The Early 2015 MacBook Air (MBA) uses 5th-generation Intel Core processors and finally gains Thunderbolt 2.
The 5th-generation low-power Intel Core i5 and i7 processors include Intel HD Graphics 6000. The stock CPU is a 1.6 GHz Core i5 with Turbo Boost to 2.7 GHz, and the 11-incher can be configured with a 2.2 GHz Core i7 that has 3.2 GHz Turbo Boost. That should improve performance by nearly 50%!
The PCIe-based SSDs are up to 40% faster than SATA SSDs used in older Airs and about 17x as fast as a typical 5400 rpm notebook hard drive. 4 GB of system memory remains the norm; upgrading to 8 GB in the era of OS X Yosemite makes a lot of sense.
Unlike the new 12″ MacBook with its USB 3.1 and USB-C port, the Early 2015 Airs retain USB 3.0 support. USB 3.0 is over 10x as fast as USB 2.0 and has one-quarter the bandwidth of Thunderbolt 2, which is also included. Apple uses the same port for USB 2.0 and 3.0 to simplify things, while the standard in the PC world is separate ports for each protocol.
There’s also a 720p FaceTime HD webcam, and the MBA includes two microphones for improved sound pickup. The native screen resolution remains 1366 x 768. The keyboard is backlit so you can see the keys in even the darkest setting.
Apple offers a number of build-to-order options for the better model: Upgrade to a 2.2 GHz Core i7 CPU for $150, which should provide nearly 50% more power than the 1.6 GHz i5. You can double system memory to 8 GB for $100 more.
A few things are missing: The MBA has no built-in optical drive, but you can add an external USB SuperDrive for $79. There is no FireWire port, but that’s far less necessary with USB 3 and Thunderbolt 2. And there’s no built-in ethernet port; if you need ethernet, Apple sells a USB ethernet adapter for $29.
Closed Lid Mode: All Intel ‘Books support “lid closed” (or clamshell) mode, which leaves the built-in display off and dedicates all video RAM to an external display. To used closed lid mode, your ‘Book must be plugged into the AC adapter and connected to an external display and a USB or Bluetooth mouse and keyboard (you might also want to consider external speakers). Power up your ‘Book until the desktop appears on the external display and then close the lid. Your ‘Book will go to sleep, but you can wake it by moving the mouse or using the keyboard. The built-in display will remain off, and the external monitor will become your only display. Since all video RAM is now dedicated to the external monitor, you may have more colors available at higher resolutions. The MacBook Air is designed to run safely in closed lid mode, but if yours runs hot (perhaps due to overclocking or high ambient temperatures), you may want to open the lid when in closed lid mode: The screen will remain off and the computer will more readily vent heat from the CPU.
To resume use of the internal display, you need to disconnect the external display, put the computer to sleep, and then open the lid. This will wake up your ‘Book and restore use of the built-in display.
- introduced 2014.04.29 at US$899 (128 GB SSD) and US$1,099 (256 GB SSD), 2.2 GHz i7 $150 build-to-order option
- Part no.:
- Model no.:
- requires Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite or later
- AirDrop is supported.
- Power Nap is supported.
- CPU: 1.6 GHz Intel Core i5 (Turbo Boost to 2.7 GHz), 2.2 GHz i7 option (3.2 GHz Turbo Boost)
- Level 2 cache: 3 MB in i5, 4 MB in i7
- Bus: 1066 MHz
- RAM: 4 GB, 8 GB a $100 build-to-order option
- Performance (1.6/2.2 GHz):
- 64-bit Geekbench:
- Speedmark 7:
- Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 6000, supports extended desktop.
- VRAM: uses up to 1.5 GB of system memory
- Video out: Thunderbolt (to 2560 x 1600 resolution)
- display: 11.6″ glossy 1366 x 768 135 ppi color active matrix
- supports 1366 x 768, 1344 x 756, and 1280 x 720 pixels at 16:9 aspect ratio; 1152 x 720 and 1024 x 640 at 16:10 aspect ratio; 1024 x 768 and 800 x 600 at 4:3 aspect ratio
- allows mirroring to external display and extended desktop mode
- Hard drive: 128/256 GB solid state drive standard, 512 GB $300 option on 256 GB model
- SSD: PCIe-based
- SuperDrive: optional external USB drive, requires high power USB port
- Thunderbolt 2: 1 port
- USB: 2 USB 3.0 ports
- FireWire: via Thunderbolt adapter
- Ethernet: via Thunderbolt adapter
- WiFi: 802.11ac 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
- webcam: FaceTime 720p HD camera
- battery: 38 Watt-hour, 9 hours of wireless productivity
- AC adapter: 45W MagSafe 2
- 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)
- Thunderstrike Malware: Could It Still Be a Threat to Your Mac?, Low End Mac Tech Journal 2018.02.01. Malware secretly infects EFI. Which versions of macOS are safest?
- Protect your notebook against loss, theft, data loss, and security breaches, Charles W Moore, ‘Book Value, 2009.08.25. 10 percent of laptops are lost or stolen every year. Tips on preventing theft, securing your data, and recovering from a lost, stolen, or broken notebook.
- Optimized Software Builds Bring Out the Best in Your Mac, Dan Knight, Low End Mac’s Online Tech Journal, 2009.06.30. Applications compiled for your Mac’s CPU can load more quickly and run faster than ones compiled for universal use.
- Low End Mac’s Safe Sleep FAQ, Dan Knight, Online Tech Journal, 2009.06.15. What is Safe Sleep mode? Which Macs support it? How can you enable or disable it? And more.
- The Safe Sleep Mailbag, Charles W Moore, Miscellaneous Ramblings, 2009.06.15. Safe Sleep mode is enabled by default on modern MacBooks. How it works, and how to change how it works.
- Apple won’t ever make a Mac netbook, Dan Knight, Mac Musings, 2009.02.23. Netbooks are small, cheap, and underpowered. Apple should offer a subnotebook, but not something underpowered or cheap.
- Ubuntu Linux and Boot camp make it easy to create a triple boot Mac, Alan Zisman, Mac2Windows, 2008.12.24. Boot Camp makes it easy to install Windows on Intel Macs, and Ubuntu now makes it easy to install Linux to a virtual Windows drive.
- The ‘Better Safe Than Sorry’ Guide to Installing Mac OS X Updates, Charles W Moore, Miscellaneous Ramblings, 2008.12.16. Most users encounter no problems using Software Update, but some preflight work and using the Combo updater means far less chance of trouble.
- Software to keep your MacBook cool, Phil Herlihy, The Usefulness Equation, 2008.11.25. Heat is the enemy of long hardware life. Two programs to keep your MacBook running cooler.
- Kensington Ci95m Wireless Mouse: Great battery life, smooth performance, Charles W Moore, ‘Book Value, 2008.11.13. Kensington’s slim wireless mouse is well built, works smoothly, has great battery life, and avoids Bluetooth pairing and wake-up issues.
- Targus USB 2.0 High-Speed File Transfer Cable helps offset loss of FireWire, Charles W Moore, Miscellaneous Ramblings, 2008.11.10. Although it can’t replace Target Disk Mode, Targus’ $40 cable makes it easy to transfer files quickly between two Macs, two PCs, or one of each.
- A brief history of portable computing: From Dynabook to netbooks, Dan Knight, Mac Musings, 2008.11.06. 40 years ago Alan Kay dreamt of a two pound handheld computer. Portables have made a lot of changes since 1981, but haven’t yet matched the Dynabook.
- Debunking the Apple Tax, Frank Fox, Stop the Noiz, 2008.10.31. “…no one else is offering the quality of computer construction that Apple offers in the same price range.”
- One OS to rule them all, Frank Fox, Stop the Noiz, 2008.10.29. With Fusion or Parallels letting you run Windows at full speed, Mac OS X gives you the best of both worlds.
- How to clone Mac OS X to a new hard drive, Simon Royal, Tech Spectrum, 2008.10.07. Whether you want to put a bigger, faster drive in your Mac or clone OS X for use in another Mac, here’s the simple process.
- MacBook Air makes a convert, Alan Zisman, Zis Mac, 2008.09.24. Apple’s thin, light MacBook Air makes a great field computer for someone who already has a desktop system up and running.
- Tomorrow’s solid state drives and notebooks, Dan Knight, Mac Musings, 2008.09.04. Flash drives are great but have some shortcomings. Some thoughts on building better SSDs and notebooks to use them.
- Does running OS X system maintenance routines really do any good?, Charles W Moore, Miscellaneous Ramblings, 2008.08.26. Mac OS X is designed to run certain maintenance routines daily, weekly, and monthly – but can’t if your Mac is off or asleep.
- Tricking out your notebook for superior desktop duty, Charles W Moore, ‘Book Value, 2008.07.29. For desktop use, you don’t need to be limited by the built-in trackpad, keyboard, and display or a notebook’s compromised ergonomics.
- Free VirtualBox for Mac now a virtual contender, Alan Zisman, Mac2Windows, 2008.07.21. A year ago, the Mac version of VirtualBox lacked some essential features. Over the past year, it’s grown into a very useful tool.
- Win the depreciation game by buying on the low end, Charles W Moore, ‘Book Value, 2008.06.24. The worst depreciation afflicts high-end models. By buying a less powerful version, choosing certified refurbished, or picking up a used computer, you’ll come out ahead.
- SheepShaver brings Classic Mac OS to Intel Macs and Leopard, Alan Zisman, Mac2Windows, 2008.05.20. Mac OS X 10.5 doesn’t support Classic Mode. Neither does Leopard. But SheepShaver lets you emulate a PowerPC Mac and run the Classic Mac OS.
- Windows on Macs: Three paths for integration, Jason Packer, Macs in the Enterprise, 2008.05.14. Mac users have three routes for running Windows apps: Run Windows using Boot Camp or virtualization, or use a compatibility layer such as WINE.
- Apple design in the MacBook Air era, John Muir, My Turn, 2008.02.25. The MacBook Air represents Apple’s first fully new Macintosh design since the Mac mini was introduced, and it’s destined to shape the look of Macs to come.
- MacBook Air a compelling option for the true road warrior, Steve Watkins, The Practical Mac, 2008.02.22. Although it’s not intended as a desktop replacement and has a few shortcomings, the lightweight MacBook Air with its 13″ display could be the perfect field computer.
- Could a wireless dock be in the MacBook Air’s future?, John Hatchett, My Turn, 2008.02.11. The MacBook Air is too limited in terms of connectivity, but what if Apple thought outside the box and created a MacBook Dock that connected by WiFi?
- Is the MacBook Air this road warrior’s dream machine?, Andrew J Fishkin, Best Tools for the Job, 2008.01.24. A longtime ultraportable user and 12″ PowerBook G4 fan looks at the compromises in Apple’s lightweight notebook. Will it become his next ultraportable?
- The MacBook Air makes a statement, Frank Fox, My Turn, 2008.01.23. Apple’s MacBook Air isn’t designed to be all things to all users. It’s designed to tell the world “this is all I need when away from my desk.”
- MacBook Air: What do you do when there’s no WiFi?, John Hatchett, My Turn, 2008.01.22. Every modern PowerBook had ethernet and a modem, but how do you connect the MacBook Air when there’s no WiFi service?
- We need more than 2 USB ports in MacBooks, Dan Knight, Mac Musings, 2008.01.14. There’s something wrong when you can’t plug a flash drive, mouse, and printer into a notebook computer at the same time.
- MacBook Air (11-inch, Early 2015) – Technical Specifications