The 11-inch MacBook Air that we used as the subject for this review packed a 1.7GHz dual-core Intel Core i5-3317U chip, which can be ramped up to 2.6GHz using Intel's Turbo Boost function. There's a 1.8GHz Core i5 CPU for the 13-inch version as standard, and you can also opt to upgrade to a 2GHz Core i7 processor on either version for £130/$150 extra.
Apple Mac laptop reviews
Apple Mac desktop reviews
All our Apple news, features and reviews
There's no discrete graphics option but, this being an Ivy Bridge setup, you are treated to integrated Intel HD Graphics 4000, which means graphic processing is twice as fast as the previous MacBook Air models. With 4GB of 1600MHz DDR3L RAM onboard - also a significant upgrade from the last MacBook Air - the performance is much slicker and impressive than the already-impressive 2011 MacBook Air range.
Storing your HD media could be problematic, however, especially if you're the type of person who likes to have extensive high-quality digital libraries everywhere you go. The cheapest option offers just 64GB of flash storage, and our review model packed a mediocre 128GB. You can go up to 512GB of storage for a whopping £640/$800 extra, should money be no option.
Many Ultrabooks now, such as the Sony Vaio T13 and the HP Envy 6, offer a dual SSD and HDD option - enabling more space while keeping the price down. Apple has decided against moving parts in its MacBook Air laptops though, stating that complete flash storage is the key reason for the skinny notebook's responsiveness.
This flash storage, the company tells us, is up to four times faster than a traditional 5400rpm hard drive. You certainly won't hear us disagreeing or complaining about speed - the MacBook Air is lightening-quick.
To call the 2012 Apple MacBook Air's design identical to the last two is not entirely accurate. You may notice that the MagSafe power connection has been redesigned. MagSafe 2 is thinner and longer. No - we're not sure why either, but unless you've got a close affiliation with your old Mac power pack, you shouldn't have a problem. There is an adapter that Apple will sell you for £9/$9.99 if you do intend to use your old power source.
There's now a USB 3.0 port duo - although this being Apple, there's no blue marker to indicate them. It's white and silver all the way. Added to these there is a Thunderbolt port and a 3.5mm headphone jack. On the 13-inch 2012 MacBook Air, there's enough space for an SD card reader as well, but there's not one on the 11-inch model that we reviewed, unfortunately.
The webcam has also been improved; it's now a 720p HD one - so your FaceTime calls can be clearer than ever.
Apple states a battery life of five hours of wireless web browsing for the 11-inch model, and 7 hours for its bigger brother. In our test, which involved looping Full HD video on full brightness, it lasted just under four hours, which indicates that Apple's estimate for normal usage is about right.