The iconic Macbook air design is now gone. It is the most significant update in this model’s design since it was first released. It took apple 14 years and a couple of generations to perfect the air.
Apple has released the MacBook Air, an update to its popular ultraportable notebook. The newer MacBook Air features the new M2 Chip with a faster processor and improved graphics performance. It also comes with a larger & better screen. We’ll look through this machine and review how it stacks up against the outgoing MacBook Air.
The MacBook Air was released in early 2008. The first generation MacBook Air had a Unibody design and was promoted as the world’s thinnest notebook. Apple then carried on that design philosophy and released the second generation of MacBook air in 2010. This laptop featured a tapered unibody design which became iconic and remained unchanged until 2021.
What is Apple thinking?
Apple has made several drastic changes throughout its mac lineup in the last couple of years.
The shift from Intel CPUs to Apple Silicon started with the M1 MacBook Air. Then there was the redesign of the MacBook Pro, which ditched the Touch Bar & returned to its traditional function keys.
The M2 MacBook Air is a return to form for Apple. It features a traditional design that is reminiscent of the iconic first-generation model. The biggest change is the addition of the M2 Chip, which offers a significant performance boost over the outgoing MacBook Air.
The M2 MacBook Air features a unibody aluminum design reminiscent of the original model. However, the iconic wedge shape is gone, as the laptop now has the same thickness throughout the front and back. In addition, apple has introduced this laptop in 4 colors: Silver, Space Gray, Starlight, and Midnight. Starlight is similar to the gold color apple has used in the past, Midnight, on the other hand, is one of the best-looking colors apple has ever released in their product line. It is a mixture of blue and matt black, changing color as light hits it at different angles.
The M2 MacBook Air features the M2 Chip, a significant upgrade over the outgoing model. The M2 Chip has an 8-core CPU with 4 performance and 4 efficiency cores. It offers up to 1.4x the performance of the outgoing MacBook Air and is on par with the current 13-inch MacBook Pro. The M2 also features a 16-core neural engine.
The GPU on the base model M2 MacBook Air has 8-core and can be upgraded to 10-cores. The performance gain over the last year’s M1 is not significant. The 10-core GPU has shown up to 35% faster performance, but the performance is not sustainable as the laptop does not have a fan and gets hot. In Some benchmarks, it performs lower than the M1 model. Considering this laptop for graphic workflow, you will be better suited with a gaming laptop with a dedicated graphics card.
This year’s model has been refreshed with a new screen. Inspired by the MacBook Pro from last year, Apple has put a similar screen in this model with the notch. The screen has increased from last year’s model at 13.6″ inches. The resolution remains similar at 2560 x 1664. The display is now 25% brighter and can reach 500 nits. The display also houses the new 1080p webcam, an upgrade due for a long time.
Here comes the first advantage of the new design, This laptop features a larger battery than the outgoing model. This has a 52.6Wh battery, a 2.7Wh increase from the M1 model. The battery life on this machine is impressive. It can easily handle up to 12 hours of moderate work and 15 hours of web browsing.
The base model MacBook Air with the 8-core GPU comes with a 30W Power Adapter, while the 10-core buyers can choose between a 35W Dual USB C adapter or A 67W USB C Fast Charger. In addition, the laptop comes with a colored USB-C to Magsafe Cable.
The return of MagSafe has blessed this laptop. The rest of the port selection is carried over from the last generation with 2 USB 4/Thuderbolt 3 ports and a Headphone Jack. With the addition of MagSafe, both the USB ports are now free to use. But you can only connect a single external display on this laptop, for multiple monitors, you need to upgrade to a MacBook pro. The addition of an SDcard slot or an HDMI port from the Macbook pro didn’t make its way through to this model.
Here comes the disappointing part of this machine. The base model is equipped with just 8GB of RAM. Unfortunately, even the 10-core model has been configured to 8GB RAM. So if you need more RAM, you have to configure that while buying this laptop.
Carrying on the Disappointment from the memory section, the base model of this laptop comes with 256GB of Storage, the same as last year. But this year, the laptop has just 1 storage chip compared to 2 in the M1 model. This significantly reduces the laptop’s performance by Half. To get the 2-chip layout, pick the 10-core model or configure the storage yourself.
This laptop Gets all the latest connectivity tech such as WIFI 6 & Bluetooth 5.0, which is good by itself but is the same as last year’s.
Macbooks are known for their excellent speakers, this year, Apple has given a 4 speaker sound system. The audio is much better than the previous model, but it is not as good as the Macbook Pro Speakers. 2 speakers are placed behind the keyboard while 2 are placed near the display hinge.
- Faster CPU than M1 - 1.4x performance gain.
- Bigger & Better Screen - 13.6" inch - 25% more brightness at 500 nits.
- MagSafe 3 is back - both USB C ports are now available.
- Bigger Battery & Faster Charging Options - 52.6Wh - up to 67W Fast Charging.
- Better Camera & Sound System - 1080p webcam - 4 Speaker System.
- Base Model features a single storage chip - reducing performance by Half.
- The base gets quite warm due to the fanless design.
- The laptop cannot sustain the long-term performance that apple promised.
- The external display support has been limited to 1 monitor.
- The new Midnight Color attracts fingerprints.
How does this compare?
In terms of short-term or quick tasks, the M2 MacBook Air performed excellently. The sustained performance however, takes a steep drop. The Cinebench R15 testing shows that the laptop cannot maintain its performance after a few minutes due to thermal issues. It is a little better than the M1 model, but the lack of a fan is showing its disadvantage with this model. Similar machines in this segment are performing relatively better. The new MacBook Pro 13 is performing better than this model throughout the test while maintaining its performance throughout the process. Asus’s ZenBook S 13 OLED & Dell’s new XPS 13 tops the chart, with the ZenBook almost doubling the M2 MacBook Air’s score.
The model with the 10-core GPU also has its limitations with the chassis; upgrading to that model will not give you much performance advantage over the base variant.
Verdict: Does this model require an upgrade over M1?
The M2 MacBook Air is the best non-pro laptop from Apple. It is thinner, lighter, has a better screen, and offers excellent battery life. But it performs similarly or sometimes worse than its predecessor in terms of sustained performance and storage speed.
If you are upgrading from the Intel-based MacBooks or shifting from a Windows laptop, this will feel extremely fast while giving out amazing battery life. However, this laptop is not worth upgrading if you are already running an M1-based MacBook. It would be best if you waited for the Pro models as they will have better thermal performance and connectivity.