Ars Technica: Apple’s M1 MacBook Air is hilariously fast

Last month, Apple introduced the new M1 MacBook Air, the company’s most popular Mac — and the world’s best-selling 13-inch notebook. The reviews are outstanding, to say the least.

With the M1 chip, MacBook Air speeds through everything from editing family photos to exporting videos for the web. The powerful 8-core CPU performs up to 3.5x faster than the previous generation. With up to an 8-core GPU, graphics are up to 5x faster, the biggest leap ever for MacBook Air, so immersive, graphics-intensive games run at significantly higher frame rates. ML workloads are up to 9x faster, so apps that use ML-based features like face recognition or object detection can do so in a fraction of the time. The M1 chip’s storage controller and latest flash technology deliver up to 2x faster SSD performance, so previewing massive images or importing large files is faster than ever. And in MacBook Air, M1 is faster than the chips in 98 percent of PC laptops sold in the past year.

With the industry-leading power efficiency of M1, MacBook Air also delivers this performance in a fanless design, which means no matter what users are doing, it remains completely silent. And the new MacBook Air features extraordinary battery life, with up to 15 hours of wireless web browsing and up to 18 hours of video playback — the longest battery life ever on a MacBook Air.

MacBook Air with M1 is an absolute powerhouse of performance and thin-and-light portability.
MacBook Air with M1 is an absolute powerhouse of performance and thin-and-light portability.

When compared to the previous generation, the M1-powered MacBook Air can:
• Export a project for the web with iMovie up to 3x faster.
• Integrate 3D effects into video in Final Cut Pro up to 5x faster.
• For the first time, play back and edit multiple streams of full-quality, 4K ProRes video in Final Cut Pro without dropping a frame.
• Export photos from Lightroom up to twice as fast.
• Use ML-based features like Smart Conform in Final Cut Pro to intelligently frame a clip up to 4.3x faster.
• Watch more movies and TV shows with up to 18 hours of battery life, the longest ever on MacBook Air.
• Extend FaceTime and other video calls for up to twice as long on a single charge.

Lee Hutchinson for Ars Technica:

The new M1-powered MacBook Air is hilariously fast, and the battery lasts a long-ass time.

[An aside]: Yes, I know I’m late to the discussion. I know MagSafe was deleted a few hardware revisions ago, but I’m going from a MacBook Air with it to a MacBook Air without it, and plugging in a USB-C cable feels like going back to the freaking dark ages. I’ve been happy with MagSafe plugs on my laptops for almost an entire decade—that quick one-handed snick into place, that easy no-fuss pull to disengage, and that friendly LED to tell you when you’re all charged up.

Having to shove a connector into a high-friction plug—often requiring two hands, depending on how you’re holding stuff—is stupid. It’s just stupid. This is a customer-hostile regression in functionality. I’m sure there are excellent reasons for it and that it saves Apple money on the MBA’s bill of materials and on warranty support, but I hate it and it’s terrible. This is not the premium Apple experience I feel like I’m paying for.

MacDailyNews Take: Yes, we’re in total agreement here. The good news is that until Apple comes to their senses and restores MagSafe to MacBooks, MacBook users can bring back “MagSafe” themselves with an inexpensive purchase with the iSkey USB C Magnetic Adapter with LED light ($15.99 at Amazon). (They’re excellent stocking stuffers, hint, hint!)

I used the M1 MacBook Air for work all day one day, filling up about 11 hours of on-the-clock time with Slack, emailing, Zoom conferencing, Messages, and Web browsing, and the Air still had 40 percent remaining on the battery meter when the day was done… The M1 Air laughs at my old MBA. It laughs at it, gives it noogies, and flushes its head down the toilet in the locker room…

It’s such an improvement over Intel-based MacBook Airs that you might find yourself spending a thousand unplanned dollars to join the Apple Silicon club.

MacDailyNews Take: Apple’s new M1 Macs really are a huge, very rare, leap forward!

Beloved intern, TTK! Prost, everyone! 🍻


  1. Now that the M1 chip is so frugal with power consumption, wireless charging should be a practical proposition and there would be no need for a new type of MagSafe connector. The magnetic wireless power puck would charge rapidly and detach instantly if yanked, but the MacBook will work for many hours without recharging, so there would be less need to recharge anyway.

    1. Wireless charging is pointless if you still need to attach a wire to the “wireless”. When something can charge a phone while it is in your pocket, that will be useful.

  2. So there are on the market several USB-C mag-safe like cables. I first got one was when buying the first gen USB-C MBP. I too thought that Magsafe was a bit deal. In the end, the third party solution was okay but would come off too easily. After 3-4 months it stopped working. So I went back to the standard USB-C option and haven’t had any issues in the last 3 years or so.
    The biggest advantage for me is being able to charge one either side. That is huge and so much more convenient. For that reason USB-C beats MagSafe.

    1. Actually, this is the part of Apple I do like. They will get their idiot competition to ante up and stop milking. SoC is not a difficult thing these days. What is needed is a competing standard. And it will happen.

      Meanwhile I would have bought an M1 Macmifmsome sort if the 16 GB versions were available.

      Got it applemmoron?

        1. Your an idiot!

          First of all, when there is Apple bullshit to be countered, it is on an Apple fan site.

          Secondly I have an axe to grind.

          And on this very post all I was actually complimentary to Apple, that would be obvious to any imbecile not named Hal.

  3. Steve Jobs would’ve loved this (processor development back in-house, and smoking the competition). Also, the entire world would’ve been drawn into his “sphere” and the M1 would’ve eclipsed any other story …

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