MacBook Air (M1, 2020): everything we know about the M1-powered laptop

MacBook Air (M1, 2020)

(Image credit: Apple)

Announced at Apple’s November 10 event, the new MacBook Air (M1, 2020) is well on its way, scheduled to ship on November 16 and slated for release on November 17. This is major news, especially because we’ve already seen the MacBook Air (2020) earlier this year, and this even newer model comes with some pretty big changes under the hood.

Unlike its predecessors, the new MacBook Air (M1, 2020) ditches the Intel processor for Apple’s own ARM-based chip, the new Apple M1, and comes with macOS 11 Big Sur pre-installed. 

We have yet to test it, of course, but Apple promises that it’ll be the biggest change to macOS in years. It’s been built from the ground-up to take advantage of the M1 chip, which according to Apple will allow the new MacBook Air (M1, 2020) to run better and longer whilst on battery, as well as deliver other big performance benefits.

Apple claims the new MacBook Air (M1, 2020) is three times faster than other laptops in its class, and faster than 98% of PC laptops sold in the past year. Its neural engine is nine times faster than the previous MacBook Air, and its SSD is up to twice as fast thanks to the M1 and the latest flash technology. And, due to the M1 chip being low-powered, this laptop doesn’t need a fan for cooling, making it completely silent.

As for battery life, we knew the new ‘Apple silicon’ would be more power-efficient, so it’s no surprise that the new MacBook Air (M1, 2020) has the longest battery life of any MacBook Air – up to 15 hours of wireless web browsing, or up to 18 hours of video, according to Apple.

Even more good news, thanks to some software wizardry with Apple’s Rosetta tool, which allows apps to run on the new architecture, all applications that usually run on Intel-based MacBooks will work fine with the new MacBook Air (M1, 2020). All this comes with a 13-inch Retina display, auto face recognition, and more.

Of course, we have yet to see exactly what this new generation of MacBook Air can do and how it measures up to its Intel-based predecessors. But, until we get our hands on it for a proper testing, here’s everything you need to know about the MacBook Air (M1, 2020) so far.

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? Apple’s latest lightweight 13-inch MacBook
  • When is it out? You can order it right now
  • How much will it cost? Starting at $999 / £999 / AU$1,599

MacBook Air (M1, 2020) release date and price

At Apple’s new MacBook Air (M1, 2020) launch event, the company stated that its revamped thin and light laptop is now available to buy, with units shipping out from November 16.

Prices for the new MacBook Air (M1, 2020) start at $999 / £999 / AU$1,599. As usual, there are a number of specifications available at launch, and you can further customize these to get the MacBook Air (M1, 2020) that best suits your needs and budget.

Here are the configurations we know about so far, and their prices:

  • $999 / £999: 8GB/256GB, 7-core GPU, 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD
  • $1,249 / £1,249: 8GB/512GB, 8-core GPU, 8GB RAM, 512GB SSD

For comparison, the MacBook Air (2020) launched earlier this year for $999 / £999 / AU$1,599, which was actually cheaper than the launch price of the MacBook Air (2019).

So, you’re getting the new MacBook Air (M1, 2020) for the same price as the earlier model, which is great news.

The fully maxed-out version of the MacBook Air (2020) comes with a 1.2GHz Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB RAM and 2TB SSD, and costs $2,249 / £2,249 / AU$3,349. Will we see a similar top-end configuration for the new MacBook Air?

MacBook Air (M1, 2020) specs

Apple also announced details of the new MacBook Air (M1, 2020) specs and configurations. The base configuration comes with an Apple M1 chip, with an 8-core CPU and 7-core GPU, plus a 16-core ‘Neural Engine’. There’s 8GB of RAM, 256GB SSD storage, plus a 13-inch Retina display with True Tone. Touch ID is included, and there are two Thunderbolt ports.

Then there’s a version with an Apple M1 chip with an 8-core CPU and 8-core GPU. That extra core could make a noticeable difference in the graphics performance of the new MacBook Air (M1, 2020) – Apple has promised that it’ll be able to play modern games, something past MacBook Airs couldn’t really do.

It has 8GB of RAM and 512GB of SSD storage as well, plus the same Retina display with True Tone, Touch ID and two Thunderbolt ports.

November 16, 2020
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