Processor shootout: MacBook Air (2020) Intel Core i3 vs. Core i7

The MacBook Air starts with an Intel Core i3, but is again available with a Core i7 processor. Back in 2014, we ordered what would become our favorite Mac notebook ever (and we’ve had a lot of them): The 11-inch MacBook Air with a 1.7GHz Dual Core Intel Core i7, Turbo Boost up to 3.3GHz. Those things were real road warrior champs!

MacBook Air Core i3 vs. Core i7. MacBook Air now features the new scissor-switch Magic Keyboard, delivers up to two times faster performance and starts at a new lower price of $999.
MacBook Air now features the new scissor-switch Magic Keyboard, delivers up to two times faster performance and starts at a new lower price of $999.

AppleInsider has now benchmarked the base 2020 MacBook Air with i3 processor, and the high-end quad-core i7 MacBook Air to see how much of a performance difference there — and to see if the i7 is worth the higher price tag.

Andrew O’Hara for AppleInsider:

Aside from the processors — and corresponding price increase — there are no differences between models of the 2020 MacBook Air.

Across the board, the new machines can now be configured with up to 2TB of internal storage, start with a higher 256GB of base storage, have adopted the 10th-generation of Intel’s processors, now use the Magic Keyboard, and have more powerful Intel Iris Plus graphics that can power a 6K display.

For the base 1.1 GHz dual-core i3-1000NG4 processor, we scored a 1074 and a 2412 on the single and multi-core tests. On the 1.2GHz quad-core i7-1060NG7 machine, we managed a 1294 and a 3514 respectively.

Those are no small gains. The roughly 20% single-core benchmark gain is good, but the near 50% multi-core gains are excellent. This is due, in part, to shift from a dual-core to a quad-core chip.

MacDailyNews Take: So, if you plan to use your MacBook Air for some processor-intensive apps, that $250 for the quad-core i7 will be money well invested.


  1. Unless the i3 is somehow much faster than the i7, why compare at all?

    Let’s set some new goals. New processor will use less than a watt. It will generate Geekbench numbers in the 500,000 Area. I will render all scenes, 4K, in 0.2 sec, and 8k in 0.4 seconds. It should be able to compute the worlds weather in no more than 100 cycles of the cpu clock. It can be used in any form factor, not excluding the human brain.

    1. The comparison is so people can see whether to upgrade to an i7 or not. For some users, the upgrade won’t be worth it, for others it is a no brainer – with or without an i7 or ARM A15 installed in that brain

        1. Wouldn’t it be poetic justice if MDN had to shut down because they created and encouraged a troll farm for people like you and there just isn’t enough ad revenue for troll farms right now. Wave goodbye to your platform troll and know that you have no one to blame but yourself.

          1. You eeeeeejiot! All readers boost ad
            Views and even if those ad rates are lower, they aren’t zero! Your lack of understanding shows us that you are the mental troll who has no one to blame but yourself, except maybe also your parents, for less than stellar DNA. Also trolls like the real applecynic need to be called out anyway, do you expect good people to remain silent? The real applecynic is a real troll’s troll, but his right to free speech is upheld by the constitution. Your attempt to censor that is despicable and tells us a great deal about you, a very great deal. Sadly, you have chosen to confirm your foolishness rather than keep us all guessing.

            1. “All readers boost ad
              Views and even if those ad rates are lower, they aren’t zero!”

              If MDN was making enough money they wouldn’t have pop ups begging for support right now. I’m afraid it is you who has failed to understand the basic concept of how a business works. Trolls like applecynic drive readers away more than they generate page views. If trolls were great for business MDN wouldn’t have to beg for our support with giant pop ups. Trolls like applecynic are killing MDN. Compare MDN’s traffic ranking against other Apple news sites that have far better and moderated comment forums and you’ll see MDN has far less traffic.

    2. i7 is well worth the investment for anyone who creates something besides email. Time savings does add up.

      Better choice: wait for the next 13” MacBook Pro which is going to be updated imminently. It’ll have the new keyboard and it’s a much better all around model for most users. It has more ports, for one thing.

      On a tangent about why test Macs, well why not? More data is always good if you’re on the fence trying to decide. It’s also the real reason for this site supposedly to exist. I would prefer it if MDN posted only Mac spec comparisons. That would be infinitely more helpful than the toxic political hellstew MDN actively condones now. MDN then wonders why their Google Ad littered site isn’t earning money. Duh. Axe the xeno attitude and obvious political trolling, post nothing but Mac news, and the glory days would be back. Everyone is sitting working at home in front of their Macs, remember?

      1. Yeah but ad rates are down, likely across the board. Mac users rarely have problems compared to Windows users, so are they really a good source of google ad revenue?

        1. Well MDN seems to think so, they wedded themselves to Google ads. And they have no problem giving a platform to troll farms. If that isn’t enough $$$ for them, it’s time to do productive work for a living.

            1. Well, it’s clear that I knew, because I am the original cynic. I cynic in the face of cynics. No-one is more cynical than me! Not even Pa and Ma Cynic. They didn’t teach me all that they knew, i invented cynicism! Screw communism and socialism and capitalism and all the other isms, except organisms and orgasisms (misspelt on purpose to avoid content filter-isms)

              The best ism is cynicism, and the best one at it is me! And the other me in my bipolar‘d brain. 🙂

              That’s also why I’m just like Dustin Hoffman – I am the Brainman. 🧠

  2. I bought the upgraded i7 with my 2013 Air with 8GB of ram and it’s still my daily driver. Even if you’re an average user, the faster processor and more ram will extend the usable life of your Macbook by a couple of years.

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