MacBook Air 2020 reviews: Magic Keyboard and performance boost make it a must-have upgrade

After making its debut earlier this week, the first reviews of the new 2020 MacBook Air have hit the web today. Reviewers praise the new Magic Keyboard, performance improvements, and more.

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Writing for Engadget, Dana Wollman offers heaps of praise for the new keyboard, though she notes it’s a tad noisy:

If you can’t tell, I love this keyboard. I won’t be returning to my company-issued MacBook Pro unless I need to use the VPN. Just know that the slight trade-off to this new and improved typing experience is that it’s a tad noisy. It’s not a problem when I’m working alone in my apartment, but if I were in an office or coworking space I might feel a little self-conscious.

Wollam also notes that the return to the inverted T-arrow key arrangement, is a subtle much much appreciated change to the keyboard. You can read Engadget’s full review here.

Jason Snell at SixColors points out that the new $999 entry-level price point for the MacBook Air is what Apple should have done two years ago. The inclusion of more powerful configuration options also makes the MacBook Air a viable choice for everyone, Snell explains:

This 2020 MacBook Air finally sets the bar at the right place: $999. While that price will only get you a dual-core i3 processor, it’ll get you 256GB of storage, double the base storage available on the old $1099 Air. (You can also upgrade to 512GB for $200, 1TB for $400, and 2TB for $800.)

I wish Apple had hit this price two years ago, but I’m glad it’s gotten there today. $999 (and $899 for education) makes this Air a lot easier to recommend to price-conscious Mac laptop buyers. Fortunately, if you were hoping for more power than a dual-core i3, Apple has options for you, too.

Todd Haselton for CNBC offers similar praise for the keyboard as well as the Retina Display, and says that anyone using the 2018 MacBook Air, or even last year’s version, should consider upgrading for the keyboard and the new 256GB base storage capacity:

Lots of people have asked me over the last several months if they should ‘buy the MacBook Air or wait.’ And I always said, ‘Just wait.’ The old model desperately needed a new keyboard.

It’s finally here. That means folks who have the 2018 MacBook Air, or even the 2019 model with the older keyboard, should seriously consider picking up the new one. The processor bump alone is worth it, and then there’s the new 256 GB entry-level storage and a keyboard you can actually type on. Toss in the good speakers, solid display, and lightweight design, and you have the complete package.

At TechCrunch, Brian Heater says he recommends most people spring for the $1,099 version of the MacBook Air to get the faster i5 processor:

For even basic users, however, I’d recommend adding $100 back onto the system price in order to upgrade to an i5. That’s the chip ours came with. The system scored 5244 and 14672 on Geekbench 4’s single and multi-core tests, respectively, presenting a marked upgrade over the last model we tested, back in 2018.

Across the board, it’s tricky to find too many negatives in these early 2020 MacBook Air reviews. Heater does note that battery life might not quite live up to Apple’s claims:

All-day battery life seems like a fair enough description, when you’re multitasking; 11 hours is probably a stretch. It’s worth noting that this can vary quite a bit based on a number of factors. I’ve only really had a full day with the laptop, so I’ll update retroactively.

TechRadar tried out the entry-level i3 configuration and noted that even it’s able to keep up with most tasks:

We noticed very little in slowdown at all in terms of switching between tasks — even when adding in a video call (which did begin to hammer the battery through Chrome, as it does on many MacBooks) things continued well, albeit with some necessary fan assistance to keep things cool.

YouTuber MKBHD has also spent some time with the new MacBook Air, and you can watch his hands-on video below. As per usual, MKBHD offers one of the most visually stunning looks at the new machine.

Reviewers seem to all agree that this is the MacBook Air that Apple probably should have released in 2018: solid performance, a generous 256GB base storage configuration, and a reliable scissor switch keyboard design. Performance isn’t as powerful as what you’d get from the 16-inch MacBook Pro, but the MacBook Air also starts at less than half the price.

Have you ordered Apple’s new MacBook Air? What are you most looking forward to? Let us know down in the comments!

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Avatar for Chance Miller Chance Miller

Chance is an editor for the entire 9to5 network and covers the latest Apple news for 9to5Mac.

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