The announcement of the fourth generation MacBook Air or the MacBook Air M2 on 6 June 2022 and its market availability beginning in July of the same year marked the full transition of Apple to its RISC-based and ARM-based Apple M series chips.
Note that this device is the first Mac to feature to Apple M2 system-on-a-chip as one of its major selling points while also sporting a new design philosophy. This article provides a quick review of the pros and cons of the MacBook Air M2.
Pros of MacBook Air M2: Reasons Why You Should Buy
This new MacBook Air is the faster and better version of the third-generation MacBook Air that featured the Apple M1 chip and was made available in the market starting in the last quarter of 2020. The M2 chip is its main value proposition but Apple also overhauled both its look and some of its major features and functionalities.
Below are the advantages, selling points, and reasons why you should buy the 4th generation Air:
• Apple M2 Chip: The key advantage of the MacBook Air M2 compared to the previous generation M1-powered MacBook Air is the Apple M2 chip. It may have the same 8-core CPU and 16-core Neural Engine but this new SoC has an 8-core GPU that is configurable to 10 cores. Furthermore, the Neural Engine is based on a second-generation process node that is about 40 percent faster than the artificial intelligence engine of the M1.
Note that the CPU is specifically 18 percent faster while its GPU is 35 percent faster than the CPU and GPU of the base Apple M1 chip. The improvements in the overall processing and graphics processing capabilities of the M2 come from the fact that it has 20 billion transistors or 25 percent more transistors than the M1.
• Newer Design: Apple dropped the tapered shape design of the previous MacBook Air models for a flatter and edgier design. The 4th-gen MacBook Air is also slimmer and a bit lighter than the previous generation. The bezels are thinner compared to the 13-inch MacBook Pro. The overall design is sleek and somewhat brutalist.
Fanless Operation: Similar to the M1-powered model and even the iPhones and the iPads powered by the most latest and powerful Apple chips, the MacBook Air M2 does not have a fan. The M2 chip is relatively performance and power efficient. The fanless design means that the device stays silent no matter how intense the task.
• 1080p Camera: Another one of the major pros of the MacBook Air M2 is its 1080p camera. Note that Apple has been criticized in the past years for designing and selling expensive MacBook devices with average-resolution 780p cameras that do not perform quite well in situations with poor lighting.
The new camera module found in the 4th-generation MacBook Air is the same module found in the newer MacBook Pro, including the 14-inch MacBook Pro and 16-inch MacBook Pro. It is sharper and has better color and contrast to produce better-looking images for video conferencing and even taking selfies.
• Improved Audio: Under the hood, this Mac device has a three-microphone array for clearer audio capture and a four-speaker sound system that produces loud sounds with decent-level bass to support the Spatial Audio tech of Apple. The M2 chip helps in capturing and producing better-quality audio.
• All-Day Battery: Another good reason to buy the MacBook Air M2 is its battery performance which can last between 15 hours to 18 hours of average use based on tests. This device can also last around 10 to 12 hours on a single charge under heavier workloads such as photo and video editing or video gaming.
• More Features: The 4th-gen MacBook Air is also packed with additional specifications and features that give it an advantage over the previous generations of MacBook Air and even older models of the MacBook Pro. These include a Touch ID for biometrics security, a larger Force Touch trackpad, and a keyboard similar to the 14-inch Pro.
The display is also another notable feature of this device. It has a 13.6-inch Liquid Retina screen based on IPS LCD technology that supports 1 billion colors and P3 wide color, in addition to 500 nits of brightness and True Tone technology. Images look crisp and more immersive with rich contrast and vibrant colors.
Cons of MacBook Air M2: Reasons Why You Should Not Buy
The MacBook Air can be considered an entry-level model of the entire MacBook product line due to its price point and hardware specifications. Hence, true to the product strategy of Apple, the MacBook Air M2 has several notable limitations and shortcomings, especially when compared to the equivalent generations of the MacBook Pro.
Below are the disadvantages or issues and limitations, and reasons why you should not buy the 4th generation Air:
• Heat Management: Remember that the MacBook Air traditionally does not have a fan to keep its slim and lightweight profile. The Apple M series SoCs have improved the thermal endurance of equipped devices because it is technically more performance and power efficient compared with Intel processors.
There is a downside to this. Processors still generate heat. This is a key disadvantage of the MacBook Air M2. Tests showed that this device gets warms and even throttles significantly under intense workloads or prolonged periods of above-average usage. This is especially true when used in a hot and humid environment.
• Display Notch: Another downside is the notch. Similar to the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro, this Mac device has a notch that houses the components of the 1080p camera module. Its position and size can be distracting. Most of the time, it obstructs the menu bar of apps, thus preventing users from accessing them.
• Limited Ports: This device comes with a MagSafe port for safer and faster charging. This power input also frees up the USB C port. However, the connectivity ports are limited to 2 Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports and a 3mm audio jack. There is no dedicated HDMI port. It also only supports a single external monitor.
• More Expensive: Another major drawback of the MacBook Air M2 is its price point. Of course, the pricing strategy of Apple leans toward premium pricing. However, when compared to the M1-powered MacBook Air, the base model of this new generation is USD 200.00 more expensive with a price tag of USD 1199.00.
The 8-core CPU and 10-core GPU configuration with 512GB of solid-state storage is priced at USD 1499.00. The price can go as high as ISD 2499.00 for the maximum configuration. Note that the base model of the MacBook Air M1 retails for USD 999 while a configured model with 512GB storage retails for USD 1199.00.
Summary and Takeaway: Pros and Cons of the MacBook Air M2
The MacBook Air M2 is a powerful all-rounder ultrabook that is ideal for on-the-go individuals and students or professionals with average to above-average computing requirements. The newer design and the sleeker screen are definitely two of its key selling points. Of course, the features and capabilities of the Apple M2 chip are its main value proposition.
However, despite the processing process of the new Apple silicon, the 4th-generation MacBook Air cannot maximize its full potential. The absence of dedicated fans or other heat management solutions like liquid cooling limits the performance of this device due to susceptibility to overheating. Adding to this problem is the expensive price tag.
This device is essentially not ideal for heavy users, especially those individuals who want a Mac device for heavier workloads such as photo and video editing, as well as playing above-average to triple-A video game titles. The previous and even equivalent generations of the 13-inch MacBook Pro are a better option in consideration of their capabilities relative to their prices.