Apple - Apple MacBook Air 13.3' 2016


Is the Apple MacBook Air still worth it in 2018?

Aprox. 928€

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You may have noticed that the last MacBook Air tested by dates from 2015. Very little updated, the iconic Apple ultraportable however knew a new version in 2016, exclusively on the technical sheet: slightly faster processor, larger amount of RAM ... A model that we decided to order and test, just to see if it still holds up. Sold around 1000 €, does the MacBook Air still carry the weight compared to the latest laptops under Windows 10, on paper better equipped and more licked in terms of design?

Our review


This good old MacBook Air, apparently unchanged since ... 2010! The ultraportable Apple is recognizable among a thousand and we almost understand why the Californian manufacturer has always refused to change its design. But in 2018, we must admit that some aspects are struggling to pass, including this huge frame around the screen. At the time of "thin bezel" and other "nano edge display", the screen borders of several centimeters undeniably have something of "retro". The screen occupancy rate is 73%, when it rises to 87% on a Dell XPS 13 or 83% on a MacBook Pro 13.

However, 8 years after its release, the look of Apple's ultraportable has surprisingly aged little and shows how far it was ahead of its time. The aluminum chassis impeccably holds the road, the Apple logo on the back is still as effective, while the flexible hinge offers a satisfactory opening angle.

The keyboard is still a little behind and can be found today. Its slightly too small keys thus entail a risk of regular typos. The race is however quite long, in any case much longer than on the last MacBook Pro or MacBook. He also remains the champion of backlighting, with no less than 16 different levels. If the touchpad can now seem a little tight in size, it remains very precise, pleasant to use and perfectly integrated into the chassis.

In terms of connectivity, the MacBook Air is not modern either, since there are two USB 3 ports, a Thunderbolt 2 port, an SD card reader, as well as a mini-jack combo jack. Note that the connection for the power supply is of the "MagSafe" type, with a magnetic attachment system to avoid the risk of tearing.

On the heating and noise side, the MacBook Air is an excellent student: after 1 hour of benchmark under Unigine Heaver, the temperature did not exceed 49.9 ° C at the front, just above the keyboard, and 40 ° C the back. But above all, the hot spots are very localized and the vast majority of the chassis stays cool. In these moments of solicitation, the fans start and hear each other clearly. However, we do not exceed 39 dB. The breath is rather diffuse, muffled and not very annoying.


Nothing new on the screen side of the MacBook Air, always TN type and brilliant. Its diagonal of 13.3 inches displays a definition of 1440 x 900 px, which is still sufficient for this format, even if, in 2018, it is very amazing to use a laptop at 1000 € displaying less than Full HD.

The display of this MacBook Air remains in any case very correct, but is far from achieving the excellence of other products stamped MacBook. Let's start by distributing some bad points: the weak contrast ratio of 600: 1 disappoints, just like the afterglow, which goes up to 22 ms. In addition, the presence of a TN panel results in far from optimal viewing angles, and the image will tend to particularly darken when viewed from below.

The color balance is a little more exciting, without being exceptional: we thus note a Delta E at 5 (difference between the actual colors and the colors displayed, considered to be very good below 3) and a color temperature set at 7,080 K, a figure fairly close to 6,500 K, which leads to a good balance between warm and cold shades. Finally, the gamma curve is very stable, a sign of good gray gradation.

In the end, the MacBook Air has a good screen, but which remains behind compared to what one can expect on an Apple computer in 2018, and its rating is found weighed down by the limited definition and the rate of contrast.


The configuration tested here consists of an Intel Core i5-5350U processor, 8 GB of RAM and a 128 GB SSD for storage. You may have noticed, but the differences with the previously tested model are rare: passing from 4 to 8 GB of RAM and very slight gain in processor frequency (the Core i5-5250U goes up to 1.6 GHz in frequency base, against 1.8 GHz for the i5-5350U). For the rest, we are still dealing with a 5th generation processor with 2 cores / 4 threads. A configuration that is therefore three generations behind the last ultraportables in Windows 10 released during the second quarter of 2018.

However, the performance of the MacBook Air remains satisfactory, provided of course that it is limited to office automation. The optimization of macOS has proven itself and we are faced with a very fluid and responsive operating system. Our performance index, based on a series of benchmarks (3D calculation, photo editing, audio and video conversion, file compression) is thus equal to the previous model. Despite its dated components, it remains a powerful and fairly versatile computer.

Mobility / Autonomy

Despite the weight of the years, the MacBook Air remains one of the most easily transportable laptops on the market. If its chassis would still benefit from being optimized, its fineness between 0.3 and 1.7 cm and its weight (1.35 kg) allow it to fit very easily in a medium-sized bag.

Its reputation as an ultra-enduring computer is not usurped, even if now many ultraportables in Windows 10 do as well, if not better. Surprisingly enough, moreover, our autonomy test for streaming video playback (Netflix in Safari, brightness at 200 cd / m², headphones plugged in and backlighting turned off) ran for 10.42 hours, while the previous model displayed 12.35 hours. In all cases, we remain at an extremely satisfactory level of autonomy.


Still very average, the MacBook Air speakers lack power, while the distortion remains quite annoying. The frequency response curve lacks balance, with a big dip in the midrange. Sufficient for voice (podcast listening, videoconferencing), but in the long run tiring for the ears, they somewhat seal the score for this part of the test.

Fortunately, the MacBook Air catches up on the headphone output (above), in every way excellent. The output power is very good and the distortion remains under control. Listening is very balanced.


To the question "should we buy a MacBook Air in 2018?", The answer is yes, but on the sole conditions of absolutely wanting a laptop running macOS and having a limited budget around € 1,000. Enduring, relatively efficient despite its dated technical sheet and with a design that is still valiant, the MacBook Air remains a good laptop. But for the same price, you can enjoy a Windows 10 laptop, more efficient and sexy. Or add a few hundred euros and leave with a MacBook Pro 13.