MacBook Air (2020) review

The MacBook Air 2020 swaggers onto the market with brand new components and a higher minimum storage capacity, making it a big step up from the MacBook Air 2019. Finally, Apple’s thinnest and lightest laptop isn’t only getting a decent uptick in performance over its predecessor, but also double the storage over the previous generations, making it a better investment overall.

Our biggest issue with MacBook Air was how under-powered it felt, especially compared to many of their competing Windows-based laptops at the same price range. The line has left many users unsatisfied for the price they were paying, not just because of the far too many compromises, but also because each yearly update felt like a small step up, rather than a revolutionary jump. So, this is certainly an upgrade that many MacBook Air fans will appreciate. 

For the first time, the line now has configurations with quad-core processors and up to 16GB of RAM, which makes this 2020 model far more powerful than its predecessors. That’s without raising the price or compromising that all-important thin and light design it’s famous for. And, with all the fun and exciting new features and functionalities that the macOS 11 Big Sur is rolling in later this year, the MacBook Air 2020 will deliver an even richer and more seamless experience.

Sadly, it’s no longer the thinnest and lightest laptop around (the LG Gram, for instance, is one of several Windows 10 laptops that weighs less than the MacBook Air these days). However, the MacBook Air for 2020 is still an impressively compact laptop with Apple’s famous design and build quality. While the new components add a little extra size and weight to the overall dimensions of the new MacBook Air, it remains to be a laptop you can easily and comfortably carry around with you.

When it comes to price, Apple has pleasantly surprised us by releasing the MacBook Air 2020 at a starting price that’s lower than what the 2019 model launched at: $999 / £999 / AU$1,599. Not only is this cheaper, but the specs are better than last year’s model, with the entry-level model featuring a dual-core 10th-generation 1.1GHz Intel Core i3 processor with a boost of 3.2GHz, 256GB storage and 8GB of LPDDR4X RAM.

Design-wise, things are pretty much the same, but with one major (and welcome) difference: the MacBook Air 2020 comes with a new keyboard. Gone is the old butterfly switches, which were too shallow for many people, and prone to failing if debris, such as dust and crumbs, fell between the keys, and in its place is the new Magic keyboard, which first appeared with the MacBook Pro 16-inch. This offers a deeper travel when typing, so it feels more responsive, and – crucially – it appears to have fixed the reliability issues of the older keyboard.

Elsewhere, it’s pretty much business as usual, which is good news if you love Apple’s devices and have been hankering after a MacBook Air that performs as well as it looks. However, if Apple’s laptops have previously left you cold, then there’s not much here that will make you change your mind.

In a pleasant surprise, the MacBook Air (2020) has launched at a new lower price for its entry level model.

The new entry-level MacBook Air comes with a dual-core 10th-generation Intel Core i3 processor, 256GB storage (up from 128GB in the previous model) and 8GB of RAM for $999 / £999 / AU$1,599.

That’s a decent saving considering that the MacBook Air (2019)‘s entry level model launched at $1,099 / £1,099 / AU$1,699. In an age of rising costs, it’s really pleasing to see Apple release newer hardware at cheaper prices. Long may it continue.

Apple also launched a higher-end MacBook Air priced at $1,299 / £1,299 / AU$1,999, and this comes with a 10th-generation quad-core Intel Core i5 processor – the first time a quad-core CPU has been included in a MacBook Air – 512GB SSD storage and 8GB of RAM.

As with previous models, you can further upgrade the MacBook Air, adding double the RAM, more storage up to 2TB and a faster 10th generation Intel Core i7 processor.

The fully maxed-out version, then, with a 1.2GHz Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB RAM and 2TB SSD costs $2,249 / £2,249 / AU$3,349.

The MacBook Air 2020 is available to order right now from the Apple store.

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