Apple’s latest MacBook Air with the new M2 chipset goes on sale this Friday, and this macOS laptop is expected to be one of the most popular consumer MacBooks of all time. That’s not a slam-dunk, though.
There will be many who trust Apple and have already put their cash down, but for everyone else being sensible with their budgets, there are three crucial areas to assess the MacBook when it is released to the public.
The first will be the performance of the M2 processor. Apple’s M2 processor is not the fastest in class for ultra-portable laptops, but Apple’s increased power in the GPU and the Neural engine will make up that performance gap by accelerating important areas such as AI and graphics implementation.
Practically thorough, the M2 processor has been struggling at the top end of power demands. Rendering tests performed by Max Tech’s Vadim Yuryev on 8K video saw the M2 processor throttling down processing power due to high temperatures, with the fan maxed out at 7200 rpm still not enough to lower the temperatures. The result shows the M2 MacBook Pro was slower than the same †set on the M1 Pro.
With the MacBook Air lacking a fan and trusting passive cooling, will there be any performance gain in the M2 model compared to the 2020 version?
This isn’t the only way in which the M2 MacBook Pro is slower than its predecessor, and isn’t the only way the MacBook Air could also suffer. Because of Apple’s decision to move to a single NAND flash storage chip for the 256 GB model, its disk read and write speeds were half that of the 256 GB M1 model. The 512 GB model continues to use two NAND chips, so there was no speed impact, but it remains to be seen what storage chips and configuration Apple has chosen for the M2 MacBook Air, and there could be a speed penalty depending on which model you buy.
Finally, there will be the supply question. While it’s not an issue in hardware, it is an issue caused by hardware. Apple is not immune to the supply problems caused both by the silicon shortage for chip manufacturing and the ongoing impact of the coronavirus pandemic across the industry.
Pre-orders opened earlier this week ahead of shipping for April 15th. Apple’s initial stock of the MacBook Air has already been reserved, with waiting times of up to four weeks already listed on the website. Unless you were eager enough to order this before the reviews and the independent benchmarking, you will be in for a significant wait.
Questions over the potential performance of the system, worrying thoughts over the speed of its storage, and an anxious wait to see when how long it will take to come back into stock. There are some big questions over the MacBook Air that are not going to be answered until next week at the earliest.