MacBook Air M1 Review: A Force To Be Reckoned With

Aadhya Khatri - Nov 18, 2020


MacBook Air M1 Review: A Force To Be Reckoned With

If you ever feel you reach a performance threshold with earlier models, try the MacBook Air M1 and you will see that it is no longer the case

The MacBook Air M1 looks just like its 8-month older predecessor. It flaunts the same case made from recycled aluminum, the excellent Magic Keyboard remains on board and two USB-C ports.

However, on the inside, there is a clear distinction – the newer model is among the first devices to run on the Apple-made M1 chip.

Macbook Air M1
The MacBook Air M1 looks just like its 8-month older predecessor

Apple has used Intel chips for its Macs since 2006 but this year is like no other for the Cupertino tech giant – it saw the first PCs and laptops featuring in-house chips making it to the market. By making its own hardware and software, Apple now enjoys the same control it has exercised for many years with iPads and iPhones.

If you have experience using Intel-powered MacBook Air, spending a day with the new model is enough to make you feel the difference.

The MacBook Air M1 packs as much power as higher-end Macs powered by Intel and can outrun all of its Air predecessors.

The M1 Chip

The MacBook Air M1 is retailed for $999 and the 13-inch MacBook Pro comes at the price of $1,299. The Air doesn’t have a fan while the Pro does, this means the latter’s chip can work harder for a longer period of time.

However, for most users, the omission of a fan makes no difference in their day-to-day life. A MacBook Air M1 can easily beat all of its predecessors when it comes to performance. It scores 1,692 in single-score performance in Geekbench 5 CPU benchmark test. Its score is higher than that of the 2019’s MacBook Pro, which gets 1,207 and is almost on par with the Pro’s multi-core score of 7,536.

MacBook Air M1 1
For most users, the omission of a fan makes no difference in their day-to-day life

This power translates to a buttery smooth Safari, which can now handle more than 30 tabs easily. Apps designed for the M1 is snappy and fast. You will hardly find any of them pause or stutter. Those developed from Intel’s era can still run perfectly fine, courtesy of Rosetta 2. The device will prompt you to install it when you try to download one of these apps.

The apps made with Intel in mind even run better on the MacBook Air M1 than they do on its predecessor.

Adobe and other developers will soon release new app versions that take advantage of the M1 chip’s framework. What users may expect is better performance and new tricks made possible by the machine-learning processors of the chip.

However, please bear in mind that at this point, not all apps can exploit the M1 chip’s power. For example, Chrome can handle half of the number of apps Safari can and the loading time isn’t as short.

MacBook Air M1 2
The apps made with Intel in mind even run better on the MacBook Air M1 than they do on its predecessor

If you ever feel you reach a performance threshold with earlier MacBook Air models, try the M1 version and you will see that it is no longer the case. Even with heavy games, the device never gets too hot, thanks to the aluminum heat spreader.

Massive Upgrades

Apart from the performance, the M1 chip also brings about two other upgrades, which are the ability to instantly wake up and the longer battery life. The former works so well that you may find yourself in the middle of opening the lid of the device that it lights up and is ready to work.

The longer battery life is another perk. If you work mostly on the browser and start your day at 9 A.M, an older Mac will need to be charged at around 4 P.M. But with the MacBook Air M1, you can have over 30% of juice left at 5 P.M with the same workload.

MacBook Air M1 2
Apart from the performance, the M1 chip also brings about two other upgrades, which are the ability to instantly wake up and a longer battery life

It’s worth pointing out that you can now run iPad and iPhone apps on the new Macs. How useful this feature is to you will depend on what kind of apps you would like to use on your laptop.

A Complete Package For Most Users

Other than what we have talked about, the rest of the MacBook Air M1 is quite similar to its predecessors. Content looks sharp on the screen and Safari now has support for 4K HDR with the macOS Big Sur update for Netflix.

Microphones and speakers are solid on the device but the same can’t be said about the webcam. We still have to settle with a 720p camera with no Face ID. Apple says the webcam does work better thanks to the enhanced imaging algorithms but in reality, the performance isn’t great at all.

MacBook Air M1 4
Microphones and speakers are solid on the device but the same can’t be said about the webcam

If you aren’t in a well-lit room, everything will look terrible. Even if there is enough light, the colors are far from accurate.

Overall, despite some setbacks, a MacBook Air M1 provides a complete package in a slim body. The $999 price tag might raise eyebrows but given the amount of power it brings, we don’t think the price is unfair.

Those who demand more from their device may want to consider the MacBook Pro M1, which is retailed for $1,299. It has mostly the same processor but more GPU cores and a fan so you might expect a real boost in performance.

>>> Everything Apple Announced At Its 'One More Thing' Event

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