- The MacBook Air has a limited number of configurations available, with the biggest difference being the M1 and M2 processors.
- The MacBook Air is overpriced compared to other laptops on the market, with cheaper options available from companies like HP and Dell.
- Software compatibility can be a major issue with the MacBook Air, as many third-party programs are unavailable on macOS.
- The MacBook Air has a lack of ports, with only two USB-C ports and a 3.5mm audio jack, making it difficult to connect peripherals and accessories.
- The MacBook Air has no upgradeability, with components soldered directly to the board and no option for replacing the hard drive.
Apple’s MacBook Air is often regarded as a fantastic computer. However, things aren’t always as they appear, especially in this case. The MacBook Air has a number of major problems that you shouldn’t ignore. The eight reasons listed below are just some of the many reasons that you should pass on a MacBook Air.
At first glance, the MacBook Air’s sleek metal exterior may lure you in. However, take some time to read the specs and compare prices with other laptops on the market. You may be surprised how the MacBook Air stacks up. Carefully consider how each of the reasons listed below may impact you.
MacBook Air Overview
Apple released the first MacBook Air in January 2008 as a thinner alternative to its MacBook and MacBook Pro. To make such a thin laptop, Apple had to get creative by using the iPod’s hard drive in it. Over the years, the MacBook Air continued to get thinner and more powerful. Perhaps the biggest change came in 2020 when Apple switched from Intel processors to its own M-series chips.
The M1 processor added significantly more power to the MacBook Air. However, two years later, Apple released a newer M2 processor alongside a redesigned MacBook Air. Today, you can still buy the M1 13-inch MacBook Air as an entry model. In addition, Apple also sells the newer M2 MacBook Air in both a 13-inch and a 15-inch model.
The first reason that you should avoid a MacBook Air is that there are a limited number of configurations available. Buyers’ main choices are hard drive space, RAM, and screen size. The biggest difference between MacBook Air models is the M1 and M2 processors. Apple continues to sell its older M1 MacBook Air as a starter model with a low price point.
From there, you have the option to upgrade the standard 8GB of memory to up to 24GB. Similarly, there are a number of hard drive sizes available. Apple recently added a 15-inch MacBook Air to its lineup. While that may seem like a fair amount of choices, it is a rather limited selection. Most of the options come from the fact that Apple still sells its older M1 MacBook Air, which is getting pretty old.
Overpriced Compared to Other Laptops
Apple products are notoriously expensive, and the MacBook Air is no exception. The base model M1 MacBook Air isn’t too bad with a starting price of $899, and sales often make it cheaper. However, this laptop came out back in 2020 and is certainly showing its age. Upgrading to one of the newer M2 MacBooks will bump the starting price to $999.
Prices only go up from there with the addition of more storage or a larger display. In contrast, other laptops from companies like HP and Dell with an Intel i7 processor are available for well under $1,000. Because Apple uses a proprietary processor, it can be difficult to get an even comparison. However, the divide gets even worse if you upgrade to a larger hard drive or more RAM.
Limited Software Compatibility
The next consideration is one of the biggest reasons people have to avoid a MacBook Air, and it may impact you as well. The issue, of course, is software compatibility with macOS. Compatibility problems are a longstanding issue for a lot of computer users who require third-party software. Developers oftentimes must create separate versions of their product to work on a Mac.
For instance, video editing, design, and even basic productivity programs are commonly unavailable on macOS. Because so few people use Windows compared to macOS, many developers simply forego the added expense of creating a Mac-compatible version. If you use specific programs, ensure that they offer a Mac-compatible version before buying a MacBook Air.
Too Few Connections
Another major oversight in the design of the MacBook Air is that it only has a couple of ports. Computer ports allow for much more than charging, as they are the primary method for connecting peripherals and accessories. Unfortunately, the M1 MacBook Air only has two USB-C ports, which are used for charging, and a 3.5mm audio jack that you can use for headphones or speakers.
The newer M2 MacBook Air doesn’t fare much better, as it also has two USB-C ports and a 3.5mm audio jack. However, it also has a separate MagSafe charging port. This is a major concern if you have numerous wired accessories, such as a mouse or an external hard drive. While it is understandable that the MacBook Air’s small size limits the number of available connections, it simply has too few ports for most users.
A longstanding problem with Apple devices is the lack of upgradeability. Even worse, other manufacturers are now copying Apple and making their laptops difficult to upgrade as well. The MacBook Air has absolutely no upgradeability, meaning you should carefully consider any future needs at the time of initial purchase.
Previous generations of MacBooks could at least have their hard drives replaced, but that isn’t the case with the newer Air models. Not only is the computer’s size a problem, but most components are now soldered directly to the board, including the solid-state drive. Even replacing the battery is a complex process that requires a professional repair person.
Apple loves to boast about its device’s performance metrics. However, the numbers are often overstated or use a best-case scenario. The new Apple Silicon chips are very impressive and give the MacBook Air a major boost in power. However, the computer’s compact size creates hardware limitations that dictate performance.
Unlike the MacBook Pro, which uses the more powerful M2 Pro and M2 Max processors, the Air uses standard M1 and M2 processors. Additionally, cooling in the MacBook Air is very difficult because of the device’s size. This can lead to overheating and thermal throttling, which further inhibit performance. While the MacBook Air feels snappy for basic browsing and word processing, it can quickly bog down with heavy use.
Not Good for Gaming
On the surface, Apple’s MacBook Air probably looks like the perfect portable gaming machine. Not only is it small and lightweight, but the specs are decent enough to run many AAA games. Most notable is that the M1 processor used in the MacBook Air has a 7-core GPU, while the M2 has either an eight or 10-core GPU.
While that may sound impressive, in real-world tests, it comes out well below the AMD RX6600 and NVIDIA RTX 3050. Laptops that come with these GPUs are also significantly cheaper than a MacBook Air. However, even overlooking gaming performance, the MacBook Air has another major problem. There are very few games available on macOS beyond App Store titles. Although Steam is available, few games are compatible.
Small Hard Drive
The hard drive inside of the MacBook Air is a major point of contention. One of the biggest complaints is that it cannot be replaced. However, another major reason to avoid the MacBook Air is that the base model comes with too small a hard drive. As technology advances, memory gets smaller and more affordable, giving many computers larger drives.
However, with the growing popularity of solid-state drives, many manufacturers are going back to smaller hard drives. You probably don’t need 10TB of storage space on your laptop. However, the 256GB drive that the MacBook Air starts out with is just too small. While you do have the option to upgrade, the costs are staggering. Worst of all, the M2 MacBook Air is slower than its predecessor at accessing data.
MacBook Air Alternatives
As you’ve seen, a MacBook Air isn’t for everyone. Whether you don’t want to be locked into macOS or you could use a little more power, it is worth looking at some alternatives. Below, you can find a few different options that are sure to fit anyone’s needs and budget.
The MacBook Pro is always a popular choice among Apple enthusiasts. Although it is a little bulkier than the MacBook Air, it does provide more connectivity and power. The MacBook Pro comes with either an M2 Pro or M2 Max processor. In addition to having a more powerful processor, the MacBook Pro has more customizability with up to 8TB of SSD storage and 96GB of RAM.
Acer Nitro 5
If you aren’t set on purchasing a Mac, then Acer’s Nitro 5 may be a good alternative. This laptop packs in an i7 processor alongside a 3050 TI GPU. The 1080p display at 144Hz is also pretty impressive in a laptop at this price range. Speaking of price, the Nitro 5 comes in very close to the MacBook Air. Not to mention, the Nitro 5 offers better connectivity with USB-A, HDMI, and Ethernet.
Another entry-level Apple computer is the Mac Mini, which is a great desktop at an even better price. The Mac Mini is a compact design that easily fits on a desk and uses the Apple M2 series of processors. But it has more powerful options than the MacBook Air. While it isn’t a laptop, the Mac Mini does provide numerous ports and an upgrade in performance.
Should You Consider a MacBook Air
Despite all the reasons above to pass on a MacBook Air, it may still be a good choice for you. After all, the MacBook Air is compact, easy to use, and works well with other Apple products. If you use a lot of custom software, such as design or editing programs, then a MacBook probably won’t be a good choice.
Similarly, a MacBook Air is not a good option for people who need extreme performance. In that case, it will likely be better to go with a MacBook Pro or a high-end PC. If you do plan to purchase a MacBook Air, be sure to consider any upgrades before you purchase rather than picking the cheapest option.
There are a lot of reasons to pass on the MacBook Air. As a laptop, it certainly isn’t the most powerful option available. The MacBook Air caters to a market that doesn’t need the most power or a computer with the best specs. Instead, it is best to think of the MacBook Air as a decent starter laptop for people who really want to be in the Apple ecosystem.
Alternatives to a MacBook Air
|Acer Nitro 5|
- Apple 2022 MacBook Pro Laptop with M2 chip
- 8-core CPU, 10-core GPU
- 13-inch retina display
- Up to 20 hours of battery life
- Available with up to 1TB SSD storage
- Up to 16GB RAM
- Acer Nitro 5 AN515-57-79TD Gaming Laptop
- Intel Core i7-11800H
- NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Ti
- 15.6-inch FHD IPS display
- 144Hz refresh rate
- 8GB DDR4 RAM
- 512GB NVMe SSD
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