The MacBook Air 13″ possesses a not-so-secret weapon that drives it to a place of endless possibilities, it is the wonder-on-chips, the M1.
Apple has been cooking up this relish for some time, and it is served in the sleek aluminum plated Macbook Air 13″, as with its Macbook Pro counterpart.
This MacBook combines the forces of Apple’s proprietary operating system, the Mac OS “big Sur” with the innovative 8-core M1 chip, to devastating effect. The result is a remarkably energy-efficient and high-powered performance that chews up almost everything that is thrown at it, while still maintaining cool and quiet conduct in the process.
There are other perks like its ergonomic “magic keyboard”, rich display, and decent audio, and then there are a few bugs too like a webcam running on perennially greasy wheels.
This is the Apple MacBook that falls far from the tree and rises to every occasion.
Design and Appearance
The 13″ MacBook Air stays true to the build design template that has served its predecessors ever so well, the chassis is a well-built wedge of aluminum, with the exterior sporting a color choice of gold, silver, or space gray.
With a form factor measuring 12 x 8.4 x 0.6-inch and a weight of 2.8 pounds, same as the Intel-equipped MacBook Air and the Microsoft surface laptop 4, this MacBook is as portable as it can be, maybe a little less than the Dell XPS 13.
With one hand, you can flip open the lid, or grab the laptop as a whole, and in typical Apple fashion, this laptop is rigid in all the right places. There isn’t the slightest hint of flex when you flip open the lid or type on the keyboard.
Ports and Connection
The port ensemble in this Macbook still wears the same look as its intel-based predecessor; two Thunderbolt 3 USB 4 ports on one side and two USB-C ports on the other side in addition to a headphone jack,
Unlike the XPS 13, arguably its nearest challenger to the 13″ laptop crown, the MacBook Air 13″ omits the micro SD card reader in its port lineup, the ZenBook 13, another top-ranking member of the competition sports a full HDMI-out and a USB-A port, but ditches the headphone jack.
For wireless connectivity, Apple puts its best foot forward with the Wi-Fi 6, which is the latest in wireless technology, and with Bluetooth 5.0 to boot, there is enough to go around for everyone that is plugged in.
Keyboard and Input Devices
Apple ditches the problem-ridden butterfly keyboard from the previous MacBook in favor of the better by far Magic Keyboard.
The keys from this improved keyboard are less shallow and less prone to malfunction arising from the build-up of dust and dirt.
They are softer to the touch, they fire off with prompt and return with aplomb, the rubber dome scissors mechanism that is employed in their design is a tad dated, but it eases the typing experience. Your fingers will thank you after a long typing session.
The 4.8 x 3.2-inch glass Force trackpad carries on from the keyboard. It gets a generous footprint featuring a smooth and easily navigable surface with a copious fill of sensors. This touchpad surface is extremely sensitive to a host of gestures and inputs.
The speakers in Apple’s MacBook Air 13″ get support in the form of Dolby Atmos. This audio software is designed for functionality, so it comes with extra gear to beef up the quality of sound that is served.
You can almost feel the pulse of the speakers once they fire off, although their vibration and volume by extension is not amplified to fever-pitch, the sounds that emerge get a generous fill of bass, boom, and everything in between.
Then there is a trio of built-in microphones with the sharpest of sensors that are wired to pick up the slightest of sounds for more rewarding sessions of video calls, or podcasting.
If it isn’t the Retina display and its rich mix of colors and clarity, then it is the true tone technology with its impeccable automatic lighting customization, or a class-leading 114.3% coverage of the sRGB spectrum.
This laptops’ display is packed to the rafters, and it is not just with 2,560-by-1,600 pixels dotting its 13.3″ screen or a brightness approaching 370 nits, it is the way in which the visuals appear so real that they seem to pop off the screen.
The extra props in the display sweeten the spot between the 1080p resolution of the HP Spectre x360 13 and the OLED 4K display of the Dell XPS 13(9310), and the result is still impressive.
The colors in the screen will appear vibrant and the text crisp, in whichever perspective of view, the visuals are soft and easy on the eyes. From the look of things, the display in the MacBook Air 13″ is a looker.
The base model of the M1 chip possessing 13-inch Apple MacBook comes equipped with a 7- core GPU, for some extra bucks you can opt for extra graphic juice with the 8-core GPU model.
With the sheer power of the graphic processor in the M1 chip, the MacBook Air now prizes something of a gulf in class between it and other offerings from Intel and AMD at the same price or class, like the Dell XPS 13 or the Zenbook 13. Apple touts a fivefold increase in graphic power from the previous generation, a bold claim that is justified in a broad sense. With this GPU, creative professionals can now develop or devour 4k content at steady frame rates, engage in 3D rendering tasks, or play some compatible games, glitch-free and flicker-free.
Admittedly, the graphic power will drop off at higher visual or graphic settings, but it still packs in sufficient punch for the average GPU-based tasks.
The best part of this GPU is its remarkable energy efficiency, even at full tilt, it will not push your battery to its threshold, integrated graphics have never been this good.
Apple has not necessarily provided the best of platforms for the avid gamers with its previous Macbooks. The early signs point towards the fact that this is poised to change with the introduction of the game-changing M1 chip.
The gaming experience is well-primed to take a lift, and as soon as more exciting games become adapted to the M1 chip, this 13-inch MacBook will be one of the first off the block to takeoff, barring an M2, M1X, or any better chip off the “M” block.
For now, several decent AAA games can be played at respectable frames, The Rise of the Tomb Raider for one can now be comfortably run at its native resolutions, and graphics set to Medium, and it does better with optimized games like Borderlands 3.
The casual gamers will revel in the gaming performance of this laptop, especially with the mainstream and less demanding titles, the MacBook 13″ is not a gaming powerhouse, like the Asus ROG Flow X13, but it surely is no slouch.
With the M1 chip holding sway over the running of this 13-incher, battery performance has never been this close to exceptional, inches close.
An Intel laptop with this much power will be a battery guzzler, not this MacBook thankfully, the M1 chip is designed for energy efficiency and it rubs off nicely on the runtimes that are posted.
This Macbook will take you through 16 hours of web surfing at the least and very nearly a full day length of time with everyday system tasks.
There is the promise of more to come with the coming of more apps with M1 chip native compatibility, these are exciting times for the Apple MacBook users.
Cooling and Noise Emission
The M1 chip in the MacBook Air 13″ incorporates a fanless design in its makeup, with just an aluminum heat spreader making up the core of its thermal architecture. This setup delivers reasonable returns, as evidenced in its relatively cool and noiseless running operation. With routine system tasks like video playback or wireless web browsing, this laptop is warm as toast, especially in its internals, and at the thick of high-intensity action, it will not exceed the standard 95 degrees comfort threshold.
It is in this neck of the woods that the MacBook Air 13″ lords over, with the M1 chip as its scepter.
Apple takes pride in its biggest prize yet, the M1. It promotes this chip as having a 3.5x performance edge over its Intel-based MacBook Air predecessor, and our feelers show that it can come out unscathed from a core i5 or i7 square off.
While the four efficiency cores make plain sailing of a sea of regular and lightweight system tasks, the four efficiency cores pool their powers to take on the big hitters in image processing, word processing, computer programming, and other intensive tasks.
With this much power, the MacBook Air 13″ is capable of the incredible, it is only held back by the small window of transcoding that the Apple emulator(Rosetta) has to perform to make most mainstream Intel apps accessible to the M1 platform,
As soon as these apps become “Universal”, which is native to the M1 chip, the performance level of this laptop will get a timely boost and your battery will get respite too.
For now, this Macbook can still boast of having arguably the best power-per-watts performance levels of any laptop in the contemporary market space.
This MacBook Air 13″ is as powerful as they come, with a whopping octa-core chip, the M1, giving it an edge in its graphics, speed, battery, and almost every other performance rating parameter.
Throw in a fairly brilliant display, a robust build, and a noiseless but smooth-running design into the mix and you get “the” MacBook of dreams.
But if you are jolted back to reality by the bang of the Dolby atmos supported speakers, then you might have noticed the small field of ports, a weak webcam, or screen bezels in dire need of a trim.
Weight and dimensions
12 x 8.4 x 0.6-inch
Retina display, 13.3-inch, 2560-by-1600 native resolution
Two Thunderbolt / USB 4 ports and two USB-C ports
Wi-Fi 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6 wireless networking
Bluetooth 5.0 wireless technology
Stereo speakers with Support for Dolby Atmos playback and a three-mic array
Battery and Power
Up to 17 hours wireless web
8GB unified memory Configurable to 16GB
256GB SSD Configurable to 512GB SSD, 1TB, or 2TB SSD
Apple M1 chip
8-core CPU, 7 core or 8-core GPU
16-core Neural Engine