A new MacBook Air is on the way that has been completely overhauled not only on the inside, but also on the outside for the first time in years. The 2022 MacBook Air has a better chip, a bigger screen and a brand new design. But if you look in the Apple Store, you will find that you can still buy the predecessor. Is it worth spending more to get the new model? We take a look at how the M2 MacBook Air compares to the 2020 M1 MacBook Air, how much more powerful the new model is, and whether that extra look is worth the premium price.
M2 MacBook Air vs M1: Design
The new Macbook Air is certainly an eye-catcher and clearly distinguishes itself from its predecessor. Like the updated MacBook Pro, the new MacBook Air has been given a brand new design with a larger screen and new color finishes. But it still has a similar footprint to the M1 model:
M2 MacBook Air Dimensions
0.44″ x 11.97″ x 8.46″
1.13cm x 30.41cm x 21.5cm
2.7 pounds (1.24 kg)
M1 MacBook Air Dimensions
0.16–0.63 in. x 11.97 in. x 8.36 in.
0.41-1.61cm x 30.41cm x 21.24cm
2.8 pounds (1.29 kg)
The width of the two laptops is the same, which makes sense as it allows for a full-sized keyboard. The M2 model is a few millimeters deeper to allow for a larger screen and on average this model is narrower than before – although it doesn’t taper, so the smallest bezel isn’t as slim as it used to be.
While the tapered design allowed Apple to create a lightweight laptop, it was also a drawback, as it meant less space for ports on the outside and limited space on the inside for heat dissipation. However, despite the difference in design, both models do not have a fan, which can be a disadvantage for experienced users.
Rumors that the new MacBook Air would lose its tapered design turned out to be correct, but all hope that this would mean destroying more ports. The M2 MacBook Air has the same two Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports as its predecessor and does not have an HDMI port like the 14-inch or 16-inch MacBook Pro. The new model adds MagSafe for charging to free up a Thunderbolt port, but otherwise both models are the same: Touch ID, two Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports, 802.11ax, Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0.
Another big difference is the color options. The M2 models come in a choice of Midnight (blue-black) and Starlight (pale gold), as well as space gray and silver (which looks slightly paler than the previous shade). The MacBook Air 2020 is available in space gray, silver and gold.
The other glaring difference between the M1 and M2 models is the addition of a notch for the camera. Like the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros, the M2 MacBook Air has very thin bezels that don’t quite fit into the camera. When the notch arrived on the larger MacBook Pro models in 2021, there was some criticism, but when you consider that Apple added screen space on either side of the notch and made the screen bigger, you’re not actually losing any space.
M2 MacBook Air vs M1: Display
The screen size is the other major difference between the new M1 and M2 MacBook Air. The 2022 model has a 13.6-inch screen, compared to the 13.3-inch screen on the M1 model. The new model is also brighter:
MacBook Air M2: 13.6-in, 2560 x 1664, 500 nits brightness
MacBook Air M1: 13.3 inches, 2560 x 1600, 400 nits brightness
The brighter screen brings it in line with the 13-inch MacBook Pro, but places it well below that of the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models with a maximum brightness of 1000 nits. It also lacks the ProMotion technology of those models.
The M2 MacBook Air has a Liquid Retina display, rather than the Retina display of the M1 model (and the M2 MacBook Pro). The main difference is that the Liquid Retina display has better contract ratios, supports more colors (a billion instead of millions), and more pixels per inch. The 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro take it one step further with the superior Liquid Retina XDR display.
Thanks to these changes, the M2 MacBook Air’s display is not only better than its predecessor, but also better than the 13-inch MacBook Pro. However, in everyday life, these differences will rarely be noticeable, although the increased brightness is a plus. The better color rendering, on the other hand, will be an advantage for professional design work.
M2 MacBook Air vs M1: Processor, RAM and Battery
Apple currently sells three MacBook Air models: one M1 model and two M2 models. There are also a number of build-to-order options.
MacBook Air M1 with 8-core CPU, 7-core GPU, 8GB RAM, 256GB storage: $1,199 / £1,249
In terms of upgrade options, you can add 16GB RAM for $200, 512GB storage ($200), 1TB storage ($400), 2TB storage ($800). The 8-core GPU option is no longer available for this model.
MacBook Air M2 with 8-core CPU, 8-core GPU, 8GB memory, 256GB storage: $1,199 / £1,249
In terms of upgrade options, you can add 16GB RAM for $200, 24GB ($400) 512GB storage ($200), 1TB storage ($400), 2TB storage ($800).
MacBook Air M2 with 8-core CPU, 10-core GPU, 8GB memory, 512GB storage: $1,499 / £1,549
In terms of upgrade options, you can add 16GB RAM for $200, 24GB ($400), 1TB storage ($200), 2TB storage ($600).
We’ll look at those components in more detail below:
Like the M1, the M2 has four performance cores and four efficiency cores, for a total of 8 CPU cores, but the efficiency cores have been improved and there is a larger cache (16 MB instead of 12 MB). As a result, clock speeds can be higher and you can expect improved multithreaded performance compared to the M1. In our tests, the M2 has an 18 percent faster CPU than the M1.
However, the new chip doesn’t just mean the new Macs can do more, they also use less power: Apple promises an 18 percent improved CPU performance at the same power consumption thanks to various optimizations.
The more expensive M2 with 10 GPU cores offers a 35 percent more powerful GPU than the M1, based on benchmarks. However, the base model of the M2 Air has a slightly lesser GPU with only 8 GPU cores, so we expect the gains to be less with the $1,199 model.
Another factor that boosts the graphics power of the M2 is the addition of engines specific to video editing in the M2. In addition, Apple claims that the Neural Engine is 40 percent faster than in the M1.
Memory and Storage
Although the standard memory of both the M1 and M2 MacBook Pro is the same: 8 GB Unified Memory, the performance is not the same. According to Apple, the M2 delivers 50 percent more memory bandwidth compared to M1 (100 GB/s memory bandwidth), so there should be some noticeable improvements.
But the biggest difference is the amount of memory. Where the M1 MacBook Air tops with 16 GB of memory, the M2 MacBook Air can handle a whopping 24 GB. That’s still less than the 32GB of the M1 Pro models, but it’s an improvement and will no doubt please those who feared 16GB wasn’t enough.
As for storage, both the M1 and M2 MacBook Air come standard with 256GB and up to 2TB for up to $800 more.
Webcam and speakers
The webcam in the M2 supports 1080p resolution, which is significantly better than the low-end 720p FaceTime HD camera in the M1 MacBook Air. That leaves the M1 MacBook Air and M2 MacBook Pro as the only laptops with the old camera.
The speakers have also been updated in the M2 MacBook Air. Rather than relying on a stereo system, the MacBook Air 2022 has four speakers with support for 3D audio, also known as Spatial Audio. In addition, the 3.5mm headphone jack offers advanced support for high impedance headphones.
Power and battery
With a new 67W power supply (sold separately for $20 with the 8-core GPU model, or a free option with the 10-core GPU model), you can power the M2 MacBook Air up to 50 percent in 30 minutes. to upload. The M2 MacBook Air charges via the magnetically attached MagSafe port, so you don’t have to worry about pulling your MacBook off a desk if you trip over the cable. There’s a 30W USB-C power adapter (included with the 8-core GPU M2 and a choice of a more compact 35W Dual USB-C Port Compact Power Adapter (with the 10-core GPU M2).
The M2 MacBook Air has a larger battery than its predecessor: a 52.6-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery instead of the previous generation’s 49.9-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery. Coupled with Apple’s claims that the M2 means the 2022 MacBook Air is more energy-efficient, you might assume the new MacBook Air would have better battery life, but Apple claims the battery life is the same 18 hours.
M2 MacBook Air vs M1: Price
If you’re considering buying a MacBook Air right now, there are three models to choose from: the original M1 MacBook Air with a 7-core GPU for $999 / £999, a new M2 MacBook Air with an 8-core GPU for $1,199 / £1,249 and a premium M2 MacBook Air with 10-core GPU for $1,499 / £1,549.
The new model offers an M2 processor with more GPU cores, a larger screen, and a brand new design for just $200 more than the M1 model. This looks like a great deal. However, that position depends on where in the world you are. Outside the US, the price comparisons aren’t as favorable (in the UK there is a difference of £250, in Europe a difference of €300 and in Australia a difference of AU$400).
In the US, the new model also seems like an excellent deal compared to the model it replaces: at $1,199, it replaces an M1 MacBook Air model that previously cost $1,249. Elsewhere in the world, however, the price of the M2 model is the same as before, or higher than it was. In the UK the price remains £1,249, in Europe the price is €100 more at €1,499, while in Australia it has now increased by AU$50 to AU$1,899. Obviously currency-based price swings are to be expected in these uncertain economic times, but it does mean that deciding whether something is a good price or not depends a lot on where you live.
It should also be noted that while this M1 MacBook Air with 8-core GPU had a 512 GB SSD, the M2 MacBook Air that has taken its place offers only a 256 GB SSD, which may be reflected in the price reduction. from Apple, at least in the US.
M1 vs M2 MacBook Air: our recommendation
The MacBook Air with M2 is in many ways a significant improvement over its predecessor. It offers better performance, a more modern design, an improved screen and some smaller but notable improvements.
If you’re one of those users who mainly use the MacBook for mundane tasks like surfing the web, reading emails, or watching videos, you should consider whether the new design is worth it compared to the cheaper $999/£ 999 M1 MacBook Air. An M1 Macbook Air can handle all these tasks without any problems.
But if you do more with your MacBook or use it for professional applications such as video editing or photo editing, the M2 MacBook Air is definitely worth the extra money compared to its predecessor. If your budget allows, we even recommend going for the more expensive model with a 10-core GPU for extra storage and better graphics. And as always you should buy as much memory as you can afford
The M1 MacBook Air is certainly a good machine, even if it’s over a year and a half old, but in a year or two you’ll be much happier with the newer MacBook Air.