This year’s best Black Friday MacBook deal isn’t what you’d expect

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As we roll into the Black Friday deals season, one of the most sought after items year after year is the Apple MacBook Air. It’s not hard to see why, obviously. It’s a gorgeous computer with excellent performance, it’s lightweight and ultraportable, and for most consumers, it’s the kind of device that “just works.”

It certainly doesn’t hurt that it’s also much more affordable than just about any other Apple computer other than the Mac Mini. The MacBook Air’s reputation for affordability (relatively speaking) is one of it’s biggest appeals, which is why we were not a little disappointed that the latest MacBook Air model, powered by the Apple M2 chip, saw a pretty substantial price increase over the M1 MacBook Air it is replacing.

Still, the M2 MacBook Air might be the best laptop Apple has ever made for the general consumer market, and we’re seeing some really good Black Friday MacBook Air deals on the new M2s, but look past the FOMO in Starlight and you’ll see that the perfect MacBook Air has been here the whole time, and it’s getting some very aggressive price cuts right now.

Most people don’t need the M2 chip right now

We love the new MacBook Air, without a doubt (though, personally, I don’t like the way Apple went with its redesign, but c’est la vie). It is a powerful computer with a gorgeous display and it’s still as portable as ever, making it a great laptop to take with you around town.

The same can be said of the Apple MacBook Air with M1, though. And while it makes total sense to try to buy the most powerful laptop you can while it’s on sale, most users who just want to do some productivity work, video streaming, FaceTiming, and the like, the M1 chip is more than capable of providing snappy performance and excellent battery life at a much lower starting cost. 

Layer on the kinds of discounts we’re seeing on Black Friday MacBook deals, and the M1 MacBook Air doesn’t just become a bargain, it’s increasingly a downright steal.

If you really do need something more powerful than the M1 chip, then you should really be looking at a MacBook Pro 13-inch, which will be much more in line with your needs, and these are also on sale so you can still save.

Retailers need to move M1 MacBook Air units to make room for M2 MacBooks

Apple MacBook Air (M2, 2022) on a white desk in a studio

(Image credit: Future)

Now that the MacBook Air with M2 has been on sale for a few months now, there is increased pressure on retailers to make room for the newer models. That means clearing out their stock of the M1s, so prices are going to be even lower on average than they were last year.

There’s no reason not to pass up a great deal on a MacBook Air that will serve you well for years just because Apple slapped a slightly more powerful chip in their new devices.

Essentially, retailers are going to be pricing M1 MacBooks more aggressively, and that can mean savings of 20% to 25% off the entry level configuration, which is more than enough for most users.

Even higher-level configurations are going to see price cuts, especially sicne these configurations that are typically harder to sell.

The sales price of the M2 MacBook Air is still higher than an M1 Air at full retail

MacBook Air M1 open full

(Image credit: Future)

Finally, times are tough right now, and the new MacBook Air with M2 is somewhat out of step with this. Sure, prices on everything have gone up and it’s not like Apple and every other manufacturer large and small hasn’t been dealing with supply chain issues for the past couple of years.

But there’s no getting around the fact that the typical sales we’re seeing on M2 MacBook Air models is still higher than buying an almost-as-powerful M1 MacBook Air at full retail.

Right now, the Apple MacBook Air M2 with 8GB memory and 256GB storage is $1,049.99 at both B&H Photo and Best Buy. That’s $50 above the launch MSRP of the M1 MacBook Air with the same memory and storage options, and we haven’t seen a MacBook Air M1 consistently selling at full retail price at any major retailer outside of Apple’s storefront for over a year.

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals slashing prices on the two-year-old M1 MacBook Air, you’re likely to get some substantial savings by going with the M1 model instead. To better illustrate, I’ve pulled together some of the best Black Friday laptop deals on both Apple MacBook Air models so you can see the difference for yourself.

And keep in mind, it’s not just US buyers who are lucking out here, but in the UK, we’re seeing a similar story play out at major outlets like Amazon, Box, and Currys.

It’s still important to keep Black Friday prices in perspective

While the Apple MacBook Air with M1 is already getting aggressively discounted, there is only so low they can effectively go. Grabbing an M1 MacBook Air for $749 is about as good a deal as you’re probably going to get on a new unit, so you’re still going to pay a decent amount of money for a MacBook Air regardless.

If you have the room in your budget, and you really want the best MacBook around, there is a case to be made that the M2 MacBook deals offer the better value even if they are more expensive since you’ll get a better degree of future-proofing and, obviously, you’ll get improved performance.

But if you’re on a tighter budget this year, as we all are, then there’s nothing wrong with going for an M1 MacBook Air, and its an excellent way to save some real money on a new laptop. 

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