What does the MacBook Air M2 offer? Apple’s new test of laptops

Apple will soon fulfill the first orders of the MacBook Air M2. Coincidence of the calendar (or not), the first tests have just been published. While waiting for our arrival, we bought a machine that was not our own, we read our brothers ‘and sisters’ tests.

MacBook Air M2 // Source: The Verge

Embargo lifted for media who were lucky enough to receive MacBook Air M2 early (shortly after MacBook Pro 13 M2). On our side, we bought a machine that we will probably receive tomorrow. Meanwhile, the American media and some French media have published their tests that we have eaten.

As a reminder, after 14 years, three revisions and two different processor architectures, the iconic MacBook Air has moved on. He changed his look and adopted the screen with notch and M2 chip as well as a new dark dress.

Apple MacBook Air 2022 M2

A new look that convinced

Let’s start with its appearance. As you have no doubt seen, the new MacBook Air borrows much of its build and design from the MacBook Pro 14 and 16. It is symmetrical and square with a more aggressive layout than previous MacBook Air models.

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The difference between MacBook Air M1 (above) and M2 (below) // Source: Numerama

According to The Verge, this MacBook is “remarkably thin – just over 11 millimeters – and that thinness is immediately noticeable when you open the lid and start typing on it.”. The journalist from The Verge is honestly convinced of Apple’s choice: “ In short, I’m a fan of this new design. It’s modern and refreshing, and it works perfectly (…) This new Air is a beautiful computer, and I think this design will work well for the next five years (or maybe more!). “.

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MacBook Air M2 // Source: The Verge

Same story at Numerama: ” Slightly rounded edges to improve grip, completely flat screen and cover … It’s as beautiful as it’s modern. We also find the very remarkable Magic Keyboard present on MacBooks for several years (not the one that breaks …) and the multitouch touchpad is emblematic of the macOS experience, which works perfectly. “.

A brighter screen, a notch of disagreement

The screen is brighter, as all testers seem to have noticed. At CNBC, the notch does not get in the way: ” Apple has upgraded the screen from a Retina display to a brighter and more colorful Liquid Retina display than the previous model. There’s a notch at the top, like the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros. But the notch did not bother me when I used the 14-inch MacBook Pro I own. “. To use a 14-inch MacBook Pro on a daily basis, we can confirm that this notch is disappearing, we get used to it especially with the TopNotch application.

Well, not everyone, The Verge is still not used to this notch: ” It’s not that the notch is particularly ugly or distracting, it’s that it completely ruins the way I use the menu bar when I use a Mac. I happen to be quite fond of menu bar apps and I have a wealth of them for various things like clocks, calendars, to-do lists, system monitoring and other tools. “.

There is no Mini LED display unlike the Pro series, but it does not seem to bother the first testers, Numerama confirms that it is a successful display ” no need to tell you that this is not surprisingly a panel with very good resolution, with very beautiful colors and high brightness. For everyday use, it’s hard to do better … “.

MagSafe and the sound system convinced

MagSafe is there too and it is appreciated: ” MagSafe is there too, just like on the 14-inch MacBook Pro. It is the small magnetic charging cable that pops out from the side and pops out easily. So if you stumble across the cable, your MacBook will not fall off your desktop. Alternatively, you can charge the laptop using one of the two Thunderbolt USB C ports. You can quickly charge it up to 50% in 30 minutes if you buy Apple’s 67-watt charger for $ 60 (in euros it’s the same) “.

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MagSafe by MacBook Air M2 // Source: Engadget

The new sound system sounds compelling, The Verge finds it far ahead of other laptops: ” The new speaker system consists of two tweeters and two subwoofers and features Apple’s Spatial Audio technology. Compared to the Air M1, the new speakers produce less echo, especially at full volume. But the difference is not great, and they are not as good as 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros. “.

A camera that is not unanimous

The webcam goes from HD definition to Full HD, but that does not mean it is unanimous. At The Verge, we think Apple could have done better: Fortunately, the camera inside that notch is the same as the larger Pro models. It’s much better than the boring camera that was in the old Air and the new 13-inch MacBook Pro. The image becomes sharper, with more details, better color and contrast, and just a better image in general … ”.

For Nicolas Lelouche of Numerama, this is the weak point of the device: “(…) MacBooks have never been good at this. My MacBook Pro M1 is doing well, but the quality has nothing to do with my smartphone’s front camera. I therefore hoped that the pandemic and the advent of telework had finally made Apple want to make an effort (…) A little gritty during the day, it makes watercolors in low light, the result is terrible. “.

Improved performance

Let’s move on to the Apple M2 chip. The M2 chip has 8 CPU cores and up to 10 GPU cores, and Apple claims that it is about 18% faster for performance multi-thread. If you choose the fastest GPU model, you can expect graphics speeds around 35% faster than M1.

Apple also doubled the memory bandwidth of the M2 and increased the maximum RAM to 24 GB. It’s probably a little exaggerated for an Air, but it’s still nice. ProRes encoding and decoding hardware support is also available, though I imagine most video editors will opt for more powerful MacBook Pros.

On the benchmarks page, Numerama confirms that the M2 chip performs better than the M1 chip thanks to a small gain in single core. It is especially on the GPU side that the M2 chip stands out, thanks to its 10 cores instead of 8. In itself, this M2 chip is not a big development. We understand why Apple keeps the MacBook Air M1 in its catalog, which is still by far Apple’s best price-performance ratio.

MacBook Air M2 benchmark
Source: Numerama

When it comes to heating, note that the MacBook Air has no active cooling system. It does not make noise, but it therefore heats up more easily. Tom’s Hardware ran a Flir One sensor, the hottest spot on the bottom of the laptop was measured at 39.5 degrees. It’s not excessive, but it’s very localized at a specific point on the keyboard. If you have activities that require long calculation processes, this is therefore a computer you should avoid.

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Source: Tom’s Hardware

Autonomy is still just as important

Finally, autonomy is a strong point at Mac Silicon. Is this still the case? Yes, according to Tom’s Hardware. Apple’s shift to an ARM architecture with Apple Silicon continues to pay off in terms of efficiency.

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Tom’s Hardware battery life results

They ran OpenGL tests while connected to Wi-Fi with the screen set to 150 nits brightness, MacBook Air with M2 ran for 14 hours and 6 minutes.

Neither a surprise nor a disappointment

In summary, the MacBook Air M2 does not appear to be a surprise or a disappointment. If the look of your PC is important to you, this model is definitely the one you should aim for. Otherwise, it seems more sensible to target the M1 version. It is much more accessible. In any case, we will confirm all this in our test very soon.


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