MacBook Air is without a doubt the most important Mac that Apple produces. Because? Well, because it’s arguably what attracts the widest audience from afar, and also what you’re most likely to bump into in nature. No, it’s not the Mac that leads the way, but it is, aside from the Mac Mini, the most consumer-oriented product in this lineup. Therefore, it can easily be argued that it is also the most important.
So when the Ar gets its first real redesign in years you have to wonder how it improves on such an influential device? Well, let’s just say it’s worth sitting in your chair. First of all, this new version takes its cue from the also relatively new MacBook Pro machines. That means the old “port stop” way is gone in favor of a uniform thickness across the entire machine, and with the slightly rounded but still industrial corners, this looks more like a slim MacBook Pro 14 than its predecessor. . That’s a compliment, by the way, in case you’re wondering, because the new MacBook Air is incredibly beautiful.
Functionally, there is not much difference. It’s still slim, at around 11 millimeters, which is, by the way, a little thinner than its predecessor. It’s also a little lighter at around 1.2 pounds. You basically have one more Thunderbolt/USB-4 port, as there are two here, and a MagSafe port for charging, which then combines with a standard headphone jack.
Inside though, there are a ton of upgrades. Yes I know. it’s the same scissor keyboard, the same giant trackpad, the same model WIFI 6 and Bluetooth 5.0 support, but now the new webcam is 1080p, there are four separate units in the speaker system that you can seriously listen to, the connector for headphones supports high impedance headphones, and the battery has grown from 49.9Wh to 52.6Wh – that’s about 15 hours of mixed use. Additionally, the new Air charges at 67 watts via a color-coordinated MagSafe cable for each model.
It sounds trivial, but the MacBook Air now feels immensely modern to use, and it’s not just purely aesthetic, as the machine fits better with the rest of Apple’s design philosophy. It’s just… Well, better. How it should be.
We’re upgrading from the standard 13.3-inch Retina to the 13.6-inch Liquid Retina, and that means a little more light slipping through the panel, which emits light at its peak of around 550 NITS. It’s still an excellent panel by any measure, miles ahead of most others, but most people fixate directly on the new “notch”. It came about because Apple gained 0.3 inches by removing some of the rather thick screen edges, but left the now distinctive webcam in a small notch. It doesn’t bother me too much, nor do I consider it a fundamental part of Apple’s design language. It is, in other words, an acceptable way to gain more active screen space without reducing the quality of the web cam.
And then there’s m2. Firstly, the Air still starts at 8GB of RAM, though it can be configured up to 24GB this time around, and both the old and new start at 256GB storage with versions up to 2TB. It’s the SoC that’s really new, as this time there are eight CPU cores instead of seven, and 10 GPU cores instead of eight. That’s an upgrade in itself, but probably not the quantum leap we’ve seen from the M1 to the M1 Pro and Max, for example. But then again, but I didn’t have the cores are also clocked differently, so in a CPU test like Cinebench R23 the eight CPU cores set at 3.50GHz come into their own more, and we saw a difference of around 15 %, or more specifically 8903 on Multi-Core versus 7560 on old macbook air with M1. The GPU advantage is more substantial, of course, and here the difference was 20% on Geekbench 5 on Multi-Core.
It might seem like we’re skating over the M2 a little too fast, but the truth is, this is a true sequential upgrade to Apple’s M-based innards. Everything is a little better all the time, and it hasn’t resulted in real thermal throttling or other thermal challenges during regular use. There are still the same theoretical challenges if the applications you use have to run through a Rosetta-based translation layer, and the same benefits if they are optimized to run on Apple Silicon.
It’s short work from the heat, though, because remember that Apple has released a new MacBook Pro that has the same design as the decidedly old Pro, with touch bar and all, but has the main difference that it runs M2 with a fan. installed. This basically means it’s best suited for a workflow that lasts longer than 10-15 minutes under pressure, like video editing via the Adobe suite with a myriad of plugins, for example. The new MacBook Air only has passive cooling, and while it’s not as such designed to struggle with giant applications for long periods at a time, that might be worth noting in the long run.
Great design, solid additions, great battery life and a nice soc upgrade? How not to like? Well, Apple has made it a little more confusing than it needs to be, because the price of this version isn’t the same. See, Apple keeps the old MacBook Air in its active lineup, and you get it for £999 against the new one’s starting price of £1,249. That’s a £250 difference, and with the old one you still get the better keyboard, a slim thin computer with 15 hours of battery life and an M1 SoC that’s certainly not slow.
So are these upgrades worth £250? Yes, I would say yes, although the price increase is a little irritating.