Quad-core Core i5 processor is a big boost for 2020 MacBook Air

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited March 2020
Apple's refreshed MacBook Air is considerably more powerful than its predecessor, initial benchmarks reveal, with the Core i5 version of the latest models offering a significant performance boost over its older counterpart.

2020 MacBook Air


Launched on March 18, the 2020 MacBook Air introduced a number of changes to the lightweight Mac, with a key difference being the option to choose a more powerful processor. While the previous 2019 model shipped with a dual-core Intel Core i5 processor with no alternate options, the 2020 edition offers versions equipped with Core i3, Core i5, and Core i7 processors.

While the old model used an 8th-generation dual-core Core i5 with a base clock of 1.6GHz, the Core i5 in the 2020 iteration is a quad-core 10th-generation model with a base clock speed of 1.1GHz. On paper, the processor changes would be an upgrade in general, but early benchmarks by Six Colors reveals the 2020 is much more powerful than the previously-sold version, despite the lower base clock speed.






In Geekbench 5 single-core tests, the MacBook Air with the Core i5 processor achieved a score of 1,047, while the previous MacBook Air reached just 790. For multi-core testing, the older dual-core model managed a score of 1,628, but the quad-core chip helped bring the 2020 model up to 2,658.

Jason Snell's results are in the same ballpark as others recorded in Geekbench, indicating they are accurate. The results also show the benefits of newer iterations of processor, along with simply moving from dual-core chips to quad core.

Along with the processor changes, the 2020 MacBook Air also includes higher storage capacities of 256GB at the lowest and 2TB at its highest, support for a 6K monitor at up to 60Hz, and a keyboard replacement bringing it in line with the 16-inch MacBook Pro.

The 2020 MacBook Air starts at $999 and is available for pre-order. Deals are already available on 2019 MacBook Air models.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 25
    EsquireCatsEsquireCats Posts: 1,251member
    I'm curious how this will perform in comparison to the 2013 Mac Pro - the Air now outpaces the single core performance significantly. While the Pro's sheer number of cores keep it just ahead in the multi-core score.

    Pretty remarkable when you think about the relatively cost of these machines. (And that the iPad Pro's performance is rapidly catching up to these hallmark machines.)
  • Reply 2 of 25
    FatmanFatman Posts: 513member
    I would never buy less than an i5 quad core CPU, and preferably dedicated GPU as well.
  • Reply 3 of 25
    Wow. It’s almost as fast as a 2018 iPad Pro.
    Soli
  • Reply 4 of 25
    dewmedewme Posts: 4,637member
    If Apple has delivered a keyboard and trackpad experience comparable to earlier (pre-Retina) Airs this will be the Apple computer that I would most want to carry and use on a daily basis. The Air has always been my favorite Mac because it is pleasure to use whether on my lap or on a table/desk. It’s quiet, lightweight, and elegant. I’m pleased that we can now get an Air with a good amount of storage and memory at a reasonable price. 
    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 5 of 25
    seanismorrisseanismorris Posts: 1,624member
    My sister contacted me yesterday for a computer recommendation for my nephew (who is in college).  I recommended the i5 Air, and told her to avoid the i3.  For $1200 it’s a very capable machine.

    The computer department should be able to set up Boot Camp, so he’ll have Windows if needed.  Some schools will do that for free.

    With the capability and flexibility of the MacBook Air, it blows the iPad Pro out of the water, and is cheaper.
    pulseimages
  • Reply 6 of 25
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 2,815member
    The 2020 Macbook Air is all good from spec to price. Still bothers me that internally having Intel 10nm 10th gen CPU/GPU supporting WiFi 6 but not available as a feature. Apple gets pass because of many good things added, Magic keyboard, base 256GB SSD, under $1000 price point and thanks for NOT adding touch bar. At least one port on right side would be appreciated. Think, now media and early buyers/users of this 2020 Macbook Air claiming that it will be GO-TO Macbook laptop, what happens if Apple reduces bezel to increase screen to 14"+ in the same frame ?
    edited March 2020
  • Reply 7 of 25
    GobnuGobnu Posts: 17member
    No one has the i7 version to test yet? How does this compare to last years MBP?
    williamlondon
  • Reply 8 of 25
    seanismorrisseanismorris Posts: 1,624member
    Gobnu said:
    No one has the i7 version to test yet? How does this compare to last years MBP?
    Not that I’m aware of.  But, if you’re in the market for the i7 you’re probably looking for the MacBook Pro with discrete graphics. In other words, you’re a “power user”.

    In my mind, the Air is more of mass-market machine that’s aggressively priced to take market share and grow its user base.  The i5 is the sweet spot.  My concern with the i7 (Air) is battery life and the ability to sustain higher speeds without overheating.  

    There have been complaints in the past that these slim laptops (different brands) aren’t as fast as expected.  There might even have been lawsuits... that might be why Apple’s new processor in the Air has a lower clock speed, to give it more consistent real world performance.

    edit
    The new Air isn’t actually available yet.  We’ll probably get an i7 review/comparison later...
    edited March 2020 ravnorodom
  • Reply 9 of 25
    canukstormcanukstorm Posts: 2,608member
    Gobnu said:
    No one has the i7 version to test yet? How does this compare to last years MBP?
    Not that I’m aware of.  But, if you’re in the market for the i7 you’re probably looking for the MacBook Pro with discrete graphics. In other words, you’re a “power user”.

    In my mind, the Air is more of mass-market machine that’s aggressively priced to take market share and grow its user base.  The i5 is the sweet spot.  My concern with the i7 (Air) is battery life and the ability to sustain higher speeds without overheating.  

    There have been complaints in the past that these slim laptops (different brands) aren’t as fast as expected.  There might even have been lawsuits... that might be why Apple’s new processor in the Air has a lower clock speed, to give it more consistent real world performance.

    edit
    The new Air isn’t actually available yet.  We’ll probably get an i7 review/comparison later...
    The main feature of the Core i7 isn't the increased clock speed but that it has Hyperthreading
    dewmeednlpulseimages
  • Reply 10 of 25
    neilmneilm Posts: 964member
    Gobnu said:
    No one has the i7 version to test yet? How does this compare to last years MBP?
    Not that I’m aware of.  But, if you’re in the market for the i7 you’re probably looking for the MacBook Pro with discrete graphics. In other words, you’re a “power user”.
    However the 13" MBP doesn't have a GPU, so in theory that would force the choice to the 16" MBP. I very much doubt that anyone ever weighs the purchase of a 13" MBA against that of a 16" MBP.

    BTW, unless you're doing video or high end audio, the 13" MBP's integrated graphics are just fine for normal professional use (Adobe CC apps, etc.). The usual performance bottleneck is between the user's ears.
    ednl
  • Reply 11 of 25
    dewme said:
    If Apple has delivered a keyboard and trackpad experience comparable to earlier (pre-Retina) Airs this will be the Apple computer that I would most want to carry and use on a daily basis. 

    I'm surprised to read that you prefer the old trackpad.

    I've been using a Touch Bar MacBook Pro for the last couple years and just picked up a used 2017 Air. I've found using the old trackpad very frustrating and disappointing compared to the new one. With the old one it's harder to register a click when pressing anywhere but the middle. With the new one you can click anywhere. It's also comparatively much harder to make precise cursor movements with the old one because it's smaller than the new ones.

    I question many of Apple's choices over the last few years, but the trackpad isn't on that list. I think the new ones are a huge leap forward.
  • Reply 12 of 25
    thttht Posts: 4,719member
    seanismorris said:
    There have been complaints in the past that these slim laptops (different brands) aren’t as fast as expected.  There might even have been lawsuits... that might be why Apple’s new processor in the Air has a lower clock speed, to give it more consistent real world performance.
    The Ice Lake chips in the 2020 MBA have higher performance per clock than the Sky Lake based chips in the 2018 MBA. Intel segments their processors so that the performance per dollar never exceeds the next SKU up. So, the clocks for these 2020 MBA chips are designed to do this.

    Intel's 10 nm fab is still broken, and this low performance, low end laptop chips is all that they can manage. So the clocks on these chips are one part due to segmentation, another part due to their fab issues.

  • Reply 13 of 25
    zimmiezimmie Posts: 628member
    Gobnu said:
    No one has the i7 version to test yet? How does this compare to last years MBP?
    Not that I’m aware of.  But, if you’re in the market for the i7 you’re probably looking for the MacBook Pro with discrete graphics. In other words, you’re a “power user”.

    In my mind, the Air is more of mass-market machine that’s aggressively priced to take market share and grow its user base.  The i5 is the sweet spot.  My concern with the i7 (Air) is battery life and the ability to sustain higher speeds without overheating.  

    There have been complaints in the past that these slim laptops (different brands) aren’t as fast as expected.  There might even have been lawsuits... that might be why Apple’s new processor in the Air has a lower clock speed, to give it more consistent real world performance.

    edit
    The new Air isn’t actually available yet.  We’ll probably get an i7 review/comparison later...
    The main feature of the Core i7 isn't the increased clock speed but that it has Hyperthreading
    The i3 in the base model is almost definitely an 1000G4, which has hyperthreading. The interesting part is the i5 matches the specs of the 1035G4, which is a 15W part with cTDP Down of 12W. The 2018 and 2019 MacBook Air previously used a 7.5W part.

    The i7's specs don't exactly line up with any Intel part I've seen, but might be the 1060G7 (9W) in cTDP Up (12W) or the 1065G7 (15W) in cTDP Down (12W). In either case, the 2020 MacBook Air probably has a better cooling solution to keep up with the extra power.

    The 2 TB max SSD size also suggests to me it has four flash pads. The 2018 had three and the 2019 dropped to two. It's possible the max SSD capacity is done with two 1 TB chips, but I think it's more likely to be four 512 GB. The 16" has 16 flash pads, and there's no 16 TB storage option for it.

    A teardown would be interesting.
    edited March 2020
  • Reply 14 of 25
    tobiantobian Posts: 136member
    dewme said:
    If Apple has delivered a keyboard and trackpad experience comparable to earlier (pre-Retina) Airs this will be the Apple computer that I would most want to carry and use on a daily basis. 

    I'm surprised to read that you prefer the old trackpad.

    I've been using a Touch Bar MacBook Pro for the last couple years and just picked up a used 2017 Air. I've found using the old trackpad very frustrating and disappointing compared to the new one. With the old one it's harder to register a click when pressing anywhere but the middle. With the new one you can click anywhere. It's also comparatively much harder to make precise cursor movements with the old one because it's smaller than the new ones.

    I question many of Apple's choices over the last few years, but the trackpad isn't on that list. I think the new ones are a huge leap forward.
    That means your used MBA was touched within by an unauthorised technician or else, because even non-forcetouch trackpads have to be calibrated in order to work properly. I have no problem with mine, still superior in comparison with virtually any PC trackpad.
  • Reply 15 of 25
    sirozhasirozha Posts: 801member
    Gobnu said:
    No one has the i7 version to test yet? How does this compare to last years MBP?
    Not that I’m aware of.  But, if you’re in the market for the i7 you’re probably looking fo is r the MacBook Pro with discrete graphics. In other words, you’re a “power user”.

    In my mind, the Air is more of mass-market machine that’s aggressively priced to take market share and grow its user base.  The i5 is the sweet spot.  My concern with the i7 (Air) is battery life and the ability to sustain higher speeds without overheating.  

    There have been complaints in the past that these slim laptops (different brands) aren’t as fast as expected.  There might even have been lawsuits... that might be why Apple’s new processor in the Air has a lower clock speed, to give it more consistent real world performance.

    edit
    The new Air isn’t actually available yet.  We’ll probably get an i7 review/comparison later...
    The main feature of the Core i7 isn't the increased clock speed but that it has Hyperthreading
    i3 and i5 also have hyperthreading. 
  • Reply 16 of 25
    Gobnu said:
    No one has the i7 version to test yet? How does this compare to last years MBP?
    Not that I’m aware of.  But, if you’re in the market for the i7 you’re probably looking for the MacBook Pro with discrete graphics. In other words, you’re a “power user”.
    Hmm, I don't think that's accurate. IMO the 13" Pro is worst-of-both-worlds: not significantly faster than the Air, not really lightweight by modern standards, huge compromise on the screen and performance compared to the big guy… as a developer, I'd take an i7 Air over the 13" Pro any day. 

    This, btw, is why I am bullish about the 13 bumping to 14" later this year, needs more to distinguish itself from the Air…
  • Reply 17 of 25
    1st1st Posts: 443member
    nice.  was worry about i5 in air become laptop grill BBQ.  Look like cool was considered compare to last year... temptation, seduction, etc. etc.  check my pocket got a hole or not....USD exchange rate is harsh...burn... 
  • Reply 18 of 25
    GobnuGobnu Posts: 17member
    Not necessarily a power user except in the number of safari tabs i have a tendency to open. Currently rock a late 2013 mba i5. Just like to future proof as much as possible with the new un-upgradable world. 

    Gobnu said:
    No one has the i7 version to test yet? How does this compare to last years MBP?
    Not that I’m aware of.  But, if you’re in the market for the i7 you’re probably looking for the MacBook Pro with discrete graphics. In other words, you’re a “power user”.
    edited March 2020
  • Reply 19 of 25
    tobian said:
    [...] I have no problem with mine
    I didn't mean to imply there's a problem with the older trackpad, just that it's not as nice to use as the new ones. Have you had a chance to spend any time with the current incarnation? If not, you may be pleasantly surprised.


    tobian said:
    [...] still superior in comparison with virtually any PC trackpad.
    I agree.
  • Reply 20 of 25
    a2daja2daj Posts: 30member
    sirozha said:
    Gobnu said:
    No one has the i7 version to test yet? How does this compare to last years MBP?
    Not that I’m aware of.  But, if you’re in the market for the i7 you’re probably looking fo is r the MacBook Pro with discrete graphics. In other words, you’re a “power user”.

    In my mind, the Air is more of mass-market machine that’s aggressively priced to take market share and grow its user base.  The i5 is the sweet spot.  My concern with the i7 (Air) is battery life and the ability to sustain higher speeds without overheating.  

    There have been complaints in the past that these slim laptops (different brands) aren’t as fast as expected.  There might even have been lawsuits... that might be why Apple’s new processor in the Air has a lower clock speed, to give it more consistent real world performance.

    edit
    The new Air isn’t actually available yet.  We’ll probably get an i7 review/comparison later...
    The main feature of the Core i7 isn't the increased clock speed but that it has Hyperthreading
    i3 and i5 also have hyperthreading. 

    Yup.  The 2018+ MacBook Pro 13" have had had quad core i5s with hyperthreading.
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