We’re big fans of the new M2 MacBook Air. It’s not a perfect laptop – we want a better webcam, it’s a fingerprint magnet and it’s expensive – but we think it’s one of the best everyday laptops for everyday users. If you buy one, you have three power adapters to choose from depending on the model you select.
If you opt for the base model, a 30W USB-C power adapter comes standard, but you can pay an extra $20 to replace that with the standard 35W dual USB-C port or compact power adapter, or the 67W USB – C Power adapter. When you buy a more expensive model with a minimum of 512 GB of storage, you get the 35 W two-port model by default, but you can switch to the 67 W model with one port for free.
Each has its pros and cons, so we’ve tested them all to help you decide which one to choose.
Power Adapter Performance Compared
To test the charging performance of these three power adapters, we took a brand new M2 MacBook Air and drained it to 1 percent battery life, then used the included USB-C to MagSafe cable to attach it to one of the power adapters. We had no applications running and kept the lid closed while charging, opening it briefly every 10 minutes to record the current charging status before closing it again.
This gives us a look at the overall charging performance over time for all three adapters, and the story is interesting (if not really surprising).
Charging speeds for all adapters are limited because the laptop is almost fully charged – that’s normal for almost all rechargeable batteries. The 67W USB-C power adapter is clearly the fastest, as you’d expect.
What is that fourth line in green? Since the 35W compact power adapter with dual USB-C port has two ports, we wanted to know how quickly your MacBook Air charges when both ports are in use. So we charged an iPhone while charging the MacBook Air, and when that iPhone was almost fully charged, we swapped it for another to maintain a consistent load during our test. We’ll look at the results in detail below.
There’s a reason Apple gives you a regular 30W charger with the cheapest MacBook Air model, although for a starting price of $1,199 we think Apple should have given all MacBook Air buyers the same option (35W dual port or 67 W single port).
It’s a little slower than the 35W adapter, as you’d expect. You’ll get half a charge in just under an hour, about 10 minutes longer than the 35W model. A full charge takes about 140 minutes, 20 minutes longer than the 35W model. It’s not poor performance, but if you’re already spending $1,199 for a laptop, you should probably spend $20 more for one of the other two options.
35W Dual USB-C Compact
This new adapter has two advantages. First, it’s more compact than most of Apple’s other chargers. It doesn’t stick out that far from the wall and the gates face down, which is quite handy. Second, it has two USB-C ports, so you can charge two devices at the same time from a single outlet.
Apple says charging speeds are controlled independently, so the 35W maximum is split between the two ports based on need, as agreed upon by the USB Power Delivery 3.0 specification. Usually you’ll get an even distribution of 17.5W, but if you plug in something that needs less juice, like an Apple Watch or AirPods, it will get 7.5W, while the other port will get a maximum of 27.5W.
We tested this charger in two ways: with just the MacBook Air plugged in and with the MacBook Air and an iPhone 13 plugged in. When the iPhone was nearly fully charged, we swapped it for another to maintain a relatively consistent load on that second port.
You can see that charging two devices has the expected dramatic impact on charging performance. With the whole power adapter on its own, the MacBook Air was at 60 percent in an hour and fully charged in about two hours. When sharing with an iPhone, it only charged half as much in that first hour and took about 75 percent longer to charge on a full charge.
That is the advantage of this product: flexibility. If you’re not in a rush, you can charge two devices in a few hours from just one outlet. If you want to charge faster, you only use one USB-C port. Third-party accessory manufacturers have been offering these types of products for years, so it’s nice to see Apple finally jumping on the bandwagon.
To quickly charge your MacBook Air, you’ll need a power adapter that delivers more than 60 watts, such as Apple’s 67W USB-C power adapter. Using it, we achieved a 52 percent charge in 30 minutes, almost exactly matching Apple’s 50 percent promise in half an hour. Considering that you can easily get five or six hours of real work on half a charge, that’s a really nice benefit.
The charging curve naturally starts to slow down as the battery fills up. A full charge takes just over an hour and a half, which is still pretty good considering the battery can easily last all day. This power adapter is a lot bigger and has only one USB-C port, but it’s fast.
What is the best choice for you?
The 67W USB-C power adapter costs the same as the 35W Dual USB-C Compact model: $59 if purchased separately, or $20 more if you upgrade the base MacBoook Air model. We think the $20 upgrade cost is probably worth it – the 30W adapter is slower, larger and less flexible than the 35W model and a lot slower than the 67W model.
But the 35W Dual USB-C Port Power Adapter feels like the real winner here. You can’t charge fast, but you have the flexibility to charge two devices slowly if you’re not in a rush, or one device at a really reasonable speed if you’re not.
The 67W adapter is really only a priority for those who often find themselves in situations where they need a lot of juice quickly, and that’s honestly not often an issue with the MacBook Air’s great battery life. But if you often find that you only have 45 minutes to recharge as much as possible during a layover between flights, the Thistle 67W adapter might be the better choice.
Still, we think there are better choices. Consider something like the Anker 735 charger, which costs about $60 like Apple’s and has 65W of total power, but is smaller and has two USB-C ports and one USB-A port.