So good news first. Inevitably, the entire processor line-up for Apple’s 2010 MacBook family is Intel’s Ivy Bridge, which should see a moderate boost in CPU performance and battery life. The integrated HD 4000 graphics this brings over the previous generation of Intel chips is a far more significant upgrade, and means that - for the first time – integrated graphics will be adequate for a bit of 3D gaming.
RAM has also doubled, from 2GB on the base model to 4GB, and with the previous 4GB maximum raised to 8GB. This is about time, as Apple was one of the only manufacturers still selling a high-end laptop with as little as 2GB. No that the impact will be anything near as significant, but the DDR3 RAM is of a slightly faster variety too, 1,600MHz versus the previous model’s 1,333MHz. Just like its temporary memory, the maximum permanent storage capacity of the 2012 MacBook Air has doubled, from 256GB to 512GB of speedy SSD to keep you music and movies on.
The last but by no means least significant upgrade concerns connectivity, with the entire Macbook family finally converting to USB 3.0 for hooking up fast external storage and other high-bandwidth accessories. Since the new MacBook Air maintains its Thunderbolt connector, that makes Apple’s ultraportable the best-connected on the market along with the newly refreshed version of Sony’s VAIO Z.
All that goodness comes on top of a price drop of £100 compared to when the original MacBook Air 13 launched, making it a mighty fine Ultrabook competitor. However, we can’t help but be disappointed with the same 1,440 x 900 display. At the very least, Apple could have given us a 1080p screen option on its 13in model, something the aforementioned VAIO Z family has been offering for years. Even the lighter, thinner Samsung Series 9 900X3B offers a 1,600 x 900 PLS screen.
Also, with 1080p IPS Ultrabooks coming soon in the shape of the Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A and UX21A and others sure to follow, it could be said that Apple is once again falling behind the curve where hardware is concerned – a strange situation for the manufacturer of the laptop bearing the “world’s highest-resolution notebook display” (claimed by Phil Shiller in regard to the Retina MacBook Pro 15) to be in.