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Sorry, but the new MacBook Air is not faster than 98% of PC laptops


Let me just say it out loud, OK? Apple is full of it. I’m referring to Apple’s claim that its fanless, Arm-based MacBook Air is “faster than 98 percent of PC laptops.” Yes, you read that correctly: Apple officials literally claimed that the new MacBook Air using Apple’s custom M1 chip is faster than 98 percent of all PC laptops sold this year.

Typically, when a company makes such a claim, it publishes a benchmark, a performance test or actual details on what it’s basing that marketing claim on. This to prevent lawyers from launching out of missile silos across the world.

Apple’s website restates the claim by stating: “M1 is faster than the chips in 98 percent of PC laptops sold in the past year.” The site also includes a detail note that states: “Testing conducted by Apple in October 2020 using preproduction 13-inch MacBook Pro systems with Apple M1 chip and 16GB of RAM. Performance measured using select industry-standard benchmarks. PC configurations from publicly available sales data over the last 12 months. Performance tests are conducted using specific computer systems and reflect approximate performance of MacBook Pro.”

98 percent Apple

Apple is so full of it

So, not only does Apple not say what tests it’s basing its claims on, it doesn’t even say where it sources the comparable laptops.

Does that mean the new fanless MacBook Air is faster than, say, Asus’ stupidly fast Ryzen 4000 based, GeForce RTX 2060-based Zephyrus G14? Does it mean the MacBook Air is faster than Alienware’s updated Area 51M?
The answer, I’m going to guess is “no.” Not at all. Is it faster than the miniLED-based MSI Creator 17? Probably not, either.

And what is that “performance” claim hinged on? CPU performance? GPU performance? Performance running Windows? Is it using the same application running on both platforms? Is it experiential? Is this running Red Dead Redemption II or Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War? Is it running CyberLink’s PowerDirector? Is it running Fortnite?

While I have absolutely no idea what Apple is basing its claims on, I can tell you that I am 98 percent sure that any of the above laptops listed will wreck the MacBook Air doing any of the tasks I just named.

When Apple makes its claims, my guess is they are comparing the new M1 to Intel-based processors ranging from Atom to Celeron N to Core i3 and up, all with integrated graphics. But by not defining the word “performance,” all this becomes just pure marketing spin. And is it really fair to compare a $999 MacBook to one that costs $150? Because $150 PCs are included in the 98 percent of laptops sold.

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