Macbook air 2020 i7 review

Macbook air 2020 i7 review DEFAULT


Check Amazon

Two-minute review

The Intel-powered MacBook Air (2020) improves upon its predecessor, the MacBook Air 2019, quite a bit. The 2020 model offers newer internals and better minimum storage configurations than older models. It now comes with double the storage space compared to before. Add in the better performance from upgraded components to Apple’s slimmest line and you have a much better deal for the Air’s target audience.

Apple’s most portable series has been underwhelming for some time now, at least considering its price. Plenty of Windows competitors fit into the same price range but with more impressive specs, giving the Air a run for its money. Add to that, each year’s refresh has been a relatively minor update. It’s no wonder that users want more from their Airs.

The MacBook Air (2020) finally steps up. You can now get quad-core processors and up to 16GB of RAM without too much of a price hike or losing that thin design that makes the Air so special.

With those upgrades to the CPU, RAM, and storage, the MacBook Air (2020) just offers that much more computer than previous models. Apple Air fans will appreciate it. And, those worthy upgrades have been passed onto the new MacBook Air (M1, 2020), which adds even more cores, thanks to the M1 chip. With macOS 11 Big Sur now available to download, the MacBook Air experience is as good and streamlined as it’s ever been.

Spec sheet

Here is the MacBook Air (2020) configuration sent to TechRadar for review:

CPU: 1.1GHz Intel Core i3-1000NG4 (dual-core, 4 threads, 4MB cache, up to 3.2GHz)
Graphics: Intel Iris Plus
RAM: 8GB (3,733MHz LPDDR4X)
Screen: 13.3-inch, 2,560 x 1,600 Retina True Tone display (backlit LED, IPS)
Storage: 256GB PCIe SSD
Ports: 2x Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C), 3.5mm headphone jack
Connectivity: 802.11ac Wi-F, Bluetooth 5
Camera: 720p FaceTime HD webcam
Weight: 2.8 pounds (1.29kg)
Size: 11.97 x 8.36 x 0.63 inches (30.41 x 21.24 x 1.61cm; W x D x H)

Sadly, it’s no longer the thinnest and lightest laptop around (the LG Gram, for instance, is one of several Windows 10 laptops that weighs less than the MacBook Air these days). However, the MacBook Air for 2020 is still an impressively compact laptop with Apple’s famous design and build quality. While the new components add a little extra size and weight to the overall dimensions of the new MacBook Air, it remains to be a laptop you can easily and comfortably carry around with you.

When it comes to price, Apple has pleasantly surprised us by releasing the MacBook Air 2020 at a starting price that’s lower than what the 2019 model launched at: $999 / £999 / AU$1,599. Not only is this cheaper, but the specs are better than last year’s model, with the entry-level model featuring a dual-core 10th-generation 1.1GHz Intel Core i3 processor with a boost of 3.2GHz, 256GB storage and 8GB of LPDDR4X RAM.

Design-wise, things are pretty much the same, but with one major (and welcome) difference: the MacBook Air 2020 comes with a new keyboard. Gone is the old butterfly switches, which were too shallow for many people, and prone to failing if debris, such as dust and crumbs, fell between the keys, and in its place is the new Magic keyboard, which first appeared with the MacBook Pro 16-inch. This offers a deeper travel when typing, so it feels more responsive, and – crucially – it appears to have fixed the reliability issues of the older keyboard.

Elsewhere, it’s pretty much business as usual, which is good news if you love Apple’s devices and have been hankering after a MacBook Air that performs as well as it looks. However, if Apple’s laptops have previously left you cold, then there’s not much here that will make you change your mind.

Price and availability

In a pleasant surprise, the MacBook Air (2020) has launched at a new lower price for its entry level model.

The new entry-level MacBook Air comes with a dual-core 10th-generation Intel Core i3 processor, 256GB storage (up from 128GB in the previous model) and 8GB of RAM for $999 / £999 / AU$1,599.

That's a decent saving considering that the MacBook Air (2019)'s entry level model launched at $1,099 / £1,099 / AU$1,699. In an age of rising costs, it's really pleasing to see Apple release newer hardware at cheaper prices. Long may it continue.

Apple also launched a higher-end MacBook Air priced at $1,299 / £1,299 / AU$1,999, and this comes with a 10th-generation quad-core Intel Core i5 processor – the first time a quad-core CPU has been included in a MacBook Air – 512GB SSD storage and 8GB of RAM.

As with previous models, you can further upgrade the MacBook Air, adding double the RAM, more storage up to 2TB and a faster 10th generation Intel Core i7 processor.

The fully maxed-out version, then, with a 1.2GHz Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB RAM and 2TB SSD costs $2,249 / £2,249 / AU$3,349.

The MacBook Air 2020 is available to order right now from the Apple Store.


There's no radical redesign of the MacBook Air with the 2020 model (on the outside, at least), but then many people will argue that there's no need for Apple to tinker with such a successful design.

So, the MacBook Air remains impressively thin and light, as the name suggests, with dimensions of 11.97 x 8.36 x 0.63 inches (30.41 x 21.24 x 1.61cm). That's a slightly thicker build than the 2019 model, and this year's MacBook Air 2020 also weighs slightly more at 2.8 pounds (1.29kg) (compared to the 2.75 pounds (1.25kg) weight of the 2019 model).

As is the case with modern MacBooks, the MacBook Air (2020) doesn't come with many ports, so you're stuck with just two Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports and an audio jack. The Thunderbolt 3 ports are at least versatile, offering transfer speeds up to 40Gb/s and allowing you to transmit up to 6K footage to a compatible monitor, and can be used for charging as well.

So, you don't need a special charger to boost the battery of the MacBook Air, which is nice, but it does mean you lose one of those Thunderbolt 3 ports when you need to charge.

Holding the MacBook Air is what you'd expect from Apple's lightest laptop – it feels, unsurprisingly, lightweight. While it doesn't match the ultra-light designs of the LG Gram or the Acer Swift 7, it's still easy to carry around with you and sling in a bag, and it continues to feature the same premium brushed finish that's adorned MacBooks for years, with a choice of Space Gray, Gold or Silver colors.

While not much is different on the outside of the MacBook Air 2020, the biggest (and most welcome) change is found as soon as you open it up; Apple has finally replaced the keyboard with a new design that uses a redesigned scissor mechanism that is aimed at avoiding the reliability issues that MacBooks have suffered with the older butterfly keyboard design.

This new keyboard offers 1mm key travel for a responsive feel when typing, and the arrow keys are now in an inverted 'T' shape, which makes them more intuitive to use.

There's also a Touch ID fingerprint scanner for biometric login to macOS and for paying online with Apple Pay. As with other MacBooks with this feature, we found it easy to set up (it's part of the process when you first start up the MacBook Air), and it was fast and reliable when it came to detecting our fingerprints.

While the keyboard feels robust and easy to use – the key spacing in particular still makes tapping the right button a simple experience, and one that even non-MacBook users will adapt to swiftly – the travel still feels like it could be a touch deeper. 

That's a largely subjective opinion, but a little more bounce might have been welcomed.

Still, swapping between the new keyboard of the MacBook Air, and the old keyboard in an aging MacBook Pro, the difference is stark: we much prefer typing on the MacBook Air. If the new keyboard design has also fixed the reliability issues of past MacBooks – and so far, it seems, has, with no reports of major issues since the MacBook Pro 16-inch launched with it late 2019. Combined with the improved typing experience, and we'd almost say the new keyboard of the MacBook Air is a complete success.

Almost. It's not quite perfect, however. The keyboard is a little more cramped than you might find on a larger MacBook Pro, and the reconfigured arrow keys still require a moment's thought to make sure you're hitting the right one, but that's something you'll get used to in time.

Screen-wise, nothing has changed since last year's model. It comes with a 13.3-inch display with LED backlighting, IPS technology and a native resolution of 2,560 x 1,600. That results in a pixel density of 227 pixels per inch for sharp image quality.

As with last year's model, the MacBook Air 2020's screen also features True Tone technology, which automatically adjusts the color temperature shown on the screen based on the ambient light.

TrueTone is a nice feature to have and one that's been making a real difference on iPhones and iPads for years now. It's one of those features you'll never notice until you turn it off, but largely it makes the display a little warmer to use.

Whether or not you like TrueTone will again largely depend on your personal preferences. For us, we preferred the setting switched off, as we found TrueTone made the display a little too warm for our tastes, giving whites a yellowish tinge.

If you want to use the MacBook Air for work where color accuracy is vitally important (such as photo editing), then you will definitely want to have TrueTone turned off.

Meanwhile, watching movies on the MacBook Air won't ever be the primary reason for owning the machine, but they do lack the color reproduction pop of some other, higher-power machines from Apple and rivals, looking a touch muted.

It would have been nice to see HDR support on here, but for the price (which is on the palatable side for a new MacBook) we can understand why it's not been added.

You do get a year's free Apple TV+ subscription with every purchase of the new MacBook Air, and that has a wealth of HDR / 4K content on there, so it would have been nice to see that supported.


Here’s how the MacBook Air (2020) performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

Cinebench CPU: 267 points; Graphics: 37.5 fps
Geekbench 5 Single-Core: 1,094; Multi-Core: 2,276
TechRadar Battery Life Test: 7 hours 55 minutes


We've been using the base model of the MacBook Air - probably the version many people will go for - which means the dual-core Intel i3 chipset at the heart.

We've found early performance to be pretty impressive - even when loading up the RAM-hungry Chrome, filling it with 25 tabs and then trying to edit photos on the side. 

We noticed very little in slowdown at all in terms of switching between tasks - even when adding in a video call (which did begin to hammer the battery through Chrome, as it does on many MacBooks) things continued well, albeit with some necessary fan assistance to keep things cool.

While macOS feels nicely responsive for day-to-day tasks on the entry-level version, the MacBook Air still lags behind the more powerful (and expensive) MacBook Pro when it comes to using more intensive apps. While this is certainly not a slow laptop, you may find yourself staring at the spinning wheel icon as the MacBook Air loads up apps a bit more often than on faster Macs.

Still, we were able to mess around on GarageBand while VLC was playing and Safari had a few apps open all at once, and the MacBook Air did a great job of keeping up. If you're going to be doing more hardcore multitasking, however, going for the MacBook Air with more RAM or the better processor will be a good idea.

The ultra-thin design of the MacBook Air does come at a bit of a price when it comes to performance, however. When under sustained load, the MacBook Air (2020) can become quite hot, causing the fans to whirr up. This can also result in reduced performance thanks to thermal throttling, which is when the power of the CPU is lowered to prevent it from overheating and getting damaged.

We ran a few CPU-intensive benchmarks to see how the MacBook Air (2020) could handle being used for heavy workloads. The temperatures of the CPU very quickly rose to 100C. Not long after, the fans seriously started to kick in, in a bid to keep the MacBook Air cool. After a while, these fans became distractingly loud, and the body of the MacBook Air was hot to touch at the bottom.

Meanwhile, the CPU frequency hovered around 2.31GHz, higher than the 1.1GHz base clock, but a far cry from the 3.2GHz boost the CPU is supposedly capable of.

What this means is that in a bid to keep the CPU cool, the MacBook Air is limiting the speed of the CPU. So, if you're going to be doing a lot of high intensity tasks which require the CPU to work for long periods of time, then you're better off investing in a MacBook Pro, which handles thermal throttling a lot better.

Of course, there is the argument that the MacBook Air is designed to be thin and light first and foremost, and not a raw productivity machine. So, you're unlikely to really put this laptop (and its processor) through heavy tasks most of the time.

The extra SSD storage included in the MacBook Air is also very welcome. Again, the solid state drive keeps the macOS operating system feeling spiritedly, and data transfers are nice and quick.

Most importantly, the 256GB starting capacity is far more generous than the 128GB older MacBook Airs offered. This gives you much more space to save photos, videos and documents, and should mean you're less reliant on iCloud or external hard drives. However, for keen photographers or musicians, you'll probably want to go for a model with even more storage – and thankfully, Apple offers up to 2TB of SSD storage in the MacBook Air (2020).

Entertainment-wise, the speakers on the new MacBook Air deserve a good mention – when watching 'Ford vs Ferrari', the vocal clarity was clear even when juxtaposed with loud, crunching car sounds. While the screen tech isn't top notch for entertainment, the sound output is (and there's still a headphone jack on board).

Meanwhile, even on max brightness, the display seems a bit too dim for our tastes, lacking the vibrancy of rivals with OLED screens. Apple has also kept its 720p webcam that we feel has started to outstay its welcome. There are other laptops out there with much better webcams for the price.

Battery life

Apple claims the MacBook Air (2020) has 11 hours of battery life, but in our day-to-day use and benchmark tests, we found it actually managed a bit below that.

With our battery life test, where we play a looped 1080p video until the battery ran out, the MacBook Air (2020) managed just shy of 8 hours. We also found that when using the MacBook Air, using a mix of Apple's own apps and other, more battery-hungry, applications, this year's model lasted around 7 hours. That means it'll certainly last an entire work/school day, and you could happily having it playing videos during long flights, but unless you really cut down on the type and number of apps you use, and lower that screen brightness, you're not going to be hitting the promised 11 hours.

There is some good news, as in standby, the energy impact is pretty minimal - overnight we saw barely any drop in battery life, although it's worth remembering this is still a new MacBook Air so will be functioning at peak performance.

This is one of the best things about MacBooks compared to Windows 10 laptops – you can leave them in standby for days on end, and the battery life will be relatively unchanged. Meanwhile, many Windows laptops will somehow hemorrhage battery life even when not in use.

Buy it if...

You want an affordable MacBook
The MacBook Air (2020) finally delivers on the promise of an affordable MacBook that doesn't feel like there's been too many compromises.

You hate the old butterfly keyboard
One of the best new features of the MacBook Air (2020) is the new keyboard. It feels much nicer to use, and it seems to have fixed the reliability issues that plagued the older keyboards.

You're a student looking for a MacBook
The (relatively) affordable price, alongside the thin and light design and decent battery life makes this a brilliant MacBook for students. You can happily sling it in your backpack and carry it around campus all day.

Don't buy it if...

You want the most powerful laptop
While Apple has updated the specs of the MacBook Air, and finally added quad-core CPU options, this is still not a laptop designed for seriously heavy workloads.

You need color accuracy
The MacBook Air (2020)'s screen is nice enough, but it lacks the professional color gamuts found in the MacBook Pro and other professional laptops. If you need color accuracy for work, look elsewhere.

You don't like Macs
The MacBook Air doesn't have a revolutionary design, nor does it try to win over Windows users too much. If you weren't a fan of previous MacBook Airs, the 2020 model won't really persuade you otherwise.


Check Amazon

Senior Computing editor

Matt (Twitter) is TechRadar's Senior Computing editor. Having written for a number of publications such as PC Plus, PC Format, T3 and Linux Format, there's no aspect of technology that Matt isn't passionate about, especially computing and PC gaming. If you're encountering a problem or need some advice with your PC or Mac, drop him a line on Twitter.


MacBook Air 2020 review: The most boring Mac is among the best

with 95 posters participating

Apple wants people to fall back in love with its latest MacBook Air.

For many users, the pre-Retina, 13-inch MacBook Air was one of the best laptops ever made. For too long, though, it fell behind the curve as Apple introduced better performance and higher-resolution screens to the rest of its lineup. Finally, Apple brought the high-res Retina display and some other improvements to the Air in 2018. Maybe the world's best laptop was back?

2018's Air was a pretty good machine, but it wasn't a candidate for world's best laptop anymore, thanks to the prone-to-fail butterfly keyboard design and a painful lack of ports. A refresh in 2019 brought some refinements, but it didn't address either of those issues. Now, finally, Apple has pulled out the butterfly keyboard and put in something we hope will be much more dependable.

So is the 2020 MacBook Air again worthy of consideration as the world's best laptop?


Specs at a glance: 2020 MacBook Air
Screen2560×1600 at 13.3 inches
OSmacOS Catalina 10.15.3
CPU1.1GHz 4-core Intel Core i5 (3.5GHz Turbo) with 6MB L3 cache
GPUIntel Iris Plus Graphics
Networking802.11ac Wi-Fi; IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n; Bluetooth 5.0
Ports2x Thunderbolt 3, 3.5mm headphone
Size0.16–0.63 inch×11.97-inch×8.36-inch (0.41–1.61cm×30.41cm×21.24cm)
Weight2.8lbs (1.29kg)
Warranty1 year, or 3 years with AppleCare+
Price as reviewed$1,299
Other perks720p FaceTime HD camera, stereo speakers
The new Air offers three CPU options. The $999 entry-level configuration has a 1.1GHz, dual-core Intel Core i3 with Turbo Boost up to 3.2GHz and a 4MB L3 cache. That's pretty anemic even for the price, but it should be powerful enough for a decent portion of the machine's target audience.

Buyers can spend an extra $100 for a 1.1GHz Core i5 with 3.5GHz Turbo Boost and a 6MB cache; if you can afford it, the cost here is worth it. There's also a 1.2GHz Core i7 with 3.8GHz Turbo Boost and 8MB cache option for $250 over the base config, but if performance is that important to you, at this price you might consider a MacBook Pro instead.


For graphics, you're looking at Intel Iris Pro graphics matching whatever CPU you pick.

In standard configurations, the Air comes with 8GB of 3733MHz LPDDR4X memory, but you can opt to upgrade to 16GB for an additional $200—which I'd recommend for a lot of people, especially if they use a bunch of non-Apple apps like, say, Google Chrome.

Storage starts at 256GB in the base config, up from 128GB in past Airs. Apple has been doubling storage across its MacBook line, and that's very welcome. 128GB was pretty tight even for light users, but 256GB is just right for those using this as a basic productivity computer. You can go up to 512GB for another $200, 1TB for another $400, or a beefy 2TB for an extra $800.

The Air has the same Retina display as before. It's a 13.3-inch IPS panel with a native resolution of 2,560 by 1,600 pixels. Apple really made HiDPI displays take off when it first introduced Retina displays, but while the company is strong on things like color accuracy, competing products now offer much higher resolutions.

The Air's screen is above the threshold beyond which more pixels make for diminishing returns, though, so its resolution isn't much of a downside. But buyers should know that the Air's display can't match the photographer-friendly color accuracy of the MacBook Pro.

This is a good time to mention that the laptop defaults to a screen area that is equivalent to 1,440 x 900, which is pretty cramped by today's standards. You can bump it higher, but it looks a bit less sharp, and UI animations (like swiping between Spaces) get just a teensy bit choppier. It's not a big deal, but it's also not ideal.

The part of the spec sheet that disappoints me most, though, is the lack of Wi-Fi 6. Instead we get the same old 802.11ac. Sure, Wi-Fi 6 is new on the scene, but you might expect to keep this computer for three or more years, and Wi-Fi 6 will probably be ubiquitous by then. Bluetooth 5.0 is present, though.


This machine also has stereo speakers, Dolby Atmos support, and a 3.5mm headphone jack, along with what seems to be the same 720p FaceTime webcam Apple has been putting in its laptops for ages. The camera is fine, but in an age of telecommuting, you wouldn't be wrong to ask for a 1080p camera at this price.

Sadly, one of the biggest problems with the 2018 and 2019 MacBook Air models persists here: only two ports, both Thunderbolt 3/USB-C. More on that in a moment.


It's refreshing to see Apple not try to "change the world" here—but just designing a solid workstation.

The Air is thin, it has the classic tapered shape, it looks and feels sturdy, and it wastes no space or material. From an industrial design point of view, it's one of the best things Apple has ever made.

It's also slightly more repairable than it used to be, according to a recent teardown by the good people at iFixit. They found that new wiring for the trackpad allows for easier access to both the trackpad and the battery without messing with the logic board, among other things. Repairability is still not a strong suit of the MacBook Air, but it seems to be improving.

The new model is almost imperceptibly thicker than the 2019 Air, but its form is otherwise unchanged, and that's a great thing. It's still a sleek, tightly designed little laptop, which is one of the main things so many people appreciated about the Air over the years. There aren't a lot of laptops out there that feel this good to carry and to use.

The Achilles' heel of the design is the port situation, though. I'm not even talking about the fact that it uses Thunderbolt 3/USB-C; most other laptops in this class also use USB-C instead of larger USB-A ports, and it feels like that ship has sailed. I'm instead referring to the fact that it only has two ports, which may not be enough for much of the target audience, as one of those ports will usually be used for power. To make matters worse, the ports are both on the left side of the machine. Is your power outlet on the right side of your desk? Hope you're cool with running a cord across the desk or in some awkward arrangement behind it.

The ports remain the worst thing about the MacBook Air—but they're also the only thing I can criticize about the design. Now, on to the question everyone has: how is that new keyboard?

  1. How to update exchange server
  2. 2014 vw passat tdi reliability
  3. Is meliodas the strongest sin
  4. Platinum 3 carat diamond ring

Apple MacBook Air (2020) review: the best Mac for most people

Apple’s MacBook Air has experienced some extreme peaks and valleys over the past decade: the second-generation design introduced in 2010 was, for years, the standard by which all midsize laptops were judged. The Air was Apple’s most popular Mac and one of the best and most popular laptops ever made. That history, and the strength of the Air brand, meant that people just kept buying the MacBook Air, even as Apple let it fall far behind the rest of its laptops.

It was weird: at one point, Appleopenly pointed out that the base model 13-inch MacBook Pro was a better choice than the Air during a keynote, and people still bought the Air instead.

Eventually, the stubborn popularity of the Air and a renewed commitment to the Mac led Apple to completely redesign the MacBook Air around a Retina Display in 2018. But Apple also gave it one of its troubled butterfly keyboards, which developed a reputation for unreliability and a worse reputation for costly fixes.

When Apple updated the new Air last year, it stuck with that butterfly keyboard, which meant that there was still a question mark hanging over it. And the Intel chips inside struggled with even moderately demanding tasks.

That brings us to now: the 2020 MacBook Air comes with the new scissor-switch keyboard Apple introduced in the 16-inch MacBook Pro, and the processors have been upgraded to Intel’s new 10th-generation parts. Apple also lowered the price by $100: the MacBook Air now starts at $999.

It’s been a long road back, but this new MacBook Air is right where it needs to be: squarely in the mix of being the best laptop for most people.

The base MacBook Air starts at $999 with a 1.1GHz dual-core Core i3 processor, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of storage. But almost everyone should spend at least $100 more on the upgrade to the 1.1GHz quad-core Core i5. I’ve been reviewing the step-up $1,299 configuration that has a quad-core Core i5 and doubles the storage to 512GB, which is the version I think most people should get. You can’t upgrade the storage later, so best to load up when you can.

Along the left side, there are two Thunderbolt 3 ports; the new Intel chips have Iris Plus graphics, which means you can now run a 6K display from a MacBook Air. (I wasn’t able to test this, as our Pro Display XDR is in the office, and I don’t currently have access to it. But I’m willing to bet that running a 6K display involves a fair amount of heat and fan noise from the Air. I’ll update if and when we learn more.)

On the other side, you’ll find a headphone jack because normal people doing normal laptop things often need to plug in headphones. I implore you: use wired headphones for your videoconferencing. You will be much happier, and you will not find yourself delaying the start of every meeting so everyone can dink around with Bluetooth.

But you’re not here for telecommuting tips — you’re here to learn about the new keyboard. Reliability aside, I was absolutely not a fan of the butterfly keyboards, and I kept my 2015 MacBook Pro around as long as I could because I so much preferred its traditional keyboard. I’m happy to say that the keyboard on the new MacBook Air is a solid return to form. It feels just like the keyboard on the 16-inch MacBook Pro I’ve been using for several months, which is to say, it feels very good. The keys have 1mm of travel, the inverted-T arrow key layout is back, and everything is just clicky enough without being too loud. Overall, the whole thing is very solid and very satisfying.

I don’t really want to give Apple too much credit for updating this keyboard since it took the company way too long to get away from the butterfly design after people started calling out the problems. And I don’t think Apple gets the benefit of the doubt on reliability anymore. It’s just going to take time to earn that trust back. But history aside, the keyboard is one of the single most important parts of a laptop, and the new MacBook Air’s keyboard is extremely good.

I also greatly prefer this keyboard with a standard top row and function buttons to the Touch Bar keyboard on the 16-inch MacBook Pro. I know people who love the Touch Bar — maybe you do, too — but I don’t love it, and I think it’s really telling that Apple still hasn’t put a Touch Bar on its most popular laptop. Physical volume and brightness keys forever, is what I’m saying.

The other thing the Air doesn’t have is a touchscreen. There’s nothing much more to say about it at this point; if Apple can add trackpad support to iPadOS, it can probably figure out touch support in macOS. But the company doesn’t seem interested in that, so I wouldn’t expect to see it happen anytime soon. At least the trackpad is great: it’s huge like on all modern MacBooks, but it still feels great to scroll and click on.

So that’s the keyboard. From a physical hardware perspective, it was the only thing Apple needed to fix. It still looks and feels like what you’d expect a MacBook Air to look and feel like. It has the classic wedge shape, it’s not flimsy at all like other ultrabooks, and the bezels around the screen are fairly minimal.

The other big news is the processor selection, which consists of three special versions of Intel’s 10th-generation Y-series chips. Previous MacBook Airs offered but one anemic dual-core processor choice; now, you can spec an Air out with a 1.2GHz quad-core Core i7 if you wish.

Our review unit is the step-up configuration, with a 1.1GHz quad-core Core i5 chip and 8GB of RAM. It’s been fairly capable: I’ve been working in Chrome, Slack, Zoom, and Lightroom like I normally do, and things have clipped right along. That feeling is backed up by a single-threaded Geekbench 5 score of 1001, which is basically in line with the 16-inch Core i9 MacBook Pro’s single-threaded score of 1109.

But I wouldn’t call the Air a rocket; I can definitely push the limits pretty easily. Just opening Lightroom is enough to make the fan speed up, and after a couple of edits, it’s going full blast. Heavy sustained workloads cause the system to do some aggressive thermal throttling, basically capping the max speed of the processor in order to manage heat.

Apple told me this throttling is by design. The company doesn’t think most people need hardcore sustained performance, so the Air is built around Intel’s turbo boost feature, which can quickly ramp the processor to 3.2GHz to get something done and then ramp it back down to 1.1GHz to preserve heat and battery life. This is a pretty normal strategy now.

But if you push the Air for a little while, things will get hot, and the system won’t allow the processor to get all the way up to 3.2GHz. In my tests with Cinebench, clock speed was capped at around 1.5GHz under sustained workloads. And that fan was blowing its heart out.

In day-to-day use, I never really noticed any of this thermal management, which is the entire point. But it’s also clear that there isn’t a ton of performance headroom if you need to sit around rendering 3D graphics or exporting videos all day long. You’ll definitely hear that fan, and you might experience some slowdowns.

A lot of people tweeted questions at me about the performance difference between the Core i5 Air and the Core i5 13-inch MacBook Pro. U-series processor differences aside, it really comes down to thermal design: Apple told me that the MacBook Pro is the better laptop for people who need to push their machine to the limit all the time. It has a more forgiving thermal design and faster turbo boost clock speeds. Basically, the MacBook Pro can run hotter and faster for a longer period of time than the MacBook Air, which means better performance for heavy sustained tasks.

My sense is that the people with those needs know exactly who they are; they should wait for a refreshed MacBook Pro with an updated keyboard. Everyone else will likely find that the MacBook Air’s performance is totally fine for most day-to-day tasks, but that they’ll hear the fan run every so often.

I have to say that the Air’s battery life was just average: Apple claims that the new Air can get up to 11 hours of battery life if you’re just browsing the web in Safari, but my pretty boring workday of running Chrome, Slack, and Zoom killed the battery in just five hours with the screen brightness turned all the way up. I probably could have extended that a little if I’d turned down the brightness, but this is not the world’s brightest screen to begin with — it averages about 400 nits of brightness — so I wasn’t eager to back it down.

I don’t think this is entirely Apple’s fault — all three of these apps are battery hogs — but at this particular moment in history, I don’t think I’m alone in having Zoom and Slack open all day every day. And while Safari is much more efficient than Chrome, Chrome is still just a fact of life for a lot of people. It’s great that the Air can get terrific battery life if you restrict yourself to Apple’s own apps, but my friends, we live in a society.

Speaking of Zoom, the webcam in the Air is the same old 720p webcam Apple’s been using forever. It’s fine. It is aggressively fine. I hope someone on the Mac team talks to someone on the iPhone team about cameras before they release another laptop with this webcam.

I can easily keep going with minor observations about the MacBook Air: USB-C is still some sort of elaborate logic puzzle. The Retina Display is commendably sharp, but it doesn’t have the P3 wide color gamut of the MacBook Pro, and it’s weird that Apple calls it 2560 x 1600 when it runs at an effective 1440 x 900 by default. (You can set it to the equivalent of 1680 x 1050, and you should do that.) The gold model is slightly pinkish, which is very striking. It doesn’t support Wi-Fi 6 because Apple’s using a different Wi-Fi module than the one that’s normally packaged with these Intel chips, but no one has Wi-Fi 6 yet so whatever. It’s nice that it uses a 30-watt charger, which means any number of third-party USB PD devices will charge it just fine. We’re at the point where macOS Catalina comes out of the box with almost every Apple app preloaded in the Dock, including Podcasts and Apple TV, help.

But really, the most important thing is that, for the first time in several years, I feel confident saying that most people in the market for a Mac laptop can just buy a MacBook Air and expect it to competently and reliably do most things for a long time to come. That’s a big win and a solid return to form.

Photography by Nilay Patel / The Verge


2020 MacBook Air UNBOXING and First Impressions!

Apple MacBook Air 2020 i7

Devices from a different Manufacturer and/or with a different CPU

Acer Swift 3 SF313-52-78W6
Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU), Ice Lake i7-1065G7

HP Envy 13-ba0006na
Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU), Ice Lake i7-1065G7

HP Envy 13-ba0002nt
Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU), Ice Lake i7-1065G7

HP Envy 13-ba0047tu
Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU), Ice Lake i7-1065G7

Asus ZenBook 13 UX325JA
Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU), Ice Lake i7-1065G7

Acer Swift 3 SF313-52-740Y
Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU), Ice Lake i7-1065G7

Apple MacBook Pro 13 2020 2.3GHz i7 10th-Gen
Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU), Ice Lake i7-1068G7

Apple MacBook Pro 13 2020 2GHz i5 10th-Gen
Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU), Ice Lake i5-1038NG7

Dell XPS 13 9300 4K UHD
Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU), Ice Lake i7-1065G7

HP Envy 13-aq1195nr
Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU), Ice Lake i7-1065G7

Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU), Ice Lake i5-1030NG7

Dell XPS 13 9300 Core i7-1065G7
Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU), Ice Lake i7-1065G7

Acer Swift 3 SF313-52-71Y7
Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU), Ice Lake i7-1065G7

Devices with the same GPU and/or Screen Size

Acer Swift 3 Pro SF313-52-70L2
Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU), Ice Lake i7-1065G7, 0 kg

Devices with Same Screen Size and/or Weight

Apple MacBook Air 2020 M1 Entry
M1 7-Core GPU, Apple M-Series M1, 13.30", 1.272 kg

Apple MacBook Air Late 2020 (M1, 8 Core GPU, 8 GB RAM)
M1 8-Core GPU, Apple M-Series M1, 13.30", 1.3 kg

Apple MacBook Pro 13 Late 2020 M1 Entry (8 / 256 GB)
M1 8-Core GPU, Apple M-Series M1, 13.30", 1.374 kg

Apple MacBook Air 2020 i3
Iris Plus Graphics G4 (Ice Lake 48 EU), Ice Lake i3-1000NG4, 13.30", 1.27 kg

Apple MacBook Pro 13 2019 2TB3
Iris Plus Graphics 645, Coffee Lake i5-8257U, 13.30", 1.374 kg

Devices from the same Manufacturer

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max
A15 GPU 5-Core, Apple A-Series A15, 6.70", 0.238 kg

Apple iPhone 13 mini
A15 GPU 4-Core, Apple A-Series A15, 5.40", 0.14 kg

Apple iPad 10.2 2021
A13 Bionic GPU, Apple A-Series A13 Bionic, 10.20", 0.487 kg

Apple iPad Mini 6
A15 GPU 5-Core, Apple A-Series A15, 8.30", 0.297 kg

Apple iPhone 13 Pro
A15 GPU 5-Core, Apple A-Series A15, 6.10", 0.203 kg

Apple iPhone 13
A15 GPU 4-Core, Apple A-Series A15, 6.10", 0.173 kg

Apple iPad Pro 12.9 2021
M1 8-Core GPU, Apple M-Series M1, 12.90", 0.682 kg

Apple iPad Pro 11 2021
M1 8-Core GPU, Apple M-Series M1, 11.00", 0.468 kg

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max
A14 Bionic GPU, Apple A-Series A14, 6.70", 0.228 kg

Apple iPhone 12 Mini
A14 Bionic GPU, Apple A-Series A14, 5.40", 0.133 kg


Air review i7 macbook 2020

January 2008. Steve Jobs wouldn’t stop talking about an amazing computer, which he pulled out of a manila envelope. This was one of Apple’s most jaw-dropping unveilings. The first MacBook Air was a mere 19.3mm (0.76 inches) at its thickest point, something unheard of at the time. Its all-aluminum body made for a timeless design that even modern iterations continue to imitate — and it lives on in the 2020 MacBook Air.

Times have changed and the MacBook Air has plenty of competition. Laptops get more powerful, thinner, and better built every year. Then there are tablets, which are more portable, cheaper, and sometimes perform better than laptop computers. In fact, many argue the similarly-priced iPad Pro can be a better computer than the MacBook Air. There’s also the new MacBook Air laptops powered by Apple’s own M1 silicon to consider. Should you go for the new chips or stick with Intel MacBooks?

Apple MacBook Air review notes:We evaluated the base 2020 MacBook Air for three weeks using macOS Catalina version 10.15.4. Android Authority purchased the laptop. I used it for writing for Android Authority, photo editing, enjoying media, some video editing, and very light gaming.

A newer version of this device is now available. The MacBook Air (M1) launched in late 2020. This new model is powered by Apple’s own M1 processor and boasts upgrades in performance and battery life. For more on the MacBook Air (M1) be sure to read our review.

2020 MacBook Air review: Who is it for?

The Intel-based MacBook Air’s $999 starting price positions this laptop in a very competitive space. It goes against some capable machines, such as the Asus Zephyrus, Microsoft Surface Laptop 3, and Dell XPS 13, as well as Apple’s own MacBook Air (M1).

At its base configuration the MacBook Air comes with a 10th generation Intel Core i3 processor, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of internal storage. Many will argue competitors can sweep and mop the floors with the MacBook Air. And while this can be a valid argument, we must keep in mind Apple has a different business philosophy and target audience.

The average Joe who wants to type a document here and there could get other affordable laptops and Chromebooks for very casual use. The MacBook Air is for students, moms, dads, and other general users who are more demanding in their computing needs.

The simplest way to put it is that a MacBook Air would be best for heavy users who don’t necessarily need too much power. This could include anyone who spends enough time working from a computer to justify paying a premium for an overall better experience.

Great reads:Best gaming laptops | The best Microsoft Surface devices

Design: The MacBook Air’s biggest strength

  • 11.97 x 8.36 x 0.16–0.63 inches
  • 1.27kg (2.8lbs)
  • Two Thunderbolt 3 USB Type-C ports
  • 3.5mm headset jack
  • Solid aluminum body
  • Large glass trackpad
  • Improved Magic Keyboard with Touch ID

The 2020 MacBook Air looks nearly identical to all previous MacBook Airs, but it’s a good thing Apple took the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” approach. That’s because design is what mostly differentiates it from the competition. The MacBook Air’s iconic design stands the test of time, and competitors find it worthy of imitation.

That bod!

The aluminum unibody is solid and offers a premium feel that can’t be matched by plastic. While it can catch some smudges, it’s less of a fingerprint magnet thanks to the brushed texture.

The screen’s hinge has good resistance, though it can’t be lifted without holding the bottom part. Build quality is outstanding. And while I miss the light-up Apple logo, it’s a gimmick we can live without. Some might even prefer the more minimalist mirrored emblem.

MacBook Air keyboard and trackpad

Once opened we are presented with the iconic back-lit Apple keyboard. Only this time it’s better than the previous generation MacBook Air, which had the much abhorred butterfly keys. The new “Magic Keyboard” features scissor switches and 1mm of key travel. It may not sound like much, but the difference in feedback and typing experience is immense. I can’t say this is the best laptop keyboard I’ve used, but it is much better than its predecessor, as well as many other laptops. It’s clicky, provides fair feedback, and the key spacing is very comfortable.

We can’t complain about the trackpad. The glass surface is smooth, and large enough to navigate and take advantage of gestures comfortably. Other MacBooks have bigger trackpads, but they are also much bigger (and more expensive). The trackpad has no moving parts; instead, haptic feedback gives you the physical sense that a press has been performed. Apple calls this technology Force Touch and it feels as good as the real deal.

Also check out: Apple MacBook Pro (16-inch) long-term review: A true desktop replacement

Apple design vs the competition

There is nothing like Apple design. I have used macOS, Windows, and Chrome OS computers extensively, across all price ranges. Some of them are outstanding, and often even better than the MacBook Air on which I’m typing this review. But I find that manufacturers always seem to miss something in the design department, no matter how cheap or expensive a computer is. If the keyboard is great, maybe the trackpad isn’t so much, or vice versa. Maybe the screen hinge is a little wobbly, or the materials feel cheap. There is always something to complain about, but with this MacBook Air everything is done at least at an acceptable level of quality, and in some design areas it excels.

I will complain about one thing, though.

Where are all my ports?!

I simply can’t understand why Apple is giving us only a couple of USB Type-C (Thunderbolt 3) ports and a lonely 3.5mm headset jack. The thinness and super packed internals argument simply doesn’t convince me. Even the 16-inch MacBook Pro has four USB Type-C ports, and a single 3.5mm headset jack.

Read:What is USB Type-C?

Some older versions of the 13-inch MacBook Air have plenty of ports, something even the high-end MacBook Pros now lack. The 2017 MacBook Air had a MagSafe 2 power port, two full-size USB 3.0 ports, a Thunderbolt 2 port, a 3.5mm headset jack, and an SD card reader. You mean to tell me even the SD card reader doesn’t fit in this one?

We are moving towards a USB Type-C only world, and this set-up would be great if all our accessories used USB Type-C, but the industry simply isn’t there yet. How many USB Type-C printers, mice, or keyboards have you seen? They aren’t many. We would appreciate it if Apple threw at least a single USB Type-A port and SD card reader in its laptops computers. I’m sick and tired of dongles.

Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

Ports are one reason I love Windows laptops. Even the thinnest ones offer more than just USB Type-C ports. Take the Surface Laptop 3 as an example: it has a USB Type-C, USB Type-A, headphone jack, and Surface Connector (for charging). More advanced laptops also have SD card readers, HDMI ports, Ethernet, and more. You need a USB Type-C adapter to get all these benefits on the MacBook Air.

More:The best USB Type-C adapters

What about the display?

Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

  • 13.3-inch IPS LED display
  • 2,560 x 1,600 pixels
  • 227ppi
  • 16:10 aspect ratio
  • True Tone technology

Apple is often praised for its displays, but I will go against the current and tell you there are better options out there. Yes, the 2,560 x 1,600 resolution offers “Retina” quality, and everything is pretty sharp at 227 pixels per inch, but any display buff will tell you resolution is only one part of a good display.

This 2020 MacBook Air display’s brightness tops off at about 400nits, which is good, but not outstanding by today’s standards. And as you can see in the image above, the screen is very hard to use outdoors. The 13-inch MacBook Pro offers 500nits of brightness, so does the Dell XPS 13. In terms of color accuracy the MacBook Air doesn’t reach the DCI-P3 wide color gamut, while the MacBook Pro 13 does. Some competitors surpass it. This means those who really care about color accuracy (e.g., photographers) may want to look elsewhere for something that gets closer to the DCI-P3 and Adobe RGB color spaces.

Razer offers 100% Adobe RGB color accuracy in some of its laptops. And I can definitely see the difference in color accuracy when I compare the 2020 MacBook Air with a 2016 Razer Blade Stealth, which has a 100% Adobe RGB screen. But of course, a wide color gamut isn’t exactly something the common MacBook Air user will care about.

Text looks sharp on the MacBook Air. Media plays beautifully, and brightness is sufficient when indoors. All in all, this screen is great, but I’ve seen plenty better.

Performance: How much is enough?

Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

  • 10th gen Intel Core i3 processor
  • Intel Iris Plus GPU (eGPU support)
  • 256GB PCIe SSD

I am a true advocate of the idea that most people buy more than they need. As a creative and photographer I’m often pushed to believe I need all these amazing specs that can cost a pretty penny. This was my chance to find out if I can live with less power.

The Intel Core i3 is considered a low-power processing unit, and professionals would often recommend upgrading to an i5 or i7. These will definitely improve performance if you can afford the upgrade, but whether you need it or not is to be debated. Geekbench benchmarks show the Intel Core i3 2020 MacBook Air scores better than the Core i5 2018 MacBook Air (1,004 vs 746). This means that if you could live with a previous generation MacBook Air using an i5, you will do better with the newer i3 MacBook Air.

But those are just numbers. What was the experience like? In short, it was good and bad. The longer answer is that I had to make some adjustments to make this “low-powered” MacBook Air handle my workload.

Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

General use was handled perfectly. I checked my emails, browsed the web with a few tabs open, Netflix and chilled, and checked social media like there was no tomorrow. Things change once you overload the computer a bit. For example, I found the laptop slowed down once I opened more than 10 tabs on Chrome. Safari is better optimized for macOS so I bit the bullet and switched. Problem solved! Now I can open upwards of 20 tabs without issue.

I usually have Safari (usually about 7-15 tabs), Spark (email), and All-In-One Messenger. Apps such as Lightroom and Affinity Photo (Photoshop alternative) are also part of my work routine. I use them to edit RAW photos that never weigh less than about 25MB, and often get to about 45MB. This can be a heavy load on many computers, and I’ve been slowed down even by Core i5 Windows laptops. Yet I encountered very few issues using either apps with this base 2020 MacBook Air.

The lack of performance is much more significant when editing video. Even with 1,080p footage the video preview can get choppy. It’s nothing that will stop you from creating a video every now and then, but performance is not optimal. This isn’t the right video-editing machine for a professional, hardcore YouTuber, or avid video enthusiast.

The computer gets uncomfortably hot when using heavier apps and processes. It even gets a little warm when used casually for browsing. That’s something you’ll have to learn to live with if you want a computer as thin and portable as the MacBook Air.

As a professional photographer this laptop can handle what I usually throw at my computers.

Of course, the caveat to all of this is that you can now get an M1-powered MacBook Air for the same price that is faster than not just every Intel MacBook Air, but every Intel-based Mac on the market. We’ve got a deep dive on the performance side you can check out, but the thing to know is that it’s still early days for Apple’s silicon. As it uses emulation to run non-native apps, you may still find some Intel-based apps run better on the original 2020 MacBook Air. It’s a tough call to make that will only get harder as compatibility for the M1 chip improves.

Software: Living with macOS

  • macOS Catalina
  • Version 10.15.4

While I am no huge fan of macOS, I’m also not against it. It has its pros and cons, like any operating system. Users swear by it, and I can see why. Apple’s macOS Catalina is smooth, clean, simple to use, and very well optimized for its hardware. This could be a reason why the MacBook Air can perform so well with an Intel Core i3 processor. Apple laptops simply utilize their resources more efficiently.

It’s the smaller things that make a difference. Uninstalling an app is done by grabbing the icon and throwing it in a trash bin. Windows’ uninstalling process is confusing and convoluted. Apple’s gesture controls are more refined than those in Windows. The settings are super easy to follow. And the Mac App Store provides an immense library of applications while also keeping your computer safer from the wild west the internet has become.

Apple’s macOS is pushed back by software availability. Gamers will be the first to notice not all titles are available for Mac. In fact, very few are. Developers prioritize Windows because it’s the most used desktop operating system. On the plus side, macOS and iOS/iPadOS work together very, very well with nearly seamless cross integration of apps and features.

Overall, if you can live without gaming and all your apps are available for Apple laptops, the macOS experience is great.

MacBook Air battery life

Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

  • 49.9Wh lithium polymer battery
  • 30W USB Type-C charger
  • 11 hours of wireless web
  • 30 days of standby

Battery life is relative. Apple claims up to 11 hours of wireless web browsing on a single charge, but I’ve never been able to get even close to that. I’m lucky if I get seven hours, and usually average at around five or six. As I type this, I am at 35% and unplugged the MacBook Air 3.5 hours ago.

I don’t skimp on anything, though. My brightness is always at 100%, and so is my keyboard back lighting.

But even if you reach those 11 hours of battery life, that is no longer outstanding. Especially when I’ve gotten more juice out of some Chromebooks and Ultrabooks. The Dell XPS 13 easily beats it at 21 hours for the FHD version, the Samsung Galaxy Book Flex can reach 20 hours, and the list goes on. This again includes the MacBook Air (M1), which can handle five hours wireless web, and up to 18 hours Apple TV app movie playback.

How is that camera?

The camera? It has one, which is about the most positive thing you can say about it. This 720p webcam is disappointing at best. The basic HD definition is not worthy of 2020, and the colors are hazy. This is especially annoying, because laptop manufacturers can no longer claim size is the issue. We have tiny cameras in smartphones, which can create amazing 4K video, but they can’t fit a worthy camera in a laptop?

And the audio?

  • Stereo speakers
  • Wide stereo sound
  • Dolby Atmos playback
  • 3-mic array

The 2018 MacBook Air’s speakers were improved by adding grills to both sides of the keyboard, whereas previous MacBook Airs had the speakers right under the keyboard. The 2020 iteration follows suit and makes some improvements, including Dolby Atmos playback, something we hadn’t seen in any MacBook Air before.

I can’t say audiophiles should live with these speakers full time, but they are great for a laptop of this size and thinness. You will be able to understand sound and enjoy music clearly as long as you aren’t in a loud environment. The 3-mic array works well, and people claimed to hear me clearly in video calls.

Again, nothing to write home about in terms of audio, but everything works fairly well and you can upgrade your audio using the 3.5mm headset jack, or sacrificing one of the USB Type-C ports.

2020 Apple MacBook Air specs

Name of smartphone
13.3-inch IPS LED
2,560 x 1,600
16:10 aspect ratio
True Tone technology
10th generation Intel Core i3
Upgradeable up to Intel Core i7
Intel Iris Plus GPU
eGPU supported
Upgradeable up to 16GB
Upgradeable up to 2TB
720p Face Time HD camera
Stereo speakers
Wide stereo sound
Dolby Atmos playback
3-mic array
3.5mm headset jack
49.9Wh lithium polymer battery
802.11ac Wi-Fi
IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n compatible
Bluetooth 5.0
Two USB Type-C Thunerbolt 3 ports
macOS Catalina
Dimensions and weight
0.16–0.63 x 11.97 x 8.36 inches
Space Gray, Silver, and Gold

Price and alternatives

Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

  • $999 (Intel core i3, 8GB RAM, 256GB storage)
  • $1,299 (Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM, 512GB storage)
  • 16GB RAM upgrade costs $200
  • Intel Core i5 upgrade costs $100
  • Intel Core i7 upgrade costs $250
  • Storage upgrades: 512GB ($200), 1TB ($400), 2TB($800)

I’ll come out and say it: the 2020 MacBook Air isn’t cheap. Competing $999 machines have more power. If you’re going to spend $1,299 to get the Core i5 model, you might as well get a base 13-inch MacBook Pro, which has better cooling, an improved screen, and more USB Type-C ports (though you sacrifice weight and thickness).

Moreover, the price can also quickly skyrocket to $2,249 at the laptop’s max configuration, which is outrageous for a laptop of this caliber. There’s also the MacBook Air (M1) for the exact same price.

2020 Apple MacBook Air review: The verdict

Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

While we call it a premium computer, this doesn’t mean the MacBook Air is meant to outperform its competition. Instead, the MacBook Air is for those who favor a premium experience over raw power. Because you don’t need bleeding-edge specs and discrete graphics to do spreadsheets, type emails, write essays, and browse the web. But having a simple operating system, an amazing design, a good typing experience, nice screen, fair audio, reliability, and the unbeatable customer service Apple is known for? Those benefits are worth $1,000 if you are going to be using the computer extensively.

My best advice would be to buy the 2020 MacBook Air only if you can live without many of its upgrades. Keep the price as close to $999 as possible and it will serve as a great computer. Otherwise, Apple itself has much better options, and if you’re happy to experiment with app compatibility, there’s now another MacBook Air out there that improves on this model in every other way.

ReviewsApple, laptop

MacBook Air i7 (2020) - Is The Most Powerful Air Worth It?

The MacBook Air is Apple’s best-loved and best-selling laptop. It’s thin, light, powerful enough for most people, and it’s the least expensive option in Apple’s laptop lineup.

Apple finally brought the MacBook Air into the modern Mac era in 2018 with the addition of USB-C, Touch ID, a Retina display, and the removal of MagSafe and USB-A. But that laptop also ditched the old scissor-switch keyboard for the much-maligned butterfly keyboard, and boosted the starting price to $1,199 without giving you more storage.

In 2019, Apple knocked $100 off the price and added True Tone to the display, but that was it. It’s a fine laptop, but not a particularly good deal. This year, with faster processors, double the starting storage, the new Magic Keyboard, and a $999 starting price, the MacBook Air is back to being the great deal it was before.

New processors—plural!

One of our gripes with the 2018 and 2019 MacBook Air is that it featured an Intel Core i5-8210Y, and only that one processor. It was hardly an upgrade over the previous generation except that it offered better graphics performance. If you wanted more muscle, you were out of luck, as Apple offered no other processor options.

The new 2020 MacBook Air uses Intel’s new 10th-generation “Ice Lake” processors, which feature a new microarchitecture. All you need to know is that the clock speeds are lower but performance is generally higher, especially graphics performance.

At the $999 starting price, you get a Core i3-1000NG4, a dual-core processor which is a little on the pokey side. $100 more nets you a Core i5-1030NG7, a quad-core processor that offers a significant speed boost across the board. Another $150 gets you a Core i7-1060NG7 which is faster still, but probably not worth the price for most people.

mb air 2020 cinebenchr20IDG

Apple offers two standard configurations. One costs $999 and gives you the Core i3, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of storage. The other, at $1,299, is the one we reviewed; it still has 8GB of RAM but upgrades you to that quad-core Core i5 processor and doubles the starting storage to 512GB. It’s probably the sweet spot for most users. You can upgrade to 16GB of RAM for $200 at the time of purchase, but it’s not upgradable after the fact. There are also 1TB and 2TB storage options.

mb air 2020 geekbench5IDG

Our benchmarks show a boost in single-core processor speed of around 20 percent over the 2018 and 2019 MacBook Air, and multi-threaded processor performance of anywhere from 40 to 70 percent higher. This isn’t a computer you’ll want to do serious high-end video editing with every day, but it’s plenty fast for most people.

Battery life that gets the job done

Battery life on the 2018/2019 MacBook Air was just as good as the old MacBook Air—an impressive feat considering the updated Retina display. This year’s model takes a bit of a step back.

In our video rundown test, where we loop a video with the display set at 150 nits, the new 2020 MacBook Air lasted just slightly less than 9 hours. That’s about 15 percent less than the 2018 model.

mb air 2020 batteryIDG

In day-to-day use, we had no problem doing simple office tasks and web browsing for an entire work day, with modest breaks. Battery life still seems slightly less robust than on past models, but we haven’t quite reached the point where it’s cause for concern. Compared to other premium thin-and-light 13-inch laptops, the 2020 MacBook Air offers good battery life, but is not at the top of the pack.

A great keyboard once again

Six years ago, Apple’s laptop keyboards were universally praised. With the introduction of the 12-inch MacBook, Apple started to transition laptops to a new keyboard with a “butterfly” mechanism rather than the “scissor-switch” mechanism of old.

macbook air 2020 arrow keysIDG/Willis Lai

Apple of course will never admit it, but very few users liked it better, and most hated it. It was also a reliability problem.

With the 16-inch MacBook Pro, Apple went back to a scissor-switch mechanism keyboard, dubbed the Magic Keyboard. The MacBook Air is now the second Mac laptop to get this keyboard, and we assume the rest of the line will follow on quickly.

It’s not quite identical to the old scissor-switch keyboard—keys feel a little more “solid” with less wobble—but it has more travel and bounce than the butterfly keyboard, and it’s a lot quieter. The click-clank thumping sound is gone. It’s once again a joy to type on, and your coworkers around the conference table won’t get mad at you for daring to take notes on a MacBook.

At long last, our keyboard nightmare is over.

The MacBook Air is still the only Mac laptop you can get without the Touch Bar, which is a big win. You still get Touch ID, but the physical row of function keys is a step up from a secondary touch display that you have to take your eyes off the main display to use.

What’s with the crappy webcam?

You may have noticed, but we’re currently in the midst of a global pandemic that has a lot of people working from home and holding virtual meetings. It’s a situation that really drives home just how truly awful the built-in webcams are on every Mac, and the new MacBook Air is no exception.

macbook air 2020 webcamIDG/Willis Lai

It’s still the same 720p webcam we’ve seen on the Air for years. The resolution isn’t necessarily the problem (though 1080p should be the minimum standard). It’s everything else: the detail and dynamic range, the noise, the color balance. It’s just a bad webcam.

mb air 2020 webcamIDG

Look at the comparison above between the MacBook Air and a Logitech C920 webcam I’ve had since 2012. Sure, that was a premium webcam when it was new, but it’s now eight years old and it’s absolutely trouncing Apple’s camera under the same exact conditions, with video captured using the same exact program (Apple’s Photo Booth).

Frankly, I don’t understand this at all. Apple is keen to constantly improve the front-facing cameras on iPhones and iPads. Its laptops, the least-expensive of which costs $1,000 or more, are years behind the times. Apple’s crummy webcams are not a new problem, but the sudden surge in tele-commuting and virtual meetings has shone a light on it.

macbook air 2020 headphoneIDG/Willis Lai

Of course, if you use an external webcam to get decent quality, you’re probably also going to have to pick up a USB-A to USB-C dongle, because Mac laptops don’t have USB-A ports anymore (oddly enough, Mac desktops still do) and nearly all webcams have USB-A plugs. There’s plenty of room for a USB-A plug on the right side, next to the headphone jack.

Apple should really include its USB-C to USB Adapter in the box.

A much more palatable price

The new 2020 MacBook Air is not exciting. It doesn’t do anything the old MacBook Air didn’t. It gets rid of the bad keyboard in favor of one like the old keyboard we all loved, but Apple gets zero points for fixing what it never should have broken. It also offers three processor options that give you more speed (not that top-end performance is what people buy a MacBook Air for).

macbook air 2020 portsIDG/Willis Lai

Mainly, it delivers more bang for the buck. The starting price is back to $999, where it feels like the MacBook Air should always be. That gets you 256GB of storage instead of 128GB; an upgrade that should have happened in 2018. The $1,299 model we reviewed, with 512GB of storage and a faster quad-core processor, is a nice sweet spot that represents good value and longevity.

It’s not without sore spots, though. The webcam is atrocious for a laptop in this price range. Battery life, once the calling card of the MacBook Air, is a little worse now. It’s not a problem, but we can no longer count leading battery life among the Air’s strengths.

It’s high time for Apple to shake up the MacBook line with exciting new designs and capabilities. In absence of that, this update to the MacBook Air is a better value than the 2018 or 2019 models, and an easier upgrade to recommend for those still hanging on to their five-year-old model.


You will also like:

Compared: 2020 MacBook Air i3 versus MacBook Air i7

The MacBook Air is again available with an i7 processor. We've benchmarked the base 2020 MacBook Air with i3 processor, and the high-end quad-core i7 MacBook Air to see how much of a performance difference there — and to see if the i7 is worth the higher price tag.

2020 MacBook Air

Aside from the processors — and corresponding price increase — there are no differences between models of the 2020 MacBook Air.

Across the board, the new machines can now be configured with up to 2TB of internal storage, start with a higher 256GB of base storage, have adopted the 10th-generation of Intel's processors, now use the Magic Keyboard, and have more powerful Intel Iris Plus graphics that can power a 6K display.

Users can configure the SSD and the RAM when picking out a machine, but that will offer a smaller performance difference than the processor choice.

MacBook Air i3 versus MacBook Air i7 performance

This all leads up to the actual performance increase those processor improvements provide.

Geekbench 5.1 results on the i3 and i7 MacBook Air (2020)

Geekbench 5.1 results on the i3 and i7 MacBook Air (2020)

For the base 1.1 GHz dual-core i3-1000NG4 processor, we scored a 1074 and a 2412 on the single and multi-core tests. On the 1.2GHz quad-core i7-1060NG7 machine, we managed a 1294 and a 3514 respectively.

Those are no small gains. The roughly 20% single-core benchmark gain is good, but the near 50% multi-core gains are excellent. This is due, in part, to shift from a dual-core to a quad-core chip.

We also tested out the CPU-intensive benchmark Cinebench R20, and the quad-core i7 easily outmatched the dual-core i3. The i3 scored a 690 while the i7 scored a 1194 — double the cores, near double the score.

During our time testing the MacBook Air, we noticed the i7 would usually run slightly faster with everyday tasks and certainly has an edge with more intensive tasks such as Xcode compiling. Even on powering up from a cold shut down, we saw the i7 boot around two seconds faster than the i3.

To test everyday tasks, we encoded a roughly six-minute video in 4K at the default settings from iMovie. The base model took six minutes and two seconds while the i7 config took five and a half minutes. Not a huge saving in video encoding, but they do share the same graphics.

When configuring your MacBook Air, it is $100 to go to the 1.1GHz quad-core i5 and $250 to go to the faster quad-core i7. For a 20% price increase, you are getting 50% better performance out of your machine. Processor speeds don't help everything — they won't necessarily make emails or Facebook any faster — but you want to tax your machine at all, this seems like a good upgrade to consider.

Deals on Apple's MacBook Air

A number of 2020 MacBook Air configurations are currently on sale in the AppleInsider2020 MacBook Air Price Guide, further discounting the latest systems on top of Apple's price drop for the new 2020 line.

Meanwhile, closeout MacBook Air models are also available with cash savings of up to $350 off.

For even more deals on Apple products, including MacBook Pros, check out the AIApple Price Guide.


2231 2232 2233 2234 2235