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Apple MacBook Air 13 (M1, 2020) Laptop Review

Tested using Methodology v0.8
Reviewed Nov 01, 2021 at 01:58 pm
Apple MacBook Air 13 (M1, 2020) Picture
8.4
School
6.0
Gaming
7.9
Multimedia
7.3
Workstation
7.8
Business
This laptop was replaced by the Apple MacBook Air 13 (2022)
Size
13.3"
Operating System
macOS

The Apple MacBook Air 13 (M1, 2020) is a laptop that features Apple's M1 SoC (System-on-Chip). It's very easy to carry around due to its compact size, and its battery easily lasts through a typical 8-hour workday. It has a good keyboard, an excellent touchpad, and a great webcam for video calls. It doesn't get overly hot, and it remains completely silent under load due to its fanless design. It can handle light workloads and even some heavy ones, but it does throttle due to thermal limitations, and its integrated GPU struggles in graphically intensive tasks. Unfortunately, there are only two USB-C ports, so you'll likely need to carry adapters.

There are two models of the Apple MacBook Air; they mainly differ in graphical performance. Our unit has the 7-core GPU M1 SoC, and you can upgrade to a model with 8 cores if you need more GPU processing power. Both variants start with 8GB of shared memory, which should be enough for most people. However, we recommend that people working with many browser tabs open simultaneously or running memory-intensive applications opt for 16GB. The storage is also configurable, from 256GB to 2TB.

Our Verdict

8.4 School

The Apple MacBook Air is great for students. It's a thin and light laptop that's easy to carry around, with a battery that lasts through an entire day of light productivity. It has a good keyboard, an excellent touchpad, and a bright, sharp screen. Its M1 SoC is powerful enough to handle most student workloads, and it's completely silent thanks to its fanless design. It only has two USB-C ports, though, so you'll likely need to carry dongles.

Pros
  • Exceptional build quality with a full aluminum body.
  • Compact and lightweight.
  • Battery can last through a full 8-hour day for light productivity.
  • Keyboard feels good to type on and is easy to adapt to.
  • Large and responsive touchpad.
Cons
  • Only two USB-C ports.
6.0 Gaming

The Apple MacBook Air is mediocre for gaming. Its M1 SoC easily handles games from the App Store. However, its integrated GPU struggles in graphically demanding games like Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Borderlands 3, and it throttles under load due to thermal constraints. Also, very few games outside the App Store are optimized for the ARM-based M1 SoC, which means some games might not run properly.

Pros
  • CPU can handle fairly heavy workloads.
  • Completely silent due to its fanless design.
Cons
  • Most games aren't compatible with macOS on the M1 SoC.
  • CPU throttles under load and integrated GPU can't handle graphically intensive tasks.
  • Not user-upgradeable.
7.9 Multimedia

The Apple MacBook Air is good for media consumption. It has excellent-sounding speakers that get very loud and a high-resolution Retina display that produces a sharp and colorful image. The screen gets bright enough to combat glare, and it also gets very dim to provide a more comfortable dark room viewing experience. Its color accuracy is superb out of the box, but blacks look gray in the dark due to its relatively low contrast. Battery life is great for video playback, and the power adapter is easy to carry around should you need to give it a small charge to get through the day.

Pros
  • Compact and lightweight.
  • Excellent up-firing speakers.
  • Bright, high-resolution screen.
Cons
  • Blacks look gray in the dark.
7.3 Workstation

The Apple MacBook Air is decent for use as a workstation. Its M1 SoC can handle fairly heavy workloads, but because it's a fanless device, there are some slowdowns when performing demanding tasks for an extended period due to thermal limitations. Likewise, its integrated GPU can do some heavy-lifting, but it might stutter a bit in graphically intensive applications. Unfortunately, it only has two USB-C ports, and it's impossible to upgrade any components after purchase because everything is soldered on.

Pros
  • CPU can handle fairly heavy workloads.
  • Completely silent due to its fanless design.
  • Fast storage drive.
Cons
  • CPU throttles under load and integrated GPU can't handle graphically intensive tasks.
  • Only two USB-C ports.
  • Not user-upgradeable.
7.8 Business

The Apple MacBook Air is good for business use. It feels exceptionally well-built, with a thin and light design that makes it very portable. The M1 SoC has enough processing power to handle most productivity tasks, and you can easily get through an 8-hour workday on a full charge. It has a good keyboard, an excellent touchpad, and a great webcam for video calls. It only has two USB-C ports, so you might need a dock or adapters to connect peripherals or an external display.

Pros
  • Exceptional build quality with a full aluminum body.
  • Compact and lightweight.
  • Battery can last through a full 8-hour day for light productivity.
  • Keyboard feels good to type on and is easy to adapt to.
  • Large and responsive touchpad.
Cons
  • Only two USB-C ports.
  • Not user-upgradeable.
  • 8.4 School
  • 6.0 Gaming
  • 7.9 Multimedia
  • 7.3 Workstation
  • 7.8 Business
  1. Updated Oct 18, 2022: Updated the review to properly state that this laptop has a 13.3" screen as opposed to the marketing size of 13"; this hasn't resulted in any score changes.
  2. Updated Oct 13, 2022: Added mention of the Apple MacBook Air 13 (2022) as an alternative with a brighter display.
  3. Updated Oct 06, 2022: We've remeasured the laptop's thickness and changed the result from 0.2" to 0.5", as we had initially measured the laptop at its thinnest part instead of the thickest. The score has been adjusted accordingly from 9.3 to 9.1.
  4. Updated Feb 14, 2022: The USB-C ports can output a 4k @ 120Hz signal using a USB-C to DisplayPort dongle after updating macOS 12.2.1.
  5. Updated Nov 01, 2021: Review published.
  6. Updated Nov 01, 2021: Early access published.

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

We tested the 13 inch Apple MacBook Air (M1, 2020) with 8GB of RAM and 256GB SSD storage. There are two M1 SoCs, one with a 7-core GPU and another with an 8-core GPU. The 8-core model will perform better in graphically demanding tasks, but it starts with 512GB of storage, while the 7-core model starts with 256GB. You can see the various configuration options in the table below.

CPU
  • M1 SoC (4 performance cores, 4 efficiency cores)
GPU
  • M1 - 7 GPU cores
  • M1 - 8 GPU cores
Memory
  • 8GB LP-DDR4X 4266MHz unified memory
  • 16GB LP-DDR4X 4266MHz unified memory
Storage
  • 256GB SSD
  • 512GB SSD (8-core GPU model starts with 512GB)
  • 1TB SSD
  • 2TB SSD
Color
  • Space Gray
  • Silver
  • Gold

Our display and performance results are only valid for the configuration that we tested. If you come across a different configuration option not listed above, or you have a similar MacBook Air 2020 that doesn't correspond to our review, let us know, and we'll update it. Some tests, like black uniformity and color accuracy, may vary between individual units.

You can see our unit's label here.

Compared To Other Laptops

Apple MacBook Pro 16 (2021)

The Apple MacBook Air 13 (M1, 2020) and the Apple MacBook Pro 16 (2021) are different. The MacBook Air is a thin and light laptop designed for light productivity like web browsing and text formatting, while the MacBook Pro is a much more powerful device targeted at professionals. The MacBook Pro is better for the most part as it features a sharper and brighter display, a more comfortable keyboard, a better webcam, and more ports. The MacBook Pro also has a faster storage drive, longer battery life, and it can handle significantly heavier workloads like video editing and 3d rendering.

Apple MacBook Pro 14 (2021)

The Apple MacBook Pro 14 (2021) is much better than the Apple MacBook Air 13 (M1, 2020); however, they don't target the same audience. The MacBook Air is a thin and light ultraportable designed for light to moderately intensive workloads, while the MacBook Pro is a much more powerful mobile workstation designed for demanding tasks like video editing and 3D rendering. The MacBook Pro 14 has a much better display as it's larger, brighter, and sharper. It also has Mini LED backlighting to provide local dimming, and it supports ProMotion, which makes fast motion appear smoother and helps extend battery life. The MacBook Pro has a higher-resolution webcam, wider port selection, and a faster storage drive. The MacBook Air's battery lasts longer for light productivity, but its battery life for video playback is shorter than the MacBook Pro's.

Dell XPS 13 (2021)

The Dell XPS 13 (2021) and the Apple MacBook Air 13 (M1, 2020) are both ultraportable laptops designed for general productivity like web browsing, text formatting, and video playback. The Dell is available with Intel 11th Gen CPUs and runs Windows, while the Apple laptop uses Apple's ARM-based M1 SoC and runs macOS. The Apple has a sharper display, but the Dell's is brighter, and you can also configure the XPS 13 with a 4k IPS or 3.5k OLED panel. The Dell laptop's keyboard feels better to type on; however, the Apple laptop's haptic touchpad is easier to use because you can click anywhere. If you're often on video calls, the Apple laptop's webcam is much better, even though it's the same resolution as the XPS 13's. Performance-wise, Apple's M1 SoC is faster than Intel's 11th Gen processors, even against the top-end i7-1195G7. The Apple laptop has longer battery life, lasting a little over 3 hours more than the Dell in light productivity workloads.

HP ENVY x360 13 (2020)

The Apple MacBook Air 13 (M1, 2020) and the HP ENVY x360 13 (2020) are both ultraportable laptops designed for light to moderately intensive tasks. However, the HP is a 2-in-1 convertible that runs Windows, while the Apple is a more traditional clamshell laptop that runs macOS. The Apple has a sharper, brighter, and more color-accurate display. It also has better-sounding speakers and a much better webcam. The Apple's M1 SoC performs better than our unit's Intel i7-1165G7 CPU in both single and multi-threaded workloads. It also has better graphical performance, though not enough to make the Apple suitable for graphically-intensive tasks like AAA gaming or complex 3D modeling. The Apple's battery lasts longer if you only perform light tasks like web browsing, but the ENVY x360 lasts longer for video playback.

Apple MacBook Air 13 (2022)

The Apple MacBook Air 13 (2022) is the successor to the Apple MacBook Air 13 (M1, 2020). The 2022 model is a better device overall, with a more powerful SoC, a slightly larger display, and a better 1080p webcam. The M2 MacBook Air has an additional MagSafe charging port, which frees up one of the USB-C ports, but like the M1 MacBook Air, it can only support one external display.

Microsoft Surface Pro 8 (2021)

The Microsoft Surface Pro 8 (2021) and the Apple MacBook Air 13 (M1, 2020) are both thin and light devices suitable for on-the-go productivity use. The Surface is a tablet that runs Windows, while the MacBook is a traditional clamshell that runs macOS. The MacBook's M1 chip performs better when multitasking and running demanding tasks, and it provides almost double the battery life when browsing the web compared to the Surface. The MacBook also has a more color-accurate display with full DCI P3 coverage that's better suited for content creators, and its touchpad and speakers are better. On the other hand, the Surface's screen is sharper, brighter, and goes up to a 120Hz refresh rate, its keyboard feels better to type on, and its webcam and microphone are much better suited for video calls. Also, the Surface throttles less, and its two USB-C ports support Thunderbolt 4 as opposed to Thunderbolt 3 on the MacBook.

Apple MacBook Pro 16 (2019)

The Apple MacBook Air 13 (M1, 2020) and the Apple MacBook Pro 16 (2019) are both productivity-focused laptops with many similarities. The most notable difference is that the MacBook Pro 16 uses an x86 Intel 9th Gen CPU with AMD Radeon Pro graphics, while the MacBook Air uses Apple's ARM-based M1 SoC, though it can still run x86 programs through Rosetta 2. The MacBook Pro is a better choice for creative professionals because its discrete GPU performs much better for graphically demanding tasks than the M1's integrated graphics. Also, it doesn't suffer any performance loss over time, whereas the MacBook Air throttles because it's a fanless device. As for the CPU performance, the MacBook Air's M1 chip is better in most instances, and it's significantly more power-efficient, resulting in much longer battery life.

ASUS VivoBook 15 OLED K513 (2021)

The ASUS VivoBook 15 OLED K513 (2021) and the Apple MacBook Air 13 (M1, 2020) are very different even though they're both ultraportable laptops. The Apple is a much more premium laptop with better build quality, and it's easier to carry around as it's a smaller device. The Apple laptop's keyboard provides a better typing experience, the touchpad is larger and more responsive, and its webcam captures a more detailed image for video calls. The Apple laptop's M1 SoC performs better than the ASUS laptop's Intel 11th Gen CPUs, and it's more power-efficient, allowing the Apple laptop's battery to last more than twice as long as the ASUS. The Apple laptop's display is sharper, brighter, and more color-accurate, but the ASUS laptop's OLED panel can produce deeper blacks for a better dark room viewing experience.

Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 15 (2019)

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 15 (2019) and the Apple MacBook Air 13 (M1, 2020) are both premium thin and light laptops. The main differences between them have to do with the operating system, CPU performance, and battery life. The Surface Laptop 3 runs Windows, while the MacBook Air 13 runs macOS. The MacBook Air 13's M1 SoC performs significantly better than the AMD Ryzen 5 3580U in almost all aspects, and because it's more power-efficient, the MacBook Air 13 has much longer battery life. The MacBook Air 13 also has a better wide gamut display with full DCI P3 coverage, whereas the Surface Laptop 3 only has full sRGB coverage.

ASUS VivoBook Flip 14 (2020)

The ASUS VivoBook Flip 14 (2020) and the Apple MacBook Air 13 (M1, 2020) are both thin and light laptops. However, the ASUS has a 360-degree hinge that lets you use it as a tablet and runs Windows, whereas the MacBook Air can only be used in clamshell mode and runs macOS. The MacBook Air is much better for the most part because it has a sharper and more color-accurate display, as well as a better keyboard, touchpad, and webcam. It also has a much more powerful processor that can handle significantly heavier workloads.

Lenovo Yoga 9i 14 (2021)

Although the Lenovo yoga 9i 14 (2021) and the Apple MacBook Air 13 (M1, 2020) are both ultraportable laptops, they have very different features. The Lenovo is a 2-in-1 convertible that runs Windows, whereas the Apple is a traditional clamshell laptop that runs macOS. The Apple has a sturdier build, a much bigger touchpad with better tracking, and a webcam that captures a more detailed image for video calls. However, the Lenovo has a better port selection that includes two Thunderbolt 4 ports, better-sounding speakers, and a more comfortable keyboard to type on. The Apple laptop has significantly longer battery life, lasting a little over 3 hours in light productivity workloads. The Lenovo laptop's fans don't get very loud under load, but the Apple is quieter still because it's fanless.

Framework Laptop (2022)

The Framework Laptop (2022) and the Apple MacBook Air 13 (M1, 2020) are both 13-inch premium ultraportable laptops. The MacBook Air feels more sturdily built, is more portable, and has longer battery life. It also provides a better user experience with a more comfortable keyboard, a larger and more responsive touchpad, and better-sounding speakers. However, the Framework Laptop has a modular port system that lets you swap the ports out on the fly, while the MacBook Air is limited to two USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports. The most significant difference between these laptops is their serviceability. The Framework Laptop is easy to repair and upgrade, and there are easy-to-follow manuals online to help you. The MacBook Air, on the other hand, is hard to repair and isn't upgradeable since nearly all of its components are soldered onto the motherboard.

Lenovo IdeaPad 3 15 (2021)

The Lenovo IdeaPad 3 15 (2021) and the Apple MacBook Air 13 (M1, 2020) are both thin and light laptops; however, the IdeaPad 3 runs Windows, while the MacBook Air runs macOS. The MacBook Air is better in nearly all aspects, but it has a smaller display, isn't as serviceable, and its port selection is much more limited as it only has two USB-C ports.

Dell Inspiron 15 3000 (2020)

The Apple MacBook Air 13 (M1, 2020) is better than the Dell Inspiron 15 3000 (2020). The MacBook Air is a more premium device with better build quality, a sharper and brighter display, a more comfortable keyboard, and a larger and more responsive touchpad. The MacBook Air can handle much heavier workloads, and its battery lasts a lot longer, especially for light productivity. On the other hand, the Inspiron 15 is more serviceable and has a better port selection.

Acer Swift 3 14 (2020)

The Acer Swift 3 (2020) and the Apple MacBook Air 13 (M1, 2020) are both thin and light laptops; however, the Swift 3 runs Windows, while the MacBook Air runs macOS. The MacBook Air is better in most aspects, such as the display, keyboard, touchpad, speakers, webcam, and general performance. On the other hand, the Swift 3 has longer battery life, especially for video playback, and it also has a wider port selection that includes a full-size HDMI and a USB-C port with Thunderbolt 4 support.

Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 14 (2020)

The Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 14 (2020) is a 2-in-1 touchscreen convertible laptop, whereas the Apple MacBook Air 13 (M1, 2020) is a portable, premium-feeling laptop running macOS. The MacBook is better for business use and multimedia viewing, with a significantly better-performing CPU and GPU and a much better and brighter display. Also, it has a much better touchpad, speakers, webcam, and microphone. On the other hand, the Lenovo's hinge can flip a full 360 degrees for use in tablet mode, its keyboard feels better to type on, and it has a much better port selection.

LG gram 17 (2021)

The LG gram 17 (2021) and the Apple MacBook Air 13 (M1, 2020) are both ultraportable laptops designed for light productivity workloads like text formatting, spreadsheets, and web browsing. They both have sharp and bright screens, but if you plan on working with a single display, the LG will give you more space for multitasking, though it isn't as color-accurate as the Apple's. The LG laptop's keyboard feels more comfortable to type on, and it includes a Numpad, which might be helpful for those working with a lot of numbers. It also has a much better port selection with USB-As, USB-Cs, and a full-size HDMI port, whereas the Apple laptop only has two USB-Cs. However, the Apple has a larger haptic touchpad that's more responsive and easier to use because you can click anywhere on the touchpad. The Apple laptop's speakers sound louder and fuller, and its webcam captures a more detailed image for video calls. The LG doesn't get very loud under load, but the Apple is even quieter because it's fanless.

Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3 (2021)

The Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3 (2021) and the Apple MacBook Air 13 (M1, 2020) are very different. The IdeaPad Gaming 3 is a budget Windows gaming laptop, while the MacBook Air is a premium macOS ultraportable. The MacBook Air offers a better user experience overall because it has a brighter and sharper display, better-sounding speakers, a more responsive touchpad, and a much better webcam. It also has longer battery life and remains silent under load because it's a fanless device. On the other hand, the IdeaPad Gaming 3 has a dedicated GPU, making it more suitable for graphically demanding tasks like video editing and 3D animation.

ASUS X515 (2020)

The ASUS X515 (2020) and the Apple MacBook Air 13 (M1, 2020) are very different. The X515 is a budget 15.6 inch laptop that runs Windows, while the MacBook Air is a premium 13 inch laptop that runs macOS. The MacBook Air is better for the most part because it offers a superior user experience. The MacBook Air's touchpad is larger and more responsive, its keyboard provides a better typing experience, and its display is sharper, brighter, and more colorful. It also has better-sounding speakers and a significantly better webcam. The MacBook Air's M1 SoC is much more powerful than any of the Intel CPUs available on the X515, and it's also more power-efficient, leading to longer battery life.

HP Pavilion x360 11 (2021)

The HP Pavilion x360 11 (2021) and the Apple MacBook Air 13 (M1, 2020) are very different. The HP is an 11 inch 2-in-1 convertible Windows laptop, while the Apple is a 13 inch macOS laptop that you can only use in clamshell mode. The Apple is better than the HP in nearly all aspects, like a sharper and brighter display, a more comfortable keyboard, a larger touchpad, and a webcam with better video quality. The Apple also has significantly better CPU and GPU performance, and its battery lasts much longer.

Dell Alienware m15 R3 (2020)

The Dell Alienware m15 R3 (2020) and the Apple MacBook Air 13 (M1, 2020) are very different laptops. The M15 R3 is a 15 inch gaming model that runs Windows, while the MacBook Air is a 13 inch productivity-focused ultraportable. If you only need a laptop for productivity, you're better off with the MacBook Air because it's more portable and has a significantly longer battery life. The MacBook Air's screen is sharper, brighter, and more colorful, with full sRGB and DCI P3 coverage. However, the m15 R3 may be a better option for creative professionals because it can be configured with a discrete GPU. The m15 R3 is much better for gaming, not only because it has better graphical performance, but because the MacBook Air runs on an ARM-based SoC, and the majority of games haven't been optimized for this new architecture.

Google Pixelbook Go (2019)

The Google Pixelbook Go (2019) and the Apple MacBook Air 13 (M1, 2020) are both thin and light ultraportable laptops, but they run on different operating systems. The Pixelbook Go runs Chrome OS, a lightweight Linux-based operating system that supports web apps, Android apps, and Linux apps. On the other hand, the MacBook Air runs macOS, which supports programs optimized for the MacBook Air's M1 SoC, iOS and iPadOS apps, and x86 applications through Rosetta 2. While both laptops are powerful enough for simple tasks like web browsing, the MacBook Air can handle significantly heavier workloads. Battery life is about the same on both laptops for light productivity, but the Pixelbook Go can last much longer for video playback.

Framework Laptop (2021)

The Framework Laptop (2021) and the Apple MacBook Air 13 (M1, 2020) are very different laptops. The MacBook Air has limited configuration options and runs macOS, while the Framework Laptop is much more flexible as it allows you to choose each component individually, and you can even skip the operating system if you want to install something else like Linux. The Framework Laptop also has a modular I/O system that lets you change the port configuration on the fly, and it's much easier to service and upgrade. As for the user experience, the MacBook Air has a sharper screen with better reflection handling and better-sounding speakers, and its touchpad is larger and tracks better. Apple's M1 SoC performs better than the Intel Core i7-1165G7 and is more power-efficient, resulting in longer battery life.

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Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style
Form Factor
Traditional (Clamshell)

The Apple MacBook Air has a simple and sleek design that hasn't changed all that much since the MacBook Air 2018. It has a full aluminum body, and it comes in three colors, Space Gray, Silver, and Gold. It has relatively thin bezels on three sides, with a thicker one at the top to house the camera.

9.5
Design
Build Quality

The Apple MacBook Air feels exceptionally well-built. It has a rigid, full aluminum body, with no flex in the screen or the keyboard deck. There's no weakness in the hinge, and the glass touchpad is sturdy. Unlike the Apple MacBook Pro 13 (M1, Late 2020), this is a fanless device, which means it's completely silent, and you don't have to worry about dust getting into the components over time.

9.1
Design
Hinge
Range
135°
Stability
Good
One Finger Lift
Yes

The hinge is outstanding. It has enough resistance so you can set the screen tilt exactly the way you want and prevent wobbling, but it's still easy to open the laptop with one finger.

9.1
Design
Portability
Size
13.3"
Thickness
0.5" (1.3 cm)
Width
12.0" (30.5 cm)
Depth
8.4" (21.2 cm)
Volume
51.3 in³ (840.6 cm³)
Weight
2.9 lbs (1.3 kg)
Charger Size
5.5 in³ (90.6 cm³)
Charger Weight
0.4 lbs (0.2 kg)

The Apple MacBook Air is a very portable, thin, and light laptop. The power adapter is small and fits easily into most bags.

3.3
Design
Serviceability
Ease Of Access
5.5
RAM Slots
0
Storage Slots
0
Replaceable Battery
Yes
Replaceable Wireless Adapter
No

The Apple MacBook Air's serviceability is bad. Opening the bottom panel is straightforward as you only need to remove 10 P5 screws, but it takes a lot of force to pry open the panel, and because it's such a thin sheet of metal, you can easily cut yourself. Unfortunately, the only replaceable part is the battery. Opening the laptop and making changes to the hardware may void the manufacturer's warranty.

If you want a thin and light model but prefer having upgradeable internal storage, check out the Microsoft Surface Pro 8 (2021).

Design
In The Box

  • Apple MacBook Air 13 (M1, 2020)
  • 30W USB-C power adapter
  • USB-C to USB-C charging cable
  • Quick start guide
  • Apple stickers

Display
Display
Screen Specs
Resolution
2560 x 1600
Aspect Ratio
16:10
Pixel Density
225 PPI
Panel Type
IPS
Touch Screen
No
Screen-To-Body Ratio
84%

The Apple MacBook Air has only one screen configuration. It's a Retina display, and it displays very sharp images and text due to its high pixel density. Its 16:10 aspect ratio gives you slightly more vertical space than a typical 16:9 display so that you don't have to scroll as much.

5.9
Display
Refresh Rate
Refresh Rate
60 Hz
Variable Refresh Rate
No

The Apple MacBook Air M1 is primarily a productivity laptop, so it isn't surprising that it's limited to a 60Hz refresh rate. Our motion blur photo shows a good amount of ghosting caused by a slow response time, which isn't ideal for viewing fast-moving content or gaming.

6.8
Display
Contrast
Native Contrast
1,044 : 1

The Apple MacBook Air M1 has an okay contrast ratio, typical of most IPS panels. It results in blacks that look grayish, especially when viewed in a dim environment, so it isn't the best option for dark rooms. The contrast ratio can vary between individual units, but it's usually by a small amount and isn't visibly noticeable. If you want a MacBook with a higher-contrast display, check out the Apple MacBook Pro 14 (2021).

7.8
Display
Brightness
Maximum Brightness
372 cd/m²
Minimum Brightness
4 cd/m²

The Apple MacBook Air's screen gets bright enough to provide good visibility in most settings. However, you'll still have trouble with visibility in very sunny environments. It gets very dim at the lowest brightness setting, which is great for dark room viewing as it causes less eye strain. If you want a brighter display, check out the newer Apple MacBook Air 13 (2022).

8.9
Display
Reflections
Screen Finish
Glossy
Total Reflections
1.73%
Indirect Reflections
0.16%
Calculated Direct Reflections
1.57%

The Apple MacBook Air has excellent reflection handling despite having a glossy screen. However, you'll still see some reflections when viewing dark scenes if you have a light directed at the screen.

7.4
Display
Black Uniformity
Uniformity (Std. Dev.)
1.071%

The Apple MacBook Air's black uniformity is decent. The whole screen looks grayish, and there's some backlight bleed at the top and bottom edges. It's only noticeable when viewing dark scenes in a dark room, though. Black uniformity can vary between units.

6.8
Display
Horizontal Viewing Angle
Color Washout From Left
25°
Color Washout From Right
28°
Color Shift From Left
40°
Color Shift From Right
46°
Brightness Loss From Left
28°
Brightness Loss From Right
31°
Black Level Raise From Left
60°
Black Level Raise From Right
60°
Gamma Shift From Left
29°
Gamma Shift From Right
32°

The Apple MacBook Air M1 has okay horizontal viewing angles. The image looks dimmer and slightly washed out from the side. It's fine for sharing the screen with someone else as long as you don't need perfect image accuracy.

6.8
Display
Vertical Viewing Angle
Color Washout From Below
25°
Color Washout From Above
25°
Color Shift From Below
37°
Color Shift From Above
41°
Brightness Loss From Below
27°
Brightness Loss From Above
28°
Black Level Raise From Below
45°
Black Level Raise From Above
45°
Gamma Shift From Below
37°
Gamma Shift From Above
35°

The Apple MacBook Air M1 has okay vertical viewing angles. The image is dimmer and slightly washed out when viewed from above or below. It somewhat limits the range you can tilt the screen, but we don't expect it to be a major issue for most people.

9.7
Display
Out-Of-The-Box Color Accuracy
Avg. White Balance dE
1.75
Avg. Gamma
2.2
Avg. Color dE
1.21
Avg. Color Temperature
6,883.6 K

The Apple 13 inch MacBook Air's out-of-the-box color accuracy is superb. Most color and white balance inaccuracies aren't noticeable to the naked eye. The color temperature is just a bit on the cooler side of our 6500K target, resulting in a slight blueish tint. Gamma is pretty good overall, but dark scenes appear darker than they should. Color accuracy can vary between individual units.

9.4
Display
Color Gamut
sRGB xy
99.96%
sRGB uv
99.84%
Adobe RGB xy
88.07%
Adobe RGB uv
92.88%
DCI P3 xy
99.57%
DCI P3 uv
99.15%
Rec. 2020 xy
72.25%
Rec. 2020 uv
73.92%

The Apple MacBook Air has an exceptional color gamut, with full sRGB and DCI P3 coverage, the color spaces used in most SDR and HDR content, respectively. Its Adobe RGB coverage is outstanding, but it might still be a bit too low for professionals working in that color space. Likewise, the Rec. 2020 coverage is decent, but it isn't as good as some high-end desktop monitors and TVs.

10
Display
Flicker
Flicker-Free
Yes
Flicker Frequency
No Flicker
Flicker Active Below
0%

The Apple MacBook Air's backlight is entirely flicker-free, which helps reduce eye strain for some people.

Interface
7.6
Interface
Keyboard
Typing Quality
7.5
Numpad
No
Backlighting
Adjustable
Operating Force
63 gf
Actuation Force
37 gf
Pre-Travel
0.76 mm
Total Travel
1.0 mm

The Apple MacBook Air M1 has a good keyboard. The keys are well-spaced and don't require much force to actuate, but the total travel distance is very short. Most people should be able to adapt to typing on it quickly. The backlight is adjustable, but you can only do so through the control panel on macOS.

8.8
Interface
Touchpad
Tracking Quality
9.0
Size
14.9 in² (96.0 cm²)
Material
Glass
Dedicated Buttons
No

The Apple MacBook Air's trackpad is excellent. It's smooth, responsive, and precise. Like all recent MacBooks, it uses haptic feedback to simulate the clicks instead of having physical buttons. It means you can click anywhere on the trackpad, making it easier to drag things around. It can register clicks from the palm, but we don't expect it to be an issue for most people. It supports Force Touch, which means it's pressure-sensitive, allowing you to use a harder press to perform a secondary function or bring up a contextual menu in some applications.

8.9
Interface
Speakers
Max Volume
79 dB SPL
Standard Error @ Normal Vol. (65 dB)
4.5 dB
Slope @ Normal Vol. (65 dB)
1.6
Bass Extension (Low-Frequency Ext.)
247 Hz
Treble Extension (High-Frequency Ext.)
20 kHz
Dynamic Range Compression @ Max Vol.
1.9 dB

The Apple MacBook Air M1's speakers are excellent. They're up-firing and get pretty loud without much compression at max volume. They don't have a lot of bass, so the overall sound is somewhat treble-heavy. That said, they're still better than most laptops.

8.2
Interface
Webcam & Microphone
Video Quality
8.5
Resolution
720p
Position
Top Center
Privacy Cover
No
Face Unlock
No

The webcam's video quality is excellent, about as good as it gets for 720p. The colors are slightly warmer than in real life, but it isn't distracting. The image is flipped horizontally, which might bother some people. Voices come across loud and clear through the microphone; there's just a bit of static. If you're looking for a lightweight, portable device but prioritize video quality, check out the Microsoft Surface Go 2 (2020).

Connectivity
4.0
Connectivity
Ports
USB-A Ports
0
USB-C Ports
2
Thunderbolt
Thunderbolt 3
USB-C Charging
Yes
USB-C Display Out
Yes
HDMI
No
DisplayPort
No
3.5mm Jack
Combo mic/headphone
Card Reader
No
Ethernet
No
Proprietary Port
No
Security Lock
No

Update 02/14/2022: After an update to macOS version 12.2.1, the USB-C ports can output a 4k@120Hz signal using a USB-C to DisplayPort dongle.

The two USB-C ports support Thunderbolt 3 (up to 40Gbps), DisplayPort, charging, USB 4 (up to 40Gbps), and USB 3.2 Gen 2 (up to 10Gbps). The M1 SoC is limited to one external video output, up to 6k @ 60Hz, or 4k@120Hz using a USB-C to DisplayPort dongle. Some users have shown that it's possible to connect more than one external display using a third-party dock that supports Displaylink, though we can't confirm this. There are no USB-A ports, so you'll likely need dongles for your peripherals.

Connectivity
Wireless Communication
Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax)
Bluetooth
5.0

The Apple MacBook Air 2020's wireless adapter is an Apple USI 339S00758.

Configuration
Configuration
CPU
Brand
Apple
Model
M1
Core Count
8
Thread Count
8

The Apple MacBook Air M1 has the M1 SoC (System-on-Chip). It's an ARM-based processor with four performance cores to handle demanding tasks and four efficiency cores to save power when performing easier tasks. The number of GPU cores changes depending on the model, but the CPU part of the SoC remains the same across all models.

Configuration
GPU
Brand
Apple
Model
M1
Dedicated/Integrated
Integrated
VRAM Size
N/A

There are two versions of the M1 SoC: one with a 7-core GPU and one with an 8-core GPU. The 8-core model will perform around 10% better than the 7-core model in most cases. There's no dedicated VRAM because it's shared with the system memory. If you want dedicated graphics, the Apple MacBook Pro 16 (2019) has multiple AMD Radeon GPU options.

Configuration
RAM
Capacity
8 GB
Modules
2 (Soldered)
Type
LP-DDR4X
Speed
4,266 MHz

The Apple MacBook Air M1 uses 'unified' memory, which means the CPU and GPU draw from the same memory pool. 8GB is enough for light productivity, but we recommend going with 16GB if you tend to have many browser tabs open simultaneously or need to run memory-intensive applications.

Configuration
Storage
Advertised Capacity
256 GB
Usable Capacity
218 GB
Drive 1
SDRGJHI4
Drive 1 Type SSD
Drive 2
No 2nd Drive
Drive 2 Type No 2nd Drive

The Apple MacBook Air M1's storage is configurable. The 7-core GPU model starts with 256GB, and you can upgrade it to 512GB, 1TB, or 2TB. The 8-core GPU model starts with 512GB, and you can upgrade it to 1TB or 2TB.

Performance
8.8
Performance
Geekbench 5 (Synthetics)
CPU Single-Thread
1,721 points
CPU Multi-Thread
7,437 points
GPU Compute
19,359 points

The Apple MacBook Air M1's overall score in Geekbench 5 is excellent, with exceptional performance in single and multi-threaded tests. It has no problems handling simple tasks like web browsing and video playback, and it can even take on relatively heavy workloads. Its GPU compute performance is good for integrated graphics but sub-par compared to the available dedicated GPUs on the market. You can perform some graphically intensive tasks, like image processing, but it might stutter a bit. If you need a laptop with better graphical performance for tasks like video editing, check out the Apple MacBook Pro 16 (2021).

9.1
Performance
Cinebench R23 (CPU Rendering)
Single-Thread
1,497 points
Multi-Thread
6,855 points

The Apple MacBook Air's Cinebench R23 score is outstanding. Its single-threaded performance is superb, better than many higher-wattage mobile and desktop CPUs on the market. Its multi-threaded performance is excellent, but it isn't as good as CPUs with more cores and threads, like the Intel Core i9-9880H in our unit of the Apple MacBook Pro 16 (2019).

6.2
Performance
Blender (3D Rendering)
CPU Render Time
7.3 min
GPU Render Time
N/A
GPU Render Time (Optix)
N/A

The Apple MacBook Air M1's performance in Blender is mediocre as it takes a fairly long time to render the bmw27 scene. We can't run the GPU benchmark because Blender doesn't support the Metal graphics API that macOS uses, and unlike the Intel-based MacBook Pro 16, there's no Boot Camp to run it on Windows. It's hard to predict how well the integrated GPU can render compared to the CPU, although we can safely assume that the 8-core GPU will perform better than the 7-core GPU.

6.1
Performance
Basemark GPU (Game Scene)
Overall Score
26,868

The Basemark GPU score is passable, better than most integrated graphics on the market. It handles most games from the App Store or ones that have been optimized for the M1 chip, but it struggles with very graphically-intensive AAA titles. The 8-core GPU will perform better, but not by much.

9.3
Performance
Storage Drive Performance
Sequential Write Speed
2,580.5 MB/s
Sequential Read Speed
2,487.4 MB/s
Random Write Speed
51.5 MB/s
Random Read Speed
60.5 MB/s

The storage drive performance is outstanding. Its quick read and write speeds make the system feel fast and responsive, like when launching apps and transferring files. The speed of the SSD may vary depending on the size, as larger SSDs tend to perform better.

8.8
Performance
Battery
Capacity
50 Wh
Battery Life (Web Browsing)
13.3 hrs
Battery Life (Video Playback)
6.6 hrs
Battery Life (Gaming)
2.6 hrs
Charge Time
3.1 hrs

The Apple MacBook Air has excellent battery life, lasting easily over a full workday of light productivity. However, it's a lot shorter for continuous video playback and even less if you perform CPU or GPU-intensive tasks, like video editing or gaming. Battery life can vary greatly depending on your usage.

2.4
Performance
Borderlands 3
Avg. FPS
15 fps
1% Low
6 fps
0.1% Low
3 fps
1% Low Delta
86 ms
0.1% Low Delta
302 ms
Avg. FPS On Very Low
32 fps

The Apple MacBook Air M1 can't really maintain a playable frame rate in Borderlands 3, even at the lowest graphics settings. This is expected since the laptop only has integrated graphics, and there's likely a performance hit because the game isn't optimized for an ARM processor and is running through Rosetta 2. Rosetta 2 is a feature that allows M1 Macs to run programs coded for Intel Macs, but it can cause a dip in performance or unintended behaviors. We don't expect the 8-core GPU to perform much better.

5.6
Performance
Civilization VI
Avg. FPS
32 fps
1% Low
23 fps
0.1% Low
21 fps
1% Low Delta
12 ms
0.1% Low Delta
17 ms
Avg. FPS On Minimum
71 fps
Avg. Turn Time
11.63 s

Civilization VI is playable at around 30fps because it isn't a reaction-based game, although you would get a much smoother experience if you lower the graphics settings. The turn time is pretty slow, though. The game can only run through Rosetta 2 because it hasn't been optimized for the ARM-based M1 chip.

7.7
Performance
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
Avg. FPS
65 fps
1% Low
N/A
0.1% Low
N/A
1% Low Delta
N/A
0.1% Low Delta
N/A
Avg. FPS On Low
94 fps

The Apple MacBook Air with the 7-core GPU can achieve over 60fps on high settings in CS: GO. It stutters in large areas where there are many players, but it isn't unplayable. We can't capture the 1% and 0.1% low data because the software we use isn't compatible with macOS. You'll get a much better experience if you turn down the settings. The 8-core GPU can push out a few more frames per second, but not enough to make a huge difference. This game only runs through Rosetta 2.

2.0
Performance
Shadow Of The Tomb Raider
Avg. FPS
13 fps
1% Low
9 fps
0.1% Low
5 fps
1% Low Delta
31 ms
0.1% Low Delta
135 ms
Avg. FPS On Lowest
26 fps

Shadow of the Tomb Raider runs terribly on the high settings, and even at the lowest settings, it can barely reach 30fps, so the overall experience is pretty choppy. Also, the game likely performs worse because it's running through Rosetta 2. We don't expect the 8-core GPU to perform much better.

8.3
Performance
Thermals And Noise
Keyboard Temp While Idle
28 °C (82 °F)
Keyboard Temp Under Load
47 °C (117 °F)
Fan Noise While Idle
N/A
Fan Noise Under Load
N/A
Power & Fan Control App
No

The Apple MacBook Air has a fanless design, so it's completely silent. It gets a little warm around the '6' on the keyboard under load, but it isn't hot enough to cause discomfort.

7.5
Performance
Performance Over Time
CPU Temp (Cinebench)
N/A
CPU Perf. Loss (Cinebench)
13% loss
GPU Temp (Heaven)
N/A
GPU Perf. Loss (Heaven)
3% loss

The Apple MacBook Air M1 loses performance over time, which is expected of a fanless laptop. However, this small amount of performance loss isn't noticeable unless you perform heavy, sustained workloads with near 100% CPU or GPU utilization.

Additional Features And Software
Additional Features And Software
Software
Operating System
macOS
Additional Software
None

There are no additional pieces of software other than the ones that typically come with macOS. Apple has retired Boot Camp, which means the only way to run Windows or other operating systems on your MacBook is through a third-party solution like Parallels. You can run x86 applications for Mac through Rosetta 2, but they might not always function properly, and performance might suffer a bit, depending on the application. There are reports of high swap memory usage when running programs through Rosetta 2, causing the SSD to degrade faster. If you're concerned about the longevity of the storage drive, you might want to consider upgrading to 16GB of RAM. If you want a similar thin and light Windows laptop, check out the Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 15 (2019).

Additional Features And Software
Extra Features
RGB Illumination
No
Touch Pen
No
Secondary Display
No
Biometrics
Fingerprint Sensor

The Apple MacBook Air has a fingerprint sensor built into the power button. You can use it to log in or make purchases from the App Store.

Discussions