This laptop had the best display of the year

MacBook Air M2 2022
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

When shopping for the best laptops, it’s important to get one with the best display possible. After all, a dim, low-resolution screen will prevent you from fully enjoying streaming content or make it difficult to get work done. Many of the laptops we’ve reviewed in 2022 have great displays that suit a variety of activities. But in our testing, one machine arguably stood out among the rest: the MacBook Air M2.

How did we come to this conclusion? Well, we measure the average brightness and color quality of each laptop's display using our in-house light meter and colorimeter. Brightness is measured in nits, while color accuracy is determined by the sRGB and DCI-P3 color gamut percentages. Delta-E values also help us determine color accuracy. Higher nits mean a brighter screen, while percentages closest to 100% are best for sRGB and DCI-P3. For Delta-E, closer to 0 is best.

So, how well did the MacBook Air M2 fare in our display tests? Apple’s ultra-thin laptop averaged 489 nits of brightness and peaked at 495 nits with HDR content. Things looked just as good in terms of color reproduction and accuracy. The Air M2’s display registered 107% of the sRGB color gamut and 75.9% of the more demanding DCI-P3 color space. The Air’s Delta-E accuracy score of 0.2 is also excellent

The MacBook Air M2 may not have scored or averaged better in individual tests when compared to other laptops. But taken as a whole, it has the best display of 2022, based on our tests. Let’s dig into the numbers to see how other notebooks’ displays compare.

MacBook Air M2 display vs competing laptops 

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Row 0 - Cell 0 Nits (brightness)sRGBDCI-P3Delta-E
MacBook Air M2489 nits/495HDR107%75.9%0.2
MacBook Pro M2474.6 nits/490 HDR109.4%77.5%0.3
Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 (2022)473 nits104.7%74%0.23
Acer Swift 5457 nits131%93.3%0.23
Dell XPS 13 Plus366 nits118.9%84.2%0.21
Dell XPS 15 OLED382 nits122%86.9%0.2
Samsung Galaxy Book2 Pro 360366 nits123.6%87.5%0.2

MacBook Air M2 display: Which laptops come close?

Though the MacBook Air M2 has a bright and colorful display, there are other laptops with screens that are almost as good. This includes the MacBook Pro 13-inch, which averaged 474 nits of brightness and peaked at 490 nits with HDR content. Its sRGB (109.4%), DCI-P3 (77.5%) and Delta-E (0.3) ratings are also close to the MacBook Air’s.

Moving on to non-Apple laptops, the next runners-up are the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 (2022) and Acer Swift 5. The Zephyrus achieved an average brightness of 473 nits and delivered 104.5% of the sRGB color gamut, 74% of the DCI-P3 color space, and had a Delta-E score of 0.23.

Acer Swift 5 on desk

The Acer Swift 5 (pictured above) is a worthy rival to the MacBook Air M2. (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Swift 5 averaged 457 nits of brightness. The laptop achieved 131.7% of the sRGB color gamut and 93.3% on the DCI-P3 color space, which is very respectable for a non-OLED display. Beyond its brilliant display, we found this laptop a worthy rival to the MacBook Air, as you can read about in our Acer Swift 5 (2022) vs MacBook Air M2  article.

Samsung Galaxy Book2 Pro 360

The Samsung Galaxy Book2 Pro 360's screen isn't as bright as the MacBook Air M2's but it's still one of the best displays of 2022 in its own right. (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The following laptops’ displays aren’t as bright as the MacBook Air M2’s but have respectable color quality. This includes the Dell XPS 13 Plus, Dell XPS 15 OLED and Samsung Galaxy Book2 Pro 360. You can see their respective scores and values in the chart above, but suffice it to say these machines deliver solid images — even if they aren’t quite on the level of the MacBook Air overall.

MacBook Air M2: The best display of 2022? 

As stated above, the MacBook Air M2 has the best display of the year based on our testing methods. However, that doesn’t mean the other laptops we reviewed have inferior panels.

While numbers provide a solid baseline when comparing consumer tech, they don’t tell the whole story. Or to put it another way, numbers can’t account for individual tastes. Even if the MacBook Air M2 has a brighter screen, some may find the Dell XPS 15 OLED’s 3.5K more eye-catching, for example.

With that said, if you’re looking for a laptop with an all-around solid display, the MacBook Air M2 is currently the notebook to beat. And if you consider its stellar M2 chip-driven performance, superb battery life and sleek, portable design, it’s also one of the best MacBooks money can buy.

Read next : The Apple MacBook Air M2 is my best laptop of 2022 — here’s why.

Tony Polanco
Computing Writer

Tony is a computing writer at Tom’s Guide covering laptops, tablets, Windows, and iOS. During his off-hours, Tony enjoys reading comic books, playing video games, reading speculative fiction novels, and spending too much time on X/Twitter. His non-nerdy pursuits involve attending Hard Rock/Heavy Metal concerts and going to NYC bars with friends and colleagues. His work has appeared in publications such as Laptop Mag, PC Mag, and various independent gaming sites.