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
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)
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
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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  • robinthakur - Friday, May 2, 2014 - link

    As somebody looking to buy a MBA, I found the article really useful and interesting to read and relates to Apple's future roadmap, so it's not just PR, what the heck is your problem? In case you hadn't noticed, the readership of this site are discerning, not mindless, trolling shills like on Dailytech.
  • brookheather - Tuesday, April 29, 2014 - link

    UK prices have dropped £100.
  • k2_8191 - Tuesday, April 29, 2014 - link

    Japan prices have also dropped by about 10k yen.
    I believe this price drop is worldwide.
  • mr_tawan - Tuesday, April 29, 2014 - link

    Thailand price drop is ฿1,000 (~$30). Much less than in the US, probably because of the difference of exchange rate between now and the last time the price was cut.
  • gingofthesouth - Tuesday, April 29, 2014 - link

    New Zealand prices dropped between $190 and $250.
  • apertotes - Tuesday, April 29, 2014 - link

    I hope they never put a retina display on them. Battery is the most important attribute in these things. I just hope they upgrade both models to a 1080p nice IPS screen, with great colors and outdoors visibility.
  • solipsism - Tuesday, April 29, 2014 - link

    IPS is also a power hog compared to TN. I hope they put both an IPS and Retina display in the MBA in the next major update, which I think it most likely with a single 12" size. The 11" is just a too small, especially at a 16:9 aspect ratio and the 13" is now too close to the MBP after the MBP eschewed the HDD and ODD.

    But this is Apple so expect them to only do this when they can keep the battery life at least close to where it is now.
  • jcknows0 - Wednesday, April 30, 2014 - link

    As far as I understood it they were putting the IGZO Sharp based display thats in the current gen iPad Air to minimize power draw, thats also why the wait for Broadwell (fanless aside)
  • jeffkibuule - Tuesday, April 29, 2014 - link

    Doesn't want retina, but asks for 1080p screen. Do you not know what you want?

    Regardless, I suspect the reason they are shooting for a single size retina screen is to benefit economies of scale just a little bit more. 1 display size is cheaper than 2. I also expect them to use IGZO transistors to help with the power problem.
  • solipsism - Tuesday, April 29, 2014 - link

    In and of itself I don't see a conundrum with not wanting Retina but wanting 1080p. The pixel count for 1080p is definitely lower than what a Retina would be at the current size displays if we assume they'd do a pixel doubling like every other device that has gone Retina, but still high enough to be in the "good" category. That said, I think only going to 1080p because of pointless desire to have the same resolution from one Android phone to one's HDTV would be remiss, especially for a windowed OS. Going Retina with a pixel doubling when the technology allows it to happen without affecting mobility and longevity of use is the right way to go.

    1080p = 2073600 pixels (11.6" = 190 PPI)
    1080p (16:10 / 1728x1080) = 1866240 pixels (13" = 153 PPI)
    11" MBA = 1016064 pixels (135 PPI)
    11" MBA (Retina) = 4064256 pixels (270 PPI)
    13" MBA = 1296000 pixels (113 PPI)
    13" MBA (Retina) = 5184000 pixels (227 PPI)

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