Macbook Air M3 review round-up

Here's what reviewers think of the brand new MacBook Air lineup

A modern MacBook Air M3 partially open, showcasing its screen and keyboard, against a white background with a review round-up logo above it.

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The 4th of March 2024 saw the new Apple MacBook Air models get their debut, and this year the famed M3 processor is finally coming to Apple’s flagship lightweight laptop. So, with both the new 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Air getting a specs refresh, what are reviewer’s initial thoughts? Well, you can find out here in our MacBook Air M3 review round-up.

After alternating between the previous M1, M2, and Intel Core processors, Apple has finally decided to go all in with its own Apple Silicon chips and bring the M3 to the MacBook Air series. In this article, we’re exploring what some of the biggest reviewers have to say about the M3 MacBook Air.

M3 Macbook Air review round-up

The MacBook Air M3’s excellent performance is nothing to be surprised about, and it looks like these laptops are even more AI-focused than the last. Let’s dive into what else is to be said about this new Apple addition.

Ars Technica“…the M3 MacBook Airs aren’t as interesting as the M2 models”
CNET“if you already have an M2 MacBook Air, the reasons to upgrade are limited”.
Tom’s Hardware“the new MacBook Air is again the standard bearer of the Mac lineup”.
PCMag“MacBook Air that does more and does it better than ever before”
The Verge“little has changed, except the M3 models can finally power two external displays”
MacBook Air M3 review quotes from Ars Technica, CNET, Tom’s Hardware, PCMag, and The Verge

Macbook Air M3 review round-up – specs

The MacBook Air M3 (2024) has received notable praise for its ability to support two external monitors, an upgrade from the single-display support of its predecessors. This new feature requires the laptop’s lid to be closed to activate the dual-display mode, offering a significant boost to users’ multitasking capabilities and workspace expansion.

With this new feature, the MacBook Air M3 becomes a compelling option for those seeking a balance between performance and portability. This advancement positions the MacBook Air M3 as a more adaptable tool in Apple’s laptop lineup.

SpecsMacbook Air M3 13-inchMacbook Air M3 15-inch
CPUApple M3 (8-core CPU, 16-core neural engine)Apple M3 (8-core CPU, 16-core neural engine)
GPU8-core GPU10-core GPU
RAM16GB LPDDR5 unified memory16GB LPDDR5 unified memory
Storage256GB SSD512GB SSD
Display13.6-inch, 2560 x 1664, 60 Hz Liquid Retina, True Tone15.3-inch, 2880 x 1864, 60 Hz, Liquid Retina, True Tone
Ports– 2x Thunderbolt 3 / USB 4 ports
– MagSafe 3
– 3.5 mm headphone jack
– 2x Thunderbolt 3 / USB 4 ports
– MagSafe 3
– 3.5 mm headphone jack
Battery52.6 WHr66.5 WHr
ColorsSilver, Starlight, Space Gray, MidnightSilver, Starlight, Space Gray, Midnight
MacBook Air M3 13-inch and 15-inch specs table

However, the MacBook Air M3 isn’t just about connecting to more screens; it brings other notable upgrades over the M2 model. The Verge points out that the 13-inch version now includes hardware-accelerated ray tracing, the AV1 decode engine for more efficient video streaming, and enhanced connectivity with Wi-Fi 6E. These features aim to push the MacBook Air further into the future, offering creators and consumers advancements that enhance both work and play.

CNET underscores that the transition from M2 to M3 isn’t just a minor tweak, but really a continuation of excellence. The design features that made the M2 MacBook Air a hit – like its fanless construction using recycled aluminum, the sharp Liquid Retina display, superior 1080p FaceTime camera, high-quality speakers, MagSafe 3 charging, and versatile Thunderbolt ports – remain staples in the M3 version.

Macbook Air M3 performance reviews

Tom’s Hardware highlights the Macbook Air M3’s performance: the M3 leads in single-core tests with scores of 3,082 for the 13-inch and 3,094 for the 15-inch models. This outperforms Intel’s alternatives, showcasing the M3’s capability to handle day-to-day operations with ease. However, the website does stress that they haven’t yet finished gathering data.

Comparing the M3 to its predecessors, the M1 and M2, reveals a significant leap in technology. According to Ars Technica, the M3 maintains consistent performance without the need for additional cooling in most tasks, similar to the earlier models. Yet, the real advancement lies in its performance metrics. In Ars Technica benchmarks, the M3 achieves up to 30% faster single-core CPU speeds, up to 40% faster multi-core speeds, and a notable 45 to 65% improvement in graphics performance compared to the M1.

These improvements are not minor; they signify a substantial advancement in the MacBook Air’s evolution. The M3 chip enhances the laptop’s speed and efficiency, while also reaffirming Apple’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of what their portable devices can do. power While they didn’t get the option of the M3 Pro or M3 Max that the 2023 MacBook Pro series did, the conclusion is that these new MacBook Airs are more than fit for purpose: lightweight and portable laptops that have more than enough power to define themselves as the best MacBook Airs by far.

The MacBook Air is available in four colorways: Silver, Starlight, Space Gray, and one unique color, Midnight. As a MacBook Air exclusive, Midnight is an attractive deep navy that’s a popular choice among buyers. What’s more, the Midnight colorway for the 2024 MacBook Air comes with an anodization seal that reduces fingerprints.

Macbook Air M3 (2024) review roundup – our take

If your current go-to is an M2 MacBook Air, the urgency to leap into an M3 might not hit as hard. Yes, the M3 does introduce performance tweaks and the ability to connect to an extra external display, which is great, but it’s not the kind of groundbreaking upgrade we saw when moving from the M1 to the M2 or from Intel to the M1. The M2 to M3 evolution feels more like a gentle stride rather than a giant leap, focusing on refining rather than reinventing.

In essence, while the MacBook Air M3 does offer improvements, particularly in performance and AI capabilities, it doesn’t redefine the game. It polishes and perfects, making it an enticing option for those on older machines. However, for M2 owners, the benefits might not justify an immediate upgrade. The M3 is about small but smart enhancements, continuing to build on the solid foundation laid by its predecessors, without shaking up the formula too drastically.

Marla writes across a wide range of topics across PC Guide, including AI, PC hardware, and news on the latest tech releases. She's a passionate writer that's interested in the future of technology.