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Apple's M2 MacBook Air Exposed in World's First Teardown

MacBook Air (M2)
(Image credit: 涛哥爱拆机)

Preorders for Apple's all-new MacBook Air with the M2 processor opened late last week, and the first shipments are now getting into customers' hands. Our review of the M2 MacBook Air went up yesterday, but we didn't dare rip apart our Apple-supplied review sample. However, one YouTuber had no qualms about digging into the chassis to see how the new laptop compared to its M1-based predecessor.

The YouTube Shorts clip provides some quick glimpses at the laptop's PCB pictured next to those found in the iPad Pro and the previous generation MacBook Air. We immediately see the relatively thin EMI shield/heatsink covering the PCB and M2 chip. Remember, the MacBook Air doesn't have a robust cooling system, as it ditched internal fans when the M1 generation launched in late 2020. So for active cooling, you'll need to step up to the M1/M2 13-inch MacBook Pro for sustained performance without thermal throttling.

The teardown also confirmed initial reports that the base M2 MacBook Air only uses a single 256GB NAND chip, while the base M1 MacBook Air used two 128GB NAND chips. Using two NAND chips allows for faster read/write operations than a single NAND chip, which explains the lower SSD performance that reviewers are seeing (even though the entry-level 256GB capacity remains the same). You can even see the silk screen location for a second NAND chip, which is included in higher storage tiers of the MacBook Air. 

The YouTube Shorts clip also shows a few other components like the newly positioned speakers, but that's about it. For a more comprehensive teardown analysis, we'll have to wait for the folks over at iFixit to pull out their trusty tools.

Our review of the new MacBook Air praised its all-new design that forgoes the familiar wedge shape. However, despite this design change, the MacBook Air is now thinner and lighter than its predecessor while adding a slightly larger and brighter display. The redesign also sees the return of the MagSafe power connections and a new 1080p webcam to replace the legacy 720p camera that lingered on for far too long in Apple's MacBooks.

Despite the many pluses of Apple's latest entry as one of the best ultrabooks, its starting price is $200 more expensive than the entry-level M1-based MacBook Air, and the display notch (which was brought over from the MacBook Pro family) could be distracting for some users.

Brandon Hill
Brandon Hill

Brandon Hill is a senior editor at Tom's Hardware. He has written about PC and Mac tech since the late 1990s with bylines at AnandTech, DailyTech, and Hot Hardware. When he is not consuming copious amounts of tech news, he can be found enjoying the NC mountains or the beach with his wife and two sons.

  • cknobman
    If you dont think the change from two 128gb chips to one 256gb chip is a big deal go watch MaxTech videos on Youtube.
    Apple is screwing their customers all for the sake of saving $2.

    If you do more than one thing at a time (yeah even having a browser open while doing something else counts) then performance craters to half the speed of the M1 model.

    Price hike, slower performance, less battery life.
    Apple shouldnt even be selling this but they know people will blindly buy it.
    Reply
  • cyrusfox
    cknobman said:
    Apple is screwing their customers all for the sake of saving $2.
    Seriously... They should just make 512GB the base model but apple has always made storage a high margin differentiator. If they moved them all to 512GB they eliminate the performance hit((2x256GB new NAND die) and also justify the higher price for the M2 vs M1 air, which otherwise is identical.
    Reply
  • Sippincider
    cknobman said:
    screwing their customers all for the sake of saving $2.

    Apple should make a car, because this is straight from the auto business!

    If Apple was in a hardscrabble heavy-industry, and saving that $2 meant being in business tomorrow, I might forgive it.

    But for someone with that kind of balance sheet, cutting corners just because they can? Zero excuse. If I wanted compromises I'd buy a PC.
    Reply
  • Mashivatech
    cyrusfox said:
    Seriously... They should just make 512GB the base model but apple has always made storage a high margin differentiator. If they moved them all to 512GB they eliminate the performance hit((2x256GB new NAND die) and also justify the higher price for the M2 vs M1 air, which otherwise is identical.
    i do agree !
    Reply