Apple MacBook Air (13-inch, Late 2010) review

Is Apple's latest 13in MacBook Air the best ultra-portable laptop ever? Read our review to find out.

Instead of a new Core i3 or i5 low voltage processor, the 13in Air uses a comparatively old 1.86GHz Core 2 Duo SL9400 low voltage processor. Although not as fast as the newer Core i3 and i5 chips, it's still more than fast enough for most tasks and is much, much faster than any netbook. However, it managed a relatively low overall score of 62 in our Windows benchmarks which we suspect is due to the meager 2GB of RAM fitted. Memory isn't user upgradeable, so if you want to fit the 4GB maximum, which we strongly recommend you do, you'll have to order it pre-fitted from Apple adding an extra cost of 80. 4GB should really be fitted as standard in a laptop at this price.

We suspect Apple has stuck with the older Core 2 Duo processors so it could continue to use Nvidia motherboard chipsets and the Nvidia GeForce 320M integrated graphics chip, which are more powerful than their Intel i3 and i5-compatible equivalents. Due to a legal dispute between Intel and Nvidia, there currently aren't any motherboard chipsets from Nvidia that work with the i3 and i5 processors.

We were pleased by the keyboard and touchpad. The keys are large and give plenty of feedback when pressed, so typing for long periods is comfortable. However, the keyboard isn't backlit like the keyboards on the previous Air and the MacBook Pro range, which will disappoint those who frequently work in dimly lit lecture halls and meeting rooms.

The touchpad is huge and supports several multitouch gestures, although these work best under MacOS X and not Windows. The buttons are built into the pad itself, but it still feels accurate to use, even when dragging and dropping icons, which hasn't been the case with touchpads from other manufacturers that have built-in buttons.