10 years after presenting in an envelope the first Macbook Air, which at the time stood out for its reduced thickness, we spent a few weeks with the new Macbook Air 2018.
This Apple laptop maintains the idea of entry equipment to the Mac world improving performance of a generation that had been left far behind but with the counterpart of a rise in price that makes it less attractive compared to its rivals, especially within the ecosystem itself.
Macbook Air 2018 Data Sheet
With hardly any changes in three years, the MacBook Air that seemed destined to disappear from the Apple notebook catalog was substantially renewed.
The novelties arrived in practically all the important sections: design, screen and of course also the interior. In all cases the Macbook Air picked up elements that were already common in the other Macbook of the Apple catalog.
|Macbook Air 2018|
|Screen||IPS Retina LCD panel (2560 x 1600 dots) with 227 ppi, 13.3 inches, LED backlight and 16:10 aspect ratio|
|Processor||Intel Core i5 dual-core 1.6 GHz (Turbo Boost up to 3.6 GH) and 4 MB of level 3 cache|
|RAM||8 GB of integrated LPDDR3 memory at 2.133 MHz (expandable up to 16 GB)|
|Storage||PCIe SSD of 128 GB. Configuration option with 256 GB, 512 GB or 1.5 TB SSD|
|Graphics||Intel UHD Graphics 617. Compatible with external graphics processors (eGPU) with Thunderbolt 3 technology|
|Camera||FaceTime HD at 720p|
|Connectivity||Wireless connection WiFi 802.11ac |
2 USB-C ports USB-C 3.1 Gen 2
|Additional features||Integrated Touch ID sensor|
|Dimensions||30.41 x 21.24 x 1.56 cm|
From its data sheet calls the attention that there is only a possible choice of processor, a Core i5 dual-core serial that comes with a SSD of only 128 GB, very small amount of storage for the starting price it offers us.
But let’s analyze in detail the design and behavior of this Apple entry laptop.
Less Air and more Macbook
If the differentiation between Macbook models was quite clear until last year, the arrival of the new MacBook Air 2018 much equals the appearance of the “small” range of laptops from Apple.
On a shelf, the three 13-inch Macbook look like twin brothers, especially the Macbook and the MacBook Air thanks to the reduction of frames of the second.
The new MacBook Air suddenly happens to be a compact device for its screen diagonal. This advantage is added to what we already offered: weight content (1.25 kg) and reduced thickness (1.5 cm). Despite its typical wedge finish, the Macboook Air 2018 is not as Apple’s thinnest laptop or market.
Macbook Air 2018 is finished in aluminum, which is 100% recycled, details in which Apple insists enough and that for some users may be an extra to consider. But the look and feel is the same as other equipment of the same material.
It is available in three shades: space gray, silver and gold, the model we have tested and that, live has a clear pink tone.
In the design of the new Macbook Air 2018 we found two speakers located on both sides of the keyboard. With them we get a powerful and clear sound that greatly improves that of previous generations.
Another novelty of the design of the Macbook Air 2018 is in the fingerprint reader with Touch ID, which is located on the start button and allows us to use biometric identification both to identify us in the system and for the management of passwords and payments on-line.
The operation is just as reliable and fast as in iOS devices that still include Touch ID technology, including the availability of the T2 chip for the encryption of biometric data.
Something that has not changed much in the new Macbook Air 2018 is the subject of connectivity. Rather the physical reduction of it. In the new model we have only two USB-C ports that are also located on the same side, the left. In the right we only find a headphone port, so the connectivity is limited and will surely require the use of adapters, of which none is included in series.
The good news around the two USB-C ports is that they are complete. They are USB-C 3.1 Gen 2 and in both cases can work for load and output DisplayPort and Thunderbolt (up to 40 GB / s). In that case we can connect up to two screens 4K or 5K (5120×2880 pixels).
A screen more in line with the market (and its price)
As we said, the frames of the new MacBook Air 2018 have been reduced significantly compared to the previous generation but do not yet reach the edges. However, it is not something that surprised us because we have already seen it in the Macbook Pro.
It is also new in this section on the screen the resolution and global quality of the panel, for me the aspect in which the previous generation had stayed behind after 3 years without being significantly renewed.
The new Macbook Air offers an IPS panel with a 13.3-inch diagonal, 16:10 aspect ratio and 2560 x 1600-point resolution, resulting in a pixel density of 227 ppi. In a team of this price, even with that of the previous generation, it was an improvement that was not feasible not to have already.
Apple also includes in this panel an improved reproduction of the color space (100% sRGB) to make a leap of global quality and not just resolution.
Despite this substantial progress between generations, the panel has room for improvement especially in the level of brightness, around 300 nits, a value that makes it vulnerable in very bright as well as outdoor environments.
Keyboard and touchpad: Apple insists on its idea
The Macbook Air 2018 keeps Apple’s idea around the keyboard of an Ultrabook. The butterfly mechanism that presented us with the Macbook evolves into a new generation that is more stable when pressed and includes individual protection with plastic membrane to try to avoid the problems that this system has given to previous generations.
The touch of the keyboard of the Macbook Air 2018 is peculiar and requires adaptation, especially for the route, which is very small for the usual keyboard even ultrabooks. In addition, its loudness is considerable if you tend to hit them with force. But when you get used to it, it is a high-level keyboard to write for hours, although I personally prefer a little more travel on the keys.
The most positive of the keyboard of the Macbook Air is again in the size of its keys and in the backlight, which is individual and also automatically adjustable thanks to an ambient light sensor. This behavior, if it does not convince us, we can manage it in the system options.
Apple is also faithful in its commitment to a huge and reliable trackpad. Although the ones we see integrated into Windows computers already have a very high level, both by size and by touch and precision, the trackpad of Apple laptops is still at a somewhat higher level.
Here we find a trackpad that does not include physical buttons but uses Force Touch technology to similarly touch different intensities on the surface. Once you have done with the gestures, its large surface and the precision of it allows you to work with ease and without missing a mouse, something that cannot be said of many laptops in the market, even high-end.
Performance and autonomy
One of the surprises (although otherwise expected) of the Macbook Air 2018 is in the price. The basic model starts at 1349 dollars, about 150 dollars more expensive than the entry model of the previous generation, although it is not difficult to find an offer that leaves it around 1199 dollrs.
This input configuration allows us to have a MacBook Air with Intel Core i5 dual-core 1.6 GHz (Turbo Boost up to 3.6 GHz) eighth generation accompanied by 8 GB of LPDDR3 memory at 2.133 MHz and SSD storage of 128 GB.
That starting price rises quickly too little if we want to make some logical improvements, for example in the amount of RAM or internal memory capacity.
In a team in which we want to extend its useful life and without possibility of making the improvements by ourselves, move to a reasonable configuration with 16 GB of RAM and 256 GB SSD leaves us a price above 1800 dollars, very high for a laptop with these technical characteristics.
The performance of this Macbook Air 2018 is fully associated with the choice of processor. As we have seen there is only one option available, the Intel Core i5-8210Y.
In the usual tests with Mac computers, in Cinebench we have managed to reach 291 cb in the tasks associated with the processor, while in the graphical section (integrated from Intel), the OpenGL test has thrown us a figure of 34.6 fps.
With GeekBench, the dual-core processor marks good numbers in mononucleo mode (4306) and also with both (7764 points), where it is located above the previous generation but is below the MacBook Pro of 13 fleas of 2017, a would be alternative for very little money more and with which we also get a better screen.
In day-to-day operation, the MacBook Air 2018 follows the line of good overall performance for any non-specific task we ask of you. Navigation with multiple tabs, video, some editing and multimedia do not present any delays and fluency is guaranteed.
The heat in operation is well controlled, and I especially liked the low noise that makes the fan, because we are not before a team without them. In the usual tasks of work barely turned on or you were not even aware of it except in completely silent environments.
Special mention deserves the T2 coprocessor that arrives at this Macbook Air. We have already discussed his work with the information he uses for the use of TouchID, but in this Air 2018 he also collects secondary tasks that spare the Intel processor of extra work with audio and video processing, as well as in the encryption of the SSD.
It is still a laptop with a large battery
With less space available, the new MacBook Air 2018 includes a battery with a capacity of 50 Wh that in our experience during these weeks of testing, has kept the good work of Apple’s equipment in this section, although without being long outstanding.
In days of work associated with basic tasks such as office automation, some video and above all a lot of web browsing and social network management, with brightness over 50% and always connected to Wi-Fi networks, the MacBook Air 2018 has allowed us to always finish no problem the working day, which gives us an average of between 7-7.5 effective hours of work with the new laptop.
Regarding the loading time, Apple again offers a compact adapter as standard but inferior to the best it has in its catalog. The model is 30 W, which gets a full charge of the laptop in 130 minutes according to our measurements. That time could be reduced easily to less than two hours with an adapter of at least 65 W, which we think should be the one that came standard on a computer at this price.