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MacBook Air Q&A - Published June 15, 2013

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What are all the differences between the "Mid-2013" MacBook Air models? Which is the best choice for my needs?

Apart from the obvious size differences, the "Mid-2013" MacBook Air models -- the MacBook Air "Core i5" 1.3 11" (Mid-2013) and the MacBook Air "Core i5" 1.3 13" (Mid-2013) -- are quite similar to one another. The custom configurations of each model, the MacBook Air "Core i7" 1.7 11" (Mid-2013) and MacBook Air "Core i7" 1.7 13" (Mid-2013), respectively, also are very similar to one another as well as the stock configurations.

However, there still are some notable external and internal differences as well as identification differences that are well worth reviewing.


Photo Credit: Apple, Inc. (Left - 11" MacBook Air, Right - 13" MacBook Air)

External Differences

Like earlier MacBook Air models, the "Mid-2013" systems use thin "wedge shaped" aluminum cases. Both systems are 0.11 of an inch at the front and taper to 0.68 of an inch at the rear, but the 11-Inch models are 11.8 inches by 7.56 inches when closed whereas the 13-Inch models are 12.8 inches by 8.94 inches when closed to accommodate the larger display. The 11-Inch models weigh 2.38 pounds and the 13-Inch models weigh 2.96 pounds. The 11-Inch model has a 11.6" 1366x768 display and the 13-Inch model has a 13.3" 1440x900 display. Although the displays are relatively high resolution for their physical size, they are a far cry from the 2560x1600 resolution provided by the 13-Inch Retina Display MacBook Pro models.

Each model has a full-size "chiclet-style" backlit keyboard, although the 11-Inch systems have smaller function keys with the power key integrated into the same row to save space, as well as glass "no button" trackpads with "inertial scrolling" support. Both likewise have integrated stereo speakers and an integrated 720p FaceTime HD webcam.

Connectivity Differences

Connectivity between the "Mid-2013" MacBook Air systems is the same with a single notable difference. Both models have 802.11ac Wi-Fi (which is backwards compatible with the earlier 802.11a/b/g/n standards), Bluetooth 4.0, one "Thunderbolt" port, dual USB 3.0 ports, an analog audio out port (that also supports the Apple iPhone headset with remote and microphone), and dual side mounted internal microphones. Both sizes also have a "MagSafe 2" power connector.

However, the 13-Inch models additionally have an integrated SDXC-capable SD Card slot, whereas the 11-Inch models do not. Neither system has Firewire, optical audio in/out, or Ethernet, although an external Apple Thunderbolt to Gigabit Ethernet adapter is offered for US$29. Neither model supports a remote via IR, either.

Identification Differences

The "Mid-2013" MacBook Air models share the A1465 and A1466 model numbers with earlier systems, so this identifier is not suitable for unique identification purposes. However, the EMC numbers -- 2631 and 2632, for the 11-Inch and 13-Inch models, respectively -- are specific to this line. As the site has uniquely done so for many years, EveryMac.com has painstakingly hand documented these details for your convenience.

The "Mid-2013" models also can be pinpointed by model identifier in software, and use MacBookAir6,1 for the 11-Inch models and MacBookAir6,2 for the 13-Inch models. To locate the model identifier, select "About This Mac" under the Apple Menu on your computer, click the "More Info..." button, and last click the "System Report" button.

Finally, EveryMac.com's Ultimate Mac Lookup feature -- as well as the EveryMac app -- additionally can uniquely identify the "Mid-2013" MacBook Air models by their serial numbers.

More information about specific identifiers is provided in EveryMac.com's extensive Mac Identification section.

Internal Differences

Internally, the "Mid-2013" MacBook Air models are quite similar. Both the 11-Inch and 13-Inch systems have standard dual core 1.3 GHz Core i5 "Haswell ULT" (I5-4250U) processors that support "Turbo Boost" up to 2.6 GHz and have 3 MB of level 3 cache. Both models also can be custom configured with a dual core 1.7 GHz Core i7 "Haswell ULT" (I7-4650U) processor which has 4 MB of level 3 cache and a maximum Turbo Boost speed of 3.3 GHz.

Regardless of processor, all "Mid-2013" models have an "integrated" Intel HD Graphics 5000 graphics processor that reserves 1 GB of system memory for video function.

Both systems also have 4 GB of 1600 MHz "Low Power" LPDDR3 SDRAM soldered onboard, which can be upgraded to 8 GB of RAM for an extra US$100, but only at the time of purchase. As first discovered by AnandTech, the "Mid-2013" models all have PCIe-based flash storage rather than SATA-connected storage like earlier Intel-based Mac notebooks. Specifically, these models use a custom Apple SSD design with a "PCIe 2.0 x2 interface, capable of a theoretical maximum of 1 GB/s in each direction." The Flash memory is not intended to be upgraded after purchase, but it is mounted on a removable module.

The lithium polymer batteries, which provide 38-watt hours for the 11-Inch models and 54-watt-hours for the 13-Inch models, are built-in and are not intended to be removed. The 11-Inch models provide an estimated 9 hours of "wireless web" use and 8 hours of "iTunes movie playback" whereas the 13-Inch models provide an estimated 12 hours and 10 hours of runtime for the same tasks.

By default, the 11-Inch models are offered with either 128 GB or 256 GB of storage and the 13-Inch models are offered with either 128 GB or 256 GB of storage. However, the higher-end MD712LL/A 11-Inch configuration and MD761LL/A 13-Inch configuration both can be equipped with 512 GB of storage at the time of purchase for an additional US$300. Site sponsor Other World Computing is hard at work to develop aftermarket internal storage options, as well.

Comparison Chart

The differences between the stock "Mid-2013" MacBook Air models -- size, display size, connectivity, configuration, and battery life -- are summarized below:

 
Mid-2013 11-Inch

Mid-2013 13-Inch
Processor Speed: 1.3 GHz* 1.3 GHz*
Processor Type: Core i5 (I5-4250U)* Core i5 (I5-4250U)*
Turbo Boost: 2.6 GHz* 2.6 GHz*
Shared L3 Cache: 3 MB* 3 MB*
On Package Interface: Yes Yes
Standard RAM: 4 GB 4 GB
Maximum RAM: 8 GB† 8 GB†
Internal Storage: 128 GB, 256 GB†† 128 GB, 256 GB††
Graphics Processor: HD Graphics 5000 HD Graphics 5000
Display Size: 11.6" Widescreen 13.3" Widescreen
Display Resolution: 1366x768 1440x900
Battery Life: 8-9 Hours 10-12 Hours
SDXC Card Slot: No Yes
Dimensions: .11-.68 x 11.8 x 7.56 .11-.68 x 12.8 x 8.94
Weight: 2.38 Pounds 2.96 Pounds
Order Numbers: MD711LL/A, MD712LL/A MD760LL/A, MD761LL/A
EMC Number: 2631 2632
Model Identifier: MacBookAir6,1 MacBookAir6,2
Intro Price: US$999, US$1199 US$1099, US$1299


* A 1.7 GHz Core i7 (I7-4650U) processor is available via custom order as a US$150 upgrade. This processor shares 4 MB of level 3 cache and provides a maximum Turbo Boost speed of 3.3 GHz.

† Both models can be upgraded to 8 GB of RAM as a US$100 option, but only at the time of purchase. RAM in all models is soldered in place and cannot be upgraded after purchase.

†† The higher-end MD711LL/A and MD761LL/A configurations can be equipped with 512 GB of storage at the time of purchase for an additional US$300.

So, which "Mid-2013" MacBook Air is the best choice for my needs?

The differences between the "Mid-2013" MacBook Air models are more minor than the differences between any previous MacBook Air models offered at the same time. As it always has been, though, MacBook Air systems are intended for those most interested in size and weight rather than performance, connectivity, or upgrades, and this has not changed. What has changed is that the "Haswell" architecture consumes far less power than previous systems and battery life has increased considerably as a result.

If size and weight are the most important criteria, along with battery life, a MacBook Air could be a great choice. Alternately, if higher performance, a higher-resolution display, additional connectivity, and/or upgrades are more important to you, a model from the MacBook Pro series would be a better choice.

Specifically for the "Mid-2013" MacBook Air models, should you decide that one of the systems meets your needs overall, EveryMac.com would recommend paying the US$100 to upgrade the RAM to 8 GB at the time of purchase as it is impossible to upgrade the RAM after purchase. Although purchasing this extra 4 GB of RAM is expensive compared to purchasing a notebook with RAM that can be upgraded later, the standard 4 GB of RAM will be inadequate for most users in two years if not sooner.

If you want the smallest, cheapest new Apple notebook, the 11-Inch MacBook Air is a good choice, particularly if your usage is rather basic -- word processing, e-mail, web surfing, music playback, and simple photo editing, for example. However, if price alone is your primary concern a used MacBook or MacBook Air would be cheaper, still.

For most users, however, the 13-Inch model is likely to be a better option as the size and weight difference are quite modest to gain a larger display that is better for multitasking. Although the 11-Inch and 13-Inch models provide basically the same performance, the 13-Inch model has better battery life and the useful SDXC card slot, too.

Site sponsor PowerMax sells new and used 11-Inch and 13-Inch MacBook Air models free of sales tax.

Please refer to EveryMac.com's Ultimate Mac Comparison feature to dynamically compare any MacBook Air model to any other Mac.


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