New MacBook Airs: Pricing the top configuration

New MacBook Airs: Pricing the top configuration

Summary: Those looking to order a new MacBook Air must decide which size to buy, and that decision is affected by the price differences for many consumers.

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Apple introduced us to the next generation MacBook Air yesterday, and the refresh is relatively minor with updated processors. The two sizes offered remain the same: 11-inch for maximum portability and 13-inch for those wanting a bit more screen real estate. Both models ship with OS X Lion, also released yesterday.

Those looking to order a new MacBook Air must decide which size to buy, and that decision is affected by the price differences for many consumers. I checked out all of the prices for both sizes, and found surprisingly that once you start bumping up the configurations with better components the pricing becomes less of a factor. Only $50 separates the top-of-the-line 11 and 13-inch models with the same configuration.

Apple offers each size MacBook Air configured similarly, with the primary difference in the size of the SSD drive and system memory. The entry-level 11-inch model is only $999 which includes a Core i5 dual-core processor (1.6GHz), 64GB SSD, and 2GB of memory. The base 13-inch is priced at $1,299 which bumps the configuration to a 1.7GHz processor, 128GB SSD, and 4 GB of memory. The $300 price difference gets a decent hardware jump in addition to the bigger notebook with the larger display.

Those looking to pick up a MacBook Air cheaply will likely be looking at these base units, but surprisingly the price differential drops as you configure each model with better components. The 11-inch Air with the best hardware components offered is $1,649, which comes with a better processor (1.8GHz) and a 256GB SSD for maximum storage. That's a big price jump from the base unit.

When you max out the hardware on the 13-inch, pricing becomes less of a factor. The top-of-the-line 13-inch MacBook Air is $1,699 which gets you the same Core i7 processor (1.8GHz), 4 GB of memory and 256GB SSD. For some reason Apple prices the better processor on this model at $100 and at $150 on the 11-inch Air.

The bottom line is those looking to go cheap with a new MacBook Air will find the 11-inch to be the way to go, primarily because the processor and storage are more limited. Once you decide to bump either model up to better hardware components, pricing becomes much closer. At only a $50 difference for the top models, the decision becomes one purely of size and portability requirements. Apple reports 7 hour battery life on the 13-inch Air versus 5 hours for the 11-inch, so that should be factored into the purchase decision.

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Topics: Apple, Hardware, Laptops, Mobility

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29 comments
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  • RE: New MacBook Airs: Pricing the top configuration

    I don't think adding the 200 bucks for the extra RAM would be done by anyone... Don't buy memory from Apple, basically.
    jgpmolloy
    • RE: New MacBook Airs: Pricing the top configuration

      @john@... I think the memory is soldered in. If you want more you have to specify it in your original buy. No after market choice. Same with the SSHD
      mmarquis
      • More important than memory itself is that 5/7 hours are give for standard

        @mmarquis: ... configurations. Once CPU is boosted to hungry i7 and memory goes to 4 GB these 5/7 hours would probably turn into less.
        DDERSSS
    • RE: New MacBook Airs: Pricing the top configuration

      @john@... Except you have to if you want a Macbook Air, because it's freaking soldered onto the motherboard.
      Aerowind
    • RE: New MacBook Airs: Pricing the top configuration

      @john@... They do not allow you to upgrade the Base, you have to move from the $999 to the $1199 to go larger on SSD and then you get the RAM Upgrade anyway!

      I think I will grab a 13" C2D based Air because the performance to price isn't large enough for me even with the backlit keyboard!
      slickjim
      • RE: New MacBook Airs: Pricing the top configuration

        @Peter Perry They do (personally I would do it your way, adding RAM and not SSD isn't smart, but they do let you do it as a build to order option).
        jeremychappell
    • RE: New MacBook Airs: Pricing the top configuration

      @john@... It's $100 for the extra RAM (source: Apple's online Store).
      jeremychappell
  • RE: New MacBook Airs: Pricing the top configuration

    I went for the top 11". For me it is portability, and as you point out James, at that price difference that's all it is. (I didn't notice the price difference on the UK store as I'd made up my mind on the 11", upgrading from last years 2GB, 64GB model).

    Since setting up on my own and travelling all over the UK to see clients, I find the size perfect for working on small train and plane tables and don't feel I'm losing too much thanks to a decent screen res. It's great to just throw it in a man bag and not worry about the weight.

    Upgraded the SSD to allow plenty room for a virtualised XP for legacy software, offline Spotify playlists (Woot) and a few movies and TV shows for downtime. I did consider that most of my stuff is cloud based (Box.net, dropbox) and I could have managed fine with 128GB but it'll be good to not worry about space again, 64GB is just a bit too tight.

    Oh, and it'll be nice to have the backlit keyboard again.

    Excited to see what add ons Thunderbolt brings as well.

    @John, unfortunately with the Airs if you don't spec it at purchase time then there's no self upgrades later. 'As my old granny used to say, you buy cheap you buy twice'. ;-)
    gavmiller
  • RE: New MacBook Airs: Pricing the top configuration

    This article just gave me another reason not to buy a MBA, they are extremely overpriced.
    LoverockDavidson
    • RE: New MacBook Airs: Pricing the top configuration

      @LoverockDavidson Compared to what?
      gavmiller
      • RE: New MacBook Airs: Pricing the top configuration

        @gavmiller
        To most other notebooks
        LoverockDavidson
    • RE: New MacBook Airs: Pricing the top configuration

      @LoverockDavidson

      Please provide a laptop that is similar in specs, battery life, and dimension to the MBA and is cheaper.

      Gizmodo had an article about the closest windows based MBA competitor, was the same all around but cost $200 more and weighed a tad bit more.
      toltz
      • RE: New MacBook Airs: Pricing the top configuration

        @toltz
        No because there is no need. $1700 is still $1700 and that is entirely too much for a laptop.
        LoverockDavidson
      • RE: New MacBook Airs: Pricing the top configuration

        @toltz <i>Please provide a laptop that is similar in specs, battery life, and dimension to the MBA and is cheaper.</i><br><br>Problem is there is very rarely a machine from any manufacturer that is exactly the same.<br><br>Let me put it to you this way, Please provide an Apple laptop that is similar in specs, battery life, and dimension to the Samsung 350U2B and is cheaper. <br><br>You'll find some specs are close, some better, some worse. Use what fits your needs for Pete's sake, and stop turning it into a pissing contest.
        Badgered
    • RE: New MacBook Airs: Pricing the top configuration

      @LoverockDavidson They are pretty much on the money compared to other Tier 1 computer manufacturers. We pay similar prices for ThinkPads.
      jeremychappell
  • RE: New MacBook Airs: Pricing the top configuration

    I own both the 11" (for my daughter) and a 13". My only suggestion is to try typing on the 11" BEFORE you buy it. Cool computer (albeit expensive), but not AS comfortable to type on if you have normal to large hands.
    dr7
  • Any close rival to the MBA?

    I am not a tech guy, but I am quite tempted to get a baseline MBA (with RAM up to 4GB). But I have read posts that say I can get a PC laptop/netbook that have similar spec but lower price. Can someone give me a concrete example of such PC?

    (I need the computer for note-taking at lecture, and I highly highly highly value the (lack of) weight of the MBA, can any PC rival that?)
    qoheleth2
    • RE: New MacBook Airs: Pricing the top configuration

      @qoheleth2 <br><br>Well, I tried listing one that was somewhat similar, though the performance specs were better.. But ZDNet keeps deleting my post thinking I'm spamming. Let try this: There is a Samsung 350U2B at C D W dot c o m - C D W part number 2424989:<br><br>You'll probably need to check out the specs for yourself or my post will get deleted again. Let's just say it has a Core i5 2.3GHz processor vs 1.8GHz, 4GB RAM vs 2GB, 12.1" Screen vs 11.6, 500GB Hard Drive vs 64GB Flash storage and costs about 250 less. It weighs 3.1lbs vs 2.68, is 1.2" thick vs 0.68".<br><br>Now I don't know much about Samsung hardware... never used it... but that one should give you an idea.<br><br>However, if you prefer OS X to Windows, by all means you should get the Mac.
      Badgered
      • RE: New MacBook Airs: Pricing the top configuration

        @Badgered I'd not buy that with my own money... Lenovo X1 maybe ($1685)? But a Samsung? Not so much.
        jeremychappell
      • RE: New MacBook Airs: Pricing the top configuration

        @jeremychappell [i]But a Samsung? Not so much.[/i]

        You've used Samsung? What problems exactly did you see with their hardware?
        Badgered