MacBook Air (13–inch, late–2020)
Mac Life|March 2021
Apple’s first post–Intel MacBook is here — and it flies, mostly…
By Rob Mead-Green

From $999 From Apple, apple.com

Features 13.3–inch Retina display (2560x1600), Apple M1 chip, 8GB unified memory (16GB available), 256GB storage (512GB, 1TB, and 2TB available), 802.11ax Wi–Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, 2x Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports

This is what the future feels like — Apple has taken its most popular MacBook and rather than give it a superficial makeover it has radically altered what’s inside. Say goodbye Intel, hello Apple silicon — and the most radical change to the computers we love in over 15 years.

The late–2020 MacBook Air is the first of three new Macs to be powered by Apple’s M1 — a System on Chip (SoC) that takes all the know–how Apple has acquired through its experiences with iPhone and iPad and applied it to its new computers. The M1 comprises eight CPU cores, a choice of seven or eight GPU cores (depending on model) and a 16–core Neural Engine to deliver an astonishing level of performance for an entry–level laptop. It also delivers up to 18 hours of battery life.

True, traditionalists will balk at the “lowly” choice of 8GB or 16GB of memory on these machines (plus a complete inability to upgrade it later), but that misses the point. The M1 SoCs inside the MacBook Air, 13–inch MacBook Pro and new Mac mini all use Apple’s Unified Memory Architecture (UMA) to share that memory between the CPU and the GPU and the Neural Engine incredibly efficiently. The result here is that the new MacBook Air is up to 3.5x faster, has 5x faster graphics and 9x faster machine learning capabilities than its Intel–powered predecessor — and its solid–state storage is now 2x faster too.

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