MacBook Air M1 review. Nothing to envy the Pro — 2022

Hi, I'm the most basic MacBook Air and I'll rock most older MacBooks with Intel chips. I did not put this anywhere and I did not even imagine it before touching this new device with Apple Silicon M1, but the truth is that today I would not be surprised if a phrase of this style was added to its welcome screen. Next, my experience of using this equipment and everything it has given after putting it to the test at the performance level.

Highlights of your design

Whether for better or for worse, the aesthetic field is one of the most relevant and may even be decisive in many cases. Obviously, for Apple, its designs are the best and it tries to please the majority with them, although in the end, taste is something very particular to each one. In my case (and I know that of many too) not only do I have to be convinced by the technical characteristics of a computer, but I also have to fall in love with its design, since it would be strange to use a device that, no matter how powerful, I like how it looks.

The body is identical to the previous model

The first thing you notice about the MacBook Air with M1 is that it's identical to its predecessor, an Intel model released just a few months earlier. This is not necessarily bad, since this equipment already incorporated necessary improvements such as a renovation of the keyboard with a scissor mechanism identical to the Magic Keyboard of iMacs. In addition, it is a keyboard that offers users a comfortable experience when writing, a point that many professionals who are dedicated to creating written content have to take into account. On the other hand, this new keyboard that the Cupertino company has implemented says goodbye to all the problems that the old keyboards with a butterfly mechanism presented.



Their light weight make it a tremendously portable and comfortable device to use in any situation, whether on a table or on your knees on the sofa, bed and even on public transport. For this reason, this MacBook Air continues to maintain that product line in which, now despite having power and features that are very close to those of its older brother, it continues to maintain the essence of being the laptop for the vast majority, thanks to its size and weight that make it ideal for anyone who wants to work on the move and who wants to carry their computer on their backs is not a hassle.

MacBook Air 2020 M1

The rest is already more subjective and it is that they already say that for tastes the colors. I personally love the design of this computer, probably being the most beautiful Mac for my taste, but as is evident respecting anyone who thinks otherwise in this regard. Of course, it cannot be denied how shocking it is that the MacBook Air that has changed the most internally in recent times has not undergone any retouching on the outside, something that probably will happen with future generations.

A sufficient screen in most cases

I will start by saying that whoever is looking for a screen of the highest quality, with an exact color balance and prepared for the most demanding photographic retouching, can forget about the screen of this MacBook Air. Now, is its quality bad? Absolutely. In fact, as I already mentioned in the title of this section, it is more than enough for most users looking for a screen with a large size, but without excesses (13.3 inches) and a quality resolution (2,560 x 1,660). and that can be adapted to other types of resolutions such as the following:

  • 1,680 by 1,050
  • 1,440 times 900
  • 1,024 times 640

Their 400 nits maximum brightness it might be insufficient in the case of a mobile phone, but not so in a laptop. It is true that precisely the fact of being able to take it anywhere is one of the strengths and if the sun is hitting it, it will cost more to see the content, but in the end they are still exceptional circumstances. The monitor of this Macbook Air is more than prepared to shine well in practically all light circumstances. And hey, whoever is looking for something better can always connect it to an external monitor and polish its weak points, but the reality is that the vast majority of users who use this MacBook Air will be completely satisfied by the quality of the screen, among other things.

Technical specifications and performance

We already gave a preview of some of the most outstanding features of this MacBook Air. However, in the following table and in the following sections, I will break down each of the points that, at least in my opinion, I think are relevant to highlight for anyone who is interested in getting a computer of this type.

specsMacBook Air (M1 Late 2020)
Available coloursSpace gray, silver or gold
Dimensions-Height: 0.41 cm closed and 1.61 cm open
- Width: 12'
-Bottom: 21.24 cm
Weight1,29 kg
Screen13.3-inch LED-backlit IPS panel
Resolution2.560 x 1.600
Brightness400 nits
ProcessorM1 chip with 7 or 8 core GPU
Internal memory256GB, 512GB, 1TB, or 2TB SSD
RAM8 GB or 16 GB
ports-3.5mm jack for audio
-Two Thunderbolt 3 - USB 4 compatible with charging, DisplayPort, Thunderbolt 3 up to 40 GB/s and USB 3.1 up to 10 GB/s
biometric sensorsTouch ID
Camera720p HD front
Autonomy-15 hours of Wi-Fi browsing
-18 hours of video playback
connectivity-WiFi 802.11ax 6th generation
-Bluetooth 5.0

MacBook Air 2020 Keyboard

Only 16 GB of RAM, but it has an explanation

Apple was surprised when it announced this MacBook with a maximum of 16 GB of RAM. Perhaps being the 'Air' range, it can be inferred that its focus is on undemanding users, however the 'Pro' with M1 also have this maximum limitation. How is this possible? Well, despite not having an official explanation, we could understand it by looking at the precedent of the iPhone and iPad. The latter are computers with less RAM than the average Android in their price range and yet they are capable of reaching higher performance figures.

The fact that this occurs in the iPhone and iPad is due to the fact that both the software and the main hardware component, the processor, have been designed by Apple itself, with the receiver of these elements in mind. With Macs, this same explanation could be given, since in addition to the tests carried out and which I will comment on later, I have been able to verify first-hand that even with 8 GB of RAM, this computer outperforms others with Intel and up to 32 GB of RAM. Therefore, the time has come to value in the same way the RAM that a Mac has and that of another computer with another operating system, since the leap made by Apple computers with the M1 chip has made that balance is no longer in equal conditions.

New MacBook Air M1

Why are there 7 or 8 core GPU?

When buying this computer, we can find different configurations regarding its internal memory, RAM capacity or pre-installed software. And in both there is the M1 chip, although with a substantial difference that perhaps you had already appreciated: the GPU. This integrated graph is composed of 7 cores in the most basic version and 8 in the advanced version .

Evidently, finding something like this generates certain doubts, but the reason for this is not unreasonable at all and it even occurs in other industries such as motorsports and engine manufacturing. It's all due to quality process during manufacturing with what is known as chip binning or chip grouping in its most literal translation.

During the manufacture of microchips, some usual alterations take place, such as a dust molecule getting into one of the cores or something similar. And it is that, however microscopic it may be, it is a contamination of the nucleus that makes it unusable. And yes, it sounds strange and although the manufacturing process is carried out in the cleanest way possible, in the end it is something inevitable and that absolutely all manufacturers take into account. What would normally be done is to throw away that chip, however, Apple takes advantage of it and the faulty core is completely disabled so that it does not intervene in any action.

Therefore, really they all have 8 cores , only that some come with that eighth disabled to ensure better performance and, incidentally, to be able to offer this MacBook Air in cheaper versions.

And probably at this point you are wondering, The difference is evident? Well, in practical terms, not too much. Having 7 or 8 GPU cores is something practically invaluable by common users of these computers, perhaps more noticeable in more demanding processes in which the computer's graphics are precisely put to the test. Although, even in those situations, it is not that there is a really bulky difference.

Why doesn't this MacBook Air have a fan?

Apple laptops, at least in recent years, had been characterized as real disasters in temperature management and excessive use of fans to reduce it. And most of those times inefficiently. That is why it is surprising to see that this MacBook Air M1 comes without a single fan inside.

And it is that this is a remarkable difference that Apple has managed to implement in this equipment unlike the Intel. Instead of the fan, a heat sink which helps to keep the temperature of the device at a stable level even in heavy processes.

The M1 chip is capable of managing resources optimally enough so that the Mac does not burn. And this is not only on paper, but I have been able to verify it in the first person. Editing and rendering videos in 4K with Final Cut the computer heats up, yes, but not to the point of burning or noticing that the heating is being excessive. What's more, not even for performance purposes is there any noticeable lag in the computer, despite the fact that the system is designed to lower the clock frequency, something that could initially put off those users who want to use this laptop to carry It carries out much more demanding actions, but after being able to test it, the reality is that the drop in the clock frequency that the processor itself does to manage the temperature does not translate even remotely into a slowdown of the equipment.

Review MacBook Air M1 Apple Silicon

Therefore, in this section we find iPad-like experience , which also do not come equipped with fans and yet that does not make their performance inferior or reach high temperatures that put it at risk. This also has positive effects with respect to noise, since it is awfully quiet , thus avoiding some headaches caused by the noise of the fan in previous generations with Intel chips and, again, making this MacBook Air the ideal computer that any student or user who wants to work outside the home can have.

Comprehensive performance and battery tests

The performance tests carried out are similar to those recently carried out on our YouTube channel. We leave you the video below, in which we also compare it with a MacBook Pro with Intel. Final Cut, Adobe Premiere, Geekbench, Cinebench and more. The results are really impressive and leave as main strengths the great autonomy of this team and its raw power even with 8 GB of RAM.

A software that adapts in real time

Along with the Mac mini and MacBook Air M1 launched at the same time, this computer is the first from Apple to incorporate an ARM architecture chip. Beyond what this changes in power level and other performance factors, it also means that developers adapt their apps to this previously unreleased architecture. And the truth is that they are achieving it, although it is a process that Apple itself dated back 2 years.

Native app performance

Taking into account that macOS Big Sur is the first operating system compatible with the M1 and that we have also done the test only a few weeks after the launch, it was expected to find some bugs in native applications. I swear I've tested every single app looking for a crash or the like. In the end I had to give up.

MacBook Air Late 2020

All native macOS apps they work perfectly with the M1 chip. I have even been able to notice differences in aspects as trivial as opening the lid of the MacBook and waiting for it to appear on the desktop. Comparing it with the previous generation, there is a substantial difference of about 1 second. Ok, it is not something abysmal nor is it essential to talk about the performance of a processor, but it serves as a detail of how well the software is combined with the hardware. The experience when using this Apple laptop is practically unbeatable, especially considering the leap in power and performance that the MacBook Air has given, and enjoying the fluidity and speed of the entire team.

And the applications that have not been adapted?

As the days have gone by, new third-party applications have been added that have been optimized to work with Apple Silicon and have done really well and also noticing improvements regarding their operation in Intel. However, at the time of writing this review, there are still many applications to adapt. However it is possible to have them by making a kind of virtualization of them thanks to Rosetta 2 .

When you open an application not optimized for M1, Rosetta 2 works in the background emulating the x86 architecture of Intel chips. Knowing if an application is emulating this architecture or is already running on ARM is as simple as opening Activity Monitor and checking in a new column (in the CPU tab) if it says Intel or Apple.

Apple Silicon Intel Activity Monitor

The performance of the apps in this emulation is really complex to explain. Apple says that it is possible that some of them may occasionally crash and although it has happened to me with some applications, when comparing load times with an Intel Mac the difference is really intermittent. Sometimes it loads the preview earlier on the M1, but then the Intel loads the full interface earlier and finally the M1 runs smoother in navigation. It's really random at times. In any case, and in general terms, it can be said that it is a good system to alleviate the lack of compatibility of some of them.

As an add-on to Rosetta 2, it must be said that you don't have to install it. This opens in a pop-up when an Intel application is installed and then it stays continuously in the background, so if you had any doubts about how this Mac with M1 and the applications that were not optimized would work , the reality is that you will hardly even notice those apps that have not yet been optimized.

Rosetta

Then there is another really interesting possibility and that is use iPhone and iPad apps on the Mac . In the Mac App Store, a filter has been added with which to locate third-party apps that do not have apps in macOS. Well, these can be downloaded and opened on the Mac as if they were running on one of those devices, with dimensions not adapted to the Mac but in small windows with all the functions available. It's not the most optimal, but believe me when I tell you that it's more useful than you think and it's something that you can't do with Intel chips.

Boot Camp is there, but you can't use it

One of the shortcomings of current ARM chips like the M1 is that can't install windows on a partition . In this case, it is a Microsoft problem, since they have not yet optimized their operating system for this architecture. However, it seems that Apple hopes that this will change in the short term, since the Boot Camp application that allows this action appears in the application menu. However, when you try to open the application, a message appears on the screen informing you that it cannot be used on this Mac.

BootCamp M1

Is it worth buying now?

Yes and no. This is a MacBook that, as you may have already seen, has plenty of power for both basic users and those who are somewhat more demanding. In the future it will be an ideal team and for which we recommend betting seriously, since it is also expected to keep its software updated for at least 5 more years. However, it is risky to play the card that this is your main work computer at the moment if you use any third-party app, since there is no complete certainty that it works as efficiently as on an Intel. The transition is expected to take two years, but many developers are already rushing to optimize their applications.