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Samuel Axon –
The new MacBook Air is a remix—a bundle of ideas already seen in other Apple laptops, whether we’re talking about the previous MacBook Air, the 13-inch MacBook Pro, or the 14-inch MacBook Pro.
In that sense, it’s not too exciting since we’ve seen most of its individual features before. But it is interesting in another sense: It’s the first major redesign in years to Apple’s most popular laptop, what we’ve previously called the best Mac laptop for most types of users.
This flat, plain, slate-like machine is also a clean slate for the storied MacBook Air, and it’s the first time the Air has been redesigned around the company’s own silicon. Apple has improved on the previous design in almost every way, even though the laptop loses a bit of its unique identity in the transition. It’s still the best MacBook for folks who are OK with paying its relatively high purchase price, but it’s not a mandatory upgrade over its M1 predecessor.
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Truth be told, the specs aren’t the draw here, apart from Apple’s inclusion of the brand new M2 chip, seen so far only in last month’s refresh of the 13-inch MacBook Pro. We’ll start there.
The 5 nm M2 comes in two configurations. One has eight GPU cores, and the other has ten. That upgrade will set you back an additional $100 on top of the laptop’s $1,199 base price.
In either case, you get eight CPU cores and Apple’s Neural Engine NPU with 16 cores. Apple claims the CPU cores are faster than the M1’s and that the NPU can process up to 40 percent more operations per second than the NPU in the M1. But it’s really on the graphics side that users will notice the biggest improvements. There’s also a 50 percent bump in memory bandwidth, which might be the biggest boon of all.
The M2 supports up to 24GB of unified memory now, too. That’s up from a maximum of 16GB in the M1, but it’s worth noting that both of Apple’s default configurations of the 2022 MacBook Air come equipped with just 8GB. Going to 16GB adds $200 to the base price, and jumping all the way to 24GB adds $400 over the base.
There are two other configuration options at the time of purchase. The entry-level configuration includes 256GB of solid-state storage, and you can upgrade to 512GB ($200), 1TB ($400), or 2TB ($800). The upgrade to 512GB, at least, is surely worth it.
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