MacBook Air 2024 M3 hands-on

Apple's M3 MacBook Air models are in stores starting today, so we picked one up to test out, see what's new, answer reader questions, and decide if it's worth buying or upgrading to.

The ‌MacBook Air‌ is available in 13.6-inch and 15.3-inch sizes, just like the previous generation versions. Apple hasn't introduced noticeable design changes this time around, so most of what's new is on the inside.

The M3 chip is the major upgrade, and it's the same chip Apple has already used in the 14-inch MacBook Pro. When we benchmarked our test unit with an 8-core GPU and a 10-core GPU, we got a Geekbench single-core score of 3106 and a multi-core score of 11690. For comparison's sake, the M1 ‌MacBook Air‌ scored 2335/8314 and M2 ‌MacBook Air‌ 2595/9745, so that's a good boost to CPU performance.

Compared with the M1, the M3's single-core performance increased by 28 percent, and multi-core performance increased by 34 percent. Compared to the ‌M2‌, the single-core and multi-core CPU tests were 18 percent higher. As for the metal GPU scores, the ‌M1‌ had a score of 32117, the ‌M2‌ was at 45651, and the M3 was at 46920.

Overall, CPU and GPU performance improved significantly over the ‌M1‌ and more modestly over the ‌M2‌. It's worth noting that the M3 also has hardware-accelerated ray tracing and mesh shading technology that's used in 3D rendering and will eventually make games on the Mac more realistic. AV1 decoding should optimize streaming from services that support the codec.

There are some other improvements to note, including Wi-Fi 6E support for connecting to 6GHz networks. You may not see too many 6GHz networks yet, but it's a good feature to future-proof if you don't already have a 6E router. The M3 models support two external displays in clamshell mode instead of just one, call clarity is better than before, and there's a new Midnight finish to reduce fingerprints.

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The 13-inch MacBook Air starts at $1,099 and the 15-inch model starts at $1,299. It's not worth upgrading to the new machine if you already have an ‌M2‌MacBook Air‌ because those devices already have the 2022/2023 design, but if you have an ‌M1‌ or any Intel model and are looking for a new solution, the M3 ‌MacBook Air‌ is worth considering.

In terms of upgrades, if you only use the ‌MacBook Air‌ for everyday tasks like web browsing and email, you won't need to spend extra money to get more memory, a better GPU (13-inch model), or more storage space, but if you plan to use For more intensive tasks on the system, it is worth considering some of these upgrades.

Have you picked up one of the new M3 ‌MacBook Air‌ models? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

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