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What are the differences between the "Mid-2009" MacBook Air models and the "NVIDIA/Late 2008" MacBook Air models that they replaced?
Please note that all models mentioned in this Q&A have been discontinued. The "Mid-2009" MacBook Air models were replaced by the "Late 2010" models on October 20, 2010. For more recent comparison Q&As, please refer to the main MacBook Air Q&A page.
The differences between the "Mid-2009" MacBook Air models -- the MacBook Air "Core 2 Duo" 1.86 13" (Mid-2009) and "Core 2 Duo" 2.13 13" (Mid-2009) -- and the "NVIDIA/Late 2008" MacBook Air models -- the MacBook Air "Core 2 Duo" 1.6 13" (NVIDIA/Late 2008) and "Core 2 Duo" 1.86 13" (NVIDIA/Late 2008) -- are rather minor.
Photo Credit: Apple, Inc.
External & Connectivity Differences
Externally, the "Mid-2009" MacBook Air models are identical to the earlier "Late 2008" models and both lines use the same ultrathin (0.16-0.76 inches thick) case as the original MacBook Air -- complete with the same 13.3" display, full-size "chiclet-style" back-lit keyboard, and single-button "three-finger" multi-touch gesture trackpad.
Connectivity is identical between these models as well and all have built-in AirPort Extreme (802.11a/b/g/n), Bluetooth 2.1+EDR, a single USB 2.0 port, a Mini DisplayPort, and analog audio out. For the "Mid-2009" MacBook Air, Apple provides an external 10/100Base-T Ethernet Adapter free of charge, which previously was a US$29 extra. None of these MacBook Air models have Firewire, optical audio in/out, an SD Card slot, or an ExpressCard/34 slot.
Perhaps the most signficant improvement bestowed upon the "Mid-2009" MacBook Air is that it has a 40 W/Hr battery said to provide 5 hours of battery life compared to the "Late 2008" model which has a 37 W/Hr battery that Apple estimated to provide 4.5 hours of battery life. This is notable, as the 40 W/Hr battery takes up the same amount of physical space, and additional runtime always is a welcomed improvement. Both battery designs are "non-swappable" and not intended to be replaced by the end user.
Other than the battery improvement, the "Mid-2009" line internally is actually quite similar to the "Late 2008" line that came before it. All of these models have Core 2 Duo processors with 6 MB on chip L2 caches, a 1066 MHz system bus, 2 GB of onboard, non-upgradable 1066 MHz DDR3 memory, NVIDIA GeForce 9400M graphics with 256 MB of memory shared with the system and support for an external display at 2560x1600, and no internal optical drive.
These differences -- as well as configuration differences and the dramatically lower introductory pricing for the Mid-2009 series -- are summarized below for your convenience:
|MacBook Air||Late 2008||Mid-2009|
|Processor Speed:||1.6, 1.86 GHz||1.86, 2.13 GHz|
|Drive Size:||120, 128 GB||120, 128 GB|
|Drive Type:||HD, SSD||HD, SSD|
|Std. Ethernet Adapter:||No||Yes|
|Battery W/Hr:||37 W/Hr||40 W/Hr|
|Battery Life:||4.5 Hours||5 Hours|
|Apple Order No:||MB543LL/A, MB940LL/A||MC233LL/A, MC234LL/A|
|Intro Price:||US$1799, US$2499||US$1499, US$1799|
Please refer to EveryMac.com's Ultimate Mac Comparison feature to dynamically compare any MacBook Air model to any other G3 or later Mac.