The 2017 MacBook Air doesn’t veer away much—internally and externally—from its first version 10 years ago. Apple updated the MacBook Air in June 2017, yet kept the 2010 design and 2015 internal specs intact. The updated version got only a slightly faster processor and a bigger memory. That’s it.
Still, Apple’s entry-level ultraportable is a worthy purchase. It’s the cheapest you can get for a Mac notebook.
2017 MacBook Air 13-inch: Quick pros and cons
What you’ll love about it
- Impressive long battery life
- Most affordable Mac laptop
- Solid, smooth performance for day-to-day computing tasks
- Comfortable keyboard
- MagSafe power connection
What you might not like about it
- Outdated design and display compared to other laptops in the same price range
- Lacks a Retina display present in all other Apple laptops
- 2017 iteration not much different from earlier versions, except for minor processor upgrades
Dated but rock-solid build
Sturdy aluminum body
The MacBook Air’s durable aluminum body can withstand years of use. Its lid is so easy to raise and lower, and it stays put at any angle.
But the exterior can get scratched easily, leaving permanent unsightly marks. Consider using a laptop sleeve or a laptop cover to protect it from scratches.
This ultraportable device weighs 1.35 kg and measures 17 x 325 x 227 mm. It isn’t the lightest and thinnest Mac, but it’s portable and convenient to carry around.
The 13-inch MacBook Air strikes a balance between portability and viewability. The thick bezel around the screen, though, gives the Air a less premium look and feel.
With the bezels on the latest Mac notebooks getting thinner, we wonder when Apple will get rid of the Air’s bezel.
Standard USB ports and MagSafe power connection
The MacBook Air has a MagSafe 2 power port, a USB-A 3.0 port, and a 3.5 mm headphone jack on the left side. On the other side, there’s a Thunderbolt 2 port, a second USB-A 3.0 port, and an SDCX memory card slot.
Its the only Mac today with the standard USB ports and a MagSafe port. Your mouse and other peripherals will fit into the USB-A ports. To connect an ethernet cable or an external monitor to this Mac notebook, you’ll need to use an adapter and plug it into the Thunderbolt port.
Worth noting also is the MagSafe power connection. When you or a running pet or kid trips over the power cord, it will easily and safely detach from the power port—unlike USB-C cables that pull the laptop down.
The island-style keyboard on the MacBook Air provides a comfortable typing experience. Hours of typing won’t hurt your fingers. This makes the Air ideal for writers, managers, college students, and anyone who does a lot of typing on a laptop.
Good display, but not as sharp as other MacBooks
The screen is a 13.3-inch LED-backlit glossy widescreen display with a 1440 x 900 resolution at 127 ppi. It isn’t as sharp and smooth as the higher-res screens of the MacBook and MacBook Pro, largely due to the lack of a Retina display.
While the MacBook Air’s screen pales in comparison to its more gorgeous Mac bros, it doesn’t suck either. Unless you’ll use it for graphic design, the Air’s display is good enough for basic tasks.
Battery power that lasts through a workday
The greatest appeal of the MacBook Air—apart from its cheaper price (vs. other MacBooks)—is its excellent battery life. Its 54‑watt‑hour lithium‑polymer battery lasts for 12 to 16 hours between charges.
This makes it the ideal ultraportable notebook for working professionals and students. You can take the Air anywhere minus the power cable and use it unplugged. When your workday or class is over, the laptop will still have plenty of power.
On standby, only 6% to 10% of battery power gets drained after five to 10 hours on Sleep Mode. That’s how reliable the MacBook Air’s battery is!
Smooth, speedy Apple performance
Slight tweaks to the processor
For the 2017 model, Apple upgraded the MacBook Air to a 1.8GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor. Previously, the CPU speed was at 1.6 GHz. Also, the Air got double the memory from 4GB to 8GB.
It’s isn’t a huge upgrade per se, as it’s still the fifth-generation processor of the 2015 edition. Some of the best laptops in the Philippineshave either an eighth or seventh-gen processor. Apparently, the MacBook Air leaves much to be desired in comparison to laptops with updated tech.
But the processor nitty-gritty actually isn’t a big deal for casual users. If you’re switching from a Windows to a Mac laptop, you’ll notice the big difference in terms of speed.
The MacBook Air starts up and shuts down in seconds. Multi-tasking on this device is a seamless experience—no lags when you split your screen between multiple browser tabs and a high-res YouTube video. The Air handles web browsing, social media app use, video streaming, photo editing, and working on documents and spreadsheets at ultrafast speeds.
128GB/256GB storage options
For light to medium document work and browsing-only usage, the 128GB hard drive is good enough. But if you’ll store a lot of heavy files (like high-res images, videos, and music), go for the larger 256GB storage.
Integrated graphics and video support
The MacBook Air relies on an integrated Intel HD Graphics 6000 card, which means it isn’t designed for demanding games in high-quality settings. At 25 frames per second, it barely reaches the 30 fps threshold for smooth gaming.
For heavy gaming, video editing, graphic design, and other graphics-intensive tasks, the Xiaomi Mi Notebook Air—with its powerful dedicated graphics card—is a good alternative to consider.
The lowest-priced Mac notebook
If you’re on a tight budget and getting a Windows laptop isn’t an option, the MacBook Air is the most affordable Apple laptop you can get. It’s the cheapest way to experience macOS High Sierra on a Mac.
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The 2017 MacBook Air may not be the best Apple laptop there is, but it still provides great value with its long-lasting battery power and affordable cost. You’ll get the best experience at a reasonable cost for everyday tasks that don’t hog resources, like emailing, web surfing, and working on documents.
International tech reviews about the latest iteration of the MacBook Air all echo the same thing: the outdated laptop lacks the wow factor of its same-priced competitors.
But we beg to disagree—the MacBook Air remains relevant even in this age of bezel-less, Ultra HD screens and eighth-generation processors.