Apple Launches M3-Based MacBook Air 13 and 15: 3nm CPU for the Masses

Apple on Monday introduced its new generation MacBook Air laptops based on the company’s most-recent M3 system-on-chip (SoC). The new MacBook Air notebooks come in the same sizes as the previous models – 13.6 inches and 15.3 inches – with prices starting from $1,099 and $1,299 respectively.

The key improvement in Apple’s 2024 MacBook Air laptops is of course the M3 processor. Fabbed on TSMC’s N3B process, Apple’s latest mainstream SoC was first launched late last year as part of the 2023 MacBook Pro lineup, and is now being brought down to the MacBook Air family. The vanilla M3 features four high-performance cores operating at up to 4.05 GHz, four energy-efficient cores, a 10 core GPU based on the latest graphics architecture (with dynamic caching, hardware-accelerated ray tracing, and hardware-accelerated mesh shading), and a new media engine with hardware-accelerated AV1 decoding.

MacBook Air Specifications

Model
MBA 15
2024
MBA 13
2024
MBA 15
2023
MBA 13
2022
MBA 13
2020

CPU
Apple M3
4C/4T High-Perf + 4C/4T High-Eff
Apple M2
4C/4T High-Perf + 4C/4T High-Eff
Apple M1
4C/4T High-Perf +
4C/4T High-Eff

GPU
Apple M3 Integrated
(8 or 10 Cores)
Apple M2 Integrated
(8 or 10 Cores)
Apple M1 Integrated
(7 or 8 Cores)

Memory
8 – 24 GB LPDDR5-6400
8 – 24 GB LPDDR5-6400
8 – 16 GB LPDDR4X-4266

SSD
256 GB – 2 TB
256 GB – 2 TB
256 GB – 2 TB

I/O
2x USB4 Type-C
w/Thunderbolt 3
1x MagSafe 3
3.5mm Audio
Touch ID
2x USB4 Type-C
w/Thunderbolt 3
1x MagSafe 3
3.5mm Audio
Touch ID
2x USB4 Type-C
w/Thunderbolt 3

3.5mm Audio
Touch ID

Display
15.3-inch 2880×1864 IPS LCD
P3 with True Tone
13.6-inch 2560×1664 IPS LCD
P3 with True Tone
15.3-inch 2880×1864 IPS LCD
P3 with True Tone
13.6-inch 2560×1664 IPS LCD
P3 with True Tone
13.3-inch 2560×1600 IPS LCD
P3 with True Tone

Dimensions
Width
34.0 cm
30.4 cm
34.0 cm
30.4 cm
30.4 cm

Depth
23.7 cm
21.5 cm
23.7 cm
21.5 cm
21.2 cm

Height
1.1 cm
1.1 cm
1.1 cm
1.1 cm
0.41 – 1.61 cm

Weight
3.3 lbs (1.5 kg)
2.7 lbs (1.22 kg)
3.3 lbs (1.5 kg)
2.7 lbs (1.22 kg)
2.8 lbs (1.29 kg)

Battery Capacity
66.5 Wh
52.6 Wh
66.5 Wh
52.6 Wh
49.9 Wh

Battery Life
15 – 18 Hours
15 – 18 Hours
15 – 18 Hours

Price
$1299
$1099
$1299
$1199
$999

Like prior vanilla M-series SoC, the M3 offers two display engines, allowing it to drive up to two displays. Normally this has been one internal and one external display, but new to the M3/2024 MBAs, the laptop can also drive two external 5K displays when the internal display is disabled (e.g. the lid’s closed).

With regards to performance, Apple is opting to compare the new AIrs to the 2020 models with Apple’s M1 SoC. The CPU is said to be up to 35% – 60% faster compared to the original M1 chip depending on the workload, but such comparisons should be taken with a grain of salt as companies tend to overhype their biggest advantages. One thing to keep in mind is that since MacBook Airs come without active cooling, their performance is typically lower than MacBook Pros running the same processor.

The SoC supports up to 24 GB of LPDDR5-6400 memory (featuring bandwidth of 100 GB/s), though entry-level MacBook Air models still feature only a diminutive 8 GB of RAM and a 256 GB SSD. More advanced (and usable) configurations offer 16 GB or 24 GB of memory and up to 2 TB of solid-state storage.

Other improvements of Apple’s 2024 MacBook Air laptops based on the M3 processor compared to predecessors include Wi-Fi 6E support;  improved three-microphones array with enhanced voice clarity, voice isolation, and wide spectrum modes.

As for input/output capabilities, the new MacBook Air notebooks feature two Thunderbolt 4/USB-C ports, a MagSafe port for charging, a 3.5-mm jack for headsets, and a 1080p FaceTime HD camera.

The 2024 Apple MacBook Air come in midnight, starlight, silver, and space gray colors. The machines are equipped with a 52.6 Wh battery that provides up to 18 hours of video playback. The 13.6-inch machine is 0.44 inch (1.13 cm) thick and weighs 2.7 pounds (1.24 kilograms), whereas the 15.3-inch laptop is 0.45 inch (1.15 cm) thick and weighs 3.3 pounds (1.51 kilograms).

With the launch of its M3-based MacBook Airs, Apple will discontinue its M2-based MacBook Air 15, but will retain the M2-based MacBook Air 13 as their entry-level option, with prices now starting at $999.

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