MacBook Air

From Mac Guides

Jump to: navigation, search
The late 2010 MacBook Air
Enlarge
The late 2010 MacBook Air

The MacBook Air ("MBA") is an ultraslim portable computer from Apple. First announced at Macworld San Francisco 2008, the first revisions, available only with 13.3 inch displays, ranged from 0.16 to 0.76 inches in thickness, which Apple reduced to 0.68 inches maximum in 2010. All revisions have LED-backlit displays, multi-touch glass trackpads, full-sized MacBook Pro-like keyboards (all backlit, except for Rev. D machines), non-swappable batteries, and built-in iSight. All MacBook Airs have aluminum cases. Over the years Apple has improved the MacBook Air's processor speeds, added memory and storage capacity, and added ports.

MacBook Airs have no user-swappable parts. Memory is soldered to the motherboard and cannot be upgraded. However, some third party companies (e.g. OWC) have developed upgrades for the hard disks and SSDs in MacBook Airs.

Contents

Major Differences Among Groups

MacBook Airs can be divided into three major groups:

  • Rev. A to C machines, which are all configured with a maximum of 2GB of RAM and 13.3 inch 1280x800 displays. These were the only MacBook Airs that could be configured with internal hard disks. Note that Rev. A may not support OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion).[1]
  • Rev. D and E machines with 11.6 inch 1366x768 displays.
  • Rev. D and E machines with 13.3 inch 1440x900 displays.

With their additional memory, ports, and performance, Rev. D and E machines are more popular as primary use notebook computers than prior revisions.

Rev. E (July 2011)

Apple introduced substantially improved MacBook Air models on July 20, 2011. The revised machines feature much better performing Core i5 processors with an option for Core i7. Apple opted to standardize the memory configuration for the entire range at 4GB with the exception of the base 11.6 inch model with 64GB SSD, which remains at 2GB. (There is a BTO option for 4GB.)

Apple upgraded the Mini DisplayPort to a Thunderbolt port. NVIDIA graphics circuitry is gone, replaced with integrated Intel HD 3000 graphics of roughly comparable performance, though without OpenCL support. The Rev. E MacBook Air has built-in firmware to install Mac OS X directly from Apple's servers (as well as via Remote Disc), so Apple no longer supplies a USB recovery key. The 256GB SSD becomes a BTO option on the 11.6 inch MacBook Air. Apple updated Bluetooth support to the 4.0 level. The backlit keyboard came back.

With the Rev. E improvements, Apple discontinued retail sales of the MacBook after its half decade run. The 11.6 inch MacBook Air is now Apple's sole entry-level portable Macintosh.

In early 2012, Apple began bulk educational sales of an ultra low-end specification 13.3" MacBook Air.

Specifications

Low-end 11.6"High End 11.6"Education Market Only 13.3"Low-end 13.3"High-end 13.3"
Price (USD) $999 $1199 $999 (min. qty. 5) $1299 $1599
Processor Intel Core i5 at 1.6 GHz (1.8 GHz Core i7 BTO option) Intel Core i5 at 1.6 GHz Intel Core i5 at 1.7 GHz (1.8 GHz Core i7 BTO option)
3 MB shared L3 cache (4 MB BTO option) 3 MB shared L3 cache 3 MB shared L3 cache (4 MB BTO option)
Memory 2 GB (4 GB BTO option) 4 GB 2 GB 4 GB
Storage 64 GB solid-state drive 128 GB solid-state drive (256 GB BTO option) 64 GB solid-state drive 128 GB solid-state drive 256 GB solid-state drive
Graphics Intel HD Graphics 3000
Media Boot from iCloud for Mac OS X recovery
Ability to "borrow" a Mac or PC's optical drive
USB SuperDrive accessory available for $99 US
Display 11.6" widescreen LED-backlit display at 1366 by 768 (16:9) 13.3" widescreen LED-backlit display at 1440 by 900 (16:10)
Ports Two USB 2.0, Thunderbolt, audio-out
Battery life Up to 5 hours Up to 7 hours
Wireless 802.11n and Bluetooth 4.0
Weight and Dimensions 2.38 lb (1.08 kg), 0.11 to 0.68 inches deep
11.8 inches wide, 7.56 inches broad
2.96 lb (1.35 kg), 0.11 to 0.68 inches deep
12.8 inches wide, 8.94 inches broad
Other Built-in FaceTime camera Built-in FaceTime camera
SD card slot

Rev. D (October 2010)

After nearly 18 months of waiting, Apple announced its first fully redesigned MacBook Airs in its "Back to the Mac" event in October, 2010. In addition to an updated, slimmer 13.3 inch model, Apple also released an even smaller and lighter 11.6 MacBook Air, the lightest and smallest Macintosh ever. Apple eliminated hard disks from all models, standardizing on SSDs across the range.

Apple added a precious USB 2.0 port and made them both easier to access. The backlit keyboard was gone, though. The 13.3 inch model acquired a memory card slot making it more attractive to photographers. Also, Apple boosted screen resolution on the 13.3 inch model to 1440x900, comparable to many 15 inch MacBook Pros.

In February, 2012, Apple released a firmware update for Rev. D MacBook Airs which added support for Lion Internet Recovery, a feature found in the Rev. E MacBook Airs upon their release. Lion Internet Recovery supports booting via an Internet connection to Apple's iCloud servers in order to restore Mac OS X 10.7 ("Lion"), even without startup media.

Specifications

Low-end 11.6"High End 11.6"Low-end 13.3"High-end 13.3"
Price (USD) $999 $1199 $1299 $1599
Processor Intel Core 2 Duo SU9400 at 1.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo SU9400 at 1.4 GHz (1.6GHz BTO option) Intel Core 2 Duo SL9400 at 1.86 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo SL9400 at 1.86 GHz (2.13 GHz BTO option)
3 MB shared L2 cache, 800 MHz frontside bus 6 MB shared L2 cache, 1066 MHz frontside bus
Memory 2 GB of 1066 MHz DDR3 SDRAM (4 GB BTO option)
Storage 64 GB solid-state drive 128 GB solid-state drive 256 GB solid-state drive
Graphics NVIDIA GeForce 320M graphics
Media Ability to "borrow" a Mac or PC's optical drive
USB SuperDrive accessory available for $99 US
Display 11.6" widescreen LED-backlit display at 1366 by 768 (16:9) 13.3" widescreen LED-backlit display at 1440 by 900 (16:10)
Ports Two USB 2.0, Mini DisplayPort, audio-out
Battery life Up to 5 hours Up to 7 hours
Wireless 802.11n and Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
Weight and Dimensions 2.3 lb (1.06 kg), 0.11 to 0.68 inches deep
11.8 inches wide, 7.56 inches broad
2.9 lb (1.32 kg), 0.11 to 0.68 inches deep
12.8 inches wide, 8.94 inches broad
Other Built-in FaceTime camera Built-in Facetime camera
SD card slot

Rev. C (June 2009)

Apple updated the MacBook Air at WWDC 2009 with swifter processors and more affordable pricing.

Specifications

StandardHigh End
Price (USD) $1499 $1799
Processor 1.86 GHz Core 2 Duo 2.13 GHz Core 2 Duo
Memory 2 GB of 1066 MHz DDR3 SDRAM (nonexpandable)
Storage 120 GB SATA hard drive, 4200 rpm (128 GB SSD BTO option) 128 GB solid-state drive
Graphics NVIDIA GeForce 9400M graphics

Rev. B (October 2008)

Apple refreshed the MBA with swifter NVIDIA graphics, cooler running and slightly swifter Intel Penryn processors, and greater mass storage choices. A Mac OS X software update added four-finger gesture support to the Revision B's trackpad. Outside the MBA remained the same with the exception of a Mini DisplayPort replacing the Micro-DVI port, and consequently display adapter cables were no longer standard issue.

Specifications

StandardHigh End
Product Number MB543LL/A MB940LL/A
Price (USD) $1799 $2499
Processor Intel Core 2 Duo SL9300 at 1.6 GHz (1.86 GHz BTO option) Intel Core 2 Duo SL9400 at 1.86 GHz
6 MB shared L2 cache, 1066 MHz frontside bus
Memory 2 GB of 1066 MHz DDR3 SDRAM (nonexpandable)
Storage 120 GB SATA hard drive, 4200 rpm (128 GB SSD BTO option) 128 GB solid-state drive
Graphics NVIDIA GeForce 9400M graphics
Media Ability to "borrow" a Mac or PC's optical drive
USB SuperDrive accessory available for $99 US
Display 13.3" widescreen LED-backlit display at 1280 by 800 (8:5)
Ports One USB 2.0, Mini DisplayPort, audio -out
Wireless 802.11n and Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
Weight and Dimensions 3.0 lb (1.36 kg), 0.16 to 0.76 inches deep
12.8 inches wide, 8.94 inches broad
Other Built-in iSight

Rev. A (January 2008)

Apple announced the MacBook Air to great fanfare in January, 2008, with the company marketing the MBA's thin shape and ability to fit inside an ordinary manilla envelope. The MBA's engineering was unquestionably advanced —Intel had to supply special Merom CPU packaging exclusively to Apple. (Apple has since wrestled with heat problems on the original MBA that have been tamed with firmware updates and operating system patches, albeit at the cost of some performance and battery life.) Some critics wondered whether "thin" was the answer to a question no one asked. Apple did not reduce the MBA's screen size (13.3 inch 1280×800, same as the MacBook but with LED backlighting) or keyboard (full size and nearly identical to the MacBook's), mocking Sony for having made those particular compromises in their TZ series notebook. However, Apple had to make some compromises to squeeze most of the MacBook experience into a dramatically slimmer package: smaller mass storage devices due to the 1.8 inch/5 mm internal form factor, one USB 2.0 port (which may require a third party extender cable for some devices), no FireWire, no built-in Ethernet port (Apple's USB Ethernet cable is a $29 option), no integral optical drive, no audio-in jack, a hard limit of 2GB of RAM (soldered to the motherboard), and a battery sealed internally like an iPod's.

For many owners the MBA is the ultimate second machine, the Mac to take on the road or out to the patio, although some owners use the MBA as their primary or even sole machine. Ironically one of the best MBA accessories is the iPod, particularly the bigger Classic models: MBA owners can use part of their iPod's storage to hold data files and less often used applications that may not fit on the MBA's integral mass storage device.

Apple's optional external USB SuperDrive is not generally compatible with PCs. For those buyers who didn't spend the extra $99, with the MBA Apple introduced a sharing program for Windows and Mac OS X called Remote Disc. Remote Disc allows MBA owners to access another machine's DVD-ROM drive over a network for data file access only, including for reinstalling Mac OS X on the MBA from scratch. (The MBA can boot wirelessly, supported by a nearby Mac or PC running Remote Disc.)

Specifications

StandardHigh End
Product Number MB003LL/A (BTO)
Price (USD) $1799 $3098 ($2598 beginning July 2008)
Processor Intel Core 2 Duo at 1.6 GHz (1.8 GHz BTO option) Intel Core 2 Duo at 1.8 GHz
4 MB shared L2 cache, 800 MHz frontside bus
Memory 2 GB of 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM (nonexpandable)
Storage 80 GB PATA hard drive, 4200 rpm (64 GB SSD BTO option) 64 GB solid-state drive
Graphics Intel GMA X3100 graphics processor with shared memory
Media Ability to "borrow" a Mac or PC's optical drive
USB SuperDrive accessory available for $99 US
Display 13.3" widescreen LED-backlit display at 1280 by 800 (8:5)
Ports One USB 2.0, Micro-DVI, audio-out
Wireless 802.11n and Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
Weight and Dimensions 3.0 lb (1.36 kg), 0.16 to 0.76 inches deep
12.8 inches wide, 8.94 inches broad
Other Built-in iSight

Links

See Also

<mrcomments> searchterm=MacBook Air </mrcomments>


Models with Intel processors

iMac | Mac Pro | Mac mini | MacBook | MacBook Air | MacBook Pro | Retina MacBook Pro | Xserve


Apple Laptop Models

PowerBook 603 | PowerBook G3 | PowerBook G4 (Titanium) | PowerBook G4 (Aluminum) | MacBook Pro | iBook G3 | iBook G4 | MacBook | MacBook Air