New M3 MacBook Airs

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It was inevitable that Apple would upgrade the MacBook Air to the M3 processor. The M3, based on the new 3 nm process, always seemed like a perfect fit for a compact, fanless laptop like the MacBook Air.

The M2 MacBook Airs were already great laptops, and a lovely evolution of what has always been one of Apple’s best laptop form factors. And the 15 inch MacBook Air was a great addition to the range last year. With plenty of processing power, amazing battery life, great displays, and improved FaceTime cameras, microphones and sound, all in a new sleek “slab style” design, in two sizes, Mac Aid clients who have purchased M2 MacBook Airs have been very happy with them.

The design for both sizes remains the same, the main improvements are the upgrade to the M3 processor, wifi 6E, and improved 3 mic array. 

Apple says that the new M3 MacBook Airs are up to 1.6x faster than MacBook Air with the M1 chip, and up to 13x faster than the fastest Intel-based MacBook Air, which is a considerable performance boost by any standard. 

As with other M3 Macs, the performance improvement compared to M2 Macs isn’t as big, being from 15-30% depending on how you measure it. So M3 MacBook Air is most sensible as an upgrade for users of M1 MacBook Airs or older. It’s a no-brainer for those still using an Intel MacBook Air.

M3 MacBook Airs also have support for Wi-Fi 6E, which is up to 2x faster than Wi-Fi 6, and a new 3-mic array with Voice Isolation and Wide Spectrum microphone modes, for enhanced voice clarity in audio and video calls.

For fans of the Midnight Black colour, another nicety with the new M3 MacBook Airs is the adoption of the improved “anodization seal” to reduce visible fingerprints. This was first introduced on the Space Black M3 MacBook Pro last year and does seem to modestly improve the usability of Macs in these sexy, but sometimes impractical colours.

A limitation of Macs with base M1, M2 or M3 processors has always been that they could only drive one external monitor (apart from the mighty Mac mini). Apple have – partly – addressed this limitation with the M3 MacBook Airs. They will run 2 x 5K external displays – in clamshell mode (with the lid closed). This might be helpful for users who need two external monitors, who until know have had to upgrade to Macs with Pro or Max processors for multiple monitor support. But remember that having the lid of your MacBook Air closed will mean you lose the use of the built in FaceTime Camera and TouchID on the keyboard.

It was a little sad to see that Apple have now discontinued the M1 MacBook Air, which was a great classic MacBook Air design, and had been a great deal for Mac users on a budget. The 13 inch M2 MacBook Air has been kept in the range to take its place, with a substantial price drop. Starting at only $100 more than the 13 inch M1 MacBook Air, the 13 inch M2 MacBook Air is a perfect solution for those with modest needs and on a tight budget.

Talk to Mac Aid about your needs in a MacBook Air to make sure you get the right spec for your needs and budget.