MacBook Air (11-inch, early 2015) review

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The 11-inch MacBook Air, the smallest of all Apple Macs, received a modest update in spring 2015, at Apple’s Spring Forward launch event for the Apple Watch. Like its 13-inch counterpart (our 13-inch MacBook Air review is here), the little notebook computer gained a new Intel Broadwell-series processor and Thunderbolt 2 connectivity. But in contrast to the original-size MacBook Air with 13.3-inch screen, the entry-level Mac notebook keeps the same two-lane PCIe-attached flash drive as before.

In all other respects the Early 2015 MacBook Air is the same laptop as the last main refresh of October 2013. (Although there was a minor upgrade in April last year, when the main Intel processor received a running upgrade from 1.3 to 1.4 GHz.) Still, it remains a compelling deal: at £749 this is the cheapest Mac portable you can buy.

Apple also unveiled an entirely new laptop model in March – the ultra-slimline 12-inch MacBook – and updated the 13-inch MacBook Pro, as well as the 11- and 13-inch MacBook Airs. See also: Mac buyers’ guide 2015, MacBook laptop reviews, and MacBook Air vs MacBook Pro comparison review.

That means exceptional build quality and stunning looks, admittedly, but it’s hard not to be a little disappointed by the lack of change on these machines when the 12-inch MacBook got such a radical rethink. (Not everyone likes that radical rethink, of course. Read: Here’s why it doesn’t matter that the MacBook is expensive, underpowered and only has one port.)

We have the same sturdy yet lightweight chassis milled from solid aluminium, and an 11.6-inch TN LCD screen, which stands apart from all other Mac computers and displays – it’s the only 16:9 widescreen display in the range. All other Macs made in the past nine years have had 16:10 aspect ratio, a shape that’s more versatile for both productivity and entertainment.

Like the 13-inch, it has one USB 3.0 port on each side, plus MagSafe 2 and headset jack on the left; and Thunderbolt 2 port on the right. One minor difference in specification is the absence of an SD card slot, which can be found on the 13-inch MacBook Air.

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