MacBook Air gets faster graphics, more storage

Peter Cohen, Macworld
15 October, 2008
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The MacBook Air will feature more storage capacity and faster graphics, Apple announced during a press event overnight at its US headquarters. The revamped versions of the smallest and thinnest laptop in Apple’s portable product line will ship in early November at a $2,899 entry price.

The graphics improvements are being ushered in by Apple’s switch to the Nvidia GeForce 9400M—the same core graphics chipset Apple is introducing to both its MacBook Pro and MacBook models. The Nvidia GeForce 9400M will be embedded on the computer’s motherboard, as was the Intel GMA X3100 graphics chipset it replaces. Despite that fact, Apple says the new graphics architecture in the Air promises four times the speed of the old system.

As for storage, the MacBook Air’s $2,899 configuration now includes a 120GB hard drive, up from the 80GB capacity of its predecessor. The hard disk is a Serial ATA (SATA) model, replacing the Parallel ATA (PATA) model of old. The $3,999 model replaces the 64GB solid-state hard drive with a 128GB SSD drive.

Despite the changes in graphics and storage, the processor speeds remain the same as in the current MacBook Air offerings—1.6GHz in the $2,899 configuration and 1.8GHz in the $3,999 model. However, the 2GB of memory that ship with the MacBook Air are DDR3 SDRAM running at 1,066MHz, compared to DDR2 SDRAM running at 667MHz in the current systems.

The new MacBook Air also replaces its Mini DVI video connector with a new “mini display port” that provides the same functionality using less space.

Otherwise specs in the revamped MacBook Air remain unchanged from the model introduced this past January. The laptop still sports a 13.3 inch LED-backlit display with 1,280-by-800 native resolution. The laptop still comes with built-in AirPort Extreme wireless networking and Bluetooth 2.1+EDR support, a single USB 2.0 port, and an audio out port, along with the mini display port.

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