The Future of Computing: MacBook Air M2 (2022) Review and Analysis

(Image: © Tom's Guide)

  • ✨ Wonderfully portable design
  • 🌈 Bright and colorful 13.6-inch display
  • 💻 Strong M2 performance
  • 🔋 Impressively long battery life
  • 📸 1080p webcam
  • 💰 Pricier than previous model
  • 👀 Notch a bit distracting
  • 🖥 Supports only single external monitor
According to our tests, the MacBook Air M2 ($1,099) is presently the best laptop for the majority of users. Yes, the less expensive MacBook Air M1 is still good, but it's getting old quickly compared to the newer, smaller, lighter, and quicker Air M2, which also has a better webcam. Apple combines a more powerful M2 CPU with a much slimmer chassis in the new MacBook Air M2. Using and transporting this 2.7-pound notebook makes me think of the legendary original Air that Steve Jobs took out of a manilla envelope all those years ago. My comprehensive analysis of the MacBook Air M2 reveals that the new model offers an excellent blend of mobility, performance, display quality, and general comfort. Its remarkable battery life of more over 14 hours during our tests is another plus. Even though the $999 MacBook Air M1 is still available, the new Air is expensive. To assist you in making a decision, read our comparison of the MacBook Air M2 and M1. I would contend that, in spite of a few shortcomings, the MacBook Air M2 is the greatest laptop available for the money, making it, if within budget, one of the greatest options for college students.

MacBook Air M2 Review: Price

Starting at $1,099, the MacBook Air M2 costs $100 more than the MacBook Air M1. An 8-core CPU, a 10-core GPU, 8GB of unified memory, and 512GB of storage are included in the base configuration. Although this is a high-end device, the specifications offer decent value. Memory upgrades are available in 16GB ($200) or 24GB ($400) configurations, while storage options are 1TB ($200) or 2TB ($600). Sales of the MacBook Air M2 are common. For the most recent savings, see our best MacBook deals page. The lowest price we've seen is $899.

MacBook Air M2 Review: Specs

Specification Starting Configuration Upgraded Configuration
Price $1,099 $1,799
Colors Midnight, Starlight, Space Gray, Silver Midnight, Starlight, Space Gray, Silver
CPU 8-core CPU 8-core CPU
GPU 8-core GPU 10-core GPU
Display 13.6 inches (2560 x 1664) 13.6 inches (2560 x 1664)
Memory 8GB 16GB
Storage 256GB 1TB
Ports Two Thunderbolt / USB-4, mic Two Thunderbolt / USB-4, mic
Webcam 1080p 1080p
Charging 30W USB-C 35W Dual USB-C
Size 11.97 x 8.46 x 0.44 inches 11.97 x 8.46 x 0.44 inches
Weight 2.7 pounds 2.7 pounds

MacBook Air M2 Review: Design and Colors

When closed, the MacBook Air M2 is so small that, with the Apple logo facing out, it might easily be confused for an iPad. This notebook is really thin. This gadget makes an ordinary Bic pen appear bulky in comparison, as it measures only 0.44 inches thick when the lid is open.
In terms of bulk, the Air M2 is 20% smaller overall than the Air, yet it still has a larger 13.6-inch display. The notch at the top of the screen, which detracts from the aesthetics by swooping down to the bottom of the Menu bar, is something I really dislike, but in my day-to-day work, it wasn't too bothersome.
The 2.7-pound all-aluminum chassis strikes a nice compromise between portability and robustness, and I like how the laptop's prominent lip and elegantly rounded corners make it simple to handle and open with one hand.
I would choose the MacBook Air M2 in Starlight (pale gold) or Midnight (dark blue) if I wanted to make a statement, but Silver or Space Gray are also good options if you're feeling more cautious. If you choose the Midnight hue, be cautious about scratches since this specific shade is known to be easily scratched.

MacBook Air M2 Review: Ports

With regard to the MacBook Air M2 port choices, Apple keeps things simple. On the left side, there are two Thunderbolt 4/USB 4 ports and a MagSafe power adaptor.
(Image: © Tom's Guide)
The latter connection helps prevent the laptop from tumbling in the unlikely case that someone unintentionally pulls too hard on the wire. It also makes it simple to attach the cable connector magnetically to the system. I'm quite appreciative that Apple brought this back.
(Image: © Tom's Guide)
For those who prefer wired headphones, there is a headphone port on the right side. It's a good feature to have in case your wireless headphones or earbuds run out of juice.

MacBook Air M2 Review: Display and Audio

It's significant that the MacBook Air M2's display quality has surpassed that of the MacBook Pro M2. With no compromises, you get a vivid and vibrant 13.6-inch display with 2560 x 1664 pixels for viewing films, editing images, and doing whatever else you want to do.
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)
I was enthralled with the amount of detail on tiny Gru's eyes, hair, and scarf as he blasted down the road on a jet-powered bike in the Minions: The Rise of Gru trailer. In addition, the image was bright enough for me to see the action from a variety of viewing angles. Our lab testing revealed that the MacBook Air M2's display excelled as well. With HDR content, its brightness peaked at 495 nits and averaged 489 nits. That's brighter than the average of 357 nits for the Dell XPS 13 OLED and somewhat better than the results of the MacBook Pro M2 (474/490 nits) in the same testing. Hitting 365 nits was the MacBook Air M1. The precision and reproduction of color appeared exactly as nice. The display on the Air M2 captured 75.9% of the more precise DCI-P3 color space and 107% of the sRGB color range. The XPS 13 OLED achieved higher scores of 117% and 83%, in that order. Nonetheless, the Air and the XPS 13 have the identical Delta-E accuracy score of 0.2. I was pleased with the clarity of the music produced by the MacBook Air M2's four speakers when I listened to One Republic's "I Ain't Worried" on Spotify. The sound wasn't as well-rounded as the MacBook Pro 14's six-speaker sound system, even though the lyrics and beat had plenty of room to breathe. When I compared the two computers side by side, the Pro was less tinny and had a deeper bass, but it costs $800 more.

MacBook Air M2 Review: Performance

The MacBook Air M2 performed well in handling my heavy workload for the Prime Day discounts, which is the finest thing I can say about it. While uploading assets to our CMS, I was juggling hundreds of open tabs on Google Chrome, switching between a ton of Slack messages, and editing photographs in Photoshop. The MacBook Air M2 handled everything with ease.
(Image: © Tom's Guide)
The new Air only exhibited latency once, and that was when I had over 100 tabs open in Chrome across many windows. But, and this is a huge praise, I didn't generally detect a decrease in performance for daily chores when compared to the MacBook Pro 14-inch with M1 Pro CPU. In the single-core CPU test on Geekbench 5.4, the MacBook Air M2 scored 1,932 and in the multi-core test, 8,919, respectively, indicating overall performance. The MacBook Air M1 scored 1,736 on single core and 7,575 on multi-core on an earlier 5.3 test. That is 17% quicker on a multicore system and 11% faster on a single core. Comparable to the Air M2, the MacBook Pro M2 achieved 1,898 and 8,911. The top Windows laptops are easily defeated by the Air M2, including the Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED (7,606) and Lenovo Yoga 9i Gen 7 (7,140). The 12th generation Intel Core i7 in the new Dell XPS 13 Plus, on the other hand, scored a higher 10,621. The new MacBook Air M2 took 7 minutes and 52 seconds to finish the transcoding of a 4K video clip in our Handbrake video editing test. That's a significant improvement from the earlier Air M1, which required 9:15. The MacBook Pro M2, which has active cooling for longer-lasting performance, beat the new Air by one minute, coming in at 6:51. It took 8:31 for the Dell XPS 13 Plus and longer for the Yoga 9i. Even with its faster 8:15, the Zenbook S 13 OLED was still slower than the MacBook Air M2.
(Image: © Tom's Guide)
It's interesting to note that in the PugetBench for Adobe CC Photoshop test, the MacBook Air M2 and MacBook Pro M2 matched perfectly. The Pro scored 817, while the new Air scored 821. On the Premiere Pro video editing test, however, the Pro outperformed the new Air, scoring 552 against 452 for the Pro. Only 670 points were earned by the Dell XPS 13 Plus in the Photoshop test and 279 points in the Premiere Pro test. There have been several speculations regarding the potential sluggish SSD in the next MacBook Air. The new Air's 1TB SSD on our model averaged 2,800 MBps for reads and 2,210 MBps for writes on the Blackmagic Disk Speed test. It performs read and write operations at 2,794 MBps and 2,953 MBps, respectively, less quickly than the same-sized 1TB SSD on the MacBook Pro M2. It's interesting to note that the Dell XPS 13 Plus was noticeably quicker, with write and read speeds of 4,879 and 3,638 MBps, respectively. For additional information, see our benchmark comparison of the Dell XPS 13 Plus with MacBook Air M2. I never felt that the Air M2 was slowing me down, which is unfortunate. The fact that the new Air can only handle one external display (up to 6K) is my main grievance. Many Windows laptops in this price range allow you to connect in two monitors at once, which is a feature I would have appreciated. See our detailed comparison of the MacBook Air M2 benchmark results with the MacBook Pro M2 and this report on the MacBook Air M2 thermal throttling concerns for additional information.

MacBook Air M2 Review: Graphics and Gaming

Rather than the 8-core CPU found in the $1,099 model, our MacBook Air M2 had a 10-core GPU. For instance, with the resolution of 1920 x 1200, the MacBook Air M2 managed a reasonably smooth 27 frames per second (30 frames per second or greater is recommended) on Rise of the Tomb Raider. It dropped to 15.3 frames per second at 2940 x 1920. Comparatively, the MacBook Pro M2 scored marginally lower at 24.9 and 12.2 frames per second. When we turned on Sid Meier's Civilization VI: Gathering Storm, the two Apple computers were a little bit farther away. The Pro M2 recorded 51 frames per second at 1440 x 900, while the new Air managed 40.3 frames per second at 1470 x 956%. The two laptops' results in 3DMark Wild Life Extreme were almost exactly the same.

MacBook Air M2 Review: Battery Life and Charging

For its price, the MacBook Air M2 is among the most durable notebooks. The new Air ran an average of 14 hours and 6 minutes on the Tom's Guide battery test, which entails continuous web surfing at 150 nits of screen brightness. Though it lags somewhat below the previous Air M1's time of 14:41, this is still incredible endurance.
(Image: © Tom's Guide)
In contrast, the Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED survived for 11.02% of its life, while the XPS 13 OLED only lasted for 8 hours. It was 10:46 on the Surface Laptop 4. Nevertheless, with its insane 18 hours and 20 minutes of battery life, the MacBook Pro M2 continues to be the laptop champion.
(Image: © Tom's Guide)
A 35W Dual USB-C Port Compact Power Adapter was provided with our MacBook Air M2, which was configured with 512GB of storage and a 10-core GPU. This adapter has the benefit of allowing you to simultaneously connect in another device, such as an iPhone. A 30W USB-C power adapter is included with the $1,099 basic Air M2, but you can upgrade to a twin charger for an additional $20. A $20 USB-C power converter with 67W of power can charge your device faster quickly, but it does not support MagSafe.

MacBook Air M2 Review: Webcam

The 1080p camera on the MacBook Air M2 is decent but not exceptional, in my opinion. Perhaps it's not a fair comparison, but I wouldn't part with my special video call Logitech C920. While on a Google Meet call, the image quality from the Air is generally sharp enough, although I noticed a yellow cast and less detail in my skin, hair, and green T-shirt than with my regular webcam.
(Image: © Tom's Guide)

MacBook Air M2 Review: Keyboard and Touchpad

In my testing, I found that the Magic Keyboard on the MacBook Air M2 was quick and responsive. Throughout my lengthy bus ride, I had no trouble composing and revising papers since the key mechanics are quick enough and the trip is enough. I typed 69 words per minute with 96% accuracy on the 10fastfingers typing test, which is within my typical range.
(Image: © Tom's Guide)
As usual, the Air's sizable touchpad is precise and facilitates a range of actions, like pinching to zoom and displaying all of your open applications. Although the keyboard's Touch ID button makes logging in simple, I wish Apple supported Face ID so that system unlocking would be even quicker.
(Image: © Tom's Guide)

MacBook Air M2 vs. MacBook Pro M2: What Should You Get?

The main points are covered in our detailed comparison of the MacBook Air M2 and MacBook Pro M2. With the exception of demanding applications, such as video editing, the MacBook Air M2 performs similarly to the MacBook Pro M2. If you're working hard, the Pro M2 ought to offer more consistent performance.
(Image: © Tom's Guide)
Battery life is the other significant distinction. Both the MacBook Pro M2 and the Air had respectable runtimes—the M2 lasted 18 hours and the Air 14 hours. In addition to its lighter form, the Air boasts additional features including a crisper 1080p webcam, a larger display with thinner bezels, and MagSafe charging. My testing has shown that the MacBook Air M2 is the greatest notebook available for the money. Excellent performance, a vivid display, and exceptional battery life are all included in a pleasantly compact design. Yes, $1,099 is a hefty price, but with its superior performance and display, crisper webcam, and MagSafe charging, I would gladly suggest this machine over the $999 MacBook Air M1 that is still available.
(Image: © Tom's Guide)

MacBook Air M2 Review: Verdict

An other excellent option is the Dell XPS 13, which starts at $999 for a 12th generation Core i5, 8GB of RAM, and 512GB of SSD. The cost increases to $1,249 for a Core i7 model with 16GB of RAM. A Dell XPS 13 Plus will set you back at least $1,599 if you're seeking for an OLED display. (You can also view our in-depth comparison of the Dell XPS 13 Plus and Macbook Air M2). The Air M2 has several features that I find objectionable. The top display notch is a bit of an eyesore, and I wish you could connect more external monitors. All things considered, though, I heartily endorse the MacBook Air M2. The new laptop to beat is this one.

Post a Comment

Respectful, on-topic comments only; no spam or hate speech.

Previous Post Next Post