Why the M1 MacBook Air Is Still a Great Buy a Year Later

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The M1 MacBook Air is almost a year old. Before it launched in 2020, we all eagerly anticipated just how the new M1 Apple Silicon would transform the humble MacBook Air into a fairly powerful laptop.

As we discovered, its transformation was rather magical.

You know what’s even more magical? Today, nearly a full year later, the M1 MacBook Air remains a fantastic purchase, and it will stay that way throughout the rest of 2021.

The M1 still reigns

Macbook Air M1
Mark Coppock/We

The M1 was Apple’s first attempt at its own custom ARM chip for Macs, and it was an overwhelming success. But the devices themselves, weren’t anything new. The MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and Mac mini all got the same M1 chip, but that doesn’t mean the jump in performance was equivalent.

The MacBook Air was had featured an underpowered, 15-watt Intel chip. It wasn’t fanless, and it had a hard time keeping up with anything beyond basic computing. A Zoom call would make the fans spin up and the surface temperatures rise, and ultimately, the MacBook Air just didn’t have the performance to be worth the $999 price.

The M1 changed all that. The MacBook Air finally had the performance it needed to make spending $999 on it feel like a steal. Compared to Windows laptops of the same price, the MacBook Air flies. You can play games like Fortnite on it with absolutely zero fan noise. The same goes for video calls. All of a sudden, the MacBook Air became the go-to college laptop again.

Compared to the MacBook Air, the MacBook Pro, was now the one that felt underpowered. It’s every bit as powerful — and the graphics performance are slightly better — but the $300 price difference didn’t feel justified.

It left the MacBook Air as the most impressive M1 device at launch, and made sure that it had legs to last all the way through 2021.

Its sequel is a ways out

Image credit: Jon Prosser

We recently wrote about why you shouldn’t buy the MacBook Pro right now. Both the 14-inch and 16-inch models are about to get a significant redesign, as well as huge performance bump thanks to the rumored M1X chip. Buying the 13-inch MacBook Pro now would leave you regretting your purchase in just a few months.

The MacBook Air, on the other hand, is in a completely different position. There is, undoubtedly, a new MacBook Air in the works. Leaks from earlier this year point to a redesign that will change the keyboard and bezels to white to match the 24-inch iMac, as well as offer new chassis colors.

Even if this rumor turned out to be true, from what we can tell, it won’t come out until well into 2022. And even then, I could see Apple offering the old M1 configuration as a cheaper option.

So, if you’re considering the M1 MacBook Air right now or even sometime in the next few months, you can be sure it’s a safe purchase that will make you happy for many years to come.

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