Tech

MacBook Air M1 Review

Today we’re taking a look at the brand new MacBook Air with apples m1 chip. This M1 chip is quite a significant upgrade in computing power compared to the previous intel chips and give a big increase in battery life too. I have the 8 core 8gb ram version here in the space grey colour. I did also buy this with my own money and my thoughts and opinions are my own. Also, please do subscribe to my other channel, I only need 317 more subscribers to reach my goal there.

Initially I bought this MacBook Air just to try out the new M1 chip. I had every intention to return it within the extended return period over the holiday. However after using it for all my usually tasks I have had trouble going back to my old MacBook Pro. My old MacBook Pro is a 2017 i5 8gb ram and 256gb ssd. I haven’t ever felt that it was too slow or anything. But after having used the new M1 chip and then going back it really does feel a lot slower. One very good thing about the M1 version of the MacBook Air is that its fanless. It’s so quiet and that alone is worth the upgrade alone.

My old MacBook Pro fan would be spinning up for a very significant amount of time. Even doing simple tasks like watching YouTube, the fan would just spin loudly. This new MacBook Air is so very nice and quiet. And even without a fan it doesn’t get as hot as my intel MacBook Pro did. Occasionally it did get warm to the touch. That was when I was setting up all the apps and Logic Pro was searching the computer for all the plugins. After completing the task it went back to not even being warm.

So in terms of the power of this new chip. Its actually very impressive. You can watch several other videos on YouTube of people doing benchmarks and stuff but basically the conclusion is that its as powerful as some of the highest end intel laptops and this is just apples new base model chip. Apple is rumoured to release more faster and higher end power user chips next year.

Although this is an ARM chip, apple has included an app called Rosetta 2 that allows you to still run apps developed for intel on this machine. So Ive not yet run into any problems while using apps running through it. Lightroom and photoshop are running with it and are very fast and smooth. Initially chrome was running with rosette and crashed several times. But google has updated chrome to run natively on M1 now and it runs very fast and smooth, and hasn’t crashed yet. Some apps have actually restricted access and won’t allow you to even try running them through rosetta. Native instruments for example won’t let me install their plugins even though they’d likely run fine in rosetta. Most other music apps and plugins I’ve tried run perfectly fine. Arturia’s keyboard plugins run fine as you can see here for example.

Now let’s talk briefly about the lack of a fan and the RAM options. The base models come with 8gb of unified ram. Which is much faster and more efficient than regular ram. You can think of the ram in these M1 laptops as being about twice as fast as in intel machines. For most people 8gb will be enough but if you’re planning to do a lot of really heavy, large and intense video or photo editing then it might be worth bumping up to 16gb of ram. The MacBook Pro M1 includes a fan for increased sustained performance. Where the MacBook Air will throttle when it needs to perform a sustained heavy task. But in the tests I’ve seen online, even when throttled the MacBook Air is faster than a lot of the competition.

For me, I have been doing 4k video editing in Final Cut Pro and photo editing in photoshop and raw photo edits in Lightroom. I also do some music production in Logic Pro and Ableton live. On my old laptop any one of those tasks on their own would make the fan spin very loudly and it would never be 100% smooth but I could always get the tasks finished. With this new M1 chip I can actually do all of those things at the same time without any slowdowns. Before I would have to keep a video rendering without doing anything else. If I did, it would cause errors in the final render. Now however I can render in the background while editing a photoshop file, and have several other apps open without even a single slowdown.

Another great thing about this new chip is just how energy efficient it is. Before I wouldn’t be able to get more than 4 or 5 hours out of my MacBook Pro battery before needing to plug in. Now however with this new M1 MacBook Air I have been able to do intensive tasks like 4k video editing and music production with up to 10 hours of battery. You can see a few of the screenshots of the battery usage. On one particular day I got 13 hours and 46 minutes of battery. That was without using chrome, and I only used safari. Which does give better battery life. The next day I used chrome as I usually would though and still got 8 hours and 9 minutes of battery. Although I had also used it plugged into an external display for part of that day so the battery would have lasted longer had I not.

I think given all these improvements that this will make a fantastic laptop for travel. My only real complaint is that its only 100grams (3.5oz) lighter than the MacBook Pro. I wish they would have put this chip into the old 12″ MacBook body instead and make it under 1kg (2.2 lbs) in weight. Overall I definitely recommend checking these out if you’re looking for a powerful new laptop that will last a long time on battery and be able to handle any task you throw at it.

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