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Apple MacBook Air 15-inch review: exactly what was asked for

Apple’s first big-screened macbook air addresses a long-standing need in the company’s laptop lineup. and it comes with zero surprises and no sticker shock..

By Monica Chin , a senior reviewer covering laptops and other gadgets. Monica was a writer for Tom's Guide and Business Insider before joining The Verge in 2020.

Photography by Amelia Holowaty Krales

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Best Laptop 2023: A Starlight MacBook Air 15-inch open on a gray couch.

The MacBook Air 15 fills a gap in Apple’s laptop lineup that hasn’t been filled in basically ever: a large-screened laptop priced for the masses. 

There is no reason that Apple needed to wait this long. But it is releasing this model now, following many months that were slow for the company and much slower for the industry at large. Apple, over the last two quarters, reported the sharpest year-over-year percentage decline in Mac revenue that we’ve seen in half a decade. If there were ever a time that laptop companies needed to inject the market with some pizzazz, it’s today, right now.

In the Windows space, PC makers are making a flashy pivot to services. Artificial intelligence is being shoved down consumers’ throats. New models are shipping with a laundry list of webcam beautification features and tools that keep your eyes in one place . Dell made an invisible touchpad . Lenovo’s doing funky things with E Ink and dual screens . HP hardwired a customer service button to its flagship product , rebranding itself from a PC company to a “solution” provider. Asus is… well, it’s doing various things over there . MSI’s trying to make ChatGPT . 

  • The best laptop you can buy in 2023
  • How does Apple’s new 15-inch MacBook Air compare to the 13-inch models?

But Apple is not chasing generative AI or E Ink or dual screens. It’s releasing a product that people have been asking for at a price that they are very likely to pay. A good, functional product that people have been shouting, for years, that they want. A 15-inch MacBook Air.

And yes, in case you were on the edge of your seat: it is good.

The most recent MacBook I reviewed was the 16-inch MacBook Pro . That was a model where nothing was new with the chassis and everything was new with the chip. 

On paper, this MacBook Air 15 is the opposite. The chip is a known quantity — it’s the M2, the same one that lives in the 13-inch MacBook Air and the 13-inch MacBook Pro . In fact, the model I have (eight-core CPU, 10-core GPU, 16GB memory, 512GB storage, $1,699) is basically the same configuration we received for our review of the 13-inch model (with twice the memory) thrown into a bigger chassis. 

Prior to the Air 15, if you wanted a MacBook with an appreciably larger display, you’d have to pay a $1,000 premium and get a thicker, much heavier computer. But if you now spec the 13-inch and 15-inch devices identically, the larger one commands around a $100 premium. The chip is not different; the chassis is different. 

A 15-inch MacBook Air next to a 13-inch MacBook Air.

Well, is it? Using this device on a day-to-day basis does not feel particularly different from using the 13-inch Air. The keyboard and touchpad and trusty webcam notch are all the same. The biggest difference to report — and this will come as no surprise — is the screen. The 15.3-inch panel is large, especially with its slightly taller than 16:10 aspect ratio. It affords, frankly, much more space than I would ever know how to take full advantage of. I can comfortably use two windows side by side; on the 13-inch Air, I might have to zoom out a notch or two. Big screen devotees, you’ll be thrilled.

The second big difference is the weight. The 13-inch Air is 2.7 pounds, and the 15-inch Air is 3.3 pounds. There is just over half a pound of difference, and it is noticeable. While the 15-inch Air is a world lighter than its larger 16-inch M2 Pro cousins, it is significantly chunkier than the 13-inch Air.

Look, you are all going to make fun of me for this, and I deserve it. But the Air is an ultraportable machine, and that has been its shtick since it launched. The 15-inch Air is not an ultraportable machine in the same way. Just for some context, it is only a tenth of a pound away from the weight of the Zephyrus G14 gaming laptop. It is thin, thinner than other Windows laptops in this size class, but there is quite a bit packed into that chassis, and it’s still a big computer overall. Carrying it around in a tote bag was not my favorite thing. 

Best Laptop 2023: A top down view of the MacBook Air 15’s keyboard deck.

But the third big difference is the speakers. The Air 13’s speakers are good; the Air 15’s are stupendous. Bass came through in a way it doesn’t on pretty much any other computer; I was so stunned when I first turned on a bass-heavy song that I thought it must’ve been coming from a Bluetooth speaker somewhere else. 

Largely, however, the size of the chassis does not transform the experience of using the Air. This is not an XPS 13 / XPS 15 situation where two models have experiences, use cases, and target demographics that are clearly different. This is a larger Air, with the same keyboard as before, the same (albeit, even larger) excellent trackpad, and a bigger screen. 

Close up of the MacBook Air 15’s two USB-C ports and MagSafe charging connector.

In turn, my complaints about this Air are largely my complaints about the smaller Air: I wish it were upgradable, I wish there were more ports, and I wish I could take or leave the notch. And my praise is the same. It is, for its category, portable. It is well built and sturdy. The screen is wonderful. It seems like Apple has figured out exactly what the MacBook Air needs to be. This is what a MacBook Air is. 

The MacBook Air 15 sits solidly between the MacBook Air 13 and the MacBook Pro 13 in most of the synthetic benchmark tests I ran. The three devices are in the same ballpark on the single-core Cinebench test; the 15-inch Air is much closer to the 13-inch Pro on the Shadow of the Tomb Raider gaming benchmark than it is to the 13-inch Air. 

Since all of these devices have the same processor, any difference in performance likely comes down to cooling. Like the smaller version, the MacBook Air 15 does not have a fan. What it does have is a wee bit more room for its heat pipes to do their thing. Overall, it seems that the 15-incher’s big berth does not have quite as large of an impact on the M2’s performance as the MacBook Pro 13’s fan — but it gets a decent part of the way there. 

MacBook Air 15 benchmarks

M1 air, m2 air, m2 macbook pro benchmarks.

The caveat: the Air still gets hot . It was hotter in the area right above the function row than I wanted to touch during pretty much all of my benchmark testing. The keyboard, while usable, was toasty. I did not see any of this heat when I was just using the Air to mess around in Chrome, which was most of the time. But if you’re one of those people buying this thinking you will use it to export video every so often, take that to note. 

In more human terms, I do not really notice a difference in my day-to-day work performance between the MacBook Air 15 and any other MacBook released in recent years. The M1 chip was already well above the demands of my workload, and the M2 chip is a step yet beyond. I’m using an M1 MacBook Pro 13 as my daily driver for my journalist workload these days, and let me tell you — it’s all the same. That said, this is not a review where I can get away with just recommending that you buy last year’s model at a discount because there is no last year’s model. Fair enough. Well played. 

A 15-inch MacBook Air open on a gray couch.

The last thing to comment on is the battery life. I averaged 14 and a half hours. That is also squarely between what I generally see from the 13-inch MacBook Air (around 13 hours) and the 13-inch MacBook Pro (16 to 16 and a half). That’s a bit confusing since both of these devices have smaller batteries than the Air 15, and I wish I had a smart and scientific reason for it, but the explanation I’m going to go with is that, when you’re dealing with battery lifespans this long, these results are probably all within margin of error (and also put us at a point where we’re reaching somewhat diminishing returns). The Air 15 has a bigger battery, but it also powers a bigger display, and the differences all come out in the wash.

The takeaway here is that the Air 15 will get you through a day and then some. You shouldn’t have to worry about it. In fact, you won’t have to worry about much when you’re using this device. It works, it works for a long time away from the wall, and it has a big old screen. And that’s pretty much what we all wanted from a 15-inch MacBook Air to begin with.

This is how you do it

There are times when I wish I were on a beat like smart home was in the late 2010s or VR apparently is now, full of whizzbangs and colored lights and onstage demos that make everyone go “wow.” I’ll admit to finding myself envious, now and again, of tech journalists who regularly get to proclaim that they’ve found a gadget that could change the world forever. 

But I am glad to be on the laptop beat today. Not because this MacBook is ushering in a new era for humanity but because real, regular people — sitting on their couches, checking their emails, bookmarking their recipes, whatever it is we all do — are going to be happy with this device. It’s everything you’d want from a MacBook Air. And it will help them do their work and check their emails and watch Netflix faster and better. Good laptops make us better versions of ourselves. That is all they should be doing.

I have no doubt that recent declines in PC sales are an unfortunate and upsetting thing for companies who make laptops. I wonder if I, a consumer, might take a more optimistic view. People bought a lot of things in 2020 and 2021, and they remain happy with those things. Those computers are serving their lifestyles and workloads just fine.

The 15-inch Air doesn’t change the world; it just does its job very, very well

That’s a status quo, of course, that profit-maximizing PC manufacturers can’t condone. And from some players, the angle of attack has been to invent a new need. On the same day that it announced this MacBook Air, Apple launched a $3,500 virtual reality headset . Like Lenovo’s dual-screen doodads and Dell’s touchpad-free rig and the legions of AR- and VR- and RGB- and AI-loaded gadgets I’m pitched every week, Apple’s Vision Pro has a message. Your world, the consumer’s world, is lacking in ways that you did not realize — you may not think you need this expensive bundle of circuits, you may be sure you don’t need it, but just try it. You’ll see. 

Thank God that headset shared the floor with this, a $1,300 laptop that does not claim to move the world but a laptop that does its job, with speakers, with screens, with processors that do things right. This device doesn’t manufacture a need; it found a need, and it’s filling it. We don’t need to be convinced that we want the Air 15. We’ve been waiting for it.

Agree to Continue: Apple MacBook Air 15

Every smart device now requires you to agree to a series of terms and conditions before you can use it — contracts that no one actually reads. It’s impossible for us to read and analyze every single one of these agreements. But we started counting exactly how many times you have to hit “agree” to use devices when we review them since these are agreements most people don’t read and definitely can’t negotiate.

In order to get past the setup and actually use the MacBook Air, you are required to agree to:

  • The macOS software license agreement, which includes Apple’s warranty agreement and the Game Center terms and conditions

These agreements are nonnegotiable, and you cannot use the laptop at all if you don’t agree to them.

There are also several optional agreements, including:

  • Location services
  • Using an iCloud account adds iCloud terms and conditions and Find My location services
  • Sending crash and usage data to Apple to help app developers
  • Allowing Apple to use your Siri transcripts to improve voice recognition
  • Apple Pay terms and conditions

The final tally is three mandatory agreements and six optional ones.

Meet the new Google sign-in page

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MacBook Air M2 review (2022): Apple’s near-perfect Mac

The m2 chip, along with a ton of upgrades, make it an ideal ultraportable..

The new MacBook Air is one of Apple's most important computers since Steve Jobs pulled the original Air out of an envelope. It shows what's possible when Apple builds an ultraportable entirely around its mobile chips, instead of lazily sticking them in old laptop designs, like with the recent 13-inch MacBook Pro. The Air is impressively thin and light, but it also has a bigger and better screen, a great set of speakers and a nifty MagSafe power adapter. And thanks to Apple's M2 chip, it's also far speedier than the last model, a computer I called "stunningly fast" just a year-and-a-half ago. Once again, Apple has set a new standard for ultraportables.

Before I dive into what's under the hood, I'll just say what we're all thinking: This is a gorgeous computer! The Air's trademark wedge design is gone – now, it's uniformly thin from front to back. Apple basically repeated the PowerBook-esque design of the 14 and 16-inch MacBook Pro – more rounded edges, a notch for the webcam – but squished it into a case that measures just 11.3 millimeters thin and weighs 2.7 pounds. While it's only a tenth of a pound lighter than the last Air, it's far more balanced, making it easier to hold.

Apple MacBook Air M2

The new MacBook Air is a spectacular revamp. It’s far thinner, has a fantastic new screen and speakers, and Apple’s M2 chip makes it a genuine powerhouse, setting a new standard for the entire industry.

  • Far thinner than before
  • Gorgeous 13.6-inch screen
  • Great quad-speaker setup
  • Excellent M2 performance
  • More expensive than before
  • No ProMotion
  • Some speed throttling for extended tasks

MacBook Air (M2, 2022) from the back with Apple logo

MacBook Air (M2, 2022) keyboard

MacBook Air (M2, 2022) side profile with headphone jack

MacBook Air (M2, 2022) side profile with MagSafe and two USB-C ports

MacBook Air (M2, 2022) view from the top with logo

MacBook Air (M2, 2022)

MacBook Air (M2, 2022) MagSafe and USB-C ports

MacBook Air (M2, 2022) keyboard from above

MacBook Air (M2, 2022) side profile

When I picked up the MacBook Air for the first time, it felt more like an iPad with a built-in keyboard than a laptop. What's funny is that it's actually more portable than the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, which weighs about 3 pounds when combined with its Smart Keyboard. The iPad Pro has always been positioned as a futuristic ideal for truly portable computing, but it turns out it weighs the same as the 13-inch MacBook Pro. Once again, the humble Air wins out.

It's also nice to see Apple offering a wider variety of finishes. In addition to the typical space gray and silver, there's a brighter starlight case and a sleek black midnight option. I've been testing a starlight model, and the way the color pops off of the aluminum always gives me a bit of joy.

To be honest, that sense of delight can be found just about everywhere in the MacBook Air, like its new 13.6-inch Liquid Retina screen. It's only a third of an inch larger than before, but it feels more expansive and engrossing. It helps that Apple shaved off a bit of bezel and also bumped up the brightness to 500 nits, which makes the Air far easier to use outdoors.

For the most part, the Liquid Retina screen is on par with what we saw on the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros – the only difference is that it doesn't have ProMotion. I didn't expect to see that high refresh rate tech on a mainstream laptop, especially after it didn't arrive on the 13-inch MacBook Pro. But, at this point, it's one of the only things keeping the Air from being truly perfect. Maybe I'm just being greedy, but my eyes have been spoiled. I need silky smooth scrolling on every machine! I was also a bit disappointed by the new 1080p webcam. It packs in more pixels than the previous 720p cameras, but it still looks pretty drab and grainy.

At least Apple managed to bring over its improved speaker technology from the larger MacBook Pros. The Air features a quad-speaker system with support for Spatial Audio and Dolby Atmos. And while I didn't expect much from such a thin system, the new audio setup sounds shockingly great. It's enough to fill a small room with sound at max volume without any distortion. There's also a three-mic array to improve video chat sound quality, as well as a standard 3.5mm jack. (I'm sure there's some fanatical Apple designer who wants to yank out the headphone jack to make the Air's case even thinner, just like they did with the iPad Pro. So enjoy it while you can!)

All of these upgrades would be impressive on their own, but what makes the MacBook Air really shine is Apple's new M2 chip. It doesn't completely reshape the PC world, like the M1 did, but it's a decent sequel. The M2 features 8 CPU cores and up to 10 GPU cores, and Apple says it's around 18 percent faster for multithreaded performance. If you go for the faster GPU model, you can expect graphics speeds about 35 percent faster than the M1. Apple also doubled the M2's memory bandwidth and raised the maximum RAM to 24GB. That's probably overkill for an Air, but it's nice nonetheless. There's also hardware support for ProRes encoding and decoding, but I'd imagine most video editors would opt for more powerful MacBook Pros.

Our review unit was equipped with a 10-core GPU, 16GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD, the same as our 13-inch MacBook Pro tester. And, just as I expected, the scores between both systems were nearly identical across benchmarks like GeekBench 5 and 3DMark Wild Life Extreme. There was a significant difference in Cinebench R21's multi-threaded test, but that wasn't a huge surprise. The MacBook Air is a fan-less system, so its CPU has to be throttled to keep things cool. The 13-inch MacBook Pro, on the other hand, has fans and a more robust cooling setup, so it can handle longer sustained workloads.

All of my testing made it clear that the MacBook Air is just as fast as the 13-inch Pro for most tasks. It even hit the same 30fps average in Shadow of the Tomb Raider's benchmark, which means the game would actually be playable on a crazy thin ultraportable. But you'll have to live with a bit of slowdown if you're doing more complex work, like video editing or 3D rendering. For most people, I think that's a decent compromise given everything else the MacBook Air has to offer. And if you're an actual media professional, you're still better off with the 14-inch or 16-inch MacBook Pro, instead of the aging 13-inch model.

Not to knock on that computer too much, but now that I've seen the Air in action, I'm even more baffled by the 13-inch Pro. The Air has the same great keyboard and super smooth trackpad. There's no annoying TouchBar, just trusty function keys. It even has more ports! There are two USB-C ports, but it also features a MagSafe connector for power. That means you can actually charge the MacBook Air without using up one of your precious USB-C connections! Maybe Apple should have just renamed this the MacBook Air Pro.

The 13-inch Pro does have a larger battery, which helped it last 17 hours and five minutes in our benchmark. The Air, meanwhile, reached 16 hours and 30 minutes. Still, that's plenty of time to last you beyond a full day of work, and it's on par with other ultraportables like Dell's XPS 13. Apple also has a variety of power adapters to choose from: one with two USB-C ports (for charging other devices) and a 67-watt adapter for fast charging.

The one downside to the MacBook Air's revamp is that it now starts at $1,199 , $200 more than the M1 model. That older machine is still a decent option if you find it on sale or refurbished, but otherwise I'd say the M2 model is absolutely worth the extra cost. Just be prepared for the price to rise quickly as you start adding extra hardware. If you wanted to bump up to our review unit's specs, you'd have to pay $1,899. Personally, I'd say prioritize throwing in as much RAM and SSD storage as you can. The M2 chip will still be very capable without the $100 upgrade for the more powerful GPU.

It’s remarkable to think how far the MacBook Air has come since 2008. It used to be overpriced and underpowered, a testament to Apple’s tendency towards style over substance. Since then, the entire PC industry jumped aboard the ultraportable bandwagon, and Apple found a way to pack a ton of power into a razor-thin case. Now, the MacBook Air is arguably Apple’s best laptop yet.

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Apple MacBook Air M2 laptop open showing the desktop on a wooden table.

Apple MacBook Air M2 review: sleek redesign takes things up a notch

Upgrade gets a bigger screen in a lighter, thinner body, plus rapid new M2 chip with tremendous battery life

A pple’s popular MacBook Air has been give its biggest redesign since it was first introduced in 2008, ditching its classic wedge shape and making it thinner, with a bigger screen and better than ever for 2022.

The revamped laptop builds on the internal changes made with the gamechanging M1 model in 2020 , introducing Apple’s next-generation M2 chip in a sleeker flat aluminium body.

But in doing so, it also gets a nasty £250 price increase, making the starting model £1,249 ($1,199/A$1,899).

The outside frame has adopted the simplified, retro design of the 14in MacBook Pro from last year, with no tapering, just a flat top and bottom with smoothed sides. However, the M2 Air is 4.8mm thinner, 50g lighter and 20% smaller by volume than the old model, making it much slimmer than the comparatively chunky-looking Pro.

A photo showing the MacBook Air charging via a MagSafe cable.

Despite its slim frame, the laptop feels incredibly solid, with no flex in the deck and a rigid lid. Open the lid to reveal a larger, 13.6in screen, which is 25% brighter and just as crisp and beautiful while providing a little more real estate for work than the 13.3in size it replaces.

It has a notch at the top of the screen that, like the MacBook Pro, houses an improved 1080p webcam, which is a well-overdue upgrade for those of us still chained to virtual meetings. The Air has four speakers hidden in its deck that are pretty good for a laptop and project a reasonably wide and immersive sound.

A photo showing the deck of the MacBook Air including trackpad and keyboard.

Specifications

Screen: 13.6in LCD (2560x1600; 224 ppi) True Tone

Processor: Apple M2 with eight or 10-core GPU

RAM: 8, 16 or 24GB

Storage: 256GB, 512GB, 1TB or 2TB SSD

Operating system: macOS 12 Monterey

Camera: 1080p FaceTime HD

Connectivity: wifi 6, Bluetooth 5, 2x USB-C/Thunderbolt 3, headphones

Dimensions: 215 x 304.1 x 11.3mm

Weight: 1.24kg

M2 speed and very long battery life

The MacBook Air M2 closed on a table showing the finger lip used to open the lid.

The 2022 MacBook Air is one of the first machines to have Apple’s next-generation M2 chip. It is an incremental upgrade from the once-in-a-generation leap made by the M1 in 2020 but is still up to 18% faster, with 35% more powerful graphics.

The M2 makes the MacBook Air a rapid, highly capable machine that will easily handle any general computing requirement and bursts of more demanding things. It is a fanless machine, making it completely silent in operation. The laptop stayed cool for three hours of fairly demanding photo manipulation work with large image files while attached to a separate 4K display. Unless you know your work is very computationally demanding, I would expect the Air to be more than capable for most, despite the lack of a fan for cooling.

The battery life is still class-leading, too, regularly exceeding 16 hours of work between charges, including several hours of photo editing in Affinity Photo, having 20 or tabs open in Chrome most of the time, and using Apple Mail, Typora, Evernote and a variety of chat apps and smaller tools. You won’t need to carry the charger to lectures or work.

It took two hours 15 minutes to fully charge the Air with the included 35W charger and MagSafe cable, hitting 50% in about an hour, but it can fast-charge to 50% with a 67W or higher-power adaptor if you have one.

Sustainability

The underside of the MacBook Air M2 showing its four circular rubber feet.

The MacBook Air is made with recycled materials including aluminium, steel, tin, rare earth elements and plastic. Apple breaks down the computer’s environmental impact in its report .

The computer is generally repairable , and the battery can be replaced for £129 by Apple. Apple offers trade-in and free recycling schemes, including for non-Apple products.

MacOS 12.5 Monterey

A photo of the webcam of the MacBook Air M2 placed in the centre of a notch in the top of the screen.

The MacBook Air runs the same version of macOS Monterey as the MacBook Pro from last year. It is generally an excellent platform with high reliability and low maintenance.

Since last year, Apple has added the Universal Control feature , allowing the keyboard and trackpad on a Mac to control other Apple devices, which is particularly handy when used with an iPad but it can be unreliable in patchy wifi conditions.

The Apple MacBook Air costs £1,249 ( $1,199 / A$1,899 ) with an 8-core GPU, 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. Doubling the storage or RAM costs £200 ($200/A$300) respectively.

The model with a 10-core GPU, 8GB of RAM and 512GB of storage costs £1,549 ($1,499/A$2,349) and comes with a two-port 35W USB-C charger or 67W power adaptor.

For comparison, the M1 MacBook Air costs £999 , M2 MacBook Pro starts at £1,349 , 14in MacBook Pro starts at £1,899 , the Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 starts at £999 , and the Dell XPS starts at £949 .

The MacBook Air has been given a thoroughly modern makeover and looks better than ever on the outside.

Having founded the thin and light laptop category in 2008, the Air has always been the portable to beat. The larger 13.6in screen makes a material difference for getting work done, while the thinner and lighter body makes it easier than ever to fit in a bag. The return of the MagSafe charging cable frees up a USB-C port for more peripherals, too.

Combined with class-leading battery life of about 16 hours, rapid performance of the M2 chip and a top-class trackpad and keyboard, you have the best premium consumer laptop available.

The only thorn in its side is the price increase to £1,249 or more, which makes the M1 MacBook Air that is still on sale at £999 undoubtedly better value.

Pros: super-fast M2 chip, silent and cool running, extremely long battery life, great 13.6in screen, great keyboard, best-in-class trackpad, MagSafe, good speakers, good mics and webcam, lots of recycled materials, Touch ID. Cons: expensive, only two USB-C ports and no USB-A or SD card slot, can only drive one external display, no Centre Stage camera or Face ID.

The closed lid of the MacBook Air M2 showing a blue tint in the midnight colour option.

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M1 MacBook Air long-term review: A year later, here's what I wish I'd known

robin-harris-author.png

This review was originally published on March 29, 2021, and was updated on July 29, 2022.

Apple recently launched the 2022 refresh of its lightest MacBook, but the 2020 version, with its M1 chipset, is still going strong for me. I bought a gold 8GB/256/7 core GPU MacBook Air in early January 2021, making it a year and a half of ownership since then. The MacBook Air form factor has always been my favorite -- the early '90s HP Omnibook 300 spoiled me for any notebook over three pounds -- and I've owned a half-dozen since the 2nd generation SSD version.

This review on the 2020 MacBook Air is written from my perspective as an analyst and a writer. I do lots of research, and I commonly have two dozen or more open browser tabs, plus Mail, Messages, Preview, and a dozen more apps open. I also edit videos and make video calls, but I keep 25TB of storage attached to a desktop iMac for bigger projects. After spending a year and some with the M1 MacBook Air, here's what I wish I had known before buying one.

Also:  The 6 best Macs: Is the Mac Studio or MacBook Pro right for you?

First, the good news

Laptops we love.

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Most ZDNet writers prefer this notebook above all others

If you spend hours daily banging away at a keyboard, you'll want to consider these favored models.

I had a 64GB 12.9" iPad Pro with Magic keyboard as my mobile workstation for over a year. Performance and battery life were great, with no fan noise, and ran almost every app I needed.

But the MacBook Air does all that and more, in a lighter and less costly package. Better performance. Two times the memory and four times the storage. Dead quiet. Great battery life. Larger trackpad and display. Flexible multitasking and window layout. Excellent I/O options with Thunderbolt 3 and USB 4.

But depending on how you prefer to work, there are some real deficits. No Apple Pencil. No touch screen. No Face ID. No 4k camera. No snapping off the tablet from the keyboard.

None of these are deal killers for me, but they might be for you. I do miss Face ID, but thanks to the Air's Touch ID and Watch unlocking, not much.

Now for specifics.

No regrets with 8GB memory

Apple charges an exorbitant $25/GB for RAM. However, the excellent performance of the 4GB, 2020  iPad Pro gave me the confidence to buy the 8GB MacBook Air.

One day I wanted to see what it would take to overwhelm 8GB of RAM, so I left every app, window, and tab open all day. Safari and Firefox each with a dozen tabs open, Mail, Messages, Preview, Calendar, one or more Notes apps, Scrivener, and Final Cut Pro, and utilities, including Copyclip, iStat Menus, Magnet, Default Folder, Typinator, Thesaurus, and a VPN.

Also: Best iPad: Which model should you buy?

After several hours of adding load, I started seeing beach balls. All it took was killing a few unused apps to settle things down.

I interpret this casual test to mean that for other than all-day, heads-down Pro users, 8GB of RAM is plenty. If you're using the MacBook Air to make money, then splurge on 16GB.

Everyone else, save your pennies. Considering that the 13-inch 2020 MacBook Pro performance is essentially identical, and its other specs -- 20% brighter screen, slightly better mics, 12% faster graphics, another couple of hours of battery life (with four ounce (110gm) more weight), the Touch Bar -- it isn't worth the 20% to 30% cost uplift to me. Maybe it is to you.

I'll have another money-saving tip in a future piece. Stay tuned.

The not-so-good news

Despite all the goodness of the MacBook Air, there are issues. I'll save the worst for last.

iOS apps and games

Zdnet recommends.

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The best laptops

Our recommended models for every use case and platform.

The iOS apps that are available on macOS work pretty well. For example, the iOS video editor LumaFusion works well and costs a fraction of FCP X.

If iOS games are your happy place, you'll find that touch interfaces don't transfer well to a trackpad and keyboard. Keep your iPad for gaming.

Kernel extensions

Changing security settings to add kernel extensions is a pain. Kernel extensions now require a reboot or two and some non-obvious navigation. It'll get harder as Apple enhances macOS security.

Screen brightness eats battery life

This is an FYI nit, or nits. Apple Silicon sips power, but today's LED backlights don't. If you crank the display up full, there's a noticeable -- 2-3 hour -- reduction in battery life. Better than Intel MacBooks, but this is why Apple is pushing micro-LED backlighting.

Backups may not work at all

This is something that pros especially should be aware of: bootable backups are possible, but if your internal SSD completely dies, that bootable backup will fail too. I'm still investigating the issue, and Apple doesn't have a clear statement of direction, but this may mean the end of third-party backup utilities.

Also: How to easily connect an internal SSD to a USB-C port on your PC or Mac

The workaround? A second Mac. Suboptimal, but it works.

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M1 MacBook Air

Comments welcome. Apple will have to really up the ante on future Macs to compete with the MacBook Air. But if you see things differently, let me know in the comments.

Featured reviews

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Apple MacBook Air 15-inch review: The best 15-inch laptop you can buy

Bigger is better.

MacBook Air 15-inch M2

Tom's Guide Verdict

The new MacBook Air 15-inch M2 is a super-sized version of the 13-inch model, featuring stellar performance, epic battery life and a gorgeous display in a sleek, elegant chassis. It's arguably the best 15-inch laptop for the money.

Bright and vivid 15-inch display

Sleek, elegant design

Extremely portable

Blazing-fast performance

Better speakers than 13-inch

Skimpy port selection

Supports just one external monitor

Why you can trust Tom's Guide Our writers and editors spend hours analyzing and reviewing products, services, and apps to help find what's best for you. Find out more about how we test, analyze, and rate.

  • Price & availability
  • Keyboard and touchpad
  • Performance
  • Graphics and gaming
  • Battery life and heat

The MacBook Air 15-inch M2 (starting at $1,299) might be a bigger version of the 13-inch MacBook Air M2 released last year but it’s arguably the best 15-inch laptop for the money.

Like its smaller sibling, the MacBook Air 15-inch packs the powerful Apple M2 chip , a gorgeous Liquid Retina display and the sleek design introduced with the MacBook Pro line in 2021. Though it’s not as powerful as those Pro laptops, the 15-inch MacBook Air packs enough punch for most people. Despite its larger size, this is still one of the lightest and thinnest laptops out there. It also has excellent battery life, a hallmark of Apple silicon.

The MacBook Air 15-inch M2 offers a near perfect mix of performance, display quality, portability and battery life. It earns its spot on our best MacBooks and best laptops lists. In this review, I’ll detail why this is one of the best Apple laptops yet.

MacBook Air 15-inch M2 review: Specs

Macbook air 15-inch m2 review: price & availability.

  • Starts at $1,299
  • Upgradeable RAM and storage

The MacBook Air 15-inch M2 has a starting price of $1,299 at Apple’s online store . This is $100 more than last year’s 13-inch MacBook Air M2 cost when it launched. That smaller model now goes for an even cheaper $1,099. Like that version, the new 15-inch Air comes in four colors: Midnight, Starlight, Silver, and Space Gray.

This entry-level configuration comes with an Apple M2 chip featuring an 8-core CPU and 10-core GPU, 8GB of Unified Memory (RAM) and 256GB of SSD storage. If you need more memory and space, you can upgrade up to 24GB of RAM and up to 2TB of SSD of storage — though that’ll bump the price up to $2,499. All configurations feature the same M2 chip with an 8-core CPU and 10-Core GPU.

The review unit Apple sent us has 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage, which is priced at $1,699.

MacBook Air 15-inch M2 review: Design

  • Same design as 13-inch model
  • Thin and lightweight

Not to belabor the point, but the MacBook Air 15-inch really is a bigger version of the 13-inch MacBook Air. Like its smaller sibling, this super-sized notebook features a flat, uniform chassis with flat edges. Considering I’m a fan of that design language, I'm glad Apple didn’t try to reinvent it with this larger laptop.

Despite its larger size and additional weight, this is still one of the thinnest and lightest laptops — measuring 13.4 x 9.3 x 0.45 inches and weighing 3.3 pounds. Apple says this is the thinnest 15-inch laptop out there, and we’re inclined to believe that claim. For example, the Samsung Galaxy Book 3 Pro 360 and Dell XPS 15 OLED (2023) are 0.5 and 0.7 inches thick, respectively.

At 3.3 pounds, the new Air is heavier than the 2.7-pound 13-inch model. That said, I had no problems carrying the laptop with one hand. I chalk that up to the excellent weight distribution. And unlike the bulky MacBook Pro 16-inch 2023 , I could almost forget I had the new Air in my backpack when I traveled with it. The lightweight 15-inch MacBook Air still earns its “Air” moniker.

The machined aluminum chassis makes the laptop feel sturdy and durable. The smooth finish also makes the 15-inch MacBook Air a joy to hold. Our review unit’s Midnight color gives the laptop a slightly aggressive tone, which I quite liked.

Opening the lid with a single hand is easy, and the strong hinge glides smoothly when opening and closing the Air. The lid doesn’t wobble when you move the laptop and I never heard the hinge creak. This is a well-built machine that looks great to boot.

MacBook Air 15-inch M2 review: Ports

  • Two USB-C ports
  • MagSafe charging

Like the 13-inch MacBook Air, the new 15-inch laptop has a minimal number of ports. This includes two Thunderbolt 4/USB 4 ports and a MagSafe power adapter on the left side.

Over on the right side, you’ll find a headphone jack, which is nice if you prefer wired headphones or if your wireless headphones run out of juice.

I’m ambivalent about the port selection. Though I like that this laptop retains MagSafe charging, it’s a bit disappointing that we couldn’t at least get another USB-C port on the right side. After all, this notebook is large enough to accommodate another port or two. But I’m also not too surprised given how this is effectively a bigger version of the 13-inch model.

MacBook Air 15-inch M2 review: Keyboard and touchpad

  • Roomy keyboard and touchpad

The 15-inch MacBook Air’s roomy and responsive keyboard is one of my favorite features. The keys are snappy and I liked the travel distance, which wasn’t too short or long. I was able to type almost as fast on this laptop as I would on one of the best mechanical keyboards .

The accurate and responsive touchpad gets a size increase from the 13-inch Air and is all the better for it. Swiping, pinch to zoom and other gestures are easy to perform thanks to the additional space. Despite its size, I never once accidentally grazed the touchpad when typing.

MacBook Air 15-inch M2 review: Display

  • Colorful and vivid display
  • Ideal for watching videos

This laptop’s main selling point is its large 15.3-inch Liquid Retina display. It delivers bright and colorful images at a sharp native 2,880 x 1,864 resolution. In my experience it's great for watching videos, web browsing, photo editing and more.

While watching the trailer for Hidden Strike, I was impressed by how well the display rendered the devastated post-apocalyptic environments. I could see every detail in the dilapidated buildings, rusty vehicles and dusty roads. Explosions and fast-moving action scenes of Jackie Chan wailing on bad guys also looked great.

Our lab tests corroborate my experience with the panel. When we pointed our colorimeter at the screen, we found it produces 111.4% of the sRGB color spectrum and 78.9% of the more demanding DCI-P3 color gamut (100% is most accurate for both). That’s close to the 13-inch MacBook Air M2 (110.9% / 78.6%, respectively) but lower than the XPS 15 OLED’s saturated colors (194.7% / 137.9 %).

Regarding color accuracy, the 15-inch MacBook Air turned in a Delta-E score of 0.17 (where 0 is best), compared to the 0.22 its 13-inch counterpart delivered. Both laptops did better in the Delta-E test compared to the XPS 15 OLED (0.24).

The MacBook Air’s panel can get fairly bright. When viewing HDR content, the laptop got as high as 479 nits of brightness when displaying HDR content on 10% of the display and 480 nits for 100% of the screen. These values are a smidge lower than the 13-inch model, which was just one point shy of reaching 500 nits of HDR brightness. With regard to non-HDR brightness, the panel averaged 473 nits of brightness — making it brighter than the XPS 15 OLED (371 nits).

MacBook Air 15-inch M2 review: Audio

  • Clear, loud audio
  • Impressive bass

One of the most notable upgrades this laptop has over its 13-inch counterpart is its 6-speaker sound system. The latter’s 4-speaker sound system was pretty good, but the new laptop’s speakers blow it away. Sound-wise, this laptop is almost on par with the latest MacBook Pros — which also feature a 6-speaker sound system.

I played Dream Theater’s “Alien” at full volume and was impressed by the overall clarity of the song — which has numerous time signature changes and a flurry of guitar and keyboard solos. All of those disparate elements came through perfectly. Bass sounded punchy but not as powerful as on the MacBook Pro 16-inch 2021 . Still, the overall sound quality is improved from the 13-inch Air.

MacBook Air 15-inch M2 review: Performance

  • Powerful M2 performance
  • Can handle heavy workloads

Thanks to its powerful Apple M2 processor, the MacBook Air 15-inch can handle almost anything you throw at it. During my testing, I had upwards of 20 open tabs  open while running a YouTube video. The laptop not only kept on chugging without missing a beat, but it remained cool to the touch the entire time.

How did Apple’s latest notebook fare in our performance tests? On Geekbench 5, which measures overall CPU performance, the MacBook Air 15-inch notched a single-core score of 1,908 and 8,932 on the multi-core test. These results are almost identical to the 13-inch MacBook Air (1,911 / 8,965) and the MacBook Pro 13-inch M2 (1,898 / 8,911), which both have an M2 chip with 8 CPU cores and 10 GPU cores.

Looking at a Windows laptop with a similar-sized screen and thin profile, the Galaxy Book 3 Pro 360 we tested (with its 13th Gen Intel Core i7-13700P CPU and 16GB of RAM) came close to the 15-inch MacBook Air’s Geekbench results (1,782 / 8,250). However, this configuration has a value of $1,899 compared to the $1,699 MacBook Air Apple sent us.

When we timed how long it took to transcode video using the Handbrake app, the M2-powered MacBook Air 15-inch transcoded a 6.5GB 4K video to 1080p in 7 minutes and 36 seconds.That’s a bit faster than the MacBook Air 13-inch (7:52) but not as fast as the MacBook Pro 13-inch M2 (6:51). Samsung's Galaxy Book 3 Pro 360 took a bit slower at 7:59. 

Over on the PugetBench PhotoShop test, which assigns a score based on how effectively a system uses scripts to apply a series of filters and other adjustments to a number of high-res photographs, the MacBook Air 15-inch scored 866. This test also times how long each system takes, and the new laptop took 5:04.

In comparison, the 13-inch MacBook Air scored 706 and took 5:36. The MacBook Pro 13-inch M2 scored 817 and 4:54 in the same test. The latter has active cooling thanks to its fans, so that might account for its better performance in this test.

On the PugetBench Premiere Pro test, which involves taking a 4K clip and applying a Lumetri Color effect and adding 12 clips across four tracks in a multi-camera sequence, the MacBook Air 15-inch achieved a score of 326. Interestingly enough, both the 13-inch MacBook Air (452) and MacBook Pro 13-inch M2 (552) scored better in this test.

Lastly, we ran the Blackmagic disk speed test to measure the 15-inch MacBook Air’s SSD performance. It achieved a 2,793 MBps read speed and 3,145 MBps write speed. Those speeds put it above the MacBook Air 13-inch (2,800 / 2,210) and 13-inch MacBook Pro M2 (2,794 / 2,953).

Since we first published our review, testing data from MaxTech has shown the base 256GB version of the 15-inch MacBook Air has considerably slower drive performance than the 512GB model. What's causing the discrepancy you can see in the numbers above? The 256GB Air performs worse than the 512GB , 1TB and TB versions because its SSD only has a single NAND chipset. By contrast, the drives in the more expensive 15-inch Air configurations benefit from two NAND chips.  

MacBook Air 15-inch M2 review: Graphics and gaming

The MacBook Air 15-inch is ideal for everyday computing and some light photo and video editing. However, it currently comes up short in the gaming department due to the lack of support from many third-party developers. That said, games optimized for Apple silicon run great on this machine, as was the case when I fired up Resident Evil Village .

I previously played Resident Evil Village on a 16-inch MacBook Pro with an M1 Max chip and 64GB of RAM — and was floored by the results. I didn’t experience such sky-high framerates on the 15-inch Air's comparatively weaker M2 chip. Frame rates hovered in the high 50s with MetalFX disabled and remained at a locked 60fps with the option turned on. Sure, that’s well below the FPS seen on the aforementioned MacBook Pro, but it's the most responsive framerate you can hope for given the MacBook Air’s display tops out at 60Hz.

Our in-house testing showed subpar results for games that don’t make use MetalFX. Shadow of the Tomb Raider reached 26 fps at 1,920 x 1,200 resolution and an even worse 12 fps at 2,880 x 1,864 fps. Sid Meier’s Civilization VI fared better, clocking in at 43 and 29 fps at those respective resolutions.

How does that compare to a 15-inch Windows laptop? The XPS 15 OLED isn't a dedicated gaming laptop but the 13th gen Intel Core i7-13700H CPU, Nvidia RTX 4070 laptop GPU and 32GB of RAM our review unit packed gave it more than enough power to run Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Civilization VI at high frame rates. However, keep in mind this configuration is valued at $2,499.

MacBook Air 15-inch M2 review: Battery life and heat

Apple boasted that the 15-inch MacBook Air has up to 18 hours of battery life. While the laptop didn’t last that long in our testing, it’s still one of the longest-lasting laptops you’ll come across.

On the Tom’s Guide battery rest, which involves continuous web surfing at 150 nits of screen brightness, the new 15-inch Air averaged 14 hours and 59 minutes. That's excellent for a laptop this size and better than the 13-inch Air, which averaged 14 hours and 6 minutes. However, neither can match the MacBook Pro 13-inch with its epic 18 hours and 20 minutes of battery life.

The MacBook Air 15-inch Apple sent us came with a 35W Dual USB-C Port Compact Power Adapter. What’s great about this particular adapter is that you can plug in another device at the same time. You can choose a 70W charger at no additional cost, though this adapter only has a single port for charging.

The MacBook Air 15-inch is fanless, which might raise concerns about overheating. Thankfully, the laptop doesn’t get too warm. In our standard heat test, which involves running a heat gun over a device after streaming 15 minutes of full HD video on it, we found the hottest point to be on the underside opposite the W key, which peaked at 83 degrees Fahrenheit.

Generally, we consider temperatures over 95 degrees as being uncomfortable. Since the 15-inch MacBook Air’s hottest point doesn’t come close to reaching that temperature, you shouldn’t worry about keeping it on your lap for extended periods of time.

MacBook Air 15-inch M2 review: Webcam

The 15-inch MacBook Air’s 1080p webcam might not be as good as the best webcams , but I think it’s perfect for video calls and even selfies.

I took the photo above in my apartment at night. Though the image is somewhat soft, you can still clearly see the wrinkles on my shirt and my facial hair. My Gundam model kits in the background appear blurry but you can still tell what they are.

MacBook Air 15-inch M2 review: Verdict

The MacBook Air 15-inch might not be revolutionary but for what it offers, it's one of the best 15-inch laptops you can buy. Its M2 chip delivers solid performance for everyday computing while its 15-inch display is ideally suited for watching videos and browsing the web. Toss in exceptional 15-hour battery life and an overall elegant design, and the MacBook Air 15 is a winner — especially for $1,299.

If you'd prefer a smaller MacBook, the $1,099 MacBook Air offers performance similar to its 15-inch counterpart. Those who don't mind paying more for better performance can opt for the $1,999 entry-level MacBook Pro 14-inch 2023. Not into Apple? The Dell XPS 15 OLED (starting at $1,299) is another great alternative.

Overall, the MacBook Air 15-inch is well worth considering. Right now, it's the Apple laptop to beat in terms of overall price and performance.

Tony Polanco

Tony is a computing writer at Tom’s Guide covering laptops, tablets, Windows, and iOS. During his off-hours, Tony enjoys reading comic books, playing video games, reading speculative fiction novels, and spending too much time on X/Twitter. His non-nerdy pursuits involve attending Hard Rock/Heavy Metal concerts and going to NYC bars with friends and colleagues. His work has appeared in publications such as Laptop Mag, PC Mag, and various independent gaming sites.

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  • dstrauss Is the article title correct? Did you mean best Apple laptop, because it sure didn't compare much, if any other, Windows laptops. Reply
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MacBook Air (15-inch) Review: The Big Apple

The speakers are nicer, but otherwise the 15-inch macbook air is mostly just the same thing you’d expect, but larger..

MacBook Air (15-inch)

Tom's Hardware Verdict

The 15-inch MacBook Air is exactly what Apple promised: a larger MacBook Air. It offers better speakers, but otherwise, it's the 13-inch laptop in a bigger body.

Sleek, thin, and indeed bigger!

Powerful M2 SOC

Long battery life

Speakers are powerful and offer bass

1080p webcam

Display gets very bright

Battery life isn't much longer than 13-inch model

No additional ports over 13-inch model

Divisive display notch

M2 allows for just one external display

Why you can trust Tom's Hardware Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test .

Design of the MacBook Air 15-inch

If you've seen Apple's 13-inch MacBook Air with M2 , this is that, but bigger. In fact, from afar, you might confuse the two. The 15-inch MacBook Air is a 13-inch MacBook Air, but bigger. That will be a trend throughout this review. Ultimately, that's not a bad thing. You still get the sturdy recycled aluminum chassis (we tested it in the "midnight" color, a beautiful dark blue with a tendency to collect fingerprints), and a tone-on-tone Apple logo. It's sparse, but recognizable.

A 15-inch MacBook Air seems obvious. I've been told over and over again by industry insiders that 15-inch laptops are among the most popular on the market, and yet Apple hasn't made a notebook for this group of large-screen lovers that wasn't prohibitively expensive or designed for a pro. The Air was always considered one of the best ultrabooks , but sat at 13 inches. After years of fans clamoring, that obvious laptop is here. The MacBook Air 15-inch is indeed exactly what Apple has promised: a bigger MacBook Air for most people. It's familiar: The keyboard is the same, the notch is still there, and it's still pretty thin (albeit noticeably heavier). The display is bigger, at 15.3-inches, and the six-speaker system is a noticeable improvement. But mostly, it's a bigger MacBook Air. It's completely familiar, but aimed at the massive group of people who prioritize a bigger screen and don't want to spend $2,000 on their laptop. That's one way to raise interest among people considering a new machine.

The familiarity continues when you lift the lid. While the 15.3-inch display is a noticeable difference, the gist is the same. That includes the notch, which I still find a tad annoying (including on the MacBook Pro I own). Everything is just a bit bigger. The biggest visual change is the amount of free space on either side of the keyboard. On the MacBook Pro laptops, these have grilles for top-firing speakers, but here they're just metal. Apple also used the exact same ports — and port placement — as on the 13-inch Air. That means Two Thunderbolt 3 / USB 4 ports on the left side, along with MagSafe 3 for charging. On the right side, there's a lone 3.5 mm headphone jack. On the one hand, I get it — this means the basic layout of a 15-inch and 13-inch MacBook Air are fundamentally the same. It wouldn't surprise me if Apple was using the same motherboard in both systems. But it's also a shame that with all of the extra space, Apple couldn't add an extra USB-C port on the right side.

The new Air is 3.3 pounds and measures 13.4 x 9.35 x 0.45 inches. It's a noticeable difference, particularly in weight, from the 13-incher, which is 2.7 pounds and is 11.97 x 8.46 x 0.44 inches. The thin profile doesn't hide the fact that this computer is indeed bigger. There's no real way to do that.

Microsoft 's 15-incher, the Surface Laptop 5 , is lighter at 2.86 pounds but is larger in every dimension (13.5 x 9.6 x 0.58 inches). The Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED , another shot at the ultralight crown, is more of a competitor to the 13-inch Air at 2.43 pounds and 0.59 inches thick.

MacBook Air 15-inch Specifications

Productivity performance of the macbook air 15.

With Apple's M2 processor (the same 8-core CPU in the 13-inch model), 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD, the 15-inch Air is up for most office work, web browsing, video streaming and other basic tasks. It really only faced issues in prolonged, strenuous workloads. This makes sense — despite its name, the MacBook Air doesn't have any fans. Still, for the average person, this is plenty. We found that the MacBook Air 15's performance was pretty similar to the 13-incher. That's not much of a surprise, considering they're using the same CPU. We also compared it to the Microsoft Surface Laptop 5, using a 12th Gen Intel Core i7-1265U, the Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED with a more recent Intel Core i7-1355U and a Samsung Galaxy Book 3 Ultra, which has an Intel Core i7-13700H and discrete graphics. (That last one is more of a fair comparison for the MacBook Pro, but let's see how this goes.)

On Geekbench 5, the 15-inch Air achieved a single-core score of 1,902 and a multi-core score of 8,932. These were very similar to the 13-inch Air's scores, and outperformed the U-series Intel chips in the Zenbook and Surface (both actively cooled) in both single and multi-core. The H-series chip in the Galaxy Book 3 Ultra won out only in multi-core, and that chip has 14 cores (6 more than the M2). There was a surprise on our file transfer test. The 15-inch MacBook Air transferred 25GB of files at a rate of 1,342.38 MBps, beating the 13-inch Air (958.85 MBps) by a fair margin. Both the Zenbook S 13 OLED and Galaxy Book 3 Ultra were even faster. Both Airs were more aligned on Handbrake, with the 15-inch transcoding a video from 4K to 1080p in 7 minutes and 46 seconds. The 13-incher took 7:52. Both were faster than the Zenbook S 13 (8:16) and Surface Laptop 5 (8:53), but more cores clearly helped the Samsung Galaxy Book 3 Ultra at 5:26.

We tested the 13-inch MacBook Air before we implemented the Xcode benchmark , so this is our first time testing it on the vanilla M2. The 15-inch Air compiled a codebase in 122 seconds. You'll see the lag between the M2 Pro, M2 Max and M2 Ultra in the chart, but jumping up to the MacBook Pro could save you about 40 seconds. Part of the difference may have been cooling. The 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros have active fans, which lets the M2 Pro and M2 Max perform at higher speeds for longer.

Additionally, we used our Cinebench R23 stress test to see what happens when the MacBook Air 15 is tasked with a strenuous, constant load. Typically, we run this to see if chips throttle, but in the case of the Air, which doesn't have an active fan, we expect it to throttle. This was the case with the Air 13 as well, and it followed a similar performance code. Though the MacBook Air 15 didn't fall quite as far — perhaps the 15-inch chassis serves as a bigger heatsink . The 15-inch Air started with a score of 8,675 and slowly dropped through the 8,000's and then 7,000's, ending in the low 7,000's (the lowest score in the test was 7,187, in the last of 20 runs). We can't log the M2's clock speeds (Cinebench estimates 3.5 GHz at single-core and 3.2 GHz at multi-core, but take that with a grain of salt), but we are able to log temperatures using TG Pro. The four efficiency cores ran at an average of 91.82 degrees Celsius, while the performance cores reached 91.2 degrees Celsius. 

The MacBook Air is up for some basic gaming, too. I played No Man's Sky , which uses Apple's native Metal rendering, on the laptop at 1920 x 1200 on the high preset. As I mined for minerals and other resources, the game typically ran between 70 and 80 frames per second, though it occasionally dipped briefly below 60 fps.

Display on the MacBook Air 15-inch

Apple's 15.3-inch "liquid retina" display has a 2880 x 1864 resolution and a 60 Hz refresh rate. It's the biggest display ever on a MacBook Air, even if the notch for the webcam cuts into it (the extra 64 pixels in height mean you're not losing any usable space). I find the notch a bit annoying (I say this as the owner of a 14-inch MacBook Pro with M1 Pro). On the bright side, it basically goes away when you watch video, which typically doesn't take up the whole screen. Some free apps like TopNotch black out the menu bar to attempt to hide it. I highly recommend dark mode. That being said, the panel itself is pretty great. It's very bright and looks quite nice, but it can't match Windows-based competitors with OLED screens when it comes to color. I used the MacBook Air 15 to watch the trailer for Oppenheimer. That trailer has plenty of dark shots of a bomb, as well as black and white high-contrast scenes. Both looked excellent on the Air, which has a very bright panel. The multiple red and orange explosion effects, though perhaps gratuitous on director Christopher Nolan's part, were striking compared to a number of blander desert scenes.

The 15-inch MacBook Air covers 111% of the sRGB color gamut and 78.9% of the wider DCI-P3 gamut. That's roughly on par with the 13-inch MacBook Air and just ahead of Microsoft's "PixelSense" screen on the Surface Laptop 5. Both the Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED and Samsung Galaxy Book 3 Ultra, both with OLED panels, covered more of each gamut. But the MacBooks won in brightness. The 15-incher reached 473 nits, a little short of the 489 nits on the 13-incher (it can get a bit brighter with HDR content). That's far  more luminous than the Zenbook, Surface, and Galaxy Book, none of which broke 400 nits (the Zenbook, in particular, lost out at 321 nits).

The MacBook Air comes with True Tone turned on in macOS, which uses sensors to adjust the screen to look more natural based on ambient light. (For our brightness and color testing, we turn that off.) In general, I think it works well, and that most people should leave it on, though if you're doing any photo editing or other work that involves exact colors, you’ll probably want to temporarily disable it.

If your setup uses external displays beyond the MacBook Air, you'll have to consider some limitations. The Air, according to Apple's website , can run both the laptop's screen at full resolution and "one external display with up to 6K resolution at 60Hz". This was also a concern on the M1-based MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro. I suspect that most people won't have an issue with this, but power users may be disappointed.

Keyboard and Touchpad on the MacBook Air 15-inch

While I wish the MacBook Air's keyboard offered slightly more than 1 mm of travel, this keyboard is generally pretty great. It's effectively copied and pasted from the smaller model. That means you get the same full-height function keys, inverted T arrow keys, and Touch ID on the power button.

On the monkeytype typing test, I hit 120 words per minute on the MacBook Air, which is about as good as I do, with a 2% error rate. It was comfortable enough, but a little extra travel wouldn't have hurt.

The 5.9 x 3.6-inch touchpad is even bigger than on the 13-inch Air, and just as good. I've long said Apple's touchpads are the envy of the laptop industry. The touchpad here is smooth, feels premium, and the haptics are extremely convincing. Gestures in macOS, like using three fingers to show all my apps, or side swiping between virtual desktops always worked on the first try. I prefer to turn off "natural" scrolling in settings, but at least that's still an option.

Audio on the MacBook Air 15-Inch

One area where Apple did take more advantage of the bigger chassis is in the 15-inch MacBook Air's sound system. It has six speakers and a force-cancelling woofer, as opposed to just four speakers in the 13-inch Air.

For a laptop this thin, Apple has engineered something impressive. Maybe not as incredible as the MacBook Pro, but the 15-inch Air has bass. When I listened to Chvrches' "Over," the drums thumped on the low-end. There are gaming laptops more than an inch thick that barely accomplish that. It also produced what sounded like louder volume to my ear than the 13-incher, all with clear vocals and an even mix with lots of synths.

If you're fully entrenched in Apple's ecosystem and wear AirPods, the MacBook Air supports spatial audio , including dynamic head tracking on certain AirPods models.

Upgradeability of the MacBook Air 15-inch

Just because Apple has four screws on the bottom of the MacBook Air doesn't mean there's much you can do if you were to open the lid. First of all, these are pentalobe screws, and most people don't have those kinds of screwdrivers. If anything, that may be a warning sign. If you were to get in, you wouldn't be able to fix much, anyway. Apple's M2 is a system on a chip , with the RAM on the package. Apple solders its SSDs to the motherboard, so what you configure the laptop with at purchase is what you'll have forever. Whatever specs you buy the MacBook Air with, you are locked into until it's time to replace it. As of this writing, the 15-inch MacBook Air isn't on the Self Service Repair site , but by the time you're reading this that may change, as other Apple Silicon Macs have made their way there. I imagine most people will go to the Genius Bar for any hardware issues.

Battery Life on the MacBook Air 15-inch

The M2 chip's efficiency is on full-display when it comes to battery life. On our test, the 15-inch MacBook Air lasted 14 hours and 48 minutes while streaming video, browsing websites, and running simple OpenGL tests.

It's hard to complain about just under 15 hours of battery life, but considering Apple packed a 66.5 watt-hour battery into this chassis, which is an upgrade from the 52.6 WHr cell in the 13-inch Air that ran for 14:06 on our test, I would have loved to see a bit more improvement.

Still, the bigger Air beats Windows laptops down the chart. The closest was the Zenbook S 13 OLED at 11:02, while the Surface Laptop 5 and Galaxy Book 3 Ultra both lasted just over 9 hours.

Heat on the MacBook Air 15-inch

To see how hot laptops get while under a stressful load, we take skin temperatures on ultrabooks while running our Cinebench R23 stress test. The MacBook Air 15 got quite warm by the end of this test, though not unusably so. This laptop is an interesting candidate for this test because it's not actively cooled like the MacBook Pro line (or most Windows laptops).

During the test, the center of the keyboard, between the G and H keys, reached 41.9 degrees Celsius (107.42 degrees Fahrenheit), which is noticeably toasty. The touchpad, however, was far cooler.

On the bottom of the laptop, the hottest point reached 47.9 Celsius (118.22 F). While it won't get this hot if you're just listening to music or checking your email, if you push your MacBook Air, you may want to use it on a desk.

Webcam on the MacBook Air 15-inch

The benefit to the Apple's notch is that it houses a really good 1080p webcam. At my desk, my eyes appeared the perfect shade of blue, in contrast to the navy shirt I was wearing. I could see every hair on my head, and the camera wasn't phased by some fluorescent lighting in our office, nor some nearby open windows.

What Apple doesn't offer in its camera is facial recognition. Many high-end Windows PCs use infrared cameras to let you log in with your face. And while Apple has Face ID on its phones, that hasn't come to the laptops yet, despite the notch.

Software and Warranty on the MacBook Air 15-inch

We tested the 15-inch MacBook Air running macOS Ventura (version 13), which launched in October 2022. This is the same OS we tested on the Mac Studio and on the 14 and 16-inch MacBook Pros . The laptop will be eligible for an update to macOS Sonoma in the fall.

Apple's macOS comes with lots of software, but little bloat. You get a mail client, Messages (great for sharing your texts and iMessages with a phone or iPad), Safari web browser, Maps, FaceTime, Notes, Reminders, and more. Apple has its own services preinstalled, with apps for Apple TV, Apple News, Apple Music, and podcasts. A basic productivity suite, including Numbers, Keynote, iMovie, and Pages also comes free.

At this point in Apple Silicon's life cycle, a significant number of apps now offer native versions for M1 and M2 chips, or use universal binaries to work on both Apple SIlicon and Intel processors. If you try to run something that doesn't use one of those two solutions, you'll be prompted to install Rosetta 2, which can translate Intel x86 instructions.

The MacBook Air comes with a 1-year warranty. AppleCare+ costs $79.99 annually until cancelled, or $229 for a 3-year plan.

MacBook Air 15-inch Configurations

Our review unit of the 15-inch MacBook Air came with an M2 system on a chip boasting 8 CPU cores and 10 GPU cores, 16GB of unified memory, a 512GB SSD and the "midnight" dark blue colorway. This configuration is available by customizing the Mac on Apple's website. The base model has the same M2 chip (Apple doesn't cut CPU or GPU cores on the base model 15-inch), with 256GB of SSD storage and 8GB of memory for $1,299. The other retail model is $1,499 with 512GB of storage and 8GB of RAM. The MacBook Air tops out at 24GB of memory ($400 on top of the base price) and 2TB of storage ($600 on top of the base price, which is egregious with the price of SSDs these days.) By default, Apple ships the MacBook Air with a 35W USB-C power adapter with two ports. If you use both ports, however, the devices split the wattage , so your Mac will charge more slowly. For example, with a Mac and either an iPhone or iPad connected, both devices get up to 17.5 watts. With a Mac and AirPods, the Mac will get up to 27.5W while the headphones go up to 7.5W. In the configurator, you can opt for a 70W USB-C adapter with one port that will let you fast-charge your Mac.

Bottom Line

If you want a MacBook Air, want a bigger machine than its traditional 13-inch offering, and don't need the power of a MacBook Pro, Apple is aiming the 15-inch MacBook Air squarely at you. It feels just like using the smaller machine, except with a bigger display, some more weight, and better speakers.

I do wish that Apple took a bit more advantage of the extra room and added an extra port or two. That seems like a missed opportunity. And while I wish the bigger battery added even more longevity than it does, it's hard to complain when your machine is running over 14 hours on a charge. 

Many 15-inch Windows laptops in this price range tend to add discrete GPUs, like the Dell XPS 15 or Samsung Galaxy Book 3 Ultra. That sometimes makes for thicker chassis than what Apple is going for here. And those machines definitely aren't fanless. For a similar price, you can get a 13-inch MacBook Pro with M2 and put it under a fan, but you won't get the design made for Apple Silicon. So for those who want something simple, quiet, and with a big screen, the MacBook Air 15-inch is exactly what Apple promised: the MacBook Air, but bigger. It’s not likely to win over many new converts, but will likely make a lot previous Air owners very happy.

MORE: How to Buy a Gaming Laptop

MORE: Best Gaming PCs

MORE: Best Ultrabooks and Premium Laptops

Andrew E. Freedman is a senior editor at Tom's Hardware focusing on laptops, desktops and gaming. He also keeps up with the latest news. A lover of all things gaming and tech, his previous work has shown up in Tom's Guide, Laptop Mag, Kotaku, PCMag and Complex, among others. Follow him on Threads @FreedmanAE and Mastodon @FreedmanAE.mastodon.social .

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  • Amdlova 1699 for 13.8" says 15" lol Reply
  • Sippincider Dear Apple, A 15" laptop is NOT a tablet or phone! For God's sake know the design and use-model differences! If this keeps up, the rumored 32" iMac will have a notch and one USB port... Reply
  • Ravestein NL Just another Apple "extremely expensive" laptop! May better to call it a barebone laptop! Reply
  • palladin9479 Wow, the freedom from choice totally allows maximum creativity and productivity! <sarc> I could maybe understand soldering the memory, but they even soldered the SDD lol. They really want to maximum revenue by eliminating the ability to upgrade or replace components with aftermarket versions. I'm sure the usual favorites will insist on how "forward thinking" and awesome this design is, while begging Apple to take their money. Reply
Cons- Battery life isn't much longer than 13-inch model
palladin9479 said: Wow, the freedom from choice totally allows maximum creativity and productivity! <sarc> I could maybe understand soldering the memory, but they even soldered the SDD lol. They really want to maximum revenue by elimination the ability to upgrade or replace components with aftermarket versions. I'm sure the usual favorites will insist on how "forward thinking" and awesome this design is, while begging Apple to take their money.
Sippincider said: Dear Apple, A 15" laptop is NOT a tablet or phone! For God's sake know the design and use-model differences! If this keeps up, the rumored 32" iMac will have a notch and one USB port...
  • palladin9479 Point proven. People be like "Apple take my money" no matter what they release. 9BnLbv6QYcA View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9BnLbv6QYcA Reply
  • View All 8 Comments

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Review: Apple MacBook Air (15-Inch, 2023)

2023 15inch Apple MacBook Air

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Apple’s macbook lineup has existed in extremes for some time. If you’re someone who needs a powerful machine, you can choose between the 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros —two large screen-size options for whatever graphically demanding project you want to throw at them. “Normies,” like me, who use our laptops for answering emails, web browsing, and the like have been forced to settle for a relatively cramped 13-inch display on the MacBook Air . Yes, we can shell out for the larger Pro models, but they start at $2,000.

That’s all changing now with the 15-inch MacBook Air—an all-new size option that single-handedly restores order to the MacBook range. Apple brought all the standout features it introduced in last year’s 13-inch model , like the redesigned chassis, Magsafe charging, and 1080p webcam, but threw in a wonderfully large 15.3-inch screen while still keeping the whole package thin and light.

The base 15-inch MacBook Air starts at $1,299, and Apple has reduced the price of the 13-inch version to $1,099 (the original M1-powered MacBook Air from 2020 is still available for $999 ). You can max out this model for a whopping $2,499, but that’s if you want the extra RAM and massive amounts of built-in storage, so it’s not necessary for most. At the base price, this 15-inch screen is worth every penny.

2023 15inch Apple MacBook Air

The new MacBook Air has the same boxy frame as its smaller counterpart, which matches the sleek look of the high-end MacBook Pro models for a cohesive design throughout the lineup. Open it up and it looks almost identical to the 16-inch MacBook Pro, with a large trackpad and space on both sides of the keyboard.

Rather than adding speakers in this space, Apple integrated them between the keyboard and display, as it did with last year’s MacBook Air. But since this laptop is larger, it comes equipped with a heftier six-speaker system, instead of a quad-speaker setup, with two tweeters and two sets of force-canceling woofers. Apple claims they deliver “twice the bass depth for fuller sound.” You get the same three-microphone array as before.

The difference in sound quality is noticeable. Last year, I said that the 13-inch Air sounded muffled at times. I cranked it up to full volume whenever I watched a movie. This new MacBook delivers better sound clarity and gets loud enough that I can keep it under the max level (though it still doesn’t get that loud). I would’ve preferred to have the speakers on the sides for a quasi-surround-sound effect. It would at least fill the awkward dead space on the sides of the keyboard.

2023 15inch Apple MacBook Air

Unfortunately, Apple included the same ports (or lack thereof) on the new Air. You get two USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports, a dedicated MagSafe port for charging, and a 3.5-mm headphone jack. It’s fine for my workflow, but hey, this is a larger laptop! There’s clearly extra space to squeeze in an SD card slot or HDMI port, but you’ll have to get a MacBook Pro for that luxury.

The highlight is the 15.3-inch screen, which includes a notch at the top to house the 1080p webcam. It’s an LCD panel that’s stuck at 60 Hz , but it’s plenty bright and vivid, and it’s large enough that I don’t get tired of staring at it all day. In fact, I’ve been working strictly off this one screen for the past few days, with no need to connect it to a secondary display. That’s nearly impossible for me on the 13-inch MacBook. But speaking of external monitors, you’re still only able to connect one external display to this MacBook. Want to connect more screens? You know the answer. Pony up for a Pro.

It’s worth keeping the size difference in mind if you’re coming from a 13-inch laptop. In addition to the larger display, the new MacBook Air weighs 3.3 pounds. That’s a little over a half-pound heavier than the 13-inch model and slightly lighter than the 14-inch MacBook Pro. Unlike the Pro, which has beefier internals across the board, it’s not as densely packed, and the weight seems to be more evenly distributed; it feels more manageable in my hands. I’ve also carried it around in a tote bag without feeling weighed down.

2023 15inch Apple MacBook Air

Powering this MacBook Air is the same M2 chip as in last year’s Air , with an 8-core CPU and 10-core GPU (the base model now comes with a 10-core GPU instead of the 8-core). You can upgrade the unified memory and storage all the way up to 24 GB and 2 TB, respectively. It’s plenty powerful for day-to-day tasks, but I recommend upgrading to at least 16 GB of unified memory if that’s within your budget.

Over the past year, I’ve used the M2-powered 13-inch MacBook Air with 8 GB of memory and noticed its constraints. Even on less busy days, when I’d have several tabs and windows open I’d often see the spinning rainbow wheel, forcing me to wait for the machine to catch up. It made me think about how much I did with the Air so I didn’t tax it too much. This time around, Apple sent me the 15-inch MacBook Air with 16 gigabytes of memory and it was easy to notice the difference. I had about 40 tabs open across three separate Chrome windows while also running apps like Slack, Spotify, Messages, Notes, and Reminders, and it never buckled under the pressure. It’s a far less frustrating experience and worth the money for your sanity alone.

As for battery life, Apple claims up to 15 hours of wireless web browsing, which is the same as the smaller MacBook Air. But I’ve been seeing better results than on the 13-inch model. Last year’s Air would get depleted toward the end of the workday, but the 15-incher consistently had about 40 percent left after seven or eight hours of use—leaving me with enough battery to squeeze in a couple of episodes of Never Have I Ever before plugging in. On a busier day, it hit 18 percent after about 10 hours of use—perfectly reasonable. I should note that I use Google Chrome as my web browser, which eats up a little more battery than Safari.

The 15-inch MacBook Air is the best of both worlds—a larger display in a light and thin chassis. If the majority of your days are spent working on a laptop, even if it’s as routine as sending emails, organizing spreadsheets, and typing words into documents, the 15-inch model promises to save you from the migraines that come with squinting at a cramped screen all day.

new macbook air reviews

MacBook Air M2 Review: Better Camera and Bigger Screen Outshine a Faster Chip

With a faster chip, bigger screen, new design and better webcam, this new M2 MacBook from Apple is the biggest change to the Air line since its launch.

Updated Nov. 1, 2023 7:00 a.m. PT

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  • Author of the award-winning, NY Times-reviewed nonfiction book The Tetris Effect; Longtime consumer technology expert for CBS Mornings

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CNET’s expert staff reviews and rates dozens of new products and services each month, building on more than a quarter century of expertise. Read how we test products and services .

new macbook air reviews

The M2 MacBook Air next to the M1 Air.&nbsp;

The M2 Air is slimmer at the rear hinge than the old design.&nbsp;

The MacBook Air has always been my favorite coffee shop companion.

That notch...

The 13.6-inch display fits more screen into about the same space.&nbsp;

Keep a cleaning cloth handy for the fingerprint-prone matte finish.&nbsp;

MagSafe makes its MacBook Air return.&nbsp;

The pleasingly small new 35W charger.&nbsp;

The 1080 camera in the M2 MacBook Air (left) has better resolution and image processing than the 720 webcam in the M1 Air (right).&nbsp;

new macbook air reviews

Apple MacBook Air with M2 chip

  • Bigger, brighter screen
  • Modern design with new colors
  • A high-res webcam, at last
  • Excellent performance and battery life
  • More expensive than the model it replaces
  • New power adapter is a paid upgrade on some configs
  • New webcam adds a screen notch

Even though it costs $200 more than its immediate predecessor, I still think the new M2 version of Apple's MacBook Air is a great default starting place when you begin your laptop search. In the  14 years since the MacBook Air line launched , I've often described it as "the most universally useful laptop you can buy." That's because the Air has always attempted to hit a delicate balance between price, portability, ease of use and features. And since 2008, Apple has succeeded in nailing that formula more often than not. 

Thanks to a new design, a larger display (13.6 inches versus the previous 13.3 inches), a faster M2 chip and a long-awaited upgrade to a higher-res webcam, I feel comfortable keeping that "universally useful" title for the new 2022 version of the MacBook Air, with one caveat. At $1,199, the $200 increase over the traditional $999 MacBook Air starting price is a disappointment. Note that we're reviewing the step-up $1,499 configuration, which adds more GPU cores and more storage space (but still only includes 8GB of RAM). 

In head-to-head testing against both the still-available M1 version and the recently released 13-inch M2 MacBook Pro, its performance falls in the middle, and while it gets a nice power bump over the 2020 M1 Air, it's not significant enough that I would upgrade just for that. 

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And yes, it's good that the previous M1 Air, with an older design, remains available at $999. That somewhat mitigates the price increase on the new version, but you're inevitably going to be drawn to the new design and features. The latest MacBook Air represents the biggest overall change to the product line, arguably since 2008, but at least since 2018 . That's when the Air gained modern features like a higher-res screen and fingerprint reader. In 2020, the Air switched from Intel chips to Apple's own M1 chips, but without a physical redesign. 

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The M2 MacBook Air next to the M1 Air. 

That still-available 2020 M1 MacBook Air, one of the first set of  Macs to move from Intel to Apple Silicon , is not a bad-looking machine, but it's based on a design that launched in 2018, which is roughly forever ago in computer terms. The new version moves from that traditional tapered design to the boxier, blockier look of the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro laptops from late 2021. It's a more modern, more constructivist design that largely rejects decorative stylization. Hands down, I like it. But that might be because I'm just so used to the classic MacBook Air design that any change feels refreshing. 

The configuration we tested

Note that there's still one odd man out in the lineup. The new-for-2022 13-inch MacBook Pro adds the same M2 chip found here, but keeps the vintage 2016-era body, complete with the all-but-extinct TouchBar and 720-resolution webcam . It's perfectly fine, but I'd be hard-pressed to think of many reasons you'd choose it over the new Air ( although there are a few ). 

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Read more : MacBook Pro M2 13-Inch Review: Familiar Design, New Apple M2 Chip

The new MacBook Air goes beyond the Pro models it mimics in one important respect -- it adds new colors to the space gray and silver, with a new gold Starlight and a deep, dark Midnight finish. That Midnight, which appears as a matte black finish, reminds me of the old matte-black polycarbonate MacBooks of the mid-2000s, which I've always thought was a very sharp look. 

The new Air's footprint is a hair smaller than before, and it feels slimmer. It's 11.3mm thick overall, while the previous design tapered thinner at the front, but grew to 16mm at its rear hinge. It's also a bit lighter, at 2.7 pounds versus 2.8 pounds. 

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The M2 Air is slimmer at the rear hinge than the old design. 

That's a lot of different MacBook models, prices and specs to keep track of. To sum it up, the key reasons you're going to prefer the new Air over the previous model are:

  • Slimmer, more modern design in new colors
  • Upgraded full-HD webcam
  • Larger, brighter display (13.6 inches versus 13.3 inches)
  • Faster M2 processor 

It also adds the new MagSafe power connection also found in the 14-/16-inch MacBook Pro, and some configurations include a new 35W dual USB-C port power adapter. It's compact and has two USB-C ports built right into it -- one for the power cable to the laptop, and one free one for anything else you need. If you buy the least expensive M2 MacBook Air configuration, it's a $20 add-on upgrade. Otherwise, you just get the standard 30W MacBook brick. 

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The street test: Portable and powerful 

A MacBook Air is fine for sitting at a desk at home or in the office, but it's really a laptop that needs to be on the go with you to shine. So it came with me, to the coffee shop, on the subway, to the office and more. 

The regular Air was always a fine travel companion, but frankly newer, lighter laptop designs have been more travel-friendly. For example, I've had an excellent time taking the tiny Surface Laptop Go 2 around with me, even on a cross-country flight. Of course, the ultimate travel laptop, at least for me, was the late 12-inch MacBook, sadly discontinued before it could find its audience. 

The new Air is only slightly smaller and lighter than its predecessor, so don't expect a revelatory experience. But it's a great fit for my small travel bag, and I wouldn't object to taking it on a daily commute. 

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The brighter screen -- similar to the ones on current MacBook Pro laptops -- helped when I had to crank up the brightness to write outdoors. The slightly larger screen, which measures 13.6 inches diagonally where the previous model was 13.3 inches, also aids visibility. Yes, I've gotten to the age where most of my Google Docs are at 125% by default, so a bigger screen definitely helps. However keep in mind that the webcam is going to knock a little notch into the screen, much as it does on the iPhone and some MacBook Pro models. 

After seeing the new MacBook Air in person for the first time at Apple's WWDC event in June 2022 , I knew I had to try the Midnight color. Apple doesn't describe it precisely, but I'd call it a matte black with a hint of a blue tint. It took me back to one of the very first MacBooks (and one of the first Intel Macs), the black polycarbonate model I first reviewed in 2006 . I actually found one of these a few years ago, in 2018, and  it booted up and worked , although the battery was shot.

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The 13.6-inch display fits more screen into about the same space. 

It's a great look, and stands out nicely from the sea of nearly identical laptops that are all either silver, gray or ... silver-gray. Some models experiment with dark interiors or garish lid illustrations, but there's generally a lot of zigging and not much zagging out there. 

The Midnight version of the MacBook Air has a sharp, modern look, but there's one catch. Let me explain.

Reader, I am no greasy-fingered vulgarian. You'll have to take my word for that. But I could barely breathe on the Midnight MacBook Air without leaving smudges and fingerprints all over it. It's a common issue with dark matte objects, and I had to give this laptop a thorough wipedown before snapping each photo. I felt obligated to carry a cleaning cloth with me everywhere, and I'd advise you to do the same. 

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Keep a cleaning cloth handy for the fingerprint-prone matte finish. 

M2 vs. M1, M1 Pro, M1 Max

The performance story this laptop tells is a predictable one. That's because we've just tested and reviewed the new 13-inch MacBook Pro , which also runs the M2 chip. Plus, we've been testing and reporting on every M1 iteration since 2020, including the original M1, the M1 Pro, the M1 Max and the M1 Ultra (which is just a double M1 Max). 

Read more:   MacBook Air M1 vs. MacBook Air M2

The most important thing to clarify here is just where the new M2 chip falls in the Apple Silicon lineup. Basically, it sits above the original M1 chip (which, like the M2, is available in two versions with different numbers of graphics cores), but below the M1 Pro, M1 Max and M1 Ultra. The M1 Pro and M1 Max are available in the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro. The M1 Ultra, essentially two M1 Max chips side by side, is only available at the moment in the new Mac Studio desktop . 

The 2022 version of the MacBook Air, featuring Apple's new M2 chip, may be the biggest change to the system since its 2008 introduction.&nbsp;

Read our full&nbsp; review of the MacBook Air M2 here .

A MacBook Air is fine for sitting at a desk at home or in the office, but it's really a laptop that needs to be on the go with you to shine. So it came with me, to the coffee shop, on the subway, to the office and more.&nbsp;

After seeing the new MacBook Air in person for the first time at&nbsp; Apple's WWDC event in June 2022 , I knew I had to try the midnight color. It's a matte black with a hint of a blue tint. It took me back to one of the very first MacBooks (and one of the first Intel Macs), the&nbsp; black polycarbonate model I first reviewed back in 2006 .

A Closer Look at the New MacBook Air M2

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Read more : Best MacBook for 2022

The story here offers no surprises. The M2 MacBook Air outperformed the 2020 M1 MacBook Air by a modest, but not breathtaking, amount. The M2 version of the 13-inch MacBook Pro, just about a month younger than this machine, performed slightly better in some tests than the Air. Why? Probably because the Pro has a fan, which Apple refers to as "active cooling," and which means the chip can run faster, longer, without having to throttle itself to cool down. The 2020 and 2022 Airs we tested also had only 8GB of RAM (yes, for $1,500, you still only get 8GB). Performance charts comparing the results from the 2022 MacBook Air with other laptops are at the end of this review. 

Would I trade the design elements, webcam, bigger screen and other upgrades for the slightly faster M2 MacBook Pro performance? I would not. If you think you'll be hitting the ceiling of M2 performance, then you're more likely in the market for a 14-inch MacBook Pro or a Mac Studio. 

Read more : MacBook Air vs. MacBook Pro 

In my short time so far with the MacBook Air, I've thrown a few Photoshop projects at it and run some Mac games via Steam. I appreciated the larger screen for my photo work, and as for gaming, the still-unfinished Baldur's Gate 3 is probably the newest, most high-profile game you'll play. Mac gaming remains its own thin little pocket universe. The system ran in our a video-streaming battery test for 17 hours and 20 minutes, which is just about the same as Apple's estimate. The M2 MacBook Pro ran even a few hours longer on the same test. After we run additional battery tests, I'll update these numbers as needed. 

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MagSafe makes its MacBook Air return. 

Quality of life issues: Webcams and power bricks

Two other new features are making a MacBook Air appearance here. One is vitally important, the other more of a nice extra. 

The Air now gets the updated MagSafe 3 power connection found on the 14-/16-inch Pro (and absent from the M2 13-inch MacBook Pro). That's in addition to the two USB-C/Thunderbolt ports on the left side. Now, I loved the original MagSafe, which was on the Air for several years, but in the modern USB-C era, I almost never use it, opting instead to use any of the dozens of standard USB-C power cables I have sitting around. The universality of laptop chargers is one of the greatest developments in power cable history, so of course Apple had to go and add a proprietary cable back into the mix. 

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The pleasingly small new 35W charger. 

Of course, you don't have to use the MagSafe cable, you can use just about any USB-C charger instead. That said, the MagSafe cable is now color-coordinated with the Air, so my cable was Midnight. Also note that the $1,199 base model doesn't use the new 35W adapter, but instead an older 30W design. The upsell version of the Air does include the new charger, which is pleasantly compact and includes two USB-C ports (one for the power cable and one extra). You can add it to the base model for an extra $20, or jump to the big 67W adapter for the same $20. 

Much more important to me is the new 1080-resolution webcam. It's the same hardware as the 14-/16-inch MacBook Pro camera, which is excellent, and a huge step up from the 720 camera MacBooks have been stuck with for years. 

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The 1080 camera in the M2 MacBook Air (left) has better resolution and image processing than the 720 webcam in the M1 Air (right). 

It's a change too long in coming, but a welcome one, and that leaves the M2 13-inch MacBook Pro and the M1 MacBook Air as the sole MacBooks left with the older, inferior camera. In this simple side-by-side comparison you can see the difference. In our Zoom-addicted future-of-work world, it's a must-have. 

Of all the upgrades, changes and improvements in the new MacBook Air, that's probably the one I'd be most unwilling to give up.

Originally published July 14, 2022. 

Geekbench 5 (multicore)

Geekbench metal, cinebench r23 (multicore), 3dmark wild life extreme, system configurations.

The MacBook Air M2 is available starting June 15, 2022 .&nbsp;

When will the M2 MacBook Air be released?

The MacBook Air M2 is available starting June 15, 2022 . 

The base configuration for the new M2 version of the MacBook Air is $1,299 . The upgraded config is $1,499 and includes more GPU cores and more storage space. The most expensive configuration I was able to built on Apple's website was $2,499.&nbsp;

How much does the MacBook Air M2 cost?

The base configuration for the new M2 version of the MacBook Air is $1,299 . The upgraded config is $1,499 and includes more GPU cores and more storage space. The most expensive configuration I was able to built on Apple's website was $2,499. 

The review process for laptops, desktops, tablets and other computer-like devices consists of two parts: performance testing under controlled conditions in the CNET Labs and extensive hands-on use by our expert reviewers. This includes evaluating a device's aesthetics, ergonomics and features. A final review verdict is a combination of both those objective and subjective judgments.&nbsp;

The list of benchmarking software we use changes over time as the devices we test evolve. The most important core tests we're currently running on every compatible computer include: Primate Labs Geekbench 5 , Cinebench R23 , PCMark 10 and 3DMark Fire Strike Ultra .&nbsp;

A more detailed description of each benchmark and how we use it can be found in our How We Test Computers page.&nbsp;

How we test computers

The review process for laptops, desktops, tablets and other computer-like devices consists of two parts: performance testing under controlled conditions in the CNET Labs and extensive hands-on use by our expert reviewers. This includes evaluating a device's aesthetics, ergonomics and features. A final review verdict is a combination of both those objective and subjective judgments. 

The list of benchmarking software we use changes over time as the devices we test evolve. The most important core tests we're currently running on every compatible computer include: Primate Labs Geekbench 5 , Cinebench R23 , PCMark 10 and 3DMark Fire Strike Ultra . 

A more detailed description of each benchmark and how we use it can be found in our How We Test Computers page. 

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Macbook Air M1 (2020) Review and Prices

new macbook air reviews

  • MacBook Air M1 (2020)

Table of Contents

What Is the MacBook Air M1?

Macbook air m1 review, macbook air m1: the bottom line.

As one of the original thin-and-light 13-inch laptops, the Apple MacBook Air is Apple's entry-level computer. The latest version of this 13-inch MacBook features Apple's new M1 processor and places fourth in our rating of the Best Laptops of 2024 . It packs a powerful punch in an ultra-thin profile, just as it did when it was introduced in 2008. Today the Air is less revolutionary among modern laptops, but professional reviewers say it's still an excellent choice for many people, especially because the latest version swaps the Intel CPU for the M1 MacBook Air for better performance.

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Ranked #4 in Best Laptops of 2024 Ranked #2 in Best Laptops for College of 2024 Ranked #2 in Best Business Laptops of 2024

Sleek and classic design

Nearly as much power as the MacBook Pro 13-inch

Great battery life

No touch screen

Only two USB-C ports

No HDR or 4K

The M1 MacBook Air was introduced in late 2020 and starts at $999 with an eight-core, ARM-based M1 chip, seven-core GPU, and what Apple calls a "Neural Engine" to process AI. All of these are integrated on a single chip that promises greater speed and security than the Intel Core i5 and Core i7 processors. Professional reviewers are pleased with the chip's performance overall. They also love the MacBook Air's screen for its clarity, the fanless operation that ensures it's super quiet, and the slim design that makes it very easy to slip into a tight backpack or anywhere space is limited.

Many of the Apple MacBook Air's special features when it debuted in 2008, such as a solid-state drive (SSD) and lack of an optical drive, are common in laptops today. But the M1 MacBook Air is now more affordable than it ever was and is an all-around better laptop for casual computer users. You can even run iPad apps if you wish. Anyone who requires consistently high performance from graphics, video, audio, or gaming apps should not consider a new MacBook Air. You won't find the latest screen technology or 5G connectivity, either. But the new MacBook Air is a good choice if you're set on Apple and don't need the fastest and greatest hardware Apple makes.

Casual computer users will like the MacBook Air for basic functions. Streaming movies, email, word processing, and light photo editing will work just as well as on the more expensive MacBook Pro 13-inch. But don't stress the MacBook Air by running large files through intensive CPU or GPU applications. If you do, the computer may run slower to avoid overheating, as there's no cooling fan.

MacBook Air M1: Price

The MacBook Air starts at $999 with a 256 GB SSD and $1,249 for 512 a GB SSD. Upgrading from the standard 8 GB RAM to 16 GB RAM costs $200. A 1 TB SSD or 2 TB SSD costs an extra $400 or $800, respectively. Only one M1 processor configuration and screen size are available.

MacBook Air M1: Design

Apple MacBook Air and MacBook Pro

The sleek aluminum case and thin-and-light profile have made the MacBook Air a stylish laptop since 2008. While many laptops have copied Apple's look, the MacBook Air is an industrial design showpiece of minimalism and form. Some reviewers don't like the thick black bezel surrounding the screen. The Dell XPS 13, for example, mirrors the Air M1 from every angle but has a thinner bezel. (It's also more expensive.) The Air M1 is available in three colors: Space Gray, silver, and gold.

MacBook Air M1: Performance

Reviewers say the Apple MacBook Air M1 is slower than the more expensive MacBook Pro, but it's fine for casual users. When loaded with browser tabs, some reviewers reported sluggish responses compared to other macOS or Windows laptops. Certain apps that aren't optimized for the M1, such as Google Chrome, are noticeably slower to load than native apps like Safari. This is because Intel-based apps run through Apple's Rosetta 2 emulator, which causes some processing delays. Ultimately, all Mac apps will transition to the M1 chip, but Apple's chip is still too new to run without Rosetta 2. Reviewers like the fast speed of the SSD and note that the M1 Air outperforms the Dell XPS 13 in several Photoshop and video-editing benchmarks.

MacBook Air M1: Displays

Apple MacBook Air

The MacBook Air comes with a 13.3-inch LED display capable of 2560 x 1600 resolution at a claimed 227 pixels per inch. It is identical to the display on the MacBook Pro 13-inch, except it is rated at a lower brightness (400 nits) and cannot display high dynamic range (HDR) video. The M1-based Air supports an external monitor at up to 6K resolution at 60 Hz. In general, users like the clarity and color. The Air M1's display is consistently bright at wide viewing angles, which is helpful when sharing the screen with someone else.

MacBook Air M1: Ports and Audio

Only two USB-C ports are included, either of which can be used as a power input. There is no USB-A port. There also is no SD or microSD card reader. This means if you're plugged in to an external power source, you only have one free port. We recommend a powered USB hub if you plan to plug in your phone and need to use at least one other USB device, such as a thumb drive, at the same time.

Reviewers say the built-in stereo speakers are adequately loud and have decent sound quality, but are a bit bass-shy due to the laptop's thin profile. The speakers can output Dolby Atmos but can't process any of the higher-resolution digital formats compatible with the MacBook Pro. A three mic configuration helps with Zoom calls, and Apple still provides a 3.5-mm headphone jack in addition to Bluetooth audio.

MacBook Air M1: Keyboard, Touchpad, and Webcam

Apple MacBook Air

The M1-powered Air's thin keys have a mechanical feel that attempts to match a larger, standalone keyboard. As ever, they are backlit and their brightness can be adjusted.

Apple calls the touchpad a Force Touch trackpad, which means that it can recognize pressure. When force clicking – pressing down to click and then pressing further – the trackpad calls up native functions in macOS that are otherwise hidden, such as website previews of links in Apple Mail. A variable pressure input lets you adjust the speed of rewinding or fast-forwarding video. Force feedback will "bump" your finger to let you know when you've aligned objects to their snapping point, for example. Apple's multi-gesture feature lets you move through applications with one, two, or three fingers that would ordinarily take clicks and multiple steps in other laptops.

The 720p webcam is only average and doesn't measure up to Apple's latest front-facing webcams on the iPhone. While reviewers note that the M1 chip is capable of reducing noise on live video, the quality is disappointing.

MacBook Air M1: Security

There is no cover for the webcam, and reviewers note that the Air M1 is missing certain enterprise functions for businesses that need to remotely manage their employee laptops. Apple's Touch ID saves the user's fingerprint on the device and doesn’t need to upload any data to a server. MacOS uses strong 256-bit AES encryption for the SSD. There’s also a secure boot option, and if the Air vanishes, Apple lets the user remotely lock it using the Find My app.

MacBook Air M1: Battery Life

The MacBook Air M1 is rated by Apple for up to 15 hours of browsing the web or up to 18 hours when using the Apple TV app. Many reviewers noted they could use the Air all day without charging, though the battery is smaller than the one powering the MacBook Pro 13-inch.

MacBook Air M1 vs. the Competition

Macbook pro (2021) ».

new macbook air reviews

MacBook Air M1 vs. MacBook Pro (2021)

The MacBook Air M1 is the everyman's laptop. It's thin, light, and packed with power and most of Apple's most cutting-edge features. It's also relatively affordable at $999. Older MacBook Air models were significantly underpowered compared to the MacBook Pro 2021, but that's no longer the case. Both models use the M1 chip and in testing, reviewers have found the Air was almost neck and neck with the Pro. The MacBook Pro, thanks to the cooling fan and Touch Bar, is the better choice for users who need more power and flexibility. But if you want a 13-inch MacBook and don't need class-leading power, the Apple MacBook Air is a good choice.

Learn more in our MacBook Pro (2021) review .

Dell XPS 13 »

new macbook air reviews

MacBook Air M1 vs. Dell XPS 13

Side by side, the Dell XPS 13 and MacBook Air look very similar. Dell laptops have become stylish and high-quality, just like MacBooks. The XPS 13 has a lower-resolution screen (1920 x 1200) but comes standard as a touch screen and can be ordered with a 4K (3840 x 2400) display that's set within a very thin bezel. The XPS 13 also allows up to 32 GB of memory expansion and weighs slightly less than the Air (2.64 pounds versus 2.8).

Learn more in our Dell XPS 13 review .

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MacBook Air M1 FAQ

Macbook air m1 (2020) ».

Apple sells the MacBook Air directly online or through its retail stores. Models with the 256 GB or 512 GB SSD and 8 GB or 16 GB of RAM are currently stocked in-store or can be shipped within a couple of days. Shipment of models with 16 GB RAM or with 1 TB or 2 TB SSDs may be delayed. Other Apple-authorized retailers, such as Best Buy or Amazon, may have different waiting periods and more limited model specifications.

A one-year warranty and 90 days of tech support are included. AppleCare+ is an extended warranty (up to three extra years) and offers coverage for two accidental damage incidents every 12 months (with a service fee of $99 for screen or case damage and $299 for all others). The current price for AppleCare+ for this model is $69.99 per year or a flat $199 for three years.

The MacBook Air comes with a 13.3-inch IPS LED display capable of 2560 x 1600 resolution, 227 pixels per inch, and is rated at 400-nit brightness.

Every Air comes with an eight-core M1 CPU rated at an estimated 3.2 GHz, seven-core GPU, and what Apple calls a "Neural Engine" to process AI. They're all integrated on a single chip and promise greater speed and security than the Intel Core i5 and Core i7 processors.

Either 8 GB or 16 GB of RAM is available. Apple does not specify speeds or types.

MacOS Monterey comes with Mail, Safari, Garage Band, iMovie, and the usual assortment of standard Apple apps. Final Cut Pro is available for $299.99 and Logic Pro is $199.99. Apple TV+ is included for three months.

Yes, the Air M1 is a good choice for business use and is our No. 2 Best Business Laptop of 2024 .

No, Apple does not make any good gaming laptops . In addition, game developers don't support Apple computers like they do Windows computers.

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MacBook Air 15 review: The MacBook Air 13, but bigger

Bigger is definitely better.

MacBook Air 15-inch

Laptop Mag Verdict

The new MacBook Air 15 brings you a big, beautiful Liquid Retina display, excellent speakers and powerful performance in the world's thinnest 15-inch chassis.

Ultra-slim chassis

Lovely Liquid Retina display

Excellent battery life

Good performance

Not a lot of ports

Why you can trust Laptop Mag Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test .

  • Pricing and configuration
  • Keyboard and trackpad
  • Performance
  • Battery life
  • Software and warranty
  • Bottom line

In my work life, I use a MacBook Pro , a 2019 15-inch MacBook to be precise. I requested it because, because the alternative was a Dell Latitude that reviewed poorly on the site and because at the time, 15-inches was the sweet spot. Not too big, not too small, just out there living its best Goldilocks life. But I have to admit that lugging my faithful work laptop can get a bit uncomfortable after a while, especially when I’m at a convention or event. 

But what’s a girl to do? I don’t want to give up my beautiful 15-inch display or the extra typing space. Apple might have just delivered the answer with the new MacBook Air 15. Currently holding the title of the world’s thinnest 15-inch laptop, the MacBook Air 15 brings the iconic good looks we’ve come to take for granted from Apple and added its 8-core M2 processor, essentially making it a bigger MacBook Air 13. 

True, there are a couple of things that set the MacBook Air 15 apart. But is it enough? I went hands on with the nascent machine to find out.

MacBook Air 15 Pricing and Configuration

As announced at WWDC 2023 , the base model of the Air 15 costs $1,299 ($1,199 for education). It’s the same price as the 13-inch MacBook Pro. For that, you get Apple’s 8-core M2 CPU, 8GB of unified memory, a 256GB SSD, a 10-core M2 GPU and a 15.3-inch Liquid Retina display. 

There’s also the $1,499 version which doubles the storage. The $2,499 model is the top of the line and bumps the memory to 24GB and the storage to 2TB. 

MacBook Air 15 Design

Call me sentimental, but I would have loved to see the 15-inch MacBook Air with that old-school wedge design that made the Air line famous. However, Apple still managed to slim the 15-inch down to a meager 0.45-inch thickness, making the Air 15 the world’s thinnest 15-inch laptop. That’s only a hair thicker than the 0.44-inch 13-inch Air . The Air 15 is also incredibly light at 3.3 pounds. Compare that to the 13.6 x 9.1 x 0.7-inch Dell XPS 15 which weighs 4.2 pounds.

However, both the LG SuperSlim 16 (14 x 8.9 x 0.49 inches) and Acer Swift Go 14 (12.3 x 8.6 x 0.59 inches) are lighter at 2.2 and 2.9 pounds, respectively. 

Boasting four colors (Space Gray, Silver, Starlight and Midnight), the Air 15 is one of the more colorful MacBooks on the roster. My favorite of the group is Midnight, but if I had my choice, I would want the slim stunner in Deep Purple to match the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max . But for this review, I’m working with the Air 15 in Starlight. It’s still an undeniable beauty with its anodized aluminum chassis. This baby doesn’t need any flourish outside of the gleaming logo in the center of the lid. 

Opening the lid shows off more of that aluminum finish and the black Magic keyboard. The Liquid Retina display is pretty as always and surrounded by slim bezels on three sides. Are they as good as the XPS 15’s four-sided InfinityEdge bezels? No, but they’re a massive step forward from the chunky bezels of old.

MacBook Air 15 Security

Still no Face ID, despite the massive notch jutting from the top bezel. Instead, Touch ID is embedded into the power button to ensure your data remains secure. 

MacBook Air 15 Ports

This is a MacBook Air. As such, don’t expect a gaggle of ports . Instead you have a pair of Thunderbolt ports on the left with the MagSafe 3 charger and the lone headset jack on the right. As you’ll need more ports, you’ll definitely want to check out our best USB Type-C hubs page to accommodate all your peripherals. 

MacBook Air 15 Display

A bigger Air means a bigger display . In the case of the MacBook Air 15, that means a gorgeous 15.3-inch panel. The Air 15’s 2880 x 1886p Liquid Retina display like most other MacBooks is simply beautiful to look at. And thanks to Apple’s TrueTone technology which automatically corrects the color temperature depending on the environment, maintained its good looks whether I was seated outside soaking up some sun or enjoying the central air in my darkened bedroom. 

Watching a clip from “The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster,” details like the prominent crack in actor’s Laya DeLeon Hayes’ glasses were immediately noticeable. But the panel also captured the finer details such as the delicate striations in her forest green tank top, not to be confused with the lush verdant green of the lawn in the background. Hayes’ golden brown skin had a mix of reddish-yellow undertones.

Watching a clip from “The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster,” details like the prominent crack in actor’s Laya DeLeon Hayes’ glasses were immediately noticeable. But the panel also captured the finer details such as the delicate striations in her forest green tank top, not to be confused with the lush verdant green of the lawn in the background. Hayes’ golden brown skin had a mix of reddish-yellow undertones. 

However, as previously MacBooks reviews have shown, while the Air 15 is plenty bright averaging a stunning 473 nits, outshining the 345-nit mainstream average. But the Air 15 didn’t stop there as it made its competitors look dim by comparison. The Swift Go notched a distant second place at 395 nits with the SuperSlim 16 hot on its heels at 385 nits. The XPS 15, meanwhile, averaged 371 nits. 

But as bright as the MacBook Air 15 is it does falter when it comes to color gamut , reproducing only 78.9% of the DCI-P3 color gamut which is well below the 129.8% category average. The Swift Go 14 rallied with an incredibly vivid 175.7% with the LG and Dell sliding in with 139 and 137.9% each. 

The Air 15 did prove to be the most color accurate however with a Delta-E score of 0.17 (0 is ideal), topping the 2.62 average. The XPS 15 was next at 0.24, followed by the LG (0.3) and Acer (0.32).

MacBook Air 15 Audio

Similar to the larger MacBook Pros, the Air 15 has a six speaker setup including a pair of force-cancelling woofers. And like modern AirPods , the notebook also supports spatial audio. In fact, the effect gets even more precise when used with a pair of AirPods as dynamic head tracking comes into play. 

At times, the speakers danced on the knife’s edge of being tinny at max volume. It’s nothing that can’t be solved by turning the volume down slightly. But overall, the top-firing speakers are plenty powerful and had no problem filling my smallish living and dining room.

The speakers got off to a good start on  ïnnü’s “What Dat Mouf Do” delivering a clean guitar twang on the opening before transitioning into a sensual ballad filled with a robust bass, clean guitar and warm piano. The soundstage was big enough to give the hi-hats, cymbals and shakers their own separate space. All this while the vocalist’s honeyed tenor sang his sultry song of seduction. 

All in all, the MacBook Air 15 can give a few of the smaller and mid-sized Bluetooth speakers a run for their money. But if you want to maintain a private party, you can either connect a pair of wireless earbuds to the system or go old-school and plug in a wired pair. 

MacBook Air 15 Keyboard and Trackpad

I used the MacBook Air 15 to write up this review and it was a positively comfortable experience. The big flat keys that make up the Magic Keyboard offer a satisfying click and just the right amount of spring. The backlighting is bright, but not annoyingly so –– just enough to make it easy to read the font in a darkened room for you non-touch typists. 

When I took the 10fastfinger typing test, I hit 77 words per minute which is better than my usual 70-wpm result. I could definitely see myself typing out many more articles on this baby. 

The 5.9 x 3.6-inch Force Touch trackpad is quick and responsive, performing all my scrolling and multi-gesture commands flawlessly, The bottom corners aren’t mushy, but lack that little click I like. But it has firm feedback which is more important in the grand scheme of things. 

MacBook Air 15 Performance

While I wish the Air 15 had an M2 Pro or M2 Max chip, the Air line has a specific audience that it’s going for. And while those consumers definitely want performance, they want it without breaking the bank, hence the entry-level M2 CPU (4 performance/4 efficiency cores) which can more than get the job done. My review unit has the 8-core Apple M2 chip with a 16-core Neural Engine, 16GB of unified memory and a 512GB SSD. It’s a well tested configuration in its smaller brethren, but let’s see how it holds up against larger machines. 

As expected, my real world tests couldn’t put a dent in the M2’s performance. Despite my 80 open tabs of RAM-draining Google Chrome , the Air 15 didn’t put up a fuss, even with a sticky mix of productivity, social media and videos. Apps still opened lickety split and switching between my organized chaos was nothing to the laptop. 

The Air 15 came out the gate swinging on our synthetic tests, hitting 9,993 on Geekbench 6.1, our overall performance test, sailing past the 8,389 category average. However, it wasn’t enough to stave off Intel ’s 13th Gen processors. The LG SuperSlim 16 ( Intel Core i7-1360P) reached 10,282 while the Dell XPS 15 and Acer Swift Go 14 with their Core i7-13700H CPUs turned in scores of 12,171 and 11,950, respectively. 

During the Handbrake video transcoding benchmark, the Air 15 took 7 minutes and 46 seconds to transcode a 4K video to 1080p, just beating the 7:53 mainstream average and the LG’s time of 10:41. However, the MacBook was outclassed by both the Dell (5:01) and the Acer (5:35). 

Measuring for file transfer speed, the Air 15 is in a league all of its own, literally. MacOS doesn’t play nice with our File Transfer test, so we run the BlackMagic Read/Write test instead. The notebook pulled down 2,793.9 megabytes per second on the Read test, surpassing the 2,423.5MBps average. We saw a blistering 3,146MBps on the Write test that secured the Air 15’s victory over the 2,150.8MBps category average. 

MacBook Air 15 Graphics

When it comes to graphics, specifically gaming, MacBooks are getting better, but they’re not quite there yet. Still, I’m loving the progress. On games optimized for MacOS, like No Man’s Sky and Resident Evil Village, you can expect smooth gaming performance with solid frame rates. 

On non-optimized titles, the results are a little dicier. For instance, on the Sid Meier Civilization VI benchmark, the Air 15 notched 43 fps at 1920 x 1200, besting the 35-fps average as well as the 27 fps and 25 fps put up by the Swift Go 14 and the SuperSlim 16 –– both of which are powered by integrated Intel Iris Xe Graphics. The XPS 15’s discrete Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 GPU absolutely shredded this test with 115 fps. 

When we re-ran the test at or close to native resolution (2880 x 1600 for the MacBook), the frame rate fell to 29 fps, which is one frame below our playability threshold and several below the 34-fps mainstream average. The Acer dropped to 19 fps while the Dell delivered a very playable 69 fps.

During the Borderlands 3 test, the Air 15 only saw 16 fps, matching the mainstream average. The Dell XPS 15, blew that result out of the water with 65 fps.

On the Shadow of the Tomb Raider benchmark, the Air 15 reached 26 fps, missing the 36-fps average and falling far short of the XPS 15’s 67 fps. On native resolution, the MacBook’s frame rate dropped to 12 fps, just a few frames below the 14-fps mainstream average and half the frame rate of the XPS 15.

MacBook Air 15 Battery Life

Typically when a laptop maker makes a claim about battery life, I take it with a grain of salt. I’ve seen our battery test (continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness) prove otherwise too many times. But when it’s an Apple device, I tend to believe the hype as historically, MacBooks have been some of the longest lasting laptops. And so it goes with the MacBook Air 15 with its 14 hours and 59 minutes of battery life. That outpaced its little brother, the 13-inch by 53 minutes. 

The Air 15’s time absolutely demolished the competition. The Swift Go 14 tapped out after 8:05 while the XPS 15 waved the white flag after 8:58. The LG came the closest to even thinking about catching the MacBook with a time of 11:38. And forget the 9:55 average as the MacBook completely blew it out the water.

When the time finally does come to recharge the battery, you can rest easy knowing you won't have long to wait, provided you opt for the [TK] 70W USB power adapter as it's fast-charge compatible. But in the interest of having another charging port, I'm fine with the dual USB-C 35W power adapter. 

MacBook Air 15 Heat

I know, I know. When you see the words “fanless design,” your nethers want to recede so far into your body, you might experience a voice change. But never fear, as Apple’s on the case and has the heating situation and your bits and bobs covered. We played a fullscreen 15-minute video and tested key spots on the system. The system never exceeded our 95-degree Fahrenheit comfort threshold. 

The touchpad and the center of the keyboard were within spitting distance of each other with temperatures of 78 and 80 degrees, respectively. The laptop’s undercarriage was slightly warmer at 82 degrees. 

I used the Air 15 in my laptop for over four hours a sitting and never felt any discomfort on my bare thighs.

MacBook Air 15 Webcam

Typically, this section is a write off as a lot of laptop OEMs phone it in on the webcams, yielding grainy photos and video with washed out color. Not so with the Air 15. It’s 1080p webcam is in the running for my best webcam of the year. Not only did it capture the purple, green, blue and pink in my locs, it didn’t wash out my chocolate skin tone. Text was clean enough that you can read the book title in the background of the shot and make out some of the finer details of my “Into the Spiderverse” t-shirt. 

However, if you want even better webcam results, you’ll want to peruse our best webcams page. 

MacBook Air 15 Software and Warranty

Even though I use Mac for my work life, I’m still fairly new to reviewing them and really taking a deeper look into things like the software. And while we’re eagerly awaiting the launch of MacOS Sonoma, I’m still digging Ventura . The tasks optimization is top tier with the operating system assigning tasks between its performance and efficiency cores, which is the key to both the power and endurance of the Air 15. 

The Mac ecosystem is even easier to navigate with iCloud and the Continuity features. If you own an iPad or iPhone, Handoff is there to let you finish writing an email you started on MacBook on your iPhone. Airdropping between iDevices has become even easier. The Universal Clipboard allows you to copy and paste text or images from an iPhone or iPad right into a document on the MacBook. 

The MacBook Air 15 ships with a one-year limited warranty. See how Apple fared during Tech Support Showdown and Best and Worst Brands, our annual reports. 

Bottom Line

So all things stated, I think I’ve found my new work laptop. The MacBook Air 15 is incredibly lightweight which will definitely come in handy when I’m on travel. The Liquid Retina display, while not the most colorful on the block, is the most accurate and the brightest. And honestly, when I’m watching movies, I really can’t tell the difference. 

The entry-level M2 chip can more than handle my daily workload and the Magic Keyboard makes for a comfortable typing experience hours later. Speaking of which, at just short of 15 hours of battery life, the Air 15 can more than hang with me during work hours and some off-the-clock activities if I’m so inclined. And the step up to six speakers is a great look for the Air. Plus, at $1,699, the MacBook Air 15 sits in that sweet spot of affordability, which in this economy is a godsend. 

Now granted, I really wish Apple had giving the Air 15 more ports, particularly an SD card reader slot for when I need to pull photos off my DSLR. However, it’s nothing a dongle can’t fix. My bigger gripe would be the somewhat shaky gaming performance, but I’m hoping with titles such as Death Stranding: Director’s Cut getting the Apple treatment more developers will make the leap. But if I’m just using this as a work system, this is a somewhat minor thing. 

However, if you want to game on the go, or do some more graphically-taxing tasks, the Dell XPS 15 is your huckleberry, but be prepared to pay at least a $2,499 premium for the privilege. But if you’re looking for a long-lasting, lightweight system with a lovely display, solid performance and powerful speakers, the MacBook Air 15 is the way to go. 

Sherri L. Smith

Sherri L. Smith has been cranking out product reviews for Laptopmag.com since 2011. In that time, she's reviewed more than her share of laptops, tablets, smartphones and everything in between. The resident gamer and audio junkie, Sherri was previously a managing editor for Black Web 2.0 and contributed to BET.Com and Popgadget.

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  • Electronics

The Best MacBooks

A pair of black15- and 13-inch MacBook Air M2 models sitting next to each other , with the 15-inch model in the forefront showing an abstract blue and black homescreen background.

The best Mac laptop for most people is the 13-inch MacBook Air with Apple’s M2 processor.

The 13-inch Air is fantastic for web browsing, working on documents, coding, and light photo and video editing. And for those seeking a large screen, better speakers, and slightly better thermal performance, we recommend the new 15-inch MacBook Air with the M2 processor as our upgrade pick.

We still recommend the M1 MacBook Air as a budget MacBook pick. It’s a fast, reliable laptop and has already been seen on sale for $200 off its list price since the new, 15-inch M2 MacBook was announced.

Everything we recommend

new macbook air reviews

Apple MacBook Air (M2, 2022, 13″)

A sleek design and a nice webcam.

The 2022 M2 MacBook Air has an updated design, a brighter screen, and a better webcam, and it restores the fan-favorite MagSafe port.

Buying Options

Budget pick.

new macbook air reviews

Apple MacBook Air (M1, 2020)

Performance for a great price.

The M1 MacBook Air has a comfortable keyboard, good performance, and a reasonable amount of storage—things that haven’t always been true of previous MacBook Airs.

Costco membership required

Upgrade pick

new macbook air reviews

Apple MacBook Air (M2, 2023, 15")

Bigger screen, better speakers.

The 15-inch MacBook Air has a larger screen and improved speakers, and it runs just a little cooler than the 13-inch version.

You save $150 (13%)

Recommended configuration

The M2 MacBook Air has a few great updates over the slightly older M1 model that we think make the device feel better to use. The 2022 M2 MacBook Air has a brighter display that lets you see the screen more clearly outside on a sunny day. And it has a higher-resolution webcam that makes you look a little bit more clear on video calls. Apple also added a MagSafe port, which allows a magnetic charging cable to securely stick to the MacBook Air and harmlessly detach if a passerby’s foot catches it in a coffee shop.

However, this laptop isn’t ideal for people who edit photos, videos, or otherwise process large media files. Our tests found the laptop would get hot to the touch even after a minute of exporting video or batch editing photos, to levels that would make the laptop uncomfortable to use. But for everyday work tasks, browsing the web, watching movies, and even playing App Store games, the M2 MacBook Air offers a bunch of great upgrades over the previous generation.

We recommend the basic $1,000 version of the MacBook Air , which has enough speed, memory, and storage for most day-to-day computer tasks. Apple’s new M1 processor is much faster than the low-power Intel processors in previous MacBook Airs, and its battery life is so good that you should almost never need to charge it during the day if you don’t want to. And unlike previous MacBook Air models, the M1 version doesn’t require a cooling fan, which keeps it dead silent even when you’re maxing out the processor by exporting a video or playing a game.

The Air includes only two USB-C ports (which support Thunderbolt 3) plus a headphone jack—but Thunderbolt docks and USB-C hubs and adapters are common enough and inexpensive enough that this isn’t as big of a problem as it used to be.

The 15-inch M2 MacBook Air is an upgrade over the 13-inch model, with a significantly larger screen and better speakers. The bigger display feels less cramped than the 13-inch model when you switch between multiple windows or work with two documents side by side. The 15-inch M2 MacBook Air’s upgraded speaker system has a noticeably fuller sound.

We also think this laptop is better for editing audio or video than the 13-inch version. In addition to its upgraded screen, its larger size helps the laptop run slightly cooler during processor-intensive tasks like exporting large files.

The research

Why you should trust us, who this is for and when to buy, how we picked, our pick: m2 macbook air (2022), the most affordable mac laptop: m1 macbook air (2020), upgrade pick: 15-inch m2 macbook air, the competition.

Dave Gershgorn has reviewed and covered technology since 2015 at publications such as Popular Science, Quartz, Medium, and now Wirecutter. He has also built, repaired, and largely avoided frying his own computers since 2006. At Wirecutter, he tests laptops, monitors, and tablets.

The best reason to buy a MacBook is that you need or prefer macOS to Windows, or the physical design of Apple’s laptops. The operating system is stable and easy to use, but more importantly, it integrates well with iPhones and iPads—for example, iMessages and SMS messages sent from your Mac also appear on your iPhone and vice versa, and features such as AirDrop and iCloud make it easy to share notes, pictures, videos, reminders, contacts, passwords, bookmarks, and other data between your devices.

Macs are also a good choice if you want great support. Apple’s tech support is routinely rated above that of most, if not all, other PC and phone makers, and Apple Stores and Apple authorized service providers offer accessible in-person tech support and repairs in many locations.

Apple has moved away from Intel CPUs to its own processors for MacBooks (or “ Apple silicon ”), and the result is better performance than most Windows laptops in some key ways. Apple’s processors have much better performance and faster integrated graphics, and they get stellar battery life. Their batteries are also less prone to draining quickly when you’re using an energy-hogging app like Zoom or Google Chrome.

Macs aren’t a great choice if you have less than $1,000 to spend on a laptop, if you want to run high-end games, or if you want to be able to make upgrades or repairs yourself. Windows ultrabooks provide decent performance and more kinds of ports at or below the price Apple charges for the MacBook Air. Budget Chrome OS and Windows laptops are a better choice if you have only $500 to spend, while business laptops make it easier to fix and upgrade components over time. And Windows gaming notebooks and pro laptops , while typically large and bulky, usually have newer and faster dedicated graphics processors than Apple’s laptops do (and you can buy some of them for less than half of what a 16-inch MacBook Pro costs).

A pair of black 15- and 13-inch MacBook Air M2 models sitting side by side, the 15-inch model showing an abstract blue and black homescreen background and the 13-inch model showing an abstract rainbow background.

As of this writing, Apple offers six different laptops in multiple configurations. We considered the following criteria when deciding which ones to recommend:

  • Performance: Any MacBook with an Apple processor like the M1 is going to be more than speedy enough for day-to-day browsing and communicating as well as heavy multitasking or compiling code. All MacBooks include at least 8 GB of RAM, which is plenty for everyday tasks, but you should consider upgrading to 16 GB or 32 GB if you edit a lot of large files or want to run Windows apps in a virtual machine . If you need the highest file transfer speeds or create gigabyte-scale files, it’s worth upgrading M2 MacBooks to 512 GB of storage. The 256 GB versions are reported to have lower speeds, the most noticeable difference being slightly longer processing or transfer times when working with gigabyte-size files. Our tests have validated these reports as well.
  • Display: A high-resolution IPS display is a must on any laptop priced at or above $1,000. All of Apple’s current Retina displays are sharp and color-accurate and capable of displaying nearly 100% of the sRGB and DCI-P3 color gamuts.
  • Ports: The USB-C ports on Apple computers, also referred to as Thunderbolt ports, are all capable of transmitting power, video, and data at the same time. The MacBook Air line and 13-inch M2 MacBook Pro have Thunderbolt 3 ports, while the larger 14- and 16-inch M3 MacBook Pros have faster Thunderbolt 4 ports. All MacBooks include at least two of these ports, so you can charge the laptop and connect a second device at the same time. We have picks for both Thunderbolt 3 docks and USB-C docks , as well as for USB-C monitors , and USB-C data cables and video cables , spare or replacement USB-C chargers , and other accessories that will help you connect all of your old stuff to these new ports.
  • Keyboard and Touch ID: You shouldn’t buy a MacBook that still has the low-travel butterfly-switch keyboard that Apple installed in all of its MacBooks between 2015 and 2019, mostly because of its unsatisfying, flat feel and well-documented reliability problems. Our picks all have the newer scissor-switch keyboard, which is nicer to type on and shouldn’t be as susceptible to dust and dirt. All current MacBooks include the Touch ID fingerprint sensor; the presence or absence of the Touch Bar didn’t factor in one way or the other into our decision-making since it’s a neat feature but still mostly superfluous.
  • Size and weight: All of Apple’s laptops are relatively thin and light compared with similar laptops from other manufacturers, but the 13-inch models tend to offer the best combination of size, weight, and performance.
  • Price: Macs cost a lot, but most people don’t need to buy the most expensive versions. Our recommended configurations balance performance, storage, and price—we especially recommend relying on cloud storage or external storage , if you can, instead of buying a larger SSD, since Apple’s expensive storage upgrades add hundreds of dollars to the price of its laptops.
  • Battery life: When you’re performing basic computing tasks such as browsing or emailing, all of Apple’s laptops should be able to get you through most of an eight-hour workday on a single charge. And Macs with Apple processors last for hours longer than that, with less battery drain when using common energy-draining apps like Zoom or Google Chrome.

Our pick for best Macbook for people who will pay more for a few general improvements, the 13-inch M2 MacBook Air (2022).

The M2 MacBook Air is the MacBook we recommend for most people. After launching the 15-inch MacBook Air, Apple reduced the 13-inch model’s price by $100, making an already-great laptop more appealing and slightly more accessible. It’s a spectacularly thin and light laptop. It has a bright screen, which makes it easier to use outside, and a better webcam for video calls. And it has a MagSafe charging cable that easily detaches when snagged by an errant foot.

The most noticeable difference between the M2 MacBook Air and the previous M1 generation is the shape of the laptop itself. Previous MacBook Airs featured a “wedge” design, where the laptop gets progressively thicker toward the hinge of the screen. The M2 version is now uniformly thin. This revised design feels fantastic to use and carry around, and makes the laptop even easier to slip into backpacks. The M2 Air also has slightly longer battery life than the M1 version in our tests that simulate web browsing. However, the battery life is shorter when the screen is at maximum brightness; we were still able to work for more than eight hours on a charge.

A welcome upgrade to the M2 MacBook Air is a brighter, 500-nit screen, which makes the laptop more versatile and easier to read outside or in bright lighting conditions. (I’ve taken the liberty of writing much of this guide outside on sunny days using the M2 Air, for the sake of an accurate and well-tested piece.) The 13.6 inch, 2560×1664 resolution screen is slightly larger than the previous MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro. The display is also incredibly color-accurate, and our tests measured it as accurate enough for professional creative work. Like the previous M1 MacBook Air, the laptop only supports one external display.

At the top of the Air’s display you’ll find a notch for the webcam, much like the notch in iPhones and larger MacBook Pros. Apple has upgraded this webcam to 1080p resolution, a welcome change after the 720p webcams of previous MacBook Airs. The 1080p camera is sharp and made me look a bit less washed-out on video calls.

The M2 MacBook Air also includes a MagSafe port. These magnetic charging cables were a mainstay on MacBooks until about five years ago, when the company switched to USB-C ports that offered all-in-one charging, data transfer, and video connection. We’ve missed them ever since, but now they’re back on the MacBook Air, alongside those multi-use USB-C ports. The included MagSafe cable clips onto the laptop’s port securely but easily detaches if snagged by someone’s foot at a coffee shop or if you hoist your laptop in an exuberant eureka moment. You can still charge the laptop via USB-C as well. Apple has also added fast charging, so the Air will charge to 50% battery in just 30 minutes when using a charger with at least 67 W of power .

The new MacBook Air also has an updated M2 processor, which is slightly faster than its predecessor, but most people won’t be able to notice the difference while browsing the web and writing documents. In our tests, the new Air performed up to 20% faster in benchmarks and real-world tests like video editing.

However, the M2 MacBook Air’s performance comes with two caveats. During any kind of video exporting, photo processing, or other media creation, the M2 MacBook Air gets uncomfortably hot after just a few minutes of work. The processor radiates heat from the keyboard and the bottom of the device, with external temperatures up to 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Separately, the M2 MacBook Air with 256 GB of storage has a slower storage drive than M1 MacBook Airs and M2 versions with 512 GB of storage. While the 512GB version’s storage can be up to 50% faster , you’ll likely only notice the difference while transferring or creating large, gigabyte-size files.

Frankly, these are annoying flaws in an otherwise great device that introduces several upgrades many have asked Apple to implement for years. But these flaws are also unlikely to affect a vast majority of users, which is why we’re comfortable still recommending the M2 MacBook Air. Overall the new MacBook Air is a great update to the line, though Apple has some issues to work out in the device’s next iteration.

A close-up of the left side of the M2 MacBook Air, where the one magsafe and two usb-c ports are located.

The 13-inch MacBook Air was released in 2020, and it is still a fantastic laptop for the price. Apple comes out with new machines multiple times a year, and just because there are newer laptops, that doesn’t make this one any worse.

It’s more than fast enough for browsing, working on documents, and making light photo and video edits, and it has an excellent high-resolution screen, a great trackpad, a totally silent fanless design, and a reasonable price. Its battery life is excellent, long enough to survive through a full day of work or classes and then some. While there’s a newer version of the MacBook Air with Apple’s M2 processor, it doesn’t offer a major difference in any day-to-day tasks, so we think you can save $200 with the older (but still fantastic) version.

The Air’s light weight, solid construction, and industry-leading support make it a great laptop, especially if you also own an iPhone or other Apple devices. The biggest downside is its mediocre webcam—if that’s a priority, we recommend upgrading to the newer M2 MacBook Air, which has a higher-quality webcam and other upgrades for $100 more.

We recommend the $1,000 model, which includes an Apple M1 with a seven-core GPU, a 256 GB SSD, and 8 GB of memory. If you regularly work with a couple of dozen browser tabs open or if you edit large image files or videos, consider upgrading to 16 GB of memory for an extra $200. If you need more storage, we recommend adding an external hard drive or portable SSD rather than paying Apple’s upgrade prices. Don’t spend extra for the version of the M1 with the eight-core GPU; most people won’t notice the difference.

The MacBook Air has a bright and colorful 13-inch 2560×1600 IPS screen—this display has a higher resolution than the 1080p screens in most of the PC laptops we recommend, and text and images look sharp and detailed. The Air’s display supports both the sRGB color gamut and the wider DCI-P3 color gamut , which can display more shades of certain colors, though this feature isn’t hugely important unless you’re doing high-end film or photography work. The Air’s screen also supports the True Tone feature, which subtly changes the screen’s color temperature to match the ambient lighting in the room.

The ports on the new MacBook Air.

The Air has a headphone jack on its right side plus two Thunderbolt 3/USB-C ports on its left side for connectivity and charging, so you need adapters or new cables to connect your other devices. Each port supports charging, 40-gigabits-per-second data transfers, external displays (up to 6016×3384 resolution, or 6K, though you can only connect one external monitor at a time), and basic USB peripherals like flash drives, printers, and mice.

The Air uses Apple’s Magic Keyboard with a scissor-switch design, which it introduced to replace the stiff, shallow, breakage prone butterfly-switch keyboard that came with most MacBook Airs and Pros released between 2016 and 2019 . The Magic Keyboard still isn’t as springy as the pre-2016 MacBook keyboards (or Lenovo’s excellent ThinkPad keyboards), but it’s a huge improvement. If you have a 2015 or older MacBook Air or Pro, and you’ve been waiting to upgrade because you didn’t like the keyboard of 2016 and newer models, this keyboard is good enough for you to stop putting off the purchase. The MacBook Air skips the Touch Bar in favor of a row of physical function keys and a standalone Touch ID fingerprint sensor, but most people don’t need the Touch Bar, so we don’t really consider that to be a negative.

The keyboard on the new MacBook Air.

All of our picks include the same Force Touch trackpad, which remains the best trackpad we’ve used on a laptop because of its large size and its accuracy. It has no hinge, so it will recognize presses anywhere on the surface, but it also offers haptic feedback that makes it feel and sound as if it were “clicking” even though it doesn’t move. The Air’s trackpad isn’t quite as large as the Pro’s, but the difference isn’t noticeable if you’re not comparing the two side by side.

The Air is not an exceptionally thin or light laptop, but it is as slim as it needs to be, and it is comfortable to carry in a backpack or shoulder bag.

The M1 MacBook Air has great battery life and lasted longer than 14 hours in our test that simulates browsing the web and watching videos on YouTube. We also found that the M1 MacBook Air’s battery didn’t drain as quickly when using video-chatting apps like Zoom, which are typically pretty hard on a laptop’s battery.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

This version of the MacBook Air includes a basic 720p webcam, which is a lower resolution compared with many competitors. This is fine for casual video chatting if, say, the person on the other end of the call merely needs to see your face, and the M1’s image processing does help with exposure and white balance. But the webcam in the $1,000 MacBook Air is still noticeably inferior to the front-facing camera Apple includes with the $400 iPhone SE , or any of our less-than-$100 standalone webcam picks .

The M1 MacBook Air uses Thunderbolt 3 for all connectivity, including power. (The only other port is a 3.5 mm headphone/mic jack.) This means that if you own any hard drives, scanners, printers, thumb drives, or card readers that use USB Type-A ports, you need a hub or adapter ; similarly, if you want to use an external display or projector, you need the right video adapter .

It also can’t connect to more than one external display. That external screen can have a resolution as high as 6K, which covers Apple’s astronomically expensive Pro Display XDR , but even if you just want to connect a basic 1080p budget monitor to your MacBook, the laptop can only handle one of them.

A black 15-inch MacBook Air M2 showing an abstract blue and black homescreen background.

The 15-inch M2 MacBook Air is a worthy upgrade over the 13-inch version if you’re looking for a larger screen, better sound, and slightly cooler temperatures when you’re stressing the processor. It has the same general design as the smaller version, as well as the same ports, webcam, and keyboard. This laptop makes the most sense for people who watch movies or TV on their laptops, those who feel cramped using 13-inch laptops, or media editors who don’t have the inclination or budget to shell out for a MacBook Pro.

The 15.3-inch screen is the centerpiece of this laptop, and it is the main reason to upgrade. The screen has a 2880x1864 resolution, which is higher than that of the 13-inch version, to match its larger screen size. We’ve come to hold Apple’s displays to a high standard when testing for color accuracy, contrast, and brightness, after years of the company consistently making high-quality laptop screens. The 15-inch MacBook Air passed all of our tests with flying colors, and Apple has yet again made a sharp, accurate display. Color imperfections are so slight that they’re invisible to the naked eye, so this laptop could be used for color-accurate print work. We also measured a contrast ratio of 1383:1, which is better than that of most similarly priced displays.

Internally, the only difference in processing power between the 13- and 15-inch MacBooks Air is that the 15-inch version comes with an upgraded 10-core graphics processing unit. Though the 13-inch version can be ordered with that configuration as an option, it comes standard on the 15-inch model. The 15-inch MacBook Air otherwise has the same two Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports, MagSafe 3 port, and headphone jack as its 13-inch sibling. It also has the same 1080p webcam, which looks very sharp.

The side of the 15-inch MacBook Air, showing two USB-C ports and a Magsafe charging slot.

We were surprised to hear a noticeable difference between the 13-inch and 15-inch M2 MacBook’s speakers. The 15-inch model has two additional speakers, for a total of six. This setup gives a wider soundstage, and generally increases the volume and fidelity of the audio played.

One issue we had with the 13-inch M2 MacBook Air was that it got extremely hot—up to 110 degrees Fahrenheit on its surface—when exporting video or resizing images for even short periods of time. But the 15-inch version is made of more aluminum, by virtue of being larger to accommodate its screen, and that increase in material helps the laptop passively stay cooler. It still gets warm under a heavy workload, but not hot to the touch in the way that concerned us with the smaller model. This better thermal management also is the reason why we’re more comfortable recommending this version to media editors, and it's the budget pick in our guide to Best Laptops for Photo and Video Editing .

We recommend the base model of this machine, with 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of storage. Though this isn’t the configuration in the model Apple sent us to test, the author of this guide bought and regularly uses the M2 MacBook Air with this configuration, after initially testing the laptop, and he hasn’t run into any issues due to insufficient RAM. However, if you edit photos or videos professionally, deal with large datasets, compile code, or other intensive tasks that bog down your computer’s memory, you should upgrade to 16 GB of RAM. We generally think that Apple’s storage is overpriced, however, and find that between cloud storage and external hard drives, upgrading isn’t entirely necessary. Again, this might vary depending on your specific situation, so if you always run out of space on your storage drives, then it might be a worthwhile decision.

Apple’s MacBook Pro (M3) is appealing because it harkens back to a time when Apple laptops with Intel processors were underpowered enough that normal users had to buy “Pro” machines to get work done. But that’s no longer the case. Those who aren’t editing HDR video or handling color-critical workflows don’t need the MacBook Pro’s XDR display, the biggest differentiator between the models. And even in our video editing tests, we only see a major difference between Apple’s Pro and non-Pro processors when editing 4K video. Unlike the 14-inch MacBook Pro with M3 Pro and M3 Max chips, the base-model M3 MacBook Pro lacks a third USB-C port on the right side of the laptop. The MacBook Air models we recommend are about a pound lighter, less expensive, and will perform nearly identically for most people.

Apple’s other M3 MacBook Pros with M3 Pro and M3 Max chips in 14-inch and 16-inch varieties are incredibly fast and capable machines. However, they’re far beyond the needs of most people. If you’re a photo or video editor, work in 3D design, or compile huge chunks of code, then check out our guide to the best laptops for photo and video editing . Otherwise, you’d be better served by a MacBook Air.

Apple’s refurbished store is usually a good place to save money on a like-new MacBook Pro or MacBook Air. The last generation of M2 Pro and M2 Max chips are still extremely competitive, but you’ll get diminishing returns for your money on M1 machines, which Apple still prices quite high.

This article was edited by Caitlin McGarry and Arthur Gies.

Meet your guide

new macbook air reviews

Dave Gershgorn

Dave Gershgorn is a senior staff writer at Wirecutter. He’s been covering consumer and enterprise technology since 2015, and he just can’t stop buying computers. If this weren’t his job, it would likely be a problem.

Further reading

The 16 inch MacBook Pro with M3 chip sitting open on a white surface, showing a picture of hilly farmland as a background.

The Best Laptops for Video and Photo Editing

by Dave Gershgorn

Photographers and video editors on the go need a powerful laptop with good battery life, and the 16-inch MacBook Pro is almost always the best tool for the job.

Some of our picks for best laptop, placed around each other in a grid. Some of them are open and active while others are shut.

The Best Laptops

by Kimber Streams and Dave Gershgorn

From budget-friendly options to thin-and-light ultrabooks to powerful gaming laptops, we’ve spent hundreds of hours finding the best laptops for most people.

A person using an apple laptop at a public event, while a crowd of people look at other display laptops in the background.

Apple’s New MacBook Air Is $200 More—and Probably Worth It

Apple announced new M2-equipped MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models at its 2022 WWDC keynote presentation.

The Apple MacBook Air (2022, M2), our top pick for the best Macbook.

Which MacBook Should I Buy?

Can’t decide which of Apple’s laptops is the best for your needs? For most people, the M2 MacBook Air is the one to buy.

Get the 13-inch Apple MacBook Air, one of the best laptops ever, for its lowest price

This 13-inch Apple MacBook Air deal is worth getting now

Apple M2 MacBook Air 15.3-inch Laptop deal image

If you're looking for one of the best MacBooks and best laptops on the market, you can't go wrong with the 13-inch Apple MacBook Air (M2). It's an excellent laptop with a great design, incredibly long battery life, and a solid display. 

The MacBook Air 13-inch (M2) is currently $949 at B&H , which is a $150 discount and a record-low price for the laptop. At this price point, it's more than competitive with the best Windows laptops at the 13-inch display size, especially with the excellent M2 chip powering it. We gave it four and a half out of five stars in our review , praising its high-performance efficiency and superb battery life, among other features.

Today's best Apple MacBook Air deal

MacBook Air 13-inch (M2): $1,299$949 at B&amp;H

MacBook Air 13-inch (M2): was $1,299 now $949 at B&H An already excellent laptop equipped with the powerful M2 chip that's now reduced to its lowest price yet. Our MacBook Air 13-inch review praised the display, performance, design, and speaker array, although we did think the jump in size hurt one of the MacBook Air's key selling points - its portability.

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Allisa James

Named by the CTA as a CES 2023 Media Trailblazer, Allisa is a Computing Staff Writer who covers breaking news and rumors in the computing industry, as well as reviews, hands-on previews, featured articles, and the latest deals and trends. In her spare time you can find her chatting it up on her two podcasts, Megaten Marathon and Combo Chain, as well as playing any JRPGs she can get her hands on.

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Avoid this MacBook Air and shop this discounted model instead

Aaron Mamiit

If you’re thinking about buying a new MacBook but you want to get the best value for your money, you should avoid the Apple MacBook Air M1 with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD for its because you can currently get the 13.6-inch model of the Apple MacBook Air M2 with the same RAM and storage for $949 from Best Buy, following a $150 discount on its original price of $1,099. So that’s better performance, from an upgraded processor, for less money.

Why you should buy the Apple MacBook Air M2 (13.6-inch)

The 13.6-inch model of the Apple MacBook Air M2  is featured in our list of the best MacBooks as the best budget choice, which is especially true now with Best Buy’s offer. Keeping true to its name, the laptop remains incredibly thin, and the performance provided by the M2 processor will allow the device to tackle demanding activities. The all-aluminum unibody enclosure of the Apple MacBook Air M2 is very durable, and it will be able to maximize the capabilities of macOS Sonoma , which is the latest version of Apple’s operating system for its computers.

In our Apple MacBook Air M2 versus Apple MacBook Air M1 comparison, we identified plenty of improvements in the upgraded model of the laptop. The Apple MacBook Air M2 adopts the squared-off sides and rounded edges that are found in the Apple MacBook Pro , while adding support for spatial audio with its new four-speaker setup. It also has a brighter screen with more accurate colors, a MagSafe 3 magnetic charging port, and longer battery life.

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For those who are on the hunt for MacBook deals , don’t settle for the Apple MacBook Air M1 with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD that’s going for $1,000 because Best Buy is selling the 13.6-inch model of the Apple MacBook Air M2 with the same RAM and storage for $949 instead of $1,099. The $150 in savings may already be gone if you decide to make the purchase tomorrow though, so to make sure that you get the 13.6-inch Apple MacBook Air M2 for cheaper than usual, it’s highly recommended that you complete the transaction immediately.

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Aaron Mamiit

Some great MacBook deals are going on at the moment at Best Buy with up to $200 off the latest MacBook Pro M3 models. A pretty sweet discount on some highly sought-after tech, it’s a smart move to hit the button below to see the full sale for yourself. Alternatively, you can keep reading while we take you through what to expect from the sale and highlight some great deals.

What to shop for in the Best Buy MacBook sale Before you dive into the MacBook sale, take a look at our guide on which MacBook Pro M3 you should buy. Each model is great but there are different pros and cons so it’s worth reading up on what works best for you.

Apple's devices offer the most advanced technologies, iconic designs, and extreme ease of use -- alongside expensive prices. That's why there's always high demand for Apple deals, especially those that involve the latest models. If you're looking to buy an AirPods, Apple Watch, iPad, MacBook, or any of Apple's other products, you've come to the right place because we've rounded up the top offers that you can shop right now. However, as with any discounts on Apple devices, these bargains aren't expected to last long, so you better hurry with your purchases if you don't want to miss out. Apple AirTag (4-Pack) -- $89, was $99

Insert the Apple AirTag into your bag, gadget, or any item that you may misplace, so that you can track it if you lose it. The Apple AirTag is one of the best Bluetooth trackers if you're using an iPhone or iPad because not only does it offer a one-tap setup, but it can utilize the millions of devices in Apple's Find My network to help you find your stuff if it goes beyond the Bluetooth range of 30 feet. It's powered by a replaceable battery that can last for more than a year before you need a new one.

Whether it's engineering or game design, 3d modeling and CAD work has become very big in the past few years, especially with a lot of folks starting to do it at home for things like 3D printer files. Of course, not every laptop you pick up can handle doing that sort of work, so if you plan to do either, then going for a laptop that is fit for the job is important. To that end, we've collected our five favorite laptops across various price ranges and needs so that you can pick the perfect laptop for you. The Best Laptops for 3D modeling

new macbook air reviews

Apple’s M2 MacBook Air is only $949 right now at B&H

new macbook air reviews

If you buy through a BGR link, we may earn an affiliate commission, helping support our expert product labs.

Apple’s super popular M2 MacBook Air 15-inch is regularly available with discounts despite how new it still is. This new model was released late last year, so it’s one of Apple’s latest and greatest laptops. While the size of this MacBook Air is new, however, it’s otherwise nearly the same as the M2 MacBook Air 13-inch that Apple released quite a while ago. And that model is down to an excellent price right now thanks to a sale at B&H.

Apple 13.6-Inch MacBook Air (M2, Silver) 8GB of RAM, 256GB SSD

Read our M2 MacBook Air review , and you’ll see how impressive Apple’s latest-generation laptops are. It’s not quite as powerful as Apple’s M3 MacBook Pro models, but the MacBook Air also costs way less money, and it still packs more than enough punch for most people out there.

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Unless you need to do some very heavy-duty work that requires tons of processing power, the M2 MacBook Air will definitely suit your needs. I’ve used several different MacBook Air models over the years myself, and I have never been disappointed. That’s especially true with the M2 MacBook Air, which might just be my favorite laptop that Apple has ever released.

Apple’s M2 MacBook Air has a gorgeous 13.6-inch 2560 x 1664 Liquid Retina Display. It also has Apple’s updated screen design with a notch at the top for the FaceTime HD camera. This is Apple’s new signature look, and I really like it. It’s unique, and it lets Apple keep the bezels very narrow around the rest of the screen.

M2 MacBook Air

Considering the price tags on Apple’s MacBook Pro models, the $1,299 price of the M2 MacBook Air with 8GB of RAM is more than fair. With B&H Photo’s current sale, however, you can get one for just $949 at B&H .

Also, there’s another deal that’s worth mentioning if you just want to spend as little as possible and you don’t need the latest and greatest Apple Silicon.

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new macbook air reviews

Maren Estrada has been the Editor of BGR Deals since it launched in 2013. She has more than 20 years of experience testing more than 1,500 products, and reviewing a wide range of consumer electronics including mobile devices, smart home products, computers, and home appliances.

Previously, she was a leading consultant specializing in copywriting, product development, and new product launches.

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new macbook air reviews

IMAGES

  1. MacBook Air (2018) review: Testing the 1.6GHz dual-core Core i5 laptop

    new macbook air reviews

  2. 2020 MacBook Air review

    new macbook air reviews

  3. Macbook Air M1 : MacBook Air (M1, 2020) Review

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  4. MacBook Air M1 review: Stunning debut for Apple silicon in a Mac

    new macbook air reviews

  5. A weekend with the new MacBook Air

    new macbook air reviews

  6. The new Apple MacBook Air M2 has arrived

    new macbook air reviews

COMMENTS

  1. Apple MacBook Air M2 (2022) review: all-new Air

    The new MacBook Air has a thinner, lighter design, a much-improved screen, and an all-day battery life. It also has Apple's latest M2 processor, a higher price tag, and some drawbacks. Read the full review from Dan Seifert, an editor overseeing The Verge's product reviews and service journalism programs.

  2. Apple MacBook Air (2022, M2) Review

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  4. Apple MacBook Air with M1 review: new chip, no problem

    9.5 Verge Score Apple MacBook Air (Late 2020) $ 999.99 The Good Fast Intel-based apps work well Excellent battery life The Bad Awful webcam iOS apps are a whiff It's time to admit Macs would be...

  5. MacBook Air M2 (2022) review

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  6. MacBook Air with M1 review: Great value

    Reviews By Henry T. Casey last updated 8 February 2024 Comments (8) Editor's Choice (Image: © Tom's Guide) Tom's Guide Verdict The MacBook Air now has the speed and battery life to beat the...

  7. Apple MacBook Air (M2, 2022) review

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  8. Apple MacBook Air (M1, Late 2020) Review

    4.5 Outstanding By Matthew Buzzi & Tom Brant November 17, 2020 The Bottom Line The M1-equipped MacBook Air now packs far better performance than its predecessors, rivaling at times the M1-based...

  9. Apple MacBook Air 15-inch review: Apple's Big Air era

    9 Verge Score Apple MacBook Air 15-inch $ 1249.99 The Good Big, spacious screen in a thin and relatively light chassis Excellent trackpad and keyboard Excellent performance Outstanding battery...

  10. MacBook Air M2 review (2022): Apple's near-perfect Mac

    The new MacBook Air is a spectacular revamp. It's far thinner, has a fantastic new screen and speakers, and Apple's M2 chip makes it a genuine powerhouse, setting a new standard for the...

  11. MacBook Air (M2) Review: Thinner, Better, More Expensive

    The MacBook Air with M2 is a great redesign of Apple's popular entry-level laptop. The new design is sleek and thin (though not much lighter than previous models), and brings back MagSafe. The ...

  12. Apple MacBook Air M2 review: sleek redesign takes things up a notch

    The outside frame has adopted the simplified, retro design of the 14in MacBook Pro from last year, with no tapering, just a flat top and bottom with smoothed sides. However, the M2 Air is 4.8mm ...

  13. M1 MacBook Air long-term review: A year later, here's what I ...

    Table of Contents First, the good news The not-so-good news This review was originally published on March 29, 2021, and was updated on July 29, 2022. Apple recently launched the 2022 refresh of...

  14. Apple MacBook Air 15-inch review

    Comments (1) Editor's Choice (Image: © Tom's Guide) Tom's Guide Verdict The new MacBook Air 15-inch M2 is a super-sized version of the 13-inch model, featuring stellar performance, epic...

  15. Apple MacBook Air 2022 Review

    $1199 Buy From Apple The Apple MacBook Air 2022 In A Nutshell Pros: 1080p webcam Great performance Strong battery life Cons: Average audio output Pricier than before

  16. MacBook Air (15-inch) Review: The Big Apple

    The H-series chip in the Galaxy Book 3 Ultra won out only in multi-core, and that chip has 14 cores (6 more than the M2). There was a surprise on our file transfer test. The 15-inch MacBook Air ...

  17. Apple MacBook Air 15-inch (2023) review: size isn't everything

    The MacBook Air 15-inch (2023) is powered by Apple's M2 chip, which debuted alongside the MacBook Air (M2, 2022) and MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022), and has since appeared in the new Mac mini ...

  18. Apple MacBook Air (15-Inch, 2023) Review: Big Screen Love

    Brenda Stolyar Gear Jun 13, 2023 11:45 AM Review: Apple MacBook Air (15-Inch, 2023) You finally don't have to pay an arm and a leg for a large-screen Apple laptop. Photograph: Apple Rating: 8...

  19. MacBook Air M2 Review: Better Camera and Bigger Screen Outshine a

    The new Air's footprint is a hair smaller than before, and it feels slimmer. It's 11.3mm thick overall, while the previous design tapered thinner at the front, but grew to 16mm at its rear hinge ...

  20. Macbook Air M1 (2020) Review 2024

    MacBook Air M1: Price. The MacBook Air starts at $999 with a 256 GB SSD and $1,249 for 512 a GB SSD. Upgrading from the standard 8 GB RAM to 16 GB RAM costs $200. A 1 TB SSD or 2 TB SSD costs an ...

  21. MacBook Air 15 review: The MacBook Air 13, but bigger

    The new MacBook Air 15 brings you a big, beautiful Liquid Retina display, excellent speakers, powerful performance and nearly 15 hours of battery life in the world's thinnest 15-inch chassis.

  22. The 2 Best MacBooks of 2024

    The 13-inch Air is fantastic for web browsing, working on documents, coding, and light photo and video editing. And for those seeking a large screen, better speakers, and slightly better thermal...

  23. Apple MacBook Air (2020) Review

    The 2020 MacBook Air has a redesigned keyboard, lower price, and Intel Core processors, but it's not as powerful as the MacBook Pro. Read PCMag's review to see if it's easy to recommend for macOS fans who use laptops for writing and browsing.

  24. Get the 13-inch Apple MacBook Air, one of the best laptops ever, for

    The MacBook Air 13-inch (M2) is currently $949 at B&H, which is a $150 discount and a record-low price for the laptop. At this price point, it's more than competitive with the best Windows laptops ...

  25. Forget The New MacBook Pro, Apple Has Something Much Better

    Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold 16in Review: The Luxury Laptop Of 2024 ... JUNE 05: The new Apple 15-inch Macbook Air is displayed ... We've yet to see the M3 MacBook Air—a launch is expected in mid ...

  26. Avoid this MacBook Air and shop this discounted model instead

    Microsoft Surface Pro 9 with Surface Pro Keyboard is $440 off. For those who are on the hunt for MacBook deals, don't settle for the Apple MacBook Air M1 with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD that's ...

  27. M2 MacBook Air Deals: 13-inch model drops to $949

    The M2 MacBook Air with Apple's powerful M2 chip is on sale right now with a $150 discount. That drops your price to $949, which is a terrific deal for one of Apple's best and most compact ...