Technology

Apple's New M2 MacBook Air Costs $200 More. Is It a Better Pick Than the M1? Price is just one factor, making choosing between the two less simple.


This story is part of WWDC 2022, CNET’s complete coverage from and about Apple’s annual developers conference.

Apple’s MacBook Air is the company’s lightest, thinnest and most affordable laptop. The Air is regularly our top recommendation for anyone in need of a solid, reliable everyday laptop. And when Apple released the 2020 MacBook Air with its first-gen M1 system-on-chip, the performance was as impressive as its design for the $999 price.

At its developer conference WWDC 2022 on Monday, Apple announced its second-gen M2 SoC and with it a redesigned MacBook Air with the new chip (as well as an updated 13-inch MacBook Pro). The M2-based Air looks better in every way, but you’re going to pay more too, with a starting price of $1,199. 

MacBook Air (13-inch, M2) vs. MacBook Air (13-inch, M1)

MacBook Air (13-inch, M2) MacBook Air (13-inch, M1)
Starting price $1,199, £1,249, AU$1,899 $999, £999, AU$1,499
Display 13.6-inch 2,560×1,664-pixel Liquid Retina (500 nits brightness) 13.3-inch 2,560×1,600-pixel Retina (400 nits brightness)
No. of CPU cores 8 8
No. of GPU cores Up to 10 7
Starting / max RAM 8GB / 24GB 8GB / 16GB
Starting / max storage 256GB / 2TB 256GB / 2TB
Wireless 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0
Connections Thunderbolt/USB 4 USB-C (x2) Thunderbolt/USB 4 USB-C (x2)
Webcam 1080p FaceTime HD camera 720p FaceTime HD camera
No. of speakers / mics 4 / 3 2 / 3
Battery life Up to 18 hours Up to 18 hours
Power adapter 30-watt USB-C (8-core GPU), 35-watt dual USB-C (10-core GPU) 30-watt USB-C
Weight 2.7 pounds (1.24 kg) 2.8 pounds (1.29 kg)

The MacBook Air M2’s design changes from the tapered wedge look of the 2020 and earlier models to more of a blocky slab, more like the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro laptops from late 2021. The 2022 Air didn’t receive all of the additional ports of the 2021 Pro models: There’s no SD card slot, it doesn’t get an HDMI output for an external display and it has just two USB-C Thunderbolt ports. However, the updated Air does have MagSafe charging. 

Built around a larger 13.6-inch Liquid Retina display, the MacBook Air M2 has a new fanless body available in four colors: silver, space gray, starlight and midnight. The laptop is just 11.3 millimeters thick and weighs only 2.7 pounds (1.2 kilograms) — a touch lighter than the M1 version.

If video call quality is important to you, which is probably a “yes” for everyone at this point, going with the M2-based Air gets you a higher-resolution 1080p webcam along with three mics and a four-speaker sound system. 

The MacBook Air M2 unsurprisingly is expected to deliver better performance. Apple said with the new M2 chip, Final Cut Pro performance is nearly 40% faster than on the M1 Air and Photoshop is up to 20% faster. Battery life is up to 18 hours of video playback and with an optional 67-watt power adapter it can charge up to 50% in 30 minutes. 

With all of that said, though, many people don’t need all those extras, especially at a $200 premium. The good news is that Apple is keeping the M1-powered MacBook Air in the lineup at its $1,000 starting price. Though the new model looks like it’s going to be great, the Air M1 should still provide excellent performance for everyday use for years — particularly important if you’re looking for a lower-cost option to get through high school or college. 

Dan Ackerman/CNET

The updated Air not only has a new look but its performance is expected to be closer to that of a MacBook Pro than past Air models. Along with the upgraded processing power, you’ll find a larger, better display, a full-HD webcam, four-speaker audio and it’s even a touch lighter. You will pay a little more for it, however.

Read our MacBook Air M2 hands-on.

 

Dan Ackerman/CNET

The M1-powered MacBook Air from 2020 stays on as Apple’s entry-level laptop. The design hasn’t been updated since 2018 really but not exactly a knock against it — it’s still one of our all-time favorites. Performance and battery life remain excellent for anyone looking for a grab-and-go productivity machine. Plus, the starting price, especially with an educational discount, makes it a great pick to carry a student through high school or college. 

Read our MacBook Air M1 review.

 



Source from www.cnet.com

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