4 things I wished I'd known before buying a MacBook Air

We look at four things to know before buying one of the best laptops on the market

The MacBook Air M2 in blue being carried while closed
(Image credit: Apple)

The MacBook Air easily ranks among the best laptops (and best Apple laptops) for both obvious and non-obvious reasons. 

For starters, it's an absolutely excellent laptop, especially now that Apple is supplying the chips, which covers almost all of the major bases you need from a laptop in 2022. 

If you want access to macOS on the go, the MacBook Air is also one of the cheapest ways to do so, often starting at around £899 for the basic spec but less if you go for a refurb or second hand model. 

The MacBook Air is also among the best student laptops, as anyone who has been to a university campus can attest: the number of students using bitten-fruit laptops is absolutely staggering. 

But there are still some drawbacks from using Apple's budget MacBook and we wanted to explore four things that are worth knowing ahead of ordering. 

1. The MacBook Pro might be better for you

Apple's MacBook lineup has pretty much never been stronger and the best evidence for this is the state of the MacBook Pro lineup, which spans 13-inch, 14-inch, and 16-inch models. 

Each of these offer their own unique thing and for the purposes of this article we're looking at the 13-inch MacBook Pro with M2

The differences are fairly small but they are there and it's worth considering whether you want the Air or Pro before making a decision. 

The Air has a slightly larger display (13.6-inch vs. 13.3-inch) but fewer GPU cores as standard and two hours less battery life. The Pro also includes the ill-fated Touch Bar, for any remaining enthusiasts. 

2. The M2 chip is worth it – kinda 

A lot has rightly been made of Apple's forays into making chips for laptops and the M2 is the first of the second-generation instalments, building on the success of the M1, M1 Pro, M1 Max, and M1 Ultra. 

According to testers and benchmarks, the M2 has some advantages over the M1, including adding four billion transistors, for 20 billion in total. 

The other changes are fairly incremental – upgraded families of performance cores, for example – but could be noticeable in everyday usage. 

If you really care about speed and performance, we'd recommend waiting until the M2 Pro, Max, and Ultra arrive, however. 

3. It's not for hardcore gaming 

Despite all the firepower, the M2 chips are still only average for gaming, as not many developers have optimised their games for the non-Nvidia GPUs. 

That's largely fine, especially if you only want to play ported iOS games, many of which are available in the Mac App Store. 

But for anyone who wants to get their AAA gaming on while travelling, you'll need to look at the best gaming laptops rather than Apple's new MacBooks. 

It's not surprising, given Apple's long history of lacklustre game support, but it does get increasingly strange given the raw power available thanks to Apple's custom silicon. Maybe in the future with the M3 we'll be playing RDR2 on the MacBook Air. 

4. Consider a Chromebook

If you're looking for one of the best student laptops, or just want the best cheap laptop, the MacBook Air is the only real choice from Apple. 

But it's not the only real choice in general. 

Chromebooks have been getting better and better in recent years and the new models are some of the best Chromebooks around, offering high-end specs for a fraction of the price of some Windows PCs. 

Plus, if you're deep into the Google suite of services then it's perfect – you'll never lose a document again. 

For our money, the best Chromebook on the market right now is the Acer Chromebook Spin 713, so add that to your considerations. 

Max Slater-Robins has written for T3 now on and off for over half a decade, with him fitting in serious study at university in between. Max is a tech expert and as such you'll find his words throughout T3.com, appearing in everything from reviews and features, to news and deals. Max is specifically a veteran when it comes round to deal hunting, with him seeing out multiple Black Friday campaigns to date.