MacBook Air Buyer's Guide: Generation Comparison

by Hartley Charlton

Apple's MacBook Air has undergone some major changes in recent years, including a switch to an Apple processor, a complete redesign, and the introduction of a 15-inch model. is the right time to upgrade or an older model will suit you.

Follow your latest update: Apple discontinued production of the 13-inch M1 ‌MacBook Air‌ from 2020 and the 15-inch M2 ‌MacBook Air‌ from 2023. Customers can now choose between ‌M2‌ 13-inch ‌MacBook Air‌ starting in 2022 for $999, and the just-unveiled 13- and 15-inch MacBook Air M3 for $1,099 and $1,299, respectively.

See below for details on every new feature, change, and improvement that was added with each ‌MacBook Air‌ model from 2018 compared to its direct predecessor:

MacBook Air (M3, 2024)

  • M3 chip
  • 15% faster Neural Engine
  • AV1 decoding support
  • New GPU architecture
  • Dynamic caching
  • Hardware accelerated ray tracing
  • Hardware-accelerated grid shading.
  • Supports up to two external displays when the lid is closed.
  • Voice isolation and wide-spectrum microphone modes.
  • Increased voice clarity in audio. and video calling
  • Wi-Fi 6E
  • Anodizing to reduce fingerprints with Midnight finish

MacBook Air (M2, 2022/2023)

  • Thinner design with a flat lid, rounded bottom edges and uniform thickness.
  • Liquid Retina display 13.6 or 15, 3 inches.
  • Apple ‌M2‌ chip
  • Up to 10-core GPU
  • H.264, HEVC, ProRes and ProRes RAW with hardware acceleration.
  • ProRes encoding and decoding engine.
  • Up to 24 GB combined memory
  • 100 GB/s memory bandwidth
  • 500 nits brightness
  • FaceTime HD 1080p camera
  • Four-speaker audio system or six-speaker audio system with power-cancelling woofers.
  • 3.5mm headphone jack with support for high impedance headphones.
  • Bluetooth 5.3.
  • MagSafe 3
  • Fast charging with with an available 70W USB-C power adapter.
  • Available in Silver, Space Grey, Starlight and Midnight.
  • 1.24 kg (2.7 kg). lbs) or 1.51 kg (3.3 lbs)

MacBook Air (M1 2020)

  • Apple ‌M1‌ chip
  • 8-core processor
  • Up to 8-core GPU
  • Media engine
  • H.264 and HEVC with hardware acceleration
  • Video decoding engine
  • Encoding engine video
  • 16-core neural engine
  • Unified memory capacity up to 16 GB
  • Memory bandwidth 62.5 GB/s.
  • Wide color (P3).
  • Image processor with computational video.
  • Up to 18 hours of battery life.

MacBook Air (Intel 2020)

  • Processor up to Intel Core i7
  • Intel Iris Plus GPU.
  • Up to 2TB of storage
  • Magic Keyboard
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • 1.29 kg (2.8 lbs).

MacBook Air (Intel, 2018)

  • Conical “wedge” design
  • 13.3″ Retina display
  • Up to Intel Core i5 processor
  • Up to 4-core processor
  • Intel UHD Graphics 617
  • Up to 16 GB memory
  • Up to 1.5 TB of storage
  • Butterfly keyboard
  • 400 nits brightness
  • Full standard color (sRGB)
  • 720p ‌FaceTime‌ HD camera
  • Stereo speakers
  • 3.5 mm headphone jack
  • Wi‑Fi 6
  • Bluetooth 4.2
  • Up to 12 hours of battery life.
  • Available in silver, space gray and gold.
  • 1.25 kg (2.75 lb).

‌M2‌ ‌MacBook Air‌ there's very little reason for users to upgrade to the M3 model unless they need absolute maximum performance and want to buy a MacBook Pro, or perhaps if they bought a 13-inch computer in 2022 and are now interested in the 15-inch M3. model.

Most ‌M1‌ ‌MacBook Air‌ Users will benefit from upgrading to the M3, especially if they're looking for a larger screen and opt for the 15-inch model. These users will get a much more modern design, a larger and brighter display, better performance, faster memory, a 1080p camera, better speakers, ‌MagSafe‌ 3, fast charging and more. However, some ‌M1‌ ‌MacBook Air‌ users may be better off waiting for the next major update if they are still happy with the machine and the update is not necessary.

  • 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook M2 Air Buyer's Guide

For those who own ‌MacBook Air‌ Intel-based processor, any of the generations currently sold is a very valuable upgrade, led by Apple's processor for significant performance improvements, and upgrading is recommended as many of the above upgrades add up quickly.

Related Review: MacBook Air Buyer's Guide: MacBook Air 13″ (Buy Now), MacBook Air 15″ (Buy Now) Related Forum: MacBook Air56 comments

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