The mid-2015 13.3in MacBook Air model
|Also known as||Mac Air|
|Retail availability||January 29, 2008|
|Discontinued||October 27, 2016(11" model)|
|Sound||Internal speakers and microphone|
|Power||45W MagSafe2 AC|
The MacBook Air is a line of Macintosh subnotebook computers developed and manufactured by Apple Inc. It consists of a full-size keyboard, a machined aluminum case, and a thin light structure. The Air is available with a screen size of (measured diagonally) 13.3in (29.46 cm), with different specifications produced by Apple, and as of 2011, all models use solid-state drive storage and Intel Core i5 or i7 CPUs. A MacBook Air with an 11.6in (23.78 cm) screen was made available in 2010 and was discontinued on October 27, 2016.
In the current product line, the MacBook Air sits below the performance-range of the MacBook Pro and compared to the MacBook Retina, its features reflect different priorities. The Air was originally released as a premium ultraportable positioned above the previous MacBook. Since then, the Air has become Apple's entry-level laptop due to the MacBook's discontinuation in 2011, as well as lowered prices on subsequent iterations.
Steve Jobs introduced the first MacBook Air during a speech at his keynote at the 2008 Macworld conference on January 15, 2008. The first-generation MacBook Air was a 13.3"-only model, initially promoted as the world's thinnest notebook. It featured a custom Intel Merom CPU and Intel GMA graphics. In late 2008, the CPU was updated to a faster, non-custom Penryn CPU and integrated Nvidia GeForce graphics while the hard drive capacity was increased and the micro-DVI video port was replaced by the Mini DisplayPort. A mid-2009 refresh, introduced alongside the MacBook Pro family, featured a slightly higher-capacity battery, and a faster Penryn CPU.
On October 20, 2010, Apple released a redesigned 13.3" model, with improved enclosure, screen resolution, battery, and flash storage instead of a hard drive. In addition, a new 11.6" model was introduced, offering reduced cost, weight, battery life, and performance relative to the 13.3" model, but better performance than typical netbooks of the time.
On July 20, 2011, Apple released updates to the 11.6" and 13.3" models of the MacBook Air, which also became Apple's entry-level laptops due to lowered prices and the discontinuation of the white MacBook around the same time. The mid-2011 MacBook Airs were powered by the new Sandy Bridge 1.6 or 1.7 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5, or 1.8 GHz dual-core Intel Core i7 processors, that came with an Intel HD Graphics 3000 processor, and with a backlit keyboard, two USB 2.0 ports, FaceTime camera, a standard of 2 GB of RAM (configurable up to 4 GB), Thunderbolt which shares function with Mini DisplayPort and Bluetooth was upgraded to v4.0. Maximum SSD flash memory storage options were increased up to 512 GB. The camera was upgraded to 720p FaceTime HD. Both 11" and 13" models had an analog audio output/headphone minijack (that also supports an iPhone/iPod touch headset with microphone), but only the 13" model had an integrated SDXC-capable SD Card slot. These models use a less expensive "Eagle Ridge" Thunderbolt controller that provides two Thunderbolt channels (2 × 10 Gbit/s bidirectional), compared to the MacBook Pro which uses a "Light Ridge" controller that provides four Thunderbolt channels (4 × 10 Gbit/s bidirectional). A USB ethernet adapter was immediately available upon release and a Thunderbolt-to-Firewire 800 adapter became available in mid-year 2012.
On June 11, 2012, Apple released an updated model in the same form factor as the prior model. The new model is powered by the new Ivy Bridge dual-core Intel Core i5 and i7 processors, doubles the RAM and SSD speeds, has the new USB 3 ports (with USB 2 capability) in place of the USB 2 ports and the new MagSafe 2 charging port.
On June 10, 2013, Apple released another update in the same form factor as the 2012 model during the company's Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC). The 11" and 13" models have a minimum standard 4 GB RAM, with a maximum configuration of 8 GB. Both models are powered by the Haswell ULT 1.3 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processors, with Turbo Boost up to 2.6 GHz, while a 1.7 GHz Dual-Core i7, with Turbo Boost up to 3.3 GHz, option is also available. Each model's storage standard is 128 GB SSD, upgradeable to 256 GB and 512 GB SSD. Due to Haswell CPUs, battery life has considerably improved from the previous generation, and the mid-2013 models are capable of 9 hours on the 11" model and 12 hours on the 13" model; a team of reviewers exceeded expected battery life ratings during their test.
While Apple's MacBook lines have been affected towards consumer trend to smartphones, they still managed to ship 2.8M Macs in Q2 2012, notably Air, compared to 500K total Ultrabooks, despite there being dozens of Ultrabooks from various manufacturers on the market while Apple only offered 11" and 13" models of it. While several Ultrabooks were able to claim individual distinctions such as being the lightest or thinnest, the Air was regarded by reviewers as the best all-around Ultrabook in regard to "OS X experience, full keyboard, superior trackpad, Thunderbolt connector and the higher-quality, all-aluminum unibody construction". The Air was among the first to receive Intel's latest CPUs before other PC manufacturers, and Apple OS X has gained market share on Windows in recent years. Through July 1, 2013, the MacBook Air took in 56% of all Ultrabook sales in the United States, despite being one of the higher-priced competitors. 
The MacBook Air is designed for thinness, and is also lighter than most competing models. The computer features a glossy LED backlit display and a full-size keyboard, as well as a large trackpad that responds to multi-touch gestures such as pinching, swiping, and rotating. With the release of Snow Leopard, the Air's trackpad also supports handwriting recognition of Chinese characters.
On the 11" Air, the left side of the computer has a MagSafe power connector, a USB port, a headphone jack, and a microphone. The right side of the computer has a USB port and a Mini DisplayPort, now sharing Thunderbolt function beginning with the 2011 model. On top of the screen bezel there is a webcam, first dubbed iSight and now the FaceTime camera.
The MacBook Air was the first subcompact laptop offered by Apple since the full-featured 12" PowerBook G4 was discontinued in 2006. It was also Apple's first computer with an optional solid-state drive. ArsTechnica found "moderate" performance improvements of the 64GB[note 1] solid-state drive of the first-generation Air over the standard 80GB hard drive in tests. On October 14, 2008, new models were announced with improved capacities of 128GB SSD and 120GB hard drive. For the late-2010 Air, only flash storage is available, in 64/128GB capacities on the 11" model, and 128/256GB on the 13".
The CPU in the first-generation MacBook Air was a custom Intel Core 2 Duo Merom that was 40% of the size of the standard chip package. For models of late 2008, the CPU was replaced with a low-voltage Penryn chip with 6MB of cache, running on a 1066 MHz bus.
Air components are officially non-user-replaceable, though third-parties do sell upgrade kits for the SSDs. The flash memory and battery are enclosed within the casing, with RAM soldered onto the motherboard. The flash memory, difficult to access, has a 128MB cache and a mSATA connection (updated to a proprietary PCIe interface) to the motherboard. The battery can be replaced using normal screwdrivers, though it is unclear whether this process does void warranty. As part of the warranty service, Apple can replace the battery for a fee.
Apple incorporated several features in the design of the MacBook Air, such as the reduction of lead to make it more environmentally friendly. The MacBook Air contains no BFRs and PVC wiring, meets Energy Star 5.0 requirements, has a recyclable enclosure, and is rated EPEAT Gold. Its display is made from arsenic-free glass, and contains no mercury. To reduce the computer's size and weight, several features were sacrificed. It was Apple's first notebook since the PowerBook 2400c without a built-in removable media drive. It also omits a FireWire port, Ethernet port, line-in, media card slots (except the 13" 2010 through 2015 models, which have an SD card slot), and a Kensington Security Slot.
To gain optical drive features, users could either purchase an external USB SuperDrive or other brand, or the bundled Remote Disc software, only for browsing or software installation to access the drive of another computer wirelessly that has the program installed. It can also be used to reinstall the system software from the included installation DVD. Remote Disc supports NetBooting, so the Air can boot from its installation DVD in another computer's drive, which requires Remote Install Mac OS X to be running on that computer. The software does not allow playback or information of DVDs, CDs or installing Windows. For these features, an external USB drive is required. More recent versions of OS X replaced the installation DVD with a USB flash drive containing the software, eliminating remote installation.
The 2010 models include two speakers for stereo sound while earlier versions have one speaker located under the keyboard. The 2011 model has a 1280×720 FaceTime HD Camera, replacing the previous 640×480 iSight camera. The 2012 model replaces USB 2 with USB 3, and uses the MagSafe 2 instead of the MagSafe connector for charging. The 2015 model updated the Thunderbolt port to Thunderbolt 2.
|Table of models|
|Late 2010||Mid 2011||Mid 2012||Mid 2013||Early 2014
|Model identifier||MacBookAir1,1||MacBookAir2,1||MacBookAir3,1 (11"), MacBookAir3,2 (13")||MacBookAir4,1 (11"), MacBookAir4,2 (13")||MacBookAir5,1 (11"), MacBookAir5,2 (13")||MacBookAir6,1 (11"), MacBookAir6,2 (13")||MacBookAir7,1 (11"), MacBookAir7,2 (13")|
|Model number (on underside)||A1237||A1304||A1370 (11"), A1369 (13")||A1465 (11"), A1466 (13")|
|Part number (Order number)||MB003LL/A||MB543LL/A, MB940LL/A||MC233LL/A, MC234LL/A||MC504LL/A, MC505LL/A, MC506LL/A, MC503LL/A||MC968LL/A, MC969LL/A, MC965LL/A, MC966LL/A||MD223LL/A, MD224LL/A, MD231LL/A, MD232LL/A||MD711LL/A, MD712LL/A, MD760LL/A, MD761LL/A||MD711LL/B, MD712LL/B, MD760LL/B, MD761LL/B||MJVM2LL/A, MJVP2LL/A, MJVE2LL/A, MJVG2LL/A, MMGF2LL/A (2016, 8GB, 128 SSD), MMGG2LL/A (2016, 8GB, 256 SSD)|
|N/A||11.6", native 1366 × 768 (16:9). Lower resolutions supported|
|13.3", native 1280 × 800 pixels (16:10). Lower resolutions supported||13.3", native 1440 × 900 (16:10). Lower resolutions supported|
(Shared with system memory)
|Intel GMA X3100 using 144 MB of DDR2 SDRAM with Micro-DVI output||Nvidia GeForce 9400M using 256 MB of DDR3 SDRAM with Mini DisplayPort output||Nvidia GeForce 320M using 256 MB of DDR3 SDRAM with Mini DisplayPort output||Intel HD Graphics 3000 processor using 256 MB (11" base model) or 384 MB (all other models) of DDR3 SDRAM||Intel HD Graphics 4000 processor with up to 1 GB DDR3 SDRAM shared from main memory||Intel HD Graphics 5000 processor with up to 1.5 GB LPDDR3 SDRAM shared from main memory||Intel HD Graphics 6000 processor with up to 1.5 GB LPDDR3 SDRAM shared from main memory|
|Front side bus/DMI||800 MHz||1066 MHz||800 MHz (11"), 1066 MHz (13")||Intel Direct Media Interface
|Intel Direct Media Interface
|Processor||1.6 GHz (L7500) or 1.8 GHz (L7700) Intel Core 2 Duo with 4 MB on-chip L2 cache||1.6 GHz (SL9300) or 1.86 GHz (SL9400) Intel Core 2 Duo with 6 MB on-chip L2 cache||1.86 GHz (SL9400) or 2.13 GHz (SL9600) Intel Core 2 Duo with 6 MB on-chip L2 cache||(11") 1.4 GHz (SU9400) Intel Core 2 Duo with 3 MB on-chip L2 cache
Optional 1.6 GHz (SU9600) Intel Core 2 Duo with 3 MB on-chip L2 cache
(13")1.86 GHz (SL9400) Intel Core 2 Duo with 6 MB on-chip L2 cache
Optional 2.13 GHz (SL9600) Intel Core 2 Duo with 6 MB on-chip L2 cache
|(11") 1.6 GHz (i5-2467M) dual-core Intel Core i5 with 3 MB shared L3 cache
(13") 1.7 GHz (i5-2557M) dual-core Intel Core i5 with 3 MB shared L3 cache
(Higher-End 11" & 13") Optional 1.8 GHz (i7-2677M) dual-core Intel Core i7 with 4 MB shared L3 cache
|(11") 1.7 GHz (i5-3317U) dual-core Intel Core i5 with 3 MB shared L3 cache
(13") 1.8 GHz (i5-3427U) dual-core Intel Core i5 with 3 MB shared L3 cache
(Higher-End 11" & 13") Optional 2.0 GHz (i7-3667U) dual-core Intel Core i7 with 4 MB shared L3 cache
|1.3 GHz (i5-4250U) dual-core Intel Core i5 with 3 MB shared L3 cache
Optional 1.7 GHz (i7-4650U) dual-core Intel Core i7 with 4 MB shared L3 cache
|1.4 GHz (i5-4260U) dual-core Intel Core i5 with 3 MB shared L3 cache
Optional 1.7 GHz (i7-4650U) dual-core Intel Core i7 with 4 MB shared L3 cache
|1.6 GHz (i5-5250U) dual-core Intel Core i5 with 3 MB shared L3 cache
Optional 2.2 GHz (i7-5650U) dual-core Intel Core i7 with 4 MB shared L3 cache
||2 GB of 667 MHz DDR2 SDRAM||2 GB[note 2] of 1066 MHz DDR3 SDRAM||2 GB of 1066 MHz DDR3 SDRAM
Optional 4 GB
|2 GB (11" base model; Optional 4 GB) or 4 GB of 1333 MHz DDR3 SDRAM (all other models)||4 GB of 1600 MHz DDR3L SDRAM Optional 8 GB||4 GB of 1600 MHz LPDDR3 SDRAM Optional 8 GB (8 GB standard for the 13" version since April 19, 2016)|
|Storage||80 GB 4200-rpm 1.8-inch PATA HDD or 64 GB SSD||120 GB 4200-rpm 1.8-inch SATA HDD or 128 GB SSD||64 (MC505LL/A) or 128 GB (MC506LL/A) (11"), 128 (MC503LL/A) or 256 GB (MC504LL/A) (13") SSD||64 GB (11") SSD
128 GB (11") SSD Optional 256 GB upgrade
128 or 256 GB (13") SSD
|64 GB or 128 GB SSD (11") Optional 256 GB or 512 GB upgrade
128 or 256 GB SSD (13") Optional 512 GB upgrade
|128 GB or 256 GB PCIe-based SSD Optional 512 GB upgrade|
|Video Camera||iSight (640 × 480)||FaceTime HD (720p)|
|Power Connector||MagSafe||MagSafe 2|
||Internal 802.11 a/b/g and draft-n||Internal 802.11 a/b/g/n (AirPort)||Internal Dual-Band 802.11 a/b/g/n (AirPort, Broadcom BCM43224 300 Mbit/s)||Internal 802.11ac a/b/g/n/ac compatible (AirPort, Broadcom BCM4360-based 867Mbit/s)|
|Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR||Bluetooth 4.0|
|Built-in infrared (IR) receiver for Apple Remote||N/A|
|Optional Apple USB Ethernet Adapter (Year 2008)||Optional Apple USB Ethernet 100Mbit Adapter||Optional Apple USB Ethernet 100Mbit Adapter Optional Apple Thunderbolt to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter
Optional Apple Thunderbolt to FireWire 800 Adapter
|Latest possible OS X version||OS X 10.7 "Lion"||OS X 10.11 "El Capitan" officially, macOS 10.12"Sierra" unofficially with Sierra Patcher(No-Wifi Though)||macOS 10.12 "Sierra"|
(removable lithium-ion polymer)
|N/A||35-watt-hour (11")||38-watt-hour (11")|
|37-watt-hour (13")||40-watt-hour (13")||50-watt-hour (13")||54-watt-hour (13")|
|Battery cycle count ||300||500||1000|
|Unit weight||N/A||2.38 lb (1.08 kg) (11")
2.96 lb (1.34 kg) (13")
|3.0 lb (1.36 kg)|
|Dimensions||N/A||11.8 in (30 cm) wide × 7.56 in (19.2 cm) deep × 0.11 in (0.3 cm) to 0.68 in (1.7 cm) high (11")|
|12.8 in (33 cm) wide × 8.94 in (23 cm) deep × 0.16 in (0.4 cm) to 0.76 in (1.9 cm) high (13")||12.8 in (33 cm) wide × 8.94 in (22.7 cm) deep × 0.11 in (0.3 cm) to 0.68 in (1.7 cm) high (13")|
|Peripheral connections||1× USB 2.0||2× USB 2.0||2× USB 3.0|
|1× 3.5 mm headphone jack|
|Micro-DVI video port
DVI-D/VGA adapter included
|1× Mini DisplayPort video port||1× Thunderbolt port||1× Thunderbolt 2 port|
|N/A||1× SD card slot (13" only)|
Comparison with iPad and netbooks
Although the 11" Air is only slightly lighter than the 13" Air, the biggest difference is the footprint which gives each model a distinct category; the 13” Air is much closer in size to most other conventional laptops, while the 11” Air is almost small enough to fit in a space that can hold an iPad.
Since 2011, the MacBook Air and iPad have supplanted the netbook as a computing device of choice between a smartphone and a full-fledged laptop. The 11" MacBook Air carried the desirable essential attributes of a netbook, but without the drawbacks of a slower processor and less capable operating system , albeit at a higher price. At the high end of the performance spectrum of Apple's compact computing devices, the 11.6" MacBook Air has revolutionized ultra-light portables with a traditional keyboard and display, which made fewer performance sacrifices albeit at considerably higher production cost. At the low end, Apple introduced the iPad—a different form factor than the netbook, but with improved computing capabilities and lower production cost. Both of these led to a decline in netbook sales, and most PC manufacturers have consequently discontinued their netbook lines in response. Capitalizing on the success of the MacBook Air, Intel promoted Ultrabook as a new high-mobility standard, which has been hailed by some analysts as succeeding where netbooks failed.
Intel developed a set of specifications for the Ultrabook, a higher-end type of subnotebook produced by various PC manufacturers and usually running Windows. Competing directly with the Air, the Ultrabook is intended to reduce size and weight, and extend battery life without compromising performance.
The Air was among the first to receive Intel's latest CPUs before other PC manufacturers, and OS X has gained market share on Windows in recent years. Through July 1, 2013, the MacBook Air took in 56 percent of all Ultrabook sales in the United States, despite being one of the higher-priced competitors.  Apple has traditionally dominated the premium PC market, in 2009 having a 91 percent market share for PCs priced at more than $1,000, according to NPD, and Ultrabooks were an attempt by other PC manufacturers to move in on Apple's turf. While Apple's MacBook lines have not been immune to this consumer trend towards mobile devices, they still managed to ship 2.8 million MacBooks in Q2 2012 (the majority of which are the MacBook Air) compared to 500,000 total Ultrabooks, despite there being dozens of Ultrabooks from various manufacturers on the market while Apple only offered 11" and 13" models of the Macbook Air. Forrester Research analyst Frank Gillett attributes Apple's increased success in the enterprise market to the 2010 MacBook Air and the iPad.
While several Ultrabooks were able to claim individual distinctions such as being the lightest or thinnest, the MacBook Air was regarded by reviewers as the best all-around Ultrabook in regard to "OS X experience, full keyboard, superior trackpad, Thunderbolt connector and the higher-quality, all-aluminum unibody construction".
The Microsoft Surface Pro has a similar size and price to the 11" MacBook Air; Apple CEO Tim Cook has criticized the Surface Pro and other Ultrabook hybrids running the touch-based Windows 8, that attempt to combine laptop and tablet functionality in one device, saying that such devices were confusing like trying to "combine a fridge and a toaster".
When released in October 2010, the 13" model's screen resolution was higher than the average 1366x768 screens of similar sized laptops. However, by mid-2013, with many premium Ultrabooks having high resolution screens (1080p or greater) as standard or upgrades, the MacBook Air has been increasingly criticized for sticking with a low-resolution screen. Many in the tech community had expected Apple to release a MacBook Air with Retina Display by mid-2013, similar to the MacBook Pro Retina which came out in 2012. The October 2013 refresh of the 13" MacBook Pro Retina, with a slimmer chassis and a lower price point, is mentioned as a potential MacBook Air alternative as the battery life is not much shorter while not being considerably bulkier. Apple released an entry-level version of the 13" MacBook Pro on October 27, 2016, which was specifically targeted towards MacBook Air users.
At the launch of the first MacBook Air in January 2008, Apple claimed it to be the thinnest laptop in the world. While this was true of laptops on sale at the time, the 2003 Sharp Actius MM10 Muramasas was thinner at some points than the Macbook Air, being 0.54 inches (14 mm) thick at its minimum. It, like the MacBook Air, was a tapered design, with a maximum height of 0.78 inches (20 mm)—slightly thicker than the MacBook Air. The Sony Vaio X505, released in 2004, had a minimum thickness of 0.38 inches (10 mm) and a maximum of 0.8 inches (20 mm).
Since the release of the first MacBook Air, other thinner laptops have been released, such as the Dell Adamo, launched in March 2009, which is a constant 0.65 inches (17 mm) thick. Apple subsequently removed "The world's thinnest notebook" from their marketing materials.
The 11.6" MacBook Air, introduced in October 2010, is only slightly larger and heavier (when closed) than the iPad 2. The 11.6" Air has been regarded as thin and light compared to other ultraportables, such as the Sony VAIO Z and the 11" Samsung Series 9.
Following its introduction, the MacBook Air was greeted with a mixed reception. The portability of the MacBook Air was praised in reviews, but the compromise in features was criticized. The full-sized keyboard, weight, thinness, and Multi-Touch trackpad were appreciated in reviews, while the limited configuration options and ports, slow speed (in non-SSD models), non-user-replaceable battery, small hard drive, and price were criticized. The flip-down hatch on the side of the original MacBook Air is a tight fit for some headphone plugs and USB devices, requiring users to purchase an extension cable. Apple removed the flip-down hatch on the late 2010 model in favor of open connection ports, as is the case with most other laptops.
Most of these problems have been dismissed by now, following many revisions and speed enhancements, and with the addition of more portability and ports.
Since the release of the first-generation product, some MacBook Air users have complained of CPU lockup caused by overheating. Apple released a software update in early March 2008 to fix the problem with mixed results: the deactivation of one CPU core was corrected; however, the runaway kernel problem remained for some users. The problem is aggravated by system-intensive tasks such as video playback or video chatting.
Due to a more mature manufacturing process, the CPUs in the second-generation MacBook Air perform better under load, as the first generation chips ran at a higher temperature—the processor needed to be throttled to avoid overheating and this further degraded performance.
On October 17, 2013, Apple announced a replacement program for the 64 GB and 128 GB MacBook Air flash storage drives that are installed in Air systems purchased between June 2012 and June 2013.
Timeline of the MacBook family
- In this article, the conventional prefixes for computer storage denote base-10 values whereby "kilobyte" (KB) = 103 bytes, "megabyte" (MB) = 106 bytes and "gigabyte" (GB) = 109 bytes.
- In this article, the conventional prefixes for computer RAM denote base-2 values whereby kilobyte (KB) = 210 bytes, megabyte (MB) = 220 bytes and "gigabyte" (GB) = 230 bytes.
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