Apple has revealed its 2020 refresh of the MacBook air and in doing so has confirmed the presence of Intel 10th Gen Core processors with Iris Plus graphics, twice the available storage, and a new entry price of £999.
Technically, the new MacBook Air is marginally thicker (max 16mm vs 15mm) and marginally heavier (1.29kg vs 1.25kg) than the previous generation, but these seem like trivial differences given the upgraded hardware.
As you likely know, 10th Gen Intel Core processors come in two flavours for mobile, 10nm Ice Lake and 14nm Comet Lake, but only the former has Iris Plus graphics. Specifically, Apple is offering three processor choices: the entry-level Core i3-1000G4 (2c/4t, 1.1GHz base, 3.2GHz Turbo), the mid-range Core i5-1030G4 (4c/8t, 0.7GHz base, 3.5GHz Turbo), and the top-end Core i7-1060G7 (4c/8t, 1GHz base, 3.8GHz Turbo). All three are from the Y-Series of 9W processors, and Apple claims CPU performance is now up to twice as fast.
All three CPUs also feature Iris Plus graphics. The Core i3 and Core i5 parts have 48 Execution Units while the Core i7 enjoys 64 and allows Apple to claim up to 80 percent faster graphics performance.
Memory choices are 8GB or 16GB, and Apple has upgraded from LPDDR3-2133 to LPDDR4x-3733. As usual, memory is not upgradeable after purchase.
The final customisation users can make is storage. The starting capacity has doubled to 256GB, and the same is true of the maximum capacity, which is now 2TB. 512GB and 1TB options are also available. Again this cannot be upgraded by the user after purchase. As you’d expect, all versions come with MacOS Catalina pre-installed on the SSD.
The entry-level spec comes in at a new lower price of £999 including VAT. The highest available spec with Core i7, 16GB RAM, and 2TB SSD raises this to a whopping £2,249.
Other elements of the notebook remain unchanged. For example, it still has the same 2,560 x 1,600 13.3” Retina display, a 49.9Wh battery promising ‘all-day’ battery life, and an integrated Apple T2 security chip. The latter is custom, in-house silicon that checks for software tampering during boot, encrypts SSD data, and guards sensitive information like that used with the Touch ID sensor.
The new MacBook Air also inherits the Magic Keyboard, first brought to market in the 16” MacBook Pro and featuring a redesigned scissor switch with 1mm travel.
In terms of I/O, the 2020 model carries over the dual USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C ports with Thunderbolt 3 and charging support on both. A small upgrade to DisplayPort capabilities means an external 6K display (6,016 x 3,384) can be driven for the first time. There’s also a single 3.5mm audio jack. While Bluetooth has been upgraded from version 4.2 to 5, we suspect many will be disappointed by the lack of Wi-Fi 6 or 802.11ax; instead, it’s the same Wi-Fi 5 as before (802.11ac).
Finally, the unibody chassis is made of 100 percent recycled aluminium and comes in three colour options: space grey, gold, and silver.
The new MacBook Air is available to order now starting at £999. For a limited time, buyers will receive a free one-year Apple TV+ subscription. Head to the official website to find out more.
February 19 2021 | 17:15