MacBook Air M3

Apple's latest MacBook Air doesn't change much, but they're in a position where they don't have to...

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Apple's redesign of the MacBook Pro, which eventually defined the framework for the redesign of the MacBook Air, has been a revolution in my opinion. Apple's laptops have never been better engineered, versatilely designed, solidly put together and competitively positioned in the market than they are right now. Unless your workflow really isn't optimised for Apple Silicon, MacBooks are rarely something you should ignore, and this is true across a multitude of use cases.

That's why it's somewhat understandable that Apple once again retains this design profile for the latest MacBook Air. To be honest, there are very few aspects of the user experience and hardware that I really wanted to see changed, but that also means that this review is going to be relatively short.

MacBook Air M3
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As is Apple's habit, the MacBook Air user experience is truly unchanged. Same ports, same pricing, same Liquid Retina display at 2880x1864 that peaks at roughly 500 NITS and covers the full P3 colour spectrum. Likewise, this display is still 60Hz, though you don't notice it much as such, and there's again a notch to house the rather solid 1080p webcam.

It's the same almost brilliant keyboard, the huge, spacious trackpad, and although the M3 chip is more powerful (we'll get to that), it has no, absolutely no, impact on battery life, which in my 15" model reaches something like 15 hours. Easily.

Okay, let's talk specs. The new M3 chip comes in two core variants, one with eight cores (four performance cores and four efficiency cores), and you can pay for two additional cores. In addition, there's a Neural Engine that's part of the overall 16-core chip, and the whole thing runs at 100 GB/s bandwidth. You can get up to 24GB of RAM and up to 2TB of space, but as always, this will be part of the chip, so you can't change or add these specifications afterwards.

In our CineBench R24 test, which is optimised for Apple Silicon, we saw a 14% jump in single-core and 12% in multi-core, and the GPU score in particular nearly doubled to over 3000. A good 13 seconds were shaved off our standardised Handbrake test, and GeekBench 6 saw the same increases as CineBench. We don't actually have any synthetic test results of Intel's Core Ultra series ourselves yet, but from what we can see online, Apple is well ahead in these selected scenarios. So, once again, it's fair to say that if your workflow is optimised to make use of the hardware Apple provides, even an Air offers better results (in these cases) than the Dell XPS 14 with a Core Ultra 7 H155. No, an M3 is no match for the RTX 4050 in the laptop, but our test unit performed 3078 against the 5500 or so measured in several online benchmarks - that's pretty impressive.

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MacBook Air M3

This is done with virtually no heat generation and no real noise. It certainly hasn't always been the case that Apple laptops have been able to generate impressive test results without thermal throttling or deafening decibels, but here we are. Combine that with the ability to hardware-accelerated H264 HEVC encoding, as well as both decode and encode ProRes and ProRes Raw, and you have a machine that's slim, lightweight, well-built and powerful when you need it.

The Air isn't Apple's most impressive laptop, but it's the most important, because it demonstrates time and time again, and especially in the last couple of years, that Apple really understands what a laptop should be able to do.

09 Gamereactor UK
9 / 10
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MacBook Air M3

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Apple's latest MacBook Air doesn't change much, but they're in a position where they don't have to...

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