Despite being on the market for over a year, the MacBook Air M1 remains a compelling laptop choice in 2023 compares to the newer Air M2. The M1 revolutionized the industry when it was released, still offers excellent performance for everyday tasks and even lighter photo or video editing workloads. It’s particularly appealing to average users needing a lightweight laptop with an impressive 18-hour battery life. This article will delve into the reasons why the M1 MacBook Air continues to outshine its successors and why I think you should still get the M1 over the M2 in 2023.
Starting at $1,199, the MacBook Air M2, a revised version of the MacBook Air M1, offers several noticeable upgrades such as an ultra-thin design, a larger 13.6-inch display, a brighter screen, additional GPU performance, better speakers and camera, excellent keyboard and trackpad, and more ports and configuration options for memory and storage. Sounds tempting right? Well, in my opinion its significant price increase may not justify the additional hardware benefits or performance value for most users, making the M1 MacBook Air a more cost-effective choice.
On the other hand, the M1 MacBook Air, starting at $999, remains the best value option. It offers robust metal build, excellent keyboard, trackpad, and display, all within reach of students and professionals. With up to 18 hours of battery life, it’s an ideal choice for everyday users. With prices for refurbished ones going as low as $700 on Amazon, the balance of price and features is hard to surpass.
- Check prices of the M1 Macbook Air on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3o5vWIy
- Check prices of the M2 Air here: https://amzn.to/3WfK0M7
The M1 chip marked a significant leap in performance, making the upgrade to the M2 seem minor in comparison. This led many users to stick with their M1 devices and recommend them to others, resulting in the M2 becoming a less popular choice. The M1 MacBook Air set a high standard that the M2 MacBook Air struggled to meet. With the M1’s impressive performance and the M2’s underwhelming upgrades and higher price point, many satisfied M1 users saw little reason to upgrade.
Let’s dive deeper into the specs of the M1 Mackbook Air, pros and cons, and why it’s still such a great choice in 2023.
The M1 MacBook Air, despite its affordable price, boasts impressive specifications. Its M1 chip marked a significant performance leap from its Intel predecessor, outpacing even some higher-end MacBook Pros in the past, making it an ideal choice for professional applications.
The laptop features an 8-core M1 processor, 8GB of unified memory, a 7-core GPU, and a 256GB SSD. While 256 GB may seem modest for a $1,000 laptop in 2023, it’s a respectable capacity for a high-speed SSD in the $700-$800 price bracket.
The 13.3-inch Retina display offers a vibrant, crisp image that makes it a pleasure to work on. Its 400-nit brightness is suitable for most conditions, and the absence of a notch is a bonus for many users.
While the 720p webcam on the M1 Air isn’t flawless, it’s sufficient for Zoom calls and FaceTime sessions. However, those particular about image quality may find the 720p resolution somewhat grainy.
The laptop’s port selection is somewhat limited, with only two Type-C ports and a headphone jack. While not ideal, most users will find it manageable with a dongle that supports pass-through charging.
The M1 MacBook Air’s performance is undoubtedly one of its key selling points. It can handle a broad spectrum of tasks, from basic web browsing to short bursts of demanding workflows. However, the base version with 8GB RAM might struggle with more demanding tasks like 4K video editing.
Superior Build Quality and Portability
The M1 MacBook Air boasts an exceptional build quality, featuring a robust chassis and durable hinges. Its compact design ensures it fits comfortably in most bags and occupies minimal space in a carry-on, making it an ideal choice for frequent travelers or professionals who need to transport their laptops regularly. This combination of superior build and portability enhances its appeal for a wide range of users.
The M1 MacBook Air’s versatility extends beyond its portability. It can effortlessly transition from a travel companion to a home computer. By simply connecting it to a Thunderbolt dock, you can transform this compact laptop into a full-fledged desktop experience. However, it’s worth noting that it does have certain limitations, such as supporting only one external display and lacking some of the newer ports found in the M1 or M2 MacBook Pros.
Silent Operation and Exceptional Battery Life
The introduction the M1 chip also allows for instant-on, a fanless design, and enhanced battery life. It’s amazing how silent it is, thanks to its fanless design, you won’t have to contend with any distracting whirring sounds. Despite the absence of a built-in fan, it effectively manages heat, ensuring thermal reliability for everyday tasks. The ‘instant-on’ feature negates the need for shutting down the computer when you close the laptop. When you’re ready to resume work, your laptop instantly powers back on, contributing to a highly efficient user experience.
Another standout feature of the M1 MacBook Air is its extraordinary battery life. It can power through extensive workdays without requiring a charge, truly setting a high bar in the industry. While it may not match the raw power of the latest Apple, Intel, or AMD processors, it delivers plenty performance for the average user, and that too at a fraction of the cost.
Just based on my own experience, you can get up to 15 hours to 18 hours of web browsing and video playback. Even when handling more demanding tasks, you can expect around 8-10 hours of battery life.
Decent Audio Quality
Despite its slim and lightweight design, the M1 MacBook Air delivers surprisingly good sound quality. While it may not match the audio performance of the more expensive MacBook Pro, its sound output is commendable, especially considering its size and price point. This makes it a well-rounded choice for users who value both portability and sound quality in their laptops.
Taking into account all factors, the M1 MacBook Air continues to offer superior value compared to the Macbook Air M2 in 2023. Its exceptional performance, lightweight design, and competitive price point make it an ideal choice for the majority of consumers.
You can find the M1 Macbook Air on Amazon (affiliate link): https://amzn.to/3o5vWIy
For the majority of users, who won’t be using their new Mac for demanding tasks, the base model MacBook Air M1 with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of SSD storage is a cost-effective choice.
For power users with heavier workloads or a larger budget, upgrading to 16GB of RAM is recommended. However, it’s advisable to avoid overpriced built-in SSD storage upgrades. Instead, consider investing in an external SSD like the Samsung T5 or T7 for additional storage at a more reasonable price. If you do a lot of video and photo editing, consider getting the M1 Mackbook Pro, which offers better GPU performance.