MacBook Air M3 review: Powerful Apple notebook with svelte design language

With Apple M3 silicon, the new MacBook Air's performance comes very close to the Pro PC level.
ohit KVN
Last Updated : 20 May 2024, 14:52 IST
Last Updated : 20 May 2024, 14:52 IST

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The new MacBook Air series comes with Apple's powerful 3nm class M3 silicon. It promises faster and smoother performance than its predecessor.

Like the previous edition, the company is offering the new device in regular 13-inch and 15-inch display models with prices starting at Rs 1,14,900 in India.

I have been testing the 15-inch MacBook Air M3 for over a month; here are my thoughts on Apple's latest PC notebook.

Design and build quality

The latest MacBook Air looks identical to the Pro model but retains its super slim design elements. It measures 11.5mm thickness and despite the generous use of high-quality metal, it weighs a little over 1.5kg.

It has a familiar notch at the top centre of the display, which houses the full HD FaceTime web camera.

On the rest of the sides, the bezels are thin and uniform. The high-quality Liquid Retina display of the MacBook Air delivers a great viewing experience.

The big 15.3-inch display comes with 2880x1864p resolution and supports up to 500 nits of peak brightness and one billion colours.

The viewing experience is further enriched by the powerful six-speaker sound system with force-cancelling woofers. The new PC also supports Spatial Audio when playing music or video with Dolby Atmos on built-in speakers.

Apple MacBook Air M3.

Apple MacBook Air M3.

Credit: DH Photo/KVN Rohit

Even with the volume put to the max, the speakers deliver excellent audio output without any noticeable distortion.

The new MacBook Air houses a three-microphone array with directional beamforming capability. It supports voice isolation and wide spectrum microphone modes to offer excellent voice clarity during FaceTime calls.

The super-thin lid of the new MacBook is made of premium aluminium and is sturdy. When held in hand, one can feel how good the material is. The matte metallic finish, particularly on midnight black is gorgeous. It is the best-looking model among the four colours offered by Apple.

The other three variants are-- starlight, silver, and space grey.

Due to the super slim design limitation, the MacBook Air supports just four ports. On one side, it houses a MagSafe charging port and two Thunderbolt ports for connecting accessories. And, on the opposite side, it has a lone 3.5mm headphone and supports high‑impedance headphones to listen to crisp and clear music or hear the voice clearly during calls.

MacBook Air can connect with up to two external displays with the two USB ports even when the laptop lid is closed.

Apple has incorporated a backlit Magic Keyboard with an ambient light sensor. Even with pitch darkness in the room, the numbers and the alphabet on the keypad are visible to type words with ease.

Apple MacBook Air M3 comes with backlit Magic Keyboard.

Apple MacBook Air M3 comes with backlit Magic Keyboard.

Credit: DH Photo/KVN Rohit

It comes with 79 keys (ISO) including 12 full-height function keys and four arrow keys in an inverted T-arrangement (in the bottom left corner). It only takes less than an hour for the finger muscles to get the hang of the keyboard layout.

It also supports TouchID in the top right corner. It instantly recognises the fingerprint impression to unlock the screen.

And, the Magic Keyboard houses a massive Force Touch trackpad. It is amazingly good; it comes with pressure-sensing capabilities for precise cursor control and supports pressure-sensitive drawing and multi-touch gestures.

Eco-friendly PC notebook

The new Apple MacBook Air has 50 per cent recycled content, including 100 per cent recycled aluminium in the enclosure, and 100 per cent recycled rare earth elements in all magnets.

Also, the PC is free of mercury, PVC, and beryllium. Even the glass used for the display is Arsenic-free. The retail box is made of 100 per cent virgin wood fibre and is sourced from responsibly managed forests.


MacBook Air is powered by Apple's 3nm architecture-based M3 chipset. The latter features an 8-core CPU with four performance cores and four efficiency cores. And, it comes paired with a 10-core GPU and 16-core Neural Engine.

Compared to the M2 silicon-based predecessor, the new MacBook Air with M3 can deliver 30 per cent faster and more efficient performance.

It can also outperform a similar class of computer with an Intel Core i7 processor. To put in numbers, the latest MacBook Air can deliver up to 2x faster performance, up to 50 per cent faster web browsing, and up to 40 per cent longer battery life.

It is also the first MacBook Air PC to boast Dynamic Caching. The latter will help the device efficiently allocate the exact amount of memory required for each task.

Apple offers the MacBook Air M3 with up to 24GB unified memory and up to 2TB storage configuration. Our review unit comes with 16GB RAM and 512GB storage.

It runs macOS Sonoma and supports new video effects such as Presenter Overlay and Reactions, to make virtual conferences more engaging.

It comes with parental control features such as Communication Safety. It allows parents to enable the PC to automatically block or blur age-inappropriate sensitive videos their children send or receive, in addition to photos.

During the review period, it waltzed through smoothly all day. It also worked flawlessly while editing short videos without any pressing issues to complain about.

The new MacBook Air is also powerful enough to assist users in smoothly editing high-resolution videos without any slightest of lag-ness. It supports hardware-accelerated H.264, HEVC, ProRes and ProRes RAW, video decode engine, video encode engine, ProRes encode and decode engine and AV1 decode engine.

The M3 also features an image signal processor (ISP), a PCI Express storage controller, and a Secure Enclave, which stores passwords and important sensitive data. The latter is protected from all malware. Periodically, Apple rolls out important security patches to protect the device from emerging cyber threats.

The new MacBook Air, which houses a 16-core Neural Engine is capable of performing 18 million plus operations per second. It supports almost all generative Artificial Intelligence (gen AI) applications such as ChatGPT (currently supports web version), Notion AI, Microsoft Office suite of productivity apps with Copilot and more.

A dedicated ChatGPT app for Macs is currently available for ChatGPT Plus subscribers in select regions. Soon it will be expanded to other markets. The Perplexity AI app can also accessed on the MacBook Air via the Continuity feature on iPhone/iPad.

The new MacBook Air also boasts hardware-accelerated ray tracing, a first for the Air series.

With hardware-accelerated mesh shading and ray tracing capability, the device will be able to support top games with photorealistic graphics and deliver an immersive gaming experience.

Thanks to macOS Sonoma, the MacBook Air supports a dedicated Game mode. It promises to deliver smoother and more consistent frame rates, by ensuring games get the highest priority on the CPU and GPU.

Like with all MacBooks, Apple has done well with optimizing the new PC to deliver long-lasting battery. It can support up to 18 hours of video playback.

Apple MacBook Air M3.

Apple MacBook Air M3.

Credit: DH Photo/KVN Rohit

With a full charge, it can easily deliver a full day of battery life for normal usage. To attend product launches in Delhi, I used to take a fully charged MacBook Air without the charger.

During the out-of-town trips, I used to consume at least three hours of multimedia content (offline) while on flight read news articles and submit stories on the go with no anxiety of battery dying out in the middle of the work. Before I could retire to the bed, the PC used to have more than 50 per cent battery left.

The USB v4 Thunderbolts supports data transfer speeds up 40 gigabits per second (Gbit/s). And, they can be used to charge it or reverse charge iPhones or iPads.

It also supports Bluetooth 5.3 and Wi-Fi 6E with 2X faster download speed compared to the predecessor. It can supports up to 2.4GBps wireless internet speed.

Final thoughts

With Apple M3 silicon, the new MacBook Air's performance comes very close to the Pro PC level, and noticeably, it is way superior to any of the rival brands in its class. It supports most of the gen AI-powered productivity applications in the market.

Who should buy the new MacBook Air M3?

It is best suited for college students for project work, editing short movies and even professionals for regular usage such as creating PowerPoint presentations at home.

The new 13-inch MacBook Air with M3 starts at Rs 1,14,900. With education plans, students and teachers can get it for as low as Rs 1,04,900.

The 15‑inch MacBook Air with M3 starts at Rs 1,34,900. With the education plan, it can purchased for Rs 1,24,900.

Published 20 May 2024, 14:52 IST

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