Hands-On With the New $999 MacBook Air

Alongside new iPad Pros last week, Apple also refreshed the MacBook Air, adding more storage, faster 10th-generation processors, and an updated keyboard. We picked up one of the new machines to take a look at some of the upgrades added in the 2020 update.

Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos.

Design wise, there are no real external changes to the ‌MacBook Air‌'s body, though to accommodate the new keyboard, it's just a bit thicker. It's 0.63 inches thick at its thickest point, up from 0.61 inches.

It still comes in Silver, Space Gray, and Gold, and it uses the same Retina display that was first introduced in the 2018 ‌MacBook Air‌ redesign. Most of what's new is internal, but there is an all-new Magic Keyboard with scissor switches, which is the same keyboard added to the 16-inch MacBook Pro released last October.


Scissor switches are more reliable than butterfly switches and aren't prone to the same failure due to dust and other small particulates. In fact, scissor switch keyboards were used in MacBooks prior to the 2015 and 2016 MacBook and ‌MacBook Pro‌ refreshes that brought us the butterfly keyboard, so Apple is returning to an old favorite.

The new keyboard feels nice with its 1mm travel, but the keys are a bit softer, quieter, and mushier, so for some, it's not going to be as satisfying of a typing experience as the butterfly keyboard, but most people will appreciate the change and the reliability improvements.


There are inverted T arrow keys to make it easier to find them by feel, plus the keys have the same backlighting as the 16-inch ‌MacBook Pro‌ model. Next to the function keys, there's a Touch ID fingerprint sensor for unlocking the Mac with a finger.

The ‌MacBook Air‌ still features just two Thunderbolt 3 ports, but 6K displays are now supported, so it works with Apple's Pro Display XDR if you feel like getting a $5,000 display to go with your $999 machine.

The rest of the changes to the ‌MacBook Air‌ are internal. It uses Intel's 10th-generation chips, maxing out at a quad-core Core i7 option that Apple says doubles CPU performance compared to the previous-generation ‌MacBook Air‌ models.

That Core i7 chip is a high-end upgrade, though, and the base model that we have on hand features a 1.1GHz dual-core 10th-generation Core i3 processor, and performance gains are a lot more modest.


GPU performance with the Intel Iris Plus Graphics is up to 80 percent faster than GPU performance with the previous Intel UHD Graphics 617, which is a bigger jump for the base model.

Apple also boosted the storage, so the ‌MacBook Air‌ now supports up to 2TB storage space and the base model comes with 256GB of storage instead of 128GB of storage, which is a great deal given the new lower $999 starting price. Entry-level machines still come with 8GB RAM, though, and the 16GB upgrade is $200.

With the price drop, storage upgrade, GPU refresh, and new chips, the 2020 ‌MacBook Air‌ is a great entry-level machine ideal for people who need something for office work, web browsing, content consumption, light photo editing, and similar tasks that don't require the power of the ‌MacBook Pro‌.

For most consumers, the entry-level 2020 ‌MacBook Air‌ is more than adequate, and for a few hundred dollars, it can be futureproofed with some boosted CPU speed and additional RAM.

What do you think of the 2020 ‌MacBook Air‌ refresh? Let us know in the comments.

Related Roundup: MacBook Air
Buyer's Guide: MacBook Air (Neutral)

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
27 weeks ago
Meaningful updates.

Lack of heat pipe is one omission.

Soldered parts that could be socketed reduces the useful lifespan and will always receive my severe criticism.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
27 weeks ago
Return of the inverted T layout cannot be praised enough.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
27 weeks ago


Interesting the MR dude prefers butterfly to these new keyboards, reliability aside

At first I liked the Butterfly keyboard as well, but after typing on it for long periods I began to hate it, and now use my 2015 MBP 15" more then my 2017 15" due to that.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
27 weeks ago
15" MacBook "Air" would be nice!
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
27 weeks ago


At first I liked the Butterfly keyboard as well, but after typing on it for long periods I began to hate it, and now use my 2015 MBP 15" more then my 2017 15" due to that.

short term use butterfly is nice. but for extended periods of time it trips my mind up with the short travel

and it wears out my fingers faster, I swear
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
27 weeks ago
Looks like a nice upgrade for Air fans.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Leaker: 'iPhone 12 mini' and iPhone 12 Storage Capacities Start at 64GB, Pro Models at 128GB

Tuesday September 29, 2020 2:31 am PDT by
Rumors suggest Apple's iPhone 12 launch event will be held on October 13, with the more affordable 5.4 and 6.1-inch devices set to ship out ahead of the more expensive 6.1-inch and 6.7-inch Pro devices, and this morning hit-and-miss leaker Jon Prosser has further committed to that date by providing alleged details on Apple's first shipment of finalized iPhone 12 units. Prosser claims the...

Hands-On With iOS 14.2's New Shazam Music Recognition Toggle in Control Center

Monday September 28, 2020 2:35 pm PDT by
Shortly after launching iOS 14, Apple introduced an upcoming iOS 14.2 update, which is now available to developers and public beta testers ahead of a public release that could come at some point in October. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. The iOS 14.2 update mainly focuses on the Control Center, introducing a new Music Recognition toggle that deepens the Shazam...

Top Stories: iOS 14 Feature Tour, 'iPhone 12 mini' Rumors, Apple Watch Band Controversy

Saturday September 26, 2020 6:00 am PDT by
Things started to calm down a bit this week following last week's rush of media event, Apple Watch and iPad launches, and the release of iOS 14 and other operating updates. But that doesn't mean there wasn't still a lot of news, from digging deeper into iOS 14 to more iPhone 12 rumors to the uproar over trying to exchange band sizes on the new Apple Watch. On top of all of that, we heard...

DigiTimes: 12.9-inch Mini-LED iPad Pro Arriving Early 2021, Mini-LED MacBook Coming Later

Tuesday September 29, 2020 4:18 am PDT by
Apple will launch a 12.9-inch mini LED-backlit iPad Pro in early 2021 and a mini LED-backlit MacBook in the second-half of next year, according to DigiTimes. The Taiwan-based industry publication claims Epistar will supply the over-10,000 mini LEDs used in each iPad Pro tablet. Meanwhile, Apple is expected to recruit Osram Opto as another supplier of mini LEDs for use in a new "high-end"...

iPhone 12 May Launch Earlier Than Usual in South Korea

Monday September 28, 2020 5:24 am PDT by
The upcoming iPhone 12 lineup may launch earlier than usual in South Korea, reports The Korea Herald. South Korean telecoms firms speaking to The Korea Herald have said that the iPhone 12 lineup will launch ahead of its usual schedule. Normally, the release of new iPhones in South Korea comes about one month after launch in the United States. Last year, the iPhone 11 arrived in South Korea ...

iOS 14: 'Phoenix 2' Space Shooter Delivers Playable Demo via App Clips

Saturday September 26, 2020 2:08 pm PDT by
One of the new features that arrived in iOS 14 is called App Clips. App Clips is described by Apple to be a "small part of your app" that can be available to users at just the right moment.App Clips focus on finishing one task quickly. An ideal App Clip experience allows users to open and complete a task in seconds. Instead of requiring an App Store download, they can be loaded and run via...

Epic Games Unlikely to Win Injunction in Ongoing Fortnite Battle With Apple, Jury Trial Possible

Monday September 28, 2020 1:14 pm PDT by
The ongoing legal dispute between Apple and Epic Games continued on today, with a preliminary injunction hearing taking place this morning. We're still waiting to hear the judge's official ruling, but it looks like Epic is not going to be granted an injunction to allow Fortnite back into the App Store as the case unfolds. Many of the arguments that lawyers for Apple and Epic Games made were...

iPhone 12 Production Lines at Foxconn's Zhengzhou Factory in China Running '24 Hours a Day'

Tuesday September 29, 2020 3:38 am PDT by
Apple contract manufacturer Foxconn is running its massive Zhengzhou factory in China 24 hours a day to produce the new iPhone 12, according to Chinese media reports. Apple's main iPhone manufacturer in China is said to be cancelling workers' holidays and introducing mandatory overtime with additional bonuses for longer-serving staff, according to information garnered from employees,...

'iPhone 12 mini' Name Reappears in Leaked Apple iPhone 12 Case Stickers

Friday September 25, 2020 1:58 am PDT by
Earlier this week a proven leaker claimed that the iPhone 12 lineup would be named "iPhone 12 mini," "iPhone 12," "iPhone 12 Pro," and "iPhone 12 Pro Max," and today the same nomenclature has appeared again in a photo depicting alleged stickers from unreleased Silicone iPhone cases originating from Apple's international distribution center in Ireland. The photo shows three stickers with the...

Apple Releases iOS 14.0.1 With Fix for Bug That Resets Default Apps After Rebooting

Thursday September 24, 2020 10:12 am PDT by
Apple today released iOS 14.0.1, the first update to the iOS 14 operating system that was released on September 16. Today's update is a bug fix update addressing issues that weren't able to be fixed in the initial iOS 14 launch. The iOS 14.0.1 update is available on all eligible devices over-the-air in the Settings app. To access the new software, go to Settings > General > Software Update. ...