The MacBook Air update you’ve been waiting for is here. After last year’s 16-inch MacBook Pro, the 2020 MacBook Air (starting $ 999, $ 1,299 based on testing) finally has a keyboard that we can recommend again, thanks to its smooth, ergonomic scissor keys. The new laptop also has an all-day battery and great speakers. But the new MacBook Air processors, Intel’s Ice Lake chips, aren’t as powerful as the processors you get in Windows for a similar price, or even less.
The MacBook Air is more agile and recognizable than ever. The 2020 update brought no changes to the aesthetics department. Our review unit is gold with a mirrored Apple logo on the lid, with a mirror polished finish. (If you prefer something a little more subtle, it’s also available in space gray or silver.) A small indentation at the front makes it easy to lift the lid with one finger.
Apple’s 13.3-inch 16:10 screen is slightly longer than some competing laptops, making it a taller screen. This is framed by a thin black frame, except for the top. Most Windows laptops that have a thick bezel on top have an infrared camera for facial recognition, but the MacBook Air is not.
The deck is the same gold color with a wide touchpad, a top-grossing pair of speakers, this year’s design star, and a redesigned keyboard with scissor keys and Touch ID.
Port selection is minimal, with a pair of Thunderbolt 3 ports on the left side and a headphone jack on the right side. The laptop has a starting thickness of 0.6 inches, but it drops to just under 0.2 inches, so there’s a sacrifice for thinness. You can use either of the two Thunderbolt 3 ports for charging.
Weighing in at 2.8 pounds and 12 x 8.4 x 0.6 inches, you can take the MacBook Air anywhere in your backpack and hardly notice it there. It has stiff competition in the Windows PC space, however, in the Dell XPS 13 (2.8 pounds, 11.6 x 7.8 x 0.6 inches) and Acer Swift 5 (2.1 pounds, 12.5 x 8.3 x 0.6 inches).
We reviewed the MacBook Air this year with an Intel Core i5-1030NG7, a 10W Ice Lake processor with four cores and eight threads. The CPU has a base clock of 1.1 GHz with a boost of up to 3.5 GHz. This CPU has been paired with 8 GB of RAM and 512 GB of SSD. What this means for those who don’t focus on specs is that they can handle most types of everyday computing, but don’t expect to do any serious video editing on this one.
On Geekbench 5.0, the MacBook Air achieved a score of 2738. That was behind the cheaper Acer Swift 5 (3,637, Intel Core i7-1065G7, 8GB) and unsurprisingly the Dell XPS 13 (4848, Intel Core i7 -1065G7), which we tested. With 16 GB of RAM.
When it comes to transferring files, it took MacBook Air 10 seconds to copy 4.97GB of files, at an average of 508.9MB per second. This is the same as the Acer Swift 5, although it is a bit slower than the Dell XPS 13 (621Mbps). In practice, your experience may be different. Apple’s APFS file system has been proven to be extremely fast, as it can copy files with small amounts of data from the original. Our file transfer test uses the Terminal command line.
We also ran a handbrake test, which converts 4K video to 1080p. The MacBook Air took 27 minutes and 10 seconds, which put it behind its i7 competitors.
To confirm our MacBook Air tests, we looped the Cinebench R20 20 times. Unlike many laptops we tested, there was no significant drop after the initial score of 986. The lowest score was 953, but the majority of runs were at 960. Average CPU speed was 1.6 GHz and the average CPU temperature was 99.4 ° C (210.9 ° F), which is below this CPU’s maximum temperature of 100 ° C. You can really hear the fans rushing during this audition.
In addition to the new processors, the big update to the MacBook Air is the addition of what Apple calls its Magic Keyboard, which uses scissor keys 1mm apart. This is a huge improvement over the butterfly switches found on recent models and is a return to form. For many, that will make it easy to recommend the MacBook Air again.
In the 10fastfingers.com typing test, the MacBook Air keyboard was a joy to use. It’s comfortable and I get 103 words per minute with a 2% standard error rate. Personally, I would not mind changing the butterfly much (regardless of the concerns of dura
There are 10 screws on the bottom of the MacBook Air, but going in won’t allow you to upgrade. Both the RAM and the SSD are soldered to the motherboard, so it is extremely important to choose the configuration that suits all your needs at the time of purchase.
The latest version of Apple can easily last all day. Our battery test constantly surfs the web, streams video, and runs OpenGL tests in the browser, all at 150 nits of brightness. The MacBook Air lasted 9 hours 31 minutes, bypassing the Acer Swift 5, although the Dell XPS 13 (12:39) with the 1920 x 1200 display option lasted longer. Dell’s 4K release continued at 8:14.
The center of the keyboard, between the G and H keys, reached 37.3 ° C (99.1 ° F), while the touchpad was cool at 30.3 ° C (86.5 ° F).
The MacBook Air may not have the powerful speakers of the 16-inch MacBook Pro, but it’s still great for such a slim laptop. When I played Heartless by The Weeknd, the song instantly filled my little New York City apartment with drums, vocals, and syncs. It was evenly balanced, and could even do the bass, which is often sacrificed in other slim notebooks. Apple really knows laptop speakers.