In Review: Apple’s M1- powered MacBook Air

By Alvin R. Cabral

Published: Thu 18 Feb 2021, 7:54 PM

Last updated: Thu 18 Feb 2021, 8:31 PM

With Apple using their own chips to power its iPhones, iPads, iPods, Watches and TVs, it was just a matter of time when they'd use such on their computing machines. That time has come, and it's a really big deal.

Apple just unleashed its first wave of Macs being run by its very own Silicon chips, rightfully starting off with the M1. The folks at Cupertino are promising a significant experience bump-up with all the tech they've cramped into this tiny wonder. Time to find out how that translates into actual action.


Previously, Mac motherboards had separate components for each function, including those for memory, graphics, security and, of course, the main processor. The M1 integrates all of these under one hood; as such, this translates into significant performance boosts:

  • Custom technology, which makes the new and upcoming Macs more efficient
  • Its cores give up to 3.5 times boost in CPU performance
  • Its GPU provides up to six times faster graphics; up to 3.9 times and 7.1 times quicker video and image processing, respectively
  • The updated Neural Engine is capable of crunching 11 trillion processes per second
  • Best-in-class security, courtesy of Secure Enclave
  • Richer and more detailed games
  • More power-efficient, with three times higher CPU performance per watt

In short, it's better by several notches. We felt smoother transitions between processes and just an overall seamless experience.


Another huge leap — and a big beneficiary of the M1 chip — is battery life. With it, Apple promises you'll get up to 15 hours of wireless Web and up to 18 hours of Apple TV playback, both big leaps from the early-2020 model's 11 and 12 hours; that's a third and a half more, respectively.

In our standard one-hour YouTube-at-full-brightness test, this MacBook Air really impressed as it lost only 10 per cent — that's a really huge improvement over the version released earlier this year, which clocked in at 18 per cent.

Meanwhile, in the charging test, we used the in-the-box 30-watt charger and USB-C-to-USB-C cable, AKA Thunderbolt 4. We also put this Mac on flight mode and set its brightness to half. And it's really no surprise that this MacBook Air — even this M1 variant, or any laptop for that matter — refilling its juice takes some time: It only reached 45 per cent at the one-hour mark, crawling its way to 86 per cent in two. Matter of factly, it’s rare to find a laptop with fast-charging capabilities.

GOODIES: The M1 chip and everything that goes with it, entry-level price sticks

GOOFIES: Charging time still takes a lot of time, still pricey, limited number of ports

EDITOR RATING: Let's face it, Macs are still a premium lot, so it still prices itself out of reach for a certain category of users. But the Air is still its entry-level option, and this new M1-powered model is a good way to make a grand entrance (especially if you consider shifting from Windows). 4.5/5

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