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Apple wants people to fall back in love with its latest MacBook Air.
Download games and applications from Blizzard and partners. Nov 29, 2019 Download World of Warcraft for Mac. World of Warcraft has always been one of the most expensive MMOs in the market. Yet that’s never been a problem, as WoW has always delivered a premium experience well-worth the $15 a month. What was annoying was the need to also purchase the base game plus each Expansion as they came out.For many users, the pre-Retina, 13-inch MacBook Air was one of the best laptops ever made. For too long, though, it fell behind the curve as Apple introduced better performance and higher-resolution screens to the rest of its lineup. Finally, Apple brought the high-res Retina display and some other improvements to the Air in 2018. Maybe the world's best laptop was back?
2018's Air was a pretty good machine, but it wasn't a candidate for world's best laptop anymore, thanks to the prone-to-fail butterfly keyboard design and a painful lack of ports. A refresh in 2019 brought some refinements, but it didn't address either of those issues. Now, finally, Apple has pulled out the butterfly keyboard and put in something we hope will be much more dependable.
So is the 2020 MacBook Air again worthy of consideration as the world's best laptop?
Table of Contents
|Specs at a glance: 2020 MacBook Air|
|Screen||2560×1600 at 13.3 inches|
|OS||macOS Catalina 10.15.3|
|CPU||1.1GHz 4-core Intel Core i5 (3.5GHz Turbo) with 6MB L3 cache|
|RAM||8GB 3733MHz LPDDR4X|
|GPU||Intel Iris Plus Graphics|
|Networking||802.11ac Wi-Fi; IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n; Bluetooth 5.0|
|Ports||2x Thunderbolt 3, 3.5mm headphone|
|Size||0.16–0.63 inch×11.97-inch×8.36-inch (0.41–1.61cm×30.41cm×21.24cm)|
|Warranty||1 year, or 3 years with AppleCare+|
|Price as reviewed||$1,299|
|Other perks||720p FaceTime HD camera, stereo speakers|
Apple MacBook Air (2020)
Buyers can spend an extra $100 for a 1.1GHz Core i5 with 3.5GHz Turbo Boost and a 6MB cache; if you can afford it, the cost here is worth it. There's also a 1.2GHz Core i7 with 3.8GHz Turbo Boost and 8MB cache option for $250 over the base config, but if performance is that important to you, at this price you might consider a MacBook Pro instead.
For graphics, you're looking at Intel Iris Pro graphics matching whatever CPU you pick.
In standard configurations, the Air comes with 8GB of 3733MHz LPDDR4X memory, but you can opt to upgrade to 16GB for an additional $200—which I'd recommend for a lot of people, especially if they use a bunch of non-Apple apps like, say, Google Chrome.
Storage starts at 256GB in the base config, up from 128GB in past Airs. Apple has been doubling storage across its MacBook line, and that's very welcome. 128GB was pretty tight even for light users, but 256GB is just right for those using this as a basic productivity computer. You can go up to 512GB for another $200, 1TB for another $400, or a beefy 2TB for an extra $800.
The Air has the same Retina display as before. It's a 13.3-inch IPS panel with a native resolution of 2,560 by 1,600 pixels. Apple really made HiDPI displays take off when it first introduced Retina displays, but while the company is strong on things like color accuracy, competing products now offer much higher resolutions.
The Air's screen is above the threshold beyond which more pixels make for diminishing returns, though, so its resolution isn't much of a downside. But buyers should know that the Air's display can't match the photographer-friendly color accuracy of the MacBook Pro.This is a good time to mention that the laptop defaults to a screen area that is equivalent to 1,440 x 900, which is pretty cramped by today's standards. You can bump it higher, but it looks a bit less sharp, and UI animations (like swiping between Spaces) get just a teensy bit choppier. It's not a big deal, but it's also not ideal.
The part of the spec sheet that disappoints me most, though, is the lack of Wi-Fi 6. Instead we get the same old 802.11ac. Sure, Wi-Fi 6 is new on the scene, but you might expect to keep this computer for three or more years, and Wi-Fi 6 will probably be ubiquitous by then. Bluetooth 5.0 is present, though.
This machine also has stereo speakers, Dolby Atmos support, and a 3.5mm headphone jack, along with what seems to be the same 720p FaceTime webcam Apple has been putting in its laptops for ages. The camera is fine, but in an age of telecommuting, you wouldn't be wrong to ask for a 1080p camera at this price.
Sadly, one of the biggest problems with the 2018 and 2019 MacBook Air models persists here: only two ports, both Thunderbolt 3/USB-C. More on that in a moment.
It's refreshing to see Apple not try to 'change the world' here—but just designing a solid workstation.The Air is thin, it has the classic tapered shape, it looks and feels sturdy, and it wastes no space or material. From an industrial design point of view, it's one of the best things Apple has ever made.
It's also slightly more repairable than it used to be, according to a recent teardown by the good people at iFixit. They found that new wiring for the trackpad allows for easier access to both the trackpad and the battery without messing with the logic board, among other things. Repairability is still not a strong suit of the MacBook Air, but it seems to be improving.
The new model is almost imperceptibly thicker than the 2019 Air, but its form is otherwise unchanged, and that's a great thing. It's still a sleek, tightly designed little laptop, which is one of the main things so many people appreciated about the Air over the years. There aren't a lot of laptops out there that feel this good to carry and to use.
The Achilles' heel of the design is the port situation, though. I'm not even talking about the fact that it uses Thunderbolt 3/USB-C; most other laptops in this class also use USB-C instead of larger USB-A ports, and it feels like that ship has sailed. I'm instead referring to the fact that it only has two ports, which may not be enough for much of the target audience, as one of those ports will usually be used for power. To make matters worse, the ports are both on the left side of the machine. Is your power outlet on the right side of your desk? Hope you're cool with running a cord across the desk or in some awkward arrangement behind it.
The ports remain the worst thing about the MacBook Air—but they're also the only thing I can criticize about the design. Now, on to the question everyone has: how is that new keyboard?
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If you've followed the steps to connect your Mac to a Wi-Fi network, but the connection to your network or the Internet isn't reliable, the steps in this article might help.
Check for Wi-Fi recommendations
When your Mac tries to connect to a Wi-Fi network, it checks for issues that affect its ability to create a fast, stable, and secure connection. If an issue is detected, the Wi-Fi status menu in the menu bar shows a new item: Wi-Fi Recommendations. Choose it to see recommended solutions.
Wi-Fi recommendations are available in macOS Sierra or later.
Analyze your wireless environment
Your Mac can use Wireless Diagnostics to perform additional analysis.
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- Quit any apps that are open, and connect to your Wi-Fi network, if possible.
- Press and hold Option (Alt) ⌥ key, then choose Open Wireless Diagnostics from the Wi-Fi status menu .
- Enter your administrator name and password when prompted.
Wireless Diagnostics begins analyzing your wireless environment:
If the issue is intermittent, you can choose to monitor your Wi-Fi connection:
When you're ready to see recommendations, continue to the summary. Wireless Diagnostics asks for optional information about your base station or other router, so that it can include that in the report it saves to your Mac.
Click the info button next to each item in the summary to see details about that item. Wi-Fi best practices are tips that apply to most Wi-Fi networks.
Back up or make note of your network or router settings before changing them based on these recommendations—in case you need to use those settings again.
Monitor your Wi-Fi connection
Your Mac can monitor your Wi-Fi connection for intermittent issues, such as dropped connections. Follow the steps to analyze your wireless environment, but choose ”Monitor my Wi-Fi connection” when prompted.
During monitoring, a window shows that monitoring is in progress. Monitoring continues as long as this window is open and you're on the same Wi-Fi network, even when your Mac is asleep.
If Wireless Diagnostics finds an issue, it stops monitoring and shows a brief description of the issue. You can then resume monitoring or continue to the summary for details and recommendations.
Create a diagnostics report
Wireless Diagnostics automatically saves a diagnostics report before it displays its summary. You can create the same report at any time: press and hold the Option key, then choose Create Diagnostics Report from the Wi-Fi status menu . It can take your Mac several minutes to create the report.
- macOS Sierra and later saves the report to the /var/tmp folder of your startup drive, then opens that folder for you.
To open the folder manually, choose Go > Go to Folder from the Finder menu bar, then enter /var/tmp.
- OS X El Capitan or earlier saves the report to your desktop.
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The report is a compressed file with a name that begins “WirelessDiagnostics.” It contains many files that describe your wireless environment in detail. A network specialist can examine them for further analysis.
Use other diagnostics utilities
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Wireless Diagnostics includes additional utilities for network specialists. Open them from the Window menu in the Wireless Diagnostics menu bar:
- Info gathers key details about your current network connections.
- Logs enables background logging for Wi-Fi and other system components. The result is saved to a .log file in the diagnostics report location on your Mac. Logging continues even when you quit the app or restart your Mac, so remember to disable logging when you're done.
- Scan finds Wi-Fi routers in your environment and gathers key details about them.
- Performance uses live graphs to show the performance of your Wi-Fi connection:
- Rate shows the transmit rate over time in megabits per second.
- Quality shows the signal-to-noise ratio over time. When the quality is too low, your device disconnects from the Wi-Fi router. Factors that affect quality include the distance between your device and the router, and objects such as walls that impede the signal from your router. Learn more.
- Signal shows both signal (RSSI) and noise measurements over time. You want RSSI to be high and noise to be low, so the bigger the gap between RSSI and noise, the better.
- Sniffer captures traffic on your Wi-Fi connection, which can be useful when diagnosing a reproducible issue. Select a channel and width, then click Start to begin capturing traffic on that channel. When you click Stop, a .wcap file is saved to the diagnostics report location on your Mac.
Additional recommendations for best Wi-Fi performance:
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- Keep your router up to date. For AirPort Time Capsule, AirPort Extreme, or AirPort Express Base Station, check for the latest firmware using AirPort Utility. For non-Apple routers, check the manufacturer's website.
- Set up your router using Apple's recommended settings, and make sure that all Wi–Fi routers on the same network use similar settings. If you're using a dual-band Wi-Fi router, make sure that both bands use the same network name.
- Learn about potential sources of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth interference.
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Learn about other ways to connect to the Internet.