2013 MacBook Air Battery Life vs. Windows 8 Ultrabooks

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 MacBook Air 2013 Battery Life vs. Windows 8 Ultraportables

If the new MacBook Air looks identical to its predecessor, then why is everyone making such a big deal about it? Because this ultraportable laptop beats the last Air and every Windows Ultrabook by a mile when it comes to endurance. Thanks to Intel's new 4th generation Core (Haswell) processor and a beefier battery on the inside, the new Air doesn't need an extended battery or slice to last all day on a charge. And we mean all day.

To test the new 2013 MacBook Air's staying power we ran the LAPTOP Battery Test, which uses a script to continuously surf more than 25 popular websites on 40 percent brightness. On this test, the Air lasted an epic 11 hours and 40 minutes. This runtime is just 20 minutes short of Apple's lofty claim, nearly 6 hours longer than the ultraportable category average (6:02) and close to 4 hours longer than the last Air (8:02). So how do Windows 8 machines stack up?

MORE: 10 Laptops with the Longest Battery Life

Among five 13-inch notebooks we've tested recently running Windows 8, none of them surpassed 8 hours with their standard batteries. In fact, when we tested the MacBook Air on 100 percent brightness, its 6.5 hours of battery life beat the Dell XPS 13 (5:50) and Acer Aspire S7 (4:10) with their standard batteries. And while we expect these and other laptops to improve once they're upgraded to Intel's latest Haswell chip, the first 4th gen Core Windows laptop also trails the Air by a wide margin.

The closest competitor to the 13-inch Air right now is the Sony VAIO Pro 13, which also uses Intel's Haswell CPU. To be fair, the Air packs a 1.3-GHz Intel Haswell Core i5 ULT processor, compared to a faster 1.8-GHz Core i7-4500U CPU inside the Sony we tested. On the LAPTOP Battery Test, the Pro 13 lasted 7 hours and 20 minutes, which is fairly good endurance when you consider that this notebook also features a touch screen.

Adding a sheet battery extends that runtime to a whopping 14.5 hours, but it also adds to the system's weight and $150 to the price. The Acer Aspire S7 offers a similarly awkward and pricey external battery that boosts that notebook's endurance, but we'd rather get great battery life without spending extra money or bloating the design.

The bottom line is that if you're going to carry a 3-pound laptop, you should be able to leave the charger behind and not even think about it. The new MacBook Air lets you do just that, and the Windows camp now has to play catch-up.


Author Bio
Mark Spoonauer
Mark Spoonauer, LAPTOP Editor in Chief
Responsible for the editorial vision for Laptop Mag and Tom's Guide, Mark Spoonauer has been Editor in Chief of LAPTOP since 2003 and has covered technology for nearly 15 years. Mark speaks at key tech industry events and makes regular media appearances on CNBC, Fox and CNN. Mark was previously reviews editor at Mobile Computing, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc.
Mark Spoonauer, LAPTOP Editor in Chief on
Add a comment
  • Seriously Says:

    This could be spun to suit any vendor - depends who has you on the payroll.

    The lower the CPU the better the battery life
    The lower the resolution of the LCD the better the battery life
    Even RAM would impact battery life

    And people get paid to write these reviews.

  • TJ Says:

    laptopmag is one of my favorite sites to browse the latest tech reviews, but not only is this article missing the price to performance ratio, its also pitting ivy ultrabooks against haswell air. You would have been better off comparing the new air to the old, I think you guys are trying to pick fun...

  • Danilo Says:

    One of my comments wasn't published: Sony Vaio Pro 13 weighs 2.34 lbs without and 2.98 lbs with sheet battery. MacBook Air 13 is 2.96 lbs. So, a PC with full HD touch screen gives 14+h of battery life, and Macbook Air gives 11+h of battery life in the same 3 lbs. How's that playing catch-up?

  • culebracut Says:

    The Air has a lower screen resolution. The Sony Pro 13 has full HD, so its going to draw more.

  • D Says:

    The duo 13 without any sheet battery beats the macbook air 13 and 11 hands down.

  • Danilo Says:

    And to get this straight, there's not really much catch up that needs to be played. As soon as Haswell PCs start coming out, the playing field will be level again. Sony, while it has always managed to squeeze that much battery life out of their flagships (think Z; I am still using a full voltage 13" laptop from mid 2009 which gives me ~5h on a charge with standard 6 cell battery in 3.3lbs; cpubenchmark.net tells me my laptop with Core 2 Duo P9700 with my 6GB of RAM is still comparable with ULVs of today, at least in per-core performance), is only the first to come out with it, and MacBook Air clearly cannot rival it in, at least, endurance/weight.

    I am actually hoping what Samsung releases today is a non-touchscreen ATIV Book 9 with 2560x1440 screen and at least 10h of endurance in sub-3lbs laptop: if so (and they put 8gb of ram in it), that'd be my next laptop :) Or, I might need to wait for the Zenbook Infinity, though I'd rather not have a glass laptop.

  • Harry Says:

    An important metric is missing; where are the street prices? What's the endurance bang for the buck? A Lamborghini is faster than a Camry, but by how many MPH/$?

  • Joe Says:

    But where is New Vaio Duo 13 in the comparison list??

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