Hard bones for the competition: The new MacBook Air is really good

With a completely revised design and equipped with the enormously powerful M2 chip, the new MacBook Air is a real technological treat.

Hard bones for the competition: The new MacBook Air is really good

With a completely revised design and equipped with the enormously powerful M2 chip, the new MacBook Air is a real technological treat. Even if the prices are hefty, the Windows competition has to come up with something to keep Apple from pulling away.

The MacBook Air with Apple's first self-developed M1 computer chip already made a strong impression last year, but otherwise there were hardly any differences to its predecessors. The successor comes with a new design and the even more powerful M2 on the market.

Apple hasn't reinvented the notebook, and the revised design isn't anything special. But the new MacBook Air simply looks good in its simple elegance. It's also very slim and light for a device that now has a 13.6-inch display. When folded, it is only around 1.1 centimeters high and weighs just 1.24 kilograms.

That's all well and good, but there are other laptops with similar dimensions. The new MacBook Air impresses above all with its inner values. According to Apple, the main processor (CPU) of the M2 chip is 18 percent more powerful, and the graphics processor (GPU) is even up to 35 percent more powerful than the already very powerful predecessor.

Among other things, this leads to very fast loading times, a restart is done in a few seconds. Image or video editing works almost in real time, even with very large files. Even ambitious normal users will hardly be able to make the new MacBook Air stutter, even if they only have the most basic version with 8 gigabytes (GB) of RAM. With 16 or 24 GB, professionals have a device at hand that they previously only had with a MacBook Pro.

A benchmark test with Geekbench 5 shows how well the M2 gets down to business. The test device achieved 1939 points with one computing core, and 8999 points with all eight cores. In a single-core comparison, the chip is practically as strong as Intel's top performer, the Core i9-12900K, which scores 1987 points. In the multi-core comparison, there are a number of processors that achieve significantly better results than the M2. To do this, they usually not only use significantly more cores, but also consume a multiple of power.

Despite its high performance, the M2 is so economical that Apple was even able to do without a fan on the MacBook Air. In the test, the device always remained quite cool during image or video editing. In the demanding graphics benchmark test GFXBench 5.0 at the highest level, however, it ran so hot in a room with a temperature of 26 degrees that it probably had to throttle the performance for a longer period of time in order not to overheat. The M2 otherwise passed the test with a result that can otherwise only be achieved with good external graphics cards.

However, most users will hardly push the new MacBook Air to the limits of its performance. It is more important for them that the laptop, despite its high performance, can work so energy-efficiently that the possible runtimes of up to 18 hours when playing videos or 15 hours when surfing the Internet according to the everyday test are quite realistic.

You can charge the device either via one of the two USB-C ports (Thunderbolt/USB 4) or a MagSafe cable that magnetically docks to the device. With an optionally available 67-watt power adapter, you can fill the battery to half in 30 minutes. Depending on the version, the scope of delivery only includes chargers with 30 or 35 watts.

As for the MacBook Air's SSD, there are concerns that, like the current MacBook Pro, the speed of the standard 256GB model could be slowed down by shared storage. The test device has 500 GB, which sits on a single bar. In the Blackmagic Disk Speed ​​Test, the SSD achieved standard write and read rates of 2506 megabytes per second (MB/s) and 2867 MB/s.

A highlight of the new MacBook Air is its display with a sharp pixel density of 224 ppi. It can shine very brightly at 500 nits, but can also dim down to 2 nits in dark rooms. In addition to strong contrasts, it also delivers very beautiful, but accurate colors. Unfortunately, it is not anti-glare, which is why it can only be used to a limited extent for working outdoors despite its brightness.

A front camera sits in a recess and finally offers a contemporary resolution of 1080p (Full HD). The notch is normally only visible on the home screen, it disappears in a wide black frame in the full screen of apps.

The operation of the laptop is very comfortable. The keys of the keyboard have a perfect pressure point and a pleasantly high drop, there is a precise and fast fingerprint scanner in the power switch. As with other MacBooks, an excellent and large trackpad makes a touchscreen feel redundant.

Four loudspeakers are hidden between the keyboard and the display and deliver a stereo sound that is rich for notebooks. They also support 3D audio, which you at least think you can hear with the appropriate content.

All in all, the MacBook Air 2022 isn't a high achiever, but its overall package is very attractive. However, the prices have risen, the variant with a 256 GB SSD and 8-core GPU costs 1500 euros, the model with a 10-core GPU 1850 euros. You also have to dig deep into your pocket for more RAM: an extra 8 GB costs 230 euros, an additional 16 GB even 430 euros.

It is cheaper for pupils and students, they can buy the new MacBook Air from 1384 euros. As part of the so-called "Back to School Campaign" they will also receive a voucher for 150 euros.