MacBook Air 2014 review

Is the MacBook Air still the best laptop around?

T3 Platinum Award
Reasons to buy
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    Slightly more powerful

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    Same winning design

Reasons to avoid
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    Not a Retina display

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    No CD drive

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    No Ethernet port

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The 13-inch MacBook Air 2014 has had a minor spec boost and a price cut. Find out how it fares in our MacBook Air review

Apple seems to be changing its ways, and aiming its products at more price-conscious punters. Not only has it launched its cheapest ever iMac, it's also slashed a ton off the 2014 MacBook Air. So this year's model can be yours for just £749.

It's identical to last year's model, except it packs a 1.4GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 chip. That's up from the 1.3GHz dual-core i5 in the 2013 Air. So not exactly a massive leap.

Still, if it ain't broke. And the price cut is most welcome. But is it enough to stave off rivals like the Microsoft Surface 2, Toshiba KiraBook, and new Samsung Galaxy Tab S? Let's take a look.

MacBook Air: Size and build

Aesthetically, this year's MacBook Air is exactly the same as last year's. Not that we're complaining – the MacBook Air is one of the most gorgeous gadgets we've ever laid eyes on, with its brushed aluminium body and fantastically bright screen. (There are rumours of a Retina display model, which would really make our day.)

The new model has the same 325x227x17mm frame as the MacBook Air 2013 model. (We tested the 13-inch version, which starts at £849, but you can also buy the 11-incher.) The edges taper so it's just 3mm at its slimmest point. And it weighs the same 1,350g, which is light enough to not really notice it in a bag. Very impressive indeed.

MacBook Air: Features

Again, it has the same features as the 2013 model. Mac OS X Mavericks comes as standard (though OS X Yosemite will be out in the autumn).

On the ports side of things, you get two USB 3, a Thunderbolt, the MagSafe 2 (for the magnetic charger) and an SDXC card slot.

Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 come as standard, and the keyboard is the same winner as before, with plenty of space (pardon the pun), and backlit keys.

MacBook Air: Screen

The 13.3-incher packs 1,440x900 pixels, giving it a pixel per inch count of 128ppi. If you want an even more portable option, the 11.6-incher has 1,366x768 pixels, with 135ppi.

It might not be a Retina model – not yet, anyway – but colours are accurate, it has wide viewing angles, and it's more than bright enough.

However, things have moved on since, and it seems the MacBook Air has been left behind somewhat. The Toshiba KiraBook boasts a QHD display, with a resolution of 2,560x1440 pixels, giving it 221ppi.

So while the MacBook Air's screen might be good, there are better – if more expensive options – available.

MacBook Air: Performance

The spec bump is only a measly 0.1GHz, so you won't tell much difference between this and last year's model. Again, that's no bad thing. All the games we tried ran without any issues, and it handles basic tasks like web browsing and video streaming with aplomb.

Start-up is fantastically quick too, thanks to the solid state drive.

MacBook Air: Battery

The slightly upgraded processor didn't make any difference to the battery life either. We got a full day out of it, and that was with fairly heavy usage. Apple quotes 12 hours, which sounds accurate. If you're out and about all day, the MacBook Air should last you.

MacBook Air: Verdict

We tried our best to find something to dislike about the new MacBook Air, but really, it's hard to fault. The screen is still a stunner, it's still the most premium-looking laptop around, and now it's cheaper and a bit more powerful. The best just got better.

MacBook Air release date: Out now

MacBook Air price: From £749