Notebookcheck

Apple MacBook Air 2020 M1 Entry Review: Apple M1 CPU humbles Intel and AMD

Apple through and through. The new entry into Apple's notebook world comes with its new in-house M1 ARM processor in the established case. Find out in our extensive review how the new entry-level release turns out and whether Apple also has to struggle with software compatibility like the Windows-on-ARM devices.
Klaus Hinum, Brian Burriston (translated by Mark Riege), 🇩🇪 🇳🇱 ...

After many years of rumors and an announcement in June, the time has finally come: With the new MacBook Pro 13 and the MacBook Air, we are testing two notebooks with the Apple M1 processor. The new Air is particularly exciting. While it offers the same powerful M1 SoC as the Pro model, it is quiet with its fanless cooling, and costs significantly less. You only have to accept a limitation of the integrated graphics card in the most affordable version, since Apple has deactivated one of the eight graphics cores. However, the maximum clock speeds of the GPU and CPU are comparable, and if necessary, you can get the eighth graphics core in the more expensive Air model with the larger SSD. For a hefty premium, you can also order the Apple M1 SoC with 16 GB of RAM. Because the RAM is placed on the same board right next to the SoC, it cannot be upgraded.

Two of the direct competitors come from Apple's own camp: The MacBook Pro 13 offers a fan for better performance under continuous load, a Touchbar, a larger battery (and also case), and a slightly brighter display. And positioned below the Air are the iPads with the optional keyboard cover / Magic Keyboard. For example, the recently updated iPad Air 4 with a Magic Keyboard presents itself as a more compact alternative. However, with the 256-GB version you are already in a comparable price range, and an iPad Pro with keyboard is even more expensive. But it has the advantage of optional pen operation. As a cheaper Apple alternative, we could also mention the iPad 4 with the keyboard cover.

There are numerous competitors among the Windows notebooks. You can find a constantly updated list of all the top competitors to the MacBook Air here. The device that is most well-known is the Dell XPS 13, whose newest version 9310 is also available with Tiger Lake.

We purchased our test unit from regular commercial sources, deciding for the most affordable entry-level version with a seven-core GPU, 256 GB SSD, and 8 GB of RAM in silver color.

Apple MacBook Air 2020 M1 Entry (MacBook Air Late 2020 Series)
Processor
Apple M1 8 x 2.1 - 3.2 GHz
Graphics adapter
Memory
8192 MB 
, LPDDR4X
Display
13.30 inch 16:10, 2560 x 1600 pixel 227 PPI, IPS, glossy: yes, 60 Hz
Storage
Apple SSD AP0256Q, 256 GB 
Connections
2 USB 3.1 Gen2, 2 Thunderbolt, 1 DisplayPort, Audio Connections: headset, Brightness Sensor
Networking
Apple AirPort Extreme M1 (a/b/g/n = Wi-Fi 4/ac = Wi-Fi 5/ax = Wi-Fi 6), Bluetooth 5.0
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 16.1 x 304.1 x 212.4 ( = 0.63 x 11.97 x 8.36 in)
Battery
49.9 Wh, 4380 mAh Lithium-Ion, Battery runtime (according to manufacturer): 15 h
Operating System
Apple OS X 11.0 Big Sur
Camera
Primary Camera: 0.9 MPix
Additional features
Speakers: stereo, 12 Months Warranty, fanless
Weight
1.272 kg ( = 44.87 oz / 2.8 pounds), Power Supply: 172 g ( = 6.07 oz / 0.38 pounds)
Price
1129 Euro
Note: The manufacturer may use components from different suppliers including display panels, drives or memory sticks with similar specifications.

 

Comparison of possible competitors

Rating
Date
Model
Weight
Height
Size
Resolution
Best Price
91 %
12/2020
Apple MacBook Air 2020 M1 Entry
M1, M1 7-Core GPU
1.3 kg16.1 mm13.30"2560x1600
88 %
10/2020
Dell XPS 13 9310 Core i7 FHD
i7-1165G7, Iris Xe G7 96EUs
1.3 kg14.8 mm13.40"1920x1200
88 %
10/2020
Lenovo ThinkPad X13 Yoga 20SX0004GE
i7-10510U, UHD Graphics 620
1.3 kg15.95 mm13.30"1920x1080
89 %
10/2019
Lenovo ThinkPad X395
R3 PRO 3300U, Vega 6
1.3 kg16.9 mm13.30"1920x1080
90 %
08/2020
Lenovo ThinkPad X13-20UGS00800
R7 PRO 4750U, Vega 7
1.3 kg16.9 mm13.30"1920x1080
91 %
11/2020
Apple iPad Air 2020
A14, A14 Bionic GPU
458 g6.1 mm10.90"2360x1640
89 %
05/2020
Apple iPad Pro 12.9 2020
A12Z Bionic, A12Z Bionic GPU
641 g5.9 mm12.90"2732x2048
85 %
10/2019
Apple iPad 7 2019
A10 Fusion, A10 Fusion GPU
483 g7.5 mm10.20"2160x1620

Case

To come to the point right away: there is nothing new in terms of the case. Apple was only concerned about inner values, and there are no external changes compared to the 2020 refresh of the MacBook Air. Only the large display bezels strike us as out of date. In the Windows world, those have already shrunk considerably (see XPS 13). You will also look in vain for a touchscreen, which might actually be quite useful due to the adjustments of Big Sur and the compatibility of IOS apps. On the other hand, the positive characteristics of the aluminum unibody case remain. It is very robust, feels high quality, and is attractive with its simple design. The Air is not considered an icon of style for nothing and was imitated by numerous manufacturers. Due to the case becoming slimmer, the sharp edges in front are not a problem - in contrast to the Pro models.

A minor detail on the side: The second MacBook Air in our test (more expensive model with octa-core GPU and 512 GB SSD) produces a slight squeak when moving the hinge. Our entry-level test unit does not show this behavior, and we also never encountered it in the many test units of the previous generations.

Looking at the competitors, it is obvious that the MacBook Air does not set new standards in terms of size and weight in 2020 anymore. There are some significantly slimmer and smaller notebooks. At a comparable weight, the Dell XPS 13 can score in all those measurements.

Size Comparison

312 mm / 12.3 inch 217 mm / 8.54 inch 16.9 mm / 0.665 inch 1.3 kg2.82 lbs311.9 mm / 12.3 inch 217.2 mm / 8.55 inch 16.9 mm / 0.665 inch 1.3 kg2.84 lbs310.4 mm / 12.2 inch 219 mm / 8.62 inch 15.95 mm / 0.628 inch 1.3 kg2.84 lbs304.1 mm / 12 inch 212.4 mm / 8.36 inch 16.1 mm / 0.634 inch 1.3 kg2.8 lbs296 mm / 11.7 inch 199 mm / 7.83 inch 14.8 mm / 0.583 inch 1.3 kg2.85 lbs280.6 mm / 11 inch 214.9 mm / 8.46 inch 5.9 mm / 0.2323 inch 641 g1.413 lbs250.6 mm / 9.87 inch 174.1 mm / 6.85 inch 7.5 mm / 0.2953 inch 483 g1.065 lbs247.6 mm / 9.75 inch 178.5 mm / 7.03 inch 6.1 mm / 0.2402 inch 458 g1.01 lbs

Connection Equipment

TB3 network bridge to an MBP16 reached 15.4 Gbit/s
TB3 network bridge to an MBP16 reached 15.4 Gbit/s
Icy Box 20gbits with TS2TMTE220S USB-C SSD
Icy Box 20gbits with TS2TMTE220S USB-C SSD

As usual, the MacBook Air offers only meager fare in terms of the connections. Fortunately, the two USB-C ports on the left side support Thunderbolt 3. However, the compatibility is not at the level we are used to from Intel based notebooks. First the positive: both ports can be used for charging and worked flawlessly in our test with various charging devices (MBP16, Anker, Philips USB-C Monitor). Both ports can also be used as DisplayPort, but the M1 in the MacBook Air only supports a single additional monitor. In our test, 4K at 60 Hz worked perfectly with the Philips Brilliance 329P9H and also with an LG 4K monitor. However, an Asus PB287Q only ran at 30 Hz in 4K, and you can also hear about some isolated problems in the Internet. At this point, external Thunderbolt accessories cannot be used reliably yet. External graphics cards are not supported yet (apparently it lacks an ARM driver for example from AMD, which was tested with the Mantiz Venus), and the Mantiz Titan TB Dock also worked only in parts at best and was unreliable. The data rates of USB 3.2 Gen 2 devices are also not comparable with those of Intel based Thunderbolt devices. Apparently USB 4 is only supported in the lowest version with 10 Gbit/s, but you can achieve higher data rates (for example, 15.4 Gbit/s in the network test) with Thunderbolt 3.

We should also not forget to mention the headset port on the right side, whose attractive quality we liked (more on that later).

Left: 2x Thunderbolt 3 / USB 4 (10 Gbit/s)
Left: 2x Thunderbolt 3 / USB 4 (10 Gbit/s)
Right: headset
Right: headset

Communication

Only 80 MHz and therefore 1200 Mbit/s via WiFi 6
Only 80 MHz and therefore 1200 Mbit/s via WiFi 6

With the move to the Apple M1, finally support for 802.11ax, also known as WiFi 6, has arrived. However, in the test with our Netgear Nighthawk Stream RAX120 router, the Air was only able to connect at 80 MHz and a maximum of 1200 Mbit/s. This led to very weak data rates for a WiFi 6 device in our test. In our comparison, the Asus PCE-AX58BT WiFi 6 card (which uses the Intel AX200 Chip) achieved 1.5 Gbit/s right after that. In the comparison of the competing notebooks, the XPS 13 had a significant advantage, for example. While there are hardly any advantages compared to the predecessor model (only Wifi 5), at least the MacBook Air is able to leave the iPad Air 4 slightly behind (probably because of better antennas).

Networking
iperf3 Client (receive) TCP 1 m 4M x10
Dell XPS 13 9310 Core i7 FHD
Intel Killer Wi-Fi 6 AX1650s
1439 (1386min - 1504max) MBit/s ∼100% +114%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 M1 Entry
Apple AirPort Extreme M1
672 (614min - 682max) MBit/s ∼47%
Average Apple AirPort Extreme M1
 
672 MBit/s ∼47% 0%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (30.9 - 1658, n=191)
666 MBit/s ∼46% -1%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
612 (576min - 636max) MBit/s ∼43% -9%
Apple iPad Air 2020
802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax
541 (500min - 571max) MBit/s ∼38% -19%
iperf3 Client (transmit) TCP 1 m 4M x10
Dell XPS 13 9310 Core i7 FHD
Intel Killer Wi-Fi 6 AX1650s
975 (786min - 1026max) MBit/s ∼100% +77%
Apple iPad Air 2020
802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax
645 (569min - 750max) MBit/s ∼66% +17%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (36 - 1614, n=191)
624 MBit/s ∼64% +13%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 M1 Entry
Apple AirPort Extreme M1
552 (257min - 620max) MBit/s ∼57%
Average Apple AirPort Extreme M1
 
552 MBit/s ∼57% 0%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
550 (546min - 561max) MBit/s ∼56% 0%
050100150200250300350400450500550600650700Tooltip
; iperf3 Client (receive) TCP 1 m 4M x10; iperf 3.1.3: Ø672 (614-682)
; iperf3 Client (transmit) TCP 1 m 4M x10; iperf 3.1.3: Ø544 (257-620)

Webcam

Unfortunately, not much has changed in terms of the webcam either. Apple continues to use the same mediocre camera module with a weak 720p resolution. At least the Apple M1 chip offers improved image processing, allowing for colors and contrast to also turn out better. Depending on the situation, this can be quite noticeable.

Artificial light - very bright
Artificial light - very bright
Artificial light - very dark
Artificial light - very dark
Natural light
Natural light
Outdoor image
Outdoor image
Resolution distribution
Resolution distribution
Sharpness of the measurement points
Sharpness of the measurement points
ColorChecker
9.9 ∆E
14.4 ∆E
16.6 ∆E
11.2 ∆E
15.1 ∆E
12.1 ∆E
13.6 ∆E
10.4 ∆E
9.8 ∆E
9.7 ∆E
9.7 ∆E
11.1 ∆E
8 ∆E
8.5 ∆E
1.8 ∆E
8.5 ∆E
7.5 ∆E
11 ∆E
12.5 ∆E
10.3 ∆E
8.8 ∆E
12.5 ∆E
10.7 ∆E
7.7 ∆E
ColorChecker Apple MacBook Air 2020 M1 Entry: 10.47 ∆E min: 1.76 - max: 16.57 ∆E

Maintenance

The bottom of the laptop continues to be secured with Pentalobe screws. However, there are hardly any reasons for wanting to access the insides, since only the battery can be replaced relatively easily. There is no fan needing maintenance, and all the components such as the CPU, GPU, SSD, RAM, and WLAN card are directly soldered onto the main board. Our colleges from iFixit have already taken the device apart and shown the differences to the old Air.

Only the battery can be replaced in the MacBook Air with M1 CPU (image: iFixit)
Only the battery can be replaced in the MacBook Air with M1 CPU (image: iFixit)

Warranty

Apple offers a one-year warranty for all its products, including a phone hotline (also for software problems). For a longer warranty period, you have the option to purchase the expensive warranty extension called Apple Care (also including the hotline).

Input Devices

Keyboard

The mechanics of the keyboard have not changed compared to the predecessor model. Apple uses the good scissor keys that are appreciated much more by the majority of users and also supposed to be more reliable. At 89 WPM in the fast type test, the author achieved a very good result without any time to familiarize himself (even though he was a fan of the old butterfly keys). So the stroke, size, and layout continue to be ideal for Apple users. As before, Windows users have to readjust, and the lack of labeling on some special keys (such as the brackets []{} in the German layout) continues to be annoying.

Compared to the MacBook Pro 13, the Air has to make do without the Touchbar, offering the traditional F1 - F12 function keys instead. Unless you want to use the Touchbar for Widgets, this is not a great disadvantage.

Touchpad

There are also no changes here, but we wouldn't know what you could improve here anyways. The glass touchpad with its vibration motor works perfectly up to the corners. The touchpad continues to be without equal in the Windows world. In the larger notebook models, Apple only changes the size of the trackpad, but it is much better compared to the Magic Keyboard of the iPad series.

Display

Subpixel grid, no matte surface
Subpixel grid
Hardly any backlight bleeding
Hardly any backlight bleeding

According to Apple, there are also some small changes in the display. While it still uses the same 16:10 resolution with 2560 x 1600 pixels, it now offers a slightly increased maximum brightness and a larger color space. We confirmed the higher brightness. In our comparison of the competitors, the iPads are significantly brighter and the XPS 13 is also able to produce a noticeably higher maximum brightness. As usual, the ThinkPads are unfortunately defeated in this discipline. The relatively high black value unfortunately leads only to an average contrast of 1000:1.

391
cd/m²
402
cd/m²
391
cd/m²
402
cd/m²
417
cd/m²
398
cd/m²
389
cd/m²
381
cd/m²
381
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 417 cd/m² Average: 394.7 cd/m² Minimum: 4.4 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 91 %
Center on Battery: 417 cd/m²
Contrast: 1069:1 (Black: 0.39 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 1.12 | 0.6-29.43 Ø5.7, calibrated: 0.77
ΔE Greyscale 1.7 | 0.64-98 Ø5.9
99.8% sRGB (Calman 2D)
Gamma: 2207
Apple MacBook Air 2020 M1 Entry
IPS, 2560x1600, 13.30
Dell XPS 13 9310 Core i7 FHD
Sharp LQ134N1, IPS, 1920x1200, 13.40
Lenovo ThinkPad X13 Yoga 20SX0004GE
N133HCG-GR3, IPS, 1920x1080, 13.30
Lenovo ThinkPad X395
LP133WF7-SPB1, IPS, 1920x1080, 13.30
Lenovo ThinkPad X13-20UGS00800
B133HAK01.1, IPS LED, 1920x1080, 13.30
Apple iPad Air 2020
IPS, 2360x1640, 10.90
Apple iPad Pro 12.9 2020
Liquid Retina Display, IPS, 2732x2048, 12.90
Apple iPad 7 2019
IPS, 2160x1620, 10.20
Response Times
-64%
-44%
-50%
-49%
-25%
-31%
4%
Response Time Grey 50% / Grey 80% *
31 (14, 17)
52 (27.6, 24.4)
-68%
56 (26.8, 29.2)
-81%
55 (26, 29)
-77%
56.8 (29.2, 27.6)
-83%
46.8 (23.6, 23.2)
-51%
46.8 (18.4, 28.4)
-51%
38 (19, 19)
-23%
Response Time Black / White *
26.1 (14.9, 11.2)
33.2 (19.2, 14)
-27%
28 (11.2, 16.8)
-7%
32 (18, 14)
-23%
30 (16.8, 13.2)
-15%
25.6 (12.4, 13.2)
2%
24.4 (8.4, 16)
7%
18 (7, 11)
31%
PWM Frequency
118000 (49, 155)
2475 (20)
-98%
58820 (13)
-50%
Screen
-56%
-12%
-46%
-110%
3%
10%
11%
Brightness middle
417
543.3
30%
401
-4%
356
-15%
331
-21%
509
22%
625
50%
499
20%
Brightness
395
524
33%
383
-3%
336
-15%
315
-20%
486
23%
599
52%
470
19%
Brightness Distribution
91
92
1%
91
0%
88
-3%
90
-1%
93
2%
87
-4%
87
-4%
Black Level *
0.39
0.38
3%
0.16
59%
0.16
59%
0.21
46%
0.39
-0%
0.47
-21%
0.49
-26%
Contrast
1069
1430
34%
2506
134%
2225
108%
1576
47%
1305
22%
1330
24%
1018
-5%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *
1.12
3.02
-170%
2.6
-132%
3.6
-221%
6.1
-445%
1.3
-16%
1.3
-16%
0.97
13%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 max. *
2.71
7.61
-181%
4.2
-55%
5.5
-103%
10
-269%
2.8
-3%
2.7
-0%
1.98
27%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 calibrated *
0.77
1.23
-60%
0.9
-17%
1.11
-44%
1.2
-56%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *
1.7
5
-194%
3.3
-94%
4.7
-176%
6.3
-271%
2.2
-29%
1.8
-6%
0.9
47%
Gamma
2207 0%
2.02 109%
2.01 109%
2.92 75%
2.77 79%
2.21 100%
2.23 99%
2.135 103%
CCT
6870 95%
6550 99%
6076 107%
6222 104%
6938 94%
6833 95%
6765 96%
6571 99%
Color Space (Percent of AdobeRGB 1998)
66.8
62.7
61
60.7
99.3
Color Space (Percent of sRGB)
99.6
98.1
96
95.4
Total Average (Program / Settings)
-60% / -58%
-28% / -18%
-48% / -46%
-80% / -99%
-11% / -3%
-11% / -1%
8% / 10%

* ... smaller is better

The color accuracy of the panel is excellent in our tests. The color tests as well as the grayscale are significantly better than with the Windows competitors. The display is therefore very well suited for photographers and others using applications that are dependent on color accuracy. However, they should also test and recalibrate their display regularly. In this regard, we then found out, for example, that older hardware was not supported anymore, and that there might be some compatibility problems with the M1.

The sRGB color space is practically covered completely and DCI P3 (under daVinci Resolve), to 98.2%. As usual, tests via MobileForge or the browser only run in the sRGB color space. The i1Profiler calibration software of the i1pro is currently not compatible with the M1 Macs, therefore we used the SyperX to calibrate the display (measurements still done with the i1pro).

ColorChecker (MobileForge)
ColorChecker (MobileForge)
Grayscale (MobileForge)
Grayscale (MobileForge)
Gamut sRGB (MobileForge)
Gamut sRGB (MobileForge)
Gamut DCI P3 (MobileForge)
Gamut DCI P3 (MobileForge)
Gamut via DisplayCal (browser)
Gamut via DisplayCal (browser)
Creating a display profile with the SpyderX
Creating a display profile with the SpyderX
Grayscale (calibrated with SpyderX)
Grayscale (calibrated with SpyderX)
ColorChecker (calibrated with SpyderX)
ColorChecker (calibrated with SpyderX)

The display is protected by reflective glass as usual. There is, however, a special layer on top that is supposed to reduce annoying reflections. But you should definitely still avoid bright light sources from behind. The brightness is also only sufficient for shady conditions, and things become difficult in direct sunlight.

Outdoors in winter
Outdoors in winter
Direct reflection of the sun
Direct reflection of the sun

To save energy, Apple uses PWM at a very high frequency of 117 kHz for brightness up to about 50% (about 160 cd/m2). Above that, we measure some slight flickering at 60 Hz, but this only shows some very small brightness variations (with or without the charger). Neither should lead to any difficulties for more than very few users.

The response times of the display are good for an IPS display, but only average when considering all the displays we tested. However, there are no limitations at all in everyday operation.

Display Response Times

Display response times show how fast the screen is able to change from one color to the next. Slow response times can lead to afterimages and can cause moving objects to appear blurry (ghosting). Gamers of fast-paced 3D titles should pay special attention to fast response times.
       Response Time Black to White
26.1 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 14.9 ms rise
↘ 11.2 ms fall
The screen shows relatively slow response rates in our tests and may be too slow for gamers.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.8 (minimum) to 240 (maximum) ms. » 52 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is similar to the average of all tested devices (24.4 ms).
       Response Time 50% Grey to 80% Grey
31 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 14 ms rise
↘ 17 ms fall
The screen shows slow response rates in our tests and will be unsatisfactory for gamers.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.8 (minimum) to 636 (maximum) ms. » 23 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is better than the average of all tested devices (38.7 ms).

Screen Flickering / PWM (Pulse-Width Modulation)

To dim the screen, some notebooks will simply cycle the backlight on and off in rapid succession - a method called Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) . This cycling frequency should ideally be undetectable to the human eye. If said frequency is too low, users with sensitive eyes may experience strain or headaches or even notice the flickering altogether.
Screen flickering / PWM detected 118000 Hz ≤ 49 % brightness setting
≤ 155 cd/m² brightness

The display backlight flickers at 118000 Hz (Likely utilizing PWM) Flickering detected at a brightness setting of 49 % (155 cd/m²) and below. There should be no flickering or PWM above this brightness setting.

The frequency of 118000 Hz is quite high, so most users sensitive to PWM should not notice any flickering.

Flickering occurs even at high brightness setting and may have an effect on the user during everyday use.

In comparison: 51 % of all tested devices do not use PWM to dim the display. If PWM was detected, an average of 9725 (minimum: 5 - maximum: 142900) Hz was measured.

Thanks to the IPS panel, the image remains stable even from extreme viewing angles, maintaining the brightness relatively well.

Performance

The most important innovation is of course the Apple M1 SoC. With this, Apple integrates its own processor and graphics units also in notebooks for the first time. Because the architecture has changed from x86 to ARM, old programs have to be emulated (Rosetta 2) under MacOS, causing some loss in performance. On the other hand, you gain compatibility to IOS programs, which run without emulation. Unfortunately, some manufacturers lock their apps for usage under MacOS, so that the whole software library of the iPads will not be available. The lack of a touchscreen is also a point here. Directly integrated into the chip, you can also find the LPDDR4X-4266 main storage as Unified Memory with either 8 or 16 GB. An advantage of the Unified Memory architecture is the fact that the CPU and GPU are able to access the memory simultaneously without the need of copying shared elements (as was the case until now).

Processor

MHz in Cinebench R23 10min loop
MHz in Cinebench R23 10min loop

The integrated processor in the M1 SoC is the most important innovation. It offers four fast and large Firestorm cores with a clock speed of up to 3.2 GHz (P Cluster) and four energy saving cores with the codename Icestorm (up to 2.1 GHz, E Cluster). While all eight cores can be used simultaneously, only the Icestorm cores run under low loads, ensuring a long battery life. In contrast to the MacBook Pro, there is no fan in the Air but only a passive cooling block instead. This has a significant effect under longer loads. We therefore have to differentiate in our tests now: either native execution or Rosetta 2 emulation and short or longer loads.

In the Cinebench loops, the throttling of the M1 immediately becomes apparent. After the first run, the performance in Cinebench R23 drops by 8%, and then levels out at a 12% reduction after six runs. For passive cooling and the high level of performance, this really isn't bad. The MacBook Pro 13 is able to maintain its performance thanks to the active fans. In the comparison with the Intel competitors, the M1 is even able to perform in Rosetta 2 emulated benchmarks at the level of a Tiger Lake i7-1165G7. Compared to the old MacBook Air (even with a Core i5), the M1 plays in a different league - very impressive!

Cinebench R15 loop (emulated via Rosetta 2)

010203040506070809010011012013014015016017018019020021022023024025026027028029030031032033034035036037038039040041042043044045046047048049050051052053054055056057058059060061062063064065066067068069070071072073074075076077078079080081082083084085086087088089090091092093094095096097098099010001010102010301040105010601070Tooltip
Apple MacBook Air 2020 M1 Entry Apple M1, Apple M1; Rosetta 2: Ø843 (817.01-1020.12)
Apple MacBook Pro 13 2020 2GHz i5 10th-Gen Intel Core i5-1038NG7, Intel Core i5-1038NG7: Ø761 (725.23-768.15)
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.6 GHz, 560X) Intel Core i7-8850H, Intel Core i7-8850H; macOS Software Update: Ø1006 (962.51-1065.02)
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.6 GHz, 560X) Intel Core i7-8850H, Intel Core i7-8850H; macOS Software Update 2: Ø1031 (1009-1058)
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.6 GHz, 560X) Intel Core i7-8850H, Intel Core i7-8850H; macOS Catalina 10.15.5: Ø901 (863-971)
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.6 GHz, 560X) Intel Core i7-8850H, Intel Core i7-8850H; macOS: Ø832 (773-940)
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5 Intel Core i5-1030NG7, Intel Core i5-1030NG7; macOS 10.15: Ø401 (363.09-448.1)
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i3 Intel Core i3-1000NG4, Intel Core i3-1000NG4: Ø297 (292.93-332.83)
Intel Reference Design Laptop 28W Intel Core i7-1185G7, Intel Core i7-1185G7: Ø853 (754.55-866.1)

Cinebench R23 loop (native)

0250500750100012501500175020002250250027503000325035003750400042504500475050005250550057506000625065006750700072507500775080008250850087509000925095009750Tooltip
Apple MacBook Air 2020 M1 Entry Apple M1, Apple M1: Ø6512 (6401.387-7409.305)
Lenovo Yoga 9i 14ITL5 Intel Core i5-1135G7, Intel Core i5-1135G7: Ø4938 (4898.292-5097.061)
Apple MacBook Pro 16 2019 i9 5500M Intel Core i9-9880H, Intel Core i9-9880H; macOS 11.0.1: Ø8710 (8681.116-8746.742)
Xiaomi RedmiBook 16 R5 AMD Ryzen 5 4500U, AMD Ryzen 5 4500U: Ø5822 (5646.52-5919.928)
MSI Prestige 14 Evo A11M-056US Intel Core i7-1185G7, Intel Core i7-1185G7: Ø5701 (5662.55-5906.76)
Lenovo Yoga Slim 7-14ARE AMD Ryzen 7 4800U, AMD Ryzen 7 4800U: Ø9038 (8462.225-9762.064)
Performance Rating: Percent
Cinebench R20: CPU (Single Core) | CPU (Multi Core)
Cinebench R15: CPU Single 64Bit | CPU Multi 64Bit
Blender 2.79: BMW27 CPU
7-Zip 18.03: 7z b 4 -mmt1 | 7z b 4
Geekbench 5.3: 64 Bit Single-Core Score | 64 Bit Multi-Core Score
R Benchmark 2.5: Overall mean
Performance Rating
Average Apple M1
 
80.4 pt ∼80%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 M1 Entry
Apple M1
79.7 pt ∼80%
Lenovo ThinkPad X13-20UGS00800
AMD Ryzen 7 PRO 4750U
79.7 pt ∼80%
Intel Reference Design Laptop 28W -2!
Intel Core i7-1185G7
77.6 pt ∼78%
Razer Blade Stealth i7-1165G7 GTX 1650 Ti Max-Q
Intel Core i7-1165G7
75.7 pt ∼76%
Dell XPS 13 9310 Core i7 FHD
Intel Core i7-1165G7
74.1 pt ∼74%
Lenovo ThinkPad X13 Yoga 20SX0004GE
Intel Core i7-10510U
55.6 pt ∼56%
Average of class Subnotebook
 
48.6 pt ∼49%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
Intel Core i5-1030NG7
40.8 pt ∼41%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i3
Intel Core i3-1000NG4
34.4 pt ∼34%
Cinebench R20 / CPU (Single Core)
Intel Reference Design Laptop 28W
Intel Core i7-1185G7
580 Points ∼100% +45%
Razer Blade Stealth i7-1165G7 GTX 1650 Ti Max-Q
Intel Core i7-1165G7
569 Points ∼98% +42%
Dell XPS 13 9310 Core i7 FHD
Intel Core i7-1165G7
559 Points ∼96% +39%
Lenovo ThinkPad X13-20UGS00800
AMD Ryzen 7 PRO 4750U
475 Points ∼82% +18%
Lenovo ThinkPad X13 Yoga 20SX0004GE
Intel Core i7-10510U
415 Points ∼72% +3%
Average Apple M1
  (401 - 406, n=2)
404 Points ∼70% +1%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 M1 Entry
Apple M1
401 Points ∼69%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (73 - 583, n=86)
382 Points ∼66% -5%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
Intel Core i5-1030NG7
375 Points ∼65% -6%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
Intel Core i5-1030NG7
330 Points ∼57% -18%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i3
Intel Core i3-1000NG4
348 Points ∼60% -13%
Cinebench R20 / CPU (Multi Core)
Lenovo ThinkPad X13-20UGS00800
AMD Ryzen 7 PRO 4750U
2935 Points ∼100% +58%
Intel Reference Design Laptop 28W
Intel Core i7-1185G7
2214 Points ∼75% +19%
Razer Blade Stealth i7-1165G7 GTX 1650 Ti Max-Q
Intel Core i7-1165G7
2025 Points ∼69% +9%
Average Apple M1
  (1863 - 2109, n=2)
1986 Points ∼68% +7%
Dell XPS 13 9310 Core i7 FHD
Intel Core i7-1165G7
1913 Points ∼65% +3%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 M1 Entry
Apple M1
1863 Points ∼63%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (110 - 3839, n=87)
1407 Points ∼48% -24%
Lenovo ThinkPad X13 Yoga 20SX0004GE
Intel Core i7-10510U
1239 Points ∼42% -33%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
Intel Core i5-1030NG7
987 Points ∼34% -47%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
Intel Core i5-1030NG7
764 Points ∼26% -59%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i3
Intel Core i3-1000NG4
587 Points ∼20% -68%
Cinebench R15 / CPU Single 64Bit
Intel Reference Design Laptop 28W
Intel Core i7-1185G7
224 Points ∼100% +8%
Razer Blade Stealth i7-1165G7 GTX 1650 Ti Max-Q
Intel Core i7-1165G7
219 Points ∼98% +5%
Dell XPS 13 9310 Core i7 FHD
Intel Core i7-1165G7
218 Points ∼97% +5%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 M1 Entry
Apple M1
208 Points ∼93%
Average Apple M1
  (208 - 208, n=2)
208 Points ∼93% 0%
Lenovo ThinkPad X13-20UGS00800
AMD Ryzen 7 PRO 4750U
184 Points ∼82% -12%
Lenovo ThinkPad X13 Yoga 20SX0004GE
Intel Core i7-10510U
171 Points ∼76% -18%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i3
Intel Core i3-1000NG4
141 Points ∼63% -32%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
Intel Core i5-1030NG7
140 Points ∼63% -33%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (20 - 221, n=347)
125 Points ∼56% -40%
Cinebench R15 / CPU Multi 64Bit
Lenovo ThinkPad X13-20UGS00800
AMD Ryzen 7 PRO 4750U
1287 (1057.08min - 1287.21max) Points ∼100% +26%
Average Apple M1
  (1020 - 1070, n=2)
1045 Points ∼81% +2%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 M1 Entry
Apple M1
1020 (817min - 1020max) Points ∼79%
Intel Reference Design Laptop 28W
Intel Core i7-1185G7
966 Points ∼75% -5%
Intel Reference Design Laptop 28W
Intel Core i7-1185G7
866 (754.55min - 866.1max) Points ∼67% -15%
Razer Blade Stealth i7-1165G7 GTX 1650 Ti Max-Q
Intel Core i7-1165G7
824 (791.78min - 824.28max) Points ∼64% -19%
Dell XPS 13 9310 Core i7 FHD
Intel Core i7-1165G7
818 Points ∼64% -20%
Lenovo ThinkPad X13 Yoga 20SX0004GE
Intel Core i7-10510U
529 (524.76min - 529.32max) Points ∼41% -48%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
Intel Core i5-1030NG7
448 (363min - 448max) Points ∼35% -56%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (32 - 1674, n=362)
414 Points ∼32% -59%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i3
Intel Core i3-1000NG4
333 (293min - 333max) Points ∼26% -67%
Blender 2.79 / BMW27 CPU
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i3
Intel Core i3-1000NG4
1814 Seconds * ∼100% -375%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
Intel Core i5-1030NG7
1310 Seconds * ∼72% -243%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (4.2 - 6277, n=76)
1097 Seconds * ∼60% -187%
Lenovo ThinkPad X13 Yoga 20SX0004GE
Intel Core i7-10510U
838 Seconds * ∼46% -119%
Dell XPS 13 9310 Core i7 FHD
Intel Core i7-1165G7
632 Seconds * ∼35% -65%
Razer Blade Stealth i7-1165G7 GTX 1650 Ti Max-Q
Intel Core i7-1165G7
575 Seconds * ∼32% -51%
Intel Reference Design Laptop 28W
Intel Core i7-1185G7
545 Seconds * ∼30% -43%
Lenovo ThinkPad X13-20UGS00800
AMD Ryzen 7 PRO 4750U
403 Seconds * ∼22% -5%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 M1 Entry
Apple M1
382 Seconds * ∼21%
Average Apple M1
 
382 Seconds * ∼21% -0%
7-Zip 18.03 / 7z b 4 -mmt1
Apple MacBook Air 2020 M1 Entry
Apple M1
5441 MIPS ∼100%
Average Apple M1
 
5441 MIPS ∼100% 0%
Intel Reference Design Laptop 28W
Intel Core i7-1185G7
5368 MIPS ∼99% -1%
Dell XPS 13 9310 Core i7 FHD
Intel Core i7-1165G7
5283 MIPS ∼97% -3%
Razer Blade Stealth i7-1165G7 GTX 1650 Ti Max-Q
Intel Core i7-1165G7
5217 MIPS ∼96% -4%
Lenovo ThinkPad X13 Yoga 20SX0004GE
Intel Core i7-10510U
4542 MIPS ∼83% -17%
Lenovo ThinkPad X13-20UGS00800
AMD Ryzen 7 PRO 4750U
4438 MIPS ∼82% -18%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (1653 - 15198, n=72)
4181 MIPS ∼77% -23%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
Intel Core i5-1030NG7
3472 MIPS ∼64% -36%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i3
Intel Core i3-1000NG4
3438 MIPS ∼63% -37%
7-Zip 18.03 / 7z b 4
Lenovo ThinkPad X13-20UGS00800
AMD Ryzen 7 PRO 4750U
37081 MIPS ∼100% +7%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 M1 Entry
Apple M1
34614 MIPS ∼93%
Average Apple M1
 
34614 MIPS ∼93% 0%
Intel Reference Design Laptop 28W
Intel Core i7-1185G7
25086 MIPS ∼68% -28%
Razer Blade Stealth i7-1165G7 GTX 1650 Ti Max-Q
Intel Core i7-1165G7
23460 MIPS ∼63% -32%
Dell XPS 13 9310 Core i7 FHD
Intel Core i7-1165G7
20843 MIPS ∼56% -40%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (2692 - 44827, n=72)
18049 MIPS ∼49% -48%
Lenovo ThinkPad X13 Yoga 20SX0004GE
Intel Core i7-10510U
16330 MIPS ∼44% -53%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
Intel Core i5-1030NG7
10924 MIPS ∼29% -68%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i3
Intel Core i3-1000NG4
7921 MIPS ∼21% -77%
Geekbench 5.3 / 64 Bit Single-Core Score
Average Apple M1
  (1727 - 1745, n=4)
1736 Points ∼100% +1%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 M1 Entry
Apple M1
1727 Points ∼99%
Razer Blade Stealth i7-1165G7 GTX 1650 Ti Max-Q
Intel Core i7-1165G7
1551 Points ∼89% -10%
Dell XPS 13 9310 Core i7 FHD
Intel Core i7-1165G7
1547 Points ∼89% -10%
Lenovo ThinkPad X13 Yoga 20SX0004GE
Intel Core i7-10510U
1209 Points ∼70% -30%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
Intel Core i5-1030NG7
1167 Points ∼67% -32%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
Intel Core i5-1030NG7
1010 Points ∼58% -42%
Lenovo ThinkPad X13-20UGS00800
AMD Ryzen 7 PRO 4750U
1157 Points ∼67% -33%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i3
Intel Core i3-1000NG4
1096 Points ∼63% -37%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (310 - 1740, n=72)
1067 Points ∼61% -38%
Geekbench 5.3 / 64 Bit Multi-Core Score
Average Apple M1
  (7570 - 7710, n=4)
7612 Points ∼100% 0%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 M1 Entry
Apple M1
7578 Points ∼100%
Dell XPS 13 9310 Core i7 FHD
Intel Core i7-1165G7
5682 Points ∼75% -25%
Lenovo ThinkPad X13-20UGS00800
AMD Ryzen 7 PRO 4750U
5600 Points ∼74% -26%
Razer Blade Stealth i7-1165G7 GTX 1650 Ti Max-Q
Intel Core i7-1165G7
5586 Points ∼73% -26%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (591 - 7590, n=72)
3721 Points ∼49% -51%
Lenovo ThinkPad X13 Yoga 20SX0004GE
Intel Core i7-10510U
3637 Points ∼48% -52%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
Intel Core i5-1030NG7
2881 Points ∼38% -62%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
Intel Core i5-1030NG7
2539 Points ∼33% -66%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i3
Intel Core i3-1000NG4
2028 Points ∼27% -73%
R Benchmark 2.5 / Overall mean
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
Intel Core i5-1030NG7
0.922 sec * ∼100% -26%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
Intel Core i5-1030NG7
0.909 sec * ∼99% -24%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i3
Intel Core i3-1000NG4
0.918 sec * ∼100% -25%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (0.554 - 2.43, n=61)
0.84 sec * ∼91% -15%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 M1 Entry
Apple M1
0.732 sec * ∼79%
Average Apple M1
 
0.732 sec * ∼79% -0%
Lenovo ThinkPad X13 Yoga 20SX0004GE
Intel Core i7-10510U
0.679 sec * ∼74% +7%
Lenovo ThinkPad X13-20UGS00800
AMD Ryzen 7 PRO 4750U
0.613 sec * ∼66% +16%
Dell XPS 13 9310 Core i7 FHD
Intel Core i7-1165G7
0.586 sec * ∼64% +20%
Intel Reference Design Laptop 28W
Intel Core i7-1185G7
0.571 sec * ∼62% +22%
Razer Blade Stealth i7-1165G7 GTX 1650 Ti Max-Q
Intel Core i7-1165G7
0.568 sec * ∼62% +22%

* ... smaller is better

Cinebench R15 CPU Single 64Bit
208 Points
Cinebench R15 OpenGL 64Bit
90 fps
Cinebench R15 Ref. Match 64Bit
99.5 %
Cinebench R15 CPU Multi 64Bit
1020 Points
Help

System Performance

Since there are no classic system benchmarks such as the PCMark from UL under Mac OS X, we use the browser benchmarks here. Apple's own Safari browser offers an outstanding Javascript performance, and in combination with the fast M1 SoC, RAM, and SSD, the MacBook Air produces top values here. 

If we consider the WebXPRT 3, which is often used by Intel for comparisons, we can see that even the fast Core i7-1185G7 and also i7-10900K processors (desktop) are left behind. Ahead of the M1, we can only find the new Zen 3 based desktop CPUs with high clock speeds (such as the Ryzen 9 5950X). 

In well-optimized apps, the M1 SoC is also able to take advantage of the additional dedicated functional units (video decoding, AI acceleration, encryption). In this way, it is able to process 4K videos (of the correct format) smoothly in Final Cut X from Apple, for example.

WebXPRT 3 - ---
AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT
Radeon RX 6800 XT (Desktop), R9 5950X, Intel Optane 905P
288 Points ∼100% +2%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 M1 Entry
M1 7-Core GPU, M1, Apple SSD AP0256Q
281 Points ∼98%
Intel Reference Design Laptop 28W
Iris Xe G7 96EUs, i7-1185G7, Samsung PM981a MZVLB1T0HBLR
260 Points ∼90% -7%
Intel Reference Design Laptop 15W
Iris Xe G7 96EUs, i7-1185G7, Samsung PM981a MZVLB1T0HBLR
253 Points ∼88% -10%
MSI Prestige 14 Evo A11M-056US
Iris Xe G7 96EUs, i7-1185G7
249 Points ∼86% -11%
Dell XPS 13 9310 Core i7 FHD
Iris Xe G7 96EUs, i7-1165G7, Micron 2300 512GB MTFDHBA512TDV
248 Points ∼86% -12%
Lenovo Yoga Slim 7-14ARE
Vega 8 R4000, R7 4800U, Samsung SSD PM981a MZVLB512HBJQ
205 Points ∼71% -27%
Lenovo ThinkPad X13-20UGS00800
Vega 7, R7 PRO 4750U, Samsung SSD PM981a MZVLB512HBJQ
205 Points ∼71% -27%
Apple iPad Air 2020
A14 Bionic GPU, A14, 256 GB NVMe
195 Points ∼68% -31%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (49.2 - 281, n=66)
171 Points ∼59% -39%
Apple iPad Pro 12.9 2020
A12Z Bionic GPU, A12Z Bionic, 256 GB NVMe
140 Points ∼49% -50%
Samsung Galaxy Book S
Adreno 680, SD 8cx, 256 GB NVMe
116 Points ∼40% -59%
Apple iPad 7 2019
A10 Fusion GPU, A10 Fusion, 128 GB NVMe
111 Points ∼39% -60%
Mozilla Kraken 1.1 - Total Score
Average of class Subnotebook
  (489 - 30250, n=231)
1720 ms * ∼100% -252%
Samsung Galaxy Book S
Adreno 680, SD 8cx, 256 GB NVMe
1464.2 ms * ∼85% -199%
Apple iPad 7 2019
A10 Fusion GPU, A10 Fusion, 128 GB NVMe
1115.9 ms * ∼65% -128%
Lenovo ThinkPad X13 Yoga 20SX0004GE
UHD Graphics 620, i7-10510U, Samsung SSD PM981a MZVLB512HBJQ
846 ms * ∼49% -73%
Lenovo Yoga Slim 7-14ARE
Vega 8 R4000, R7 4800U, Samsung SSD PM981a MZVLB512HBJQ
822 ms * ∼48% -68%
Lenovo ThinkPad X13-20UGS00800
Vega 7, R7 PRO 4750U, Samsung SSD PM981a MZVLB512HBJQ
818 ms * ∼48% -67%
Apple iPad Pro 12.9 2020
A12Z Bionic GPU, A12Z Bionic, 256 GB NVMe
645.9 ms * ∼38% -32%
Dell XPS 13 9310 Core i7 FHD
Iris Xe G7 96EUs, i7-1165G7, Micron 2300 512GB MTFDHBA512TDV
641 ms * ∼37% -31%
MSI Prestige 14 Evo A11M-056US
Iris Xe G7 96EUs, i7-1185G7
637 ms * ∼37% -30%
Intel Reference Design Laptop 15W
Iris Xe G7 96EUs, i7-1185G7, Samsung PM981a MZVLB1T0HBLR
618 ms * ∼36% -26%
AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT
Radeon RX 6800 XT (Desktop), R9 5950X, Intel Optane 905P
581 ms * ∼34% -19%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 M1 Entry
M1 7-Core GPU, M1, Apple SSD AP0256Q
489 ms * ∼28%
Apple iPad Air 2020
A14 Bionic GPU, A14, 256 GB NVMe
464.2 ms * ∼27% +5%
Octane V2 - Total Score
Apple MacBook Air 2020 M1 Entry
M1 7-Core GPU, M1, Apple SSD AP0256Q
62227 Points ∼100%
MSI Prestige 14 Evo A11M-056US
Iris Xe G7 96EUs, i7-1185G7
61254 Points ∼98% -2%
Apple iPad Air 2020
A14 Bionic GPU, A14, 256 GB NVMe
58568 Points ∼94% -6%
Lenovo ThinkPad X13-20UGS00800
Vega 7, R7 PRO 4750U, Samsung SSD PM981a MZVLB512HBJQ
50438 Points ∼81% -19%
Apple iPad Pro 12.9 2020
A12Z Bionic GPU, A12Z Bionic, 256 GB NVMe
43057 Points ∼69% -31%
Lenovo Yoga Slim 7-14ARE
Vega 8 R4000, R7 4800U, Samsung SSD PM981a MZVLB512HBJQ
36619 Points ∼59% -41%
Samsung Galaxy Book S
Adreno 680, SD 8cx, 256 GB NVMe
29364 Points ∼47% -53%
Apple iPad 7 2019
A10 Fusion GPU, A10 Fusion, 128 GB NVMe
27900 Points ∼45% -55%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (3963 - 62227, n=183)
27552 Points ∼44% -56%
Speedometer 2.0 - Result
Apple MacBook Air 2020 M1 Entry
M1 7-Core GPU, M1, Apple SSD AP0256Q
213 runs/min ∼100%
Apple iPad Air 2020
A14 Bionic GPU, A14, 256 GB NVMe
198 runs/min ∼93% -7%
MSI Prestige 14 Evo A11M-056US
Iris Xe G7 96EUs, i7-1185G7
162.9 runs/min ∼76% -24%
Apple iPad Pro 12.9 2020
A12Z Bionic GPU, A12Z Bionic, 256 GB NVMe
135 runs/min ∼63% -37%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (12.6 - 213, n=23)
84 runs/min ∼39% -61%
Apple iPad 7 2019
A10 Fusion GPU, A10 Fusion, 128 GB NVMe
66.4 runs/min ∼31% -69%
Samsung Galaxy Book S
Adreno 680, SD 8cx, 256 GB NVMe
59.3 runs/min ∼28% -72%
Jetstream 2 - Total Score
Apple MacBook Air 2020 M1 Entry
M1 7-Core GPU, M1, Apple SSD AP0256Q
178.7 Points ∼100%
MSI Prestige 14 Evo A11M-056US
Iris Xe G7 96EUs, i7-1185G7
170.456 Points ∼95% -5%
Apple iPad Air 2020
A14 Bionic GPU, A14, 256 GB NVMe
166.551 Points ∼93% -7%
Lenovo ThinkPad X13-20UGS00800
Vega 7, R7 PRO 4750U, Samsung SSD PM981a MZVLB512HBJQ
143.168 Points ∼80% -20%
Apple iPad Pro 12.9 2020
A12Z Bionic GPU, A12Z Bionic, 256 GB NVMe
126.1 Points ∼71% -29%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (33.9 - 179, n=22)
118 Points ∼66% -34%
Apple iPad 7 2019
A10 Fusion GPU, A10 Fusion, 128 GB NVMe
76.172 Points ∼43% -57%
Samsung Galaxy Book S
Adreno 680, SD 8cx, 256 GB NVMe
73.5 Points ∼41% -59%
Youtube - 2160p60 CPU Load
Average of class Subnotebook
  (6 - 100, n=38)
16.1 % ∼100% +7%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 M1 Entry
M1 7-Core GPU, M1, Apple SSD AP0256Q (5)
15 % ∼93%
Lenovo ThinkPad X13-20UGS00800
Vega 7, R7 PRO 4750U, Samsung SSD PM981a MZVLB512HBJQ (68, 2)
10 % ∼62% -33%
Lenovo Yoga Slim 7-14ARE
Vega 8 R4000, R7 4800U, Samsung SSD PM981a MZVLB512HBJQ (66)
6 % ∼37% -60%
Dell XPS 13 9310 Core i7 FHD
Iris Xe G7 96EUs, i7-1165G7, Micron 2300 512GB MTFDHBA512TDV (31, 2)
4 % ∼25% -73%

* ... smaller is better

Storage Solution

The Air also achieves a huge jump ahead with the SSD, almost catching up with the current MacBook Pro 16 - note that this is the entry-level model with 256 GB versus the 1 TB SSD for an additional premium.

Blackmagic Disk Speed Test
5GB Read
Apple MacBook Pro 16 2019 i9 5500M
Apple SSD AP1024 7171
2788 MB/s ∼100% +1%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 M1 Entry
Apple SSD AP0256Q
2756 MB/s ∼99%
Average Apple SSD AP0256Q
 
2756 MB/s ∼99% 0%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.6 GHz, 560X)
Apple SSD AP0512
2424 MB/s ∼87% -12%
Apple MacBook Pro 13 2020 2GHz i5 10th-Gen
Apple SSD SM0512F
2049 MB/s ∼73% -26%
Apple MacBook Air 2018
Apple SSD AP0256
1884.3 MB/s ∼68% -32%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i3
Apple SSD AP0256
1316.3 MB/s ∼47% -52%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
Apple SSD AP0512
1259 MB/s ∼45% -54%
Apple Macbook Air 2019
Apple SSD AP0256
1007 MB/s ∼36% -63%
5GB Write
Apple MacBook Pro 16 2019 i9 5500M
Apple SSD AP1024 7171
2880 MB/s ∼100% +18%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 M1 Entry
Apple SSD AP0256Q
2431 MB/s ∼84%
Average Apple SSD AP0256Q
 
2431 MB/s ∼84% 0%
Apple MacBook Pro 13 2020 2GHz i5 10th-Gen
Apple SSD SM0512F
2314 MB/s ∼80% -5%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.6 GHz, 560X)
Apple SSD AP0512
1674 MB/s ∼58% -31%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
Apple SSD AP0512
1328 MB/s ∼46% -45%
Apple Macbook Air 2019
Apple SSD AP0256
1320 MB/s ∼46% -46%
Apple MacBook Air 2018
Apple SSD AP0256
1008.3 MB/s ∼35% -59%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i3
Apple SSD AP0256
930.7 MB/s ∼32% -62%

Graphics Card

Unfortunately, you won't get the full graphics performance of the M1 chip in the entry-level model of the MacBook Air, but you have to make do without one of the eight cores. This also makes the performance noticeably slower than that of the more expensive devices. Despite that, the performance is still excellent compared to the predecessor devices and also the iPads. The performance is at a comparable level as that of the Radeon Pro 5300M in the most affordable MacBook Pro 16. 

GFXBench
2560x1440 Aztec Ruins High Tier Offscreen
Apple MacBook Pro 16 2019 i9 5500M
AMD Radeon Pro 5500M, Intel Core i9-9880H
94.7 fps ∼100% +31%
Asus TUF FX705DT-AU068T
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Mobile, AMD Ryzen 5 3550H
87.1 fps ∼92% +20%
Apple MacBook Air Late 2020 (M1, 8 Core GPU, 8 GB RAM)
Apple M1 8-Core GPU, Apple M1
81.2 fps ∼86% +12%
Apple MacBook Pro 13 Late 2020 M1 Entry (8 / 256 GB)
Apple M1 8-Core GPU, Apple M1
78.2 fps ∼83% +8%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 M1 Entry
Apple M1 7-Core GPU, Apple M1
72.4 fps ∼76%
Apple iPad Air 2020
Apple A14 Bionic GPU, Apple A14 Bionic
32.9 fps ∼35% -55%
Apple iPhone 12
Apple A14 Bionic GPU, Apple A14 Bionic
30.1 fps ∼32% -58%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (3.4 - 81.2, n=14)
26.6 fps ∼28% -63%
Xiaomi Mi 10T 5G
Qualcomm Adreno 650, Qualcomm Snapdragon 865
20 fps ∼21% -72%
Apple iPad 7 2019
Apple A10 Fusion GPU / PowerVR, Apple A10 Fusion
10.8 fps ∼11% -85%
1920x1080 Aztec Ruins Normal Tier Offscreen
Apple MacBook Pro 16 2019 i9 5500M
AMD Radeon Pro 5500M, Intel Core i9-9880H
254 fps ∼100% +32%
Asus TUF FX705DT-AU068T
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Mobile, AMD Ryzen 5 3550H
225.5 fps ∼89% +17%
Apple MacBook Air Late 2020 (M1, 8 Core GPU, 8 GB RAM)
Apple M1 8-Core GPU, Apple M1
214.4 fps ∼84% +12%
Apple MacBook Pro 13 Late 2020 M1 Entry (8 / 256 GB)
Apple M1 8-Core GPU, Apple M1
207 fps ∼81% +8%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 M1 Entry
Apple M1 7-Core GPU, Apple M1
192 fps ∼76%
Apple iPad Air 2020
Apple A14 Bionic GPU, Apple A14 Bionic
105.6 fps ∼42% -45%
Apple iPhone 12
Apple A14 Bionic GPU, Apple A14 Bionic
84.8 fps ∼33% -56%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (9 - 214, n=14)
69.5 fps ∼27% -64%
Xiaomi Mi 10T 5G
Qualcomm Adreno 650, Qualcomm Snapdragon 865
54 fps ∼21% -72%
Apple iPad 7 2019
Apple A10 Fusion GPU / PowerVR, Apple A10 Fusion
29.1 fps ∼11% -85%
3DMark - Wild Life Unlimited Score
Apple MacBook Pro 13 Late 2020 M1 Entry (8 / 256 GB)
Apple M1 8-Core GPU, Apple M1
17731 Points ∼100% +10%
Apple MacBook Air Late 2020 (M1, 8 Core GPU, 8 GB RAM)
Apple M1 8-Core GPU, Apple M1
17731 Points ∼100% +10%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (16159 - 17731, n=3)
17207 Points ∼97% +6%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 M1 Entry
Apple M1 7-Core GPU, Apple M1
16159 Points ∼91%
Apple iPad Air 2020
Apple A14 Bionic GPU, Apple A14 Bionic
8955 Points ∼51% -45%
Apple iPhone 12
Apple A14 Bionic GPU, Apple A14 Bionic
7100 Points ∼40% -56%
Xiaomi Mi 10T 5G
Qualcomm Adreno 650, Qualcomm Snapdragon 865
3826 Points ∼22% -76%

Gaming Performance

Graphics errors in the "Total War: Three Kingdoms" benchmark
Graphics errors in the "Total War: Three Kingdoms" benchmark
3DMark stress test: no throttling
3DMark stress test: no throttling

In the gaming performance, macOS isn't able to keep up with Windows devices. Most of the games are only ports of their Windows version, so they already lose some of their optimizations and performance in this process. In better optimized games such as "Borderlands 3," the M1 GPU achieves about the performance of a GeForce MX350 under Windows. It is, however, able to leave the integrated Intel graphics cards significantly behind.

Despite the very good performance, we still see many compatibility problems with the new graphics chip. At 8x AA, Unigine Valley displays only a black screen, "Borderlands 3" leaves a black screen after closing it (sometimes even requiring a reboot), "Counter-Strike: GO" doesn't start, and "Total War: Three Kingdoms" has some texture errors and we noticed several more details in the test.

In addition, numerous IOS games can also run. But you won't find popular and demanding games such as "Call of Duty Mobile" or "PUBG Mobile" in the App Store at this point. Since the theoretical raw performance (see GFXBench and 3DMark) lies significantly above that of the fastest iPads, you shouldn't have any performance problems here, and the architecture is also the same. In our test, this is proven by "World of Tanks Blizz," for example, which runs smoothly at maximum details (high incl. 4x AA) and in native resolution, and even on an external 4K monitor at 60 fps.

In terms of throttling and performance in battery operation, we can also reassure you: During 20 minutes of stress test, the 3DMark Wild Life measurements did not show any performance drops (99% stability), and the GFXBench Metal Manhattan test also ran with stable frame rates in battery operation (unfortunately at limited 60 fps).

Borderlands 3
1920x1080 High Overall Quality (DX11)
Apple MacBook Pro 16 2019 i9 5500M
Intel Core i9-9880H, AMD Radeon Pro 5500M
41.4 fps ∼100% +134%
Average NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Mobile
  (35.7 - 41, n=5)
39.2 fps ∼95% +121%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 M1 Entry
Apple M1, Apple M1 7-Core GPU
17.7 fps ∼43%
Average NVIDIA GeForce MX350
  (16.9 - 17, n=2)
17 fps ∼41% -4%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (7.73 - 34.7, n=9)
15.5 fps ∼37% -12%
Average Intel Iris Xe Graphics G7 96EUs
  (13 - 15.9, n=3)
14.8 fps ∼36% -16%
Average AMD Radeon RX Vega 8 (Ryzen 4000)
 
12.7 fps ∼31% -28%
Average AMD Radeon RX Vega 7
  (11.5 - 13.7, n=2)
12.6 fps ∼30% -29%
Average AMD Radeon RX Vega 6 (Ryzen 4000/5000)
 
10.6 fps ∼26% -40%
1920x1080 Medium Overall Quality (DX11)
Average NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Mobile
  (50.5 - 64.3, n=5)
59.3 fps ∼100% +112%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 M1 Entry
Apple M1, Apple M1 7-Core GPU
28 fps ∼47%
Average NVIDIA GeForce MX350
  (26.3 - 27.3, n=2)
26.8 fps ∼45% -4%
Average Intel Iris Xe Graphics G7 96EUs
  (19.7 - 26.4, n=3)
23.7 fps ∼40% -15%
Average AMD Radeon RX Vega 8 (Ryzen 4000)
 
22.9 fps ∼39% -18%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (3.1 - 52.6, n=11)
22.8 fps ∼38% -19%
Average AMD Radeon RX Vega 7
  (18.3 - 22.5, n=2)
20.4 fps ∼34% -27%
Average AMD Radeon RX Vega 6 (Ryzen 4000/5000)
  (15.8 - 17.1, n=3)
16.3 fps ∼27% -42%
low med. high ultraQHD
Batman: Arkham City (2011) 86 47 fps
Counter-Strike: GO (2012) 0 game wont start fps
Deus Ex Mankind Divided (2016) 47.6 35.3 19 fps
Warhammer 40.000: Dawn of War III (2017) 43.9 32.5 fps
F1 2017 (2017) 60 54 43 fps
Shadow of the Tomb Raider (2018) 65 22 fps
Total War: Three Kingdoms (2019) 95 small graphical problems (smog not perfect) 26 severe graphical problems (black squares) 17 severe graphical problems fps
Borderlands 3 (2019) 45.2 28 17.7 fps
Hearthstone (2020) 58 fps

Emissions

Noise Emissions

The cooling of the small MacBook Air is fully passive, and its operation is therefore completely silent. Our test unit did not produce any audible coil whine or transistor noises either.

Temperature

The passive cooling and excellent performance gives rise to some apprehension about the surface temperatures. However, we can also reassure you here. Even though the hotspot above the computing unit can become quite hot during longer-lasting load, all the important places where the notebook is touched remain comfortably cool. In regular load situations, the Air even remains particularly cool, which is a sign of the great efficiency of the Apple M1. 

As is typical for Apple, the internal temperatures often approach the limits. The GPU in particular reaches 87 °C (189 °Fin "Mankind Divided," for example, with the speed leveling out at 790 MHz and a consumption of 2.8 watts. The whole SoC reports 87 °C (189 °F). In the extreme load test with Cinebench R15 and Unigine Valley, the GPU even reaches 97 °C (207 °F), with the SoC again reporting 87 °C and the SSD, 52 °C (126 °F).

Max. Load
 41 °C
106 F
44 °C
111 F
38 °C
100 F
 
 36 °C
97 F
39 °C
102 F
36 °C
97 F
 
 31 °C
88 F
32 °C
90 F
31 °C
88 F
 
Maximum: 44 °C = 111 F
Average: 36.4 °C = 98 F
43 °C
109 F
44 °C
111 F
37 °C
99 F
36 °C
97 F
38 °C
100 F
34 °C
93 F
34 °C
93 F
35 °C
95 F
34 °C
93 F
Maximum: 44 °C = 111 F
Average: 37.2 °C = 99 F
Power Supply (max.)  36 °C = 97 F | Room Temperature 22 °C = 72 F | Fluke t3000FC (calibrated) // Fluke 62 Mini
(±) The average temperature for the upper side under maximal load is 36.4 °C / 98 F, compared to the average of 30.6 °C / 87 F for the devices in the class Subnotebook.
(±) The maximum temperature on the upper side is 44 °C / 111 F, compared to the average of 35.7 °C / 96 F, ranging from 22 to 57 °C for the class Subnotebook.
(±) The bottom heats up to a maximum of 44 °C / 111 F, compared to the average of 39.5 °C / 103 F
(+) In idle usage, the average temperature for the upper side is 25.8 °C / 78 F, compared to the device average of 30.6 °C / 87 F.
(+) The palmrests and touchpad are reaching skin temperature as a maximum (32 °C / 89.6 F) and are therefore not hot.
(-) The average temperature of the palmrest area of similar devices was 28.4 °C / 83.1 F (-3.6 °C / -6.5 F).
Heatmap bottom, the measurements shown are slightly too high
Heatmap bottom, the measurements shown are slightly too high
Heatmap top, the measurements shown are slightly too high
Heatmap top, the measurements shown are slightly too high

Speaker

Our audio measurements produce a minimally better result than for the old MacBook Air, but whether the difference is caused by the new components inside (no fan, more resonance space) or our new, improved microphone for the measurements, is not clear. What remains is the excellent impression - particularly considering the build. While the more expensive MacBooks are able to achieve a better result, the Air strikes a great figure in the comparison of the competitors.

The headset port also received a welcome and significant improvement with the M1 upgrade. The results of the measurement are very good, and the subjective audio quality using JBL Club headphones (on loan from Intel Tiger Lake) is also flawless.

dB(A) 0102030405060708090Deep BassMiddle BassHigh BassLower RangeMidsHigher MidsLower HighsMid HighsUpper HighsSuper Highs2033.436.62521.721.8312020.6402223.55022.434.26325.730.48022.435.710017.747.112522.457.916021.161.620015.859.7250156231513.462.440016.168.150013.169.263011.463.180010.766.9100010.165.5125010.468.316001168.720001167.1250011.266.8315011.567.5400011.670.6500011.967.1630011.968.7800011.965.51000012.162.81250011.862.4160001160.6SPL23.979.6N0.547.3median 11.9median 65.5Delta23.135.335.132.931.831.83236.535.132.428.93328.936.328.848.32761.52752.924.860.92462.822.763.32269.521.267.82174.82075.919.472.718.97117.770.117.86917.671.817.668.117.671.417.673.717.670.417.571.617.671.617.669.617.459.717.583.630.662.51.5median 69.6median 17.84.62.4hearing rangehide median Pink NoiseApple MacBook Air 2020 M1 EntryApple MacBook 12 (Early 2016) 1.1 GHz
Frequency diagram (checkboxes can be checked and unchecked to compare devices)
Apple MacBook Air 2020 M1 Entry audio analysis

(±) | speaker loudness is average but good (79.6 dB)
Bass 100 - 315 Hz
(±) | reduced bass - on average 7.1% lower than median
(±) | linearity of bass is average (9.5% delta to prev. frequency)
Mids 400 - 2000 Hz
(+) | balanced mids - only 2.2% away from median
(+) | mids are linear (5.3% delta to prev. frequency)
Highs 2 - 16 kHz
(+) | balanced highs - only 2.3% away from median
(+) | highs are linear (4% delta to prev. frequency)
Overall 100 - 16.000 Hz
(+) | overall sound is linear (6.8% difference to median)
Compared to same class
» 0% of all tested devices in this class were better, 0% similar, 100% worse
» The best had a delta of 7%, average was 19%, worst was 50%
Compared to all devices tested
» 0% of all tested devices were better, 0% similar, 100% worse
» The best had a delta of 3%, average was 21%, worst was 65%

Apple MacBook 12 (Early 2016) 1.1 GHz audio analysis

(+) | speakers can play relatively loud (83.6 dB)
Bass 100 - 315 Hz
(±) | reduced bass - on average 11.3% lower than median
(±) | linearity of bass is average (14.2% delta to prev. frequency)
Mids 400 - 2000 Hz
(+) | balanced mids - only 2.4% away from median
(+) | mids are linear (5.5% delta to prev. frequency)
Highs 2 - 16 kHz
(+) | balanced highs - only 2% away from median
(+) | highs are linear (4.5% delta to prev. frequency)
Overall 100 - 16.000 Hz
(+) | overall sound is linear (9.3% difference to median)
Compared to same class
» 2% of all tested devices in this class were better, 1% similar, 97% worse
» The best had a delta of 7%, average was 19%, worst was 50%
Compared to all devices tested
» 2% of all tested devices were better, 0% similar, 98% worse
» The best had a delta of 3%, average was 21%, worst was 65%

Power Management

Power Consumption

The MacBook Air shows very good values in the power consumption from the outlet for the class of subnotebooks. We are seeing values here that are all comparable across the board to those of the Acer Swift 3 SF313-52-z1Y7 with the Ice Lake i7-1065G7, for example. The values are also very similar to those from the old Intel based MacBook Air notebooks that still had to be cooled actively, and only weak devices with the Pentium N5000 or Celeron SoCs and small screens show significantly better values. Only the Samsung Galaxy Book S with an ARM based Snapdragon 8cx is much more efficient. While the Intel Lakefield version also consumes less power, it is not to the same extent as the 8cx.

Using the included small 30-watt charger, the battery is completely recharged from 0 to 100% in 2h 40min. If you use the more powerful charger of the MacBook Pro 16, the time it takes to recharge is shortened by 17 minutes, since it initially delivers significantly more power (see chart below).

Cinebench R23 CPU, GPU, and SoC overall power consumption
Cinebench R23 CPU, GPU, and SoC overall power consumption
Charging the battery from 0 to 100%
Charging the battery from 0 to 100%
Charging with the MBP16 charger is faster
Charging with the MBP16 charger is faster
Borderlands 3 in mains operation at maximum brightness
Borderlands 3 in mains operation at maximum brightness
Unigine Valley power consumption
Unigine Valley power consumption
Stress test CB15 + Valley
Stress test CB15 + Valley
Power Consumption
Off / Standbydarklight 0.03 / 0.04 Watt
Idledarkmidlight 1.9 / 6.4 / 7 Watt
Load midlight 25 / 30.3 Watt
 color bar
Key: min: dark, med: mid, max: light        Metrahit Energy
Apple MacBook Air 2020 M1 Entry
M1, M1 7-Core GPU, Apple SSD AP0256Q, IPS, 2560x1600, 13.30
Samsung Galaxy Book S Intel
i5-L16G7, UHD Graphics G7 (Lakefield GT2 64 EU), 256 GB UFS 3.0 Flash, IPS, 1920x1080, 13.30
Samsung Galaxy Book S
SD 8cx, Adreno 680, 256 GB NVMe, IPS, 1920x1080, 13.30
Acer Swift 3 SF313-52-71Y7
i7-1065G7, Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU), Intel SSD 660p 1TB SSDPEKNW010T8, IPS, 2256x1504, 13.50
Dell XPS 13 9310 Core i7 FHD
i7-1165G7, Iris Xe G7 96EUs, Micron 2300 512GB MTFDHBA512TDV, IPS, 1920x1200, 13.40
Average of class Subnotebook
 
Power Consumption
16%
33%
9%
-41%
-84%
Idle Minimum *
1.9
2.5
-32%
1.61
15%
1.8
5%
3.9
-105%
6.31 (1.67 - 36, n=670)
-232%
Idle Average *
6.4
4.8
25%
4.3
33%
4.6
28%
5.9
8%
9.51 (5 - 39, n=670)
-49%
Idle Maximum *
7
6
14%
5
29%
6.1
13%
6.3
10%
11.8 (3.9 - 55, n=670)
-69%
Load Average *
25
14.9
40%
13.2
47%
27.4
-10%
39.7
-59%
33.6 (6.3 - 79.2, n=661)
-34%
Load Maximum *
30.3
20.1
34%
18.3
40%
27
11%
47.5
-57%
41.1 (7.6 - 111, n=663)
-36%
Witcher 3 ultra *
34.8

* ... smaller is better

Battery Life

The small subnotebook with the M1 processor is able to score in terms of the battery life. It clearly surpasses the old MacBook Air based on the Core i5 in the browsing test at 150 cd/m² of brightness, and in the subnotebook class there are really only the new MacBook Pro 13 and the Asus ExpertBook B9450FA that are better. Surprisingly, the battery life with Safari in full-screen mode is not significantly longer anymore, but it even got slightly shorter. 

At maximum brightness, we only measure 8.5 hours in our WLAN script test. The efficient SoC matters less here, and the bright display demands its due. However, the test still shows that you can easily last through a working day without a charger under moderate load.

Things look worse if you want to play games while on the road. With the Unigine Valley Extreme (with 4x AA) benchmark, it lasted only 2 hours and 23 minutes at maximum brightness. While there are several notebooks in the Windows world that last longer, none of them offer a comparable graphics performance.

Battery Runtime
NBC WiFi Websurfing Battery Test 1.3
16h 00min
NBC WiFi Websurfing Battery Test 1.3 (Fullscreen)
15h 14min
NBC WiFi Websurfing Battery Test 1.3 max Brightness
8h 28min
Apple MacBook Air 2020 M1 Entry
M1, M1 7-Core GPU, 49.9 Wh
Dell XPS 13 9310 Core i7 FHD
i7-1165G7, Iris Xe G7 96EUs, 52 Wh
Lenovo ThinkPad X13 Yoga 20SX0004GE
i7-10510U, UHD Graphics 620, 50 Wh
Lenovo ThinkPad X395
R3 PRO 3300U, Vega 6, 48 Wh
Lenovo ThinkPad X13-20UGS00800
R7 PRO 4750U, Vega 7, 48 Wh
Apple iPad Air 2020
A14, A14 Bionic GPU, 28.6 Wh
Apple iPad Pro 12.9 2020
A12Z Bionic, A12Z Bionic GPU, 36.71 Wh
Apple iPad 7 2019
A10 Fusion, A10 Fusion GPU, 32.4 Wh
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
i5-1030NG7, Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU), 49.9 Wh
Average of class Subnotebook
 
Battery Runtime
WiFi v1.3
960
657
-32%
491
-49%
655
-32%
522
-46%
702
-27%
905
-6%
707
-26%
617.7
-36%
509 (206 - 1223, n=294)
-47%

Pros

+ stays cool despite the lack of a fan
+ workmanship and iconic design
+ speakers
+ performance of native apps

Cons

- Thunderbolt with limitations
- large display bezels
- 720p webcam
- stability in Rosetta emulated apps
- CPU throttling under longer load
- relatively slow WiFi 6 at only 80 MHz

Verdict

MacBook Air M1 - A successful Apple chip debut
MacBook Air M1 - A successful Apple chip debut

The new M1 processor with ARM architecture makes an impressive debut in the MacBook Air. In CPU as well as GPU performance, comparable chips from Intel and AMD are surpassed in terms of the theoretical raw performance - and this is the entry-level configuration of the Air. The passive cooling hardly impacts the everyday performance, the graphics performance does not drop noticeably over time, and only during demanding tasks for the processor there is a noticeable drop after several minutes. But at 11%, this also remains within limits. We can also reassure you about the surface temperatures, with only the internals getting very hot, as is typical for Apple. A huge advantage of the lack of a fan is the silent operation of the notebook, which is perfect in quiet surroundings. The new Apple M1 also has a positive effect on the battery life. With its energy-saving cores, it is able to save a lot of power in our WLAN battery test, and it can even last through a full work day at maximum display brightness.

However, the change to the Apple in-house chips does not only bring advantages. Many older apps have to run via Rosetta 2 emulation and significantly lose in performance. On the other hand, the emulation is fast enough to still get better results than when using the old entry-level processors from Intel. Unfortunately, not everything works perfectly yet. From stuttering interfaces and longer load times up to app crashes, there are many open problems. So you have to hope for native versions of the software or updates from Apple. Buyers should find out in advance whether the software they use could run into trouble or whether there are alternatives. However, any limitations in the app selection from this are balanced by the numerous newly added iOS apps that will run perfectly thanks to the ARM chip.

The new Apple chips celebrate a successful debut in the MacBook Air. With maturing software, probably no one will miss the Intel chips in the Mac in the future

The case and the display remained practically unchanged. Here we would have wished at least for a touchscreen - particularly because of the iOS compatibility - and smaller display bezels. Otherwise there are no reasons for complaint at all in terms of the case, input devices, and speakers.

In terms of its price, the entry level is particularly attractive, especially since there are always some good offers from vendors over the years. The additional charge for the octa-core GPU and 16 GB of RAM are not necessarily worthwhile, and the fast 8 GB of Unified RAM should be completely sufficient for most users. The 256-GB SSD represents more of a limitation, and the premiums for more storage space are very hefty. The additional charge for the MacBook Pro 13 with active cooling is also only worthwhile for very few users. Active cooling, a larger battery, a slightly brighter display, and a Touchbar only really matter to very few people. And power users should better wait anyway for the M1X in more powerful models, where you can also hope for more than only 2 TB3 ports.

Price and Availability

The new MacBook Air with the M1 chip is already available starting from about 1,000 USD from Amazon (free shipping), among other places.

Apple MacBook Air 2020 M1 Entry - 12/18/2020 v7
Klaus Hinum

Chassis
89 / 98 → 90%
Keyboard
92%
Pointing Device
100%
Connectivity
50 / 75 → 67%
Weight
72 / 20-75 → 94%
Battery
91%
Display
92%
Games Performance
65 / 78 → 83%
Application Performance
93 / 85 → 100%
Temperature
90%
Noise
100%
Audio
86 / 91 → 95%
Camera
36 / 85 → 42%
Average
81%
91%
Subnotebook - Weighted Average

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Apple MacBook Air 2020 M1 Entry Review: Apple M1 CPU humbles Intel and AMD
Klaus Hinum, 2020-12- 5 (Update: 2020-12-23)