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Which MacBook Air is best? We help you choose between the 11-inch or 13-inch MacBook Air 2013

Karen Haslam | June 28, 2013
This year's models are so similar in spec that it all boils down to weight, size and battery life. How do you decide which MacBook Air is for you?

Now that Apple has launched its 2013 MacBook Air the decision of which model to go for has become harder than ever. In the past it was a simple sacrifice or power and screen size for portability, but this year's models are so similar in spec that it all boils down to weight, size and battery life. There really is no other differentiator. In this article we will help you decide which MacBook Air will best suit your needs.

The new MacBook Air models look identical to last year's models, but on the inside they're very different to the 2012 MacBook Airs, boasting the latest Intel Haswell processor, new Intel HD Graphics and PCIe flash storage.

Aside from the screen size the specs for the four MacBook Air machines are pretty similar - all four share the same processor running at the same clock speed and all feature the same graphics. The only choice other than size is how much storage you want: 128GB or 256GB with both options available for each laptop.

In addition both the 11-inch and 13-inch versions of the 2013 MacBook Air laptops feature the same full-size, backlit keyboard, and both have a multi-touch trackpad (the one on the 13-inch is slightly larger). Both feature two USB 3.0 slots and one Thunderbolt.

Only the 13-inch model has an SDXC card slot so if you are an avid photographer that may make the decision for you.

In the case of previous generation MacBook Air specs the 11-inch model always required more of a trade in. Last year's entry-level model offered just 64GB storage for example and both 11in models had slower processors. The fact that the specs are now the same is great news for fans of the 11-inch MacBook Air because that model is not only faster than the 2012 model, it's almost as fast as the 13-inch MacBook Air, according to our Speedmark tests.

Somewhat surprising is the fact that we found the 13-inch MacBook Air to be no faster than last year's model - scoring the same Speedmark score. In fact in some of our tests the 2012 model actually beat the 13-inch 2013 model.

There's a good reason for this, the new Haswell processors are running at a slower clock speed than the previous machines - 1.3GHz compared to last year's 1.8GHz Ivy Bridge model.

However, it's key that despite the slower clock speed the new 1.3GHz Haswell chip matched the old 1.8GHz Ivy Bridge when it came to our speed tests. This is thanks to the new graphics and faster flash storage in the new MacBook Air, which Apple says is 9 times faster than that in the previous model, we found that a 6GB file transfer on the 13-inch model was 25 percent faster than last year and on the 11-inch MacBook Air it was 50 percent faster than last year's equivalent.


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