Understanding Some Mac Air Specs

  1. What is throughput?
  2. Can someone translate what does the following mean (with regards to an Apple Macbook Air with M1 processor): “The Mac Air will perform at up to 1.2 Gbits/sec throughput via Wi-Fi.” How does this relate to “maximum data transfer rate”? (Are they one and the same?)
  3. Does Apple use the IEEE 802.11 protocols or is it an equivalent protocol? (I thought I had read Apple used an equivalent, but my daughter found info to the contrary)

Throughput is the amount of data physically successfully put through, including all the packet headers and other overhead. The maximum data transfer rate for your application will be less than that. How much less? It depends on your setup and the wifi experts will probably be able to tell you but several percent at the very least.

I don’t have one to test definitively but it says it uses 802.11ax which is standard and should be capable of >10 Gb/s “theoretically” so I don’t know why such a discrepancy in what you were quoted, it is worth double-checking what wifi chipset is actually inside the laptop. Eg Qualcomm 6800 (QCA6390c) laims up to 1.774 Gb/s

That should say QCA6390.

This link says you can realistically expect up to 30% faster top data speeds compared to 802.11ac, but it’s an old article and I have nothing in hand to test IRL

It has to conform to some version of the IEEE protocols or it will not communicate with the wireless network. It is possible it was a proposed version of 802.11ax which had not yet been formally approved or something similar.

1.2Gbs on AX is definitely possible but sometimes companies (not just Apple) pull shenanigans like combining up and down transfer rates to make the numbers appear larger. E.g. simultaneous 600Mbs download plus 600Mbs upload = 1.2Gbs throughput.