The laptop almost everyone should buy in 2024

Mike Powers
The laptop almost everyone should buy in 2024

I remember when Apple unveiled the M1 MacBook Air back in 2020. The M-Series chips were such a breakthrough that they warranted an upgrade for almost anyone with an Intel-based MacBook Air. Now, four years later, I think the M1 MacBook Air should be the default laptop for almost anyone — Windows and Mac users alike.

Why? There are really two reasons, and both are quite simple: price and performance. Let’s talk about the first one. Up until last week, the M1 MacBook Air came in at around $899 due to the M2 MacBook Air — and now the M3 MacBook Air — successors making their way into the market. You could occasionally find one on sale for $799 for events such as Black Friday and other sales holidays, but that wasn’t necessarily the norm.

The M1 MacBook Air in Gold. Image source: Maren Estrada for BGR

While $799 (or even $899) is still a heck of a deal for a laptop like this, $800+ for a laptop still puts the M1 MacBook Air in the premium category and out of the price range for many people who just couldn’t find a justification for spending that much on a laptop.

Most people only need their computers for web browsing, paying bills, and some basic use cases. If you aren’t gaming, editing photos or videos, or developing apps, why spend $899 on a laptop when you can buy a decent Chromebook or Windows laptop for $499? I get it, but things changed when Walmart announced its new partnership with Apple.

M1 MacBook Air gets new life and a new price

Last week, Apple and Walmart announced that the retail giant would start selling Macs for the first time ever. Walmart had already sold plenty of Apple products for years like the iPhone, iPad, and more, but the Mac had remained elusive for anyone wandering around the electronics department searching for Apple’s computers.

Finally, you can buy a Mac through Walmart’s website. The company also says it will begin selling the Mac in its physical retail locations as well. To kick off this new partnership, both companies dropped a banger and announced that Walmart would be selling the M1 MacBook Air, which was previously discontinued by Apple and thought to be gone forever.

Walmart's promo image for its $699 M1 MacBook Air deal.
Walmart’s promo image for its $699 M1 MacBook Air deal. Image source: Walmart

What was really surprising about the M1 MacBook Air coming to Walmart wasn’t even the fact that it was resurrected but rather the price: $699. Under $700 for one of the most consequential (and popular) laptops released in recent memory is such an insane deal that, for the price alone, this just became what should be the default choice for most people.

Of course, price alone doesn’t explain why most people should buy the M1 MacBook Air and ignore to anything else. What do you actually get for $699 (or $649 if you go to Best Buy, which quickly tried to one-up Walmart after its announcement with its own price drop)?

There’s more to this than the price

A lot of people would look at the M1 MacBook Air and say, “Why would I buy a 4-year-old laptop?” And you would normally be right. However, the game really changed with Apple silicon coming from the iPhone and iPad to the Mac. The M-Series chips are all incredibly fast and made such a performance jump from their Intel predecessors that, even in a 4-year-old body, the M1 MacBook Air still flies for most of the things that people need a laptop for.

The $699 (or $649 at Best Buy) Walmart MacBook Air is the base configuration, which means that you’ll get 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. This might also seem like an immediate disqualification in 2024…until you factor in what the M-Series chip does with that 8GB of RAM. I’ve personally been using a base model M2 MacBook Air with 8GB of RAM for the last year and haven’t noticed any slowdown, lag, or anything else. This thing screams for most use cases.

2022 MacBook Air Main
Apple’s 2022 MacBook Air, released in summer 2022. Image source: Christian de Looper for BGR

Of course, there are things this computer won’t be best for. Serious gaming, professional video or music production, and developing or instances where you might want to consider upgrading to one of Apple’s Pro-branded laptops or desktops. The M1 can, however, handle most of the things MOST people would throw at it. Want to start a YouTube channel and shoot with an iPhone or a DSLR? The M1 MacBook Air would still handle that fine.

You just might run out of storage pretty quickly if you’re trying to save every single piece of footage.

This is a no-brainer for 99% of people

There will always be niches that make a popular computer the wrong choice. However, for most people — and by most, I mean 99% of people — the M1 MacBook Air is an incredibly capable computer. For less than $700, I can’t think of a comparable laptop that is as well-built and well-performing as this thing.

I’ve personally owned both the base model M1 MacBook Air and the base model M2 MacBook Air, and even though I’m a sucker for new designs and love my M2 MacBook Air, I would absolutely tell most people in my life to save the money and just get the M1 MacBook Air.

It is an absolute steal and probably the best value in consumer technology right now.

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