Battle of the MacBook Air: 2022 M2 vs 2020 M1

Apple updated the MacBook Air with the M2 but still selling the M1 MacBook Air. Is the 2020 model still worth it? Posted by erwinkarim on 11:07 AM, July 29, 2022 Last updated on 11:07 AM, March 5, 2024 Filed in: macbook air, m2, m1, comparison, value,

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Apple finally updated the MacBook Air for the Apple Silicon in WWDC 2022. With the benefits of Apple Silicon and lesson learned from the new MacBook Pro, the new Macbook Air is thinner, lighter and more capable than the predecessor. Curiously, Apple sell the new MacBook Air at a closer price to the MacBook Pro and still sell the M1 MacBook Air which was first unveiled in early 2020.

Officially, the base M1 MacBook Air is sold at the magic $999 price but you can get as low as $750 from Amazon Renewed, $850 from Apple Refurbished or $900 brand new from Amazon. With prices that low, is the M1 MacBook Air a better deal than the redesigned, brand spanking new M2 MacBook Air? We investigate to find out.

Executive Summary:

  • Apple sells the M1 MacBook Air from $999 while the M2 MacBook Air at $1299
  • You can get a M1 MacBook Air as slow as $750 from Amazon refurbish, $800 new from Amazon, or $850 refurbished from Apple
  • For standpoint of price and value, the M1 MacBook Air is unbeatable
  • For standpoint of future proofing, the M2 MacBook Air is worth the investment
  • Imagining the immediate future where Apple will move the chip production to at least 3nm for the M3, the M3 MacBook Air will be the most futureproofed laptop there is.
  • The M1 MacBook Air which was released in 2020 is still relevant in 2020 and will continue to be relevant in 2025.

MacBook Air M2 advantages

Apple updated the MacBook Air for 2022 and unveil it during WWDC 2022. It features a brand new slab like design which is thinner and lighter than the previous model.


New design: Apple updated the MacBook Air with a brand new design and with it, more improvements over the older model

Screen: Despite having basically the same foot print as the previous model, the new MacBook Air has a bigger screen. Apple push the screen edges as close as possible to the physical edges. The screen now has a notch where the webcam lives, making the design consistent with the rest of Apple’s current Mac lineup.

The MagSafe port free up the precious USB-C ports when charging.

MagSafe: Other than providing power to recharge your MacBook Air, the MagSafe also frees up your precious USB-C ports while you recharge your Mac. Previously, you had to sacrifice one of your USB-C ports if you wanted to recharge your Mac.

M2 has the improvements implemented from lesson leaned in 1st gen Apple Silicon. The M3 will the most future proofed chip in the market.

Performance: When Apple introduced the M2, Apple makes this vague claim about performance with a vague graph claiming a 20% improvement over M1. Well, it turns out to be true. After all, Apple do have a reputation to keep. Not only M2 is more performant in raw performance, the M2 finally have the media engine which enable an ultralight laptop like the MacBook Air to do 4K video editing, something that once taught impossible.

Future-proofing: Apple when releasing a brand new design, it actually design for the next generation of technology. Today, we might hear complaints about the MacBook Air being too hot for the M2. When the M3 comes sometime in June 2023, with the rumored 3nm manufacturing processor, it will both be powerful and cool.

By the time the M3 hits the MacBook Air, Apple will have an iPad Pro problem. The 2018 iPad Pro which features the A12X chip is still relevant in 2022 because you basically can do 99% of things that you need to do in the 2018 iPad Pro. The M3 MacBook Air will have the problem where it can basically do 99% of what the user will be utilizing for, making it the most future proof laptop in existence.

MacBook Air M2 logic board

Repairability: Since Apple pledge that their future iPhones and Macs will be more repairable, they make it easier to disassemble and swap the product. This M2 MacBook Air is the first MacBook Air since that pledge and the new MacBook Air has fewer components, is easier to disassemble and repair than the old MacBook Air. Now we have to wait for Apple to actually make the parts available.


Pricing: Because of a brand new design and Apple’s exacting standards, Apple has to invest a lot of money making a new production line(s) for the MacBook Air. Because of this, Apple priced the a bit higher for the 1st batch of the new MacBook Air. Once after 2-3 years after the cost has been amortized, I believe that Apple will lower the price to hit the magic $999 pricing.

Expandability: This befall not only the current and previous generation of MacBook Air but also will befall future generations of MacBook Air. Despite the M2 being a very powerful SOC, you can only have a single external display connected to the MacBook Air. This also applies to the current M1 iPad Pro but one would suspect it will apply in the next generation of iPad Pro devices.

The case is also the number of USB-C ports on the MacBook Air, which signify that the M2 will only have a limited I/O despite how powerful and fat the storage and compute bandwidth will be.

MacBook Air M1


The M1 MacBook Air chassis was unveiled way back in 2018, but the design element (tapered design, 2 ports on the left, headphones on the right) has been present since the first MacBook Air back in 2008 when Steve Job pulled out the laptop from a manila envelope.

Despite the recently redesigned M2 MacBook Air, the M1 MacBook Air still got it.

Value: Being a design that was basically iterated since 2008, Apple managed to keep the manufacturing cost low enough that Apple can sell a high performance ultralight laptop for the magical price of $999 and set that price worldwide. With retailers like Amazon selling it for $900 and refurbished ones you can get as low as $700ish, there is no denying the tremendous value the M1 MacBook Air brings. There is simply no equivalent laptop that brings this much performance at this price point, past or present and possibly future.

If you don’t mind missing out the bells and whistles of the new M2 MacBook Air, the M1 MacBook Air is still a very good computer today.

Good Enough: Some say the enemy of perfection is being “good enough”. And for a lot of people, the MacBook Air is “good enough”. Yes, the 2022 MacBook Air featuring the M2 processor is a superior product, but if people settle for “good enough”, the M1 MacBook Air is still a great product and you can basically do 95% of your task on the 2020 MacBook Air well.

Still an ultralight: Yes, the M2 MacBook Air is lighter and thinner than the previous generation, but did anyone ever complain that they wish the M1 MacBook Air was a little thinner and lighter? Of course not, because the MacBook Air was and will always be an ultralight portable computer.

MacBook Air M1 logic board

Apple's wonder chip that finally makes the MacBook Air a true powerhouse.


The little things: Apple does not just unveil a new chassis for the MacBook Air, but they add a lot of the little things that makes the M2 MacBook Air the better computer: the new webcam, the notch, powered headphone jack, slightly thinner design. All these little decisions add up. Those are the little things that you’ll be missing if you stick with the older generation.

Physcological: Yes, in most cases, the M1 is as capable as the M2 in real world usage. If you are not pushing hard on the M1 MacBook Air, highly likely you will not push hard on the M2 MacBook Air. But knowing that there’s a laptop out there that’s better than you in terms of everything, that’d bound to licit some penis envy. If you have strong will power, then this point is basically moot.


There is no question that the MacBook Air is the best consumer laptop on the market. Compared to others, there is no device on the market that combines the features and more importantly the price of the MacBook Air. It’s so nice that Apple sells the MacBook Air, twice.

So now, the question remains: Which is the one to get? If you want the only laptop that you will use for the next 5,6 or even 7 years, wait for the M3 to come out and the M3 MacBook Air will be the laptop of the decade and possibly of the 2030s. If you need a laptop now, just get the M2 if you can afford it, but if you are budget conscious, then the M1 MacBook Air is definitely a good buy.


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Put the table here.

FeatureM2 MacBook AirM1 MacBook Air
Width (cm) 30.41
Height (cm) 0.41-1.61 1.13
Depth (cm) 21.24 21.5
Weight (kg) 1.29 1.24
Size (inches) 13.6 13.3
Resolutions (pixels) 2560 x 1664 2560 x 1600
Brightness (nits) 500 400
Color Gamut P3
True Tone Yes
Webcam 1080p FaceTime HD 720p FaceTime HD
Memory (GB)8, 16 or 248 or 16
Memory Bandwidth (GB/s)10050
Storage (GB)256, 512, 1024 or 2048
USB-C ports2
Keyboard and Mouse
Keyboard 78 (U.S.) or 79 (ISO) keys including 12 function keys and 4 arrow keys in an inverted-T arrangement
TrackPad Force Touch trackpad for precise cursor control and pressure-sensing capabilities; enables Force clicks, accelerators, pressure-sensitive drawing, and Multi-Touch gestures
TouchID Yes
Speakers 4 speaker setup through a slat in the monitor hinge 2 speaker setup through holes next to the keyboard
Headphone jack Yes, poweredYes
Battery pack size (wH) 52.6 49.9
Streaming (hours) 18
Web browsing (hours) 15

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