they worth it?

In my professional opinion, no. They are equipped with only 4GB of memory (RAM), which is hardly enough for anything more demanding than basic tasks (word processing, web browsing, listening to music). This lack of memory will become a bigger limiting factor in performance as time goes on, forcing you to change computer sooner and spend more in the long run.

The 2 differences between all the Macbook Air Mid 2017 models:

1. Choose between two levels of CPU performance:

From the lowest to highest performance:
All Macbook Air 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 5350U 1.8-2.9GHz 
2. Intel Core i7-5650U 2.2-3.2GHz

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.

Apple Macbook Air Mid 2017:
The 2 recommended configurations

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

$879.00 at B&H

– Intel Core i5 1.8-2.9GHz CPU
– 128GB of storage

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

$1079.00 at B&H

– Intel Core i5 1.8-2.9GHz
– 256GB of storage

Compared to the model above, you get twice the storage capacity.

Conclusion

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

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

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