Apple Updates MacBook Air with New Magic Keyboard and Quad-Core CPU, Starting at $999

MacBook Air March 2020 Credit: Apple
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As expected, Apple has just announced a new MacBook Air alongside the more-significantly updated iPad Pro, offering improved performance, a much better keyboard, and twice the storage capacity.

Apple’s MacBook Air actually languished for several years with only modest upgrades until Apple introduced a significant new “third-generation” model in late 2018 that brought it into the same class as Apple’s MacBook Pro family, with Retina Displays and USB-C ports (yes, it’s hard to believe that it took until 2018 for all of Apple’s MacBooks to get Retina Displays, but there it is).

Since Apple took the plunge into modernizing the MacBook Air, however, the releases have been much more rapid-fire, with a summer 2019 model coming out only about eight months later that added the True Tone display feature, but otherwise retaining most of the same specs as before — including the problematic butterfly keyboard.

Once Apple finally began to fix its keyboard problems with the release of 16-inch MacBook Pro, it was still less clear when these new and improved keyboards would be coming to its other MacBooks, and although it looked like the 13-inch MacBook Pro might get it sooner, it seems that the new MacBook Air has gotten there first.

Apple new macbook air new magic keyboard 03182020

What’s New

In addition to the new Magic Keyboard, which should hopefully put an end once and for all to Apple’s long MacBook keyboard nightmare, the new MacBook Air is largely a refresh of last year’s mid-2019 model, but it’s a slightly bigger one this time around.

To be fair, we weren’t expecting much since it’s once again only been about eight months since the entry-level MacBook got its last update, but Apple has even dropped the price down to $999 while beefing up the CPU and GPU specs and doubling the storage.

For the first time, Apple’s MacBook Air offers a quad-core CPU — up to 1.2GHz tenth-generation Intel Core i7 that can Turbo Boost up to 3.8 GHz, although the entry-level model still features only a 1.1GHz Dual-Core Core i3. Thanks to boosted Intel Iris Plus Graphics, however, it also promises up to 80 percent faster graphics performance than the prior model.

Apple has also finally acknowledged that 128GB of storage on a Mac is untenable, so the entry-level model gets a boost to a 256GB SSD, and users can configure up to 2TB of storage, basically doubling all of the storage tiers from the 2019 MacBook Air, which maxed out at 1TB.

Apple new macbook air performance 03182020

There are a few other interesting things that have come over from Apple’s 16-inch MacBook Pro, including a better microphone array, improved stereo speakers, and the ability to drive a 6K external display, presumably including Apple’s Pro Display XDR. This could be a boon for those who don’t have much money left to spend on a MacBook after purchasing a $5,000 monitor.

The new MacBook Air is available now on Apple’s online store starting at $999 ($899 for education) for the dual-core Core i3 model with 8GB RAM and a 256GB SSD. Online configure-to-order options offer up to a 1.2GHz quad-core 10th-gen Core i7 CPU, 16GB RAM and 2TB SSD storage for $2,249. Apple also says the new models will be coming to stores starting next week — or whenever the ones outside of China actually reopen.

Mac mini

Apple has also somewhat quietly refreshed the Mac mini as well, in what is basically a footnote in its press release, although this is a much more minor spec-bump. Like the new MacBook Air, the standard Mac mini configurations now offer double the storage capacity, with the $799 model coming standard with 256GB and the $1,099 model featuring 512GB of storage. Other specs appear to remain identical.

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