The MacBook Air 2022–Four Years Later, But Worth the Wait

If you’re thinking about upgrading your old Intel-powered MacBook Air or want to move over to the Mac OS for the first time, the new MacBook Air 2022 with the M2 chip is a good choice.

In 2020, Apple powered up the M1 MacBook Air with its proprietary M1 chip, leaving the slower Intel version in the dust. The M2 chip was introduced during July 2022 and is now in the stores.

M2 benchmark tests show an increased clock speed from 3.23Hz to 3.49HZ – around 11.56% faster than the M1 chip. The new M2 chip is now available on the completely redesigned MacBook Air laptop.

New features on the M2 MacBook Air

The 2022 M2 MacBook Air is not only speedier on the inside, but also has some radical external changes:

  • The wedge-shaped casing has been changed to the same thickness in the front as in the back.
  • Case finishes come with choices of silver, starlight, space gray, and midnight. (The midnight version tends to collect fingerprints. Fussier users might want to opt for the lighter finishes. As reported in this article, the midnight version may also be more susceptible to scratches.)
  • The MacBook Air is thinner and slightly lighter than its predecessor. The bottom half is barely thicker than an iPad. However, that lightness and thin profile doesn’t make the new 2022 M2 MacBookAir seem flimsy or weak.
  • The battery life has been increased. Expect 8 to 10 hours of regular use, slightly less for long zoom calls, more for lower workload periods.
  • The display size is bigger—13.6” vs. 13.3”, with a higher, smaller-beveled appearance and noticeably brighter (ideal for outdoor use).
  • The new 1080p web camera, a quantum improvement over the old 720p version on the older MacBook Air and the current M2 MacBook Pro.
  • The M2 MacBook Air comes with the convenient MagSafe charging port and two choices of charger bricks—a 30W brick for the base model and a compact 35W or more powerful 67W brick for faster charging in the upgraded version.
A few downsides

Despite all those improvements, in addition to the extra price, there are still a few downsides to the M2 MacBook Air:

  • The M2-powered MacBook Air has no internal fan to cause heat-up during heavy workflows. However, when the chip heats up during heavy use, it can result in slower performance. (See this 9to5 Mac articlefor an interesting workaround.)
  • The base model has slower storage response due to the configuration of the storage models. (Read this report on the verge.com website.)
  • There are only two ports on the exterior of the computer.
  • The MacBook Air will only accommodate one external display.
Should you upgrade from the MacBook Air base model?

Here are your choices:

  • The MacBook Air with the older M1 chip, with a starting price of $999.
  • The MacBook Air with the newer M2 chip:
    • base model has an 8-Core CPU and 8-Core GPU with 8G of Unified Memory and 256GM SSD Storage. Comes with the 30W USB-C power adapter–$1,199
    • upgrade to 8-Core CPU/10-Core GPU with 8G of Unified Memory and 512GB SSD storage. Comes with the 35W Dual USB-C Port Compact Power adapter–$1,499.
Conclusions:

The M2 MacBook Air base models can handle most everyday tasks well. Unless you’re into heavy video production and editing or coding, the M2 MacBook Air with the upgrade in power and memory will suffice for everyday tasks, including light photo and video editing using Mac apps.

If you already own an M1-powered MacBook Air, hold onto it before spending more money on the M2 version, which has a performance increase that you might not even notice.

New buyers might want to choose the M1 MacBook air, instead of the more expensive M2 model, which costs $200-$300 more. As vendors clear their inventories with bargain M1 pricing, those who are willing to sacrifice a slight increase in performance can save even more.

 

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