MacBook Air 13-inch and 15-inch review (2024): Excellent yet unsurprising

It’s hard to expect much from Apple the new M3 powered MacBook Air. 13-inch M2 model, Released in 2022, was the first major redesign for Apple’s most popular laptop in more than a decade. Last year, Apple finally gifted its fanatics with a large-screen ultraportable notebook 15-inch MacBook Air. This week we have the same two computers with slightly faster chips. They didn’t even get a real launch event from Apple, just a sleepy Monday morning press release. They look the same and are slightly faster than before – what else can you say?

Now, I’m not saying these aren’t great computers. It’s just that Apple’s laptops have spoiled us a bit over the past few years. The M3 MacBook Air marks the inevitable plateau of innovation for the company following the monumental rise of its mobile chips and a complete overhaul of its notebook and desktop PCs. It’s like reaching cruise altitude after the thrill of flight — everything is stable and comfortable for Apple and consumers.


Apple’s latest MacBook Air takes everything we love about the M2 redesign — a sleeker and lighter body — and adds even more power thanks to the M3 chip.


  • Solid and elegant design
  • Fast performance thanks to the M3 chip
  • Excellent 13-inch screen
  • Great keyboard and trackpad
  • A solid four-speaker array

  • The charging and USB-C ports are only on one side

$1,099 at Amazon


Apple’s big-screen MacBook Air still looks and feels great, and it’s faster thanks to the M3 chip.


  • Solid and elegant design
  • Fast performance thanks to the M3 chip
  • Great 15 inch screen
  • Great keyboard and trackpad
  • A solid six-speaker array

  • The charging and USB-C ports are only on one side

$1,299 at Amazon

M3 MacBook Air and M2 MacBook Air

While the M3 MacBook Air models look the same as before, there are a few new features under the hood. First, they support dual external displays, but only when their lids are closed. That’s something that even the M3-powered 14-inch MacBook Pro doesn’t have, but Apple says feature is coming to that device through a future software update. Having dual-screen support is especially useful for office workers who have to prop their computers up on makeshift desks, but it can also be useful for creatives with multiple monitors at home. (If you absolutely must have a laptop screen next to two or more external monitors, you’ll want to opt for a MacBook Pro with an M3 Pro or Max chip instead.)

Both new MacBook Air models also support the improved Wi-Fi 6E, with higher speeds and dramatically lower latency than the previous Wi-Fi 6 standard. To really see these benefits, you need a Wi-Fi 6E router. According to Intel, Wi-Fi 6E’s ability to tap into seven 160MHz channels helps it avoid the crowded Wi-Fi 6 spectrum. In fact, you may see gigabit speeds more often. (With my AT&T gigabit fiber connection and Wi-Fi 6 gateway, I saw download speeds of about 350 Mbps on both systems from my basement office, and downloads between 220 Mbps and 320 Mbps. It was on the same floor as the gateway.)

MacBook Air M3 13 inch and 15 inch side angleMacBook Air M3 13 inch and 15 inch side angle

Photo: Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

Design and weight

Two years after the debut of the 13-inch M2 MacBook Air, the M3 follow-up is just as sleek and attractive. At 0.44 inches thick, it feels impossibly thin for a notebook, and at 2.7 pounds, it’s fairly light. We’ve seen ultraportables like LG’s Gram and ZenBook S13 OLED It’s both the lightest and thinnest of Apple’s hardware, but the MacBook Air still manages to feel like a more premium package. Its unibody aluminum body is as smooth as a river stone, yet as strong as a rock. It’s just a computer that I love to touch.

Owns a 13-inch MacBook Air M3 Owns a 13-inch MacBook Air M3

Photo: Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

The 15-inch M3 MacBook Air is similarly thin, but half a pound heavier at 3.2 pounds. It’s still relatively light for its size, but the added bulk makes it feel heavier than the 13-inch model. I can easily fit one of the MacBook Air models in a bag when I’m running to pick up my kids from school, but the length of the larger model makes it more frustrating to carry around.

For some users, this extra heft will be worth it. The larger MacBook Air has a 15.3-inch Liquid Retina display with a sharp 2,880×1,864 (224 pixels per inch) resolution, making it better suited for multitasking or media editing applications with multiple windows. It is also more suitable for elderly or visually impaired users who need to enlarge their display to make it more readable. (It’s something I noticed when buying computers for my parents and other elderly relatives. 13-inch laptops are inevitably difficult to work with unless you wear bifocals all the time.)

While I’m impressed that Apple finally has a large, consumer-oriented laptop, I still prefer the 13-inch MacBook Air. I spend most of my day writing, chatting with colleagues, editing photos, and talking to companies over video conferencing software, all of which are easy to do on a small screen. If I were to directly edit more episodes of the Engadget Podcast or cut the video myself, I’d reach for a 14-inch MacBook Pro with an M3 Pro chip. Even then, I wouldn’t need a significantly larger screen.

MacBook Air M3 13 inch and 15 inch headphone jackMacBook Air M3 13 inch and 15 inch headphone jack

A single headphone jack that can use a USB-C companion. (Photo by Devindra Hardawar/Engadget)

It’s understandable why Apple wouldn’t want to change the Air’s design too much, since it was redesigned a few years ago. Still, I’d like to see a USB-C port on the right side of the machine to make charging anywhere easier. But I guess I should be happy that Apple didn’t remove the headphone jack, something that happens all too often with new 13-inch laptops like the XPS 13.


For our testing, Apple sent a “midnight” 13-inch MacBook Air (which is almost black and has a fingerprint-resistant coating that actually works), as well as a silver 15-inch model. Both computers are equipped with an M3 chip with a 10-core GPU, 16 GB of RAM and a 512 GB SSD. While these MacBooks start at $1,099 and $1,299, respectively, the configurations we tested cost $400 more. If you’re paying attention to our ratings, keep that in mind, as you’ll definitely see lower numbers on the base models. (The cheapest 13-inch offering only has 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, and an 8-core GPU, while the entry-level 15-inch unit has the same RAM and storage, along with a 10-core GPU.)

Geekbench 6 CPU

Geekbench 6 GPU

Cinebench R23

3DMark Wildlife Extreme

Apple MacBook Air 13 inch (M3, 2024)





Apple MacBook Air 15 inch (M3, 2024)





Apple MacBook Air 13 inch (M2, 2022)





Apple MacBook Pro 14 inch (M3, 2023)





The performance of the M3 chip

I didn’t expect to see a huge performance boost on either MacBook Air, but I was pleasantly surprised by our benchmarks. Both laptops scored nearly 300 points higher on the Cinebench R23 single-core test than the M2 MacBook Air. And when it came to the more strenuous multi-core CPU test, the 13-inch M3 Air was about 1,700 points faster, while the 15-inch model was about 2,400 points faster. (Since both machines are fanless, it’s likely that the 15-inch Air’s larger case allows it to perform slightly better under load.)

There was a more noticeable difference in Geekbench 6, where the M3 models were about 40 percent faster than before. Apple offers more modest improvements over the M2 chips — 17 percent faster single-core workloads, 21 percent faster multi-core workloads, and 15 percent better GPU workloads — but it’s nice to see areas where performance is even better. Indeed, these aren’t machines designed to replace the M2 systems—better comparisons are to measure them up to the nearly four-year-old M1 Mac or even the leaner Intel models. Apple claims the M3 chip is up to 60 percent faster than the M1, but in my testing I saw only a 35 percent speed increase on Cinebench’s R23 multi-core test.

MacBook Air M3 15-inch front viewMacBook Air M3 15-inch front view

When it comes to real-world performance, I didn’t notice a huge difference between the M3-equipped MacBook Air compared to the M2 model I’ve been using for the past few years. Apps load about the same, multitasking isn’t noticeably faster (thankfully they have 16GB of RAM), and even photo editing isn’t significantly faster. It’s a good time to point out that the M2 MacBook Air is still a great machine, and thanks to its sub-$999 starting price, it’s an even better deal. Like we said, the best thing about having M3 Airs is that they exist made the M2 models cheaper. You’re sure to find some good deals from shops clearing out old stock and refurbished units, as well as from existing owners selling M2 machines.

Gaming and productivity work

I’ll give the M3 MacBook Airs this: they’re noticeably faster for gaming. I could run away P’s lies Watch in 1080p+ (1920×1200) with high graphics settings and often at a smooth 60fps. It occasionally dropped into the low 50fps range, but it didn’t affect the game’s playability much. The director cut Death Stranding It was smooth and easy to play at this resolution as long as I didn’t change the graphics settings too much. It’s nice to have the option once for some serious gaming on the Mac. If you want more variety, you can also stream high-end games via Xbox’s cloud streaming or NVIDIA’s GeForce Now.

In addition to being slightly faster than before, the 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Airs are simply beautiful computers to use. Their 500-nit screens support HDR and are bright enough to use outdoors in sunlight. While they’re not as impressive as the ProMotion MiniLED displays on MacBook Pros, they’ll get the job done for most users. Apple’s four- and six-speaker arrays are also best-in-class, and the 1080p webcams on both computers are perfect for video conferencing (especially when combined with Apple’s camera adjustments for brightness and background blur). I can’t say enough good things about the MacBook Air’s responsive keyboard and smooth trackpad – I wish every laptop used them.

MacBook Air M3 13 inches from the topMacBook Air M3 13 inches from the top

Photo: Devindra Hardawar/Engadget


Unfortunately, the short amount of time for this review prevented me from conducting a full battery test for these computers. Right now, I can tell that both machines only used 40 percent of their battery life while playing 4K full-screen video at full brightness for more than 10 hours. Apple claims that they will play Apple TV video for up to 18 hours, as well as surf the web wirelessly for up to 15 hours. My tests show that they will definitely last longer than a typical work day. (I’d often go three days without needing to charge my 13-inch M2 MacBook Air. Based on what I’ve seen so far, I expect similar performance from the M3 models.)

MacBook Air M3 13-inch top to bottomMacBook Air M3 13-inch top to bottom

Photo: Devindra Hardawar/Engadget


There are no big surprises with the 13-inch and 15-inch M3 MacBook Air, but that’s to be expected after years of improvements. They are great computers with great performance, great screens and incredible battery life. And best of all, their introduction undercuts the prices of the still-excellent M2 models, making them an even better deal.

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