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Apple unveils new MacBook Air with Core i5, Thunderbolt

updated 08:45 am EDT, Wed July 20, 2011

MacBook Air 2011 update brings huge speed lift

Apple kicked off the launch of Lion Wednesday with a new version of the MacBook Air. The new version makes the leap to Intel's low-voltage Core i5 and i7 processors and is theoretically twice as fast as the Core 2 Duo systems they replace. They use Intel's much faster integrated graphics and, in some models, ship with as much as 4GB of RAM.

Thunderbolt makes its appearance on the Air for the first time and means that even an 11-inch Air can use very high-speed input, either for fast RAID drives or for the new Thunderbolt Display. It can even serve as a bridge for connections that have been off-limits to the Air in the past, such as FireWire or gigabit Ethernet.

A much-requested backlit keyboard makes its return on every model. Battery life is the same at five hours for an 11-inch system and seven hours for a 13-inch edition.

The 11-inch system starts as expected, with a 1.6GHz Core i5, 2GB of RAM, and a 64GB SSD for the same $999 as before. An upgrade to 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage boosts the price to $1,199. The 13-inch systems start at $1,299 for a 1.7GHz Core i5, 4GB of RAM, and a 128GB SSD, climbing up to $1,599 for 256GB of space. Either size of notebook can upgrade to the same 1.8GHz Core i7, and the 11-inch model can finally get a 256GB storage option.

All of the new MacBook Airs are available to order today at the Apple Store and will be in retail shops on Thursday.

By Electronista Staff


  1. macnnoel

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Feb 2005


    4GB of RMA


  1. Kees

    Junior Member

    Joined: Sep 2001


    intel graphics

    "They use Intel's much faster integrated graphics"

    faster than Intel's previous graphics chips, ok, but still much slower than the nvidia graphics chips in the previous model!

  1. Commodus

    Mac Elite

    Joined: Feb 2002


    Graphics are fine

    On the 'slow' graphics: actually, the Intel HD 3000 is about as fast as the 320M was -- and the new Air will still be faster because it's got a lot more heft behind it from the CPU.

  1. macnnoel

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Feb 2005



  1. vintagegeek

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: May 2007


    Not for Teens or College

    The MB Air is not a computer you buy for your teenager and certainly not for your college bound son or daughter. With no DVD/CD drive and barely any disk space for their songs, movies, games, etc it leaves only the MB Pro 13 inch. At $1200 plus taxes it is getting expensive. Effectively a 20% jump in price for an entry level portable. And the default hard drive on the MBP 13 inch is only 320 GB. Come on Apple. How cheap do you have to be. It should be at least 500GB.

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