15-inch M3 MacBook Air review: Read this before you even think about buying

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The 15-inch M3 MacBook Air is for illustration nan partner who frowns astatine you for not noticing their caller haircut. But upon person inspection, nan caller stimulus becomes clear, prompting you to say, “How did I miss that? What a change! You look great, babe!”

Similarly, nan new-generation M3 MacBook Air whitethorn not look for illustration a immense upgrade astatine first. “Alright, truthful it’s getting a caller M3 spot – large whoop!” you whitethorn beryllium thinking.

However, erstwhile you look nether nan hood, you'll understand nan hype. As personification who has been utilizing nan 15-inch MacBook Air – nan 1 equipped pinch an M2 spot – it’s long overdue for a capacity jump to support up pinch progressively demanding apps.

15-inch M3 MacBook Air connected a table

Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

The caller MacBook Air comes successful 2 flavors – 13-inch and 15-inch variants – and it’s packed pinch a zippier M3 chip. “OK, what does that mean for me?” You whitethorn beryllium wondering. Long communicative short, your favourite creator-focused apps, whether it’s Blender aliases Illustrator, should tally faster, smoother, and much seamless.

15-inch M3 MacBook Air value and specs

The 15-inch M3 MacBook Air has a starting value of $1,299 via Apple's charismatic website, which comes pinch nan pursuing specs:

  • 8-core CPU

  • 10-core GPU

  • 8GB of RAM

  • 256GB of SSD storage

  • 15.3-inch, 2,880 x 1,864-pixel solution LED display

The reappraisal portion I person will group you backmost $1,699 and comes pinch nan aforesaid specs arsenic above, but offers much representation (16GB) and much retention (512GB). If I were you, I’d opt for this configuration because 16GB of representation intends you tin juggle much apps simultaneously while reducing accent connected nan M3 MacBook Air.

What I for illustration astir nan 15-inch M3 MacBook Air

As I hinted successful nan outset, nan M3 MacBook Air’s upgrades are mostly internal. The display, design, keyboard, ports, webcam, weight, and dimensions are nan aforesaid arsenic its predecessor.

15-inch M3 MacBook Air

Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

Still, there's plentifulness to praise erstwhile it comes to nan caller 15-inch MacBook Air model.

Faster gen-over-gen performance

Apple boasted that nan M3 MacBook Air is up to 60% faster than nan M1 variant. But nan mobility is, really does nan M3 MacBook Air comparison to nan M2 MacBook Air?

15-inch M3 MacBook Air connected a table

Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

I launched nan Blender benchmark, which tests really good systems grip creator-focused tasks, including 3D modeling, animation, and more. According to our results, nan M3 MacBook Air is 15% faster compared to nan M2 MacBook Air.

According to our Geekbench 6 testing, different benchmark that tests for CPU prowess, nan M3 MacBook Air turned retired to beryllium astir 20% faster than nan M2 MacBook Air.

What does this mean? Diving into your favourite creator apps should output a faster workflow connected nan M3 MacBook Air. Expect zippier editing and rendering crossed nan board, whether you’re utilizing Photoshop, Illustrator, aliases immoderate different app that appeals to your artsy soul.

Dual-display support

What makes nan M3 MacBook Air different from nan M2 MacBook Air is nan truth that it supports 2 outer monitors now. (Its predecessor only supported one.)

15-inch M3 MacBook Air connected a table

Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

In different words, you tin now hook up 2 displays to nan M3 MacBook Air for a sweet, multi-screen group up successful your office. However, arsenic you’ll observe successful nan “What I dislike astir nan M3 MacBook Air” section, there’s a catch.

Wi-Fi 6E support

Another perk that you won’t find connected nan M2 MacBook Air? The M3 MacBook Air now has WiFi 6E support, a measurement up from its predecessor (WiFi 6 support).

15-inch M3 MacBook Air connected a table

Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

“What does WiFi 6E mean for me?” you whitethorn beryllium wondering. Without diving into verbose nerdom, WiFi 6E enhances speed, reduces latency, and bolsters web security. As such, connectivity pinch nan WiFi 6E-supported M3 MacBook Air should lead to reduced interference and amended capacity wide while transmitting information wirelessly.

New ‘Midnight Black’ color

Midnight Black gets its inspiration from nan Space Black colour that graces nan current-gen MacBook Pro models. Like Space Black, it features an anodization seal that is designed to trim fingerprints.

Several 15-inch M3 MacBook Air models connected a table

Other colorways for nan 15-inch M3 MacBook Air Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

I emotion onyx hues, truthful I'm digging Midnight Black (though it could guidelines to beryllium duskier). However, arsenic you’ll find retired successful consequent sections, nan chassis won’t beryllium completely devoid of fingerprints.

The M3 MacBook Air besides comes successful Starlight, Space Gray, and Silver. I’m still crossing my fingers for a rich, acheronian purple colorway for future-generation models, but thing tells maine that Apple would say, “Don’t clasp your breath!”

Angelic audio

One point I emotion nan astir about Apple is really it pays typical attraction to features that often get neglected by laptop manufacturers – for illustration audio. I can’t show you really galore times I’ve loved each facet of a laptop, only to beryllium sorely disappointed pinch quiet speakers and/or tinny audio.

15-inch M3 MacBook Air connected a table

Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

Matching nan 15-inch M2 MacBook Air, nan caller 15-inch M3 MacBook Air has a six-speaker sound strategy that sounds perfectly divine. On Spotify, I fired up Tate McRae’s “greedy” tune and nan popular opus sounded bombastic, loud, punchy, and rich | – amended than immoderate strategy you’re reference this pinch (if you don’t ain a MacBook).

What’s ‘eh’ astir nan 15-inch M3 MacBook Air?

The truth that nan 15-inch M3 MacBook Air is an incremental upgrade is, for nan astir part, a positive. Sometimes, it’s amended to play it safe than return innovative risks that whitethorn propulsion disconnected consumers. However, location are still immoderate aspects astir nan Air that could person utilized a tweak aliases 2 pinch this caller refresh.

The notch is still, er, notching

Ah, nan arguable notch that dips into nan display. Some group emotion it; immoderate group dislike it. Others disliked it initially – and past yet sewage utilized to it. I fell into this camp. I wasn’t a instrumentality of nan notch connected my 15-inch M2 MacBook Air astatine first, but eventually, I stopped noticing its presence.

15-inch M3 MacBook Air

Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

That being said, I’m not pressed astir nan notch, but it would person been a astonishment – a pleasant 1 – if Apple shaved immoderate of it disconnected for a amended ocular treat. 

It’s besides worthy noting that nan M3 MacBook Air’s 15.3-inch, 2880 x 1864-pixel display, for illustration nan M2 MacBook Air, is still eye-catching. I fired up nan Deadpool & Wolverine trailer connected nan display, which emanated nan aforesaid bright, crisp visuals arsenic its predecessor. It’s nary OLED sheet pinch heavy blacks and precocious contrast, but it’s still impressive.

Click-clacky keyboard

I virtually said nan words "ooh, yeah!" — for illustration I'm nan Kool-Aid Man bursting done nan wall — erstwhile I knowledgeable my first typing convention connected nan caller 15-inch M3 MacBook Air. Generation complete generation, nan keyboard has remained unchanged, but that's a bully thing.

15-inch M3 MacBook Air's keyboard

Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

The keyboard is arsenic click-clacky arsenic I remember, allowing maine to prance from cardinal to cardinal for illustration a dexterous pianist.

Stingy pinch ports

I’m really OK pinch nan truth that nan M3 MacBook Air features conscionable 2 Thunderbolt 3 / USB 4 ports and MagSafe 3 (a proprietary connector that frees up nan aforementioned USB-C ports truthful you tin powerfulness your MacBook Air). Plus, there’s a 3.5mm headset jack – a larboard that I’m amazed that Apple hasn’t nixed yet since it tin beryllium rather “kill happy,” particularly erstwhile it comes to I/O options.

15-inch M3 MacBook Air

Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

However, if I could person it my way, I’d adhd 1 other USB-C larboard connected nan correct broadside of nan M3 MacBook Air (all nan USB-C ports are presently situated connected nan left).

Temper your expectations pinch ‘Midnight Black’

My reappraisal portion is nan Midnight Black variant, and yes, it is little susceptible to smudges and smears – conscionable for illustration Apple claims.

15-inch M3 MacBook Air

Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

But don't kid yourself into reasoning it's completely fingerprint-proof. However, I tin corroborate that this colorway holds up amended than nan "Midnight" hue (not to beryllium confused pinch Midnight Black) that drapes my 15-inch M2 MacBook Air.

What I dislike astir nan 15-inch M3 MacBook Air

The caller characteristic I admit connected nan caller 15-inch M3 MacBook Air has a “flip side,” too.

Dual-display support only useful pinch a closed lid

The 15-inch M3 MacBook Air now has dual-display support, but it only useful erstwhile nan lid is shut. In different words, yes, you tin hook up 2 displays to nan laptop. But you tin only interact pinch nan outer screens – not nan show connected nan laptop itself.

Closed lid 15-inch M3 MacBook Air

Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

This intends you’ll person to trust connected outer peripherals for illustration nan Magic Keyboard, Magic Trackpad, and Magic Mouse to bask nan multi-screen experience.

If you want to support nan lid open, your adjacent champion action (if you want an M3-based chip) is nan 14-inch M3 Pro MacBook Pro, which has a starting value tag of $1,999.

15-inch M3 MacBook Air Geekbench score

On Geekbench 6, nan 15-inch M3 MacBook Air notched a multi-core people of 12,057. 

As a constituent of reference, this nearly touches nan caller Asus ROG Zephyrus G14, a gaming laptop packed pinch an AMD Ryzen 9 CPU. It delivered a multi-core people of 12,170.

15-inch M3 MacBook Air artillery life

To trial artillery life, we looped a 1080p movie – Tears of Steel to beryllium nonstop – until nan laptop ran retired of juice. It lasted 10 hours and 52 minutes on a azygous charge.

On nan aforesaid test, nan 15-inch M2 MacBook Air lasted somewhat longer: 10 hours and 58 minutes.

15-inch M3 MacBook Air webcam

As personification who has been testing respective Windows laptops recently, including nan dual-display Asus Zenbook Duo and nan HP Spectre x360 14, I’ve been disappointed successful nan webcams lately. There’s excessively overmuch noise, nan colors are excessively muted, and I ever look for illustration a silly watercolor painting.

Facetime connected nan 15-inch M3 MacBook Air

Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

However, erstwhile I fired up nan M3 MacBook Air’s 1080p shooter, I breathed a sigh of relief. The colors are comparatively meticulous and I really look for illustration myself connected nan viewfinder. 

Is nan 15-inch M3 MacBook Air worthy it?

The 15-inch M3 MacBook Air whitethorn look for illustration a elemental refresh, but arsenic personification who owns nan M2 MacBook Air, I’d decidedly waste and acquisition it successful for nan new-generation model.

15-inch M3 MacBook Air connected a table

Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

Our testing shows that nan M3 MacBook Air is astir 20% faster, springiness aliases take, than nan M2 MacBook Air, peculiarly erstwhile it comes to creator-focused workflows. In different words, expect zippier performance, whether you’re a fledgling video editor aliases a photo-editing hobbyist.

The 15-inch M3 MacBook Air continues to blur nan statement of nan Air and Pro models, providing ample “oomph” for creatives, professionals, and students who request robust capacity that tin grip their multifaceted workflows.

We tested this laptop's CPU capacity by moving Geekbench 6 and Blender.

After moving these benchmarks, we research pinch nan show (e.g., surf YouTube and motorboat Netflix), research nan keyboard (i.e., we usage LiveChat's typing velocity trial to measure its comfortableness levels), inspect nan creation and build quality, tally Spotify to trial nan speakers, return photos to find webcam quality, and more.

For artillery life, we looped a 1080p video until nan laptop ran retired of juice.

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Kimberly Gedeon is simply a tech explorer who enjoys doing heavy dives into nan astir celebrated gadgets, from nan latest iPhones to nan astir immersive VR headsets. She's drawn to strange, avant-garde, bizarre tech, whether it's a 3D laptop, a gaming rig that tin toggle shape into a briefcase, aliases smart glasses that tin seizure video. Her publicity profession kicked disconnected astir a decade agone astatine MadameNoire wherever she covered tech and business earlier landing arsenic a tech editor astatine Laptop Mag successful 2020.

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