Apple boosts MacBook Air processor, slashes prices

The company's smallest Macs are now a bit more competitive as Apple lowers the MacBook Air price and drops in a faster Intel processor.

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Apple cut prices on the MacBook Air and upgraded the processor. Apple

Apple reduced prices on all four preconfigured MacBook Air models and gave the line a minor processor upgrade.

The 11.6-inch MacBook Air dropped to a starting price of $899 from $999 in the US and from £849 to £749 in the UK, while the entry-level 13.3-inch Air dropped to $999 from $1,099 in the US and from £949 to £849 in the UK.

Those models come standard with a 128GB solid-state drive and 4GB of memory.

The higher-end 11.6- and 1.3.3-inch configurations with a 256GB SSD also saw prices drop $100 in the US and £100 in the UK.

As before, Apple's most portable laptops come with non-Retina 1,366x768 (11.6-inch) and 1,440x900 (13.3-inch) resolution displays powered by Intel's HD 5000 graphics.

On the processor front, the Air now comes with a 1.4GHz Core i5 -- upgraded from a 1.3GHz chip. While that is a relatively minor performance upgrade, Intel may have improved the chip in other ways.

For instance, newer versions of a processor typically include manufacturing improvements, which can result in better power efficiency and cooling.

Most consumers, however, will notice the new starting price of $899 (£749). And it's a pretty good deal when you're getting both a price drop and a processor boost.

Finally, it's worth noting that the MacBook Air hasn't seen a major redesign since the fall of 2010. But that could change later this year. KGI Securities, NPD DisplaySearch, and others have gotten wind of an all-new, MacBook Air that's even thinner and boasts a 12-inch Retina display.

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