MacBook Air (Mid 2011)

2010 11 inch MacBook AirApple made some significant changes with the Mid 2011 MacBook Air – adding Thunderbolt, moving from Intel Core 2 Duo CPUs to Core i5 (with an i7 option), switching from Nvidia GeForce graphics to Intel HD Graphics 3000, and bringing back the backlit keyboard that disappeared with the 2010 model.

The 11.6″ and 13.3″ models are far closer in specification this time, with the smaller MBA running a dual-core i5 at 1.6 GHz while the base 13-incher is a slightly faster 1.7 GHz. Both are optionally available with a 1.8 GHz dual-core i7.

The 2011 models use the same SSD modules as the 2010 models – as does the Mid 2011 Mac mini – which means there are already several upgrade options available. Kudos to Apple for sticking with the same type of SSD across two completely different product lines.

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As always, whatever RAM comes with your MacBook Air is what you’re stuck with; there is no upgrade option after the fact. That said, all but the US$999 entry-level 11-incher come with 4 GB of system memory, and the $999 model can be upgraded from 2 GB to 4 GB for just $100, which we strongly recommend.

The Mid 2011 MBA retains the two USB 2.0 ports (one on each side) the MBA gained last year, a huge improvement over the single USB port in pre-2010 editions.

The MBA has no built-in optical drive, but you can add an external USB 2.0 SuperDrive (only compatible with the MacBook Air) for US$79. Rather than include an install disc or flash drive, OS X 10.7 Lion includes a recovery partition.

A few things are missing. There is no FireWire port, although we may see Thunderbolt-to-FireWire adapters at some point. There’s no built-in ethernet port; if you need ethernet, Apple sells a USB 2.0 ethernet adapter for $29.

The MacBook Air is available only with an 18-bit glossy display (not the 24 bits you might expect). Like the iPod and iPhone, it does not have an easily replaceable battery. Cost to have Apple replace the battery out of warranty is $129.

13″ MacBook Air

Differences

The 13″ MacBook Air has an SD Card slot, and it uses a bit more system memory (384 MB vs. 256 MB) to display video on its larger built-in display.

13.3″ MacBook Air Specs

  • introduced 2011.07.20 at US$1,299 (128 GB SSD) and US$1,599 (256 GB), 1.8 GHz i7 option for 256 GB model
  • Part no.:

Mac OS

  • requires OS X 10.7 Lion or later
  • OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion compatibility
    • AirPlay Mirroring is supported.
    • AirDrop is supported.
    • Power Nap is supported.

Core System

  • CPU: 1.7 GHz Intel Core i5, 1.8 GHz i7 option
  • Level 2 cache: 3 MB in i5, 4 MB in i7
  • Bus: 1066 MHz
  • RAM: 4 GB
  • Performance:
    • Speedmark 6.5: unknown
    • Geekbench 2: 5860

Video

  • Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 3000, supports extended desktop.
  • VRAM: uses 384 MB of system memory
  • Video out: Thunderbolt (to 2560 x 1600 resolution)
  • display: 13.3″ glossy 1440 x 900 128 ppi color active matrix
    • supports 1440 x 900, 1280 x 800, 1152 x 720, 1024 x 640, and 800 x 500 pixels at 16:10 aspect ratio; 1024 x 768, 800 x 600, and 640 x 480 pixels at 4:3 aspect ratio; 720 x 480 at 3:2 aspect ratio
    • allows mirroring to external display and extended desktop mode

Drives

  • Hard drive: 128 GB solid state drive standard, 256 GB optional
  • SSD: uses same SSD modules as 2010 MacBook Air
  • SuperDrive: optional external USB 2.0 drive, requires high power USB port (only compatible with MacBook Air)

Expansion

  • Thunderbolt: 1 port
  • USB: 2 USB 2.0 ports
  • FireWire: none
  • Ethernet: optional USB-to-ethernet adapter
  • WiFi: 802.11n AirPort Extreme built in
  • Modem: No longer offered by Apple
  • Bluetooth: BT 4.0 built in
  • ExpressCard/34 slots: none
  • SD Card slot: yes
  • expansions bays: none
  • IR port: none

Power

  • battery: 50 Watt-hour, 7 hours of wireless productivity
  • AC adapter: 45W MagSafe

Physical

  • size: 8.94 x 12.8 x 0.11-0.68″ (227 x 325 x 3.0-17 mm)
  • Weight: 2.96 pounds (1.35 kg)

11.6″ MacBook Air Specs

  • introduced 2011.07.20 at US$999 (2 GM RAM, 64 GB SSD) and US$1,199 (4 GB RAM, 128 GB SSD), 1.8 GHz i7 build-to-order option for 128 GB model.
  • Part no.:

Core System

  • CPU: 1.6 GHz Intel Core i5, 1.8 GHz i7 option
  • Level 2 cache: 3 MB in i5, 4 MB in i7
  • Bus: 1066 MHz
  • RAM: 2 GB, expandable to 4 GB
  •  Performance:
    • Speedmark 6.5: unknown
    • Geekbench 2: 5040

Video

  • Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 3000, supports extended desktop.
  • VRAM: uses 256 MB or 384 MB of system memory
  • Video out: Thunderbolt (to 2560 x 1600 resolution)
  • display: 11.6″ glossy 1366 x 768 18-bit color active matrix
    • supports 1366 x 768, 1344 x 756, 1280 x 720, and 1024 x 576 pixels at 16:9 aspect ratio; 1024 x 768, 800 x 600, and 640 x 480 pixels at 4:3 aspect ratio; 720 x 480 at 3:2 aspect ratio
    • allows mirroring to external display and extended desktop mode

Drives

  • Hard drive: 64 GB solid state drive standard, 128 GB and 256 GB optional
  • SSD: uses same SSD modules as 2010 MacBook Air
  • SuperDrive: optional external USB 2.0 drive, requires high power USB port (only compatible with MacBook Air)

Expansion

  • Thunderbolt: 1 port
  • USB: 2 USB 2.0 ports
  • FireWire: none
  • Ethernet: optional USB-to-ethernet adapter
  • WiFi: 802.11n AirPort Extreme built in
  • Modem: No longer offered by Apple
  • Bluetooth: BT 4.0 built in
  • ExpressCard/34 slots: none
  • SD Card slot: none
  • expansions bays: none
  • IR port: none

Power

  • battery: 35 Watt-hour, 5 hours of wireless productivity
  • AC adapter: 45W MagSafe

Physical

  • size: 7.56 x 11.8 x 0.11-0.68″ (192 x 300 x 3.0-17 mm)
  • Weight: 2.38 pounds (1.08 kg)

Online Resources

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