Apple updated its MacBook Air lineup with faster processors and a $100 price cut across the board. It’s nothing to write home about, but the price cut is something rather special for Apple. The MacBook Air now starts at $899 for the 11-inch model, which is the cheapest price that a new MacBook has ever seen.
While the 11-incher is priced at a dollar shy of $900, you’ll have to fork out a bit more for the 13-inch variant, which now starts at $999. The 11-inch model used to start at $999, while the 13-inch variant started at $1,099, but if you want to get the cheapest MacBook in town, the MacBook Air is now a good place to begin your search.
These newer machines use the latest Intel 4th-generation Haswell Core processors, which start at 1.4GHz Core i3 chips for entry-level models. The older models shipped with 1.3GHz processors. Furthermore, Apple didn’t drop the amount of storage or RAM in the entry-level model, despite dropping the price by $100, which is something that the Cupertino-based company doesn’t do very often.
Both the 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Air entry-level models now come with a 1.4GHz processor, 4GB of RAM, 128GB of flash storage and Intel HD 5000 graphics. Of course, you can bump up any of these specs to suit your needs, up to a 1.7GHz Core i7 processor, 512GB of storage and 8GB of RAM.
However, if you just need the basics, $899 isn’t a bad price for an ultra-portable MacBook laptop.
Before the MacBook Air existed back in 2007, entry-level MacBook Pro laptops would start at well over $1,000, while comparable Windows machines were a lot cheaper. This skyrocketed price for a MacBook was nicknamed the “Apple Tax,” but it’s been disappearing, and the price gap for Mac computers and Windows machines are closing in.
No More Apple Tax
Perhaps the MacBook Air’s most visible competitor is the Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook. It starts at $1,049 and comes with a 1.7 GHz Intel Core i3 processor, 4GB of RAM, 128GB of flash storage and Intel HD 4400 graphics. The entry-level 13-inch MacBook Air, which starts at $999, comes with a 1.4GHz Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM, 128GB of flash storage and Intel HD 5000 graphics.
The MacBook Air is $50 cheaper than the XPS 13, and while the Dell machine has a better processor, the MacBook Air comes with better graphics.
If we look at a comparable laptop from HP, we see the same thing as far as price goes. The company’s 13-inch Spectre 13t-3000 Ultrabook packs a 1.6GHz Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM and 128GB of flash storage, all for $999, which is the same price as the 13-inch MacBook Air with similar guts.
You can even get refurbished MacBook Airs for as low as $599 right now in Apple’s Refurbished Store. Granted, it’s an older model from 2012, but even the 2013 model starts at just $849, which is really impressive for a MacBook Air, let alone a MacBook in general.
Apple vs. the Competition
Apple has never been one to offer competing prices for its MacBook lineup; the company has merely stood by the prices of its products and let the quality and features speak for themselves, while Windows laptops slowly become more expensive, especially with the popularity of Ultrabooks over the last couple of years.
Windows Ultrabooks have proven that the MacBook Air isn’t an overpriced machine after all, as PC manufacturers are charging just as much for their own MacBook Air clones.
Lowering prices is pretty much a given for a company to do at some point for a product in its lifetime, but Apple has never been one to drastically cut the prices of its MacBooks. Yes, this recent price cut for the MacBook Air is quite significant and Apple does occasionally chop prices by $100 or so every now and then, but we have yet to see a MacBook Pro dip below the $1,000 range
If we take a look to a laptop that’s comparable to the 13-inch non-Retina MacBook Pro, you’ll see that the price isn’t too far off. HP’s Envy TouchSmart 14t-k100 starts at $849, but it only comes with a measly 1.6GHz Core i5 processor, whereas the MacBook Pro has a generous 2.5GHz Core i5 chip. The closest option that HP offers is a 1.8GHz Core i7 with dedicated graphics, which boosts the price over the $1,000 mark. It’s still cheaper than the MacBook Pro, but not by much.
In the end, this new price point for the MacBook Air is huge. It might seem like just another $100 price drop from Apple, but the fall from $999 to $899 is quite significant. It will certainly put a little more pressure on the Windows Ultrabook competition to come out with something comparable in both specs and price.