Apple's lowest-cost notebook starting at $999, available with a 13-inch display.
At a Glance
- With the introduction of new MacBook Pro models on October 27, 2016, the MacBook Air lineup has been reduced to only 13-inch models that have not been significantly updated since March 2015. The ultra-portable notebook computers offer Intel Broadwell processors and Thunderbolt 2 connectivity. On April 19, 2016, the base 13-inch model was updated with 8GB RAM as a standard option.
- 13" screen sizes
- 1.6 or 2.2 GHz Broadwell processor
- Intel HD Graphics 6000
- 128, 256, or 512 GB SSD
- 8 GB RAM
- Starts at $999
13.3-inch with 1440 x 900 Display:
-$999: 1.6 GHz Core i5 & 128 GB storage
-$1,199: 1.6 GHz Core i5 & 256 GB storage
The MacBook Air
The MacBook Air, first introduced in 2010, was once Apple's thinnest and lightest notebook, a title that it lost to the 12-inch MacBook in 2015 and the MacBook Pro in 2016. As it's no longer Apple's most portable machine, the only title the MacBook Air can claim now is "most affordable" with prices starting at $999.
Apple's MacBook Air is at the end of its lifespan, kept in the Mac lineup as a low-cost option until the MacBook and the MacBook Pro are able to come down in price. The 11-inch MacBook Air has now been discontinued entirely, and while Apple is still keeping two 13-inch models available for purchase, we do not expect to see further updates to the machines.
At its recent October 27 event that saw the debut of the new MacBook Pro, Apple positioned the 13-inch MacBook Pro with no Touch Bar as a viable MacBook Air alternative. The new machine is 12 percent thinner than the MacBook Air and takes up 13 percent less volume, while offering more powerful internals and the same 3 pound weight.
The new MacBook Pro is priced at $1,499, however, a full $500 more than the entry-level MacBook Air. Until prices on new machines come down, Apple will likely keep the MacBook Air around for customers who want to get into the Mac ecosystem on a smaller budget.
Apple last updated the MacBook Air in 2015, aside from upping the base RAM in 2016. It continues to feature Broadwell processors and the same design that's been used for several years.
MacBook Air Design
The MacBook Air, made from silver aluminum, features a tapered design that's wider at one side and thinner at the other side. It only comes in one size (13 inches) following the discontinuation of the 11-inch model. It measures in at 12.8 inches long, 8.94 inches wide, and 0.68 inches tall. It weighs 2.96 pounds.
Apple's MacBook Air is now the only notebook the company sells that does not have a Retina display. Instead it continues to feature a standard display with a resolution of 1440 by 990.
Battery life on the MacBook Air is the highest of any Apple notebook, lasting up to 12 hours when using the web and 12 hours when watching iTunes movies.
The MacBook Air features one Thunderbolt 2 port, two USB 3 ports, a MagSafe 2 power port, an SD card slot, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. Other MacBook Air specs include 802.11ac Wi-Fi, dual microphones, stereo speakers, and a full-size backlit keyboard.
Because it wasn't updated beyond 2015, the MacBook Air uses a previous-generation Broadwell processor, 8GB of 1600MHz LPDDR3 RAM, and Intel HD Graphics 6000. It features an SSD that's configurable up to 512GB in the higher-end model.
Both stock configurations of the 2015 MacBook Air use a 1.6GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor, with Turbo Boost up to 2.7GHz. A 2.2GHz dual-core Intel Core i7 processor with Turbo Boost up to 3.2GHz is available on build-to-order models for an additional fee.
Geekbench benchmarks of the 2015 MacBook Air models suggest decent improvements over the previous-generation early 2014 and mid 2013 models, with score improvements generally in the 6-7 percent range. The high-end Core i7 chip does, however, demonstrate a 14 percent boost in multi-score benchmarks.
The fact that processor performance improvements are generally modest is not a surprise, as Intel's Broadwell and Haswell processors largely focused on improving battery life and efficiency. Though processor speeds are only moderately improved, graphics performance has seen a greater jump with Intel HD Graphics 6000.
The MacBook Air comes with up to 512GB of PCIe-based flash storage that is twice as fast as in the previous model, with an SSD test using Black Magic's Disk Speed Test revealing average read/write speeds of 629.9MB/s and 1285.4MB/s.
There are two 13-inch MacBook Air models that are available for purchase:
$999 - 1.6GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor, Intel HD Graphics 6000, 8GB RAM, 128GB flash storage
$1,199 - 1.6GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor, Intel HD Graphics 6000, 8GB RAM, 256GB flash storage
The entry-level MacBook Air with 128GB of storage has only a single custom configuration, which includes a faster 2.2GHz dual-core Intel Core i7 processor for an additional $150. The more expensive stock model with 256GB of storage has the same processor upgrade option, along with an available $200 option to increase storage to 512GB.
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.