Macbook Air - What to buy?



How’s things? I’m glad.

I may be in the market for a MacBook Air in the coming future, for such uses as sitting at work during my lunchbreak and wanting to get down to some writing, and other things that iPads have never felt satisfying at doing.

Whilst not generally keen on the thinner than reasonable mentality, I could at least see the usefulness in having an ultra thin notebook option, and this delivered in spades.

Beyond that initial brown paper bag unveiling, I really know very little about this machine’s lineage. For those who don’t know har har I’m looking at second hand, not new. As such, I suspect the battery may be an issue? Can they be user-replaced, or does that involve melting glue?

I wont need a high spec machine, nor a huge screen… really just want it to be more portable than the 2009 13" Macbook Pro that is our only other portable Mac at the moment.

What brilliant pearls do my fellow AppleTalkers have to offer on this? :slight_smile:





The MacBook Air series, since 2010, is actually a decent machine. Personally I think they entered their golden era from 2013 - some would suggest 2012, but I came across some issues with that model year (speaking personally at least), and the 2013 revision added PCIe based SSDs that improved the read and write performance over previous models.

Despite being a thinner machine, the batteries in these are easily replaceable. You remove the bottom cover (10x Pentalobe P5 screws), remove 5 Torx T5 screws from the battery, and disconnect the cable from the Logic Board. No glue, no heating, only simple screwdrivers are needed. It’s the same procedure for all models, from 2010 to 2017, both 11-inch and 13-inch. Adhesives were only introduced in the newest 2018 redesign.

Removing most components is that simple, especially on the 13-inch model. Once the Battery is removed, the Fan, Logic Board and I/O Board are only a few screws extra.

For a second-hand machine, a good condition 2013 to 2017 model is a reasonably safe bet. They’re new enough to still be well supported, and supplies of consumable components are still guaranteed for years to come - at least in the aftermarket, as Apple is narrowing the “Vintage” window a little (5 years from last date of manufacture), and although a 2017 battery is directly compatible with a 2013, due to internal policies they won’t sell you one. So essentially if you want support at AASPs and the Genius Bar, stick to a newer model if possible.

The 2017 model is the same as a 2015, even down to the same part numbers, motherboard identifiers, Intel CPU revision and the boards are directly interchangeable. The only differences are the i5 model received a bump in clock speed from 1.6GHz to 1.8GHz, and 8GB RAM was standardised across the range.

If possible, I’d aim for somewhere around a 2015 or newer.

That said, 2013 and 2014 models are also good machines, and it’s possible you may be able to find some better deals on them, being a somewhat older model. Just be aware that eventually when Apple soon stops servicing them, some DIY maintenance may be required when it comes time to replace batteries and the like.



Thank-you so much for that, @iMic :slight_smile:

DIY is no issue as long as there’s no glue. Just a mind-set I guess, but trying to make my mind do things it doesn’t want is just sometimes counter productive.

I’ll have a look around based on above.



some links, although I suspect you want older and cheaper (and configurable):

refurb MB
refurb MBA -



We have two 2015 MBAs. Both a 13 inch and 11 inch version. I love the size and weightof the eleven, but it’s screen is far too ordinary these days.
The 13 inch is the best all rounder, again the screen the only caveat compared with more modern computers, but good enough for purpose. I actually believe it is Apple’s most successful computer design. Most successful Apple computer really, and reached its pinnacle in the 2015-2017 model.

Apart from that, iMic has already done an excellent summary.

1 Like


eBay tells me - about $400 - $500 should get me something in the 2013 - 2015 range, either 11" or 13". That’s not unreasonable I guess. :slight_smile:

1 Like


I’ve been tempted by one at recompute, its a 2015 model. Alas I really need the money for other things.



Just sold a pair of 13" mid-2013 MacBook Airs on eBay in the low $400 - still a pretty capable machine given the age, but as they’re non-upgradeable I’d be suggesting you cough up a little extra and ensure you get 8GB RAM.

1 Like


Thanks for the additional comments, everyone. :slight_smile:

I’ll have to do some investigating RE screen specs… I’m not that fussy as the main purpose will be word processing and web browsing… that said, going backwards in resolutions can be harder to cope with than one may expect.

1 Like


The 13" screens are 1440 x 900 native, LED-backlit TN panels, so there’s more usable room compared to the older pre-Retina 13" MacBook Pro, which was 1280 x 800.

Opinions of the display vary from being fantastic to being considered a crime against nature, but I never had an issue with the MacBook Air display. The resolution is decent in a 13" form factor, and the usable viewing angles aren’t too bad, especially in a notebook computer where a user is primarily front-and-centre.

If you get the chance to see one up close, take a look at the screen and make your own call as to whether you like it or not, but I suspect it’ll be fine for its intended use.

Between the 11" and 13", I tend to agree the 13" is a far more usable machine. The difference in available screen space is certainly noticeable, but any increase in weight isn’t.



Definitely agree you should look for 8GB RAM if you can find one. :+1:

Those machines are GREAT. Some of the best Macs ever made for sure. I’d go for one with Thubderbolt 2 and MagSafe 2. Not sure what year that was off top of my head. @iMic will know if guess. :wink:

Also, you can boot the later ones from NVMe SSDs aftermarket too! You can get an adapter and a Samsung 970 Evo NVMe for peanuts, so look for a 8GB RAM / 128GB SSD model for best bang for your buck. The Apple SSDs are overpriced in machines with them.



MagSafe 2 was introduced with the Mid 2012, and Thunderbolt 2 was introduced with the Early 2015.

1 Like


Apologies for temp de-rail, but if such a product gets released, I’m thinking my next Macbook would be a 15" MacBook Air. Please Apple! My current and only computer is the mid-2017 13" MacBook Pro.



FYI all, there’s some refurbs of the current model on the online store for $1269, which includes 3yrs of ACL coverage these days…

1 Like


We only recently upgraded my Wifes 2011 MacBook Air 13 to a 2017 iMac late last year. I had the same machine myself for a while and I can confirm that it fits nicely in my A4 leather folio which was very nice. The screen res was a very nice step up from the non retina 13” machines and is still very usable even today. Hell it’s still better than some entry level Windows laptops today. They were both i5 with 4GB RAM and 256GB SSD, I had replaced the battery in her one about 12months ago and whiles it’s magsafe 1 which meant an extra charger floating around, it otherwise still performs very well for most day to day activities.

I’m still not quite sure what to do with it since despite being in excellent condition it’s really not worth very much so it sits and waits to find a use… just like the other two machines :stuck_out_tongue: