When Apple introduced the 15-inch MacBook Air final week, it was precisely what you’d anticipate. Apple merely took the design and internals of the M2-powered Air it introduced a yr in the past and caught it in an even bigger case with an even bigger display screen. Achieved and accomplished.
As such, I went into this overview pondering it will be a easy task. “It’s a MacBook Air, however larger.” However that undersells the precise expertise of utilizing the 15-inch MacBook Air. See, for a very long time, a 15-inch Mac was my best laptop, from the times of the primary titanium-clad PowerBook G4 via the 15-inch MacBook Professional Apple offered a decade in the past. These laptops had been highly effective and had a display screen sufficiently big to make use of all day, however they had been additionally compact sufficient to take anyplace. In recent times, although, Apple actually leaned into the “Professional” designation, with the worth skyrocketing effectively above $2,000, making it cost-prohibitive for most individuals.
Apple MacBook Air (15-inch, 2023)
- Spectacular efficiency from the M2 chip
- A big and beautiful show
- Nice battery life
- Glorious sound
- Prime-tier keyboard and trackpad
- M2 chip is now a yr outdated
- Show refresh charge is barely 60Hz
However the M2-powered, 15-inch Air brings me again to these days. I may simply see utilizing this laptop computer as my solely laptop. Just like the 13-inch mannequin, it’s highly effective, has lengthy battery life and a high-quality (if not cutting-edge) show. It’s additionally surprisingly skinny and light-weight, one other hallmark of the Air lineup. And with a beginning worth of $1,299, it’s considerably extra inexpensive than any laptop computer that Apple has supplied with this measurement display screen.
There are only some issues that the MacBook Air doesn’t have in widespread with its smaller sibling. Most evident is the 15.3-inch show with a 2,880 x 1,864 decision. That works out to 224 pixels per inch, the identical because the 13-inch Air. It’s considered one of Apple’s “Liquid Retina” shows, which has 500 nits of brightness, help for the P3 “huge colour” gamut and a modest 60Hz refresh charge.
It’s lacking the niceties you’ll discover within the mini LED shows on the 14- and 16-inch MacBook Professional, together with a way more dramatic distinction ratio, help for HDR, barely extra pixels per inch and a 120Hz max refresh charge. However Apple’s commonplace shows are nonetheless very good, and the MacBook Air’s display screen is vivid, sharp and fully nice to have a look at for prolonged intervals of time. I exploit a MacBook Professional as my each day driver, and whereas I observed the decrease refresh charge at first, I principally forgot about it after a short time.
The remainder of the variations between the 2 Air fashions are minor. The bottom 15-inch mannequin comes with the 10-core GPU variant of the M2 to energy the larger show’s further pixels; the 13-inch has an 8-core GPU by default. The opposite inside specs are comparable for each base fashions: 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. (The mannequin I’m testing has 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage, a configuration that prices $1,699.)
The 15-inch Air additionally has a six-speaker sound system with “force-canceling woofers” for improved bass, in comparison with a four-speaker setup within the smaller mannequin. Apple has been making surprisingly wonderful laptop computer audio system for just a few years now, and these additionally sound very vigorous and full when enjoying again music or films. They’re not practically pretty much as good as those within the 16-inch MacBook Professional, however that laptop computer is considerably thicker and heavier than the Air; that further area absolutely helps with resonance and bass. However the audio system within the Air nonetheless sound vigorous and enjoyable to take heed to. Cranking the quantity as much as the max reveals the dearth of bass, however I used to be completely happy to take heed to music at mid-range quantity all day lengthy.
Past these issues, the 15-inch Air is only a barely larger model of the 13-inch mannequin. It has the identical comparatively meager port choice: simply two USB-C ports, MagSafe for energy and a headphone jack. The laptop computer is available in the identical 4 colours (or, extra precisely, shades of grey). The keyboard, massive trackpad and Contact ID sensor are all wonderful, which is true of all Mac laptops at this level. The butterfly keyboard debacle is luckily a distant reminiscence.
Unsurprisingly, it sports activities the identical design language that Apple first unveiled with the MacBook Professional refresh just a few years in the past after which carried over to the Air final yr. Which means the Air’s previously iconic wedge form is gone, changed with a uniform thickness of lower than half an inch, noticeably thinner than the 16-inch MacBook Professional and about equivalent to the 13-inch Air. Naturally, the 15-inch Air is heavier and larger in different dimensions, but it surely nonetheless feels extraordinarily skinny and likewise way more moveable than both of the MacBook Professional fashions.
There’s additionally a notch within the show for the 1080p webcam — once more, the identical one we’ve seen on different current MacBooks. It’s a lot better than the outdated digicam Apple was utilizing till not too long ago, and I don’t thoughts buying and selling the notch for an improved webcam. The bezels across the show are in any other case good and skinny: not fairly as skinny as these on the MacBook Professional, however not thick sufficient for me to present them a second thought.
Gallery: MacBook Air (15-inch, M2) overview pictures | 10 Pictures
Gallery: MacBook Air (15-inch, M2) overview pictures | 10 Pictures
Efficiency-wise, the 15-inch Air can be basically equivalent to the smaller mannequin. Geekbench 5 scores had been virtually the identical as these we acquired when testing each the 13-inch Air and 13-inch MacBook Professional, each of which additionally use the M2 chip. The identical goes for Cinebench R23 and some others we tried. It is price noting that whereas single-core efficiency is just like the 14-inch MacBook Professional with an M2 Max chip, multi-core and graphics efficiency is the place the M2 cannot fairly sustain. That stated, for many customers, there’s loads of energy right here.
Geekbench 5 CPU
Geekbench 5 Compute
MacBook Air 2023 (M2, 15-inch)
MacBook Air 2022 (M2, 13-inch)
MacBook Professional (M2 Max, 14-inch)
Dell XPS 15 2022 (Intel i7-12700H, RTX 3050 Ti)
Efficiency-wise, the 15-inch Air can be basically equivalent to the smaller mannequin. Geekbench 5 scores had been virtually the identical as these we acquired when testing each the 13-inch Air and 13-inch MacBook Professional, each of which additionally use the M2 chip.
Past the benchmarks, the 15-inch Air is simply as succesful because the smaller mannequin we reviewed final yr — it could possibly deal with most computing duties with out breaking a sweat, and regardless of having no followers, I by no means actually observed it getting heat. In fact, that modifications a bit should you’re operating video games or doing extra intense duties like video enhancing. However my workflow, which consists of dozens of tabs open throughout a number of Safari home windows together with apps like Mail, Slack, Music, Trello, Todoist, Bear and Lightroom, didn’t trigger any hiccups. To be honest, these aren’t taxing apps, however dipping into Lightroom to edit some massive RAW pictures didn’t tax the pc both.
My solely concern is that this brand-new Air is operating a chip that’s already a few yr outdated. It’s so highly effective that this shouldn’t be an issue for the Air’s target market, but it surely’s nonetheless one thing price contemplating. In the event you’re going to spend greater than $1,000 on a laptop computer that you simply’ll doubtless personal for years, the best state of affairs is to start out out with the latest, quickest, most future-proof tech which you can afford. The M2, as succesful as it’s, has been round for some time already. If you would like bleeding-edge Apple silicon you could be higher served with a MacBook Professional or ready for the following Air refresh. However on condition that Apple simply launched this laptop with the M2 chip inside, it’s honest to say the corporate is in no hurry to launch an M3.
All the Apple silicon laptops I’ve tried have had excellent battery life, and the 15-inch Air isn’t any exception. It exceeded the 18 hours that Apple claims for video playback by about an hour earlier than ultimately operating out of juice. And whereas the battery did not fairly final as lengthy throughout my regular work routine, I nonetheless acquired about 12 hours earlier than I wanted a charger. I simply acquired via the work day and nonetheless some energy left for some sofa shopping and messaging. I feel it is secure to say most individuals can cost in a single day after which not fear about plugging in once more till their day is over.
One factor to notice on battery, although. Apple affords a compact 35W dual-port charger, which is helpful if you wish to have your laptop charger and one other cable proper at hand. However after utilizing extra highly effective chargers for the previous couple of years, this one undoubtedly felt pokey — whereas I used to be utilizing the Air, it took about two hours to cost from 45 p.c to full whereas in use. Since Apple provides you the choice of swapping in a single-port 70W for no further cost, I would suggest that if charging speeds are in any respect essential to you. Then again, the battery lasts so lengthy that simply charging it extra slowly in a single day, when pace does not matter, can be a effective possibility.
As typical, Apple dropped quite a lot of hyperbole about how the 15-inch Air compares to the “hottest 15-inch Home windows laptop computer operating an Intel i7 chip.” The claims are that the Air is far quicker, the display screen is healthier, the battery is longer whereas the laptop computer itself is thinner and lighter. Apple is being very deliberate about these claims, however the MacBook Air does stack up effectively in comparison with a few of the hottest 15-inch laptops out there.
Dell’s XPS 15 is likely one of the greatest total laptops on the market, and the $1,299 base mannequin has double the RAM and storage of the Air. You can too get one with a discrete graphics card, which might make a giant distinction in additional demanding duties. Nevertheless it’s additionally a lot thicker, a pound heavier and has a lower-resolution show and webcam. Microsoft’s Floor Laptop computer 5 might be a better comparability for the Air – it’s somewhat bit thicker and heavier, however extra svelte than the XPS 15, and has a higher-resolution display screen. Nevertheless it doesn’t have the latest Intel, and the M2 bests the Twelfth-generation chip that it does supply.
As you’re absolutely conscious, the 15-inch MacBook Air is little greater than an even bigger model of the pc that Apple launched a yr in the past. However that’s damming it with faint reward when really this is likely one of the greatest Apple laptops I’ve utilized in a very long time. It does every part the 13-inch MacBook Air does with a noticeably bigger display screen and solely a modest worth improve. The one actual catch is that I feel the RAM and storage within the base mannequin is relatively stingy, not an uncommon tactic for Apple. The M2 smokes even with solely 8GB of RAM, however think about including extra if you’d like your laptop to stay speedy for years to come back.
In the event you journey quite a bit, or worth portability above all else, by all means get the 13-inch mannequin. But when I had been out there for a brand new laptop computer proper now, I feel the 15-inch Air can be on the high of my checklist. It’s quick, gentle and intensely nice to make use of. And getting a giant display screen in a compact package deal is simply icing on the cake.