MacBook Air M2 15-inch review: Premium economy

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Apple Inc.’s MacBook Air M2 15-inch 15-inch offers more space to move about the cabin, but retains some drawbacks found in the 13-inch base model.

The M2 15-inch base model tested includes an 8-core CPU and 10-core GPU, 8GB RAM, and 256GB SSD. The 15.3-inch LED display at 2880 x 1864 is a generous canvas for both productivity and entertainment. Compared to the M1, the M2 wields an 18 percent faster CPU and 35 percent faster GPU to blaze through browsing, rendering, and streaming.

The 10-core GPU has plenty of power for gaming. In our Resident Evil Village test, frame rates could clear 60FPS at 1080p resolution for impressive fidelity even when unplugged.

Speed rates can decline in two key areas – video exporting and SSD transfer speeds. Because the MacBook Air M2 15-inch base model does not include a fan, a sustained workload will require the M2 chip to throttle speeds to prevent overheating. A typical 4-minute export on Final Cut Pro can turn into a 7-minute export when executed back-to-back. By comparison, the MacBook Pro M2 and M1 include a fan to keep M2 clock speeds high for peak export speeds.

For SSD transfer speeds, the MacBook Air M2 15-inch base model includes a single 256GB SSD NAND chip, which takes double the time to transfer files compared to the dual 128GB NAND chip setup found in the MacBook M1 models.

Battery life is legendary at 18 hours. New MagSafe charging found in the MacBook Air M2 models have a handy light indicator to show if the hardware is still charging or contains a full charge. The chassis itself is a mere .45 inches in height and weighs 3.3 pounds for great portability.

The new six-speaker sound system included in the 15-inch model is impressive and robust for entertainment when combined with the high-resolution Retina display.

Rounding out the package is a backlit Magic Keyboard and large trackpad built to an exceptional standard. Also, the 1080p FaceTime camera has enough software to work in most lowlight situations. Finally, Touch ID is built-in for trusted biometric logins.

At only $200 more than the 13-inch SKU, the MacBook Air M2 15-inch is a better value. Its larger screen, more powerful GPU, and bolder sound system offer more pro perks at a novice price. However compared to the older M1 models, particularly the MacBook Air M1 which can be purchased for as low as $799.99, the MacBook Air M2 series can be considered a premium economy seat.

The MacBook Air M2 15-inch sells at $1,299.

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