Apple’s release of the new MacBook Air was highly anticipated, mainly for two reasons: the highly anticipated redesign and the introduction of the M2 processor, the next generation of Apple’s M-series chips. As expected, reviews for the M2 MacBook Air were favorable, with Macworld’s Jason Cross calling it “a success” and “a delightful everyday computer for most users.”
But praise for the MacBook Air has been overshadowed by reports of reduced performance. Article after article warns of a “shortcoming” action, “severe”, and how it “cannot handle the heat”, and video after video demonstrates what is supposedly wrong with the new laptop. It may leave some people wondering if it’s worth their money and wondering what Apple was thinking.
Here’s the thing: We’ve been here before, folks. In 2020, when the new M1 MacBook Air was introduced, it made headlines with its astonishing speed improvement over the Intel chips and the limitation it took to maintain a proper temperature under heavier workloads. In fact, heat has always been an issue with the MacBook Air, even before Apple silicon.
It’s the same story, a different year. Why is it news again? Why didn’t Apple fix the problem? The answer is simple and lies in what the intended user of the MacBook Air is.
The MacBook Air has no built-in fans. It is a passively cooled machine, which means it does not use any special hardware to actively cool it. This is deliberately designed so that the MacBook Air can be thinner than the MacBook Pro. As the MacBook Air begins to warm up, its performance will be throttled to maintain its proper operating temperature. This is another aspect of the MacBook Air that is inherent in its design.
The MacBook Air is also Apple’s most popular laptop because it’s the company’s most affordable. The price attracts what we’ll call “casual” users, those who spend most of their time on the web, use productivity apps like iWork or Microsoft Office, stream audio and video for entertainment or for online meetings, and other productivity tasks everyone does. with a computer. Probably the most stressful work involves apps like Photos, iMovie, GarageBand, or other consumer-level creative software for short periods of time.
The MacBook Air can handle this task with no problem: it’s just as fast as the 13-inch MacBook Pro with the same M2 processor. It’s the one most people should buy – add in the Air’s redesign and features, and we think it’s a better value than the 13-inch Pro. If I just described what you do on a daily basis, the MacBook Air is a better value for you. (There is a separate performance issue with the MacBook Air or 13-inch MacBook Pro with a 256GB SSD, which is a mind-boggling design decision, but unrelated to the limiting concerns.)
That’s not to say the MacBook Air won’t throttle. It does. But what makes it gas? Tasks that ‘regular’ users do not perform regularly. For example, a report of the serious restriction of the Air involved an export of 8K Canon RAW Video. Do you know what produces 8K Canon RAW video? Cameras priced over $4,000. You know who works in 8K Canon RAW video? Video professionals. Do you know what Macs they buy? MacBook Pros.
The MacBook Air slows down when performing CPU-intensive tasks often done by users who do “serious” work, often in a professional environment. This is by design. If you’re using a MacBook Air and you often render 8K RAW video, or produce long, high-resolution videos in Final Cut Pro, or make music professionally, or whatever you do, it loads the CPU all the time and leaves you frustrated. of, you know what? You’re using the wrong tool for the job. You should be using a MacBook Pro.
If you insist on Apple fixing the MacBook Air instead, ask yourself, if you’re willing to spend on equipment to produce the content you want, why skimp on the MacBook to get the job done?
Newspaper headlines that get you
Many of these reports using screaming headlines about the issue actually point out that you have to do something atypical for a regular user to get the MacBook Air throttled. But there are also many reports that obscure the fact that you probably won’t be rendering 60 minutes of 4K video in Final Cut Pro while having 20 tabs open in Safari and sorting your FileMaker Pro collection database. of 10,000 gems. And when they cover this up, it seems like it’s a problem that concerns everyone.
As someone who works in the media, I admit, we are in a battle for your attention, and some media outlets are more willing to exaggerate in their headlines than others. (And yes, Macworld is guilty of this too. I hear about it in your emails and tweets.) But most outlets do clarify in content who the intended user of the MacBook Air is.
The fanless MacBook Air is designed like this: Apple doesn’t overlook anything. The target user is “the rest of us”, everyday users with productivity tasks to get done. The MacBook Pro is for users who demand a lot of computing power. Get the right Mac for what you want to do.