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Apple MacBook Air M2 Faster 10-core Best graphics

More expensive Air loses performance even faster under load

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Apple MacBook Air M2

more expensive Air loses performance even faster under load. After testing the base configuration of the Apple MacBook Air M2, now comes the version with 16 GB of RAM, a larger 1 TB SSD and faster graphics with 10 cores. The results are unequivocal: the passively cooled Apple M2 from extra cores did not become faster, but only lowered the operating frequency more and gave less performance.

"Apple MacBook Air M2 Faster 10-core graphics"
Apple MacBook Air M2 Faster 10-core graphics

 We have already done a detailed full test of the MacBook Air M2 and now decided to take a look at the older configuration with 10-core integrated graphics.

Our test sample is made in Starlight colors and carries a more powerful version of the M2 chip, 16 GB of unified memory, and a capacious 1 TB SSD.

In this review, we will focus on the differences from the basic configuration, so we will omit the already known details about the design, construction, and keyboard with the touchpad.

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In the review of the basic configuration of the MacBook Air M2, we have already noted that the model has risen noticeably in price.

The advanced configuration we tested today (recommended price 2309 euros or $2380) is already on par with the  MacBook Pro 14, which is clearly better in a number of parameters (performance, mini-LED screen, set of ports, speakers).

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The base MBP 14 with 16 GB of RAM and a 512 GB SSD costs between 1950 and 2000 Euros (~$2010 – $2061) at the time of writing, while the 1TB SSD version is available for around 2300 Euros (~$2371), which is similar to the price.

The Air M2 we tested. Therefore, although MB Air is aimed at a different audience of consumers, we still added the MB Pro 14 to the list of competitors.

"Apple MacBook Air M2 Faster 10-core graphics"
Apple MacBook Air M2 Faster 10-core graphics

Design and Features

In our review of the MacBook Air M2 in Midnight, we found that the navy blue color, while looking pretty good, was a little too easily soiled and easily soiled in practice.

Our test unit today is in the new Starlight colorway (gray with a slight golden haze) which is much more practical and on par with Silver and Space Gray in terms of coverage.

In our review of the basic configuration, we have already noted that although the MacBook Air M2 is thin, it is larger than the  Dell XPS 13 Plus and Asus ZenBook S 13 in size.

If we also compare it with the  MacBook Pro 14, then the Pro model is subjectively bulkier and in fact, 400 grams heavier. However, in terms of width and depth, the difference with the new Air is insignificant.

"Apple MacBook Air M2 Faster 10-core graphics"
Apple MacBook Air M2 Faster 10-core graphics

Apple MacBook Air M2

Display

More information about the display can be found in the basic configuration overview. Our readers have repeatedly asked about the presence of the phenomenon of temporal dithering (temporal dithering, used to create greater color depth).

We tested the Air M2’s IPS screen with a microscope and a 240fps camera. As our test showed, the MacBook Air M1 and M2 do not have this feature, but the MacBook Pro 16 with a mini-LED screen appears to have it.

"Apple MacBook Air M2 Faster 10-core graphics"
Apple MacBook Air M2 Faster 10-core graphics

Performance

CPU

The processor part of the M2 chip in the MacBook Air remains the same regardless of the configuration: 8 cores, which are divided into productive and energy-efficient clusters. For this reason, the processor performance is identical to the base version.

Cinebench’s multi-threaded test has a slight boost over the baseline Air. However, such an insignificant difference can be explained by the differences between each individual chip sample, and in practice, it cannot be felt.

Overall Performance

From a subjective point of view, we did not notice a difference between the base MacBook Air M2, especially in simple tasks such as e-mail, video playback, or web surfing.

However, in some tests, the larger, faster SSD provided a noticeable advantage over the more expensive version. Even in emulated applications, there is a performance boost over the base configuration.

Data Storage

The older 1TB drive is indeed faster than the 256GB sample and reaches near-standard 3GB/s. However, even taking this into account, it is rather unfair to pay extra 460 euros for a version with a 1 TB SSD, knowing that it is limited by the capabilities of PCIe 3.0. The older MacBook Pro 14 has a major advantage here, as it supports PCIe 4.0.

video card

The more expensive version of the Apple M2 differs in the number of graphics cores:

there are 10 of them instead of 8, but the frequency is still the same – 1398 MHz. Overall, Apple has been able to improve graphics performance compared to the old M1, with the power efficiency of Apple’s graphics cores also being improved.

"Apple MacBook Air M2 Faster 10-core graphics"
Apple MacBook Air M2 Faster 10-core graphics

The 10-core graphics power consumption slightly increased – 13.5 watts. Because of this, under prolonged load, graphics performance degrades faster than the old model. As a result, the advantage over the 8-core M2 graphics drops from the initial 19% to 9% in just a few minutes.

Thus, real superiority is only achievable in short benchmarks/loads. For everyday tasks, the performance and energy efficiency of 8-core graphics is already more than sufficient. For this reason, we have a disappointing conclusion:

there is no reason to overpay for the older version of the M2 from the MacBook Air. A quick comparison with the MacBook Pro 14 shows that the old 14-core graphics are 30-40% faster, and also keep performance stable under continuous load.

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