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MacBook Air M3 vs MacBook Air M1: Should you upgrade?

MacBook Air M3 vs MacBook Air M1: Apple has dropped the long-awaited M3 version of the popular MacBook Air series. Is it time to freshen up your hardware?

If you saw the news about Apple dropping the MacBook Air M3, you may be wondering whether it’s time to upgrade from your trusty MacBook Air M1 model from 2020.

The new MacBook Air M3 includes big performance boosts and a newer design, so here’s what you need to know to make a decision about whether it’s time to invest in a brand new MBA for 2024.

New MacBook Air M3 is more expensive

It’ll cost you at least £1,099/$1,099 to grab a new MacBook Air M3 model, whereas the MacBook Air M1 can be snagged for around £300 less than that as retailers look to shift the remaining inventory. The happy middle ground might be the MacBook Air M2, which is £999/$999.

MacBook Air M1 is now at a clearance price

MacBook Air M1 is now at a clearance price

Apple’s MacBook Air M1 (2020) can be nabbed for under £800 with Amazon essentially putting it on clearance.

  • Amazon
  • Was £999
  • £749.97
View Deal

MacBook Air M3 has the M3 chip

Apple’s latest generation of the Apple Silicon M-Series chips, the M3 which is built on a is now available within a MacBook Air, as well as a MacBook Pro.

The 8-core CPU is up to 35% faster than the M1, so you’ll notice a true uptick for productivity tasks, while the 10-core GPU is up to 65% faster than the M1, making it a great upgrade for gaming and working within creative editing apps. Apple says the M3 has offers 60% faster Neural Engine performance than the M1 too, which should see a massive uptick in the efficiency of machine learning tasks.

So, if you’d noticed that M1 MacBook Air beginning to struggle with more basic tasks, an upgrade to the M3 will offer a truly noticeable improvement. The M1, for example, had a transistor count of 16 billion, while the M3 has a 25 billion count. There’s also unified memory of 24BGs vs 16GB on the M1.

A much more modern design

With the MacBook Air M2 generation, Apple overhauled the M1’s dated “wedge”design with one more akin to the MacBook Pro. That has not changed with the M3 MacBook Air. The sleek upgrade offers a fantastic keyboard, large responsive trackpad, and a wider selection of colours. There was also the introduction of the MagSafe port for charging, which is along for the ride with the M3 model too.

The 13.3-inch 2560 x 1600 resolution display is 13.6-inches 2560 x 1664. While the max brightness is up to 500 nits from 400 nits on the M1.

Two size options

If you feel like you’ve outgrown the MacBook Air M1’s 13.3-inch Retina display, then the MacBook Air M3 gives you an opportunity to expand your horizons. It comes in both 13.6-inch and 15.3-inch configurations.

So, even with the smaller 13.6-inch model you’re getting a slight display-size upgrade thanks in part to the thinner bezels than on the M1 model.

Much faster Wi-Fi potential

The MacBook Air M3 has the latest Wi-Fi 6E standard. Provided you have a compatible Wi-Fi 6E router, you’ll be able to benefit from faster performance and less interference on the 6 GHz frequency. The MacBook Air M1 has Wi-Fi 6.

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