M3 MacBook Air and M2 MacBook Air – comparison

15-inch MacBook Air

Apple's addition of the M3 to the MacBook Air lineup is the very definition of a spec upgrade. This is what has — and not — There have been changes to Apple's family of budget laptops.

It took Apple four months to update the MacBook Air line after introducing the M3-powered MacBook Pro line. Like the more powerful models, the 13-inch MacBook Air and 15-inch MacBook Air have received mostly internal changes, with little to no change in physical design.

The increase in specification is not unexpected for Apple, as it typically uses the same case designs and core technologies for several versions before making major changes. The real question is how much Apple's internals have actually changed.

M3 MacBook Air and M2 MacBook Air – Specifications

Specs M3 MacBook Air (2024) M2 MacBook Air (13-inch 2022, 15-inch 2023)
Starting price $1,099 (13-inch),
$1,299 (15-inch)
$1,199 (13-inch),
$1,299 (15-inch)
Best prices on MacBook Air M2
Dimensions (inches) 11.97 x 8.46 x 0.44 (13 inches),
13.40 x 9, 35 x 0.45 (15 inches)
11.97 x 8.46 x 0.44 (13 inches),
13.40 x 9.35 x 0.45 (15 inches)
Weight (lbs) 2.7 (13 inches),
3.3 (15 inches)
2.7 (13 inches),
3.3 (15 inches)
Display 13.6 inch Liquid Retina,
15.3 inch Liquid Retina, 15.3 inch
Wide Color (P3),
True Tone
13 .6″ Liquid Retina,
15.3″ Liquid Retina
Wide Color (P3),
True Tone
Resolution 2560 x 1664 (13 inches),
2880 x 1864 (15 inches)
2560 x 1664 (13 inches),
2880 x 1864 (15 inches)
Brightness 500 nits 500 nits
Processor Apple M3 8-core Apple M2 8-core
Graphics 8-core GPU (13-inch only)
10-core GPU
8-core GPU (13″ only)
10-core GPU
Memory 8 GB,
16 GB,
24 GB
8 GB,
16 GB,
24 GB
Memory >256 GB,
512 GB,
1 TB,
2 TB
256 GB,
512 GB,
1 TB,
2 TB
Battery Li-polymer, 52.6 Wh (13 inches),
Lithium Polymer 66.5 Wh (15″)
Lithium Polymer 52.6 Wh (13″) Lithium Polymer
66.5 Wh (15″)
Network 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6E
Bluetooth 5.3
802.11ax Wi-Fi 6
Bluetooth 5.3
Touch ID Yes Yes
Camera 1080p FaceTime HD 1080p FaceTime HD
Audio Audio system with four speakers (13 inches),
Acoustic six-speaker system (15-inch),
Three beamforming microphone array,
Voice isolation and Wide Spectrum microphone modes,
Headphone jack with support for high-impedance headphones,
Dolby Atmos support with spatial sound
four-speaker audio system (13-inch),
six-speaker audio system with speaker (15-inch),
Three beamforming microphone array,
headphone jack with support for high-impedance headphones,
support for Dolby Atmos with spatial audio
Ports Two Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports
3.5 mm headphones,
MagSafe 3
Two Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports,
3.5 mm headphones,
MagSafe 3

M3 MacBook Air vs M2 MacBook Air – physical Dimensions

The 13-inch MacBook Air with M2 measures 11.97 inches by 8.46 inches and is 0.44 inches thick. The 15-inch version is larger at 13.40 by 9.35 inches, but it's almost as thin at 0.45 inches.

It's housed in an aluminum body and uses the current flat-slab and industrial aesthetic that Apple has moved toward with its laptop line.

The new versions equipped with M3 are exactly the same size. Since this is a specification update, the appearance will look exactly the same and remain unchanged.

MacBook Air M2 and MacBook Air M3: visually identical

This also applies to weight. The 13-inch MacBook Air M2 and M3 models weigh 2.7 pounds, while the 15-inch versions weigh 3.3 pounds.

If all Apple's changes consisted of a few chipsets, it would be difficult to expect much difference in weight between generations.

M3 MacBook Air and M2 MacBook Air Display

Apple Liquid Retina displays for the 13-inch MacBook Air M2 and 15-inch MacBook Air M2 measure 13.6 inches and 15.3 inches, respectively. This is, again, the same for the M3 versions.

There is also support for Wide Color (P3) and True Tone, as well as 500 nits of brightness on all screens. The resolution of 2560 by 1664 for the 13-inch model and 2880 by 1864 for the 15-inch model are equally identical.

MacBook Air M2 and M3 MacBook Air: Liquid Retina displays are also identical

At the top there is a cutout that appears again in the middle of the screen and holds the camera. For example, this isn't a big deal when using video apps in full screen mode, but it still annoys some people.

The display is a major part of the design of the MacBook Air itself, so it's hard to expect any real changes here.

13-inch MacBook Air M2

Apple's 13-inch MacBook Air is powered by the M2 processor and comes in four finishes to choose from. Adorama Coupon

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M3 MacBook Air and M2 MacBook Air – Performance

Inside the respective MacBook Air M2 and M3 models are, as you might guess, M2 and M3 chips. All of these chips have an 8-core processor with the same core split of four performance and four efficiency.

However, you can certainly expect the M3 cores to have some performance improvements over their M2 counterparts.

The chips also feature 100 GB/s memory bandwidth, as well as unified memory capacities starting at 8 GB and configurable up to 16 GB and 24 GB.

Both generations also feature a Media Engine for hardware-accelerated video encoding and decoding, as well as a 16-core Neural Engine. However, the M3 Media Engine also includes an AV1 decoding engine.

Unusually for a chip change, Apple has decided to offer the same number of GPU cores on the M3 MacBook Air as it did on the M2.

For the 13-inch MacBook Air M2, users could choose either an 8-core Apple-designed GPU or a 10-core version, while the 15-inch MacBook Air M2 only had a 10-core version. The same parameters are retained on the M3.

Again, in addition to overall performance improvements, the M3 GPU also gets hardware-accelerated ray tracing, which will help with gaming and some other graphics tasks.

One of the unexpected additions to the graphics capabilities of the MacBook Air M3 is the inclusion of clamshell mode.

Both the M2 and M3 support a total of two displays, typically an internal display and an external display. However, the M3 can instead support two external displays when the laptop's lid is closed.

The M3 MacBook Air can handle two external displays when the lid is closed.

This change will likely appeal to power users who prefer larger displays at higher resolutions, effectively using your MacBook Air as a desktop Mac.

In terms of what kind of performance difference you can expect, we can compare the M3 in the 14-inch MacBook Pro to the 15-inch MacBook Air M2. The results should be comparable since the M3 is the same chip in both the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air.

MacBook Air M2 vs M3 MacBook Air: comparison of Geekbench single-core test results

In our review, the 15-inch MacBook Air with M2 managed to score 2623 points in single-core Geekbench tests. The 14-inch MacBook Pro with M3 scored 3,091 on the same test.

In terms of multi-core performance, the M2 in the 15-inch MacBook Air reached 10,035, and the 14-inch MacBook Pro with M3 reached 11,850.

MacBook Air M2 vs M3 MacBook Air: Geekbench multi-core tests

It's safe to say that in general computing, M3 MacBook Air users will enjoy a 20% performance boost over the M2 equivalent.

M3 MacBook Air vs M2 MacBook Air – camera and sound

In both generations, inside the notch is the Apple FaceTime HD 1080p camera, a relatively recent update for the line. There's no noticeable difference here as you get the same image sensor and capabilities across the board.

The new models have slightly improved audio capabilities. Four- and six-speaker sound systems return for the 13-inch and 15-inch models, respectively, as well as a three-mic array with directional beamforming and support for Dolby Atmos with spatial audio.

The headphone jack is still present and supports high-impedance headphones.

What makes the 2024 different are these microphones, as they get the same voice isolation and wide-spectrum microphone modes found in the iPhone 15 Pro lineup. This should greatly improve video communication with other people.

M3 MacBook Air and MacBook Air M2 – Connectivity

When it comes to wired connectivity, nothing has changed between generations: Apple included two Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports in every laptop. MagSafe 3 also returns, so users can charge without taking up any from the aforementioned Thunderbolt ports.

For wireless connectivity, Bluetooth 5.3 comes standard, but Wi-Fi is slightly improved in the new generation.

The M2 MacBook Air uses Wi-Fi 6, but the M3 versions use Wi-Fi 6E

Instead of the M3's Wi-Fi 6, start using Wi-Fi 6E. This is a fairly limited improvement as it relies heavily on having the right network infrastructure support to take advantage of the extra E, but those who have it will get a bit more throughput.

M3 MacBook Air and M2 MacBook Air – battery and charging

The battery situation has not changed between the MacBook Air M2 and M3. Apple still uses a 52.6 Wh lithium polymer battery in the 13-inch models and a 66.5 Wh version in the 15-inch versions.

Apple says that in real-world use, all batteries across all four sizes and chip options will last up to 15 hours for wireless Internet access or up to 18 hours for movie playback in the Apple TV app.

When charging the battery, 13-inch models come with a 30W USB-C power adapter, while 8-core GPU models come with a compact power adapter with two USB-C power ports 35W. with 10-core GPU and 512 GB of internal memory or higher.

Apple includes a compact 35G Dual USB-C 15-inch power adapter by default.

Regardless of the chip and size, all models support fast charging using chargers up to 70 W.

M3 MacBook Air and M2 MacBook Air – other features

All models feature a full-size Magic Keyboard with an inverted-T arrow key layout. The keyboards are backlit using an ambient light sensor .

MacBook Air M2 vs M3 MacBook Air: the magic keyboard in MacBook Air

Touch ID is built into the keyboard for password-less login and authentication for Apple purchases Pay.

A Force Touch trackpad is also included on all models, featuring pressure sensitivity and support for Multi-Touch gestures.

M3 MacBook Air vs M2 MacBook Air – Pricing and Storage

Apple offers the same four capacity options across all models. Starting at 256GB, there are 512GB options for an additional $200, 1TB for an additional $400, and 2TB for an additional $800.

The default 8GB memory can be upgraded to 16GB for $200 or 24GB for $400 for both generations.

The 13-inch MacBook Air with M3 has a base price of $1,099 with an 8-core GPU, 8GB of unified memory, and 256GB of storage. Installing the chip on a 10-core processor costs an additional $100.

At launch, the 13-inch MacBook Air with M2 was priced at $1,199 with an 8-core GPU, 8GB of unified memory, and 256GB of storage. However, since Apple continues to sell the M2 version, it can still be purchased for $999 with the same basic specs.

The 15-inch MacBook Air M2 with a 10-core GPU, 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of internal storage cost $1,299 at launch. A new version of the M3 with the same basic specs also costs $1,299.

Unlike the 13-inch model, the 15-inch MacBook Air M2 cannot be purchased from Apple itself.

MacBook Air M2 and M3 MacBook Air — A real spec update

It's fair to say that the update to Apple's MacBook Air line has been largely ignored. Apple changed the really important part – the chip – but other than the Wi-Fi setup, there aren't any seismic changes here.

Existing owners of the M2 equivalent will find it difficult to upgrade due to the 20% performance gain. Those who want a higher level of performance are probably better off trying the M3 Pro and M3 Max chips in the MacBook Pro lineup rather than sticking with the MacBook Air.

13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Air M3

The changes to the M3 MacBook Air are definitely not an attractive upgrade for existing Apple Silicon MacBook Air owners. This is a category that needs an easily portable Internet machine that can handle other tasks, but not without the cutting-edge performance of the Pro line.

Apple's large target audience is likely users of older Intel-based MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models. Three generations of Apple Silicon should be around the time the last hesitant Intel users actually consider making the leap and getting the new daily driver.

This is not to say that the new MacBook Air models are bad. A thin and light laptop that anyone can buy and use for most purposes is a great example of the form and anyone looking for a laptop can easily consider using it.

For existing Apple Silicon users, this is not yet enough to justify an upgrade.

M3 MacBook Air vs. M2 MacBook Air – Where to Buy

Although the 13-inch M2 MacBook Air has a reduced MSRP, these models are also eligible for special offers at equally low prices. in AppleInsider's 13-inch price guide M2 ​​MacBook Air for $949.

Closeout M1 models are also on sale for just $749 at the time of publication.

We'll keep you updated on the latest MacBook Air deals on the new M3 models as retailers begin shipping the 13-inch and 15-inch configurations.

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