Why People Say to Avoid the $1,199 M2 MacBook Air

Apple’s latest MacBook Air with the new M2 chip has been controversial to say the least. The new macbook air features a refreshed design and is the successor to the M1, Apple’s new M2 system-on-chip.

But since the release of the new MacBook Air M2, tech critics, pundits, and everyday people alike are saying that you should avoid the base configuration of this new machine due to some pretty serious performance issues. For a more affordable laptop, this is a frustrating constraint potential MacBook Air buyers are put into.

The MacBook Air keyboard.

For starters, the $1,199 base configuration has an eight-core GPU, while the upgraded version has a full 10-core GPU. That’s not what Apple told us at WWDC when it showed off the new Air. Apple promised an 18% increase in graphics performance over the M1. What the company didn’t say, however, is that the model it showed off was the upgraded, more expensive MacBook Air M2, which retails for $1,499. The model with an eight-core GPU will have a much smaller performance advantage over the seven-core Macbook Air M1.

Then there is the slow SSD issue. The base model comes with a paltry 256GB of SSD storage, which in itself is an insult to consumers for nearly $1,200. But the problem is bigger than storage space.

The SSD has a single NAND chip instead of two as is the norm. This would produce much slower read/write speeds than the 512GB model. In fact, the storage of the base model M2 MacBook Air is massive 50% slower than the 2020 MacBook Air M1, which featured dual flash chips.

Just look at these benchmarks published by YouTuber Max Tech:

  • 2020 M1 chip read/write speed: 2900/2215
  • 2022 M2 chip read/write speed: 1446/1463

But wait, it gets worse. The combination of the slow SSD and 8GB of shared memory makes it such a performance bottleneck that according to Max Tech there can even be tasks like file transfers in which it’s even slower than the MacBook Air M1, who does not have this same deficiency. Yeah. The issue was first discovered in the 13-inch MacBook Pro M2, but it applies equally to the MacBook Air.

This wasn’t something we were able to verify ourselves at DT, as our review unit came with the 512GB SSD, which was very fast.

MacBook Air screen on a table.

Finally, there is no fast charger. Apple includes a basic 30-watt charging brick with this model, while the upgraded version comes with a dual 35-watt charger. It’s not much faster, but at least it’s an improvement. A $300 upgrade, though? You can easily buy 67 watt fast charger for less than $30 on the Apple Store. But you shouldn’t have to.

Don’t take it the wrong way. We love the new design language that Apple has adopted for the Macbook Air M2. The square, industrial minimalist look brings it in line with the rest of Apple devices. The M2 chip also holds enormous potential for computing in general. Apple Silicon is changing the face of the computing world – there’s no doubt about it.

But Apple seems to be holding it back with this nerfed base model M2 MacBook Air, and almost everyone agrees. You’ll probably want to upgrade to the best configurations or opt for the MacBook Air M1.

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