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M3 MacBook Air

M3 MacBook Air

The M3 MacBook Air is an iterative update that owes all of its new capabilities to the chipset upgrade. Users can have two external displays in clamshell mode, plus there's Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3. The M3 release also means the end of the original M1 with the wedge-shaped design.

● M3 processor
● Support for two external monitors
● Same thin and light design
● Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3
● Midnight, Starlight, Space Gray, and Silver
● Prices start at $1,099
● Best MacBook Air deals

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The MacBook Air is still Apple's most popular laptop, and with the 2024 update, its lineup is easier to understand. The M3 MacBook Air takes over as the flagship model pushing the M2 down to $999 and removing the M1 entirely.

That means every MacBook Air sold new has the flat redesign introduced with the M2 model. Customers looking to upgrade to M3 may have difficulty finding a reason unless they are on M1 or older.

Despite being a simple spec bump year over year, the M3 is still a significant upgrade for several reasons. For example, it introduces hardware-accelerated ray tracing and mesh mapping, improving gaming and graphics applications.

Beyond the chipset, nothing else has changed. The M3 MacBook Air still has the new uniform case that's very thin and light.

Both the 13-inch and 15-inch models were updated simultaneously in March 2024. It was a very short upgrade cycle for the larger model, but they should be upgraded in tandem going forward.

M3 MacBook Air design

Apple has slowly moved its product to a uniform slab design. Flat-sided iPhones, iMacs with no humps, and now MacBooks with no wedge.

A MacBook Air in a vertical stand next to a monitor Apple's ultraportable laptop has a thin and uniform case design

The overall effect is very slimming for almost every machine except the MacBook Air. That's because the wedge design was much thinner at its thinnest point, making it an optical illusion that it was more portable.

The M1 MacBook Air and its predecessors had a tapered case that went from 0.63 inches to 0.16 inches. The M2 and M3 models have a new case with a uniform thickness of 0.44 inches.

Without the optical illusion, people may believe the 13-inch M1 model is more portable, but that crown belongs to the newer 13-inch models at 2.7 pounds versus 2.8 pounds. That 0.1 pound difference exists despite the larger 13.6-inch Liquid Retina Display.

The 15-inch and 13-inch MacBook Air models sit side by side on a table The 15-inch model is bigger but still more portable than most laptops

The 15-inch MacBook Air is still ultraportable even though it has a larger 15.3-inch display. It is 0.6 pounds heavier at 3.3 pounds and nearly as thin at 0.45 inches.

Apple's Liquid Retina Displays are rated for the P3 color gamut and 500 nits of brightness. The 13-inch model has a 2560p by 1664p resolution, while the 15-inch model has a 2880p by 1864p display.

The M3 MacBook Air is available in the same colors as the M2 generation — Midnight, Starlight, Space Gray, and Silver. The Midnight model has a new anodization seal that helps reduce fingerprints, which was first introduced with the Space Black MacBook Pro.

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.
Coupon at Adorama

Use coupon code APINSIDER at to save $100 to $150 on MacBook Air models.

M3 MacBook Air specs

The M3 processor is the main selling point of Apple's 2024 MacBook Air update. Little else changed outside of what was affected by upgrading the processor.

An image depicting the M3 chip. It is a square with blue colors and the text 'M3' next to an Apple logo. The M3 processor works great in the fanless enclosure

The M3 is built with the 3nm process and has an 8-core CPU, up to a 10-core GPU, and support for 24GB of unified memory. Apple also took the time to brag about artificial intelligence capabilities thanks to the 16-core Neural Engine.

Apple says the New MacBook Air is up to 60 percent faster than the MacBook Air with M1 and up to 13x faster than the fastest Intel-based MacBook Air. Apps like Final Cut see a 60 percent performance boost over M1 as well.

Something changed in how the base M-series processors are able to handle external displays, as Apple has made it possible to run two external displays instead of just one. However, it is only possible to run two external displays if the M3 MacBook Air is in clamshell.

With the MacBook open, it can run a single 6K display. Shut the lid, and it can run an additional 5K display.

Other M3 MacBook Air features

The only additional feature changes introduced to the M3 MacBook Air are Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3. The battery life is unchanged at about 18 hours peak depending on workloads and display brightness.

Two Thunderbolt 4 ports and a MagSafe port in the side of the MacBook Air Two Thunderbolt 4 ports and a MagSafe port

The internal webcam is still 1080p, which is still an upgrade for M1 model owners, which have a 720p webcam. Processing improvements due to the M3 will mean a sharper image than before, but the hardware specs haven't changed.

There are two Thunderbolt 4 ports, a MagSafe charging port, and a headphone jack.

M3 MacBook Air review: The ideal Mac laptop for Intel hold-outs

The M3 MacBook Air is a simple spec bump that offers useful features, but it impacts Intel users looking for an upgrade path the most. It features the latest design that lacks a wedge shape, but nothing surprising.

Externally, the 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Air didn't change a bit. Cosmetic alterations and new port configurations happen every few years, so this was expected.

The Liquid Retina Display with a notch remains a non-issue. It's even less of a concern, considering the latest dual display feature requires shutting the lid.

Port selection remains unchanged, too, though the MagSafe connector helps with the lack of I/O by freeing up one of the two Thunderbolt 4 ports. Battery life matches Apple's claims of about 18 hours, but results will vary based on display brightness and apps in use.

All about the M3 processor

There are two M3 processors available, both with an 8-core CPU with four performance and four efficiency cores. Customers can choose between 8-core and 10-core GPU options in the 13-inch model — the 15-inch gets the 10-core by default.

The MacBook Air sits on a couch arm facing away with the Apple logo in view Apple's M3 processor provides a powerful baseline chipset that won't be taxed by casual users

Geekbench scores show consistent performance improvements over the M1 and M2. The M3 scored 1,896 single and 9,609 multi, while M2 scored 1,581 single and 8,360 multi.

The read/write speed problem users faced when choosing the base 256GB M2 model has been resolved with the M3. It gets a much faster 2,740MB/s read speed versus 1,158MB/s on the M2.

The fanless design does mean the processor will throttle if it gets too hot, but this shouldn't be an issue for the MacBook Air demographic. Most users will hardly, if ever, tax the processor to the point where throttling will be necessary or noticed.

It's time to switch from Intel

While the M3 MacBook Air isn't a significant departure from the M2 model it replaces, it is still a good upgrade. However, those that already own M1 or M2 models need not apply.

A close up shot of the open MacBook Air with the dock in view There's nothing stopping Intel users from upgrading to Apple Silicon

Even Apple seems to know this is the case by directly calling out Intel comparisons in marketing. The M3 has 13 times the performance and six times the battery life.

Unless you own a decked-out Intel Mac Pro, there's a good chance the M3 MacBook Air will match or exceed the power of any Intel machine you may have. There's not much reason left to avoid upgrading to Apple Silicon.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Read our full M3 MacBook Air review for detailed specs and comparisons.

Comparing M3 MacBook Air to M2

Testing has shown a modest 20% performance boost from M2 to M3. Alongside that boost is a handful of new features specific to M3 processors like hardware-accelerated ray tracing and two external monitors in clamshell.

Existing M2 MacBook Air owners likely won't need an M3 model. Those that purchased a 13-inch M2 model at launch may want a 15-inch model, so moving to M3 would be somewhat beneficial.

Otherwise, the M3 MacBook Air seems highly targeted at Intel holdouts. Those that have been waiting for a product with decent specs, dual external monitor support, and a new design get all three with the M3 models.

M3 MacBook Air price

Apple's 2024 MacBook Air is available to order now, with the latest prices and deals at your fingertips in the AppleInsider M3 MacBook Air 13-inch Price Guide and M3 MacBook Air 15-inch Price Guide.

Exclusive Deals Through AppleInsider

Midnight MacBook Air M3 13-inch

13-inch MacBook Air M3

Use promo code APINSIDER to save $100 to $150 on every 13-inch M3 Air at Adorama.

Buy from $999
Starlight MacBook Air M3 15-inch

15-inch MacBook Air M3

Use coupon code APINSIDER to save $100 to $150 on every 15-inch M3 Air at Adorama.

Buy from $1,199

Apple resellers are also clearing out M1 models, with prices at press time dipping to as low as $799.