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Apple MacBook Air 2020 Review: Is the Core i3 the better choice?

Slower and quieter. Apple equips the entry-level SKU of the MacBook Air with a dual-core processor, but is the performance still sufficient in 2020? Or should you get a configuration with a quad-core CPU? And: What are the effects on the temperatures and the fan noise?

After our recent review of the quad-core MacBook Air, we have a closer look at the entry-level SKU with the slower Core i3 processor. It only features two CPU cores and therefore reminds us a lot of the previous MacBook Air (MY 2019 and older). We are particularly interested in the emissions, because the fan noise turned out to be a problem during our review of the quad-core model.

Our test unit in Gold is the entry-level spec for 1199 Euros (~$1298). In addition to the Core i3 processor, customers get 8 GB RAM and 256 GB SSD storage. You also get the updated keyboard (Magic Keyboard), which once again uses a more conventional scissor mechanism. There are no differences in terms of chassis, connectivity, or input devices compared to our last review unit, so please see our comprehensive review of the MacBook Air 2020 Core i5 for more information about these topics. We will focus on the performance of the entry-level processor and the emissions in this article.

Apple MacBook Air 2020 i3 (MacBook Air 2020 Series)
Processor
Intel Core i3-1000NG4 2 x 1.1 - 3.2 GHz, Ice Lake Y
Memory
8192 MB 
, LPDDR4X-3733
Display
13.3 inch 16:10, 2560 x 1600 pixel 227 PPI, APPA042, IPS, glossy: yes, 60 Hz
Mainboard
Intel Ice Lake-Y
Storage
Apple SSD AP0256, 256 GB 
Soundcard
Apple Audio Device
Connections
2 USB 3.1 Gen2, 2 Thunderbolt, 2 DisplayPort, Audio Connections: Headset, 1 Fingerprint Reader, Brightness Sensor
Networking
802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (a/b/g/n = Wi-Fi 4/ac = Wi-Fi 5), 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 Lithium-Polymer, Battery runtime (according to manufacturer): 11 h
Operating System
Apple macOS 10.15 Catalina
Camera
Primary Camera: 0.9 MPix
Additional features
Speakers: Stereo, Keyboard: Magic Keyboard - Scissor, Keyboard Light: yes, 30-Watt USB-C power adapter, 12 Months Warranty
Released
03/20/2020
Weight
1.27 kg ( = 44.8 oz / 2.8 pounds), Power Supply: 178 g ( = 6.28 oz / 0.39 pounds)
Price
1199 Euro
Note: The manufacturer may use components from different suppliers including display panels, drives or memory sticks with similar specifications.

 

Rating
Date
Model
Weight
Height
Size
Resolution
Best Price
90 %
05/2020
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i3
i3-1000NG4, Iris Plus Graphics G4 (Ice Lake 48 EU)
1.3 kg16.1 mm13.3"2560x1600
88 %
04/2020
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
i5-1030NG7, Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU)
1.3 kg16.1 mm13.3"2560x1600
86 %
01/2020
Apple Macbook Air 2019
i5-8210Y, UHD Graphics 617
1.3 kg15.6 mm13.3"2560x1600
89 %
03/2020
Dell XPS 13 9300 i5 FHD
i5-1035G1, UHD Graphics G1 (Ice Lake 32 EU)
1.2 kg14.8 mm13.4"1920x1200
87 %
02/2020
Acer Swift 3 SF313-52-71Y7
i7-1065G7, Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU)
1.2 kg16.6 mm13.5"2256x1504
84 %
02/2020
Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 13 Core i5-1035G7
i5-1035G7, Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU)
1.3 kg14.5 mm13.5"2256x1504

Size Comparison

308 mm / 12.1 inch 223 mm / 8.78 inch 14.5 mm / 0.571 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 lbs304.1 mm / 12 inch 212.4 mm / 8.36 inch 16.1 mm / 0.634 inch 1.3 kg2.84 lbs304.1 mm / 12 inch 212.4 mm / 8.36 inch 15.6 mm / 0.614 inch 1.3 kg2.76 lbs302 mm / 11.9 inch 234 mm / 9.21 inch 16.6 mm / 0.654 inch 1.2 kg2.56 lbs296 mm / 11.7 inch 199 mm / 7.83 inch 14.8 mm / 0.583 inch 1.2 kg2.62 lbs
Networking
iperf3 Client (receive) TCP 1 m 4M x10
Dell XPS 13 9300 i5 FHD
Intel Killer Wi-Fi 6 AX1650s
1460 MBit/s ∼100% +128%
Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 13 Core i5-1035G7
Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX201
1251 (803min - 1358max) MBit/s ∼86% +95%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i3
802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
641 (554min - 678max) MBit/s ∼44%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (30.9 - 1658, n=173)
628 MBit/s ∼43% -2%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
612 (576min - 636max) MBit/s ∼42% -5%
Apple Macbook Air 2019
802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
609 MBit/s ∼42% -5%
Average 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
  (32.9 - 1065, n=370)
387 MBit/s ∼27% -40%
Acer Swift 3 SF313-52-71Y7
Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX201
289 (167min - 328max) MBit/s ∼20% -55%
iperf3 Client (transmit) TCP 1 m 4M x10
Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 13 Core i5-1035G7
Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX201
1484 (1342min - 1614max) MBit/s ∼100% +172%
Dell XPS 13 9300 i5 FHD
Intel Killer Wi-Fi 6 AX1650s
906 MBit/s ∼61% +66%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (36 - 1614, n=173)
597 MBit/s ∼40% +10%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
550 (546min - 561max) MBit/s ∼37% +1%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i3
802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
545 (414min - 604max) MBit/s ∼37%
Apple Macbook Air 2019
802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
544 MBit/s ∼37% 0%
Average 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
  (31.2 - 966, n=370)
362 MBit/s ∼24% -34%
Acer Swift 3 SF313-52-71Y7
Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX201
49.8 (3min - 102max) MBit/s ∼3% -91%
0102030405060708090100110120130140150160170180190200210220230240250260270280290300310320330340350360370380390400410420430440450460470480490500510520530540550560570580590600610620630640650660670680Tooltip
; iperf3 Client (receive) TCP 1 m 4M x10; iperf 3.1.3: Ø641 (554-678)
; iperf3 Client (transmit) TCP 1 m 4M x10; iperf 3.1.3: Ø544 (414-604)

Display – Retina-Display is brighter when you use Windows

Subpixel layout
Subpixel layout

The display is very similar to the previous review unit. The panel ID is once again APPA042 and the resolution is 2560 x 1600 pixels. Subjectively, the picture impression is very good and the measurement results are almost identical to our last test model (only small deviations). The deviations are only determined by measuring devices, but not the naked eye. Our measurement results are okay at ~400 nits and a contrast ratio of more than 1200:1, but some Windows competitors manage much better results.

We can determine PWM flickering at a brightness of 75% or lower, but the frequency is extremely high at 119 kHz. Similar to the more expensive MacBook Pro models, the small MacBook Air supports True Tone (automatic adjustment of the color temperature based on the ambient lighting) as well as a brightness sensor.

407
cd/m²
411
cd/m²
397
cd/m²
402
cd/m²
416
cd/m²
403
cd/m²
401
cd/m²
398
cd/m²
396
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
APPA042
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 416 cd/m² Average: 403.4 cd/m² Minimum: 5.3 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 95 %
Center on Battery: 414 cd/m²
Contrast: 1224:1 (Black: 0.34 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 0.9 | 0.6-29.43 Ø5.8, calibrated: 0.6
ΔE Greyscale 1 | 0.64-98 Ø6
97.6% sRGB (Argyll 3D) 63.9% AdobeRGB 1998 (Argyll 3D)
Gamma: 2.2
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i3
APPA042, IPS, 2560x1600, 13.3
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
APPA042, IPS, 2560x1600, 13.3
Apple Macbook Air 2019
APPA041, IPS, 2560x1600, 13.3
Dell XPS 13 9300 i5 FHD
SHP14CB, IPS, 1920x1200, 13.4
Acer Swift 3 SF313-52-71Y7
BOE, NE135FBM-N41, IPS, 2256x1504, 13.5
Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 13 Core i5-1035G7
Sharp LQ135P1JX51, IPS, 2256x1504, 13.5
Response Times
-3%
-7%
-57%
-51%
-61%
Response Time Grey 50% / Grey 80% *
38.4 (20.4, 18)
38.7 (19.6, 19)
-1%
42.4 (21.2, 21.2)
-10%
60 (28.4, 31.6)
-56%
55 (25, 30)
-43%
59.2 (28.4, 30.8)
-54%
Response Time Black / White *
28.4 (16, 12.4)
30.44 (17.9, 12.6)
-7%
29.6 (16, 13.6)
-4%
33.2 (16.4, 16.8)
-17%
31 (17, 14)
-9%
41.6 (23.6, 18)
-46%
PWM Frequency
119000 (75)
117000 (75)
-2%
111100 (66)
-7%
2500 (20)
-98%
208 (90)
-100%
21740 (51)
-82%
Screen
-45%
-27%
-97%
-95%
-17%
Brightness middle
416
430
3%
421
1%
619
49%
474
14%
403.4
-3%
Brightness
403
405
0%
393
-2%
591
47%
426
6%
397
-1%
Brightness Distribution
95
89
-6%
88
-7%
91
-4%
82
-14%
89
-6%
Black Level *
0.34
0.32
6%
0.34
-0%
0.35
-3%
0.29
15%
0.34
-0%
Contrast
1224
1344
10%
1238
1%
1769
45%
1634
33%
1186
-3%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *
0.9
1.8
-100%
1.5
-67%
3
-233%
2.38
-164%
0.94
-4%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 max. *
1.4
4.6
-229%
3.8
-171%
8.2
-486%
5.88
-320%
2.92
-109%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 calibrated *
0.6
1.6
-167%
1
-67%
2.69
-348%
0.99
-65%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *
1
1.1
-10%
1.2
-20%
5.2
-420%
3.75
-275%
0.9
10%
Gamma
2.2 100%
2.21 100%
2.14 103%
2.37 93%
2.13 103%
CCT
6629 98%
6644 98%
6694 97%
6340 103%
6466 101%
6620 98%
Color Space (Percent of AdobeRGB 1998)
63.9
64.2
0%
61.3
-4%
66.9
5%
65
2%
62.3
-3%
Color Space (Percent of sRGB)
97.6
97.6
0%
94.6
-3%
99.3
2%
100
2%
98.7
1%
Total Average (Program / Settings)
-24% / -36%
-17% / -23%
-77% / -88%
-73% / -86%
-39% / -26%

* ... smaller is better

Our analysis with the professional CalMAN software and the X-Rite i1 Pro 2 spectrophotometer reveals a very precise calibration out of the box. There is no color cast and the deviations are clearly below the important mark of 3. We only managed to improve the results slightly with our own calibration, so an additional calibration by the user is not required. The small sRGB gamut is covered completely, so picture editing is no problem. By the way, this is one difference compared to the more expensive MacBook Pro 13 siblings, which target the wider P3 color gamut.

CalMAN Grayscale (target color space sRGB, macOS)
CalMAN Grayscale (target color space sRGB, macOS)
CalMAN ColorChecker (target color space sRGB, macOS)
CalMAN ColorChecker (target color space sRGB, macOS)

During our tests, we also noticed that the maximum brightness is much higher when you use Windows. Our test unit was more than 30% brighter, which is quite a lot. However, the black value is higher as well, so the resulting contrast ratio is similar at 1200:1. We have already published a dedicated article about possible reasons for this variation. Windows performs slightly worse in terms of color accuracy and some colors miss the important value of 3 (even after a calibration).

CalMAN Grayscale (target color space sRGB, Windows)
CalMAN Grayscale (target color space sRGB, Windows)
CalMAN ColorChecker (target color space sRGB, Windows)
CalMAN ColorChecker (target color space sRGB, Windows)
CalMAN Grayscale calibrated (target color space sRGB, Windows)
CalMAN Grayscale calibrated (target color space sRGB, Windows)
CalMAN ColorChecker calibrated (target color space sRGB, Windows)
CalMAN ColorChecker calibrated (target color space sRGB, Windows)

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
28.4 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 16 ms rise
↘ 12.4 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. » 66 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is worse than the average of all tested devices (24.4 ms).
       Response Time 50% Grey to 80% Grey
38.4 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 20.4 ms rise
↘ 18 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. » 41 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is similar to 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 119000 Hz ≤ 75 % brightness setting

The display backlight flickers at 119000 Hz (Likely utilizing PWM) Flickering detected at a brightness setting of 75 % and below. There should be no flickering or PWM above this brightness setting.

The frequency of 119000 Hz is quite high, so most users sensitive to PWM should not notice any flickering.

In comparison: 51 % of all tested devices do not use PWM to dim the display. If PWM was detected, an average of 17520 (minimum: 5 - maximum: 2500000) Hz was measured.

Performance – Is the Core i3 sufficient in the MacBook Air?

In addition to the macOS benchmarks, we have also installed Windows 10 via BootCamp to run our usual test suite and enable a certain comparability with Windows devices. However, please remember that the BootCamp drivers are not perfectly optimized by Apple. It is no problem to use Windows, but the benchmark results do not always show the real performance. The power consumption is also noticeably higher when you use Windows.

Processor – MacBook Air with Ice Lake Core i3

The base model of the MacBook Air 2020 also gets a modern Ice Lake processor, but the Core i3-1000NG4 only offers two cores (4 threads) compared to the Core i5 and Core i7, so it is closer to the old MacBook Air from 2018 and 2019 in terms of raw CPU performance. The new Core i3 is a little bit faster than the old Core i5-8210Y in the predecessors, but the advantage is not huge.

The performance also drops very quickly: We see a maximum power consumption of up to 18 Watts (2x 3.2 GHz), but this value drops to just 10-11 Watts (2x 2.3-2.4 GHz) within a couple of seconds. Our Cinebench Multi loop also results in a similar power usage.

We noticed bigger fluctuations during our review of MacBook Air with the quad-core i5. The latter has an advantage of around 35% when you use all cores, but the single-core performance, which is still important in everyday tasks, is actually identical between the i3 and i5. The performance is not further reduced on battery power. All the Windows competitors offer much more CPU performance with their 15W CPUs.

CB R15 Multi first run
CB R15 Multi first run
CB R15 Multi loop
CB R15 Multi loop
0102030405060708090100110120130140150160170180190200210220230240250260270280290300310320330340350360370380390400410420430440450Tooltip
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i3 Intel Core i3-1000NG4, Intel Core i3-1000NG4: Ø297 (292.93-332.83)
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5 Intel Core i5-1030NG7, Intel Core i5-1030NG7; macOS 10.15: Ø401 (363.09-448.1)
Apple Macbook Air 2019 Intel Core i5-8210Y, Intel Core i5-8210Y: Ø252 (241.29-254.07)
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 5.1 / 5.2: 64 Bit Single-Core Score | 64 Bit Multi-Core Score
HWBOT x265 Benchmark v2.2: 4k Preset
LibreOffice : 20 Documents To PDF
R Benchmark 2.5: Overall mean
Cinebench R20 / CPU (Single Core) - CPU (Single Core)
Acer Swift 3 SF313-52-71Y7
Intel Core i7-1065G7
441 Points ∼100% +27%
Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 13 Core i5-1035G7
Intel Core i5-1035G7
439 Points ∼100% +26%
Dell XPS 13 9300 i5 FHD
Intel Core i5-1035G1
425 Points ∼96% +22%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
Intel Core i5-1030NG7
375 Points ∼85% +8%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
Intel Core i5-1030NG7
330 Points ∼75% -5%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (73 - 583, n=69)
363 Points ∼82% +4%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i3
Intel Core i3-1000NG4
348 Points ∼79%
Average Intel Core i3-1000NG4
 
348 Points ∼79% 0%
Apple Macbook Air 2019
Intel Core i5-8210Y
312 Points ∼71% -10%
Cinebench R20 / CPU (Multi Core) - CPU (Multi Core)
Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 13 Core i5-1035G7
Intel Core i5-1035G7
1630 Points ∼100% +178%
Dell XPS 13 9300 i5 FHD
Intel Core i5-1035G1
1533 Points ∼94% +161%
Acer Swift 3 SF313-52-71Y7
Intel Core i7-1065G7
1392 Points ∼85% +137%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (110 - 2935, n=70)
1229 Points ∼75% +109%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
Intel Core i5-1030NG7
987 Points ∼61% +68%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
Intel Core i5-1030NG7
764 Points ∼47% +30%
Apple Macbook Air 2019
Intel Core i5-8210Y
601 Points ∼37% +2%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i3
Intel Core i3-1000NG4
587 Points ∼36%
Average Intel Core i3-1000NG4
 
587 Points ∼36% 0%
Cinebench R15 / CPU Single 64Bit - CPU Single 64Bit
Acer Swift 3 SF313-52-71Y7
Intel Core i7-1065G7
175 Points ∼100% +24%
Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 13 Core i5-1035G7
Intel Core i5-1035G7
172 Points ∼98% +22%
Dell XPS 13 9300 i5 FHD
Intel Core i5-1035G1
166 Points ∼95% +18%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i3
Intel Core i3-1000NG4
141 Points ∼81%
Average Intel Core i3-1000NG4
 
141 Points ∼81% 0%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
Intel Core i5-1030NG7
140 Points ∼80% -1%
Apple Macbook Air 2019
Intel Core i5-8210Y
127 Points ∼73% -10%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (20 - 210, n=328)
122 Points ∼70% -13%
Cinebench R15 / CPU Multi 64Bit - CPU Multi 64Bit
Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 13 Core i5-1035G7
Intel Core i5-1035G7
736 Points ∼100% +121%
Dell XPS 13 9300 i5 FHD
Intel Core i5-1035G1
667 Points ∼91% +100%
Dell XPS 13 9300 i5 FHD
Intel Core i5-1035G1
659 Points ∼90% +98%
Acer Swift 3 SF313-52-71Y7
Intel Core i7-1065G7
615 Points ∼84% +85%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
Intel Core i5-1030NG7
448 (363min - 448max) Points ∼61% +35%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (32 - 1287, n=343)
385 Points ∼52% +16%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i3
Intel Core i3-1000NG4
333 (293min - 333max) Points ∼45%
Average Intel Core i3-1000NG4
 
333 Points ∼45% 0%
Apple Macbook Air 2019
Intel Core i5-8210Y
254 (241.29min - 254.07max) Points ∼35% -24%
Blender 2.79 / BMW27 CPU - BMW27 CPU
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i3
Intel Core i3-1000NG4
1814 Seconds * ∼100%
Average Intel Core i3-1000NG4
 
1814 Seconds * ∼100% -0%
Apple Macbook Air 2019
Intel Core i5-8210Y
1680 Seconds * ∼93% +7%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
Intel Core i5-1030NG7
1310 Seconds * ∼72% +28%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (4.2 - 6277, n=61)
1234 Seconds * ∼68% +32%
Acer Swift 3 SF313-52-71Y7
Intel Core i7-1065G7
835 Seconds * ∼46% +54%
Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 13 Core i5-1035G7
Intel Core i5-1035G7
771 Seconds * ∼43% +57%
Dell XPS 13 9300 i5 FHD
Intel Core i5-1035G1
766 Seconds * ∼42% +58%
7-Zip 18.03 / 7z b 4 -mmt1 - 7z b 4 -mmt1
Acer Swift 3 SF313-52-71Y7
Intel Core i7-1065G7
4397 MIPS ∼100% +28%
Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 13 Core i5-1035G7
Intel Core i5-1035G7
4252 MIPS ∼97% +24%
Dell XPS 13 9300 i5 FHD
Intel Core i5-1035G1
4087 MIPS ∼93% +19%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (1653 - 15198, n=56)
4072 MIPS ∼93% +18%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
Intel Core i5-1030NG7
3472 MIPS ∼79% +1%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i3
Intel Core i3-1000NG4
3438 MIPS ∼78%
Average Intel Core i3-1000NG4
 
3438 MIPS ∼78% 0%
Apple Macbook Air 2019
Intel Core i5-8210Y
3405 MIPS ∼77% -1%
7-Zip 18.03 / 7z b 4 - 7z b 4
Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 13 Core i5-1035G7
Intel Core i5-1035G7
19168 MIPS ∼100% +142%
Dell XPS 13 9300 i5 FHD
Intel Core i5-1035G1
18535 MIPS ∼97% +134%
Acer Swift 3 SF313-52-71Y7
Intel Core i7-1065G7
16982 MIPS ∼89% +114%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (2692 - 37081, n=56)
15627 MIPS ∼82% +97%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
Intel Core i5-1030NG7
10924 MIPS ∼57% +38%
Apple Macbook Air 2019
Intel Core i5-8210Y
7936 MIPS ∼41% 0%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i3
Intel Core i3-1000NG4
7921 MIPS ∼41%
Average Intel Core i3-1000NG4
 
7921 MIPS ∼41% 0%
Geekbench 5.1 / 5.2 / 64 Bit Single-Core Score - 64 Bit Single-Core Score
Acer Swift 3 SF313-52-71Y7
Intel Core i7-1065G7
1316 Points ∼100% +20%
Dell XPS 13 9300 i5 FHD
Intel Core i5-1035G1
1229 Points ∼93% +12%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
Intel Core i5-1030NG7
1167 Points ∼89% +6%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
Intel Core i5-1030NG7
1010 Points ∼77% -8%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i3
Intel Core i3-1000NG4
1096 Points ∼83%
Average Intel Core i3-1000NG4
 
1096 Points ∼83% 0%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (310 - 1575, n=52)
990 Points ∼75% -10%
Geekbench 5.1 / 5.2 / 64 Bit Multi-Core Score - 64 Bit Multi-Core Score
Acer Swift 3 SF313-52-71Y7
Intel Core i7-1065G7
4374 Points ∼100% +116%
Dell XPS 13 9300 i5 FHD
Intel Core i5-1035G1
4372 Points ∼100% +116%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (591 - 5926, n=52)
3158 Points ∼72% +56%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
Intel Core i5-1030NG7
2881 Points ∼66% +42%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
Intel Core i5-1030NG7
2539 Points ∼58% +25%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i3
Intel Core i3-1000NG4
2028 Points ∼46%
Average Intel Core i3-1000NG4
 
2028 Points ∼46% 0%
HWBOT x265 Benchmark v2.2 / 4k Preset - 4k Preset
Acer Swift 3 SF313-52-71Y7
Intel Core i7-1065G7
4.66 fps ∼100% +109%
Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 13 Core i5-1035G7
Intel Core i5-1035G7
4.632 fps ∼99% +108%
Dell XPS 13 9300 i5 FHD
Intel Core i5-1035G1
4.27 fps ∼92% +91%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (0.63 - 8.33, n=56)
4.02 fps ∼86% +80%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
Intel Core i5-1030NG7
2.95 fps ∼63% +32%
Apple Macbook Air 2019
Intel Core i5-8210Y
2.26 fps ∼48% +1%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i3
Intel Core i3-1000NG4
2.23 fps ∼48%
Average Intel Core i3-1000NG4
 
2.23 fps ∼48% 0%
LibreOffice / 20 Documents To PDF - 20 Documents To PDF
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
Intel Core i5-1030NG7
110 s ∼100% +12%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i3
Intel Core i3-1000NG4
97.8 s ∼89%
Average Intel Core i3-1000NG4
 
97.8 s ∼89% 0%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (32.3 - 281, n=41)
83.9 s ∼76% -14%
Dell XPS 13 9300 i5 FHD
Intel Core i5-1035G1
0.02 s ∼0% -100%
R Benchmark 2.5 / Overall mean - Overall mean
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
Intel Core i5-1030NG7
0.922 sec * ∼100% -0%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
Intel Core i5-1030NG7
0.909 sec * ∼99% +1%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i3
Intel Core i3-1000NG4
0.918 sec * ∼100%
Average Intel Core i3-1000NG4
 
0.918 sec * ∼100% -0%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (0.554 - 2.43, n=46)
0.893 sec * ∼97% +3%
Dell XPS 13 9300 i5 FHD
Intel Core i5-1035G1
0.722 sec * ∼78% +21%
Acer Swift 3 SF313-52-71Y7
Intel Core i7-1065G7
0.691 sec * ∼75% +25%

* ... smaller is better

Cinebench R10 Rendering Multiple CPUs 32Bit
9257
Cinebench R10 Rendering Single 32Bit
5771
Cinebench R10 Shading 32Bit
9615
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Multi 64Bit
2.72 Points
Cinebench R11.5 OpenGL 64Bit
31.45 fps
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Single 64Bit
1.49 Points
Cinebench R15 Ref. Match 64Bit
99.3 %
Cinebench R15 OpenGL 64Bit
39.25 fps
Cinebench R15 CPU Single 64Bit
141 Points
Cinebench R15 CPU Multi 64Bit
333 Points
Help

System Performance – MacBook Air fast enough for basic tasks

Benchmark results are one thing, but the subjective performance impression is much more important, especially when you use a device like the MacBook Air, which was designed for casual users in the first place. Every user obviously has its own routine, but we did not notice any limitations when we used typical apps during our review period. This includes things like writing mails, chats via Skype or Discord, web browsing, playback of YouTube videos or video streaming (like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video or Disney+). The MacBook Air definitely benefits from the fast SSD and the powerful video decoder in these scenarios. The CPU performance is also completely sufficient for this kind of work.

However, you should not do too much multitasking or use too many browser tabs at the same time, otherwise you can notice some slight stutters. The MacBook Air is hardly suited for power users anyway, and this is also the case for the more expensive SKUs with quad-core CPUs. The MacBook Pro 13 is a much better device for more demanding applications, for example.

PCMark 10
Digital Content Creation
Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 13 Core i5-1035G7
Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU), i5-1035G7, SK hynix BC501 HFM256GDGTNG
3817 Points ∼100% +151%
Dell XPS 13 9300 i5 FHD
UHD Graphics G1 (Ice Lake 32 EU), i5-1035G1, Toshiba XG6 KXG60ZNV512G
3281 Points ∼86% +116%
Acer Swift 3 SF313-52-71Y7
Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU), i7-1065G7, Intel SSD 660p 1TB SSDPEKNW010T8
3260 Points ∼85% +114%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (405 - 4905, n=142)
2675 Points ∼70% +76%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU), i5-1030NG7, Apple SSD AP0512
2174 Points ∼57% +43%
Apple Macbook Air 2019
UHD Graphics 617, i5-8210Y, Apple SSD AP0256
1637 Points ∼43% +8%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i3
Iris Plus Graphics G4 (Ice Lake 48 EU), i3-1000NG4, Apple SSD AP0256
1521 Points ∼40%
Average Intel Core i3-1000NG4, Intel Iris Plus Graphics G4 (Ice Lake 48 EU)
 
1521 Points ∼40% 0%
Productivity
Dell XPS 13 9300 i5 FHD
UHD Graphics G1 (Ice Lake 32 EU), i5-1035G1, Toshiba XG6 KXG60ZNV512G
6766 Points ∼100% +87%
Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 13 Core i5-1035G7
Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU), i5-1035G7, SK hynix BC501 HFM256GDGTNG
6765 Points ∼100% +87%
Acer Swift 3 SF313-52-71Y7
Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU), i7-1065G7, Intel SSD 660p 1TB SSDPEKNW010T8
6301 Points ∼93% +74%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (1014 - 7676, n=142)
5411 Points ∼80% +49%
Apple Macbook Air 2019
UHD Graphics 617, i5-8210Y, Apple SSD AP0256
4458 Points ∼66% +23%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i3
Iris Plus Graphics G4 (Ice Lake 48 EU), i3-1000NG4, Apple SSD AP0256
3620 Points ∼54%
Average Intel Core i3-1000NG4, Intel Iris Plus Graphics G4 (Ice Lake 48 EU)
 
3620 Points ∼54% 0%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU), i5-1030NG7, Apple SSD AP0512
3033 Points ∼45% -16%
Essentials
Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 13 Core i5-1035G7
Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU), i5-1035G7, SK hynix BC501 HFM256GDGTNG
9086 Points ∼100% +66%
Dell XPS 13 9300 i5 FHD
UHD Graphics G1 (Ice Lake 32 EU), i5-1035G1, Toshiba XG6 KXG60ZNV512G
8568 Points ∼94% +57%
Acer Swift 3 SF313-52-71Y7
Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU), i7-1065G7, Intel SSD 660p 1TB SSDPEKNW010T8
8302 Points ∼91% +52%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (2062 - 10113, n=142)
7146 Points ∼79% +31%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU), i5-1030NG7, Apple SSD AP0512
6746 Points ∼74% +23%
Apple Macbook Air 2019
UHD Graphics 617, i5-8210Y, Apple SSD AP0256
5752 Points ∼63% +5%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i3
Iris Plus Graphics G4 (Ice Lake 48 EU), i3-1000NG4, Apple SSD AP0256
5464 Points ∼60%
Average Intel Core i3-1000NG4, Intel Iris Plus Graphics G4 (Ice Lake 48 EU)
 
5464 Points ∼60% 0%
Score
Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 13 Core i5-1035G7
Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU), i5-1035G7, SK hynix BC501 HFM256GDGTNG
4421 Points ∼100% +98%
Dell XPS 13 9300 i5 FHD
UHD Graphics G1 (Ice Lake 32 EU), i5-1035G1, Toshiba XG6 KXG60ZNV512G
4122 Points ∼93% +85%
Acer Swift 3 SF313-52-71Y7
Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU), i7-1065G7, Intel SSD 660p 1TB SSDPEKNW010T8
3975 Points ∼90% +78%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (743 - 4972, n=145)
3331 Points ∼75% +49%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU), i5-1030NG7, Apple SSD AP0512
2540 Points ∼57% +14%
Apple Macbook Air 2019
UHD Graphics 617, i5-8210Y, Apple SSD AP0256
2491 Points ∼56% +12%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i3
Iris Plus Graphics G4 (Ice Lake 48 EU), i3-1000NG4, Apple SSD AP0256
2229 Points ∼50%
Average Intel Core i3-1000NG4, Intel Iris Plus Graphics G4 (Ice Lake 48 EU)
 
2229 Points ∼50% 0%
PCMark 8
Work Score Accelerated v2
Dell XPS 13 9300 i5 FHD
UHD Graphics G1 (Ice Lake 32 EU), i5-1035G1, Toshiba XG6 KXG60ZNV512G
4832 Points ∼100%
Acer Swift 3 SF313-52-71Y7
Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU), i7-1065G7, Intel SSD 660p 1TB SSDPEKNW010T8
4802 Points ∼99%
Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 13 Core i5-1035G7
Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU), i5-1035G7, SK hynix BC501 HFM256GDGTNG
4755 Points ∼98%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (1283 - 5573, n=255)
4090 Points ∼85%
Home Score Accelerated v2
Dell XPS 13 9300 i5 FHD
UHD Graphics G1 (Ice Lake 32 EU), i5-1035G1, Toshiba XG6 KXG60ZNV512G
3988 Points ∼100% +48%
Acer Swift 3 SF313-52-71Y7
Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU), i7-1065G7, Intel SSD 660p 1TB SSDPEKNW010T8
3759 Points ∼94% +39%
Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 13 Core i5-1035G7
Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU), i5-1035G7, SK hynix BC501 HFM256GDGTNG
3725 Points ∼93% +38%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (1027 - 4349, n=284)
3102 Points ∼78% +15%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i3
Iris Plus Graphics G4 (Ice Lake 48 EU), i3-1000NG4, Apple SSD AP0256
2701 Points ∼68%
Average Intel Core i3-1000NG4, Intel Iris Plus Graphics G4 (Ice Lake 48 EU)
 
2701 Points ∼68% 0%
PCMark 8 Home Score Accelerated v2
2701 points
PCMark 8 Creative Score Accelerated v2
3619 points
PCMark 10 Score
2229 points
Help
Apple SSD AP0256
CDM 5/6 Read Seq Q32T1: 1512.7 MB/s
CDM 5/6 Write Seq Q32T1: 969.9 MB/s
CDM 5/6 Read 4K Q32T1: 556.73 MB/s
CDM 5/6 Write 4K Q32T1: 178.44 MB/s
CDM 5 Read Seq: 1109.01 MB/s
CDM 5 Write Seq: 1026.35 MB/s
CDM 5/6 Read 4K: 28.48 MB/s
CDM 5/6 Write 4K: 34.57 MB/s

GPU Performance – Iris Plus Graphics G4

GPU-Z Intel Iris Plus Graphics
GPU-Z Intel Iris Plus Graphics

The Core i3 processor is equipped with a slower version of the Intel Iris Plus Graphics compared to the optional quad-core chips. The G4 iGPU only features 48 shader units; the faster G7 version 64. However, the graphics performance is further limited by the low TDP, because other G4 iGPUs in our database are between 30-70% faster depending on the benchmark. The MacBook Air 2020 with the G7 iGPU is about 50% faster, but the overall performance level is still low. You will not notice this difference in practice and the slower iGPU is sufficient. Playback of high-resolution videos, for example, is no problem at all, but the MacBook Air is usually too slow for gaming. Only very simple titles run smoothly at lowest settings, but the performance also drops after a while. The Fire Strike stress test is not passed at just 70%, so the gaming performance will suffer when you play for a couple of minutes. The graphics performance is not further reduced on battery power.

3DMark 11 - 1280x720 Performance GPU
Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 13 Core i5-1035G7
Intel Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU), Intel Core i5-1035G7
4279 Points ∼100% +120%
Acer Swift 3 SF313-52-71Y7
Intel Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU), Intel Core i7-1065G7
4138 Points ∼97% +113%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
Intel Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU), Intel Core i5-1030NG7
2924 Points ∼68% +51%
Average Intel Iris Plus Graphics G4 (Ice Lake 48 EU)
  (1941 - 3258, n=5)
2892 Points ∼68% +49%
Dell XPS 13 9300 i5 FHD
Intel UHD Graphics G1 (Ice Lake 32 EU), Intel Core i5-1035G1
2578 Points ∼60% +33%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i3
Intel Iris Plus Graphics G4 (Ice Lake 48 EU), Intel Core i3-1000NG4
1941 Points ∼45%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (230 - 11501, n=414)
1528 Points ∼36% -21%
Apple Macbook Air 2019
Intel UHD Graphics 617, Intel Core i5-8210Y
1509 Points ∼35% -22%
3DMark - 1920x1080 Fire Strike Graphics
Acer Swift 3 SF313-52-71Y7
Intel Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU), Intel Core i7-1065G7
2743 Points ∼100% +198%
Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 13 Core i5-1035G7
Intel Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU), Intel Core i5-1035G7
2692 Points ∼98% +192%
Average Intel Iris Plus Graphics G4 (Ice Lake 48 EU)
  (922 - 2230, n=5)
1880 Points ∼69% +104%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
Intel Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU), Intel Core i5-1030NG7
1846 Points ∼67% +100%
Dell XPS 13 9300 i5 FHD
Intel UHD Graphics G1 (Ice Lake 32 EU), Intel Core i5-1035G1
1755 Points ∼64% +90%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (222 - 8093, n=294)
1227 Points ∼45% +33%
Apple Macbook Air 2019
Intel UHD Graphics 617, Intel Core i5-8210Y
1047 Points ∼38% +14%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i3
Intel Iris Plus Graphics G4 (Ice Lake 48 EU), Intel Core i3-1000NG4
922 Points ∼34%
Unigine Valley 1.0 - 1920x1080 Extreme HD Preset OpenGL AA:x8
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
Intel Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU), Intel Core i5-1030NG7
8.4 (5.8min - 13.8max) fps ∼100% +18%
Average Intel Iris Plus Graphics G4 (Ice Lake 48 EU)
  (7.1 - 9.3, n=2)
8.2 fps ∼98% +15%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (1.7 - 12.2, n=10)
8.07 fps ∼96% +14%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i3
Intel Iris Plus Graphics G4 (Ice Lake 48 EU), Intel Core i3-1000NG4
7.1 fps ∼85%
Unigine Heaven 4.0 - Extreme Preset OpenGL
Average of class Subnotebook
  (2.2 - 26.3, n=9)
10.5 fps ∼100% +30%
Average Intel Iris Plus Graphics G4 (Ice Lake 48 EU)
  (8.1 - 11.8, n=2)
9.95 fps ∼95% +23%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
Intel Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU), Intel Core i5-1030NG7
8.3 (5.6min - 16.6max) fps ∼79% +2%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i3
Intel Iris Plus Graphics G4 (Ice Lake 48 EU), Intel Core i3-1000NG4
8.1 fps ∼77%
3DMark 06 Standard
6413 points
3DMark Vantage P Result
5516 points
3DMark 11 Performance
1980 points
3DMark Fire Strike Score
839 points
Help
low med. high ultra
BioShock Infinite (2013) 34 22.6 20.3 9.1 fps
The Witcher 3 (2015) 9.1 fps
Dota 2 Reborn (2015) 48.2 23.4 14.7 14.1 fps
Rise of the Tomb Raider (2016) 10.2 fps
Overwatch (2016) 8 fps
Rocket League (2017) 53.2 22.7 fps
X-Plane 11.11 (2018) 17.8 9.32 9.16 fps
Shadow of the Tomb Raider (2018) 9 fps

Emissions

System Noise – Dual-Core MacBook Air is quieter

Compared to the quad-core model of the MacBook Air, it takes longer for the fan to reach its maximum speed. The fan is also noticeably quieter overall. Medium workloads (also gaming) will also result in the maximum fan noise, but this process will take a couple of minutes. Still, the passive cooling in combination with the additional chassis fan is anything but great. Other manufactures can handle such a processor with a completely passive cooling solution.

Noise Level

Idle
29 / 29 / 29 dB(A)
Load
31.6 / 39.4 dB(A)
  red to green bar
 
 
30 dB
silent
40 dB(A)
audible
50 dB(A)
loud
 
min: dark, med: mid, max: light   Audix TM1, Arta (15 cm distance)   environment noise: 29 dB(A)
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i3
Iris Plus Graphics G4 (Ice Lake 48 EU), i3-1000NG4, Apple SSD AP0256
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU), i5-1030NG7, Apple SSD AP0512
Apple Macbook Air 2019
UHD Graphics 617, i5-8210Y, Apple SSD AP0256
Dell XPS 13 9300 i5 FHD
UHD Graphics G1 (Ice Lake 32 EU), i5-1035G1, Toshiba XG6 KXG60ZNV512G
Acer Swift 3 SF313-52-71Y7
Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU), i7-1065G7, Intel SSD 660p 1TB SSDPEKNW010T8
Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 13 Core i5-1035G7
Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU), i5-1035G7, SK hynix BC501 HFM256GDGTNG
Noise
-12%
-3%
3%
0%
3%
off / environment *
29
30
-3%
29.5
-2%
29.3
-1%
30.3
-4%
28.5
2%
Idle Minimum *
29
30
-3%
29.5
-2%
29.3
-1%
30.3
-4%
28.5
2%
Idle Average *
29
30
-3%
29.5
-2%
29.3
-1%
30.3
-4%
28.5
2%
Idle Maximum *
29
30
-3%
29.5
-2%
29.3
-1%
30.3
-4%
28.5
2%
Load Average *
31.6
45.5
-44%
34
-8%
30
5%
31.7
-0%
28.5
10%
Load Maximum *
39.4
45.8
-16%
41
-4%
32.4
18%
32.7
17%
40.4
-3%
Witcher 3 ultra *
40.4

* ... smaller is better

dB(A) 0102030405060708090Deep BassMiddle BassHigh BassLower RangeMidsHigher MidsLower HighsMid HighsUpper HighsSuper Highs2030.230.233.2292532.127.82729.13130.235.632.730.9403231.731.6315034.533.735.235.86326.52424.424.38025.323.223.924.110025.922.823.224.312525.921.622.426.516024.923.221.724.320024.122.522.224.525025.222.322.425.131525.522.22125.740028.52219.729.250030.224.219.530.363031.525.51931.380029.72318.829.9100027.319.417.727125029.919.91729.4160029.418.916.429.2200027.917.915.927.6250027.31815.827.2315026.918.515.727.1400026.11615.326500023.515.515.223.4630021.315.615.320.9800017.915.415.317.81000016.715.215.316.71250016.315.115.116.31600016.11514.816.1SPL39.431.62939.3N3.21.61.23.2median 25.9median 19.4median 17median 26Delta2.92.82.72.630.732.334.439.534.540.341.64230.529.630.431.129.732.33030.829.729.729.429.631.431.629.529.928.831.131.332.229.92831.630.432.630.132.336.228.229.62927.62728.129.429.328.42729.628.228.226.927.42929.228.426.527.92826.627.42730.625.827.826.22827.627.226.225.229.624.527.627.629.527.625.824.826.230.324.728.12628.727.926.324.424.324.924.826.525.428.427.325.823.322.124.622.226.527.83128.626.722.622.224.62228.331.434.231.528.923.221.326.921.831.235.935.63429.823.820.431.720.635.432.735.333.427.821.819.629.519.532.834.239.335.829.322.119.332.118.834.333.934.533.12820.418.43018.434.435.433.633.329.519.418.428.818.435.738.235.432.728.222.11832.718.138.334.836.334.325.419.918.129.918.235.431.833.930.624.621.319.131.517.731.831.531.529.422.120.917.932.417.832.131.132.429.7241917.730.917.931.432.933.229.324.220.319.132.917.73330.132.725.822.518.718.231.317.830.329.13024.32320.619.528.817.929.422.723.620.421.820.619.421.718.12320.721.919.520.820.519.419.218.120.62020.919.419.520.619.418.418.119.12020.119.119.320.219.11818.219.14545.845.543.137.932.83142.630.545.355.45.34.331.91.54.21.45.1median 31.1median 32.4median 29.3median 25.8median 20.9median 19.4median 29.6median 18.2median 31.23.933.82.81.51.63.41.93.54241.629.732.731.131.232.33029.330.129.227.625.825.824.526.224.727.724.825.622.226.92230.421.834.220.63719.533.518.836.618.436.518.434.318.137.218.23517.732.217.831.517.931.717.732.117.830.217.927.918.121.518.119.218.118.518.218.230.545.31.45.1median 0median 0median 0median 0median 0median 0median 0median 0median 06.84.2hearing rangehide median Fan NoiseApple MacBook Air 2020 i3Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5

Temperature – Core i3 SKU stays cooler

Stress test
Stress test

The entry-level model of the MacBook Air also has an advantage in terms of surface temperatures, and the hotspot at the top of the keyboard in particular stays a couple of degrees cooler. You will notice up to 44 °C (111.2 °F) when you type on the keyboard, but there are no limitations. Up to 40 °C (104 °F) at the bottom is no problem, either. Less demanding tasks usually result in a lukewarm device, if at all.

Similar to pure CPU load, the power consumption of the SoC will level off at around 11 Watts during our stress test. However, both the CPU and the iGPU are stressed now, which results in lower clocks. The CPU only runs at 2x 1.5 GHz and the iGPU at 400 MHz. The performance is not limited immediately after the stress test.

Max. Load
 38.2 °C
101 F
44.3 °C
112 F
38.9 °C
102 F
 
 32.2 °C
90 F
34.9 °C
95 F
32.3 °C
90 F
 
 28.7 °C
84 F
26.5 °C
80 F
29.1 °C
84 F
 
Maximum: 44.3 °C = 112 F
Average: 33.9 °C = 93 F
39.6 °C
103 F
40.9 °C
106 F
37.2 °C
99 F
35 °C
95 F
35.5 °C
96 F
32.7 °C
91 F
30 °C
86 F
30.2 °C
86 F
29.7 °C
85 F
Maximum: 40.9 °C = 106 F
Average: 34.5 °C = 94 F
Power Supply (max.)  35.7 °C = 96 F | Room Temperature 21 °C = 70 F | Voltcraft IR-900
(±) The average temperature for the upper side under maximal load is 33.9 °C / 93 F, compared to the average of 30.7 °C / 87 F for the devices in the class Subnotebook.
(±) The maximum temperature on the upper side is 44.3 °C / 112 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 40.9 °C / 106 F, compared to the average of 39.6 °C / 103 F
(+) In idle usage, the average temperature for the upper side is 23.4 °C / 74 F, compared to the device average of 30.7 °C / 87 F.
(+) The palmrests and touchpad are cooler than skin temperature with a maximum of 29.1 °C / 84.4 F and are therefore cool to the touch.
(±) The average temperature of the palmrest area of similar devices was 28.5 °C / 83.3 F (-0.6 °C / -1.1 F).
Surface temperatures stress test (top)
Surface temperatures stress test (top)
Surface temperatures stress test (bottom)
Surface temperatures stress test (bottom)

Energy Management – Efficient Ice Lake SoC

Power Consumption

The Core i3 MacBook Air is a slightly more efficient in our idle measurements, but there is no difference in our load tests. This once again shows that the TDP setting or the cooling solution, respectively, is the limiting factor for the performance.

Power Consumption
Off / Standbydarklight 0.045 / 0.24 Watt
Idledarkmidlight 2.1 / 6.2 / 7 Watt
Load midlight 24.7 / 30.6 Watt
 color bar
Key: min: dark, med: mid, max: light        Metrahit Energy
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i3
i3-1000NG4, Iris Plus Graphics G4 (Ice Lake 48 EU), Apple SSD AP0256, IPS, 2560x1600, 13.3
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
i5-1030NG7, Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU), Apple SSD AP0512, IPS, 2560x1600, 13.3
Dell XPS 13 9300 i5 FHD
i5-1035G1, UHD Graphics G1 (Ice Lake 32 EU), Toshiba XG6 KXG60ZNV512G, IPS, 1920x1200, 13.4
Acer Swift 3 SF313-52-71Y7
i7-1065G7, Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU), Intel SSD 660p 1TB SSDPEKNW010T8, IPS, 2256x1504, 13.5
Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 13 Core i5-1035G7
i5-1035G7, Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU), SK hynix BC501 HFM256GDGTNG, IPS, 2256x1504, 13.5
Average Intel Iris Plus Graphics G4 (Ice Lake 48 EU)
 
Average of class Subnotebook
 
Power Consumption
-15%
-43%
11%
-64%
-32%
-79%
Idle Minimum *
2.1
2.4
-14%
3.4
-62%
1.8
14%
4.4
-110%
3.23 (2.1 - 4.5, n=4)
-54%
6.39 (1 - 36, n=653)
-204%
Idle Average *
6.2
6.8
-10%
6
3%
4.6
26%
7.5
-21%
7.6 (6.1 - 9.2, n=4)
-23%
9.59 (2.06 - 39, n=653)
-55%
Idle Maximum *
7
10.5
-50%
10.2
-46%
6.1
13%
7.8
-11%
8.85 (7 - 10.4, n=4)
-26%
11.9 (3.9 - 55, n=653)
-70%
Load Average *
24.7
25.7
-4%
36.6
-48%
27.4
-11%
41.9
-70%
33.1 (24.7 - 42, n=4)
-34%
33.4 (6.3 - 75, n=643)
-35%
Load Maximum *
30.6
30.4
1%
49.3
-61%
27
12%
63.9
-109%
38.4 (27.6 - 63.5, n=4)
-25%
40.8 (7.6 - 111, n=646)
-33%
Witcher 3 ultra *
24.5
40.8

* ... smaller is better

Battery Runtime – macOS with a distinct advantage

The battery runtime is a bit better compared to the MacBook Air with the quad-core i5 processor. Both our Wi-Fi test and the video test (macOS, both at 150 nits) run for about 11 hours. The runtime in the Wi-Fi test is reduced to 7:17 hours (macOS) when we use the maximum display brightness.

We also performed the Wi-Fi test with Windows, and as expected, the results are much shorter. At 150 nits, we record about 7.5 hours, and just little more than 4 hours at the maximum brightness.

Battery Runtime
NBC WiFi Websurfing Battery Test 1.3 (Safari 13.1)
11h 01min
NBC WiFi Websurfing Battery Test 1.3 max Brightness (Safari 13.1)
7h 17min
Big Buck Bunny H.264 1080p
11h 06min
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i3
i3-1000NG4, Iris Plus Graphics G4 (Ice Lake 48 EU), 49.9 Wh
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
i5-1030NG7, Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU), 49.9 Wh
Apple Macbook Air 2019
i5-8210Y, UHD Graphics 617, 49.9 Wh
Dell XPS 13 9300 i5 FHD
i5-1035G1, UHD Graphics G1 (Ice Lake 32 EU), 52 Wh
Acer Swift 3 SF313-52-71Y7
i7-1065G7, Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU), 54.5 Wh
Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 13 Core i5-1035G7
i5-1035G7, Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU), 45 Wh
Average of class Subnotebook
 
Battery Runtime
-6%
4%
18%
-6%
-25%
-24%
Reader / Idle
1281
2064
643 (87 - 2735, n=567)
H.264
666
640
-4%
866
30%
627
-6%
514 (182 - 1312, n=137)
-23%
WiFi v1.3
661
617.7
-7%
689
4%
703
6%
620
-6%
495
-25%
496 (206 - 991, n=273)
-25%
Load
173
205
139
112
123 (40 - 369, n=588)

Pros

+ excellent case
+ very good input devices
+ long battery runtimes
+ good display
+ improved speakers
+ lower emissions compared to the quad-core SKU

Cons

- weak and loud cooling system
- bad webcam
- only two USB-C ports and one is blocked for charging
- hardly suitable for gaming
- no Wi-Fi 6
- no upgrade options – everything is soldered

Verdict – The Core i3 is the better choice for everyday tasks

In review: Apple MacBook Air 2020 Core i3. Test model courtesy of Cyberport.
In review: Apple MacBook Air 2020 Core i3. Test model courtesy of Cyberport.

With all the discussions about the performance of the new quad-core CPUs, you should not forget that the MacBook Air is still primarily a device for casual users with simple workloads. This includes basic things like writing mails, video playback, or web browsing. The MacBook Air is great for this stuff, also thanks to the fast SSD storage. Because of the limited TDP configuration, the entry-level MacBook Air is even on par with the supposedly faster quad-core i5 when it comes to the single-core performance, which is still important for everyday tasks. There are also noticeable advantages in terms of the emissions, and especially the fan is much quieter with a slower maximum speed. This means the i3 MacBook Air is quieter for longer periods of time, even when you stress it.

The MacBook Air with the dual-core i3 processor is the better device for basic workloads. The subjective performance impression is very good in these scenarios, the fan is quieter, and you can still enjoy the good display as well as the improved keyboard.

There are still drawbacks, because the overall level of performance is just very low. This would not be a huge problem, but why does Apple not manage to create a completely passively cooled device? A silent MacBook Air would be a great, but we have the suspicion that Apple limits the Air on purpose. This step might be reserved for future models with the heavily speculated ARM SoCs.

The price is another problem, because you can get Windows laptops with much more performance for 1200 Euros (~$1298). Still, thanks to the high-quality case, the good panel, and the good optimization for macOS, the MacBook Air is a very well-balanced package for your basic tasks. If you need more performance or if you already know that you will stress the components a lot, however, we believe you should skip the more expensive quad-core models of the Air and just get a MacBook Pro 13 (or something similarly powerful) instead.

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Apple MacBook Air 2020 i3 - 05/13/2020 v7
Andreas Osthoff

Chassis
89 / 98 → 90%
Keyboard
92%
Pointing Device
100%
Connectivity
57 / 75 → 77%
Weight
72 / 20-75 → 94%
Battery
88%
Display
92%
Games Performance
33 / 78 → 42%
Application Performance
71 / 85 → 84%
Temperature
92%
Noise
97%
Audio
87 / 91 → 96%
Camera
32 / 85 → 38%
Average
77%
90%
Subnotebook - Weighted Average

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Apple MacBook Air 2020 Review: Is the Core i3 the better choice?
Andreas Osthoff, 2020-05-14 (Update: 2020-07- 3)
Andreas Osthoff
Editor of the original article: Andreas Osthoff - Managing Editor Business Notebooks
I grew up with computers and modern consumer electronics. I am interested in the technology since I had my first computer, a Commodore C64, and started building my own PCs after that. My focus here at Notebookcheck is the business segment including mobile workstations, but I also like to test new mobile devices. It is always a great experience to review and compare new products. My free time is filled with a lot of sports, in the summer mainly on my bike.