Apple MacBook Air (with M1 Processor)

Are you happy with the performance of the Apple MacBook Air (with M1 Processor) wi-fi adapter? Does it live up to your expectations? Is there anything you feel a prospective buyer should know about this laptop (whether related to wi-fi or not)?

Ideally, if anyone had a HP Pavilion X360 (with Intel Core i5 processor) and Realtek RTL8821CE 802.11ac PCIe wi-fi adapter, can they say how the Apple MacBook Air (with M1 Processor) compares?

I’m confused by your question. I thought a WiFi adapter was a separate piece of hardware that you attach, or am I mistaken in that? Are you asking about how good the built-in WiFi is on the Mac?

I’m also a little confused. The MacBook Air M1 is compatible with the most recent 802.11ax or Wifi 6 spec, if that helps. I have not heard of any widespread issues with its wifi. Going by the scores at, it looks like the MacBook Air has (roughly) 75% better single core performance than the X360 and about 3 times the multicore performance, depending on which particular X360 it is. No idea if that helps you either.

I have little in the way of concrete, measured information, but subjectively, my M1 MBA is awesome. I have experienced no teething issues, and probably the only thing I am disappointed in is it’s inability to natively support more than one external monitor. More USB-C ports, especially if they were on both sides of the machine, would be nice buy I get by fine.

Wi-fi should be a function of your router (and of course the efficiency of how the signal gets to your house). Are you wondering about upload/download speeds? If that’s been a problem, you may have to get a new router, or firmware for it. Ours was slow, AT&T checked and it was, they repaired the cable where squirrels had chewed on it, and “flashed” our router with new software.

Wish I could give you a review of the M1. But for the record, I’m using old MacBook (not Air, not Pro, just a cheapest used one I could find). I have to run two OS versions behind, but it does so… beautifully. I just today got done with a big Photoshop project without any trouble.

Point is, even an elderly crappy Mac is working better than any PC I’ve used at work. So maybe you’ve got a bit of non-obscelesence in your future…

I have a MacBook Air, no idea whether I have an M1 Processor.

How do I identify whether my processor is an M1? I’ve definitely had some maintenance/repair issues, which I will share if relevant.

Click on the Apple logo at top left, first item “About This Mac”, second line is the processor. Unless you bought it in the last 3 months, it’s not M1.

Yup. My computer is just about 13 months old, and it’s not an M1 processor. Thanks!

I’ve cot a MacBook Air M1 and it is great. It performs much better with several CPU and graphics-intensive tasks such as videoconferencing and video processing: my previous model MacBook Air had the fan running (getting hot) and the CPU at top usage. The M1 does not get hot (it doesn’t have a fan) and does video conversion and iMovie expoert in a fraction of the time needed in the past (I think often maybe 4 times as fast or more).

It runs mostly all of the intel software that can run under Big Sur (i.e. only 64 bit since Catalina), and Rosetta runs just as fast as on Intel (at least in my perception).

I didn’t notice any change in Wifi performance.

Things to warn about:

  • on fairly rare occasions a Rosetta run app seems to stop, I’m not sure whether that is a Rosetta issue or due to the app itself. Tomb Raider may sometimes stop if I pause it and do other stuff/put the MacBook to sleep. Powerpoint sometimes hangs (but that may be Microsoft programming). Even though performance and batter life is so good that I usually don’t turn it off for the night (just put it to sleep, it loses only a few percent battery overnight), it seems like a good idea to reboot once a week or so.

  • there are indeed few ports.

  • I normally don’t use two external screens; I have found though that DisplayLink works well and allows you to use two external screens (one through the normal USB-C to HDMI converter, another through USB-A/B to the DisplayLink adapter).

  • One thing I am bothered about and should warn you is that there are reports of the MacBook being bricked when using a non-Apple powered USB-C hub. I fortunately haven’t experienced this myself. I don’t let the Macbook go to sleep on the adapter, and do not unplug the power of the hub (simply unplug the hub first from the Macbook, but don’t know whether that is sufficient precaution. This is an issue you really should know about if you consider buying one. Hopefully it will be resolved in a future OS update.

Possibly irrelevant (not on a M1 processor, and I plug nothing in to my MacBook except an Apple charger and the occasional flash drive), but within a six-week period my MacBook Air (purchased Dec 2019) has abruptly died twice: it starts with a pathetic 1% power reading, will not charge when plugged in, and within a few moments is dead. First time this happened, it started working again on its own after the shop began testing components; second time, they replaced the logic board. No financial cost to me because of Apple Care, and I had a back-up that was less than 24 hours old, but needless to say the disruption was problematic.

Having lived through the butterfly keyboard problem with my previous Mac, I am suspicious that there is some as-yet-to-be-announced design flaw that I am running up against.

Riemann, from what I’ve read online, an internal “Wi-Fi adapter” refers to the chip (or, more precisely an antenna or transceiver) that allows the Wi-Fi card to communicate with a wireless device (router). I speak with a layman’s understanding, so this is my basic understanding. Yet, I also understand a “Wi-Fi adapter” can be external (especially on older PCs with no internal Wi-Fi card). Googling, it seems this is more accurately referred to as an “[external] Wi-Fi USB adapter”. It would be inserted into a USB port like an extra-long USB thumb drive…at least that is what I’ve seen. I believe these are less common today. (Most are now internal.)

I should add that I believe the term for an internal Wi-Fi adapter has an alternate name that escapes me at the moment. …Does this help clarify?

To help clarify my original post, we are frustrated with our HP laptops (both are the same model as shown above). These seemed like a bargain, but the Wi-Fi performance has been horrible. After thoroughly studying the situation, we have determined the issue is the NOT the Wi-Fi source (a Comcast XFI Gateway), but rather the HP choice of Wi-Fi adapter. The signal loss is not acceptable. I don’t know if it is impedance or what, but we do have an older Mac that performs better in the same room as when using the HP under the same conditions. This is consistently the case. I can only suspect HP is using low quality hardware.

In short, my daughter is now “once bitten, twice shy” as she is fed-up with this HP (that has other issues, too, such as terrible blue tooth performance and more). My daughter’s HP is not yet out of warranty. Still, she’s had endless issues - some fixed by long talks with the HP help desk, one factory repair, and other issues with no resolution. My son’s is the same model, but a little older with fewer issues (bad Wi-Fi and premature battery failure). She’d like to feel confident going to buy her first Mac. (The old Mac in our house was a hand-me-down.)

Hopefully, this helps to better explain my question.

Have you tried changing the wifi channel?

Yes, it is possible that your Wifi problems have to do with the kind of Wifi capabilities and set-up of the (HP) laptop. As I recall, there are several Wifi protocols, all identified with some arcane numbering system. Older systems do not support the newer protocols, and if there is a mismatch with the capabilities of your router, that may lead to issues.
But AFAIK if you do not have extreme needs, you normally need not be bothered with tthe precise protocol.

More importantly are (a) the frequency and (b) the channel.

The frequence is either 2.4 or 5 Ghz. 5 Ghz is faster (of course) but doesn’t have the reach of 2.4. 5 GHz apparently only works in a direcet line of sight or only with slight obstacles. Routers often support 2.4 and 5 simultaneously and allow the receiver to choose either one. My Macbook picks automatically which one is available, I think. If the HP did not support or choose one of those, that may partly explain the issues.

Secondly, wifi operates on a channel. If your neighbour happens to use Wifi on the same channel, you will have terrible reccption, so you should try to use different channels. Google around for better explanation here.

It is possible that the HP laptop was defective or some setting was incorrecft, thereby restricting its recception capabilities. I have found no issues with my Macbook in a fairly complex environment, but YMMV. Haven’t heard specific complaints about Wifi, but there have been complaints about BlueTooth I think (I don’t use that myself).

Also some reading of someone having other Internet issues (but this may not relate to your case): I upgraded to 1 Gbps fiber internet connection and only get 300 Mbps on Wi-Fi. | by Mneleventhirty | Jan, 2021 | Medium