Three surprising problems with Apple’s new MacBook Air

Apple’s new MacBook Air has received both critical acclaim and commercial acclaim. Initial reviews have highlighted the new design, long battery life and welcoming software; while the number of pre-orders has seen wait times rise to four weeks.

Look below the surface and you’ll see that not everything is perfect in the MacBook Air, and it’s important to know the impact Apple’s decisions will have on your MacBook Air experience

Let’s start with the good. Apple has essentially increased the base performance of the M2 MacBook Air (and the M2 MacBook Pro). In everyday use, web browsing, media playback, social media apps, and office work, these laptops will be super smooth…although, to be fair, almost any laptop family with an entry-level price of $1199 will have a similar baseline. have for the most important consumer apps.

If you’re looking for a laptop that will keep you going, you shouldn’t have any major problems with any of Apple’s Macs in general, and no problems with this MacBook Air in particular.

You’re also going to pick up a laptop with a new design language that can stand next to the fashionable end of the Windows 11 laptop market… a thin, angular body, a screen that dominates as much of the potential viewing area as possible, long battery life, a large and extended touchpad, physical function keys… it’s all there.

And that includes the problematic side, because as much as the manufacturers would like us to believe otherwise, no laptop is perfect.

Let’s talk about the new Apple Silicon chipset in the M2. This has helped improve base performance, but there are issues when the M2 is loaded and asked to do some heavy lifting like rendering video. Testing on the M2 MacBook Pro showed that even with the cooling fan running at full power, the MacBook had to slow down performance to prevent the chip from overheating. The M2 MacBook Pro takes longer than the M1 MacBook Pro to perform the same task.

Unfortunately, the M2 MacBook Air suffers from the same problem – perhaps unsurprising considering it has the same M2 chipset. What’s surprising is that Apple has put itself in the position where the new machine — a machine that may be consumer-oriented but advertised as having the power to do what you need it to — has less potential for hard work. work than its predecessor.

The CPU isn’t the only area where Apple has apparently skimped on specs. While the entry-level 256GB storage model offers the same space as the 256GB model of the M1 MacBook Air, Apple has consolidated storage into a single NAND chipset on the M2 Air, compared to two 128GB NAND chipsets in the M2 Air. M1 Air.

With only a single chip compared to the dual chips of the previous model, the throughput of data to the SSD of the M2 is half that of the M1 Air. While this doesn’t carry over to the higher storage models, Tim Cook and his team offer a slower macOS laptop for the casual consumer who is just going to “buy a laptop, one of those Apples.”

Apple’s official comment is that this weakness in the Air’s SSD is made up for by the strength of the other components surrounding it:

“Thanks to the performance improvements of M2, the new MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro are incredibly fast, even when compared to Mac laptops with the powerful M1 chip. These new systems use a new, higher-density NAND that delivers 256GB of storage with a single chip. While benchmarks of the 256GB SSD may show a difference compared to the previous generation, the performance of these M2-based systems for real-world operations is even faster.”

It is, but Apple has deliberately chosen – for whatever reason – to offer a slower 256 GB to consumers. It’s worth noting that Apple’s decision hasn’t slowed down the more expensive 512GB model.

Finally, there is the issue of the battery and charger. Thanks to the aforementioned ARM-based Apple Silicon, the MacBook Air’s battery life is pretty much best-in-class; ARM offers lower power requirements compared to similar tasks on Intel-based machines, on top of the efficiency you can find when the OS has only a very small number of hardware configurations to work with (unlike Windows, which has to work with everything under the sun ).

No, I’m talking about charging the battery. We’re not at the iPhone stage yet where Apple can get away with not shipping the MacBook with a charger, but it feels like we’re getting close. Buy the entry-level MacBook Air and you’ll find a standard 30W charger in the box. Go for a higher model and you’ll find a small specs bump and a 35W charger. This is Apple’s new USB-C charger with two ports, so you can charge your Mac as well as your iPhone or iPad – there’s just enough power to do this (slowly); it’s a nice thought for those who travel light.

If you want to get the most out of the MacBook Air in terms of charging, you’ll need to buy another charger, specifically Apple’s 67W charger. This is normally $59, and while this isn’t as painful as the $150 required for the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro fast chargers, it’s still an additional cost imposed by Apple. You can upgrade the charger to the 35W or the 67W at the point of sale for $20, but this feels like a salami-slicing move by Apple to get as much money out of the top prize as possible.

There is no doubt that Apple has strived to make this MacBook Air the best MacBook Air yet. And in normal use, Apple trimming the specs and bill of materials won’t make a huge difference. The MacBook Air is not sold as an average laptop. It’s marketed as one of the best Apple laptops it’s ever made, with a potent blend of power, potential, and ease of use.

Showstoppers? No. Something to watch out for? Definitely. Apple’s choice to reduce the potential of the M2 chipset, offer slower read and write speeds on the entry-level MacBook Air, and obscure those who want to get the most out of the laptop’s features feels decidedly un- apple.

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