Battery Life

The MacBook Air sees no increase in battery capacity over the previous generation, as a result any improvement in battery life boils down to what we get from Ivy Bridge. I'm stuck rebuilding the battery life results database from scratch now that I've built a new suite of tests for OS X. I've run all three generations of 11-inch MacBook Air through the new suite but I don't have numbers for the older 13-inch MBAs unfortunately. As I mentioned in the rMBP review, the new suite is designed to give accurate data points at three usage models: one light, one medium and one heavy. The combination of all three should give you an idea of the behavior of these systems on battery.

Across the board battery life of the 13-inch MacBook Air is actually quite similar to the Retina MacBook Pro, just from a much smaller battery and without the variability introduced by the rMBP's discrete GPU. If anything the lack of a discrete GPU makes using the MacBook Air much simpler from a battery life perspective. As much as I love Cody Krieger's gfxCardStatus application, it's nice not having to keep an eye on it to see if something silly has triggered the dGPU.

Light Workload Battery Life

Under light usage the new 13-inch MacBook Air is easily able to meet Apple's claim of 7 hours of battery life. The 11-inch model does the same to its 5 hours rating, beating it by the same 30 minute margin as the 13.

Medium Workload Battery Life

The medium workload thins the herd a bit, with the 13-inch Air still coming out on top but at 5.35 hours. The 11-inch Air drops below 4 hours, which is an improvement over the previous two generations of 11-inch Airs. Once again we see an example of Ivy Bridge doing better than Sandy Bridge when it comes to mobile power usage.

Heavy Workload Battery Life

Under heavy load is really where we see Intel's 22nm process deliver the gold. Here both of the 2012 MacBook Air models do very well. With the 13-inch MBA significantly outpacing even the rMBP with its 95Wh battery, while doing the exact same amount of work.

The 13-inch MacBook Air continues to be Apple's best notebook for those who care about battery life. The 11 offers portability but you do take a significant hit in battery life.

Power Consumption & Thermals Final Words
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  • phillyry - Tuesday, March 26, 2013 - link

    Windows 8 is meant to be an OS for all. A hybrid OS, if you will.

    RT is not meant to be solely compared to iOS and Android, that's where Windows Phone 8 comes in. Hence, the name 'Phone' ascribing it to mobile (smartphones).

    The whole point of Windows 8 is to blur the lines between laptop and desktop and tablet. Microsoft sees an opportunity to capitalise on a market by creating a new way of computing. The lines between RT and Pro are meant to be blurred. That's the point. That's where all these class defining devices like the Transformer line or the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga come in. Microsoft wants you to rethink the PC in the 'post-PC' era. They want you to blend you laptop/desktop into your tablet. Or, better yet, buy a Surface.
    Reply
  • Spunjji - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    "Unlike other OEMs"

    This statement qualifies you as a troll. Good day, sir!
    Reply
  • Romberry - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    Bootcamp for running Windows results in a host of issues. (I can't speak to whether these same issues apply to Linux, but I expect they do.) Example: Battery life will decline by 20-40 percent.

    The issues aren't related to other OS's like Windows and Linux, they're related directly to Apple's implementation of..well...I'll let a commenter at Ed Bott's place spell it out: "they use an unoptimized BIOS software emulation for non-OS X operating systems, and as such, the drivers don't take advantage of a lot of PC standards like AHCI or full-speed PCI-e in anything except their own OS. The PnPID's that they use don't match generic hardware using the same vendor's chips so you need to get almost all drivers direct from Apple and they don't update them enough to make it worthwhile running Windows on their machines."
    Reply
  • KPOM - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    The current Boot Camp drivers enable AHCI.

    That said, If I'm an Apple customer, chances are pretty good I'd rather have them spend their time supporting OS X than Windows.
    Reply
  • ananduser - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    Apple's AHCI drivers are generic. Among laptop computers these drivers are very model specific, to the extreme; even between a single OEM's lineup these drivers differ. This is why bootcamp delivers battery penalties. Reply
  • KPOM - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    I didn't say Apple's drivers were optimized for Windows. I said that they enable ACHI. They are getting better, but they don't optimize all their drivers. There is nothing stopping the individual device manufacturers themselves from writing new drivers, but I'm guessing they have little incentive to do so, as well.

    Microsoft yesterday announced a brand new version of Office. However, they didn't announce a Mac version, instead offering a quick fix to make the current Mac version work with their cloud product. Office 2008 didn't even support VBA. They make Office for Mac available but don't optimize it for OS X. I don't blame them, since the Mac isn't a big market for them. Similarly, few people who buy Macs intend for them to be primarily Windows PCs. Apple adds Windows support to provide basic support for people who need to use Windows sometimes.
    Reply
  • tuxRoller - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    It can run Linux, just not always terribly easily. I even wonder if it gimps windows a bit.
    You see, I really wish another manufacturer would look at Apple and realize they can do the same thing (purely in terms of hardware). Nothing particularly innovative, and always just about the most conservative design one can imagine. However, they actually put together a good product (again, purely from a hardware perspective) that no one else seems to be able to match.
    Superb build quality, nicely spec'd internals, good screens, great battery life, good touchpad, decent keyboard, and the prices are quite reasonable. To anyone who doubts the later, here's a challenge: find a laptop that is as good as this Air (I haven't been able to find one yet at any price, but maybe there are some niche companies I'm not aware of). The one's that come closest, IMHO, are the lenovo X220/230, but while they have technically better screens (being ips), they are pretty low res. The HP Elitebooks offer some amazing screens but not so much battery life, price, or keyboard (IMHO).
    Anyways, despite making superb laptops, I will not purchase any Apple product. So, I am still waiting for an oem to realize that there is a market for really well made pcs, but they can't forget ANY of the formula above (Asus, I'm looking at you with your bleeding screens, and average battery life and ssd).
    Please Mister OEM-Man, let me give you my money:)
    Reply
  • MobiusStrip - Wednesday, July 18, 2012 - link

    First to be derided as a dumbshit? Reply
  • abrowne1993 - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    I know you did a prerelease review for the UX21A, but it'd be nice to have a full review of the shipping 13 inch model, especially since comparisons could be drawn to the new MBA now. I liked that the screens were compared in this review. Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    I'm working on the UX32 now, Jarred will be doing the final UX31A :)

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply

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