Notebookcheck Logo

The entry-level Apple MacBook Air is the better choice for many users

MacBook Air 2020
MacBook Air 2020
Apple's 2020 MacBook Air is the first Air with optional quad-core processors, which should increase the performance significantly, at least in theory. However, the entry-level SKU with the Core i3 CPU for $999 is often the better choice for everyday tasks.

Your new device has to be a 2020 MacBook Air: Slim chassis, great display, and finally a decent keyboard. But what about the processor, is the entry-level dual-core processor sufficient or should you get one of the two optional quad-core chips, which promise much more performance? Many potential users probably have this problem right now, and after our reviews of the two versions, there is a pretty clear verdict that might be surprising.

The Core i3 is definitely a better fit for the MacBook Air, which is a result of the unusual cooling solution. The two additional cores just produce much more heat, which results in a louder fan noise in more situations. It takes a while before the fan of the less expensive MacBook Air reaches its maximum noise (which is lower compared to the i5 SKU), even under load. This means you can enjoy a quieter (even silent) system more often. The entry-level model also manages slightly longer battery runtimes.

But isn't the higher CPU performance still an advantage, especially for the next couple of years? More performance is certainly not a bad thing, but potential buyers of the MacBook Air (dual-core or quad-core) must know one thing. The MacBook Air is designed for simple tasks, or better said normale, daily tasks. If you are not sure whether you need the performance of faster devices, like the MacBook Pro 13, for example, chances are high you don't need it. And basic stuff (like web browsing, mails, video streaming etc.) does not only depend on the raw CPU performance, but the overall system performance. The Air (even the i3 SKU) benefits from the fast SSD and the good optimization for macOS, so these workloads are no problem at all. The additional price for the quad-cores is hardly worth it anyway, because even the Core i5 is limited by the cooling solution. Despite the two additional cores, the multi-core performance is just 35% higher, and the single-core performance is even identical between the two units.

Please also see our comprehensive reviews of the two MacBook Air 2020 models with lots of benchmark results and detailed measurements:

Read all 7 comments / answer
static version load dynamic
Loading Comments
Comment on this article
Please share our article, every link counts!
> Expert Reviews and News on Laptops, Smartphones and Tech Innovations > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2020 05 > The entry-level Apple MacBook Air is the better choice for many users
Andreas Osthoff, 2020-05-17 (Update: 2020-05-19)