Home Apple Tips M2 MacBook Air vs M1 MacBook Air: Which One Should You Buy?

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

by Dewi Safitri

I’ve been getting this question a lot! Why should I buy the M2 Air over the M1? The answer to me is pretty simple. I believe it’s just an all-around better machine. I would pick this M2 air over the M1 pretty much any day of the week. “How much better?” is the real question that needs to be answered. That’s exactly what we’re going to try to do now! In this case, the M2 has a much better design, a much better display, and an overall performance level that’s better than the M1. Bottom line, unless you’re trying to save as much money as possible, don’t mind that outdated design, and the slight dip in performance, then this M2 MacBook Air is just the way to go! 

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Before I tell you the reason, it’s important to note that we have two base model MacBook Airs: the base model M1 MacBook Air and the base model M2. The M1 MacBook Air has 8 gigabytes of RAM and 256 gigs of storage, and it features an 8-core CPU with a 7-core GPU. Now the base model M2 MacBook Air is pretty much the same across the board, but instead of an 8-core CPU and 7-core GPU, it’s an 8-core CPU and an 8-core GPU. I know everybody has been kind of getting off the benchmark train, which is something that I’ve been trying to do for a long long time. I’m glad that we’re all trying to not be so hyper-fixed in benchmarks, but it’s also kind of hard for me to ultimately quantify how much better things are, without giving you numbers. 

I’m gonna do a little bit of that, but I’m also just going to tell you why we don’t need benchmarks. Ultimately a consumer base for this product is going to be doing a lot of webs app, work, emails, facetime, zoom calls, documents, etc. With that said, there is a little bit of an SSD controversy still going on. The one benchmark that we could run would confirm that the SSD speed tests with the single NAND chip that’s found in the M2 Macbook Air have slower SSD speeds by quite a bit, compared to the two chips that you get in the M1 Air. So whether or not this will translate to real-world noticeability, really just depends on what you’re doing. 

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I transferred some large-ish files around 50 to 100 gigs, and usually, they both took about a few minutes. It was pretty much the same back and forth. It hasn’t been that much of an issue for me but it is something to keep in mind, as it is a fact that you will be getting a worse SSD in terms of speed and performance. The design differences here are the biggest thing! The M2 has been redesigned to be in line with the latest 14 and 16-inch MacBook Pro and I do prefer this design much more over the last MacBook Air. 

I know the tapered edge or the wedge shape design was iconic, and it was good. It’s nothing personal on my end I just like the uniformed look, it’s so much better in my opinion. The display to me is also a massive upgrade. It might not look like a huge upgrade in terms of specs, but you get now a 13.6-inch retina display with 500 nits of brightness over the 400 found in the M1 model. The displays again, just looking at them might kind of feel the same. But to me that noticeable difference comes with the reduced bezels and the fact that we don’t have this ugly chin and these really large side bezels. And Yes!! there is a notch up at the top. But that doesn’t bother me at all, I prefer this little modern design with slimmer bezels over that big forehead bezel that you get on the M1. Speaking of that notch right inside it, the webcams and they’re dramatically better on the M2. I think the microphone quality isn’t that far off, they’re pretty much the same but don’t take my word for it. 

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You can see right now, here’s a webcam test between the two laptops, and also you can let me know the microphone quality. But go ahead and let me know what you think of these in the comments down below. Present in front of you now is the M2 MacBook air. Let’s have a look at its webcam quality. It’s supposed to be 1080p and it looks good. We’ve got some good lighting so it’s going to be a little bit better image quality, but it’s better in my opinion than the M1 MacBook Air. This is also the new microphone array that they have set up. So let me know in the comments down below, what you think of this M2. Next, you’ll see the M1 MacBook Air from 2020. So obviously if you’re someone who’s going to be using either one of these laptops for a lot of zoom calls, facetime call, skype, etc. For all those video platforms this is the image quality that you’re going to get. It’s not a full 1080p camera! In my opinion, it’s not as good as the M2. The microphones should still be pretty good. 

Apple’s always kind of had good microphone quality, so this should still sound relatively in line. Even though Apple did put a new microphone array in the M2, it should still sound pretty good on this M1 but let me know in the comments your thoughts on both the image and audio quality from the M2 and M1 MacBook Air! When it comes to the keyboard and typing experience, I’m pretty sure they’re supposed to be the same. Maybe they can’t always be exactly replicated, but they’re supposed to be pretty close to being the same keys. This could be in my head but I feel like it just seems better on the M2 model. 

M2 MacBook Air could be a placebo effect they don’t feel that far off when you go from one laptop to the other. But to me, I just feel like the overall typing experience just seems better on the M2. No pun intended, I really can’t put my finger on it, but that’s just how I feel. Speaking of benefits, the M2 Air has the reintroduction of the MagSafe port. This is a big deal because in the past you had two USB-C ports, which you would need to use one for charging your device and another for any dongle or anything that you might want to connect. 

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So you’d have to sacrifice as you only got one USB port when you were charging. The clear advantage is you have one port that’s strictly for charging and then two USB-C ports open for doing whatever you need to do. You also get your choice at checkout of a dual USB-C power adapter that will charge at 35 watts or for no charge. You can swap that out for the fast charge of 67 watts, but again you’ll need to make sure you change that request. I think it defaults to getting the two USB-C outlets or the ports in that one adapter. 

Speaking of the battery, the M2 might be able to squeak out a couple of extra hours of battery life just because of the M2’s efficiency. Such a good option when you’re just kind of taking it easy and having a lighter load of work. But if you’re cranking up the performance level then I kind of expect this computer to sort of being in line with the same battery life offered on the M1, which according to Apple is rated to last around 15 to 18 hours. Again depending on what you’re doing, the M2 is rated in that same ballpark at up to 18 hours. The major difference that actually might lean towards the M1 is the speakers

I say major difference because you can see the speakers on the M1. They’re right next to the keys on each side, but it’s a little bit different from the M2. It’s not because there’s no speaker grill! There are just no speakers on that side, they’re actually inside and underneath the keyboard. It’s not that far off but when you try to listen to the sound from both, the M1 does get a little bit louder. From outside you can see the speaker grill, so that makes sense and it does just sound a little bit better in my opinion. 

As far as performance, especially when you’re running a lot of web apps and just browsing safari or chrome or whatever, running the speedometer 2.0 test is a benchmark that I do like. Because it does kind of help quantify how well your web browser can handle, knowing its snappiness, responsiveness, etc. People make jokes about safari and especially chrome having too many tabs open will slow you down. That can be a real issue at times, especially with lower-end machines like this. So I’m happy to report both in benchmarks and in just my real-world use the M2 MacBook Air performs well. 

The test score from speedometer 2.0 will show you that and that’s just a good way to quantify. It is doing better by quite a bit, but again in the real world, it is a little bit harder to tell. I do think it’s doing a better job over the M1 but that’s just kind of my thoughts. Overall I’ve enjoyed my time with the M2 MacBook Air, I think it’s a very capable machine for what it is, though I would recommend that if this is going to be your laptop of choice for a long time. 

The SSD and the speeds could be a problem as in my opinion, 256 is still not enough memory especially if you’re going to be keeping files on this for a long time. If so, please bump it up to 512. And if you can swing it, please jump up to at least 16 gigs of RAM especially if you’re running a lot of open applications at once. You will thank me later! And honestly, I think you can get by with the base model, but you’ll be much happier that you upgraded just a little bit with this M2 MacBook Air. 

But if you’re coming from an intel machine and you’re looking at the M1 and the M2 and you’re not worried about strictly trying to save the most money as much as possible, please go with the M2. That’s just my recommendation but of course, I’d love to hear from you down in the comments below! 

Source: M2 MacBook Air vs M1 MacBook Air: Which One Should You Buy?

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