The new MacBook Air with the M2 chip launches this Friday. Ahead of time, the first reviews of the new MacBook Air have been shared by some media outlets and YouTube channels, providing a closer look at the redesigned notebook and its capabilities.
Key features of the new MacBook Air include Apple’s latest M2 chip, a new design with flatter edges, a slightly larger 13.6-inch display with a notch, MagSafe charging, an upgraded 1080p camera, and new Starlight and Midnight color options alongside Silver and Space Gray. The notebook is also equipped with two Thunderbolt 3 ports and a 3.5mm headphone jack with support for high-impedance headphones.
Pricing for the new MacBook Air starts at $1,199. The notebook is available with up to 24GB of unified memory and up to a 2TB SSD.
Engadget‘s Devindra Hardawar said the new MacBook Air is “Apple’s near-perfect Mac”:
The Air is impressively thin and light, but it also has a bigger and better screen, a great set of speakers and a nifty MagSafe power adapter. And thanks to Apple’s M2 chip, it’s also far speedier than the last model, a computer I called “stunningly fast” just a year-and-a-half ago. Once again, Apple has set a new standard for ultraportables.
The Verge‘s Dan Seifert said the new MacBook Air is “a success on virtually every level,” but he said that customers looking to upgrade from an older notebook should still consider the previous MacBook Air with the M1 chip, which starts at $999:
The new MacBook Air is a success on virtually every level. It’s got a better screen, thinner and lighter design, better speakers, a much-improved webcam, an excellent keyboard and trackpad, more convenient charging, and excellent build quality.
But that success comes at a cost, literally, and the performance advancements over the M1 model aren’t as stark as the design and feature improvements are. The M2 Air is a better choice for the vast majority of people over the 13-inch M2 MacBook Pro model, even though the Pro has slightly better performance and longer battery life.
Faster Performance With M2 Chip
Jason Snell shared a variety of benchmarks for the new MacBook Air in his review at Six Colors. In line with Apple’s advertising, Geekbench 5 results show that the M2 chip delivers up to around 18% faster multi-core performance compared to the M1 model, while single-core performance is up to 11% faster.
Thinner and Lighter Design
The new MacBook Air does away with the notebook’s iconic wedge-shaped design in favor of a flatter design. The Verge‘s Dan Seifert said he is “a fan of this new design,” which he described as “remarkably thin” and “extremely portable”:
Yet it’s remarkably thin — just a smidge over 11 millimeters — and that thinness is immediately noticeable when you open the lid and start typing on it. It’s also noticed whenever you slot it into a bag or carry it around. The older MacBook Air’s tapered shape had less visual weight and may look thinner, but the new model is indeed slimmer than its predecessor.
It’s also slightly lighter, at 2.7 pounds vs. the older model’s 2.8. That’s not a huge difference, and the Air is far from the lightest computer you can buy, but it does make it extremely portable and easy to tote around wherever I need it.
Slower SSD in Base Model
In a statement issued to The Verge, an Apple spokesperson confirmed that the base 256GB model of the new MacBook Air has a single NAND chip, which will result in slower SSD speeds in benchmark testing. Apple said real-world performance of the new MacBook Air is “even faster,” but the statement does not explicitly refer to SSD speeds:
Thanks to the performance increases of M2, the new MacBook Air and the 13-inch MacBook Pro are incredibly fast, even compared to Mac laptops with the powerful M1 chip. These new systems use a new higher density NAND that delivers 256GB storage using a single chip. While benchmarks of the 256GB SSD may show a difference compared to the previous generation, the performance of these M2 based systems for real world activities are even faster.
Last month, it was discovered that the 256GB model of the 13-inch MacBook Pro with the M2 chip has up to 50% slower SSD read speeds and up to 30% slower SSD write speeds compared to the equivalent previous-generation model in benchmarks.
The dilemma arises from the fact that Apple switched to using a single 256GB flash storage chip instead of two 128GB chips in the base models of the new MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro. Configurations equipped with 512GB of storage or more are equipped with multiple NAND chips, allowing for faster speeds in parallel.
If the fastest SSD speeds are important to your workflow, we recommend configuring the new MacBook Air with at least 512GB of storage.