Notebookcheck
, , , , , ,
search relation.
, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
 

Apple MacBook Air 2020 Review: Should you get the more powerful version of the M1 processor?

7 or 8 GPU cores? If you are looking for the new Apple MacBook Air, you can choose between integrated graphics with 7 and 8 cores. But how big is there performance difference in everyday situations and does the additional GPU core impact the surface temperatures?
Andreas Osthoff 👁 (translated by Andreas Osthoff), 🇩🇪 🇳🇱 ...

After we have already reviewed the entry-level version of the Apple MacBook Air 2020 with the new M1 processor, we now have a closer look at the more expensive model with the 8-core GPU and a larger 512 GB SSD. You currently have to pay $249 more, but is it worth it?

There are no other changes compared to our previous review unit, so we will only cover the differences. All other information is available in our review of the entry-level MacBook Air M1 ($999):

, , , , , ,
search relation.
, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
 
Apple MacBook Air Late 2020 (M1, 8 Core GPU, 8 GB RAM) (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 AP0512, 512 GB 
, 470 GB free
Connections
2 USB 3.1 Gen2, 2 Thunderbolt, 1 DisplayPort, Audio Connections: Headset, 1 Fingerprint Reader, 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
Operating System
Apple OS X 11.0 Big Sur
Camera
Primary Camera: 0.9 MPix
Additional features
Speakers: Stereo, Keyboard Light: yes, 12 Months Warranty
Weight
1.3 kg ( = 45.86 oz / 2.87 pounds), Power Supply: 172 g ( = 6.07 oz / 0.38 pounds)
Price
1360 Euro
Note: The manufacturer may use components from different suppliers including display panels, drives or memory sticks with similar specifications.

 

Possible competitors in comparison

Rating
Date
Model
Weight
Height
Size
Resolution
Best Price
91 %
12/2020
Apple MacBook Air Late 2020 (M1, 8 Core GPU, 8 GB RAM)
M1, M1 8-Core GPU
1.3 kg16.1 mm13.30"2560x1600
91 %
12/2020
Apple MacBook Air 2020 M1 Entry
M1, M1 7-Core GPU
1.3 kg16.1 mm13.30"2560x1600
91 %
12/2020
Apple MacBook Pro 13 Late 2020 M1 Entry (8 / 256 GB)
M1, M1 8-Core GPU
1.4 kg15.6 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
87 %
12/2020
Razer Book 13 FHD
i7-1165G7, Iris Xe G7 96EUs
1.4 kg15.15 mm13.40"1920x1200
84 %
07/2020
Huawei MateBook 13 2020 AMD
R5 3500U, Vega 8
1.3 kg14.9 mm13.00"2160x1440
90 %
08/2020
Lenovo ThinkPad X13-20UGS00800
R7 PRO 4750U, Vega 7
1.3 kg16.9 mm13.30"1920x1080

Case - Test sample with a creaking hinge

One thing we noticed on our current review unit is a creaking display hinge. The noise almost sounds like there is a piece of protective film. However, this does not affect the functionality. It is the first time we experienced this on a MacBook and we would definitely return the device or ask the retailer for a replacement.

Storage Devices - 512 GB SSD with better write performance

The 512 GB PCIe SSD of our test unit can also be configured as an option ($200) for the entry-level model with 7 GPU cores. The transfer rates are much higher compared to the old MacBook Air and the overall performance is on the level of the MacBook Pro models. 

The read performance is pretty much identical to the smaller 256 GB drive, but the 512 GB SSD is about 400 MB/s faster when it writes data. Still, you won't notice this in practice.

, , , , , ,
search relation.
, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
 
Blackmagic Disk Speed Test
5GB Read
Apple MacBook Pro 13 Late 2020 M1 Entry (8 / 256 GB)
Apple SSD AP0256
2797.6 MB/s ∼100% +3%
Apple MacBook Pro 16 2019 i9 5500M
Apple SSD AP1024 7171
2788 MB/s ∼100% +2%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 M1 Entry
Apple SSD AP0256Q
2756 MB/s ∼99% +1%
Apple MacBook Air Late 2020 (M1, 8 Core GPU, 8 GB RAM)
Apple SSD AP0512
2727.6 MB/s ∼97%
Average Apple SSD AP0512
  (1259 - 2728, n=4)
2111 MB/s ∼75% -23%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (1007 - 2798, n=7, last 2 years)
1988 MB/s ∼71% -27%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
Apple SSD AP0512
1259 MB/s ∼45% -54%
5GB Write
Apple MacBook Air Late 2020 (M1, 8 Core GPU, 8 GB RAM)
Apple SSD AP0512
2895.1 MB/s ∼100%
Apple MacBook Pro 16 2019 i9 5500M
Apple SSD AP1024 7171
2880 MB/s ∼99% -1%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 M1 Entry
Apple SSD AP0256Q
2431 MB/s ∼84% -16%
Apple MacBook Pro 13 Late 2020 M1 Entry (8 / 256 GB)
Apple SSD AP0256
2193.5 MB/s ∼76% -24%
Average Apple SSD AP0512
  (1328 - 2895, n=4)
2052 MB/s ∼71% -29%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (931 - 2895, n=7, last 2 years)
1916 MB/s ∼66% -34%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
Apple SSD AP0512
1328 MB/s ∼46% -54%

GPU Performance - More cores, more performance

The graphics card is the biggest difference. While the entry-level model only gets 7 GPU cores, the more expensive version of the Air is equipped with the faster version with 8 cores. This means there are no differences to the MacBook Pro 13 M1, which is also equipped with the 8-core GPU version of the M1 processor.

As expected, the Air with 8 GPU cores is slightly ahead of the entry-level model with 7 cores, but the difference is usually just a couple of percent point (biggest difference is 12 %). The 8-core MacBook Air is also pretty much on the same performance level as the more expensive MacBook Pro 13 M1. The entry-level MBA already passed the 3DMark Wild Life stress test, and the 8-core MBA passes it as well.

You will not notice the difference in everyday situation. If you do not plan to play games on your MacBook Air, you will be very happy with the entry-level (7-core GPU).

3DMark - Wild Life Unlimited Score
Average Apple M1 8-Core GPU
  (17731 - 18326, n=4)
18023 Points ∼100% +2%
Apple MacBook Pro 13 Late 2020 M1 Entry (8 / 256 GB)
Apple M1 8-Core GPU, Apple M1
17731 Points ∼98% 0%
Apple MacBook Air Late 2020 (M1, 8 Core GPU, 8 GB RAM)
Apple M1 8-Core GPU, Apple M1
17731 Points ∼98%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 M1 Entry
Apple M1 7-Core GPU, Apple M1
16159 Points ∼90% -9%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (5964 - 17731, n=4, last 2 years)
14396 Points ∼80% -19%
Geekbench 5.3
OpenCL Score 5.3
Apple MacBook Pro 13 Late 2020 M1 Entry (8 / 256 GB)
Apple M1 8-Core GPU, Apple M1
19078 Points ∼100% +4%
Razer Book 13 FHD
Intel Iris Xe Graphics G7 96EUs, Intel Core i7-1165G7
18837 Points ∼99% +3%
Average Apple M1 8-Core GPU
  (18352 - 19078, n=2)
18715 Points ∼98% +2%
Dell XPS 13 9310 Core i7 FHD
Intel Iris Xe Graphics G7 96EUs, Intel Core i7-1165G7
18405 Points ∼96% 0%
Apple MacBook Air Late 2020 (M1, 8 Core GPU, 8 GB RAM)
Apple M1 8-Core GPU, Apple M1
18352 Points ∼96%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 M1 Entry
Apple M1 7-Core GPU, Apple M1
17029 Points ∼89% -7%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (1594 - 64697, n=52, last 2 years)
15070 Points ∼79% -18%
Lenovo ThinkPad X13-20UGS00800
AMD Radeon RX Vega 7, AMD Ryzen 7 PRO 4750U
12246 Points ∼64% -33%
Apple MacBook Pro 13 2020 2TB3 i5
Intel Iris Plus Graphics 645, Intel Core i5-8257U
7769 Points ∼41% -58%
Metal Score 5.3
Apple MacBook Pro 13 Late 2020 M1 Entry (8 / 256 GB)
Apple M1 8-Core GPU, Apple M1
21951 Points ∼100% +8%
Average Apple M1 8-Core GPU
  (20411 - 21951, n=4)
21159 Points ∼96% +4%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (19064 - 21951, n=3, last 2 years)
20475 Points ∼93% 0%
Apple MacBook Air Late 2020 (M1, 8 Core GPU, 8 GB RAM)
Apple M1 8-Core GPU, Apple M1
20411 Points ∼93%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 M1 Entry
Apple M1 7-Core GPU, Apple M1
19064 Points ∼87% -7%
Apple MacBook Pro 13 2020 2TB3 i5
Intel Iris Plus Graphics 645, Intel Core i5-8257U
7087 Points ∼32% -65%
GFXBench
Aztec Ruins High Tier Onscreen
Average Apple M1 8-Core GPU
  (43.7 - 75, n=4)
57.2 fps ∼100% +3%
Apple MacBook Air Late 2020 (M1, 8 Core GPU, 8 GB RAM)
Apple M1 8-Core GPU, Apple M1
55.5 fps ∼97%
Apple MacBook Pro 13 Late 2020 M1 Entry (8 / 256 GB)
Apple M1 8-Core GPU, Apple M1
54.4 fps ∼95% -2%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 M1 Entry
Apple M1 7-Core GPU, Apple M1
51.4 fps ∼90% -7%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.9 GHz, Vega 20)
AMD Radeon Pro Vega 20, Intel Core i9-8950HK
47.1 fps ∼82% -15%
Apple MacBook Pro 16 2019 i9 5500M
AMD Radeon Pro 5500M, Intel Core i9-9880H
42.7 fps ∼75% -23%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (6.6 - 55.5, n=11, last 2 years)
31.9 fps ∼56% -43%
Apple MacBook Pro 13 2020 2TB3 i5
Intel Iris Plus Graphics 645, Intel Core i5-8257U
14.9 fps ∼26% -73%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
Intel Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU), Intel Core i5-1030NG7
6.6 fps ∼12% -88%
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% +17%
Apple MacBook Air Late 2020 (M1, 8 Core GPU, 8 GB RAM)
Apple M1 8-Core GPU, Apple M1
81.2 fps ∼86%
Apple MacBook Pro 13 Late 2020 M1 Entry (8 / 256 GB)
Apple M1 8-Core GPU, Apple M1
78.2 fps ∼83% -4%
Average Apple M1 8-Core GPU
  (63 - 81.2, n=5)
74.1 fps ∼78% -9%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 M1 Entry
Apple M1 7-Core GPU, Apple M1
72.4 fps ∼76% -11%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.9 GHz, Vega 20)
AMD Radeon Pro Vega 20, Intel Core i9-8950HK
65.5 fps ∼69% -19%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (3.4 - 81.2, n=12, last 2 years)
30.5 fps ∼32% -62%
Apple MacBook Pro 13 2020 2TB3 i5
Intel Iris Plus Graphics 645, Intel Core i5-8257U
20.2 fps ∼21% -75%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
Intel Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU), Intel Core i5-1030NG7
9.3 fps ∼10% -89%

Gaming Performance

We have to be a bit cautious when we talk about the gaming performance, because so far we were only able to test emulated titles. Interestingly, the MacBook Air is even slightly ahead of the MacBook Pro 13. We have checked the results, but the values did not change. We will have to wait for native games for the M1 processor to gte a real comparison between the chips. There are no problems with iOS games in the App Store.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider
1920x1080 High Preset AA:SM
Apple MacBook Air Late 2020 (M1, 8 Core GPU, 8 GB RAM)
Apple M1, Apple M1 8-Core GPU
25 fps ∼100%
Average Apple M1 8-Core GPU
  (23 - 25, n=2)
24 fps ∼96% -4%
Apple MacBook Pro 13 Late 2020 M1 Entry (8 / 256 GB)
Apple M1, Apple M1 8-Core GPU
23 fps ∼92% -8%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (13 - 44, n=9, last 2 years)
21.6 fps ∼86% -14%
1920x1080 Medium Preset
Apple MacBook Air Late 2020 (M1, 8 Core GPU, 8 GB RAM)
Apple M1, Apple M1 8-Core GPU
27 fps ∼100%
Average Apple M1 8-Core GPU
  (25 - 27, n=2)
26 fps ∼96% -4%
Apple MacBook Pro 13 Late 2020 M1 Entry (8 / 256 GB)
Apple M1, Apple M1 8-Core GPU
25 fps ∼93% -7%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 M1 Entry
Apple M1, Apple M1 7-Core GPU
22 (16min - 39max) fps ∼81% -19%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (10.7 - 55, n=19, last 2 years)
21.3 fps ∼79% -21%
Lenovo ThinkPad X13-20UGS00800
AMD Ryzen 7 PRO 4750U, AMD Radeon RX Vega 7
17 fps ∼63% -37%
1920x1080 Lowest Preset
Apple MacBook Air 2020 M1 Entry
Apple M1, Apple M1 7-Core GPU
40 (30min - 66max) fps ∼100%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (18 - 42, n=9, last 2 years)
31.4 fps ∼79%
1280x720 Lowest Preset
Apple MacBook Air Late 2020 (M1, 8 Core GPU, 8 GB RAM)
Apple M1, Apple M1 8-Core GPU
78 fps ∼100%
Average Apple M1 8-Core GPU
  (66 - 78, n=2)
72 fps ∼92% -8%
Apple MacBook Pro 13 Late 2020 M1 Entry (8 / 256 GB)
Apple M1, Apple M1 8-Core GPU
66 fps ∼85% -15%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 M1 Entry
Apple M1, Apple M1 7-Core GPU
65 (46min - 129max) fps ∼83% -17%
Lenovo ThinkPad X13-20UGS00800
AMD Ryzen 7 PRO 4750U, AMD Radeon RX Vega 7
44.4 fps ∼57% -43%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (9 - 102, n=27, last 2 years)
42 fps ∼54% -46%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
Intel Core i5-1030NG7, Intel Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU)
15.6 fps ∼20% -80%
Total War: Three Kingdoms
1920x1080 High (incl textures)
Apple MacBook Air Late 2020 (M1, 8 Core GPU, 8 GB RAM)
Apple M1, Apple M1 8-Core GPU
25.5 fps ∼100%
Average Apple M1 8-Core GPU
  (20.6 - 25.5, n=2)
23.1 fps ∼91% -9%
Apple MacBook Pro 13 Late 2020 M1 Entry (8 / 256 GB)
Apple M1, Apple M1 8-Core GPU
20.6 fps ∼81% -19%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 M1 Entry
Apple M1, Apple M1 7-Core GPU
17.4 (15min - 19max) fps ∼68% -32%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (4.9 - 36, n=14, last 2 years)
16.6 fps ∼65% -35%
1920x1080 Medium (incl textures)
Apple MacBook Air Late 2020 (M1, 8 Core GPU, 8 GB RAM)
Apple M1, Apple M1 8-Core GPU
42.3 fps ∼100%
Average Apple M1 8-Core GPU
  (33 - 42.3, n=2)
37.7 fps ∼89% -11%
Apple MacBook Pro 13 Late 2020 M1 Entry (8 / 256 GB)
Apple M1, Apple M1 8-Core GPU
33 fps ∼78% -22%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 M1 Entry
Apple M1, Apple M1 7-Core GPU
26.3 (22min - 28max) fps ∼62% -38%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (5.7 - 57.5, n=19, last 2 years)
23.5 fps ∼56% -44%
Lenovo ThinkPad X13-20UGS00800
AMD Ryzen 7 PRO 4750U, AMD Radeon RX Vega 7
15 (12min - 18max) fps ∼35% -65%
1280x720 Low (incl textures)
Apple MacBook Air Late 2020 (M1, 8 Core GPU, 8 GB RAM)
Apple M1, Apple M1 8-Core GPU
100 fps ∼100%
Average Apple M1 8-Core GPU
  (93.4 - 100, n=2)
96.7 fps ∼97% -3%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 M1 Entry
Apple M1, Apple M1 7-Core GPU
95.2 (88min - 102max) fps ∼95% -5%
Apple MacBook Pro 13 Late 2020 M1 Entry (8 / 256 GB)
Apple M1, Apple M1 8-Core GPU
93.4 fps ∼93% -7%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (10.9 - 164, n=22, last 2 years)
64.2 fps ∼64% -36%
Lenovo ThinkPad X13-20UGS00800
AMD Ryzen 7 PRO 4750U, AMD Radeon RX Vega 7
49.3 (42min - 57max) fps ∼49% -51%
Borderlands 3
1920x1080 High Overall Quality (DX11)
Apple MacBook Air Late 2020 (M1, 8 Core GPU, 8 GB RAM)
Apple M1, Apple M1 8-Core GPU
20.5 fps ∼100%
Average Apple M1 8-Core GPU
 
20.5 fps ∼100% 0%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 M1 Entry
Apple M1, Apple M1 7-Core GPU
17.7 fps ∼86% -14%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (7.73 - 34.7, n=8, last 2 years)
16 fps ∼78% -22%
1920x1080 Medium Overall Quality (DX11)
Apple MacBook Air Late 2020 (M1, 8 Core GPU, 8 GB RAM)
Apple M1, Apple M1 8-Core GPU
30.7 fps ∼100%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 M1 Entry
Apple M1, Apple M1 7-Core GPU
28 fps ∼91% -9%
Average Apple M1 8-Core GPU
  (20.3 - 30.7, n=2)
25.5 fps ∼83% -17%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (3.1 - 52.6, n=10, last 2 years)
23.3 fps ∼76% -24%
Apple MacBook Pro 13 Late 2020 M1 Entry (8 / 256 GB)
Apple M1, Apple M1 8-Core GPU
20.3 fps ∼66% -34%
1920x1080 Very Low Overall Quality (DX11)
Apple MacBook Pro 13 Late 2020 M1 Entry (8 / 256 GB)
Apple M1, Apple M1 8-Core GPU
51.1 fps ∼100%
Average Apple M1 8-Core GPU
 
51.1 fps ∼100%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (26.7 - 51.1, n=4, last 2 years)
35.8 fps ∼70%
1280x720 Very Low Overall Quality (DX11)
Apple MacBook Air Late 2020 (M1, 8 Core GPU, 8 GB RAM)
Apple M1, Apple M1 8-Core GPU
56.7 fps ∼100%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 M1 Entry
Apple M1, Apple M1 7-Core GPU
45.2 fps ∼80% -20%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (7.3 - 103, n=10, last 2 years)
45.1 fps ∼80% -20%
Average Apple M1 8-Core GPU
  (30.4 - 56.7, n=2)
43.6 fps ∼77% -23%
Apple MacBook Pro 13 Late 2020 M1 Entry (8 / 256 GB)
Apple M1, Apple M1 8-Core GPU
30.4 fps ∼54% -46%
low med. high ultra
Shadow of the Tomb Raider (2018) 78 27 25 fps
Total War: Three Kingdoms (2019) 100 42.3 25.5 fps
Borderlands 3 (2019) 56.7 30.7 20.5 fps

Temperature

There are no perceptible differences in terms of surface temperatures. Despite the passive cooling solution (and the high performance), the results are not too high and do not cause any worries. You can comfortable use the MacBook Air M1 even under load.

Max. Load
 38.6 °C
101 F
42.9 °C
109 F
42.1 °C
108 F
 
 35.7 °C
96 F
38 °C
100 F
38.3 °C
101 F
 
 33.5 °C
92 F
30.1 °C
86 F
35.5 °C
96 F
 
Maximum: 42.9 °C = 109 F
Average: 37.2 °C = 99 F
43.4 °C
110 F
43.7 °C
111 F
39.9 °C
104 F
40 °C
104 F
40.4 °C
105 F
37.9 °C
100 F
35.5 °C
96 F
35.4 °C
96 F
34 °C
93 F
Maximum: 43.7 °C = 111 F
Average: 38.9 °C = 102 F
Power Supply (max.)  38.6 °C = 101 F | Room Temperature 19.3 °C = 67 F | Voltcraft IR-900
(±) The average temperature for the upper side under maximal load is 37.2 °C / 99 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 42.9 °C / 109 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 43.7 °C / 111 F, compared to the average of 39.5 °C / 103 F
(+) In idle usage, the average temperature for the upper side is 22.9 °C / 73 F, compared to the device average of 30.7 °C / 87 F.
(+) The palmrests and touchpad are reaching skin temperature as a maximum (35.5 °C / 95.9 F) and are therefore not hot.
(-) The average temperature of the palmrest area of similar devices was 28.4 °C / 83.1 F (-7.1 °C / -12.8 F).
Surface temperatures stress test (top)
Surface temperatures stress test (top)
Surface temperatures stress test (bottom)
Surface temperatures stress test (bottom)

Battery Runtime - MacBook Air with long runtimes

We have repeated our Wi-Fi runtime test with the second MacBook Air, but the results are identical down to a couple of minutes. We record more than 16 hours in our Wi-Fi test at 150 nits, and still almost 9 hours at the maximum brightness. This once again shows that the consumption of the display is the biggest factor. 

Battery Runtime - WiFi Websurfing 1.3
Apple MacBook Pro 13 Late 2020 M1 Entry (8 / 256 GB)
M1, M1 8-Core GPU, 58.2 Wh (Safari)
1223 min ∼46% +31%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 M1 Entry
M1, M1 7-Core GPU, 49.9 Wh
960 min ∼36% +3%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 M1 Entry
M1, M1 7-Core GPU, 49.9 Wh (Fullscreen)
914 min ∼35% -2%
Apple MacBook Air Late 2020 (M1, 8 Core GPU, 8 GB RAM)
M1, M1 8-Core GPU, 49.9 Wh
933 min ∼35%
Apple MacBook Pro 13 2020 2TB3 i5
i5-8257U, Iris Plus Graphics 645,  Wh
803 min ∼30% -14%
Dell XPS 13 9310 Core i7 FHD
i7-1165G7, Iris Xe G7 96EUs, 52 Wh
657 min ∼25% -30%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
i5-1030NG7, Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU), 49.9 Wh (fullscreen)
617.7 min ∼23% -34%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
i5-1030NG7, Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU), 49.9 Wh (windowed)
512 min ∼19% -45%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (262 - 1223, n=113, last 2 years)
598 min ∼23% -36%
Lenovo ThinkPad X13-20UGS00800
R7 PRO 4750U, Vega 7, 48 Wh (Edge Chromium)
522 min ∼20% -44%
Battery Runtime
NBC WiFi Websurfing Battery Test 1.3
15h 33min
NBC WiFi Websurfing Battery Test 1.3 max Brightness
8h 44min

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 - GPU-Upgrade alone is not worth it

In review: Apple MacBook Air 2020 M1. Test model courtesy of Cyberport.
In review: Apple MacBook Air 2020 M1. Test model courtesy of Cyberport.

The more expensive MacBook Air 2020 M1 basically shares the same pros and cons we found during the review of the entry-level model. The MacBook Air benefits a lot from the M1 processor. The performance is now similar to the MacBook Pro 13 with two Thunderbolt ports, and the annoying chassis fan of previous model was finally removed. Apple also improved the display as it now covers the wider P3 color gamut and the PCIe SSDs are much faster than before. All in all, the new Air 2020 is probably the most balanced MacBook we have seen in the last couple of years.

You can just get the entry-level model with the 7-core GPU if the 256 GB SSD offers sufficient storage for you. You will hardly notice the additional performance of the 8-core GPU in practice. 

If you decide which version of the MacBook Air to go for, should not be purely focused on the iGPU, because the difference between the two versions (7 vs. 8 GPU cores) is very small and you just won't notice a difference in most scenarios anyways. The more important aspect is the SSD storage. If you can live with 256 GB, just get the entry-level model. If you want 512 GB, however, the pre-configured model for $1249 including the 8-core GPU makes sense. We suspect you will probably get better deals on default configurations (either 256 GB + 7C GPU or 512 GB + 8C GPU) in the future.

Download your licensed rating image as SVG / PNG

Price and Availablilty

The new Apple MacBook Air 2020 with the M1 processor is available in most online shops and starts at $1249, while the entry-level model with the 7-core GPU starts at $999 ($899 in Apple's education store).

Apple MacBook Air Late 2020 (M1, 8 Core GPU, 8 GB RAM) - 12/22/2020 v7
Andreas Osthoff

Chassis
87 / 98 → 89%
Keyboard
92%
Pointing Device
100%
Connectivity
50 / 75 → 67%
Weight
71 / 20-75 → 93%
Battery
91%
Display
92%
Games Performance
78 / 78 → 99%
Application Performance
93 / 85 → 100%
Temperature
90%
Noise
100%
Audio
86 / 91 → 95%
Camera
36 / 85 → 42%
Average
82%
91%
Subnotebook - Weighted Average

Pricecompare

Read all 5 comments / answer
static version load dynamic
Loading Comments
Comment on this article
Andreas Osthoff
Editor of the original article: Andreas Osthoff - Managing Editor Business Laptops - 1282 articles published on Notebookcheck since 2013
I grew up with modern consumer electronics and my first computer was a Commodore C64, which encouraged my interest in building my own systems. I started working as a review editor for Notebookcheck during my dual studies at Siemens. Currently, I am mainly responsible for dealing with business laptops and mobile workstations. It’s a great experience to be able to review the latest devices and technologies and then compare them with each other.
Please share our article, every link counts!
> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Apple MacBook Air 2020 Review: Should you get the more powerful version of the M1 processor?
Andreas Osthoff, 2020-12-23 (Update: 2020-12-23)