MacBook Air (2017) review

Grabbing a MacBook Air now fetches you faster storage

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Our Verdict

Apple's 13-inch MacBook Air now comes with much faster storage, better battery life and slightly improved performance in other areas. On the other hand, its display and design are beyond dated.

For

  • Excellent battery life
  • Nippy storage
  • Keyboard

Against

  • Dated design
  • Display
  • Speakers

The MacBook Air was in a weird place for a long time. It was stuck with the same design for years, and only featured 5th-generation Intel Core processors – several generations behind the MacBook Pro and MacBook. However, even though it’s since been replaced by the MacBook Air 2018, the MacBook Air 2017 is still the cheapest way to get into macOS Mojave on a laptop.

You’re not going to get the fastest MacBook ever – far from it. However, the MacBook Air 2017 is still fast enough to handle basically anything you’ll throw at it in your everyday life. Whether you’re browsing the web, doing some word processing or even light photo editing, you’ll find a lot to love with the MacBook Air 2017.

So, the MacBook Air 2015 might just be one of the best laptops for anyone looking to get into the macOS ecosystem without emptying their savings account – especially when those Black Friday and Cyber Monday Apple deals starts showing up. It might be a bit behind the times, but most everyday users will find a lot to love here.

Price and availability

While the model sent to us was a maxed out MacBook Air with the highest specs you could get at the time of its original writing, it currently comes in a wide range of different configurations.

The MacBook Air 2017 still starts at the relatively low price of $999 (£949, AU$1,499), but you’re looking at a 1.8GHz Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM and 128GB of SSD space for that price. This means the MacBook Air is still the most affordable way to get macOS on a laptop, even before the Black Friday Apple deals.

If you want to beef the MacBook Air up, you can upgrade the processor to a 2.2GHz Intel Core i7 processor and a 512GB SSD for a pretty penny more. For that configuration, you’re looking at a price of $1,549 (£1,384, AU$2,339).

That’s more than what the MacBook Pro starts out at for a frankly older set of components (the MacBook Air has a 5th-generation Intel Core processor as opposed to the MacBook Pro’s 8th-gen chip). Frankly, compared to most modern laptops, the MacBook Air is woefully out of date, but it may still be worth it for anyone that needs long battery life and a ton of storage.

13-inch MacBook Air (2015)

Design

For the most part, the MacBook Air pretty much looks the same as it has since 2010, and there don’t appear to be any changes in tow, either. That’s a shame, especially because we’re starting to see a ton of bezel-less laptops with smaller footprints and high-resolution displays that put the MacBook Air in its place.

Forget the Dell XPS 13's physics-defying InfinityEdge display, which is light years ahead – even Apple's 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina, once seen as slightly tubby compared to the Air, has a smaller footprint and takes up slightly less space on your lap.

13-inch MacBook Air (2015)

Yet, the old ‘if it ain't broke’ mantra applies – at least to a point. The MacBook Air's aluminum unibody design, which supports the main enclosure and the display, is as durable as ever. Its lid can be easily raised with a single hand and doesn't droop in any position, and you have to press really hard to detect flex on the machine's base or lid.

The MacBook Air is also easy to clean – just get a damp cloth. If there’s one drawback, it’s that the aluminum body is easy to scratch, which can leave permanent black marks, so you may want to buy a sleeve or a skin if you’re going to carry it around.

Bill Thomas Gabe Carey have also contributed to this review