Apple's Pricey MacBook Air 15: Unrivaled Brilliance or Overpriced Hype?

MacBook Air 15

The new MacBook Air 15 has captured our attention with its impressive performance and a few noteworthy shortcomings. However, these flaws are easily overlooked when you consider the larger landscape of Windows laptops. We recently conducted a thorough review of the MacBook Air 15 and awarded it an outstanding overall score of 92%. Let's dive into the details.

Let's address the elephant in the room first: the base model of the MacBook Air 15 comes with 8 GB of RAM and a rather modest 256 GB SSD. Some may argue that these specifications are a tad underwhelming, but we mustn't forget the intended target audience for this device. The Air 15, much like its smaller sibling, is designed with casual users in mind who primarily engage in activities such as web browsing, emailing, and media consumption. As much as some might cringe at the thought, the base model's configuration is perfectly adequate for these everyday tasks.

Ever since Apple introduced its M1 SoC, they have gained a significant advantage over Windows machines. The performance of the M1 chip rivals that of AMD and Intel processors, effortlessly handling even complex applications like Adobe Photoshop. One major plus point for Apple's chips is their passive cooling system, which gives them a clear edge over their Windows counterparts. The Windows camp relies on ARM chips from Qualcomm, which tend to deliver sluggish overall performance, incapable of matching the speed of faster x64 laptops. While the Apple chip may eventually throttle due to passive cooling limitations, this is hardly noticeable during regular use. Moreover, performance remains consistently stable even when running on battery power, a feat that many Windows laptops struggle to achieve.

In addition to these obvious advantages, the MacBook Air 15 boasts other delightful features that enhance day-to-day work. The speakers are excellent, the IPS display is top-notch without any PWM, and the battery life is impressively long-lasting. But it's the small details that truly set Apple apart. Take, for instance, the multi-level keyboard backlight, which expertly adjusts itself to match the ambient light. Apple's automatic brightness control and color temperature adjustment for the screen are also superior to what's available on Windows machines.

Is there room for improvement? Absolutely. We'd love to see more ports on the right side, faster Wi-Fi, and a higher display refresh rate. However, it's likely that Apple wants to maintain a distinct separation from its Pro models, avoiding internal competition. Speaking of which, in terms of value for money, the MacBook Pro 14 emerges as the better choice. Both the MacBook Air 15 and the MacBook Pro 14, with 16 GB of RAM and 512 GB of SSD storage, cost around US$2000. But let's be clear, these two devices don't directly compete with each other. If you require the extra horsepower or desire features like HDR, the Pro is the way to go. On the other hand, if you prefer a larger everyday computer, the Air 15 is now available to satisfy your needs.

Admittedly, the price of the MacBook Air 15 is undeniably high, and the surcharges for additional RAM and storage capacity can be exorbitant, even starting from a high baseline price. However, our evaluation focuses on the device itself, rather than its price tag. And indeed, the MacBook Air 15 is a fantastic device, albeit not perfect for every user. Those who value maintenance options or prefer to upgrade the RAM and SSD themselves will be left disappointed. But this is a common limitation in most slim Windows laptops, especially when it comes to RAM. While there are still some compelling competitors in the 13-inch MacBook Air's league, finding a comparable product in the 15-inch range becomes considerably more challenging.

We suspect that Apple had originally planned to launch the larger Air 15 with the new M3 SoC, but it wasn't quite ready in time. Nevertheless, since the competition has yet to catch up, the M2 chip in the MacBook Air 15 is more than capable, and the device never feels sluggish or lacking in power.

In conclusion, the MacBook Air 15 M2 may carry a lofty price tag, but its performance and features remain practically unrivaled. Apple has managed to create a device that caters to the needs of casual users while showcasing their technological prowess. While there is always room for improvement, the MacBook Air 15 stands tall as a formidable contender in the world of laptops.

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