This article originally appeared in TidBITS on 2014-04-29 at 8:05 a.m.
The permanent URL for this article is: http://tidbits.com/article/14716
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2014 MacBook Air Offers Better Performance for $100 Less

by Josh Centers

While the just-released new models of the MacBook Air [1] don’t boast changes along the lines of dramatic battery life improvements of last year’s models (see “Apple Releases Longer-lasting MacBook Air, Faster AirPort [2],” 10 June 2013), or much-desired Retina displays, they do feature small performance improvements and a $100 price drop across the board.

[image link] [3]

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 “Apple Previews OS X 10.9 Mavericks [4],” 10 June 2013)

Optional improvements remain the same as before, so the MacBook Air models can be configured [5] 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.

[1]: http://www.apple.com/macbook-air/
[2]: http://tidbits.com/article/13832
[3]: http://tidbits.com/resources/2014-04/MacBook-Air.png
[4]: http://tidbits.com/article/13835
[5]: http://store.apple.com/us/buy-mac/macbook-air