Digital Trends reviews Apple’s M1 MacBook Air: ‘Blows Intel away; absolutely fantastic’

Digital Trends has reviewed Apple’s M1 MacBook Air and finds that Apple’s M1 blows Intel away and the new M1 MBP offers phenomenal battery life, and xcellent keyboard and touchpad, rock-solid build quality, and simple good looks.

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.

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.

Mark Coppock for Digital Trends:

For this review, I was sent the entry-level $1,000 MacBook Air M1 with just 8GB of RAM, a 256GB solid-state drive, and a seven-core GPU. There’s another version that gives you 512GB of storage and an eight-core GPU for $1,250. My experience didn’t even include the maximum 16GB of RAM that can be configured for a few hundred dollars more.

The MacBook Air M1 surprised me with its performance, in a good way. And that’s not just comparing it to the current Intel MacBook Air, which uses a 9-watt version of Intel’s Core i3 and i5 CPUs that fall behind their 15-watt Windows 10 equivalents. No, the MacBook Air with the 10-watt Apple M1 hangs with Intel’s latest 12- to 28-watt Tiger Lake processors (Intel gives a range this time around rather than a static value), and in many cases gives them a good, old-fashioned beating.

Getting this kind of performance on such a thin, light, and fanless laptop is a transformative moment for creative pros who might want a smaller machine to carry around but who refuse to compromise on performance. For the first time ever, you can do serious creative work on a MacBook Air — and that’s a huge deal.

Should you buy it? Yes. The MacBook Air M1 isn’t just for MacBook fans looking for something smaller. It’s for any laptop buyer who’s OK with the switch to Mac OS and wants to join the real future of ARM-based computing.

MacDailyNews Take: Yes another stellar review for Apple’s M1 MacBook Air, among a raft of positively gushing reviews for all of Apple’s M1-powered Macs!


    1. Yes I presume they are having problems with how they distinguish the to come higher profile MacBook Pros et al… at least until yearly generations of newer faster chips come on line so have imposed forced limitations here. less than some might have expected mind. It will be interesting to see how the first higher end Macs achieve the balance of value and a higher price.

  1. I got tired of waiting for a newly designed iMac to replace my dead and deeply mourned 5K, so I went ahead and got the M1 mini and coupled it to a thunderbolt 3, 32″ samsung monitor. I thought that was going to be a temporary solution, but I so love what is in effect is a 32″ super fast iMac.
    Hugh Massengill, Eugene Oregon

  2. I wonder how much it costs Apple for the M1 processor as compared to an Intel i3, i5 or an i7. Apple must be making some pretty fair profit on all the M1-powered Macs.

    I can understand why Apple put the M1 into older case designs as Apple must have had plenty of those older cases to use up and they turned out rather well. Wait until Apple designs new laptop cases around the M1 processor. They should end up as spectacular-selling products. Thin, light, powerful and all day battery life.

    What’s going to be really amazing is the iMac. I was always complaining how the iMac case was too thin for those hot-running Intel processors, but now there will be plenty of empty space for any Apple Silicon chip. I’m guessing Apple is going to go directly to a new case design, so we’ll never know what it would be like to put an M-series processor inside the older iMac case.

    I feel certain ARM processors will be the future for most laptops. Every company is going to follow Apple with ARM and dump those x86 space heaters. I just hope Apple takes advantage of what it has and not let other companies catch up quickly. Make the Apple Silicon laptops priced to sell well and there could be a lot of converts from Windows laptops.

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