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M3 MacBook Air review roundup: light and powerful AI machine

Apple's new MacBook Air is the same outside, but much faster inside

The first reviews for the new M3 MacBook Air are in, and overall they are a rave for how Apple's lightweight portable performs.

Apple announced its new 13-inch M3 MacBook Air and 15-inch MacBook Air on March 4, 2024, and multiple reviewers have commented on how little time they've had to examine it. Just ahead of the first pre-order buyers getting their devices, the first full reviews and preliminary overviews have been published.

Apple MacBook Air M3 in Midnight

M3 MacBook Air

The 2024 MacBook Air features Apple's M3 chip and can be configured with up to 24GB unified memory.
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Ars Technica

"Apple's efficient M3 MacBook Airs are just about as good as laptops get," says the Ars Technica review. It does then describe the update from the M2 model as being "the laptop's first 'boring' refresh in several years,' but also that there was no need for more exciting external changes that rock the boat.

"But that's fine, as it's a pretty good boat that doesn't need to be rocked," continues the review. "The Air is not designed for heavy-duty workloads, though it is nice to know that it's usable for them in a pinch."

Tom's Guide

Tom's Guide did put the New MacBook Air through some heavy-duty workloads, and while praising the results, is one of the sites emphasizing how little time they've had to test it.

"[As]you can see from our results [so far,] the M3 is definitely faster than the M2," it says. "However, they're not quite as fast as the latest Intel Windows 11 laptops, as the Acer Swift Go 14 and Dell XPS 14 were both at least a few seconds faster than either M3 Air."

"And neither of Apple's new M3 Airs could cut video faster than any recent MacBook Pro," continues the review, "not even the M2 MacBook Pros Apple released over a year ago."

That's the closest any of the reviews get to a criticism, with one outlier exception to do with audio.

The M3 processor makes all the difference
The M3 processor makes all the difference


ZDNet likes the device enough to describe it as a "light 'pro' laptop."

"The thin, light, and compact design of the M3 MacBook Air make it a great ultraportable laptop that is easy to carry and easy to slip into virtually any bag or backpack," says the review. "And with the fact that the M3 chip now packs more power than ever makes this a machine that is as powerful as the fastest pro laptops from just a couple years ago."

"[Based on benchmark scores, it] essentially matches or exceeds most of the numbers of that MacBook Pro," says ZDNet, "which was an absolute performance beast in recent years."

The publication is convinced that "M3 lineup looks like it is purpose-built to handle AI workloads." As Apple has yet to reveal its promised AI improvements, the reviewer suspects that "the full value of these machines may not be completely transparent to us yet."

However, there is that audio criticism. ZDNet says that if you go from the MacBook Pro to the new MacBook Air, "you get a much inferior set of built-in speakers."


As if to just prove that some things are entirely subjective, Mashable has a slightly different take on the MacBook Air's audio. "Matching the 15-inch M2 MacBook Air," says the review, "the new 15-inch M3 MacBook Air has a six-speaker sound system that sounds absolutely divine."

"I literally said the words 'ooh, yeah!' — like I'm the Kool-Aid Man bursting through the wall," continued the reviewer, "when I experienced my first typing session on the new 15-inch M3 MacBook Air."


T3 is another site that stresses how it is still testing the machine. However, in a quite short piece, the site willing to say it thinks the new MacBook Air is a winner.

"I tried the new MacBook Air M3," it says, "it totally crushes my M1 Air as a great upgrade."


YouTuber iJustine may never be anything less than enthusiastic about the Apple devices she's provided. But in this case she concentrates on the practical differences between the new machine and her current MacBook Pro — and comes away impressed.

"Honestly, it is so incredible to see such a powerful performance on such light and portable computers," she says. "You can do almost everything that you would want to or need to and you will not be having to sacrifice performance."