M2 MacBook Air 2022 hands-on review
How do you improve perfection? For years, the MacBook Air held its own as the ultimate ultraportable laptop, spawning a wave of imitators and sparking the “ultrabook” laptop craze.
But, aesthetically at least, the MacBook Air hasn’t changed much since Steve Jobs first stripped its ultrathin frame for a manila casing all those years ago at Macworld 2008.
Fast forward to WWDC 2022, however, and Apple has finally seen fit to completely refresh the MacBook Air lineup. It now not only features the newly introduced M2 chipset, but also comes in a revised (and still ultra-slim) form factor, as well as a range of new colours.
We got our hands on the M2 MacBook Air at Apple Park. Here are our first impressions.
Table of Contents:
- M2 chip and internal specifications
- Price and availability
- Practical Exam: Early Verdict
Need lightweight power? The MacBook Air M2 may have a new chassis design, but it’s still as light and stylish as ever. Gone is the tapered case that gave previous generations of Air their sharp profiles in favor of a flatter design that more closely resembles the MacBook Pro line. At just 11.3mm thick, it weighs just 2.7 pounds. , which makes it slightly lighter than the most recent model. You’ll be able to put this in a backpack and forget it’s there, and easily balance it with one hand.
As previously leaked, there are a few more color options to choose from, but not the iMac rainbow that many were hoping for. You will be able to choose between the colors silver, space gray, midnight and starlight. They’re very attractive in person: the Starlight option has a slight almost iridescent quality as you move through the light, while the Midnight is as close to a black laptop as Apple is likely to make.
MagSafe fans will be pleased to learn that the long-awaited snap-in charging method has also returned, meaning the two built-in Thunderbolt ports are free for accessory use only. The MagSafe charging cable will also match the color of your chosen MacBook Air. Those who want to listen to or create music on the MacBook Air M2 will also appreciate the inclusion of a 3.5mm headphone jack that supports high-impedance headphones, handy for all that high-res Apple Music streaming.
Jumping over the screen, you’ll find a 13.6-inch 2560×1664 Liquid Retina display. It was still a long shot, but the premium mini-LED screen didn’t make the cut this time. Yet at 500 nits of brightness, with slimmer bezels than previous generations (despite the camera notch), the new M2-chip MacBook Air feels like a bigger screen than previous models. It has beautiful colors, supporting up to a billion different colors now, with a brightness that has allowed it to be highly readable even in the harsh lighting of the Apple Park showroom. You’ll also find a built-in 1080p FaceTime webcam on top.
Hit the keyboard and Apple continues to respond to fan criticism. There’s a fair amount of travel above the large Force Touch trackpad, with keys clicking satisfyingly. A set of full-height feature line keys are also now in the mix, along with a handy Touch ID sensor on the top right. Four speakers, capable of reproducing Dolby Atmos spatial audio, also sit between the keys and the screen (although we haven’t heard them in action yet).
M2 chip and internal specifications
But it’s the M2 chip that’s arguably the most exciting part of the new MacBook Air for 2022. Apple’s bespoke second-generation silicon sounds like a beast, not nearly as powerful as the first’s M1 Max and M1 Pro. generation, but not far behind them. either.
Using a new 5nm manufacturing process and packing 20 billion transistors, Apple says it expects 8% faster performance on the CPU, a 35% more powerful GPU, and a 40% faster Neural Engine than in previous versions. the M1. This number of additional transistors also allows a memory controller to provide 100GB/s of unified memory bandwidth, a 50% jump over the M1.
The M2 is split between an 8 core CPU (four high performance, four efficiency) with larger cache and either an 8 or 10 core GPU. With the 8-core GPU option, you get 18% more graphics performance compared to power compared to the M1, while the 10-core GPU option doubles that. So it’s more than capable of playing high-end games (like the soon-to-be-ported Resident Evil Village shown at WWDC 2022) and multiple high-res video streams at resolutions up to 8K.
Power efficiency remains excellent, too: You’ll get up to 18 hours of video playback in the Apple TV app and 15 hours of wireless web browsing per charge. Fast charging with a compatible charger is now also supported via a 67W USB-C output, allowing you to reach 50% capacity in 30 minutes of charging time.
As for configuration options, you can upgrade from the standard 8-core GPU to a 10-core GPU, choose between 8GB/16GB/24GB of RAM, and a 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, or 2GB SSD. .
Price and availability
The 2022 MacBook Air M2 will hit Apple Stores next month, with prices starting at $1,119 / £1,249. And you can also get $100/£100 off education prices.
That makes it slightly more expensive than the still mighty MacBook Air M1, which will remain on sale for $999. But a new design and next-gen chipset was never going to come cheap.
Practical Exam: Early Verdict
The inclusion of the new M2 chipset would have been enough to appeal to those tempted by the MacBook Air’s slim bezel. But a new set of colorful design options and a redesigned chassis will make those considering a basic MacBook Pro think twice before spending their money.
We’ll need more time to put the M2 to the test and see if the new design is still as reliable a travel companion as the latest MacBook Air. But since the MacBook Air is supposed to be Apple’s entry-level laptop, it’s hard to imagine a more impressive first look.
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