MacBook Air holiday deals: How to choose between the M1 and M2

MacBook Air M2
The MacBook Air is thin and light, but do you need the power of the latest M2 processor or should you save hundreds buying and M1 model? We can help you decide (Image credit: Future/ iMore)

Earlier this year, Apple introduced its next-generation MacBook Air packing an M2 processor. It also decided to keep the older model around for at least another year. The rare move means two current models for Cyber Monday MacBook Air deals exist.

Your default might be to go with the newer model, but you might not need to. 

The MacBook Air (2022) is better than the MacBook Air (2020). This doesn't mean, however, that the (much) more expensive newer model is for everyone. For some, the older model could be more suitable, especially considering that the M1 MacBook Air is getting huge Cyber Monday discounts. Nevertheless, the M1 MacBook Air is still a good buy for most typical users. I'll explain why in detail. 

Cyber Monday Apple MacBook Air deals

How to choose between the M1 and M2 MacBook this Cyber Monday

MacBook Air M1 | (Was $999) (opens in new tab)

MacBook Air M1 | (Was $999)  Now $799 at Amazon (opens in new tab)

This is still a terrific laptop with a very pretty price tag. This discount could get even better over Cyber Monday if stock levels last that long. Some of us here at iMore actually prefer the build style of this model over the latest one too. Sooooo, sleek.

MacBook Air M2 |(Was $1,199) (opens in new tab)

MacBook Air M2 |(Was $1,199) Now $1,049 at B&H Photo (opens in new tab)

The MacBook Air M2 and its silky aluminum frame have seen some great discounts since its release, and we reckon those discounts could get a little deeper over Cyber Monday itself. But do you want to risk it?

As we noted in our original MacBook Air (2022) vs. MacBook Air (2020) comparison guide, the 2022 MacBook Air is a significant update. Besides offering a more powerful chip, the 2022 model comes in a new design with a bigger and better display. In addition, the MacBook Air (2022) also features the return of the MagSafe charging port and more, like an updated FaceTime camera. 

Here are the key differences between the two models:

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 MacBook Air 2022MacBook Air 2020
Regular priceFrom $1,199From $999
ColorsMidnight
Starlight
Space Gray
Silver
Space Gray
Silver
Gold
Display Size13.6-inch (diagonal) Liquid Retina display13.3-inch Retina display
Resolution2560 by 1664 pixels2560 by 1600 pixels
Brightness500 nits400 nits
CPU8-core Apple M2 chip8-core Apple M1 chip
GPUUp to 10-core7-core
RAM8GB
16GB
24GB
8GB
16GB
Storage256GB
512GB
1TB
2TB
256GB
512GB
1TB
2TB
Camera1080p FaceTime HD camera720p FaceTime HD camera
SoundFour-speaker sound systemStereo speakers
Audio supportDolby Atmos
Spatial Audio
Dolby Atmos
PortsTwo Thunderbolt / USB 4 ports, headphone jackTwo Thunderbolt / USB 4 ports, headphone jack
Battery Adapters30W USB-C Power Adapter (included with M2 with 8-core GPU)
35W Dual USB-C Port Compact Power Adapter (included with M2 with 10-core GPU and 512GB storage, configurable with M2 with 8-core GPU)
Fast-charge capable with available 67W USB-C Power Adapter
30W USB-C Power Adapter
Battery lifeUp to 18 hoursUp to 18 hours
MagSafeYesNo
Dimensions0.44 x 11.97 x 8.46 inches0.63 x 11.97 x 8.36 inches
Weight2.7 pounds2.8 pounds

Besides price, deciding between the MacBook Air M2 (2022) and MacBook Air M1 (2020) comes down to three main factors and whether they are essential for your situation: design, chip, and display. 

The newer model comes with a more modern hardware design (slightly lighter) that offers a better camera, spatial audio, and an improved sound system. The all-new Apple M2 chip is noticeably more advanced as it includes a 10-core GPU and the option for more memory. In addition, the newer model comes with a brighter 13.6-inch Liquid Retina display vs. the 13.3-inch Retina display found on the older model. 

And yet, there are many ways the models are the same. Both, for example, provide the same battery life (18 hours) and storage options (up to 2TB).

The bottom line: Unless you're heavy into video editing and want a slightly larger display, the MacBook Air (2020) remains a terrific choice. If you find one at a steep discount, go for it. 

Cyber Monday deals extend beyond the MacBook Air, of course. Be sure to look at other deals we've uncovered on the hottest shopping day of the year, especially our live Cyber Monday Deals page.

You should also check out these amazing MacBook Air cases and USB-C portable power chargers for MacBook and MacBook Pro.