The MacBook Air is part of Apple’s latest generation of Macs with Apple silicon, featuring significantly improved performance and battery life in a slim, fanless design. Announced in November of 2020, the MacBook Air is among the newest Macs in Apple’s lineup and it is still believed to be fairly early in its product cycle.
Apple has updated the MacBook Air erratically in recent years, releasing two new models in 2020 and with no clear pattern prior to that, although the device has been updated every year since 2017. Now that Apple controls its own custom silicon for the MacBook Air, as opposed to using Intel processors, it is likely that the MacBook Air will see updates on a more regular basis in years to come.
Although there have been clear signs that an updated MacBook Air with a number of upgrades and improvements is on the way, rumors suggest that the model will not arrive until late 2021 at the very earliest, and it is more likely to arrive in 2022.
Since updated MacBook Air models are believed to be half a year away at minimum, it is currently a good time to buy a MacBook Air and for most people, there is no immediate cause to wait until new models arrive.
While the MacBook Air seems to be the best Apple laptop for portability and price, users who require slightly better performance and battery life, as well as the Touch Bar, should consider the M1 MacBook Pro, which starts at $1,299.
If software support is your main concern and you need to use specific software that won’t run on an Arm-based chip, an older Intel-based MacBook Pro may be more appropriate. These models start from $1,799 and are available in 13.3-inch and 16-inch sizes, boasting more ports, RAM, and storage; however, it should be noted that these models are now much older than the M1 MacBook Air or MacBook Pro, and are expected to see a major overhaul later this year. In general, for most people, we do not recommend purchasing an Intel-based Mac at this time
The M1 MacBook Air
Apple in November 2020 refreshed the MacBook Air lineup with its new M1 chip, which is the first Apple-designed Arm-based chip. M1 chips replace the prior Intel chips, and bring major speed and efficiency improvements.
The M1 chip, which is Apple’s first System on a Chip, features an 8-core CPU with four high-efficiency cores and four high-performance cores along with an integrated GPU that has up to 8 cores. The MacBook Air’s CPU is up to 3.5x faster than the prior generation model, and the GPU is up to 5x faster.
Machine learning workloads are up to 9x faster so the MacBook Air is quicker at ML-based features like face recognition and object detection. With the M1 chip, SSD performance is up to 2x faster, thanks to a new storage controller, and the MacBook Air can be configured with up to 2TB of storage.