There are two Macs I rely on to run Mark Ellis Reviews – the 16-inch M1 Max MacBook Pro and the base model M2 MacBook Air.
They are wildly different laptops. Comically different, in fact. But out of the two, I’d be far more lost at sea if the M2 MacBook Air was taken from me.
That 16-inch MacBook Pro is a beast, and it smashes through video edits like no one’s business. At this moment in time, that kind of performance is absolute gold dust, thanks to the busiest production schedule I’ve ever faced.
But the 16-inch MacBook Pro isn’t the M2 MacBook Air. If that laptop was whipped from existence without warning, I’d have a hard time replacing it.
I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit (read: far too much), and I think There are three reasons why the M2 MacBook Air is the engine behind this business.
Reason 1: The M1 version set the standard
I’ll never forget sitting in bed during my first night in Montreal last October. Jet lagged and exhausted from covering Apple’s MacBook Pro event, I was putting the finishing touches to the reaction video I needed to publish the next day.
The only tool I had to edit, polish, and publish that video was the base model M1 MacBook Air.
It got me through. There was the occasional dropped frame in Final Cut Pro, which is entirely understandable when you’re editing 10-bit 4:2:2 4K footage on a laptop with 8GB of unified memory and a 7-core GPU. But it wasn’t a frustrating experience – that alone is incredible.
It got me through.
The M1 MacBook Air achieved this while also being the lightest and most energy-efficient laptop I’ve ever owned. So, not only was this thing a joy to travel with, but it could also clearly compete with the far more expensive competition when it came to intensive work.
The knowledge that my M1 MacBook Air could do that, at a pinch, is why it has set the standard going forward. Any other laptop I buy in the future that serves the role of ‘do-it-all’ workhorse needs to be at least as good.
Thankfully, the M2 MacBook Air is.
Reason 2: The battery life
It feels like I’m always talking about battery life, but this obsession is, I think, a healthy one.
You realise how much you rely on batteries every single day when one runs out, and you quickly work out which devices are convenient to live with based on their charging method.
AirPods Max fail at this, miserably. Several cameras I’ve used in the past fail at this, big time. Certain iPhones (iPhone 13 Pro Max aside) fail at this once their battery capacity begins to wane and – wireless charging aside – you’re forced to hunt for a Lightning cable more often than you should.
Battery life really matters – particularly when it comes to the laptop you’re constantly opening and shutting throughout the day to get important business stuff done.
The M2 MacBook Air continues the trend of being the most convenient, effortless laptop to own, thanks to its battery life and standby time. That counts for everything.
Reason 3: It runs macOS
The only Windows device I have to hand (a Microsoft Surface Laptop) has been out of action for several months. It’s fixable, and probably only needs an hour or two to get to the bottom of why it inexplicably decided to stop booting into Windows.
The problem is that it’s running Windows. I have no desire whatsoever to get it running again, even though I know I need to for the sake of my brand’s objectivity.
But it’s running Windows. I’m struggling to get past that.
I’m not a Windows hater (I was a PC user for many years before I discovered the Mac), and as I’ve said previously, I wish we could all get along, but that doesn’t mean I can’t have an opinion on which operating system is the better of the two.
While it might be a little unfair, Windows makes me think of grey-walled meeting rooms, soulless offices, dour desktop computers covered in compliance stickers, and blue screens of death. It is not a nice place to be.
macOS, on the other hand, is a lovely place to be. There’s no tangible reason for this, either – it’s just a nicer operating system. More importantly, it doesn’t conjure up images of anything negative or remotely corporate – it just works and allows you to get stuff done quickly and without ever crashing.
Seriously – can you remember the last time your Mac crashed or restarted itself without warning? I genuinely cannot.
The M2 MacBook Air is an expensive piece of kit – particularly in today’s current economic climate. I maintain that if you want a MacBook Air but want to spend your money as wisely as possible, you’re far better off going for the M1 version.
The highest praise I can give the M2 MacBook Air is the fact that it feels identical to its little brother in terms of performance, convenience, and overall user experience.
It’s why this laptop never leaves my side, and why, given the option, I’d give up the 16-inch MacBook Pro long before waving goodbye to Apple’s no-longer-tapered beauty.
I love the way you give a calm and logical argument, Mark. You discuss tech as how you use it and how it helps your workflow and business. I always go away saying “ thanks for that Mark”.
Ah, that means a lot – thank you, Stephen!
Definitely agree with Stephen – your reviews are a breath of freash air compared to all these benchmarking reviews.
This means a lot – thank you!
Mark, I found your comparison of the 8GB vs. 16 GB Macbook Air M1’s interesting and helpful. However, I have a question and hope you can suggest an answer. I own both the 8GB and 16GB M1 models. My 16GB actually does seem to function faster during everyday activity… I’m not doing anything extreme… just watching Firefox page opening, Pages, Numbers, and several other apps (no video work or anything requiring a lot of computing power). So, I don’t understand what might be causing my 8GB M1 to appear to perform visibly slower compared to my 16 GB M1. Any thought or suggestions?
The first thing I’d do if you’ve done some self diagnostic already, is speak to Apple. There’s always the chance you have a defective unit, and they’re rather superb at sorting that kind of thing.
Really appreciating your vids, very few reviewers really consider workflow and daily use. I’m a music producer and I actually found myself coming to a similar purchasing conclusion (M2+16). Once you’ve had an Air it’s very difficult to go back to anything bigger for a personal laptop especially if it leaves the house.
I ordered a 14 Pro to test as a potential M1 Air replacement and it really felt like a step backwards purely due to the size. The biggest difference in workflow for me comes from screen size and in that respect all the smaller models are a compromise so may as well go all the way with thin+light.
I think actually quite a lot of pros, especially those that travel, would have a great overall computing experience on a smaller but specced up machine. A lot of pro music people are still on trashcans and cheesegraters. These will smoke them!
Really appreciate those kind words – thanks, Matty!