Buyer’s Guide: MacBook Air In comparison to the Generations

It is very important to make decisions about when now is the right time to upgrade or even if an earlier model will be acceptable for your needs given the enormous modifications Apple’s MacBook Air has seen in recent years, including several significant generational advancements.

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Apple updated the MacBook Air significantly in 2022 with the M2 chip and a new redesign. A variation of the same computer with a larger, 15-inch display was added a year later. The MacBook Air versions with Intel processors from 2018 and 2020 have both been discontinued. 

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The cheapest MacBook Air model currently offered by Apple is the 2020 model with the M1 chip, which retails for $999. Second-hand or third-party sources may offer even cheaper rates for the same model. The 13-inch M2 MacBook Air starts at $1,099, while the 15-inch M2 model costs $1,299, according to the most recent models.

In order to compare each MacBook Air model’s most recent iteration to its previous version, the following table breaks down each new feature, adjustment, and improvement:

MacBook Air (M2, 2022/2023)

  • A flat top, rounded bottom edges, and equal thickness describe the thinner design.
  • Liquid Retina 13.6- or 15.3-inch displays
  • Apple M2 processor
  • Up to 10-core GPU
  • H.264, HEVC, ProRes, and ProRes RAW that are hardware-accelerated
  • Engine for encoding and decoding ProRes
  • Up to 24GB of unified memory
  • Memory bandwidth of 100 GB/s
  • 500 nits brightness
  • FaceTime HD camera in 1080p
  • Four- or six-speaker sound systems with force-cancelling woofers are available
  • Large headphones are supported through the 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Bluetooth 5.3
  • MagSafe 3
  • Using a 70W USB-C power adapter that is available, you can fast-charge
  • Silver, Space Gray, Starlight, and Midnight are the available colors
  • 1.51 kg or 1.24 kg (2.7 pounds) (3.3 pounds)
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MacBook Air (M1, 2020)

  • Apple M1 processor
  • 8-core CPU
  • 8-core or more GPU
  • Media engine
  • Accelerating H.264 and HEVC on hardware
  • Video decode engine
  • Video encode engine
  • 16-core Neural Engine
  • 16GB maximum combined memory
  • Memory bandwidth: 62.5 GB/s
  • Wide color (P3)
  • a video processor with image signal processing
  • 18-hour maximum battery life

MacBook Air (Intel, 2020)

  • Intel Core i7 or higher processors
  • GPU for Intel Iris Plus graphics
  • 2TB maximum storage
  • Magic Keyboard
  • 5.0 Bluetooth
  • 1.29 kg (2.8 pounds) (2.8 pounds)

MacBook Air (Intel, 2018)

  • curved “wedge” shape
  • Retina 13.3-inch display
  • Intel Core i5 CPU or above
  • 4-core or more CPU
  • 617 Intel UHD Graphics
  • 16GB maximum memory
  • 1.5TB maximum storage
  • Butterfly Keyboard
  • Brightness of 400 nits
  • complete color standards (sRGB)
  • FaceTime HD 720p camera
  • Dual-channel audio
  • 3.5mm audio jack
  • 802.11ac Wi-Fi 6 
  • Bluetooth 4.2.1
  • Battery life of up to 12 hours
  • available in Gold, Space Gray, and Silver
  • 1.25 kg (2.75 pounds) (2.75 pounds)

It is significant that the M2 13-inch MacBook Air is now only $1,099, even if the M1 MacBook Air is ostensibly fantastic value for money at $999 and can be bought even cheaper with education pricing and elsewhere via third-party merchants. 

Users of the 2018 or 2020 Intel MacBook Air can still upgrade to the M1 model, but given that it is just $100 less expensive than the M2 model, they would be far better off updating to the most recent model. A significantly more current device with the M2 processor, a bigger and brighter display, faster RAM, a 1080p camera, better speakers, MagSafe 3, fast charging, and more can be had for $100.

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Most M1 MacBook Air customers will still profit from upgrading to the M2 model, especially if they choose the 15-inch model because they want a bigger screen, but some will benefit more from waiting until the next significant refresh. According to rumors, Apple is currently developing new MacBook Air models with the M3 chip that will be available in 2024 and offer significant performance and efficiency enhancements.

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pratik patil
pratik patil

Technology and innovation that includes the word "smart" are things that Pratik Patil strongly supports. This fuels his passion for writing about everything the technology sector has to offer.

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