The most appropriate MacBook now has a larger screen and the same processor.
The lightweight, tiny notebook is a product of sacrifice. It serves as a reminder that moving freely requires leaving things behind. It’s like leaving home with only a single backpack packed for a weeklong trip, well aware that some of the items you might want or even occasionally need won’t be coming along.
As technology develops, these sacrifices become less frequent. Battery, to name one. Power to the people As thin and light laptops become increasingly powerful over time, so do our expectations for what these devices should be able to accomplish.
Such a device was the original M2 MacBook Air. It felt like a new class of portable MacBooks when the line eventually received a new design to match its chipset. I proclaimed the Air to be almost everyone’s ideal MacBook at the time. I sincerely believe it is still true, despite the fact that several systems have since been developed.
Of course, there must still be sacrifices. Currently, some are required for a lighter and slimmer profile. Others appear to be a consequence of Apple’s efforts to set the Pro models apart from the Air. One excellent example is ports. There are four ports total on the Air: two Thunderbolt 4/USB-C, a MagSafe, and a headphone jack. The Pro includes an additional HDMI, SD card slot, and USB-C port.
With laptops, more is frequently better in terms of space, computational power, and inputs. They differ from our mobile gadgets in these ways. For instance, I wouldn’t want to write this essay or a book on my phone. For watching movies, a larger laptop screen is preferable. For playing more challenging games and running various business operations, more computing and graphical power are preferable. These are the explanations for why the form factor has endured even after the popularity of smartphones.
The 15-inch MacBook Air has an odd shape and was unveiled last week at WWDC. The product attempts to defy at least one significant limitation of the line as the largest Air to date. It feels strange, but the laptop I’m using to write this is bigger than the 14-inch M2 Max MacBook Pro I took to WWDC last week. Where is the line for ultraportables? I wondered when I first handled the 15-inch Air last week. There isn’t a universal response to that. These kinds of labels are often left up to the makers to choose and are taken into account in relation to other models. In comparison to the smaller 14-inch Pro, “thin and light” really apply here. Although it wouldn’t be fair to compare the two directly given the difference screen sizes, I recently carried both in my bag and can’t claim that the Air felt considerably lighter.
In this generation, there isn’t a precise analog. Here, I can only say that the 13-inch Air is without a doubt the best option if real portability is your top priority. For the first time in a number of years, I had an economy middle seat when I traveled to WWDC last week. The man in front of me, who was obviously completely devoid of human sympathy, opted to recline his seat for the length of the six-hour journey.
Smaller is undeniably preferable in this situation. Go tiny if your laptop actually spends more time in your backpack than on your desk. Is there a drawback? I’m sure. More visual information may be displayed on larger screens, which are also gentler on the eyes. Those extra few inches matter a lot if you frequently create spreadsheets, frequently have many windows open, or simply use your travel laptop for watching movies and playing games.
Go big, if you expect your system to spend more time at home than in your carry-on. Flip a coin if you frequently travel and utilize your laptop for entertainment as your main source. Prior to this year, I would have distinguished between the Air and the Pro based on features rather than screen size. But the M1 completely changed the dynamics of the contest and raised the bar for success. In its early years, the Air was a somewhat specialized gadget. I believe that profile will match Apple’s Pro systems better in 2023. There is no denying that the MacBook Air is currently Apple’s most popular laptop.
In terms of specifications, the new 15-inch model is quite comparable to its 13-inch forerunner. In contrast, the 14-inch Pro is an M2 Max or Pro with up to a 12-core CPU and 38-core GPU. It has the same 8-core CPU M2 chip. According to rumors, supply chain difficulties caused a planned M3 chip to be delayed. That may ultimately imply that either of the current Airs will receive an upgrade before 2024. Both come with 256GB of storage (which can be upgraded to 2TB) and 8GB of RAM (which can be upgraded to 25GB).
The display is unquestionably the issue. Technically, the larger device’s screen is 15.3 inches larger than the smaller one’s, which is 13.6 inches. Both use Apple’s Liquid Retina technology and are 2560 x 1664 and 2880 x 1864, respectively, in size. Although an improvement over the previous 720p webcam, neither has the sharpest built-in camera on the market. Both share the same 1080p webcam. Due to its larger screen, the 15-inch model also includes a larger speaker array.
It adds two speakers and two force-canceling woofers, bringing the total to six. This technology is used in the Pro’s top- and bottom-firing system to get rid of bass vibrations. Although the Air has a bigger surface area than the Pro, which features speaker grilles on either side of its keyboard, the 13-inch’s rear-firing speakers are still present on the Air.
Mind you, there is a LOT of surface area. Lack of enough palm rest space is one issue with a smaller laptop that becomes tiring. Here, that is not a problem. Compared to the 14-inch Pro, the trackpad is also substantially bigger. All along the line, the keyboard action is consistent. The dreadful keys on the MacBook are a thing of the past. There is greater movement here, and you are much less likely to get debris wedged below them, thereby rendering them worthless. I recently converted to a mechanical keyboard on my PC, and while it still has some room for improvement in terms of travel, I’ve already typed a lot on it and feel like I could keep going all day.
The battery’s 18-hour rating is the same as for the 13-inch. During TechCrunch’s testing, we were able to watch videos for about 19 hours. While the screen is bigger and uses more power as a result, the larger footprint also leaves more room for the battery.
The benchmark results confirm what we saw with the 13-inch model as predicted. Think about Geekbench 5. The smaller model’s single-core and multi-core average scores were 1922 and 8974, respectively. The 15-inch received 1932 and 8985, in contrast. Variations from one machine to another and from one test to another are constant, but they are within the expected bounds. A higher single core and a lower multi-core are also projected in contrast to the M1 Max. It’s a great computer for most daily work, but it’s vital to remember that the M2 is actually the processor from last year. It’s unclear if Apple will resume introducing new Max/Pro models in the midst of a yearly refresh cycle. Apple silicon is only a few years old, yet it is logical to presume that ongoing supply chain problems have interfered with business as usual.
Like with the 13-inch, Apple chose not to incorporate a fan in this model. It is anticipated that most casual users won’t put too much strain on the system, preventing repeated occurrences of this. Undoubtedly true. If you’re editing 8K or 3D video, for instance, just buy a Pro. On a daily basis, one may still find ways to push it, though. For example, the MacBook’s Steam app actually lives up to its name. Things can quickly become heated.
I would strongly suggest you to give the Pro considerable thought if gaming is important to you in general. However, it’s still challenging to persuade gamers to move to the Mac because the Windows environment has such a significant advantage there. Apple clearly has a solution in mind, as seen by the improved APIs for converting current games. In contrast, there is still a long way to go before No Man’s Sky becomes my post-Tears of the Kingdom fixation.
No Man’s Sky recently found its way to macOS via Steam, and I recently played it. I was pleasantly surprised by how easily the game performed, especially at a lower frame rate, even though Steam does have a propensity to quickly heat up these systems (and this is no exception). The Air is suitable for laptop gaming that is less intense and doesn’t require lengthy sessions.
Meanwhile, it seems counterintuitive to limit the system to two USB-C ports. Apple thinks two is more than plenty for the majority of folks, especially with the MagSafe built in. While this may be true, I don’t know anyone who would say “no thanks” to a third. Even better would be to add another one on the machine’s other side. Given that some cords and attachments have a tendency to block one port, Apple positioning them close together seems weird.
As always, the design is stunning. Once more, this is essentially a scaled-up version of the 13-inch, which is good. Compared to the Pro’s two, there are four hues. Actually, I wouldn’t have chosen the Apple Starlight, which was sent for review. Along with Silver and Space Gray, which are more traditional colors, I really like the Midnight. The Starlight’s yellow tinge, however, is so mild that it appears silver under normal lighting conditions. It isn’t overly extravagant.
For a Mac, its starting price of $1,299 is very affordable. It costs $200 more than the 13-inch M2 (and $300 more than the still-functioning M1 model with a more traditional look) and $700 less than the 14-inch Pro. Naturally, prices rise quickly – for $2,499 with all the bells and whistles.
Here’s some straightforward advise when purchasing a MacBook in 2023. Get a Pro if you frequently perform resource-intensive operations on this system, which is your work PC. The same applies to individuals who take gaming more seriously. The Air is a fantastic tablet for the vast majority of users, and the 13-inch screen is more than adequate for the majority of jobs – especially if you travel frequently. The 15-inch is a fantastic option if you’re looking for a device that will be used primarily on a desk at home or at work.
Given Apple’s prior yearly chip replacement, it’s difficult to shake the impression that the 15-inch simply missed out on the M3. The new buyers of the 15-inch MacBook Air would be disappointed to learn that a 13-inch redesign could appear later this year and include the chip. It would have been wonderful to see some spec upgrades from the model from last year. But placing a wager on Apple updates can be a foolish move (naturally, a rumor claiming an M3 Air is on the way surfaced shortly after I typed that). As usual, the question is whether it is worthwhile to wait for that certainty. The worst-case scenario is that you’re stuck with a fantastic entry-level laptop plus a dash of processor envy.