Why Apple’s Macbook Air M3 Is the Perfect Everyday Laptop

Why Apple’s Macbook Air M3 Is the Perfect Everyday Laptop

I wish I had known Apple’s M3 MacBook Air was coming. When my 2018 MacBook Air died late last year I chose to upgrade to the M3 MacBook Pro – the top of the line Apple laptop at the time – but having spent time since reviewing the 2024 MacBook Air, I wish I could have put my money elsewhere.

Naturally, there are a few things about the M3 MacBook Air that I wish were different, but for the most part, this is my dream laptop. It fulfils all the duties of an everyday laptop with the added bonus of having a bit of extra punch for those more demanding tasks – and it comes in a streamlined package.

Real Life Reviews: Apple MacBook Air 2024

As always, we’re going to run you through the specs of the laptop before digging into the meat here:

  • Chip: M3 (8-core CPU, 6-core GPU)
  • Storage: 512GB
  • Memory: 16GB
  • Display: 15.3-inch Liquid Retina display 
  • Camera: 1080p HD Facetime Camera
  • Ports: 1x Magsafe Charging, 2x ThunderBolt (USB-C), headphone jack

See a full list of specs on Apple’s website.

What’s good?

macbook air m3 review
M3 MacBook Air review. Image: Lifehacker Australia

As I teased above, the M3 MacBook Air really fulfils every function I could want from a laptop. It is lightning-fast, smooth to use and has incredible battery life.

Much of this comes from Apple’s M3 chip, which it claims is 13 times faster than an Intel chip-based MacBook Air. Speaking as someone who upgraded from said Intel MacBook, I can agree. Admittedly, my last laptop was pushing five years old, and there’s really no way to know now what the performance of this new MacBook Air will be like years down the line, but the signs from Apple’s silicon chips are all very promising. Note that the M3 chip is just the basic version of the chip and isn’t the M3 Max or M3 Pro that the MacBook Pro can leverage, but if you’re looking at a MacBook Air, chances are you don’t need chips that powerful anyway.

The MacBook Air has always been a laptop aimed at everyday users. People who need a solid performer for less intensive tasks like browsing the internet, editing documents or images, making video calls and watching content. The MacBook Air does all this in the sleekest fashion with the added benefit of the M3 chip that opens up access to things like playing games, editing videos and running AI models.

Full disclosure: I do not have many intensive tasks for the MacBook Air. I don’t need a laptop for things like rendering models or editing artwork, but I did put it through its paces on the basic tasks, whether that be opening thirty tabs at once, editing some interview footage in iMovie or playing Apple Arcade. The M3 MacBook Air never missed a beat. I also liked knowing that, with this laptop, I have the option of downloading some more intensive games to play on Steam or editing large files in Photoshop. These are things that have previously not always been possible on the Air range and it’s quite reassuring to see that Apple is bolstering the tech in its lighter range of laptops.

macbook air m3 review
M3 MacBook Air review. Image: Lifehacker Australia

Speaking of light, that is easily my favourite thing about the MacBook Air. Even with a 15-inch size, the MacBook Air still weighs less than my 13-inch MacBook Pro at 1.51kg and is significantly thinner with a height of just 1.15 cm when closed. It’s far more practical for travel or for extended use on your lap.

The design of the new MacBook Air is not much different from previous iterations. It comes with a satisfying Magic Keyboard, a lengthy battery life (I could go for almost two full work days without needing to charge) and a killer Liquid Retina Display that is absolutely gorgeous to watch videos on, all of which is housed in a sleek aluminium finish.

What’s not so good?

macbook air m3 review
Image: Lifehacker Australia

While I’ve been singing the praises of the new MacBook Air, there are a few things I would change if I could.

The lack of ports is one of them. The MacBook Air has a stark lack of inputs, coming with only two Thunderbolt (USB-C) ports, a headphone jack and a MagSafe port. Apple’s return to MagSafe charging is one of the most frustrating parts of its recent few generations of laptops. After switching solely to USB-C charging, the tech giant has decided to return to the odd-shaped MagSafe charging of old, which it now includes as the charger in the box. This is happening despite Apple finally switching to USB-C charging on its iPhone range. While yes, you can still charge your MacBook Air with a USB-C cable, it means you’ll be taking up one of your valued Thunderbolt ports with a charger, and it’s just one extra charging cable you have to lug around and find a powerpoint for. I’d much rather if Apple included a HDMI port or additional USB-C port instead of MagSafe, but here we are.

Apple is also touting the power of the M3 MacBook Air as being able to support two external displays. However, what you may miss in the fine print is that the laptop can only do this while closed, eliminating a potential third display. It’s not a huge deal, but something to be aware of if you were hoping to have a trio of displays.

My only other nitpick with the new MacBook Air is that it’s getting harder and harder to tell what the difference is between generations. There are certain speed and efficiency boosts that come with the M3 chip versus the previous M2 chip, yes, but at an everyday consumer level you likely won’t notice the difference.

There’s also the price to factor in, and with the 13-inch starting at $1,799 and the 15-inch at $2,199, the new Air range isn’t cheap, which is a shame for a laptop that is aimed at the everyday user. However, it does provide a cheaper option for those who don’t need all the bells and whistles of a MacBook Pro.

M3 MacBook Air review: The verdict

macbook air m3 review
Image: Lifehacker Australia

The M3 MacBook Air covers all the bases for what the average consumer could want in a laptop, with a few added powerhouse benefits from the M3 chip. There are some small gripes to be had, but to see the MacBook Air range bolstered with the same chip as the MacBook Pros is impressive. It provides excellent power in a small and (somewhat) more affordable package.

As I said at the top, I find my current M2 MacBook Pro far too overpowered for my needs, and I believe the M3 MacBook Air would have been a much better choice for someone like me who just wants a solid laptop for everyday personal use. Now that the M3 MacBook Air is widely available, you can avoid making my mistake.

You can read more about the new MacBook Air range and purchase from Apple’s website.

Image: Lifehacker Australia

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