The M1 MacBook Air Actually Has Two Chipset Variants to Buy, One With Smaller Number of GPU Cores


Apple announced three new products under its ARM-based Mac lineup. One was the M1 MacBook Air, followed by the M1 Mac mini, and lastly, the M1 MacBook Pro. All powered by the 5nm M1 silicon, Apple boasted huge performance and power efficiency gains when compared against similarly priced Windows 10 notebooks. However, when putting up the new MacBook Air for sale, Apple didn’t provide all the details to its customers. One detail missing from the presentation was the new notebooks are available in two M1 configurations, each with a different number of GPU cores.

Base Version of the M1 MacBook Air Features an 8-Core CPU, Followed by a 7-Core GPU

Visiting the M1 MacBook Air product page, we see a total of two models available. If you didn’t notice, Apple has discontinued all the Intel-based versions of the MacBook Air, with only the M1 chip versions available to purchase. If you take a closer look, one MacBook Air version features an M1 chip with an 8-core CPU and 7-core GPU, while the more expensive model sports an 8-core CPU and 8-core GPU.

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The M1 chip with an 8-core CPU and 8-core GPU is present in the new MacBook Pro and Mac mini, and those specifications are the ones that Apple provided during its official presentation. Then why did Apple decide to launch a less capable version of the M1 MacBook Air? It’s possible the company wanted to keep the M1 development costs low and, by extension, the cost of the new MacBook Air low, hence the introduction of the $999 model.

This isn’t the first time Apple has done this either. If you remember the 2020 iPad Pro and how the company talked about the A12Z Bionic, it turns out that this chipset was just another A12X Bionic with an extra GPU core enabled. The earlier benchmarks also revealed that there wasn’t much difference between the A12Z Bionic and the A12X Bionic when comparing both compute and GPU scores.

Should we expect the same negligible performance difference from the two M1 MacBook Air variants? It’s possible, though, we’re inclined to wait for the benchmarks first before passing a verdict since it is an entirely new SoC made for an entirely new platform. What do you think about the two M1 chips? Tell us down in the comments.