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Save $100 on the newest MacBook Air

You can get one for as low as $900, but we make the case for going with the $1,200 model.

Dan Ackerman/CNET

Goodbye, butterfly keyboard. Hello, Magic Keyboard. When Apple introduced the new MacBook Air earlier this year, it replaced the shallow keys of its loathed butterfly keyboard with the more substantial Magic Keyboard, the keys of which are less likely to get stuck by a spec of dust. You get more than just a new keyboard, however, with the new MacBook Air. Apple also updated the CPU to 10th-gen Intel Core chips, doubled the SSD capacity and lowered the starting price to $999. 

And now you can get the $1,000 model for only $900 at both Amazon and Best Buy. That baseline model features an underpowered Core i3 CPU. A more attractive deal, I would argue, is the Core i5-based MacBook Air, which is also discounted by $100 to a reasonable $1,200. Not only will it offer better overall performance out of the box, but it will also give you a better return on your investment -- providing a longer useful life before a replacement is needed. Let's compare the options.

Now playing: Watch this: Hands-on with the 2020 MacBook Air

2020 MacBook Air (Core i3): $900

The least expensive Mac is even more affordable with the $100 discount at Amazon and Best Buy. The baseline model of Apple's current MacBook Air line features the dual-core Core i3 CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. The 13.3-inch Retina display has a crisp 2,560x1,600-pixel resolution. 

But: As I said, there's a better bang for your Apple laptop buck. 

2020 MacBook Air (Core i5): $1,200

The step-up model adds $300 to your bill for a more powerful quad-core Core i5 processor and twice the storage capacity with a 512GB SSD. If you plan to use the laptop to regularly edit photos or spend more than a minute using iMovie, it's money well spent to upgrade to the more capable Core i5 chip. If we had a nit to pick, it would be Apple not offering 16GB of RAM at this price, but the combo of the Core i5 CPU and 8GB of RAM should provide enough muscle to meet the photo- and light video-editing needs of most users. The move from a 256GB SDD to a 512GB SSD, however, for this model is much appreciated -- and at this price, you're only paying $100 premium to double the storage over the baseline $1,099 Core i5 version.