MacBook Air M2 vs MacBook Air M1: Which Laptop is Right for You?

The new $1,199 MacBook Air M2 is a near-perfect MacBook. It delivers record-breaking power and a wealth of clever quality of life upgrades, all packed into an all-new (and cool) design that’s somehow lighter than before. There is a reason why it is the best new laptop pick for Apple users.

However, it also doesn’t make the older $999 MacBook Air M1 obsolete. Our favorite laptop for almost two years in a row, the M1-powered MacBook Air is still one of the best-performing laptops for the price, and while you won’t get all those fancy modern touches, it’s still a nice, easy-to-use device. pregnancy. Plus, it’s $200 cheaper than the M2 Air – often less during sales.

Still having a hard time choosing between the M1 and M2 MacBook Air models? Don’t worry – we can help make this decision easy. Here’s how Apple’s current lineup of MacBook Air models stacks up, and how to find the right one for your needs.

Show 13.6-inch Liquid Retina display, 2560 x 1664

13.3 inch Retina display 2560 x 1600


Apple M2

Apple M1


8 GB / 16 GB / 24 GB

8 GB / 16 GB


256 GB / 512 GB / 1 TB / 2 TB SSD

256 GB / 512 GB / 1 TB / 2 TB SSD


1080p FaceTime HD

FaceTime HD 720p camera


Thunderbolt 4 (2), MagSafe charging port, headphone jack

Thunderbolt 4 USB-C (2), headphone jack

Battery life (rated)

up to 18 hours

up to 18 hours

size and weight

11.97 x 8.46 x 0.44 inches, 2.7 pounds

11.97 x 8.36 x 0.16-0.63 inches, 2.8 pounds

Color options

silver, space gray, midnight, starlight

Silver, space gray, gold


1199 USD


Mike Andronico/CNN

The MacBook Air M2 isn’t just the most powerful MacBook Air—it’s one of the fastest laptops we’ve ever tested. The newer MacBook Air performed about 16% better than the M1 in our benchmark tests, which isn’t a jump day and night, but it still matters. This means faster multitasking between browser tabs, Slack chats, video calls, and even doing some light gaming and video editing. Even more impressive is that the MacBook Air M2 pretty much matches the more expensive $1,299 MacBook Pro M2 by our standards (although it gets warm more easily due to the lack of a fan). So, if future proofing with high performance is a priority, the MacBook Air M2 is the most powerful laptop for the price.

Despite its upgrades, the new MacBook Air manages to get a more elegant look. The MacBook Air M2 adopts an all-new design and is essentially a smaller version of the 14-inch MacBook Pro – which means attractive, unified edges that replace the MacBook Air’s tapered wedge design. And while it may not be quite as thin at the front as the M1 Air (and has a taller screen), it’s still slimmer overall, and weighs a bit less.

You want the best possible display, webcam, and speakers

Mike Andronico/CNN

While the MacBook Air M2 is noticeably faster than its predecessor, it’s the suite of quality of life improvements that make this model a real leap forward. The screen is larger and smoother than before, eliminating the previous model’s thick black border for much thinner borders that give you a total of 13.6 inches of real estate. It’s a small bump in size, but you’ll definitely notice it.

You’ll also enjoy a 1080p webcam for video calls (up from 720p), which again made small but noticeable improvements in our tests. The same goes for the four-speaker audio system, which gives you a fuller sound than the M1’s stereo speakers. Another small touch we like are the larger physical function keys, which make it easier to quickly adjust things like brightness and volume and play music on the go.

Mike Andronico/CNN

I would argue that the MacBook Air M2’s biggest advantage over its predecessor is the MagSafe charging port, which, like on older MacBooks, can be easily turned on and off with a quick magnetic connection. It makes plugging and unplugging the charger easier, and helps avoid a complete disaster in the event someone trips on your cable.

On top of being more convenient, the MagSafe port also keeps the MacBook Air’s two USB-C ports free for accessories, such as storage drives or external monitors. You’ll still likely need a USB-C hub to do any of the hard work, but having an extra free port always helps. I also like that the new MacBook Air can be configured with a compact 35W dual USB-C power adapter, which has an additional USB-C connection to charge your phone.

Jacob Kroll/CNN

If you’re looking to spend under $1,000, the MacBook Air M1 is the way to go. The cheaper MacBook Air still rounds out similarly priced competitors when it comes to everyday speed, and it has the same all-day battery life as the new M2 model.

And while the MacBook Air M1 is already one of the best value laptops out there at $999, it’s often at a discount (you can currently get one for $899 at Best Buy as of this writing). No MacBook really comes at a “cheap” price, but the M1 is the perfect entry-level Mac.

Jacob Kroll/CNN

Although the MacBook Air M2 has a modern design and is technically lighter in weight, many people may still be drawn to the iconic odie look that has been synonymous with the Air for more than a decade. It still looks slimmer thanks to those thin tapered edges up front, not the length of the M2 model. And if you’re in the market for a true gold laptop, the M1 model is your best bet — the Starlight MacBook Air M2 is more of a gold/silver hybrid, and doesn’t scream “I’m fancy” quite the same way.

If I were asked about the best MacBook to buy, I would say the MacBook Air M2 is in almost every scenario. It’s extremely powerful, has a wonderfully lightweight design and offers a wealth of small improvements that make work and play more enjoyable.

However, if your budget is under $1,000, the MacBook Air M1 is a great buy that doesn’t sacrifice the most important. You’ll still get some of the best performance available in a laptop, with a great keyboard, long battery life, and a completely reliable display. And if you already own an M1, there’s no need to rush into the new M2.

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