You are currently viewing Apple MacBook Air (M3) evaluation: don’t overlook it

Apple MacBook Air (M3) evaluation: don’t overlook it

The MacBook Air on a white table.

Apple MacBook Air (M3)

MSRP $1,499.00

“The M3 makes the MacBook Air even higher than earlier than.”


  • Glorious GPU efficiency
  • Compact and delightful design
  • Impeccable construct high quality
  • Battery life is unbelievable
  • Higher multimonitor assist


  • Restricted ports
  • M2 could be higher worth

The MacBook Air is the world’s bestselling laptop computer, based on Apple. That was true earlier than the M3, and it’ll doubtless be true a 12 months from now.

On one hand, which means the inclusion of the M3 chip is straightforward to miss or write off. And with the M2 MacBook Air promoting for simply $100 much less (it’s discounted much more at some retailers), the M3 must show itself. Some folks will most likely nonetheless be higher off saving their cash and shopping for the M2 MacBook Air, however the best way the M3 supercharges this laptop computer’s GPU efficiency is downright spectacular.

Specs and pricing

  MacBook Air (M3)
Dimensions 11.97 x 8.46 x 0.44 inches
Weight 2.7 kilos
Processor Apple M3 (8 core)
Graphics 8 core GPU
10 core GPU
RAM 8GB unified reminiscence
16GB unified reminiscence
24GB unified reminiscence
Show 13.6-inch 2560 x 1664 LED IPS show at 60Hz
Storage 256GB SSD
Contact No
Ports 2 x USB-C with Thunderbolt 5
1 x MagSafe 3 for charging
1 x 3.5mm audio jack
Wi-fi Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2
Webcam 1080p FaceTime HD digicam
Working system Home windows 11
Battery 52.6 watt-hour battery
Value $1,099+

The 13-inch M3 MacBook Air begins at $1,099, changing the value of its predecessor, the M2 MacBook Air. Apple continues to be promoting the M2, nevertheless, for $100 much less at $999.

This beginning configuration comes with 8GB of RAM, 256GB of storage, and an 8-core GPU. Apple expenses $100 to go from 8 GPU cores to 10 GPU cores, which is barely accessible on the 13-inch mannequin. The 15-inch MacBook Air begins at $1,299, and comes with the 10-core GPU.

Each sizes could be maxed out at 24GB of RAM and 2TB of storage, with the fee rising nicely over $2,000.


The M3 MacBook Air on a table in front of a window.
Luke Larsen / Digital Tendencies

The MacBook Air is a surprising laptop computer. It stays essentially the most excessive instance of the Apple Silicon period, due to a design that’s skinny in a means that simply wasn’t doable prior to now. At 0.44 inches thick, it stays the thinnest clamshell laptop computer of this type that’s ever been made. It’s additionally essentially the most highly effective laptop computer with no single fan.

So sure, the MacBook Air’s title as thinnest laptop is spectacular, however let’s be trustworthy: the distinction between 0.44 inches and 0.5 inches is hardly noticeable until you have got two machines facet by facet. Home windows laptops just like the Asus Zenbook S 13 and Samsung Galaxy Book3 360 come pretty near matching the MacBook Air’s compact nature.

Luckily, the MacBook Air has much more than simply thinness on its facet. It’s additionally extraordinarily well-built, which might typically be a priority when units get this skinny. We all remember #flexgate from 2019, proper? Effectively, let’s simply say many laptops this skinny (together with older MacBooks) have struggled to stay completely inflexible beneath stress. Not so with the present MacBook Air. It’s as sturdy as laptops get.

The Midnight Black colour is nice to see come to the MacBook Air.

Now, none of that’s new with the M3 MacBook Air. This design has been in use for the reason that M2 MacBook Air got here out in 2022.

The one new exterior ingredient on the M3 MacBook Air is a brand new colour possibility, Midnight Black. It first launched on the M3 MacBook Execs final 12 months, and I’m comfortable to see it additionally accessible on the 2 MacBook Air sizes. It’s an awesome colour, even when I nonetheless want House Grey personally. Apple says its speculated to reject fingerprints higher than different colour choices, however in my prolonged time with the Midnight Black MacBook Pro, I can’t say it seems a lot cleaner in the long term.

Nothing is new right here in regard to the keyboard and trackpad. They’re each wonderful, as all the time, providing distinctive typing and extremely exact monitoring. Apple’s outsized haptic suggestions trackpads have been the primary within the enterprise, and although they’re turning into extra widespread, Apple’s nonetheless could be one of the best.


A side of the MacBook Air showing the ports.
Digital Tendencies

One of the regarding limitations of the MacBook Air is the quantity and number of ports it provides. It’s not that limiting you to solely Thunderbolt 3 by way of USB-C is unusual today. All kinds of laptops have adopted Apple down that path. However with the MacBook Air, it comes with some vital restrictions on exterior shows.

Previously, the M2 MacBook Air may solely assist one exterior show, whatever the decision and refresh charge. There are ways to get around this, nevertheless it requires a dock and a few additional software program to leap the hurdle. Apple’s by no means truly defined this limitation, however we assume it has to do with restricted bandwidth of the bottom M3, because it additionally applies to the M3 MacBook Professional.

With the M3 MacBook Air, although, this will get marginally higher. The M3 mannequin (whether 13-inch or 15-inch) can now formally assist two exterior 5K screens (at 60Hz), however there’s a catch. The lid of the MacBook Air must be closed. So, the system can nonetheless actually solely assist two shows, because the second you open the laptop computer, one of many exterior screens will flip off.

It’s a pleasant enchancment over the M2, and for some folks, it might truly clear up the issue. In case you’ve all the time needed to energy a dual-monitor workstation setup with only a MacBook Air, this can do the trick. In case you truly need to use your MacBook Air with these two shows, although, you’ll nonetheless should go for an M3 Pro or Max MacBook Pro. It’s one space the place Home windows laptops have a critical benefit over the MacBook Air.

Past the 2 Thunderbolt 3 shows, you even have a MagSafe 3 charging port on the left facet and a headphone jack on the best. It’s slightly irritating to have all of your energy entry solely the left. Including yet another USB-C would have gone a great distance.

Past ports, the MacBook Air M3 will get up to date to Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3, the most recent wi-fi connection requirements.


A side angle of the M3 MacBook Air with Baldur's Gate 3 on the screen.
Luke Larsen / Digital Tendencies

The 13.6-inch display screen on the M3 MacBook Air I reviewed is strictly what you’d count on it to be. For an entry-level MacBook, it’s unbelievable. Extraordinarily sharp, with a decision of 2560 x 1664 and pixel density of 224 ppi (pixels per inch).

No, it doesn’t have the array of native dimming zones and quicker refresh charge of the MacBook Professional. In fact not. However for a laptop computer of this worth, the MacBook Air’s show is loads colourful, with plenty of distinction and adequate colour accuracy. Greater than that, Apple is all the time good about pushing the brightness of those LED screens to the max. My testing with my colorimeter on this one maxed out at 495 nits at full brightness. Colour protection is kind of good too, hitting 87% of AdobeRGB and 99% of DCI-P3.

I ought to say, nevertheless, that OLED shows have gotten more and more widespread on this worth vary. It’s not the default, however corporations like Asus are actually shifting issues ahead, throwing OLEDs even on laptops under $1,000, just like the Zenbook 14. These OLED screens have significantly better distinction, clearly, but additionally higher colour protection and significantly better accuracy.

I nonetheless assume the MacBook Air display screen is aggressive, nevertheless it’s now not the apparent chief within the class. For instance, a Delta-E of 1.24 continues to be adequate for what you’d want this laptop computer for, it’s simply not as correct as among the OLED choices on the market. None of this has modified from the earlier mannequin, in fact.


Like every step up in Apple Silicon up to now, the M3 doesn’t present an enormous leap forward in CPU efficiency. The M3 is 13% quicker in single-core efficiency and 10% in multi-core, as examined in Cinebench R24. That is, as you’d guess, most likely not value upgrading for practically anybody. That’s very true since this can be a MacBook Air we’re speaking about, not a MacBook Professional. Those who truly intend to push the MacBook Air past some workplace apps, multitasking, and internet searching, nevertheless, might not discover a noticeable distinction in CPU efficiency.

I ought to say, nevertheless, a 13% bounce in single-core efficiency is fairly spectacular in comparison with normal gen-over-gen Intel chips. Whenever you’re already within the lead, one other 13% bounce doesn’t damage. These are already on the high of their class in single-core efficiency, and with the M3, they get barely quicker, and are nonetheless nicely forward of the competitors from Intel or AMD. As seen in each Geekbench 6 and Cinebench R24, the MacBook Air M3 is extra according to its opponents by way of multi-core efficiency reasonably than out within the lead.

Easier duties like video encoding in Handbrake permit for laptops with energetic cooling to zoom previous the M3 MacBook Air. However simply take a look at that rating within the Pugetbench Premiere Professional benchmark, which exams the laptop computer in all kinds of video enhancing duties. The truth that the M3 MacBook Air beats the XPS 14 — even with its discrete RTX 4050 — is significantly spectacular.

Cinebench R24 (single/multi) Cinebench R24 (GPU) Handbrake
Pugetbench Premiere Professional
MacBook Air (M3) 141 / 601 3049 109 3633
MacBook Air (M2) 122/ 542 1737 119 n/a
Asus Zenbook 14 (Core Extremely 7 155H / Arc) 103 / 493 n/a 86 1583
Dell XPS 14 (Core Extremely 7 155H / RTX 4050) 101 / 681 5738 84 3274

A big purpose is as a result of improved GPU, which is admittedly the star of the present. With the 10-core unit I reviewed, the M3 is a whopping 43% quicker than the M2 in graphics, as examined within the Cinebench R24 GPU check. A lot of that is due to Dynamic Caching, a reminiscence effectivity know-how first launched by Apple with the M3. The result’s dramatically enhanced GPU efficiency that make the M3 stronger in all kinds of duties, together with video enhancing, 3D modeling, and gaming.

Lots of this laptop computer’s direct opponents depend on Intel’s built-in Arc graphics, and no matter how a lot these have improved this 12 months, the M3 stays within the lead.

Baldur's Gate 3 being played on the M3 MacBook Air.
Luke Larsen / Digital Tendencies

I did a deeper dive into whether or not or not the M3 makes the MacBook Air a somewhat capable gaming laptop. On the entire, I wouldn’t say that it does. Nonetheless, don’t purchase this laptop computer for the aim of taking part in video games. Nonetheless, in case you do need to dabble right here and there, the M3 MacBook Air can squeeze out some first rate body charges in even the most recent crop of flagship video games on the Mac.

I attempted taking part in Baldur’s Gate 3, Resident Evil 4, and Loss of life Stranding Director’s Reduce. All three required a while spent within the settings — tweaking decision, toggling graphics settings, and attempting all of the upscaling modes to strike an acceptable stability between efficiency and visuals. I’m comfortable to report that it’s doable to get 40 frames per second (fps) to 50 fps in these video games with out resorting to creating the sport seem like a whole mess.

And that’s a primary for the MacBook Air. By no means earlier than has a passively cooled system this skinny been in a position to play video games at this degree. Bear in mind: gaming (or doing something) on the MacBook Air is totally silent. Not a peep from the followers. And whereas floor temperatures can actually elevate throughout heavier duties, they by no means get uncomfortably scorching, even across the keyboard and palm rests.

Battery life

It’s no secret that MacBooks have a killer higher hand over Home windows laptops within the battery life division. It’s simply not shut, and I’ve to say that in practically each laptop computer evaluation I do today, nevertheless it’d be detrimental to not take into account that reality when selecting your subsequent laptop computer. The M3 MacBook Air doesn’t change that in any means, nonetheless lasting for over 19 and half hours in our gentle internet searching check. Now, clearly, utilizing the laptop computer for precise work will drop that by a number of hours not less than, however keep in mind — this laptop computer’s opponents solely final for round 7 or 8 hours on common on this similar check.

Past simply the benefit of having the ability to work away from an outlet for longer, the MacBook Air doesn’t lose efficiency when it’s not plugged in. Operating heavy functions would possibly drain your battery quicker, nevertheless it’s not going to decelerate duties like it will on a Home windows laptop computer.

Webcam and audio system

The MacBook Air comes with a succesful 1080p webcam constructed into the notch on the high of the display screen and unbelievable set of audio system. It’s one of many better videoconferencing laptops you may get at this worth, and it’s not unhealthy for watching content material on both. Nonetheless, it is best to know that this is among the few areas the place there’s a notable distinction in high quality between the 13-inch MacBook Air and the 15-inch MacBook Air. The 13-inch mannequin solely has a four-speaker setup, whereas the 15-inch has two additional audio system, matching the MacBook Professional.

That doesn’t imply the smaller Air has poor audio system — in no way. These are nonetheless class-leading in comparison with lots of this laptop computer’s direct opponents. They only don’t have the full-bodied sound and sturdy bass that the 15-inch mannequin is ready to produce.

Must you purchase it?

The M3 MacBook Air in front of a window.
Luke Larsen / Digital Tendencies

In case you’re upgrading from the M2, completely not. There’s not practically sufficient new right here to make it value an improve from the M2 MacBook Air. However in case you’re coming from the M1 MacBook Air (or an older MacBook), you’ll be delighted by the M3 MacBook Air. The GPU efficiency is great, and the flexibility to assist two screens might be a sport changer for some, even when it requires retaining the lid closed.

In case you’re contemplating this towards lots of the comparable Home windows laptops on this worth vary, you’ll once more discover that the M3 MacBook Air outclasses these laptops in virtually each means.

Put merely, the M3 MacBook Air continues to be one of many very best laptops you can buy, and it’s a strong worth for the value. However in case you’re not somebody who will actually need the additional GPU efficiency, you’re higher off saving some cash and getting the M2 MacBook Air.

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