April 24, 2024

Brighton Journal

Complete News World

First impressions of the Apple MacBook Air M3

First impressions of the Apple MacBook Air M3

Here they are, the 13-inch and 15-inch Apple MacBook Air M3s. And I've got one of each. One in the starlight and one in the middle of the night. Midnight is already covered in smudges, while starlight shines brightly and free of visible finger oils. But at least I can distinguish between these two.

The chassis of the 13-inch and 15-inch Air M3s is the same as that of the previous M2 models: same design without the wedge, same dimensions and weight, same color options – same everything. If the two were side by side, you probably wouldn't be able to tell which one has an M2 chip and which one has an M3 chip.

You'll have to turn it on and run some benchmarks to see the difference from the M2 models. Based on my time with the MacBook Pro 14 M3, I expect the Air M3s to have about a 10 to 15 percent increase in performance over the M2 Airs and equivalent (if not identical) performance to the MacBook Pro 14 M3. Both the 13-inch and 15-inch Air M3 review units I received have an eight-core CPU, a 10-core GPU, and 16GB of RAM, albeit a 512GB SSD instead of a 1TB SSD.

Focusing on the 13-inch MacBook Air for a minute, the main differences between the M2 and M3 versions are that the M3 supports hardware-accelerated ray tracing, the AV1 decoding engine (a newer video codec that reduces bandwidth requirements during streaming), and Wi-Fi 6E. From configuration options to battery life, not much has changed, except that the M3 models can finally power two external displays with the laptop closed. M1 and M2 Airs can only use one, and the flap must be open. (Base model 14-inch MacBook Pro M3 It will be able to power two external displays(Also after a software update – no news on the M1 and M2 Airs, though.)

See also  Action Clicks: This BlackBerry-like iPhone case could be a winner

Apple says the midnight color should be less susceptible to fingerprints. So far, that doesn't seem to be the case.
Photography by Joanna Nelius/The Verge

The same is true for the 15-inch MacBook Air, although the six-speaker sound system is noticeably better than the 13-inch speaker system. I've thrown in some of my favorite songs that play hard on the low bass (i.e CombiCrest fans here?), and the 15-incher produced noticeably more booming bass lines than the 13-incher, which had a base as large as an old record player spinning vinyl.

But the speakers on the 14-inch MacBook Pro sound just as good, if not identical, to the 15-inch MacBook Air M3! If you're considering the 14-inch MacBook Pro M3, the latest MacBook Airs clutter up Apple's lineup even more, leaving fewer reasons to choose the Pro model unless you want something with a fancier screen or a few more ports.

Also, the Pro and Air models are so close in weight and size that I'm not sure what a MacBook Air even means in an age when every laptop company has thin and light laptops. The gold standard for thickness and weight has shrunk every year since Apple released the first MacBook Air in 2008. Hell, the MacBook Pro 14 M3 is even thinner than the original Air!

Now that its wedge design is officially gone, what makes an Air an Air when it looks like a Pro? Although I'm a Windows user, I've had a few MacBooks for work over the years. The one I have now is a MacBook Air M1, and at least I can put it next to a MacBook Pro, point at it, and say, “That's a MacBook Air,” because the wedge design was and continues to be iconic.

See also  Linux developers discover that Intel Arc GPU firmware updates need an Intel CPU

I'm not done testing the new MacBook Air M3s and I'm not done philosophizing about the Air's identity crisis. I'm also not done looking into performance and all the other things you can do with these laptops. Stay tuned.