New M3 MacBook Air gets big specs boost with same awesome battery life


The new MacBook Air with M3
Looks familiar, but there’s a lot of new specs inside.
Photo: Apple

The 2024 MacBook Air lineup launched Monday by Apple runs on the company’s M3 chip, bringing a significant performance boost to the laptop. It also benefits from Wi-Fi that’s up to twice as fast. Plus, the new MacBook Air can support two external displays. This all comes in the same thin design, with the same two display sizes and four colors.

Apple’s press release says that “with a faster and more efficient Neural Engine in M3, MacBook Air continues to be the world’s best consumer laptop for AI.”

The M3 MacBook Air starts at the same $1,099 price as the outgoing M2 model, which remains on sale starting at $999. You can order the new MacBook Air now from the Apple Online Store and it will be available this Friday.

New M3 MacBook Air brings big spec boosts

Apple MacBook Air with two Studio Displays plugged in.
The M3 MacBook Air solves a long-standing customer grievance, offering support for two external displays.
Photo: Apple

The new MacBook Air is available in the same two sizes, a 13-inch and 15-inch model. Both come in the same four colors: midnight (dark blue-gray), silver, space gray and starlight (pale gold).

Apple introduced the M3 chip inside the new MacBook Air last fall in the 14-inch MacBook Pro. According to Apple, the new chip gives the 2024 MacBook Air a considerable performance boost. The new laptop runs “up to 60 percent faster than the model with the M1 chip and up to 13x faster than the fastest Intel-based MacBook Air,” the company said. Apple also claims it’s twice as fast as “the best-selling 15-inch Intel Core i7 PC laptop.”

And, of course, it now supports two external displays out of the box. Each display will run at 60 Hz with a billion colors, one at 5K resolution and one at 6K. A small snag, however, is that the lid of the Mac must be closed — so you still only get two displays in total, not three. (The 14-inch 2023 MacBook Pro will gain this feature too via a future software update.)

Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, called the 2024 MacBook Air an ideal machine for virtually anybody.

“From college students pursuing their degrees, to business users who need powerful productivity, or anyone who simply wants the unmatched combination of performance, portability, and industry-leading battery life, all in a fanless design, the new MacBook Air continues to be the world’s best thin and light laptop,” he said in Apple’s press release.

Powerful hardware-accelerated AI and graphics

Man playing Stray on his MacBook Air (which isn’t plugged in) wearing AirPods Max and holding a PlayStation 5 controller
Unlike PC gaming laptops, the MacBook Air gets the same impressive graphics performance while unplugged.
Photo: Apple

Wireless connectivity in the 2024 MacBook Air has been upgraded to the latest Wi-Fi 6E, “which delivers download speeds that are up to twice as fast as the previous generation,” according to Apple. This speed is only achievable with a Wi-Fi 6E internet router, which is still relatively new — such devices have only been available for about two years.

The biggest upgrade from M2 to M3 is all in the graphics. The new chip supports mesh shading and ray-tracing in the hardware, which will give gamers “more accurate lighting, reflections, and shadows for extremely realistic gaming experiences,” Apple said. The updated media engine supports AV1 video decoding, a new standard that will make streaming higher-quality videos far more efficient.

Apple boldly introduced the new Mac as “the world’s best consumer laptop for AI.” The M3 chip comes with “a faster and more efficient 16-core Neural Engine, along with accelerators in the CPU and GPU to boost on-device machine learning.” This means you can run large language models (LLMs), image-generation tools like DiffusionBee, AI voice transcription tools like MacWhisper and more entirely on-device — with no server costs or network latency.

The 2024 MacBook Air launch comes in lieu of an expected March event, a last-minute reversal predicted by Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman on Sunday. The new Mac was announced via a press release published on the Apple Newsroom this morning. The anticipated iPad Pro and iPad Air models are yet to be seen.

A more sustainable MacBook

Person using a MacBook Air on their lap for 3D modeling
The new MacBook Air is another step toward Apple’s ambitious sustainability goals.
Photo: Apple

Apple laid out ambitious plans last year to be an entirely carbon-neutral operation, from its offices and manufacturing facilities to its products, by the end of the decade.

The new MacBook Air doesn’t achieve the same carbon-neutral certification as the latest Apple Watch models. However, many of the raw materials inside the laptop were recycled. According to the press release, it is “the first Apple product to be made with 50 percent recycled content, including 100 percent recycled aluminum in the enclosure, 100 percent recycled rare earth elements in all magnets and, in another first for Apple, 100 percent recycled copper in the main logic board.”

Even the packaging is (nearly) entirely “fiber-based.” That puts the company one step closer to achieving its goal of eliminating all plastic from its packaging by next year.

M2 model remains in MacBook Air lineup, but M1 model disappears

13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Air M3
The MacBook Air with M3 comes in the same 13-inch and 15-inch sizes.
Photo: Apple

The previous-generation MacBook Air with the M2 chip remains available at the reduced price of $999 on the Apple Store. (Teachers and students can get it for $899 through the Apple Education Store.) The M1 MacBook Air, however, no longer appears in either online store.

Both the M2 and M3 MacBook Air offer the same options for upgrading unified memory, GPU cores, internal storage and power adapters.


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