Apple MacBook Air M1 vs MacBook Air M2: which one to choose?

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

Source: Frandroid

After months of rumors, Apple’s MacBook Air M2 is commercially available. The new high-end ultraportable incorporates a new chip and offers, among other things, a new chassis. However, with a selling price starting at 1,499 euros (at Amazon), the new flagship will have to deal with internal competition. That of the still very good MacBook Air M1 for 1,199 euros (Boulanger), recommended price. Between the two machines, is the MacBook Air M2 really the smartest choice?

Through press tests, our practical and MacBook Air M1 review, we have compared the appeal of the two machines.

Datasheet

Model Apple MacBook Air 2020 M1 Apple MacBook Air 2022 M2
Screen size

13.3 inches

13.6 inches

Definition

2560 x 1600 pixels

2560 x 1664 pixels

Display technology

LCD

IPS

Touch screen

Nix

Nix

Processor (CPU)

M1

M2

Graphics chip (GPU)

Apple GPU

Apple GPU

Memory (RAM)

8 GB, 16 GB

8 GB, 16 GB, 24 GB

Internal memory

256 GB, 512 GB, 1024 GB, 2048 GB

256 GB, 512 GB, 1 TB, 2 TB

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 212.4 mm

304.1 x 11.3 x 215 mm

Weight

1290 grams

1240 grams

Repair index?

N / C

6.0 / 10

Price

€ 1,169

€ 1,499

Product sheet See the test

Product sheet See the test

A brand new design

Present among the first machines to switch to Apple Silicon, the MacBook Air M1 had not had the opportunity to take advantage of a custom design. Apple was pleased to integrate its own components into the chassis of the latest Intel MacBook Air. The only improvement back then was the removal of the fan for absolutely silent operation.

The MacBook Air M1 therefore has fairly wide edges around the screen, compared to what is done in the high-end market, with a larger than expected footprint and connectivity options limited to two USB-C ports and a 3.5 mm jack port.

The MacBook Air M2 has undergone a major design change. We are entitled to a brand new chassis for Apple that takes the direction of the 14 and 16-inch MacBook Pro, thus leaving the iconic shape of the MacBook Air. Above all, this new design offers reduced dimensions, thinner edges around the screen and lighter weight.

The connection changes slightly as Apple has added a MagSafe charging port in addition to the two USB-C ports and the 3.5mm jack port. Unfortunately, Apple continues to offer only the ports on the left side of the machine instead of balancing the distribution. We’d also like 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 screen with 2,560 x 1,664 pixels resolution and an announced increase in brightness of 500 nits. Therefore, unlike the MacBook Pro, we have neither mini-LEDs nor high refresh rates up to 120 Hz or even HDR compatibility for this panel.

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

The tests surprisingly agree on the excellent calibration that we expect from Apple. At this price level, laptops intended for professionals generally have screens of this quality. We are also far from the best in the sector that can offer Oled or better DCI-P3 coverage.

Here it will be necessary to settle for an excellent screen in sRGB and blocked at 60 Hz. Suffice it to say that compared to the MacBook Air M1, the experience is not transformed. The small space saving provided by the extension of the diagonal is also tainted 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 that Apple has changed the generation of its own SoCs to MacBook. Until now, the company had contented itself with increasing performance while remaining on the same basis as the M1.

At equal consumption, Apple promises up to + 18% CPU performance compared to the M1. This difference is especially made at the highest consumption level, at 15 W. It is especially the graphics chip that wins by the change with up to + 35% more GPU performance promised by Apple, especially thanks to the passage of a 7th 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 comfortable to have. However, this gain needs to be dampened. First of all, several tests point to a natural limitation of performance: Without a fan, the MacBook ends up getting heated up and has to limit the power of its chip. Other than that, the performance boost does not unlock a new use of the MacBook Air M2.

The new MacBook targets the same clientele as the previous generation with the same applications: office automation, web work, a little retouching and video or audio editing, but never for heavy tasks such as video games or 3D creation. For these needs, Apple is marketing the MacBook Pro series.

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

As a result, you really will not do anything more with an M2 chip than you could do with the M1 chip. The power difference may become more interesting in the long run, as the M1 chip will eventually show its limits. As it stands, the M2 chip will not change your daily life unless you are 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 similar autonomy. This is the conclusion of several tests, and even Apple does not promise on its website better autonomy with the M2. The idea is that you will be entitled to more performance from generation to generation without affecting autonomy.

The result is that it is not on this criterion that we can choose between the two machines. Just note that the MacBook Air M2 can be charged with the MagSafe port. A good point for some, but rather useless for others. Fortunately, USB-C works perfectly in both cases.

Choice of reason or heart

Although one might instinctively think that the new MacBook Air M2 will be an easy recommendation compared to the previous generation, this is far from the case. It is even the exact opposite. Should we really recommend the MacBook Air M2 when we know the price difference, 300 euros officially, but which potentially goes up to 500 euros through promotions.

When reading the tests, the MacBook Air M2 stands out as an excellent machine. Buyers will no doubt be very pleased with it and there is no mistake in leaning towards this proposal. Especially since the design is, after all, a matter of taste, and the new MacBook may well catch the eye. However, the MacBook Air M1 was also a recommendable product. To choose between the two, and after comparing them point by point, one is tempted to confirm that the choice of reason clearly leans in favor of the MacBook Air M1.

Only those who need the extra level of performance (but for what purpose?), Or more storage space and RAM should favor the MacBook Air M2. With the generational change, Apple actually 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 quickly arrive at the price of the MacBook Pro 14. The beginning of a completely different comparison to be made.


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