Apple MacBook Air M1: 2022 Review

Austin
| Last Updated: March 25, 2022

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Apple's MacBook Air has been popular for years, a favorite for its thin design. It's incredibly lightweight and portable yet still packs a punch. The previous iterations of this laptop included a four-core Intel Processor, while the newer one features Apple’s M1 chip - this processor packs eight cores that enable a big boost in performance to a laptop with already amazing battery life.

So, is the MacBook Air M1 the perfect laptop for you? Let's take a closer look at its features and find out.

PROS

  • Incredibly fast performance
  • Comfortable magic keyboard and trackpad
  • Up to 18 hours of battery life
  • Exceptionally clear studio-quality mic
  • Immersive audio output

CONS

  • Thick bezels
  • Has only two USB ports
  • No SD card slot

Apple MacBook Air M1 2020 Specifications

  • Processor: Choice of Apple M1 chip with 8-core CPU & 7-core GPU or Apple M1 chip with 8-core CPU & 8-core GPU
  • RAM: Up to 16GB unified memory
  • Storage: Choice of 256GB or 512 GB SSD storage upgradeable to 2TB
  • Display: 2560 x 1600 pixel Retina display with True Tone
  • Camera: 720p FaceTime HD camera
  • Battery Life: Up to 18 hours
  • Weight: 2.8 pounds
  • Ports: 2 x USB Type 4 Thunderbolt ports; 1 x 3.5 mm headphone jack
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6; Bluetooth 5.0

The MacBook Air M1 was released in November 2020 and is one of the first laptops to use Apple's custom-designed M1 chip, which is based on the Arm architecture. The M1 chip is the same processor found in other Apple products like the Mac Mini and new MacBook Pro models, replacing the previous intel chips housed in those lineups.

Aside from boosted performance, the new M1 processor enables you to upgrade your device's operating system to macOS Big Sur. This will allow applications to run faster and seamlessly on Apple Silicon systems, like this M1-powered MacBook Air.

The MacBook Air M1 base model starts at $999, featuring 8GB RAM and 256 SSD storage. It has a 7-core GPU compared to the 8-core GPU, 512GB SSD storage MacBook Air M1 that starts at $1249.

Apple MacBook Air M1 Features & Benefits

Build and Design

The MacBook Air M1 has a build identical to its Intel-based predecessor. It is still constructed of an aluminum unibody with the same wedge aesthetic, keeping the same design since its debut.

The display features a 13-inch panel display. We are not fond of its thick bezel design, but it's not a deal-breaker. Apple offers the MacBook Air M1 in space gray, silver, and gold finishes.

Display

With a Retina display that features True Tone technology, the MacBook Air’s display looks as fantastic as ever. It features a resolution of 2560 x 1600 pixels in a 16:10 aspect ratio. However, it lacks both HDR support and OLED options, which are both features that you can find in some Windows laptops.

Also, Apple did not add touch screen features to the new MacBook Air M1 2020. So, if you want a laptop with touch technology, you might want to check other Windows laptops as Apple's touch features currently remain on iPhones and iPads.

Camera

You can find the MacBook Air M1 2020's camera on the top bezel of the display. The 720p FaceTime HD webcam has a resolution of 1280 x 720, but it shows low-quality hazy colors, which is disappointing.

While it's not that impressive, and we wished that Apple could have upgraded it a bit, it is still useful for video calls and online conferences.

Magic Keyboard & Force Touch Trackpad

The keyboard has been updated with a new backlit Magic keyboard with a scissor mechanism. It has a 1 mm key travel and adequate key spacing that allows a comfortable typing experience.

We also liked the trackpad of the new MacBook Air M1 2020. It has a smooth surface and it's very expansive. Apple's Force Touch is also an excellent feature that gives you haptic feedback, allowing you to save time and keystrokes.

Battery Life

Since the Apple Silicon is very power-efficient, the MacBook Air M1 has the longest battery life of any MacBook Air yet. Apple claims that it packs up to 15 hours of wireless web browsing and 18 hours of video playback.

On a battery test conducted by Tom's Guide, the MacBook Air M1 lasted for a total of 14 hours and 41 minutes, while browsing the web at 150 nits. That’s more than 4 hours of battery life compared to an Intel MacBook Pro.

Mic, Audio, and Speakers

Unlike the previous versions of the MacBook Air, the new MacBook Air M1 includes additional grills on both sides of the keyboard. Hence, the speakers won't be blocked when using the MacBook Air on your lap.

It also supports Dolby Atmos playback, another new feature we didn't find in older versions. Despite being a thin and compact laptop, the audio quality is impressive. The sound is full and rich, and the bass is deep.

For the built-in microphone, the 3-mic array produces studio-quality recordings. It's a good laptop for audio work and music editing. But if you really want to improve the sound quality of your recordings for music production, you can add an external microphone.

Overall Performance

The new Arm-based system M1 chip from Apple outperforms most Intel-based laptops in raw processing power. It performs like a pro-level laptop where you can run multiple apps and demanding tasks simultaneously without any lag.

With 8 GPU cores on Apple's M1 chip, it can bring fast integrated graphics on your MacBook Air. It's not as powerful as a dedicated GPU, but it's still a lot better than previous Air models. While the integrated graphics are good enough for casual gaming and video editing, it's best to stick to playing games available directly from the iOS store or Apple arcade. 

Also, pro users might opt for another laptop as there’s still room for improvement for the M1 MacBook Air to cater to more intense workloads.  It limits you to only one display at a time. We also wished that Apple enabled users to run an external graphics card on this MacBook.

But for casual users and light workloads, the M1 Macbook is an excellent choice. Its overall performance, battery life, and good keyboard make it a versatile laptop that can meet almost every person’s needs.

Cooling System

One of the benefits of using the MacBook Air is that it doesn't require a fan to cool, so it is completely silent when in use. However, Apple designed the MacBook Air with affordability and portability in mind. So, it's not particularly made for running intensive tasks.

A downside of this MacBook Air is that it does not have thermo-regulating fans. Hence, it is more prone to heat up quickly after prolonged use. But it does have a different kind of cooling system. It utilizes an aluminum heat spreader to dissipate the heat generated by its components.

If you're working on demanding tasks like video editing or rendering, it's best to opt for a laptop that has built-in fans. Go for the MacBook Pro models instead if you want a laptop that can keep cool through processor-intensive tasks. Alternately, you can also invest in external cooling pads.

Security

The Apple Touch ID feature is the MacBook Air M1’s quick security system that uses your fingerprint to unlock your device. You can also use Touch ID when you purchase the App Store or access your files without entering passwords.

Ports

There are only two Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports on the left side of the MacBook Air M1 2020. Aside from that, the only other port available is the 3.5 mm headphone jack on the right.

Both Thunderbolt USB-C ports are versatile. You can use them both for charging or for connecting an external display. Both ports can also support VGA and HDMI outputs using an adapter. However, these are features that you need to buy separately.

What is the Apple MacBook Air M1 2020 is Best For?

Apple MacBook Air M1 is best for users who:

  • Seek a laptop that can run multiple tasks seamlessly
  • Want a laptop that has a long battery life
  • Look for a thin and lightweight laptop
  • Seek an affordable MacBook to try Apple’s system

Apple MacBook Air M1 is not for users who:

  • Seek a laptop that can run processor-intensive tasks like video editing
  • Look for a gaming laptop that can run AAA games

Apple MacBook Air M1 Social Proof:

We’ve also checked the net for reviews about the MacBook Air M1. Here's what the recent users have to say:

Mac Air DO Care!!

Doreen

So I have once had a 2013 MacBook PRO that I aaaabsolutey LOVED!! So, I need to upgrade and I am someone who loves reading reviews about products doing my research, you know, the “adult thing” to do… So you know you’re not wasting your money lol no I’ve put my trust into thousands of strangers and took their advice and purchased this MacBook Air for myself as well as for my 14-year-old (which it’s basically hers anyway lol) and we both really are madly in love with it it’s great. Yes, I am really used to the 16 inch screen size, but it’s OK because this actually my daughter’s EARLY Christmas present (muhahaha), but she DOES love it!! As do I!! I use it at night school (Cosmetology) which makes the 13.3 size actually kinda better than a big MacBook, it’s so light to carry…I don’t, I may just keep this one for myself 😉 haha Just Kidding!! But it was DEFINITELY A GRRRRREAT BUY!!

An Apple a Day Keeps the viruses at bay….

HeyItsMeShanie

I’ve been an Apple user for well over 15 years. This MacBook Air does not disappoint. The perfect size and functionality for school and to run my small business. I definitely plan to purchase another one for my daughter. Love that I can go two days without plugging it in, which makes it easy to transport when I want to work in coffee shop for the day. Great battery life means I don’t have to take the plug.

Best Laptop Ever!

CG517

I love my new MacBook Air.  I have wanted a Mac for a long time and this one does not disappoint. It’s the best laptop I have ever had.  The battery lasts so much longer than any of my others ever have. I have an IPod, Apple Watch, IPad and IPhone and I love how everything now syncs and I can get my text messages and all my apps. I had the Microsoft suite which automatically just transferred to this computer and docs loaded straight from the Cloud.  Very happy with this purchase. Won’t go back to PC ever again.

Conclusion

There is no doubt that the new MacBook Air M1 is a great laptop for those who want an affordable MacBook that can perform well for simple tasks.

The MacBook Air M1 2020 has an excellent value for a laptop with a base model under $1000. It's also great for students and first-time Mac users who want to try out the Apple ecosystem.

However, for those who need a laptop that can do more demanding tasks, the MacBook Pro is still the better choice. Gamers should also look elsewhere, as the MacBook Air M1 isn't designed for those who need a lot of GPU power.

Interested in buying a MacBook Air M1? Click here.

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Austin

When the tech company I worked for restructured and I ended up jobless, I decided to put the wealth of knowledge and management skills to use somewhere new. I’d checked out a few buyer’s guides on the site in the past and reached out to the previous owner. A few months later, here we are. Now, I get to be behind the scenes, helping people find the best tech.