Need to upgrade your Apple laptop? Here's where to save on a MacBook now.
With the release of the 2022 M2 MacBook Air and Pro laptops, Amazon is offering discounts on the current lineup of Apple laptops.
If you’re looking to purchase a new MacBook, there are plenty of options. Earlier in the year, Apple took the wraps off the super-powered M1 Ultra, not to mention the more recent introduction of the M2 chip in the upcoming MacBook Pro and MacBook Air. Even though Apple is notoriously tight when it comes to major discounts, any time there’s a new release or product update, it generally leads to declining prices on older editions of its products, especially those with Intel processors that are now, essentially, old news.
If you’re weighing a few different MacBook options right now, price is always a big concern, but the company’s proprietary chipset should be a factor in your decision. Apple made a big move to its M1 chip in 2020, and has since introduced MacBooks with newer, even-faster M1 Pro, M1 Max, and M2 chips. Of course, cost goes up accordingly with the power of each of those chips.
For users on the go, the basic Air laptop may be all you need, but for power users, content creators, and busy remote workers looking for more of a workhorse machine, the Pro may be worth the upgrade if it saves you time rendering and processing your projects.
Apple’s base-level laptop, the MacBook Air, is still one of its best in years. It’s famously thin and feather-light (hence “Air”) but still delivers A+ performance. Even with just 8GB of RAM onboard, the M1 delivers triple the processing performance compared to previous Intel chips.
Amazon advertises this laptop as running macOS Big Sur out of the box, but it’s compatible with Monterey and the upcoming Ventura, so you can upgrade your MacBook Air to the latest OS.
Apple promises 18 hours of battery life on a full charge, though in our battery-rundown tests, it ran for 29 hours and 1 minute. Not bad considering the price.
In terms of drawbacks, the 13.3-inch screen could be a downgrade if you’re coming from a Windows machine where 15.6-inch sizes are the norm, though the Retina display still keeps things nice and sharp. Beyond that, there are only a couple of Thunderbolt ports, so if you want to add an external mouse and another display to your setup, you’re pretty much maxed out. A 256GB SSD is probably a lateral move for most of us, so more memory might be on your purchase list as well.
So what’s different about the newly released M2 chip? The physical design doesn’t stray from other MacBook models, but it does provide an overall increase in performance over 2020’s M1 chip. Both the M1 and M2 have four high-performance and four energy-efficient cores, but the cores utilized in the M2 result in 18% greater multithreaded performance than M1. According to Apple, “the M2 has up to 25% higher graphics performance than the M1 at the same power level, and up to 35% better performance at its max power.” For more, check out our early M2 tests. It’s scheduled to arrive in July.
If the M1 chip represented a revolutionary new era for Apple, the October 2021 announcement of its M1 Pro and M1 Max kicked that era into hyperdrive. While the step up in price is not insignificant, you get a nice power boost you get for that price, plus a lot of desirable extras not seen in the 13-inch version of the Air or Pro.
Not only does the 14-inch Pro give you an upgrade to a base 16GB of RAM and the M1 Pro chip (with its performance increase of up to 70% over the already-zippy standard M1), but you also get a larger, sharper, radically brighter Liquid Retina XDR display. Not to mention more ports with more variety (three Thunderbolt ports plus an HDMI video port and an SDXC slot onboard) and in a welcome return, MagSafe charging with fast-charge capabilities.
What do you lose? The Touch Bar, which for most, isn’t a deal-breaker considering the independent function keys see a return as well.
Is all that power necessary? For most users, perhaps not, but the increasingly wide swath of content creators who are called upon to tweak images, edit videos, and manage other creative projects will likely benefit from the added power efficiency, screen resolution, and general speed upgrades that the Pro offers.
If the 14-inch Pro is the smaller, sleeker Ferrari version of the MacBook line, the 16-inch Pro is the Corvette: Bigger, beefier, heftier but still with plenty of power under the hood. The 10-core CPU and 16-core GPU offer super-fast processing and graphics performance, along with the largest screen available for an Apple laptop with its sharp Liquid Retina XDR display.
For those of us living on Zoom calls, the 1080p camera on the Pro-level MacBook works with the M1 chip for better lighting and resolution (plus improved sound) run through the M1-optimized macOS Monterey. On top of that, the power efficiency from the M1 Pro chip plus the 16-inch version’s battery gives you a whopping 21 hours of battery life, more than any other MacBook. All this and it’s only a couple of pounds heavier than the Air.
On the outside, the M1 MacBook Pro might not look dramatically different from the Air. You get the same 13.3-inch Retina display, the same number of Thunderbolt ports, and the same size SSD. It weighs a little more, and you get a couple of extra hours of battery life compared to the Air. But there are a few key differences that might make it worth stepping up to the Pro.
For starters, if you like Apple’s divisive Touch Bar, it’s still included on this model. You’ll get a stronger brightness level with the Pro-level Retina display (an above-average 500 nits) and this version features active cooling, which is not completely necessary for an M1 chip machine but still makes it more likely to get a better lifespan. In addition, the Pro has an 8-core GPU compared to the 7-core version on the base Air model, so they squeeze a bit more juice into the shell for the price point.
Overall, if you feel like the Air just doesn’t quite have the power you need, but you’re not ready to step it up to the M1 Pro or Max chip-enabled price tiers, this PC should fit the bill.
The average user may not notice the difference between an M1 and M2 MacBook. However, the M2 Macbook Pro is only a couple of hundred dollars more than the entry-level M1 version, making it a solid upgrade that won’t break the bank, especially if you work with more memory-intensive projects like video editing. The M2 version was rated “excellent” in our review for its performance over the M1- and Intel-based models, not to mention a generous 22-hour battery life. Also of note: The MacBook Pro 2022 sees the return of the Touch Bar, which was removed from MacBook Pro 14- and 16-inch models.
Ahead of Prime Day 2022 on July 12-13, meanwhile, Amazon is also releasing early deals on Amazon devices and daily deals(Opens in a new window).
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Even after testing dating apps for PCMag, Karl Klockars remains happily married to his wonderfully understanding and awesome wife, Nora, and lives in Chicago. He is the author of Beer Lovers Chicago, runs the guysdrinkingbeer.com site, writes for outlets including AskMen, Chicago Magazine, and Thrillist, and recently entered the world of voice-over artistry.
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When she isn’t perusing online stores for deals, Jade enjoys playing video games (mostly JRPGs and roguelikes) from an ever-growing library on her PS5 and building Gundam models. She has a host of hobbies from amateur photography to collecting way too many scale figures and geeky merch. Her love of electronics has persisted through her youth—in particular for computers and video game consoles. Jade lives in blissful harmony with her wife, cat, dog, two chinchillas, and a Shark Robot vacuum named Bruce (a la Finding Nemo). And, yes, he has a little fin.
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