The biggest change in the new MacBook Air is the design, not the M2

Apple's positioning of the MacBook Air series has been changing.

▲ The famous scene of MacBook Air

At the beginning of its birth, it was known for its thin and light design. With the popularity of Retina screens and the rise of MacBook Pro, Air has also become the basic "entry" model of Apple computers.

Even in 2018, Apple redesigned the MacBook Air again with a Retina screen, but the positioning has not changed.

The Air is still an "affordable" Mac.

Until this year (2022), the MacBook Air changed its design again, abandoning the classic "wedge" design and turning to a design similar to the MacBook Pro.

In theory, the new MacBook Air is still Air enough, and its configuration is slightly lower than the new MacBook Pro, but its positioning is no longer a "entry" model.

The task of popularizing the M chip is handed over to the MacBook of the old mold, and the new MacBook Air and the Pro form Apple's new MacBook product line.

If the MacBook Pro focuses on practical and professional grades, the MacBook Air, which is no longer affordable, begins to lean towards "fashion", or "appearance".

The biggest change is the design, not the M2

Similar to the iPad Air, the new MacBook Air adds "starlight" and "midnight" to the color scheme. Although it is not as colorful as the iMac, it can still be recognized with the Pro series.

Using different color schemes in different product series is Apple's consistent practice.

For example, in the Pro sequence, gray and black are usually used in color matching with technological attributes. In products for the public, they tend to be colorful to show the vitality of the product.

After seeing the new design of the MacBook Air, many people think that the lack of a continuation of the "wedge" design makes the Air lose its original soul.

In fact, after the full switch to the M chip, the design language of the MacBook series is no longer radical, but tends to be practical, and the same is true for the new Air.

The "uniform" design style allows the MacBook Air to have more internal space, so the battery does not have to be stepped for the wedge-shaped design.

As a result, the new MacBook Air has a higher battery capacity than its predecessor, and its internal structure has become cleaner and simpler.

Unlike the M1 Pro/Max MacBook Pro, the M1 MacBook Air is still a combination of new chips and old molds, while the M2 MacBook Air is a combination of new chips and new designs.

▲ Left: Intel version of MBA, right: M1 MBA Image from: ifixit

Inside the M1 MacBook Air, Apple replaced the position originally reserved for the fan with a fast cooling one, and the other side is connected to the M1 SoC through silicone grease. The cooling efficiency is limited, but it is still a more reasonable cooling configuration.

▲ Image of the cooling block of the M1 MacBook Air from: ifixit

Especially when the energy efficiency ratio of M1 is far beyond the understanding of PC chips at that time, and the performance of the original Intel chips is really weak.

When it comes to the M2 MacBook Air, in theory, there will be more space for it, and it will have a more rigorous layout and design.

▲ Much like an iPad Image from: MaxTech

Under the dismantling of YouTube blogger Max Tech, the internal assembly method and cooling configuration of the M2 MacBook Air are quite similar to the iPad.

The motherboard consisting of SoC, memory and hard disk occupies only a small part, and most of the space is occupied by the battery.

To be sure, similar to the iPad Air 5 and iPad mini 6, the battery comes in an easy-to-replace roll-on configuration.

The motherboard part only uses a thin layer of metal for shielding and passive heat dissipation, and the SoC is also in indirect contact with it through silicone grease.

If this heat dissipation design is considered a conventional configuration for the iPad, it is a bit "simple" to put it on a PC.

It can even be said that compared to the heat dissipation block of the M1 MacBook Air, the M2 MacBook Air has regressed in the cooling configuration.

It is undeniable that the M chip has an excellent energy efficiency ratio compared to the traditional x86 chip. Under moderate to mild working conditions, it has lower heat generation, which also fulfills Apple's idea of ​​abandoning the "fan".

However, on the M2 MacBook Air, the simple cooling configuration makes the performance improvement of the M2 no longer obvious.

It's a bit of a reverse upgrade.

Compared with the M2 MacBook Pro, the temperature of the M2 MacBook Air has greater fluctuations, and there is an obvious cycle of heat accumulation, frequency reduction and heat accumulation.

The MacBook Air's performance continued to slow down during long, heavy tasks.

▲ Picture from: GregsGadgets

Even compared with himself, there is still a clear gap.

The new MacBook Air has two M2 SoCs. The basic version is an 8-core CPU with an 8-core GPU, while the high-end GPU is upgraded to 10 cores.

In the test of GregsGadgets, in the same "Tomb Raider" game, the basic version of the 8-core GPU was slightly better than the high-end version of the 10-core GPU. The reason was poor heat dissipation, which made the 10-core GPU have a larger performance The accumulated heat, and then quickly enter the frequency reduction stage.

In addition, under the extreme conditions of MaxTech's continuous use of CineBench R23 for running points, the CPU of the M2 MacBook Air dropped from 3.2GHz to 2.65GHz, and the core temperature also soared to 94°C.

Similarly, in multiple rounds of 3D Mark, the GPU also had such an experience. The lowest frequency came to 900MHz, which was quite different from the initial 1398MHz base frequency.

Not only these high-intensity benchmark tests, but also in many foreign media and our own tests and use, the new MacBook Air also encountered poor heat dissipation and frequency reduction.

▲ Same as M2 MacBook Pro, still single NAND particle Image from: MaxTech

In addition, the SSD that exists in the base version of the M2 MacBook Pro is also slowed down in the new MacBook Air 256GB version.

In any respect, the thin and light nature of the new MacBook Air is to give up continuous and stable performance release. It is more suitable for light office situations, and even to put it bluntly, the new MacBook Air is more like a netbook.

The positioning of the MacBook Air began to be biased towards "fashion", which was also based on its performance.

Stylish bias narrows audience for new MacBook Air

Looking at Apple products, the fashion label should be the original Apple Watch.

▲ 2014 Apple Autumn Conference Site Picture from: CBS

At the time of release, unlike traditional technology products, Jony Ive invited celebrities from the fashion industry to participate, and spent a lot of money to build a pure white building in the Flint Center to build momentum for the Apple Watch.

Subsequently, Apple Watch also frequently appeared in fashion magazines, and jointly launched straps with major luxury brands.

At that time, Apple Watch was more like a trendy accessory on the wrist, and Jony Ive also hoped that Apple Watch would have an impact on the traditional Swiss watch industry.

And then, Apple also began to set up Apple Watch counters in high-end department stores in France, the United Kingdom and other places, in order to gradually enter the boutique market.

However, the functionality of the original Apple Watch is not much different from other products on the market, and the so-called "boutique" strategy cannot convince mass users to consume.

In the Apple Watch Series 2 a year later, Apple also began to position the Apple Watch with practical orientations such as exercise and health monitoring, which has continued to the present.

Today, the positioning of Apple Watch is still health-oriented, from the heart rate of the first generation to the current series of personal health assistants such as blood oxygen, electrocardiogram, and sleep persistence.

Apple Watch has also become one of the indispensable devices for many people today. The change in the positioning of the Apple Watch is also a turning point in the achievement of the Apple Watch today.

After the Mac has fully turned to self-developed M chips (especially the performance of the M1 MacBook Air), it seems that Apple has finally found a balance between thinness and performance, and will not lose most of its performance due to excessive thinness.

However, in the M2 MacBook Air, due to the weak cooling equipment, it seems to have returned to the old way. Behind the pursuit of thinness, a lot of performance has to be sacrificed, even though the M2 has an energy efficiency ratio far exceeding that of intel chips.

In this way, the M2 MacBook Air is more like a major change in design, rather than a two-way upgrade brought about by the high energy efficiency of the M chip.

The positioning of the M2 MacBook Air is also somewhat similar to that of the original Apple Watch. They are more inclined to the appearance of fashion trends rather than functional orientation. Such positioning may always accompany the M-chip MacBook Air.

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