Why people are saying to avoid the $1,199 M2 MacBook Air

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

But ever since the new M2 MacBook Air has been dropped, tech reviewers, pundits, and commoners alike say you should avoid the basic configuration of this new machine due to some pretty substantial performance issues. For a more affordable laptop, this is a frustrating binding that potential MacBook Air buyers are concerned with.

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

Then there is the problem of the slow SSD. The base model comes with a meager 256GB SSD storage, which in itself is an insult to consumers at 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 reportedly delivers much slower read/write speeds than the 512GB model. In fact, the storage of the base model M2 MacBook Air is a whopping 50% slower than the 2020 M1 MacBook Air, which featured two flash chips.

Just take a look at these benchmarks posted 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. In fact, the combination of the slow SSD and the 8GB of shared memory bottlenecks the performance so much that, according to Max Tech, there could even be tasks like file transfers where it’s even slower than the M1 MacBook Air, which doesn’t have the same shortfall. Yaks. The problem was first discovered in the M2 MacBook Pro 13-inch, but they apply to the MacBook Air just as much.

This wasn’t something we could verify at DT itself, as our review unit came with the 512GB SSD, which was plenty punchy.

Finally, there is no fast charger. Apple ships a standard 30-watt charging block with this model, while the upgraded version comes with a 35-watt dual charger. It’s not much faster, but at least it’s an improvement. But a $300 dollar improvement? You can easily pick up a 67-watt fast charger for under $30 from the Apple Store. But it shouldn’t.

Don’t take this the wrong way. We like the new design language Apple chose for the M2 MacBook Air. The boxy, industrial minimalism look brings it in line with the rest of Apple’s devices. The M2 chip also has so much 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 back with this nerfed base model M2 MacBook Air, and almost everyone agrees. You probably want to upgrade to the better configurations or opt for the M1 MacBook Air.

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