While the just-released new models of the don’t boast changes along the lines of dramatic battery life improvements of last year’s models (see “ ,” 10 June 2013), or much-desired Retina displays, they do feature small performance improvements and a $100 price drop across the board.
Both the 11- and 13-inch models have replaced last year’s 1.3 GHz Intel Core i5 processor with a 1.4 GHz Intel Core i5 (which jumps to 2.7 GHz via Turbo Boost). As far as we can tell, that’s the only functional change.
Interestingly, Apple now rates the 11-inch MacBook Air as being capable of up to 9 hours of iTunes movie playback (up from 8), and the 13-inch model as having up to 12 hours (from 10). Those numbers are higher than in last year’s models despite the battery technology remaining the same; the change is likely due to how Mavericks offloads more video processing to the graphics processing unit (see “,” 10 June 2013)
Optional improvements remain the same as before, so the with more storage (512 GB for $300 — available only for 256 GB base models), a faster 1.7 GHz dual-core Intel Core i7 processor (for $150, and Turbo Boost can kick it up to 3.3 GHz), and 4 GB more RAM to bring the total to 8 GB (for $100). Also remaining the same as last year’s models are the form factor, connectors, and Intel HD Graphics 5000 graphics processors.
But prices have dropped by $100, so the 11-inch MacBook Air now starts at $899 for 128 GB of flash storage and $1,099 for 256 GB of storage, while the 13-inch MacBook Air starts at $999 for 128 GB and goes to $1,199 for 256 GB.