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Apple MacBook Air 13 with M3 (2024) review: Even better

Apple MacBook Air 13 with M3 (2024) review: Even better

Apple MacBook Air 13 with M3

The Apple MacBook Air 13 with M3 (2024) comes with a faster chip, the same form factor as the M2 version, and Wi-Fi 6E. You can now also connect it to two external displays (up from one), but you can't use the laptop display while doing so. The Midnight colour version also gets a fingerprint-repelling coating, but we didn't get that model for review.

Quick specs

  • Apple M3 chip (8-core CPU, 8 or 10-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine)
  • 8GB/16GB/24GB Unified Memory, 256GB or 512GB storage
  • 13.6-inch or 15.3-inch IPS LCD with 500 nits brightness
  • 52.6 (13-inch) or 66.5 (15-inch) watt-hour battery, MagSafe 3 charging, 2x Thunderbolt 3 ports

As with the current range of MacBook Air laptops, you get two USB-C Thunderbolt 3.0 ports, a MagSafe connection, and a 3.5mm audio jack on the right side. I do wish that the MacBook Air would come with two USB-C ports on each side. I would, however, settle for at least two on the left, and one on the right. That's really my only complaint about this excellent laptop, which weighs a very portable 1.24kg and is just 11.3mm thick. The speakers are excellent, similar to the M2 version. If you want better sound, then you'll have to go for the 15-inch version. That comes with six speakers to the 13-inch's four.

Apple MacBook Air 13 with M3
Credit: Aloysius Low/Can Buy or Not

The base M3 version comes with an 8-core CPU, an 8-core GPU with ray tracing, and a 16-core Neural Engine (NPU). It also comes with 8GB of unified memory (RAM) and either 256GB or 512GB storage. Like the earlier MacBook Airs, the M3 MBA does get thermal throttled due to the lack of an active fan. However, it still performs well. Using Handbrake to convert an hour-long video to 1080p took 6m 49s in our best run. That is about 1.5 minutes slower than the M3 MBP. The M3 MBA started out at 20W on load, but dropped to 10W or lower after getting throttled. That said, it's also faster than 15-inch MBA with M2 which took 7m 55s. While we did not test the 15-inch M3 version, but our prior experience with the 15-inch MacBook Air with M2 shows that the larger size does help with thermal management.

Apple MacBook Air 13 with M3
Credit: Aloysius Low/Can Buy or Not

Geekbench 6 performance is about 20% better, with the M3 MacBook Air scoring 3,026 (single-core), and 12,090 (multi-core). I like that Baldur's Gate 3 was playable, but in the open world, I needed to run the game at Low while turning on FSR 1.0 to Balanced to get around 20 to 28fps. That's still playable, although everything looks a tad potato-y. Battery performance is great, with the laptop lasting 5hr 51min in our video-loop test. That's consistent with the M2 version's performance. I was also able to get all-day use with just typing, photo editing, and some light video editing. The 8GB RAM wasn't a factor, but if you're into heavier workloads, it may start slowing down. Honestly, I hope Apple makes 16GB unified memory its new default, and I'm sure I'm not the only one thinking about this.

Retailing at S$1,599, the base model Apple MacBook Air with M3 (2024) offers compelling performance for the ultraportable notebook segment at a pretty reasonable price. It's also S$100 cheaper than the M2 when it launched. If you can spare the budget, go for the 16GB version. Otherwise, you can also consider the 15-inch MBA with M3, which is just S$300 more with a larger screen for better productivity. Buy it from Shopee or Lazada.

See Also
Samsung Galaxy S24+ and Galaxy S24

Note: Review unit provided by Apple.


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Verdict



CAN BUY

Good performance and portability at a reasonable price

Buy it at Shopee
Buy it at Lazada

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