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Review for light users - 2019 vs 2020 i5 vs 2020 i3 Macbook Airs

deeddawg

macrumors G4
Jun 14, 2010
10,332
4,080
US
Yeah I didn't go into that extra headscratcing in my post as my daughter can get the Edu discount. Wasn't sure I can really use it for myself. I assumed Apple check when you register the machine? If you haven't seen it have a look at EduStore in the UK. They only do edu disconts obut have base 2020 MBA currently £816. That would be a no brainer I guess but same issue about me using it for myself. Maybe I'm just being too honest!!

Here in the States I've been able to order from my old university campus store and get the EDU discount - they (campus store) specifically extends that benefit to alumni.

If you went to Uni, perhaps something similar is possible where you are.
 
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twintin

macrumors 6502a
Aug 10, 2012
638
123
Sweden
Here is the video with i5 as opposed to the i3 in your video. It seems like i5 don't have stuttering playback problems with 4k, while i3 does.

Sure it can and a new MBP probably does it even better, but the point of my clip was to show that the base model is more capable than most i5 buyers think. :)

As a side note, not sure how much of a difference it makes, but in your clip the Airs own display was used and an 4k/8-bit video was edited. In my clip, an external display was used and an 4k/10-bit video was edited (unknown frame rate on both). Also the i5 playback dropped frames, but not as much as with the i3.
 
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ctjack

macrumors 6502
Mar 8, 2020
350
253
As a side note, not sure how much of a difference it makes, but in your clip the Airs own display was used and an 4k/8-bit video was edited. In my clip, an external display was used and an 4k/10-bit video was edited (unknown frame rate on both). Also the i5 playback dropped frames, but not as much as with the i3.
Yeah, it is always hard to find apples to apples comparison in terms of video editing, cause there a lot of them 8 bit, 10 bit, 400mbs or 150mbs.
Sure it can and a new MBP probably does it even better, but the point of my clip was to show that the base model is more capable than most i5 buyers think. :)
Truly agree with you. i3 is very capable machine and on par with no Touch Bar MBP 13 2017 in terms of long distance performance and even faster at everyday tasks due to 10th gen IPC increase and ddr4 ram speeds.
Definitely worth to buy an i3 - i am waiting for back to school deal.
 

RiaKoobcam

macrumors regular
Original poster
Apr 17, 2020
225
287
I'm signing off for now - thanks to everyone who's still sending kind words my way re: the tests that I ran and my attempt at a review, it's very nice.

I'm still very happily using a 2019 (now with a copper modded heatsink because it was fun) for 50% MacOS/50% Windows 10 and it handles everything like a champ. My partner's still using the base model 2020 i3 for MacOS only tasks (and has even started video editing on it!) and is also really happy with it.

I won't be around to answer any specific questions about which model MBA/MBP is best for light use, but the community around here is great and they'll be able to help out. See you for the 2021 refresh!

Peace ✌
 

TenthDoctor

macrumors member
May 23, 2020
51
19
I'm a light user, browsing and youtube, although I use chrome with multiple tabs, as I find safari to be slow on the mac. Have been using a 11 inch MBA 2013 for the last 7 years, but I want the retina screen now.

I am considering between the MBA i3 or the base MBP 13. The most important for me is the laptop is cool and quiet to use, sitting on the sofa or in bed.

As I like to use chrome, should I be buying the base MBP instead of the MBA ?
Maybe, if you are using it directly on your lap without a portable desk between you and the computer. I have the 2020 i5 air, and have hardly ever heard the fans, and mine is cool. However, that’s probably because I always use it on a hard surface, such as a desk or a portable desk. I don’t want to block the openings that are at the bottom towards the hinge.

If you insist on using it directly on your lap, or put it on bed coverings, the pro might be better due to the cooling system.
 

deeddawg

macrumors G4
Jun 14, 2010
10,332
4,080
US
Maybe, if you are using it directly on your lap without a portable desk between you and the computer. I have the 2020 i5 air, and have hardly ever heard the fans, and mine is cool. However, that’s probably because I always use it on a hard surface, such as a desk or a portable desk. I don’t want to block the openings that are at the bottom towards the hinge.

If you insist on using it directly on your lap, or put it on bed coverings, the pro might be better due to the cooling system.

I've found the Air does fine on my lap - I've not delved into it but suspect air can flow either direction from the screen/body junction. I've also seen reports on the MBP forum of folks who've switched finding the MBP was hotter on their lap due to heat being conducted to the bottom case. My MBP15 certainly is hotter on my lap.
 

Saturn007

macrumors 6502a
Jul 18, 2010
508
188
Ria, thanks for your review, skilled comparisons, and thoughtful insights!

Please don't be a stranger. We could use your observations on other topics, too!
 
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Sword86

macrumors 6502
Oct 6, 2012
277
120
Ria, thanks for your review, skilled comparisons, and thoughtful insights!

I agree with the above as well.
This thread has pushed me over the edge. I have been messing around for ages and ages, between all the different 2020 models of the Air and even the 10th gen MBP. It finally got to the point where I gave up and was going to hold off to see what  does in the next few years.
I’m replacing a late-2008 MB unibody (OWC SSD, 8 gig ram, new battery) that the keyboard and trackpad died recently. Been using an iPad Air 2 for years, only firing up the MB on the odd occasion. Real light user here...about the lightest you’ll see on this site. Decided to finally match my usage to the device rather than drop $$$ for power I’ll never access.
I do nothing that requires any power beyond what my iPad will do, but I miss the extra things a laptop offers. (just want to get with the times, so to speak) My 2008 will not Airplay or sync with iCloud and using an unlit BT keyboard is a real pain. Talk about running hot!!! Wow. And it’s a huge brick.
I’ve decided to just go get an i3/8/256. For the price it’ll be I’ll just keep it for as long as it doesn’t piss me off and simply replace it with whatever, when that time comes. Whew. S
 
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ian87w

macrumors 68000
Feb 22, 2020
1,745
1,941
Indonesia
Video conferencing will use up a ton of CPU/GPU power, depending of the codec and the acceleration used.

Nowadays, I simply use my phone for the conference call. Mobile chipsets are highly optimized for this real time video encoding stuff. Regular computer CPUs are not. This is why we can see phones handling 4k videos easily, while it takes a desktop CPU plus a hefty GPU to do so on a regular computer.
 

Mopar

macrumors regular
Feb 24, 2011
122
127
Nice write-up.

I ordered my i5/16/256 as a BTO shortly after the 2020 MBA was anounced. I have not had the same issue as others with loud fans and excessive heat. Indeed, for day-to-day word processing, browsing and light photo work, my fans almost never come on or sit at idle (2700RPM). The machine is fast and responsive, too.

One thing I will note is battery life is not as good as expected. I came from an older 2013 11" MBA i7/8/256 which I'd already replaced the battery on, so it still had great battery life compared to the new model.

I'm about to pull the trigger on another MBA for the wife and have been tryig to decide between the base model i3 and upgrading to the i5. She doesn't do any heavy lifting and the extra battery life looks attractive. She will be coming from a 2016 based model MacBook Pro.

As an alround package, the MBA is pretty good. I love the new keyboard – it beats the hell out of the 2016 MBP, which was replaced twice under warranty. I also prefer the ergonomics – the MBP profile tends to cut into your palms if you rest them on the front of the machine like I do when I type. The screen is great, and I haven't really noticed much difference in portability between the new 13" and my old 11" MBA, which was similar in size (but a bit lighter).

At this stage, the i3 MBA with education discount is looking like a bit of a bargain, but for an extra US$70 the i5 looks good too. It's a shame the heat issues is a bit of a crap shoot, so for that reason alone I may go with the i3 even though I'm more than happy with my own i5.
 
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