This morning Apple announced its 2014 MacBook Air refresh. With Intel's 14nm Broadwell SoC delayed, this mid-cycle update still uses Haswell ULT parts. The chassis and internal specs haven't changed, however the base CPU gets a slight speed bump. The 1.3GHz Core i5-4250U is replaced by a 1.4GHz Core i5-4260U. The extra 100MHz won't change much, you can expect a 0 - 3% increase in performance compared to last year's entry level model. The upgraded CPU option hasn't changed, and Apple continues to accept nothing less than Intel's HD 5000 (Haswell GT3) on any of its MBAs.

Apple 2014 MacBook Air CPU Comparison
  1.4GHz dual-core 1.7GHz dual-core
Standard On 11 & 13-inch MBA Optional on Both
Intel Model Core i5-4260U Core i7-4650U
Base Clock Speed 1.4GHz 1.7GHz
Max SC Turbo 2.7GHz 3.3GHz
Max DC Turbo 2.4GHz 2.9GHz
L3 Cache 3MB 4MB
TSX-NI No Yes
TXT No Yes
AES-NI Yes Yes
VT-x/VT-x EPT Yes Yes
VT-d Yes Yes
TDP 15W 15W
Processor Graphics Intel HD 5000 Intel HD 5000
GPU Clock (Base/Max) 200/1000MHz 200/1100MHz

The bigger news is that, hot on the heels of a solid financial quarter, Apple is dropping all MBA prices by $100. The entry level 11.6-inch system now starts at $899. I suspect Apple is making room for an eventual MacBook Air with Retina Display. That design is expected to be a launch vehicle for Intel's Broadwell, but it's unclear how Intel's 14nm delays will impact the schedule for that product.

2014 MacBook Air Refresh
  11.6-inch 11.6-inch (high-end) 13.3-inch 13.3-inch (high-end)
Dimensions
H: 0.11-0.68" (0.3-1.7cm)
W: 11.8" (30cm)
D: 7.56" (19.2cm)
H: 0.11-0.68" (0.3-1.7cm)
W: 12.8" (32.5cm)
D: 8.94" (22.7cm)
Weight 2.38 lbs (1.08kg) 2.96 lbs (1.35kg)
CPU 1.4GHz dual-core Core i5 1.4GHz dual-core Core i5
GPU Intel HD 5000
RAM 4GB LPDDR3-1600
SSD 128GB PCIe SSD 256GB PCIe SSD 128GB PCIe SSD 256GB PCIe SSD
Display Resolution 1366 x 768 1440 x 900
Ports Thunderbolt, 2x USB 3.0, headphone jack Thunderbolt, 2x USB 3.0, SD card slot, headphone jack
Networking 2x2:2 802.11ac 2x2:2 802.11ac
Battery 38 Wh 54 Wh
Price $899 $1099 $999 $1199

I was a fan of the 2013 MBA, and this price drop only makes the system more accessible. Unless you're holding out for a model with a Retina Display, the refresh is still a great buy.

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  • stacey94 - Tuesday, April 29, 2014 - link

    So you want 960x540 of working space?

    Apple will never go for providing a full 1920x1080 of area on a 13" screen....mainly for usability reasons. People would complain about everything being so small. I personally don't have an issue with it, but others do.

    It's an option on the 13" rMBP, but the default is still 1440x900.
    Reply
  • Tegeril - Tuesday, April 29, 2014 - link

    It's not an option on the 13" rMBP. That one has scaled "retina resolutions" up to 1680x1050. Only the 15" retina has a scaled resolution equivalent to 1920x1200. Reply
  • uhuznaa - Tuesday, April 29, 2014 - link

    I doubt that VERY much. Apple is doing the pixel doubling to keep the UI elements large enough. With 1728x1080 on a 12" screen you need to have really good eyes to work with this. This isn't "good", it's really bad.

    Yeah, geeks everywhere love more space for windows on the screen over everything, but Apple isn't primarily (if at all) catering for geeks. Even at the current resolutions the size of UI elements on the current MBA's screens borders on too small to be comfortable.
    Reply
  • Bkord123 - Tuesday, April 29, 2014 - link

    Great points! I didn't fully understand some of the conversation here and you cleared it up. That probably sounds sarcastic, but I'm being sincere. Thanks! Reply
  • solipsism - Tuesday, April 29, 2014 - link

    I'm not sure what you're doubting VERY much. You doubt Apple should do nothing with the resolution until it can double it, because the rest of your comment seems to agree with what I stated. Reply
  • uhuznaa - Wednesday, April 30, 2014 - link

    Yes, I doubt that Apple will go with a resolution of 1728x1080 on a 11/12/13" screen. The resolution will either be lower than that (to have UI elements that aren't microscopically small) or high enough to make scaling possible in a nice-looking way. What's so hard to understand about that? Apple did the same with the 13" MBP. Reply
  • solipsism - Wednesday, April 30, 2014 - link

    What I do get is why you say you doubt that and then repeat what I said. You are therefore not doubting me but agreeing with me. Reply
  • darwinosx - Tuesday, April 29, 2014 - link

    You presume they can't do both. The 13" retina is only marginally thicker than an Air with a smaller circumference and it does just fine. Reply
  • tecsi - Tuesday, April 29, 2014 - link

    Despite Apple's specs not mentioning this, will Intel 5000/TB2 port support 4K monitors?

    Sure hope so.
    Reply
  • solipsism - Tuesday, April 29, 2014 - link

    The new MBAs don't have TB2 and their Tech Specs page lists 2560x1600 as the max supported resolution on an external display. Reply

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