Apple MacBook Air M1 vs MacBook Air M2: which one should you choose?

The MacBook Air M2 is clearly a better machine than the MacBook Air M1, so why hesitate? Because the price difference between the two machines is big enough to ask the right questions.

Source: Frandroid

After long months of rumors, Apple’s MacBook Air M2 is commercially available. The new high-end ultraportable is equipped with a new chip and offers, among other things, a new chassis. However, with a sales price from 1,499 euros (at Amazon), the new flagship has to deal with internal competition. That of the still very good MacBook Air M1 for 1,199 euros (Boulanger), suggested retail price. Is the MacBook Air M2 really the wisest choice between the two machines?

Through press tests, our hands-on and MacBook Air M1 review, we compared the appeal of the two machines.

Datasheets

Fashion model Apple MacBook Air 2020 M1 Apple MacBook Air 2022 M2
Screen size

13.3 inch

13.6 inches

Definition

2560 x 1600 pixels

2560 x 1664 pixels

Display technology

LCD

IPS

Touch screen

No

No

Processor (CPU)

M1

M2

Graphics chip (GPU)

Apple GPU

Apple GPU

Memory (RAM)

8GB, 16GB

8GB, 16GB, 24GB

Internal memory

256GB, 512GB, 1024GB, 2048GB

256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB

Wi-Fi standard

Wi-Fi 6 (ax)

Wi-Fi 6 (ax)

Bluetooth version

5.0

5.0

Operating System (OS)

macOS

macOS

Dimensions

304.1 x 4.1 x 212.4mm

304.1 x 11.3 x 215mm

Weight

1290 grams

1240 grams

recoverability index?

N/A

6.0/10

Price

€1,169

€1,499

Product sheet View the test

Product sheet View the test

A brand new design

The MacBook Air M1 was one of the first machines to switch to Apple Silicon and hadn’t had a chance to take advantage of a custom design. Apple was content to integrate its own components into the chassis of the latest Intel MacBook Air. The only improvement then was the removal of the fan for absolutely quiet operation.

The MacBook Air M1 therefore has quite wide bezels around the display, compared to what’s being done in the high-end market, with a larger-than-expected footprint and connectivity limited to two USB-C ports and a 3.5mm jack. gate.

The MacBook Air M2 has undergone a major design change. We’re entitled to a brand new chassis for Apple that takes the orientations of the 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro, leaving the iconic shape of the MacBook Air. This new design mainly offers smaller dimensions, thinner bezels around the screen and a lower weight.

The connection changes slightly since Apple added a MagSafe charging port in addition to the two USB-C ports and the 3.5 mm jack port. Unfortunately, Apple continues to only offer the ports on the left side of the machine instead of balancing the distribution. We would also have liked to see a USB-A port or an SD card reader like the MacBook Pros.

A screen that changes without changing

The MacBook Air M2 introduces a slightly larger 13.6-inch LCD display with a resolution of 2,560 x 1,664 pixels and an announced brightness increase of 500 nits. Unlike the MacBook Pro, we don’t have mini-LEDs for this panel, nor high refresh rates up to 120 Hz or even HDR compatibility.

Apple-WWDC22-MacBook-Air-hero-220606
The new MacBook Air M2 in 13.6 inches

Unsurprisingly, the tests agree on the excellent calibration we expect from Apple. At this price point, laptops intended for professionals generally have screens of this quality. We are also far from the best in the industry that can provide OLED or better DCI-P3 coverage.

Here it will be necessary to be satisfied with an excellent screen in sRGB and blocked at 60 Hz. Suffice it to say that compared to the MacBook Air M1, the experience has not changed. The small space savings offered by the increase of the diagonal is also compromised by the integration of the notch.

More performance, but why?

The other big change, even in the name of the product, is the integration of an Apple M2 chip. This is the first time Apple has changed the generation of its own SoCs for MacBook. Until now, the company had been content to increase performance while staying on the same fundamentals of the M1.

At equal consumption, Apple promises up to +18% CPU performance compared to the M1. This difference is made especially at the highest consumption level, with 15 W. In particular, it is the graphics chip that benefits from the change with up to + 35% more GPU performance promised by Apple, in particular thanks to the passage of a 7 or 8 core GPU to an 8 or 10 core GPU, depending on the configuration.

Apple M1 vs M2
Source: Frandroid, Numerama

In fact, there is a difference in performance between the two generations, which is always nice to have. However, this gain must be tempered. First of all, several tests point to a natural performance limitation: without a fan, the MacBook heats up and must limit the power of its chip. Furthermore, the performance boost does not unlock new uses for the MacBook Air M2.

The new MacBook targets the same customer base as the previous generation, with the same applications: office automation, working on the web, a little retouching and video or audio editing, but never too heavy tasks like video games or 3D creation. For these needs, Apple markets the MacBook Pro line.

Macbook Air M1 M2 The Verge
Is the difference enough to justify the M2? // Source: The Verge

As a result, you really do nothing more with an M2 chip than with the M1 chip. The power difference may become more interesting in the long run, when the M1 chip eventually starts to show its limits. As it stands, the M2 chip won’t change your everyday life unless you’re a benchmark fan.

Autonomy

Despite a larger battery of 56.2 Wh compared to 49.9 for the MacBook Air M1, the two machines have comparable autonomy. This is the conclusion of several tests, and even Apple does not promise better autonomy with the M2 on its site. The idea is that you are entitled to more performance from generation to generation, without affecting autonomy.

Result, it is not on this criterion that we can decide between the two machines. Please note that the MacBook Air M2 can be charged using the MagSafe port. A good point for some, but pretty useless for others. Fortunately, USB-C works perfectly in both cases.

Choice of reason or heart

While you might instinctively think that the new MacBook Air M2 will be an easy recommendation over the previous generation, it’s far from the case. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. Should we really recommend the MacBook Air M2 if we know the price difference, officially 300 euros, but potentially reaching 500 euros through promotions.

Reading the tests, the MacBook Air M2 stands out as an excellent machine. Buyers will undoubtedly be very pleased with it, and it is not wrong to lean towards this proposal. Especially because the design is a matter of taste and the new MacBook can catch the eye. However, the MacBook Air M1 was also a recommended product. To choose between the two, and compare them point by point, one is tempted to affirm that the choice of reason clearly tends in favor of the MacBook Air M1.

Only those who need that extra level of performance (but for what purpose?) or more storage and RAM should prefer the MacBook Air M2. Indeed, with the generational change, Apple only offers the basic configuration for the MacBook Air M1. Be careful though, by increasing the capacity and RAM of the MacBook Air M2, we soon arrive at the price of the MacBook Pro 14. The beginning of a very different comparison to be made.


To follow us, we invite you to download our Android and iOS application. You can read our articles, files and watch our latest YouTube videos.

Leave a Comment