M2 MacBook Air review roundup: This is the Mac you're looking for

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited July 2022
The M2 MacBook Air ships on Friday and early reviews say it is the best ultraportable Mac and is the right choice for most people.

The M2 MacBook Air revolutionizes the thin and light laptop
The M2 MacBook Air revolutionizes the thin and light laptop


The M2 MacBook Air is a new take on Apple's most popular laptop with a redesigned case, larger display, and the latest Apple Silicon processor. It became available for preorder on July 8 and begins shipping to customers on Friday.

Apple also announced a 13-inch MacBook Pro with the M2 processor which was released in June, but most panned it as an unexciting iteration. Despite having the same processor, the aging design and limited ports made it a poor choice for consumers.



Many publications -- including AppleInsider told readers to wait on the M2 MacBook Air before deciding which model to buy. Here are the early reviews.

PCMag: the Air is fine up here

PCMag calls the M2 MacBook Air stunning with excellent performance. While they aren't a fan of the notch cutout, they call it the best ultraportable Mac you can buy.

The design is thin and never makes a sound thanks to its fanless design. The MagSafe port is a huge win for convenience and will save you from disastrous trips over the cable.

The display, speakers, and webcam have all also improved. While this isn't the best Mac Apple offers, it is clearly the best Mac for everyday users.

For the average Mac user working from home, taking their laptop to the classroom or office, or traveling for work, this is the MacBook to get.

Reviewers call the M2 MacBook Air Apple's best portable laptop to date
Reviewers call the M2 MacBook Air Apple's best portable laptop to date

The Verge: Start of a whole new Air-A

The Verge calls the M2 MacBook Air a success on virtually every level. The improved screen, thinner and lighter design, better speakers, and better webcam add up to a great device.

However, these improvements come at a higher cost monetarily and to performance. The higher starting price and throttling that occurs during intense workloads are both a result of Apple's new design choices.

The M2 MacBook Air is a better choice for most people, even though the 13-inch MacBook Pro does achieve more performance under load and has a longer battery life.

Engadget: Apple's near-perfect Mac

Engadget calls the M2 MacBook Air one of Apple's most important computers since the original. It shows what is possible when Apple designs a laptop around one of its custom processors instead of lazily sticking them in an old design.

The design is gorgeous and the performance matches the 13-inch MacBook Pro running the same M2 processor. More complex tasks will show some slowdown, as they will in any laptop. The review also says that those who need more power should jump straight to the 14-inch MacBook Pro.

This MacBook Air is arguably Apple's best laptop yet.

UrAvgConsumer: Everything you want, at a price

The M2 MacBook Air is a great option and totally worth the $200 price hike. It is a very easy device to recommend.

While the M1 MacBook Air is still a good option, the M2 model with MagSafe and a new design will provide everything most consumers need.

Check out the full video review:



CNET: Big changes for this tiny laptop

The M2 MacBook Air continues to be the most universally useful laptop you can buy. The larger display, faster M2, and higher-res webcam make this a capable device worthy of the praise.

However, the $200 higher price is a disappointment. The M1 MacBook Air is sticking around for $999, so that alleviates some of the pricing issues.

Like other reviewers, they called out the Midnight color and its ability to collect fingerprints. The dark color is a fingerprint magnet and it may be wise to keep a cleaning cloth with you to ensure the case doesn't look too smudged up while working at a cafe.

Of all the upgrades, the new sharper webcam is the most welcome. It is an essential upgrade in the Zoom-addicted future-of-work world we find ourselves in.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 17
    Fred257Fred257 Posts: 246member
    Reviews that go in depth show a different story. If the new MacBook Air has only one Nand chip, like the newest 13’ MacBook Pro then it will be a downgrade in performance. Looks are one thing. But, like in any relationship it’s on the inside what matters most 😂
    williamlondon
  • Reply 2 of 17
    robjnrobjn Posts: 283member
    Fred257 said:
    Reviews that go in depth show a different story. If the new MacBook Air has only one Nand chip, like the newest 13’ MacBook Pro then it will be a downgrade in performance. Looks are one thing. But, like in any relationship it’s on the inside what matters most 😂
    The slower SSD on the base model won’t be noticeable in almost all real world workflows. The only way to see a difference is by repeatedly moving large files between the SSD and RAM. Few workflows do that. If someone is working with large files they are not going to buy a 256GB drive, so practically no one is going to run into this.

    The supposedly slow drive is still faster than any external drive.
    williamlondonfastasleepStrangeDaysMrBunsidedewmeBTknightFileMakerFellerwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 17
    Fred257 said:
    Reviews that go in depth show a different story. If the new MacBook Air has only one Nand chip, like the newest 13’ MacBook Pro then it will be a downgrade in performance. Looks are one thing. But, like in any relationship it’s on the inside what matters most 😂
    Apple says that the single 256 NAND will be better in real world use despite the benchmarking coming in lower. No reason to think Apple's engineering team is less knowledgeable about the issue versus YouTubers running benchmarks. 
    dewmewilliamlondonBTknightFileMakerFellerwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 17
    CheeseFreezeCheeseFreeze Posts: 1,297member
    robjn said:
    Fred257 said:
    Reviews that go in depth show a different story. If the new MacBook Air has only one Nand chip, like the newest 13’ MacBook Pro then it will be a downgrade in performance. Looks are one thing. But, like in any relationship it’s on the inside what matters most 😂
    The slower SSD on the base model won’t be noticeable in almost all real world workflows. The only way to see a difference is by repeatedly moving large files between the SSD and RAM. Few workflows do that. If someone is working with large files they are not going to buy a 256GB drive, so practically no one is going to run into this.

    The supposedly slow drive is still faster than any external drive.
    The SoC uses the SSD for virtual memory swapping so there are more instances where the slower speed might be noticable.  
  • Reply 5 of 17
    hmlongcohmlongco Posts: 552member
    The SoC uses the SSD for virtual memory swapping so there are more instances where the slower speed might be noticable.  
    I think you're absolutely right. It "might" be noticeable.

    But probably not. Willing to bet that if you put a 256 and a 512 side-by-side and did the same things you probably wouldn't notice any perceptible difference.
    williamlondonfastasleepStrangeDaysdewmeFileMakerFellerwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 17
    hmlongcohmlongco Posts: 552member
    People have to cry about something, in the case the benchmarked SSD speed on the base model.

    Funny how when an Apple benchmark is good, people will say, "Well, yes, but what about real world performance?"

    But when real-world performance is great, people will point to any deficiency in the benchmarks they can find....
    williamlondonjas99foregoneconclusionfastasleepStrangeDaysappleuseryeahDAalsethlkruppFileMakerFellerwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 17
    sbdudesbdude Posts: 277member
    The reviews seem to indicate what apple can achieve when they design for use, rather than for looks. The post Jony apple is looking better everyday.
    williamlondonjas99entropysAI_liaskiowawawatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 17
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 2,920member
    Reviews are pouring in with one voice :  Apple’s new MacBook Air is a near-perfect update! It will be consumers GOTO laptop. Hope, Apple's supply chain is ready for the demand.
    edited July 2022 dewmewatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 17
    omasouomasou Posts: 606member
    I'm sure if tripping over USB-C power cords and MacBooks flying to their demise was a really issue we would have seen Youtube video about CordGate /s
    FileMakerFellerwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 17
    sbdudesbdude Posts: 277member
    omasou said:
    I'm sure if tripping over USB-C power cords and MacBooks flying to their demise was a really issue we would have seen Youtube video about CordGate /s

    I killed a PowerBook G4 motherboard doing this exact thing. It happens, it's just the idiot who tripped over the cord's (my) fault, and hardly a design flaw. Telling someone they're holding a phone wrong, that's a stretch.
    muthuk_vanalingamwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 17
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 6,447member
    hmlongco said:
    People have to cry about something, in the case the benchmarked SSD speed on the base model.

    Funny how when an Apple benchmark is good, people will say, "Well, yes, but what about real world performance?"

    But when real-world performance is great, people will point to any deficiency in the benchmarks they can find....
    Yep, and I heard on a podcast (ATP or Upgrade probably) that tests showed that while disk I/O benchmarks were lower, overall task performance was still 10-15% higher than the M1 (or something like that). I seriously doubt 99% of users buying that model are going to notice any difference either way. It's a non-issue.
    StrangeDaysdewmewatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 17
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 12,955member
    sbdude said:
    The reviews seem to indicate what apple can achieve when they design for use, rather than for looks. The post Jony apple is looking better everyday.
    You seem to be overlooking the gains made due to finally having their own silicon, and how that affects thermal design. 
    williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 17
    dewmedewme Posts: 5,535member
    Consumers who are worried about NAND chips aren’t the ones buying MacBook Air computers. They are more likely the ones looking at those 7 lb laptops that run 2.5 hours on battery or the guys hanging out around the soldering stations and PC liquid cooling upgrades in the back of the MicroCenter.

    Not that I like it in any way, but the $200 price hike is par for the course these days. To single it out as a disappointment or con that’s unique to this product is rather moot. The rising tide of inflation raises all prices on all products. 
    thtFileMakerFellerwatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 17
    Fred257 said:
    Reviews that go in depth show a different story. If the new MacBook Air has only one Nand chip, like the newest 13’ MacBook Pro then it will be a downgrade in performance. Looks are one thing. But, like in any relationship it’s on the inside what matters most 😂
    Another idiot posting this misinformation.

    ALL devices that use smaller SSDs have lower scores than those that have larger SSDs. You can go back several years and see that the iPhone 7 or earlier MacBooks with base storage configurations were always slower. Nobody tried to make a scandal out of it. Why? Because it’s common knowledge that SSDs with fewer packages (chips) are slower. Anyone who builds their own gaming PCs would be well aware of this as repeated testing has shown higher capacity drives are faster.

    The M2 is no different than previous Apple products that also had slower SSD speeds in base models. Except the M1. For some reason Apple used 2 x 128GB modules on the M1 MacBooks instead of their usual single modules. The M1 is the outlier having fast performance on the base model. If people want to accuse Apple of playing games or cheating, then they should look at the M1. Maybe Apple did this on purpose since this was the first Apple silicon Mac and they wanted ALL areas of performance to be top notch? Or maybe it was just a shortage of 256GB modules so they used the 128GN modules?

    Whatever the reason, there’s no “scandal” with M2 SSD performance. It’s the same as previous generations of Apple devices. There’s just a group of Apple haters that are trying to manufacture a scandal out of something that’s been well-known and documented for years. That base model devices are slower. Whether it’s Apple or other companies.

    Then we get to the throttling test. Another newly manufactured test to try and slight Apple (like the App Races YouTubers do to show Android phones are as fast as iPhones because they’re upset they lost in benchmarks). It’s downright hilarious (and pathetic) that Cinebench R23 is now the Apple haters favorite benchmark even though it has nothing to do with the type of work that 95% of users would never do. You’ll see these results everywhere while other benchmark tests are no longer used (funny how tests where Apple excels are invalid while tests that favor Intel suddenly are). It’s the age-old trick of changing test parameters when Apple gets ahead. Geekbench used to be considered a reliable test when Android phones scored higher than iPhones. When Apple took over suddenly it’s a useless benchmark.

    Before the M2 I never saw laptop “reviewers” run Cinebench in extended loops to see how much the laptop throttles (and, boy, Intel doesn’t disappoint with significant throttling and power usage). Yet here we are. Another manufactured test that doesn’t equate with real-world performance and usage. Here’s an example:

    One very well-known YouTuber tested the MBP M1 Pro against the new i9-12900. Never mind the MBP was $2,500 and the Intel was $4,200. Or that he should have used the M1 Max, which is closer in price.

    The real scam is the Cinebench R23 tests. The Intel scored 17,000 to 12,000 for the M1 Pro. So clearly it’s faster. Then he unplugged the laptops and tested on battery. Intel dropped to 12,000 and M1 Pro STILL scored 12,000. That’s a whopping 5,000 point drop on battery. So what does this YouTubers do after discovering this massive drop on battery? Does he run his benchmarks twice (plugged in and on battery) to see how each laptop performs? No. He plugs them both in and does his full benchmark suite. This is the kind of testing that people consider valid? Worse yet, people always quote the 17,000 score of the Intel and conveniently forget it only gets 12,000 on battery. Or leave out that Intel consumes literally 3x the power to get that 36% boost. Oops, not a boost. On battery it gets the same score and still consumes 2X the power. And people use these numbers to conclude that Intel is better?


    All this really proves is how good Apple Silicon really is. If it wasn’t it wouldn't be getting all the attacks from fake reviews doin obscure tests that nobody cares about before.
    williamlondonFileMakerFellerstompywatto_cobraAlex_V
  • Reply 15 of 17
    pdnoblepdnoble Posts: 31member
    On an aesthetic note: I had immediately ordered a midnight blue custom configuration, which looks terrific in marketing photos, despite warnings re fingerprints by those at the introduction. THEY WERE, OF COURSE, ABSOLUTELY RIGHT! I just went to the Apple Store and the Midnight Blue display unit, on display for just one hour, looked absolutely awful. Covered in fingerprints. By far the worst affected color. Even space gray seems unaffected. I immediately cancelled the order and reordered in the traditional Silver. The good news: my delivery is unaffected: August 1-8. The traditional silver anyhow still looks, to my eye, the best by far, putting fingerprints aside.
    edited July 2022 williamlondonwatto_cobraAlex_V
  • Reply 16 of 17
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 2,856member
    TBH I don’t see a lot of people getting the 256gb drive version. That’s pretty damned small. Imo it should have a 512 as the base anyway. I’m using almost 400gb on my Mac and my music and photo libraries aren’t that big. 
    stompywatto_cobraAlex_V
  • Reply 17 of 17
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 2,856member
    robjn said:
    Fred257 said:
    Reviews that go in depth show a different story. If the new MacBook Air has only one Nand chip, like the newest 13’ MacBook Pro then it will be a downgrade in performance. Looks are one thing. But, like in any relationship it’s on the inside what matters most 😂
    The slower SSD on the base model won’t be noticeable in almost all real world workflows. The only way to see a difference is by repeatedly moving large files between the SSD and RAM. Few workflows do that. If someone is working with large files they are not going to buy a 256GB drive, so practically no one is going to run into this.

    The supposedly slow drive is still faster than any external drive.
    Let’s be honest, it’s going to be faster than a lot of the internal drives on the systems people will be coming from. It’s no slouch. 
    thtwatto_cobraAlex_V
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