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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  • purerice - Tuesday, April 29, 2014 - link

    You are right on the 2560x1600. Same with the Mac Mini, though I wonder if that is official or actual. I had an old PowerBook that listed 1600x1200 as maximum for external monitors, but hooked up 1920x1200 Dell monitor to it with no problems (got all 1920 pixels). Reply
  • solipsism - Tuesday, April 29, 2014 - link

    It's definitely official, but I'm sure you could hack it to support a higher resolution in some fashion, but it definitely won't support UHD 4K @ 60Hz. The MBAs doesn't have HDMI so you can't even get UHD 4K @ 30Hz from that port.

    I suppose we should ask if anyone was able to get UHD 4K @ 30Hz to work over TB1 on the MBPs? I think those 2012 MBPs also had the Intel 5000 iGPU.
    Reply
  • tecsi - Wednesday, April 30, 2014 - link

    [Double post--wasn't sure whether to,always post at end (probably best) or immediately after specific comment]

    Yes, but the Apple page also doesn't say rMBPs support 4K@60hz, and they do. The new OSX specifically talks about 4K support for rMBPs.

    So there is reason to believe that the MBAs will perhaps also support 4K.

    This would create an incredible 4K-ready installed base for Apple to sell a TB2 4K display into, which I suspect would be introduced at WWDC.
    Reply
  • solipsism - Thursday, May 01, 2014 - link

    There is still no TB2 so the bandwidth would be lacking for UHD@60Hz and since there is no HDMI port it's likely not going to be support except via a hack at 30Hz. Reply
  • tecsi - Wednesday, April 30, 2014 - link

    Yes, but the Apple page also doesn't say rMBPs support 4K@60hz, and they do. The new OSX specifically talks about 4K support for rMBPs.

    So there is reason to believe that the MBAs will perhaps also support 4K.

    This would create an incredible 4K-ready installed base for Apple to sell a TB2 4K display into, which I suspect would be introduced at WWDC.
    Reply
  • jcknows0 - Wednesday, April 30, 2014 - link

    You need TB2 for 4k@60Hz. Airs don't have this, even the updated ones. Reply
  • toyotabedzrock - Tuesday, April 29, 2014 - link

    I'm not sure this is a release related to the delay. It seems to be a way to just move old stock and make it so the broadwell announcement is about that chip in the mba and with a hires display only. Maybe as a pre back to school announcement so they move even more product with the upper middle class kids all begging mom and dad to get them a new mba and iphone. Reply
  • Steve Bischoff - Tuesday, April 29, 2014 - link

    It seems that with cheaper NAND these days Apple would give you a little more storage. When I had 128Gb it was sort of mildly irritating. Reply
  • tipoo - Tuesday, April 29, 2014 - link

    Yeah, if they can do this price drop it would seem they should have at least shot for 256GB minimum first. Reply
  • Tegeril - Tuesday, April 29, 2014 - link

    If they'd done that it'd be like two price drops in one. You are still saving $100 if you choose to go with the 256GB option. Reply

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