Last updated on April 29.
At a Glance
Apple's 11 and 13-inch ultra-portable notebook computers received an update on April 29 with upgraded processors and reduced prices. A 12" Retina model is rumored for the fall.
- 11" and 13" Screen Sizes
- 1.4GHz Haswell Processors
- Intel HD Graphics 5000
- 128GB or 256GB SSD
- 4 GB+ RAM
- Starts at $899
11.6-inch with 1366 x 768 Display:
-$899: 1.4GHz Core i5 & 128 GB storage
-$1,099: 1.4Ghz Core i5 & 256 GB storage
13.3-inch with 1440 x 900 Display:
-$999 1.4GHz Core i5 & 128 GB storage
-$1,199: 1.4 GHz Core i5 & 256 GB storage
Current MacBook Air
Apple's 11 and 13-inch MacBook Air computers received a small spec boost on April 29, adding new Haswell processors with slightly updated speeds.
Though there are no other spec improvements, the new Haswell processors have brought a slight increase in battery life during iTunes movie playback, with the 11-inch model jumping from 8 to 9 hours of playback and the 13-inch model jumping from 10 to 12 hours.
Most notably, the new MacBook Air models have seen a price reduction, with the entry-level 11-inch version starting at $899 and the entry-level 13-inch version starting at $999.
Apple's MacBook Air is best known for its compact size and portability. The notebooks were last redesigned in 2010, and weigh just 2.38 pounds and 2.96 pounds for the 11-inch and 13-inch models, respectively.
Other MacBook Air specs include 802.11ac Wi-Fi, super fast PCIe-based flash storage, and integrated Intel HD Graphics 5000. The MacBook Air also features Mini DisplayPort output, a Thunderbolt port, two USB 3.0 ports, and an SDXC card slot. It has stereo speakers, a headphone port, dual microphones, and a full-size backlit keyboard.
As expected, Geekbench 3 benchmark tests have demonstrated that the 2014 MacBook Air has a slightly faster processing speed than the 2013 model. Apple only updated the low-end processor option for the MacBook Air and that is seeing 32-bit single-core scores around 2532 and multi-core scores around 4781. Compared to the 2013 MacBook Air the new processor brings just a slight boost in processing power. The 11-inch 2013 MacBook Air saw average scores of 2379/4480, while the 13-inch version saw scores of 2369/4468.
Initial SSD tests by Macworld have suggested, however, that performance is lower in the new models. The 2014 MacBook Airs tested demonstrated lower read/write speeds compared to their 2013 predecessors.
Further testing by OWC suggested the performance discrepancies were due to brand differences between the SSDs used in the new MacBook Airs, as the 2014 versions use the same drives as the 2013 versions. The SSDs come from a range of manufacturers, with some rating faster and some rating slower.
The entry level 11-inch MacBook Air can be upgraded with a 1.7Ghz dual-core Intel Core i7 processor and 8 GB of RAM. The more expensive 11-inch model has the same upgrade options, along with 512 GB of flash storage.
The entry level 13-inch MacBook Air can be upgraded with a 1.7GHz dual-core Intel Core i7 processor and 8 GB of RAM. The more expensive 13-inch model has the same upgrade options, along with 512 GB of flash storage.
How to Buy
The MacBook Air can be purchased from the online Apple Store, from an Apple retail location, or from select Apple Authorized Resellers. Currently, all models of the MacBook Air ship within 24 hours.
11 and 13-inch MacBook Air
It is unclear when Apple might launch a significant update to its existing MacBook Air lineup, as Intel's next-generation Broadwell chips are said to be significantly delayed and unable to ship until February of 2015.
A recent rumor has suggested that new 11 and 13-inch MacBook Airs with a redesigned chassis are in production for a launch later this year, but these may continue to use Haswell chips.
Apple is rumored to be working on a 12-inch MacBook with a new ultra slim design and a high resolution Retina display. The first hint of such a product appeared in October of 2013, with KGI securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo indicating the company would produce a 12-inch MacBook slimmer than even the existing MacBook Airs.
According to Kuo, such a product would boast the portability of the 11-inch model with the productivity of the 13-inch model, with a high resolution display and an improved clamshell structure. His reports were confirmed by NPD DisplaySearch, which indicated Apple was sourcing 12-inch displays for a MacBook Air.
The rumors were further enforced in March of 2014 with a second rumor pointing towards the same ultra thin 12-inch MacBook, which may come without a fan assembly for silent operation and with a revamped trackpad design that doesn’t incorporate a mechanical button.
A recent rumor that MacRumors believes carries some weight has suggested that Apple may launch the ultra-slim 12-inch MacBook in iPhone color variants, including Silver, Gold, and Space Gray. That same rumor points towards a possible mid-2015 launch, fanless internals with a Broadwell-Y low-power Core M processor, and the possible adoption of USB Type C. In Q4, Intel launched updated Core M processors possibly slated for use in the 12-inch MacBook.
While initial rumors suggested the 12-inch Retina MacBook might be released early in the fall, Broadwell chip delays may push back the device's launch date until 2015. Small quantities of the notebook are said to be already in productionRe/code has confirmed that the updated MacBooks will not make an appearance at Apple's October 16 event. Apple is said to be waiting on Broadwell chips from Intel before beginning production on the machine.
It is unknown how the Retina 12-inch MacBook will fit into the MacBook Air lineup, as Apple already produces 11 and 13-inch versions of the portable notebook. It is possible it will coexist with those products, but it could also replace one or both as the Retina MacBook Pro gradually replaced the standard MacBook Pro.