Frequently asked questions about the 2018 MacBook Air

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited November 2018
As it is with the Mac mini, our forums and email addresses are replete with questions about the MacBook Air. AppleInsider tackles a few of the topics, and tells you what you can expect when and if you buy one of the new machines.

MacBook Air on display at Apple's Tuesday reveal
MacBook Air on display at Apple's Tuesday reveal

The two Thunderbolt 3 ports will let me do what?

Thunderbolt 3 in the new MacBook Air in conjunction with the Intel UHD Graphics 617 can support one external display with 5120 x 2880 resolution at up to 60Hz or to two external displays with 4096 x 2304 resolution at up to 60Hz over Thunderbolt 3. There's also connecting high-speed RAID enclosures and the like.

Of course, like with the Mac mini and the MacBook Pro, you could always hang an external GPU off of it and have loads of displays.

Keep in mind, though, that one of these two ports needs to deliver power. Consider a dock of some sort, if you have a lot of things that need to be wired to the MacBook Air.

What about that headphone jack, it is a combo or optical one?

The jack is only a headphone jack. It is not a multi-function or optical jack. While the unit has three microphones built in, we don't recommend them for any heavy use. Instead, use USB, a dock, or an analog to digital converter of some sort.

Processor, heat, and fans?

The MacBook Air in all likelihood uses the i5-8210Y processor, or a very close derivative. This is an interesting choice, as the processor family is generally used fanless. At Tuesday's reveal, AppleInsider was told by Apple employees on the demo floor that the new MacBook Air was fanless.

However, the X-rayesque graphics that Apple used during the reveal on stage clearly has a fan. It remains to be seen how it will perform from a thermal standpoint versus the fanless installation in other products.

MacBook Air Fan location outlined in red
MacBook Air Fan location outlined in red


We'll be looking at this when we get our hands on the hardware.

What about the display?

The 13.3-inch LCD display on the new MacBook Air has a native resolution of 2,560-by-1,600 pixels, with scaled resolutions of 1680 x 1050, 1440 x 900, and 1024 x 640.

However, the display does not support the P3 wide color gamut, like the MacBook Pro does. It does have a wider color range than the previous MacBook Air, with Apple claiming that it supports "48 percent more colors than the previous generation."

What this means in practice, we're not sure yet.

Can I hook up Apple's Thunderbolt display?

Sure can. Apple's Thunderbolt 2 to Thunderbolt 3 adapter is all you need. In fact, you can daisy-chain a pair of them to that connection, if you want, but we suggest you use the Thunderbolt 2 female connections with your own cable to do so, as the existing one that's hardwired is too short for good placement in most installations.

You won't get power back to the MacBook Air from the display, so you'll still have to tackle that somehow.

Can I use the USB-C iPad Pro as an external monitor for the MacBook Air?

This is still more about the iPad Pro than the Mac mini, but let's address it anyway.

You can't plug in a USB-C to USB-C cable with no other software to do so at present, no. USB-C to DisplayPort or HDMI is a specific "alternate mode" negotiation, and it would require additional software at a minimum and hardware more likely in the iPad Pro to allow this.

There are always software options like Duet Display that benefits greatly from a high-speed wired connection like USB-C will provide, or wireless solutions like AstroPad's Luna Display to do this.

But what about...

We're still getting a lot of questions about the new machine. As we collect questions, and gather answers, we'll update accordingly.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 14
    How does the footprint compare to the old 11 inch MacBook Air?
    curtis hannahbaconstang
  • Reply 2 of 14
    Which has a more powerful processor, this new air or the base MacBook?
  • Reply 3 of 14
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,339administrator
    Which has a more powerful processor, this new air or the base MacBook?
    Hard to tell right now. It looks like the MacBook Air will deliver better speeds because of the more recent generation, plus superior cooling system versus the MacBook. That, and the T2 handles HEVC decoding and encoding, so that's an additional bonus.
    etorsten
  • Reply 4 of 14
    ...I will be curious to see the multi-core benchmarks vs the 2.2 i7 of the prior model...?
    baconstang
  • Reply 5 of 14
    Is it possible to change the SSD (with a greater one) if you have the right tools to open the MacBook Air?
    Or is it impossible to open the new case?
  • Reply 6 of 14
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,339administrator
    etorsten said:
    Is it possible to change the SSD (with a greater one) if you have the right tools to open the MacBook Air?
    Or is it impossible to open the new case?
    It's possible to open the case, but impossible to change the SSD or the RAM.
    edited November 2018 etorsten
  • Reply 7 of 14
    etorsten said:
    Is it possible to change the SSD (with a greater one) if you have the right tools to open the MacBook Air?
    Or is it impossible to open the new case?
    It's possible to open the case, but impossible to change the SSD or the RAM.
    The SSD is soldered then, not socketed?
    etorsten
  • Reply 8 of 14
    tipootipoo Posts: 1,027member
    If the non-touchbar Pro just got an update for T2 and Butterfly 3 and nothing else, I'd still be more inclined towards it than the Air. 500 nits, P3, Iris Plus GPU, higher TDP, and battery life is good enough for me. If it got a quad core, that would just seal the deal, but it might have to lose Iris Plus for it this gen. 




    Afaik, they only said encoding on stage, unless they mentioned this later on the stage floor (and then floor reps don't have a perfect track record, re: fan)? The Intel on-chip decode should be more than enough for viewing video, while the T2 encoding is faster when you want speed. 
    Which has a more powerful processor, this new air or the base MacBook?
    Hard to tell right now. It looks like the MacBook Air will deliver better speeds because of the more recent generation, plus superior cooling system versus the MacBook. That, and the T2 handles HEVC decoding and encoding, so that's an additional bonus.

    edited November 2018
  • Reply 9 of 14
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,339administrator
    tipoo said:
    If the non-touchbar Pro just got an update for T2 and Butterfly 3 and nothing else, I'd still be more inclined towards it than the Air. 500 nits, P3, Iris Plus GPU, higher TDP, and battery life is good enough for me. If it got a quad core, that would just seal the deal, but it might have to lose Iris Plus for it this gen. 




    Afaik, they only said encoding on stage, unless they mentioned this later on the stage floor (and then floor reps don't have a perfect track record, re: fan)? The Intel on-chip decode should be more than enough for viewing video, while the T2 encoding is faster when you want speed. 
    Which has a more powerful processor, this new air or the base MacBook?
    Hard to tell right now. It looks like the MacBook Air will deliver better speeds because of the more recent generation, plus superior cooling system versus the MacBook. That, and the T2 handles HEVC decoding and encoding, so that's an additional bonus.

    Apple calls it "transcoding." That seems to imply encoding and decoding. You are correct about Quicksync being sufficient for playback of HEVC, though.
  • Reply 10 of 14
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,339administrator

    etorsten said:
    Is it possible to change the SSD (with a greater one) if you have the right tools to open the MacBook Air?
    Or is it impossible to open the new case?
    It's possible to open the case, but impossible to change the SSD or the RAM.
    The SSD is soldered then, not socketed?
    That is correct.
    etorsten
  • Reply 11 of 14
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 1,866member
    With extra performance than older Macbook/Air, this new Macbook Air is,functional for many people's computer need but the price at $1399(for 256GB) vs 2018 Macbook Pro(256GB) when on sale offered at $1599($1700-$200). I rather pay $200 extra and 0.25lb extra weight but the performance of Macbook Pro is whole lot better MAC laptop.
    edited November 2018 patrickw88
  • Reply 12 of 14
    A nice discussion of the keyboard vs both other Macs and other makers (especially Lenovo) would be very interesting given the focus on Mac laptop keyboards over the past months.
    baconstang
  • Reply 13 of 14
    Can anyone comment on whether they’d prefer the 2018 MacBook Air or the 2017 MacBook Pro with the Touchbar? I’d need to upgrade the Air to 256gb so they’d both be $1399 on B&H photo. I could really use some help deciding. The hardest task I’ll be doing will be photo editing in Pixelmator. 
  • Reply 14 of 14
    wood1208 said:
    With extra performance than older Macbook/Air, this new Macbook Air is,functional for many people's computer need but the price at $1399(for 256GB) vs 2018 Macbook Pro(256GB) when on sale offered at $1599($1700-$200). I rather pay $200 extra and 0.25lb extra weight but the performance of Macbook Pro is whole lot better MAC laptop.
    Haha I just posted about a similar dilemma except mine is tougher since the 2017 pro w/touchbar is the exact same $1,399 for the air on B&H. Any thoughts on that one? The only thing keeping me away from the 2017 pro is the keyboard issues and the battery life. Plus I kinda think the Touch Bar is cool. 
Sign In or Register to comment.