Impressive, really costs $1500, scratches

The MKBHD M2 MacBook Air review landed today, after a flurry of earlier reviews last week. The overall tone is extremely positive, Brownlee praising the design, performance, and battery-life.

He does, however, warn that it’s really a $1,500 purchase, and that while the Midnight color is beautiful, it’s also a fingerprint magnet – and is easily scratched …

MKBHD M2 MacBook Air review

Brownlee says that the new design is better in every way.

To [Apple’s] credit, they have changed and updated mostly everything about this design and for the better. The wedge shape used to taper to appear and feel thinner at the edges, but now the whole thing is flat. It’s 11 millimeters all the way across, which is actually thinner overall and I really like it this way. This is one of those shapes that you just feel like you can pick up and take everywhere, truly ultra portable.

Battery-life means you never need think about charging it midway through a day.

It’s a very long-lasting laptop […] The 15 hours of claimed web browsing translated for me to an entire workday of use with 20 plus percent left.

He says having both USB-C ports on the same side is a pain-point, but the biggest thing to know are the two drawbacks of the new Midnight color.

Midnight is a very, very dark blue, and it absolutely changes how much blue it shows based on the environment you’re in. Like if the light hits it just right, it can look like a blue laptop, but in some environments, it just looks like a matte black laptop, which I think is sick.

But we were right in the first impressions, this one is an absolute fingerprint magnet! [You see them] the instant you start using it, and it’s impossible to keep clean.

But then on top of that, there are some durability concerns. The normal wear and tear on the trackpad area seems fine. But what we saw on the review unit that I had a couple weeks ago – the first impressions unit – was around those ports, the USB-C port and MagSafe ports, if you miss plugging it in enough times, you’re gonna scratch the paint and it’ll be most noticeable on this dark laptop because it has silver underneath.

5-minute performance threshold

When asked on Twitter and Instagram what the MKBHD M2 MacBook Air review should cover, the big thing everyone asked about was how the performance compares to the M2 MacBook Pro. Here he was incredibly impressed, saying that there’s very little difference until the Air hits its thermal limit.

In the short bursty stuff, it keeps up with the MacBook Pro just fine.They are very similar in performance with short, repetitive quick stuff, up to a couple minutes. But at some point, with a sustained workload, this laptop is gonna get so hot without a fan that it has to throttle to not overheat.

Where is that point? I tried it with some benchmarks, I’ve done it with some real world applications, and it turns out that that point is somewhere around five minutes.

Seems pretty short, but when you think about it, that’s a lot of sustained load. [You won’t hit that] photo editing or coding or short bursty like benchmark stuff, a two minute benchmark won’t show that difference here.

I’m talking about like video editing, or long renders when you have background rendering on for 5, 10, 15 minutes in a row, gaming even – things that light up all of the cores all at once for several minutes in a row sustained. And that is where the MacBook Air really gets tested.

It really costs $1,500

Brownlee warns that you shouldn’t be fooled by the $1,200 starting price: this is a $1,500 laptop.

Okay, so this laptop starts at 1,199, so $1,200, which is already $200 more than the M1 MacBook Air […] But the baseline version also has the same SSD issue that the baseline M2 MacBook Pro had. Meaning the 256 gig version, which uses a single SSD module instead of two smaller ones, is significantly slower than the rest of the lineup. Literally half the speed and that’s not insignificant.

Remember, the base version also has just eight gigs of memory, right? And the M2 system on a chip means that shared memory is for the entire system. So if you’re doing enough, you can actually fill up that memory pretty quickly, which is when it starts to swap over and use the SSD. And when that happens, things actually start to feel slower on this base model. So it costs another 200 bucks to upgrade it to 512 gigs – that’s the version I’ve been testing, and that’s what it should have started at in the first place.

Now you’re sitting at 1,400 bucks. And 1,400 bucks is not the same, like super easy, magical $1,000 price point like we had with the last generation, that’s a lot more. So here’s how I think about this: If you are someone who’s actually considering buying the new MacBook Air, I would just consider this a $1,500 laptop.

Any less, if you don’t wanna spend that much, then you probably should be looking at the M1 MacBook Air. It’s still $1,000, still in the lineup, still a great laptop.

But, he says, the 14-inch M2 MacBook Pro is still a better bet for higher-end workflows.

The 14 inch MacBook Pro runs circles around this laptop at the same price, and it has a way nicer screen. It has ports for that creative stuff, and it has an SD card slot, which is what most of that creative stuff is gonna need if you’re doing that. So I would suggest considering it.

You can watch the MKBHD M2 MacBook Air review below:

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