MacBook Air M2 (2022) vs. 24-inch iMac M1 (2021): Which to Buy?

Apple revealed the all-new MacBook Air (2022) during its WWDC22 keynote, along with macOS Ventura. This laptop packs the company’s proprietary M2 chip into a revamped chassis that features a more modern design language. It now looks similar to some of the other Macs Apple introduced recently. On the other hand, we have the 24-inch iMac M1 from 2021. It is a powerful All-in-One (AiO) computer that caters to a specific audience. Given that both Macs are running M, you might also want to take a look at our list of the best Apple silicon apps. This is the MacBook Air M2 (2022) versus the 24-inch iMac M1 (2021) – the battle between two very different Apple computers running M.

Apple iMac 2021 in blue with matching accessories.

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Apple MacBook Air M2 (2022) vs Apple 24-inch iMac M1 (2021): Specifications

Apple MacBook Air M2 Apple iMac M1 24 inch
  • Apple M2 (octa-core graphics processor)
  • Apple M2 (10-core graphics)
  • Apple M1 (7-Core GPU)
  • Apple M1 (octa-core graphics processor)
the body
  • 11.97 x 8.46 x 0.44 inches
  • 2.7 lbs
  • 21.5 x 18.1 x 5.8 inches
  • 9.83 lbs (varies by model)
  • 13.6-inch Liquid Retina display (2560 x 1664), up to 500 nits brightness, True Tone technology
  • 24″ Retina display 4.5K (4480 x 2520), up to 500 nits brightness, True Tone technology
  • 2 Thunderbolt 4
  • MagSafe 3 . port
  • headphone jack
  • 2 Thunderbolt 4
  • 2 USB 3
  • headphone jack
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • 52.6 Wh battery
  • Up to 18 hours of video playback
  • 30W charger
My voice
  • Four-speaker audio system with wide stereo sound and spatial audio support when playing Dolby Atmos content
  • Six-speaker HD system with power-cancelling amplifiers and woofers and spatial audio support when playing Dolby Atmos content
the color
  • silver
  • starlight
  • gray space
  • midnight
  • blue
  • Green color
  • pink
  • silver
  • yellow
  • orange
  • purple

Design: choose your own fashion model

Side view of the green 24

Design evaluation can be a very subjective matter. However, we can make objective comparisons and notes that will help you choose one of the two Macs. Fortunately, both the MacBook Air and iMac feature the modern body design that Apple started rolling out to its M-powered Macs. So neither of the two looks outdated or chunky. Both are slender, relatively light, and very easy on the eyes.

Side view of MacBook Air in four colors

As you’d expect, though, the MacBook Air has a lighter, thinner, portable build. So, if rooting in one place with your Mac is a deal breaker, then the iMac is not what you’re looking for. In iMac’s defense, this computer comes in a palette of seven vivid colors that outlast the four colors of air. Although, the iMac has a very thick bottom chin – which makes it even uglier than the MacBook Air.

Display: first-class screen vs. first-class screen

The notch in the new MacBook

Display is one of the most important aspects to consider when buying a new computer. This is especially suitable for those who work in photo or video editing and aim to have high-quality screens. Fortunately, both the MacBook Air M2 and the 24-inch iMac M1 have decent (but different) hardware. Starting with the obvious – the former features a serrated 13.6-inch Liquid Retina display. On the other hand, the latter comes with a 4.5K 24-inch Retina display. Both have peak brightness of 500 nits and support True Tone technology – which adjusts color warmth based on your environment and lighting.

Front View of a 24-inch iMac with Keyboard, Mouse, iPhone, and AirPods

Perhaps the biggest difference between the two is the screen size. iMac offers more screen real estate — ideal for those who multitask with different apps simultaneously. Those who watch series and movies on their Mac may also appreciate how spacious it is when compared to the MacBook Air. In the end, the iMac is a solid device – so it makes sense that it would go further in this specific section. However, it should be noted that the MacBook Air has a slightly higher pixel density.

Performance: choose m

Apple M2 specification drawing

The M1 chip is about two years older than the M2 – that’s a lot years of technology. However, the differences between them are not very significant. Two of the most notable features of the M2 are better graphics processor and power efficiency. So those who plan to play games on their Mac may find themselves leaning towards the MacBook Air. As for energy efficiency, the iMac doesn’t have a battery – so the M1 that requires more power to perform won’t affect you significantly.

M1 Chip Overview

Even though the MacBook Air doesn’t have a cooling fan, playing intense AAA games on this Mac might be a bad idea. iMac will cope with cooling better, despite the presence of the old chip. Both devices can pack up to 2TB of SSD. However, the MacBook Air offers more RAM options than the iMac. The latter goes up to 8GB and 16GB, while the former includes an additional 24GB option, should you need it. In the end, both Macs are smooth and should handle everyday tasks without any issues. With that said, don’t forget that you get more ports and better speakers on your iMac.

Conclusion: You are the best judge

It’s hard to compare the MacBook Air M2 and the iMac M1 – simply because they fall into very different categories. One of them is a lightweight and portable laptop. The other is AiO with a larger structure. If you always work from the same office, getting an iMac might make more sense. If you rely on your Mac on the go, the MacBook Air is the best. It’s also worth noting that the MacBook Air M2 (2022) starts at $1,199, while the 24-inch iMac M1 (2021) costs an additional $100.

Personally, I would choose the MacBook Air. I tend to work from different places and don’t like being rooted in one space. Additionally, the M2 Mac is newer and likely to receive software support for a longer period of time. Not to mention I’m a huge fan of the midnight touch not available on the M1 iMac.

    Apple MacBook Air M2 (2022)

    The 2022 MacBook Air offers an M2 chip and a redesigned chassis with MagSafe support. Best Buy can notify you when it’s available.

    Apple iMac M1 24-inch (2021)

    iMac is the perfect choice for those who want an all-in-one desktop computer. It is powered by the Apple M1 chip.

What Apple Computer would you buy and why? Let us know in the comments section below.

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