With the MacBook Air 2020, Apple delivered the perfect laptop for everyday use. The Butterfly keyboard has disappeared, allowing for an improved and more reliable typing experience. This is the Mac laptop that most people should buy.
The year of finally
The MacBook Air 2020 is the first internal upgrade of this laptop, which was redesigned in 2018. The 2018 model comes with a 13.3-inch Retina display, a Butterfly keyboard, two USB-C ports, a sensor Touch ID and the same, a body shaped corner in an even lighter body and a gold color option.
However, the previous generation was a little disappointing. It was so close to being great, but it missed a few key aspects. With the MacBook Air 2020, Apple seems to have checked all of the following boxes:
Price: At $ 999 for the basic model, it’s $ 100 less than the previous one.
Magic keyboard: Troublemaker, key breaker and general nuisance, the Butterfly keyboard is gone! The new MacBook Air comes with scissor switches and 1mm travel. It’s clicky, reliable and awesome.
256 GB of basic storage: It is the first laptop in which Apple has doubled basic storage. After years of difficulty with 128 GB, this is a welcome change. And if you need more, you can go up to 2 TB.
Quad-core processor options: While the basic configuration includes a dual-core Core i3 chip, you can specify it with a quad-core, Core i5 or even i7, to get serious performance in a small package. In addition, the new 10th generation Intel chips are fairly energy efficient.
Intel Iris Pro graphics: The integrated Iris Pro graphics chip offers 80% better performance than the previous generation.
High performance RAM: Although you’re still stuck with the 8 and 16 GB RAM options, the RAM itself is faster. The new model includes an LPDDR4X memory of 3,733 MHz (the previous model had an LPDDR3 of 2,133 MHz, for comparison).
Support for an external 6K monitor: You can connect an external monitor with a resolution up to 6K and run it at a refresh rate of 60 Hz.
So, finally, the MacBook Air can serve as the default option for most Mac enthusiasts. The price is right, the keyboard has been fixed, performance has improved and storage has doubled.
On the surface, it all looks a lot. However, before pressing this Buy button, we need to answer two questions. It’s for you? And if so, what configuration should you get?
Who should buy a MacBook Air 2020?
Given its price and format (it only weighs 2.8 pounds), the MacBook Air 2020 is a great option for students and frequent travelers. It’s also great for people who mainly use their computer to surf the web or perform basic tasks.
First, let’s take a look at this computer only from a performance standpoint and compare the Core i3 and i5 processors in the MacBook Air 2020 with the previous generation. Here are the results of the Geekbench 5 benchmark, which tests system and processor performance (via Six colors and Apple Insider):
MacBook Air 2020 (Core i3): Single-core: 1095. Multi-core: 2385.
MacBook Air 2020 (Core i5): Single-core: 1047. Multi-core: 2658.
MacBook Air 2018 (Core i5): Single-core: 790. Multi-core: 1628.
That makes it pretty clear. Even though the new processor is a Core i3, the new 10th generation Intel chips are much faster than the previous generation 8th Core i5. The single-core and multi-core performances are clearly superior.
And the Core i5 upgrade (which costs only $ 100 more) is even better.
While the core dual core Core i3 chip is not the best, it should suffice for everyday tasks. If you’re using your MacBook Air to browse the web, write, send email, or watch media, go for the $ 999 model.
Coupled with faster 8 GB RAM and the default 256 GB storage option, the MacBook Air 2020 is the new choice for most Mac customers. If you just want a MacBook for everyday tasks and you don’t have specific, high-performance needs, just get a MacBook Air.
Now let’s go to the second question. Which MacBook Air should you buy?
Spring for Core i5 processor
Yes, the dual-core Core i3 model works surprisingly well. However, we always suggest that you spend a little more and get the Core i5 for several reasons.
First of all, it’s a quad-core chip, and when it comes to multitasking, it makes a huge difference. If you plan to switch from one application to another with intensive resources, like Chrome, Slack, Zoom or Lightroom all day, these two extra cores will come in handy.
Upgrading from the base option also opens up possibilities. The Core i5 will allow you to easily do basic audio, video and photo editing, or even develop software, without too many problems. It may not work too well for heavy tasks, but it will allow you to cope.
The main reason for upgrading to the Core i5 model is that it only costs an additional $ 100. It’s the best $ 100 you can spend to increase the overall life of your computer.
The MacBook Air is available in two models: the basic configuration at $ 999 and the construction at $ 1299 with the Core i5 chip and 512 GB of storage.
This time, all upgrades are available for both models. We suggest that you choose the basic model and then add whatever is necessary.
We recommend the following:
Processor: We have already argued for the Core i5 upgrade. Faster multitasking and sustainability are worth the extra $ 100. The $ 250 Core i7 upgrade, however, is overkill for most people.
Memory: For the most part, the fast LPDDR4X RAM at 3733 MHz will be sufficient, because macOS is very good at memory management. However, if you’re doing professional-level editing work, you may want to choose the 16 GB RAM ($ 200) upgrade. Unfortunately, you cannot upgrade it later.
Storage room: Even here, the basic configuration will be sufficient for most people. If you pained with the basics, 128 GB of storage on a previous MacBook, get the 512 GB SSD upgrade for $ 200. It is not easy to add more storage across the board.
Again, for most people, we recommend that you add the Core i5 upgrade and call it a day. You will get a very fast, light and capable computer for $ 1,099. If you have money to spare, we also recommend adding the 512 GB SDD option, bringing the total to $ 1,299.
The MacBook Pro problem
If you set up your MacBook Air with a Core i7 processor, 16 GB of RAM and 512 GB of storage, you may realize that you are slipping into MacBook Pro territory. So why not just buy a MacBook Pro?
Well, the answer has a lot to do with value, timing and thermal limits.
The 13-inch MacBook Pro starts at $ 1,299 and offers only 128 GB of storage. The 256 GB version (standard on the MacBook Air at $ 999) costs $ 1,499. Even then, the MacBook Pro comes with an 8th generation processor and that annoying Butterfly keyboard.
In addition, as Apple has already refreshed 16-inch MacBook Pro with a new magic keyboard, we should see a new 14 inch model soon. Hopefully it will have 256 GB of storage in the base model at $ 1,299.
The only thing the MacBook Pro has for this, however, is the thermal reserve. It has better and faster processors that can handle heavy workload longer. The MacBook Air, on the other hand, simply doesn’t have the thermal margin for this.
So if you push the MacBook Air too far (even with the Core i5 or i7 processor), it will overheat and start to choke the processor. This means that your applications may start to slow down or crash.
Now, okay, that will only happen if you really do something heavy, like editing 4K video. If you plan on doing this kind of work, you should instead get a MacBook Pro.