Apple's MacBook Air refresh may boost RAM, SSD specs

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
Apple's forthcoming refresh to its MacBook Air line may up the value proposition for customers through increases to the notebook's standard memory and storage components, in addition to the latest ultra-low voltage Sandy Bridge mobile chips, should checks within the company's supply chain prove accurate.



In a communication to AppleInsider on Thursday, Concord Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said his industry checks suggest Apple is no longer placing orders MacBook Airs with 2GB of RAM. Instead, those checks indicate that all new 11.6- and 13.3-inch models will include 4GB of RAM as standard, as it will improve performance of Mac OS X Lion, also due to ship on each model.



Similarly, Kuo cited the same checks in suggesting that Airs with just 64GB solid-state-drives may go away in favor of Apple shipping only 128GB and 256GB models as standard, given that the bulk of Apple's shipments have been for models containing those larger drives. Contrary to some reports, however, the analyst and proven insider said his checks indicate the SSD drives will remain pluggable, and won't be soldered to the logic board.



In terms of which Sandy Bridge CPUs Apple has chosen for the Air, Kuo pointed to three specific Intel ultra-low-voltage chips (comparison chart) that launched just last month as prime candidates based on his checks: the Core i5-2467M (1.6GHz), i7-2637M (1.7GHz), and i7-2677M (1.8GHz). Each of the chips consume only 17 watts, making them suitable for the slim design of the Mac Book Air, and support systems with up to 8GB of total memory.



While, AppleInsider cannot corroborate all of the aforementioned details, it relays the information given that Kuo has a respectable track record of producing accurate predictions for Apple's future hardware designs. For instance, he was the first to accurately predicted the launch of an 11.6-inch MacBook Air and iPod touch with camera last year, and this year followed up with accurate specifications for the iPad 2 and white iPhone 4 production, among other products.



For its part, AppleInsider has reported that the new Airs would mark the adoption of Sandy Bridge processors and Thunderbolt ports, as well as the return of backlit keyboards. It however warned on multiple occasions not to expect (1 ,2) the new Macs this week, despite continuous unsubstantiated claims published elsewhere on the web that have ultimately proven to be grossly inaccurate and overhyped.



Instead, Apple has been waiting for the release of Mac OS X Lion before issuing any new Mac hardware updates. As reported last month and reiterated this month, those updates will follow the launch of Mac OS X Lion in the coming weeks. Although Apple is believed to have had some ambitions of launching Lion this week, at least one person familiar with the matter said earlier in the week that last minute concerns with one of the system's new features (app Resumes) would likely cause a minor delay.







Meanwhile, Kuo in a report released this week confirmed a recent claim from AppleInsider regarding the return of backlit keyboards to the MacBook Air, saying Darfon will be "the sole source" supplying those components to Apple.



"We think Macbook Air is becoming more and more important for Apple and other notebook brand vendors will follow Apple's move (Intel called it Ultrabook)," he said. "Like iPhone and touch panel's story, Apple is redefining the notebook and we believe other brand vendors will follow Apple's design requirements so some components will benefit a lot from the trend such as metal casing, SSD, thermal module, slim hinge and backlight keyboard."



The redesigned MacBook Air launched last October with a thinner and lighter design and a new 11.6-inch model with a $999 entry level price. The major changes, including the adoption of only solid-state flash hard drives, took the MacBook Air from being a relatively niche product in Apple's lineup to one of its hottest selling Macs.



In particular, the sub-$1,000 11.6-inch MacBook Air was said to be a major hit with consumers for both its price and lightweight design. In the first quarter of availability at the end of 2010, Apple shipped more than a million of the new MacBook Airs, making it one of the company's most successful Mac product launches ever.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 87
    OMG. I want one now, if they offer the i7 and 256GB of storage. Losing the GeForce 320M kinda sucks, but the 4GB of RAM, if true, is the thing that would push me to upgrade.
  • Reply 2 of 87
    igazzaigazza Posts: 8member
    Lion needs 4GB.
  • Reply 3 of 87
    ssquirrelssquirrel Posts: 1,196member
    The big question is how will prices change with this. The C2D is a dirt cheap chip and I'd wager Apple is making quite the profit on each MBA. I mean, it's Apple, we all know they make bank on everything they sell If they can bump to 128/256GB SSD and 4GB RAM w/i5 and i7 processors w/o changing their price points, that will be very nice indeed
  • Reply 4 of 87
    mcarlingmcarling Posts: 1,106member
    It doesn't take genius to figure out that Apple are moving to 4GB minimum for all new Macs and that 64GB is not very useable.
  • Reply 5 of 87
    11.6 screen, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD at $1,299 if they maintain current price points. I would love to take this baby home !!!
  • Reply 6 of 87
    mcarlingmcarling Posts: 1,106member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleGreen View Post


    11.6 screen, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD at $1,299 if they maintain current price points. I would love to take this baby home !!!



    I don't think we'll see an 8GB option for the MacBook Air this year, but I could be wrong.
  • Reply 7 of 87
    applegreenapplegreen Posts: 421member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mcarling View Post


    I don't think we'll see an 8GB option for the MacBook Air this year, but I could be wrong.



    I hope you are wrong. RAM prices have fallen quite a lot in the last year. You can now get an 8GB RAM kit (2x4GB) for the MacBook Pro's for $50. My hope is that Apple will pass on the savings to us. And, I believe the processors can support up to 8GB.
  • Reply 8 of 87
    It would be really awesome if a 256GB option was available on the 11-inch. I can fit everything onto 128, but realistically my storage space would be somewhere between 128 and 256. That's the one thing I've been thinking about in preparation for my first Air.
  • Reply 9 of 87
    djintxdjintx Posts: 454member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by igazza View Post


    Lion needs 4GB.



    I show 2GB of ram to be the requirement. I'm sure it runs better on 4, and probably even better with 8, but it only needs 2GB.



    Likewise, if Lion runs poorly on 2GB, there are going to be many many Mac Users, including myself, that are very upset. I am not at all interested in upgrading my Ram, so hopefully this won't be the case.
  • Reply 10 of 87
    ktappektappe Posts: 759member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleGreen View Post


    >Won't see 8GB option

    RAM prices have fallen quite a lot in the last year. You can now get an 8GB RAM kit (2x4GB) for the MacBook Pro's for $50. My hope is that Apple will pass on the savings to us. And, I believe the processors can support up to 8GB.



    Not sure it's a matter of price so much as space and power usage. The Air already needs some help in the battery life dept, and adding 8Gb to it will not help.
  • Reply 11 of 87
    mcarlingmcarling Posts: 1,106member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleGreen View Post


    I hope you are wrong. RAM prices have fallen quite a lot in the last year. You can now get an 8GB RAM kit (2x4GB) for the MacBook Pro's for $50. My hope is that Apple will pass on the savings to us. And, I believe the processors can support up to 8GB.



    Going from 2GB to 4GB at the base price is already passing on the savings to us. If you really need 8GB, either wait for the 2012 models (at which time I expect 8GB to be a BTO option for the MacBook Air) or get a MacBook or MacBook Pro.
  • Reply 12 of 87
    I'm due for a refresh but can't live with the low res on the 13.3 screen. I wish they put a higher pixel density panel in the higher end MBA...
  • Reply 13 of 87
    gustavgustav Posts: 823member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mcarling View Post


    It doesn't take genius to figure out that Apple are moving to 4GB minimum for all new Macs and that 64GB is not very useable.



    64GB is very usable if you don't do media work.
  • Reply 14 of 87
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,215member
    128GB SSD at a minimum would make me very happy.



    4GB of RAM standard would also make me happy.



    Thunderbolt would make me go bonkers!
  • Reply 15 of 87
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,495member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ktappe View Post


    Not sure it's a matter of price so much as space and power usage. The Air already needs some help in the battery life dept, and adding 8Gb to it will not help.



    And how did you come to the conclusion that the Air needs help in the battery department? From personal use? My late 2010 MBA goes and entire day (8+ hours) at the office on a single charge. Do you own one? I'd like to see a Window's-only laptop go that long.



    Now, if you were implying that you want the MBA to go 24+ hours on a single charge, well then of course I, along with everyone else, would love to see that but perhaps you're setting the bar a wee-bit too hight at the moment?
  • Reply 16 of 87
    tcphototcphoto Posts: 65member
    Apple offering a 13.3 MBA with i7, anti glare display, 256 SSD and capable of handling 8GB of RAM would be hard to resist.
  • Reply 17 of 87
    zunxzunx Posts: 620member
    Ultrabooks should be 400 to 600 g and as pocketable as possible (7-inch or so).
  • Reply 18 of 87
    mcarlingmcarling Posts: 1,106member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Gustav View Post


    64GB is very usable if you don't do media work.



    I don't do media work -- unless you count text with an occasional picture as media. There is no way I could work on a 64GB system with 10.6 Snow Leopard.
  • Reply 19 of 87
    brutus009brutus009 Posts: 356member
    Up next we have one 13.3" Late 2010 Macbook Air for sale with 4GB RAM and a 128GB hard drive. We're looking for a starting bid at $1200.



    ...



    Any takers? Anyone? Anyone at all? Please?!

    \
  • Reply 20 of 87
    mcarlingmcarling Posts: 1,106member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hmurchison View Post


    128GB SSD at a minimum would make me very happy.



    4GB of RAM standard would also make me happy.



    Thunderbolt would make me go bonkers!



    In that case, I expect 2011 to be the year in which you get exactly what you want from the MacBook Air.
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