Should you upgrade to the 2024 MacBook Air M3?


Should You Upgrade to the M3 MacBook Air?
Is your MacBook old enough to justify buying the new MacBook Air?
Image: Apple/D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

If you still own an Intel MacBook Air, it might be time to upgrade to the new MacBook Air with M3. But what about if you own a MacBook Air running on an M1 or M2 chip? In those cases, it’s not as obvious if you should upgrade to the latest model.

Now that the newer models feature efficient and powerful Apple silicon chips, the MacBook Air is the laptop that strikes the right balance of speed and portability for most people. The thin design is easy to slip into a backpack and the battery will last all day — even when juggling dozens of apps.

How badly you need to upgrade to an M3 MacBook Air depends on which model you’re coming from. Our easy guide will help you decide. Check the infographic below or watch the video.

Should I buy the M3 MacBook Air?

Should you buy the new M3 MacBook Air? Don’t Upgrade: MacBook Air (13-inch M2, 2024) MacBook Air (15-inch M2, 2023) If you can afford it: MacBook Air (13-inch M1, 2020) MacBook Air (13-inch, 2020) Time to Upgrade: MacBook Air (2019) MacBook Air (2018) MacBook Air (2017 or earlier)
If you’re still running an Intel MacBook Air, it’s time to consider a new one.
Image: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Intel MacBook Air: Probably time to upgrade to M3

The Intel MacBook Air is aging pretty quickly. It’s time to upgrade to a newer laptop. Apple silicon is absolutely blazing fast, with far superior battery life than you’ll find with Intel chips. And it does all that without a fan or burning at 200 degrees!

If you own the very last Intel model released in early 2020, you can probably get away with holding out for an M4 MacBook Air. The MacBook Air is Apple’s bestselling, and it’s bound to get an update no more than a year from now. (Apple just introduced the M4 chip on the iPad Pro.)

2024 MacBook Air M3 with dual-monitor support
Unlike earlier models, the M3 MacBook Air can drive a pair of giant external displays.
Photo: Apple

M1 or M2 MacBook Air: Depends on your needs

If you own the M1 MacBook Air, with Apple’s old wedge-shaped design, you might consider upgrading to the M3 model, too. It features the M2’s fresh design and can be configured with much higher amounts of memory. Plus, a MagSafe connector frees up another USB port for plugging into an external display or other accessories.

If you’re already on the M2 MacBook Air, don’t worry about upgrading (at least from a performance perspective). The M3 model offers a moderate bump in speed, but you already have the latest design and features. The M2 laptop should give you many, many more years of loyal service.

For those interested in maximal screen real estate, however, the M3 MacBook Air might be a logical upgrade. In 2023, Apple introduced the first 15-inch MacBook Air, powered by the M3 chip. The additional screen space might be enough reason to entice you to bump up from an M1 or M2 model.  Speaking of which, if you want to use two desktop displays, you’ll appreciate that the M3 MacBook Air officially supports that feature.

More on the M3 MacBook Air


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