Apple MacBook Air M1 vs MacBook Air M2: Which should you buy? (2022)

It can be hard to choose between the two available MacBook Air models; the processor isn’t the only difference between them. The MacBook Air M2 (2022) has an upgraded display, webcam, aesthetics, and battery life. It’s a strict upgrade over the MacBook Air M1 (2020), but it’s also $200 more expensive. Whether it’s worth the upgrade depends on your priorities in a laptop.

Buy the Apple MacBook Air M1

Buy the Apple MacBook Air M2

Features

Apple MacBook Air M1 vs MacBook Air M2: Which should you buy? (1)

The MacBook Air M1 is a beautiful laptop. Its near-weightless, thin design makes it a no-brainer to toss your MacBook into your bag wherever you go. (The MacBook Air M2 is even thinner!) Both laptops are stunning, but they come in slightly different color configurations. You can’t get a gold MacBook Air M2 or blue-black MacBook Air M1.

While the feel of the keyboard and trackpad are the same on both laptops, there are some slight differences. The MacBook Air M1’s trackpad is already enormous, but the MacBook Air M2’s trackpad is a teensy bit larger. The MacBook Air M2 also ditches the MacBook Air M1’s half-height function row on its keyboard for a full-height row.

(Video) M2 MacBook Air vs M1 MacBook Air - Which One to Get?

The MacBook Air M2’s biggest feature upgrades are its 1080p webcam and its addition of a MagSafe charging port. The lack of a dedicated charging port was one of the MacBook Air M1’s largest annoyances since it only has two Thunderbolt ports and a headphone jack.

With the added charging port, you don’t have to clog up one of your two Thunderbolt ports when charging. Meanwhile, the 1080p webcam on the MacBook Air M2 looks great. It’s a big difference from the MacBook Air M1’s 720p webcam, which is grainier and needs more light to look good.

The MacBook Air M1 pulls ahead in audio performance. For some reason, Apple decided to remove the speaker grille from the MacBook Air M2’s chassis. If the audio sounds like it’s muffled, that’s because it is. That’s disappointing given that the two MacBook Air models have the same speaker drivers.

Our pick: MacBook Air M2

Display

Apple MacBook Air M1 vs MacBook Air M2: Which should you buy? (2)

While the MacBook Air M1’s display is impressive, the MacBook Air M2 has a few improvements. The MacBook Air M1 uses the Retina display, which is a 13.3-inch 2560 x 1600p monitor with 400 nits of peak brightness and support for millions of colors on the P3 color gamut. Meanwhile, the MacBook Air M2 uses the Super Retina display, which is a 13.6-inch 2560 x 1664p panel with 500 nits of peak brightness and support for billions of colors on the P3 color gamut.

If you watch a lot of HDR content or use a lot of gradients in your day-to-day life, the MacBook Air M2 holds a slight advantage. While the extra pixels give a slightly larger work area in theory, in practice the horizontal strip of display that lines up with the webcam notch on the MacBook Air M2 is blacked out in many applications. In everyday use, you won’t notice much difference between the two displays. They both support the full sRGB and P3 color gamuts, have basically identical pixel density (technically the M1 model is 1% denser), and get bright enough to use in a well-lit office.

But the MacBook Air M2’s extra brightness and better color gradients are enough to give it the win.

Our pick: MacBook Air M2

Processing performance

The M2 processor is the improved version of the M1 processor. The new processor’s cores are slightly more powerful and notably more efficient than the M1’s cores. With both the M1 and M2 processors on the MacBook Air, you get eight processing cores, four performance and four efficient.

(Video) M2 MacBook Air vs M1 MacBook Air - ULTIMATE Comparison!

When you’re doing something simple, like browsing a website or writing a paper, your single core performance will matter more than your multicore performance, since there’s no reason to spread your task’s workload over multiple cores when one core can do the job. Tasks with lots of moving parts, like editing a Photoshop file or playing a video game, will make use of the multiple cores (and drain your battery faster, since it needs more power).

The M2’s gains over the M1 are more noticeable in multicore performance than they are in single-core performance. It’s only 11% faster in single-core tasks, and the M1 is already as fast as some high-end processors on Windows laptops. On the MacBook Air M1, Google Chrome only starts to drag after opening fifty tabs, for instance.

Meanwhile, the M2 is 15% to 18% faster in multicore tasks. If you’re a heavy power user or plan on using your MacBook Air to the limit, you would notice slightly better performance. The M2 also has a ProRes decode engine that’s just for handling media, so media creators will benefit from the upgrade more than most. Otherwise, the M1 is plenty powerful already.

Our pick: MacBook Air M2

Storage speed performance

Apple MacBook Air M1 vs MacBook Air M2: Which should you buy? (3)

Unfortunately, the MacBook Air M2’s storage read and write speeds are much slower than the MacBook Air M1’s same speeds. In our testing, the MacBook Air M2’s SSD was up to 50% slower than the MacBook Air M1’s SSD.

With such a drastic drop in performance, downloading and installing files will take longer, as will uploading or accessing files. The processor gains are not worth the storage slowdown if you frequently move or reference files, like in gaming or video editing.

Our pick: MacBook Air M1

Battery life

We still have yet to find a Windows laptop with longer battery life than the MacBook Air M1. It can pull 11 hours and 42 minutes from a full battery before it needs to charge again (the longest-lasting Windows laptop, the Lenovo Yoga 6, lasted a little over ten hours).

(Video) M2 MacBook Air vs M1 MacBook Air: Which One Should You Buy?

But these are rookie numbers compared to the MacBook Air M2, which lasts for 17 hours and 10 minutes. If you somehow need even more battery life than that, your options are the MacBook Pro 13 M2 (19 hours and two minutes) or the MacBook Pro 16 M1 Max (22 hours and 32 minutes).

Our pick: MacBook Air M2

Configurations and price

At base configuration, both models come with 8GB of memory and 256GB of storage, but the MacBook Air M2 will cost $200 more. However, any upgrades you make on either model cost the same. On the MacBook Air M1, you can upgrade up to 16GB of memory and 2TB of storage. Meanwhile, the MacBook Air M2 comes with up to 24GB of memory, 2TB of storage, and two extra graphics cores over the base M2 model.

While most people will be satisfied with a base model of either laptop, if you want to future-proof your laptop, you should consider getting at least 16GB of memory and a 512GB storage drive. The memory and storage quantities will affect your day-to-day experience more than your choice of processor when comparing the M1 and M2. That said, the base MacBook Air M1 is a great laptop for $999, and it’s been on sale for as low as $850.

Our pick: Tie

And the winner is…

The MacBook Air M2 is the better laptop, but the MacBook Air M1 is close behind.

If you can afford to spend $200 more, the MacBook Air M2 is the better pick. It has a separate charging port, a brighter screen, a better webcam and keyboard, significantly more battery life, and slightly more performance power.

The MacBook Air M1 is the better choice for those looking to save a bit of money. It’s older, so it’s more likely to go on sale, and you wouldn’t be sacrificing much. The MacBook Air M1 has almost 12 hours of battery life and a bright, color-accurate 2K Retina display. It also sounds better than the MacBook Air M2, and its faster storage speeds close the performance gap between the two laptops’ processors.

When the MacBook Air M1 is already as fast as some of the best Windows laptops, the MacBook Air M2’s upgrades feel more like creature comforts than essential improvements. You can’t go wrong with either laptop.

(Video) WHY I BOUGHT M1 MACBOOK AIR OVER M2...MY EXPERIENCE & 6 REASONS

Buy the Apple MacBook Air M1

Buy the Apple MacBook Air M2

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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.

(Video) M2 MacBook Air | M1 MacBook Air Still a Better Buy?

FAQs

Is it worth to buy MacBook air M1 or M2? ›

It has the same round, recessed sensor as the larger 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros. The trackpad on the M2 Air also got slightly wider than that of the M1 Airs, and it has a different haptic click. I prefer the haptics of the M1 trackpad, but the M2's trackpad is still fantastic.

Is MacBook M1 better than M2? ›

Apple said with the new M2 chip, Final Cut Pro performance is nearly 40% faster than on the M1 Air and Photoshop is up to 20% faster. Battery life is up to 18 hours of video playback and with an optional 67-watt power adapter it can charge up to 50% in 30 minutes.

Whats the difference between M1 and M2 Mac Air? ›

The M2 MacBook Air has a Liquid Retina display, rather than the Retina display of the M1 model (and the M2 MacBook Pro). The main difference is that the Liquid Retina display has better contract ratios, support for more colors (a billion, rather than millions), and more pixels per inch.

Is it worth to buy M1 MacBook Air now? ›

If you are a die-hard fan of Apple products, there is no reason not to buy the new model. However, if you are looking to make a smart purchase, the M1 MacBook Air will do a great job and will last a few more years before becoming outdated. It will also save you a couple of hundred dollars.

Do you need 16GB of RAM MacBook Air M2? ›

Anyway, if you are looking to use your M2 air mainly for pro applications, you're going to want the 10 core model and at least 16GB of RAM. The 10 Core model comes with 512GB standard, so that's a plus, but we are now looking at a price tag of $1700 dollars.

Is the MacBook Air M2 good? ›

The MacBook Air M2 is Apple's latest swing at its fanless Air design. Like the M1 model, it's among the best laptops you can buy right now because of its excellent portability, battery life, and, above all, performance. But buying the wrong MacBook Air M2 could result in a laptop that's up to 50% slower. Seriously.

What is difference between M1 and M2? ›

One of the most important differences between the current and previous-generation MacBook Airs is their Apple silicon chip. The ‌M1‌ chip, introduced in November 2020, is based on Apple's A14 Bionic chip. On the other hand, the ‌M2‌ is based on the A15 Bionic chip from the ‌iPhone 13‌.

How much better is the M2 chip than the M1? ›

Unsurprisingly, the M2 blows the M1 out of the water with about 20 percent higher multi-core performance. For reference, Apple claimed the M2's CPU is 18 percent faster, which turns out to be true. However, compared to other chips in the M1 lineup, the M2 still doesn't stand a chance.

Is M2 Air slower than M1 Air? ›

There's a big difference in storage speed performance between the laptops, with the M1 coming out on top. Unfortunately, the MacBook Air M2's storage read and write speeds are much slower than the MacBook Air M1's same speeds. In our testing, the MacBook Air M2's SSD was up to 50% slower than the MacBook Air M1's SSD.

Is MacBook Air M2 faster than M1? ›

The MacBook Air M2 isn't just the most powerful MacBook Air; it's also one of the fastest laptops we've ever tested. The latest MacBook Air performed about 16% better than the M1 model on our benchmark tests, which isn't a night-and-day leap, but it's still significant.

Is the M2 MacBook Air slower than the M1? ›

The ‌M2‌ offers faster performance, a larger display, ‌MagSafe‌, and Apple's latest design, which is worth the $200 premium if you can swing it. If you already have an ‌M1‌, you should probably wait to upgrade because the ‌M1‌ still offers stellar performance.

How good is M2 chip? ›

The Neural Engine in the M2 can process up to 15.8 trillion operations per second, which Apple claims is over 40 percent more than on M1. The M2 chip supports up to 24GB of memory, and Apple claims it can deliver up to 2x the performance of the M1 chip while using half the power.

Is it worth to wait for MacBook M2? ›

For the vast majority of potential customers though, it's likely not worth waiting for these new MacBook Pros. If you just want a MacBook for everyday use, then the MacBook Air M2 is the best option, as it will presumably be far cheaper than these rumored models while still offering the same macOS experience.

Is 8GB enough for MacBook Air M1? ›

Yes. In fact, “get away with it” is a bit misleading, because, for me, 8GB never feels like a constraint – until it's really pushed under sustained load. Unless you're doing seriously heavy lifting in terms of video, audio or coding work, 8GB will do you proud, and I have a feeling it'll be future-proof, too.

Will MacBook Air M1 be discontinued? ›

The new M2 MacBook Air starts at $1199, and Apple will keep the M1 model available to remain at the $999 price point. At WWDC 2022, Apple has announced that the brand-new M2-powered MacBook Air will be sold alongside the M1 variant, with the latter's price and configuration options unchanged at $999.

Is MacBook Air M2 256GB enough? ›

Is 256GB Enough for a MacBook? If you're buying any model of MacBook (whether it's a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro) and plan to use it as your main machine, you should buy a model with more than 256GB of storage. Even if you only double the internal storage to 512GB, you'll thank yourself in a few years.

Is 8GB RAM enough for M2? ›

8GB is for: Most M2 MacBook owners

I've never seen an out of memory error message, nor do I worry about swap file usage eventually destroying my SSD. If you're concerned about either of those things, or have received the mysterious 'out of memory' message on an M1 Mac, the 8GB version isn't for you.

Is 256GB SSD good enough? ›

All of your apps and standard data will fit on a 256GB SSD. For listening to music, making documentation, or using an application like photo or video editing a 256GB SSD will be enough. However, if you want to do more demanding gaming, video editing, or photo editing, this storage space will be insufficient.

How long will the M2 MacBook Air last? ›

Macbook Air M2

Supercharged. Up to 18 hours of battery life. Big, beautiful Liquid Retina display. Advanced camera and audio.

What year is the MacBook Air M2? ›

Apple in June 2022 announced a completely redesigned MacBook Air based on the its new M2 chip, priced starting at $1,199 and launched on July 15, 2022. The previous M1-based MacBook Air from late 2020 continues to be available starting at $999.

Is 256GB enough memory? ›

The reality is that 256GB of internal storage is probably going to be plenty enough for most people who don't already have (or anticipate having) a ton of locally stored photos, video, video games, or music that can't either be easily offloaded into the cloud, or to a backup drive.

Is M2 faster than M1? ›

Unified Memory

In addition, the ‌M2‌ has a 100GB/s memory bandwidth, compared to 68.25GB/s with the ‌M1‌, meaning that the latest ‌MacBook Air‌ can access more memory faster.

Is MacBook Air M2 good for college? ›

Plus, it's the cheapest MacBook, making it ideal for college students. But if you can afford it, the MacBook Air M2 makes an excellent choice. It's more powerful than its predecessor and boasts a redesigned chassis that's akin to 2021's MacBook Pros. Plus, it has MagSafe support for charging.

Is it worth to buy MacBook Pro M2? ›

However, seeing as how little has changed from the 2020 version, it's tough to recommend the new MacBook Pro based solely on its specs—especially since the M2 alone is certainly not worth the upgrade. It's not completely unusable for intensive tasks, but it's likely not powerful enough for heavy-duty workloads.

Is MacBook Air M1 good for college? ›

The M1 MacBook Air debuted in 2020 and is still the best Mac for most college students.

Is M2 better than Intel? ›

The M2 can't beat Intel's Core i7-1260P in performance, but it can definitely beat it in power efficiency. Obviously, it's not all just about raw performance, and Apple's main point is it can offer outstanding performance with the M2 at a fraction of the power consumption of an Intel Core i7-1260P CPU.

Is 256GB enough MacBook Air? ›

Is 256GB Enough for a MacBook? If you're buying any model of MacBook (whether it's a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro) and plan to use it as your main machine, you should buy a model with more than 256GB of storage. Even if you only double the internal storage to 512GB, you'll thank yourself in a few years.

Which MacBook Air best for students? ›

The best student MacBooks available now
  • MacBook Air (M1, 2020) The best MacBook for most students. ...
  • MacBook Pro 16-inch (2021) The best MacBook for creative students. ...
  • MacBook Pro 14-inch (2021) The best 14-inch MacBook for creative students. ...
  • MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022) ...
  • MacBook Air (M2, 2022)
8 Aug 2022

Which Mac is best for college? ›

The MacBook Air M1 remains the best MacBook for most college students. For the majority of students the upgrades found in the more recent Air aren't necessary and the M1 maintains that sub-$1,000 starting price with discounts bringing it to $899 or less.

Is 256gb enough for college? ›

The truth is, an internal storage of 256 gigabytes will be sufficient for a college student who isn't thinking of having lots of unwanted files and applications. Like music or video games stored locally and cannot be simple to off-load to a backup drive or cloud.

Is it worth waiting for M2 MacBook? ›

For the vast majority of potential customers though, it's likely not worth waiting for these new MacBook Pros. If you just want a MacBook for everyday use, then the MacBook Air M2 is the best option, as it will presumably be far cheaper than these rumored models while still offering the same macOS experience.

Is the Apple M2 worth it? ›

Whether you're using the laptop for work, play or even video or audio editing, it won't disappoint. It may no longer be revolutionary, but it's a darn good laptop – especially for $999. We believe the MacBook Air M2 is currently one of the best laptops on the market.

What is M1 and M2? ›

M1, M2 and M3 are measurements of the United States money supply, known as the money aggregates. M1 includes money in circulation plus checkable deposits in banks. M2 includes M1 plus savings deposits (less than $100,000) and money market mutual funds.

Is 256GB enough memory? ›

The reality is that 256GB of internal storage is probably going to be plenty enough for most people who don't already have (or anticipate having) a ton of locally stored photos, video, video games, or music that can't either be easily offloaded into the cloud, or to a backup drive.

How long do MacBook Airs last? ›

The average life of a MacBook Air is 6-7 years, after that it will stop getting updates. You might need to upgrade your MacBook Air to be in the line with the latest technology and software updates. Another factor to measure the MacBook's life is the way it is used.

Is MacBook Air Touch screen? ›

The MacBook Air does not have a touch screen. Some people might think that the new MacBook Air has a touch screen because of the way the screen looks. The screen on the new MacBook Air is a lot bigger, and it goes all the way to the edges of the computer. However, the screen is not a touch screen.

Videos

1. Don't Get the Base Model M2 MacBook Air
(Waveform Clips)
2. GOOD AND BAD! M2 MacBook Air vs M1 MacBook Air
(Tech Gear Talk)
3. Apple MacBook Air M2 vs M1: Which One You Need
(CNET)
4. M2 MacBook Air vs M2 Pro vs M1 Air – Which One to Get?
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5. 60 FULL-TIME DAYS with the M2 MacBook Air
(Tech Gear Talk)
6. MacBook Air M2 vs MacBook Pro 14 - Watch BEFORE You Buy...
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