Monday, March 4, 2024

MacBook Air 2024

Apple (MacRumors, Hacker News):

With M3, MacBook Air is up to 60 percent faster than the model with the M1 chip and up to 13x faster than the fastest Intel-based MacBook Air. And with a faster and more efficient Neural Engine in M3, MacBook Air continues to be the world’s best consumer laptop for AI. The 13- and 15-inch MacBook Air both feature a strikingly thin and light design, up to 18 hours of battery life, a stunning Liquid Retina display, and new capabilities, including support for up to two external displays and up to 2x faster Wi-Fi than the previous generation. With its durable aluminum unibody enclosure that’s built to last, the new MacBook Air is available in four gorgeous colors: midnight, which features a breakthrough anodization seal to reduce fingerprints; starlight; space gray; and silver.


MacBook Air with M3 now supports up to two external displays when the laptop lid is closed — perfect for business users, or anyone who requires multiple displays for multitasking across apps or spreading out documents at the same time.


The 13-inch MacBook Air with M3 starts at $1,099 (U.S.) and $999 (U.S.) for education, and the 15‑inch MacBook Air with M3 starts at $1,299 (U.S.) and $1,199 (U.S.) for education.


The 13-inch MacBook Air with M2, available in midnight, starlight, silver, and space gray, now starts at $999 (U.S.) and $899 (U.S.) for education.

Dan Moren:

The new 13-inch model comes in three basic configurations: all three feature an 8-core CPU with 4 performance cores and 4 efficiency cores. While the $1099 base configuration includes an 8-core GPU and 256GB of storage, the $1299 and $1499 versions include a 10-core graphics processor and a 512GB SSD—you can get up to 2TB of storage on any model. Just to mix it up a bit, the two lower configurations start with 8GB of memory, compared to the highest model’s 16GB—all are configurable with up to 24GB of memory at max.

Benjamin Mayo (tweet):

The headline feature of being able to connect two displays at once does come with a slight gotcha … it only works when the laptop lid is closed. That means you can now have a MacBook Air desk setup with two external displays, but the laptop must stay in clamshell mode. If the lid is open, the Air screen is on and you can only have one active external display, just like the previous M1 and M2 models.

This is an improvement for the Apple Silicon era of MacBook Air, but still trails what used to be possible on the Intel Airs.

Adam Engst:

It wouldn’t have been surprising if Apple had introduced M3-powered versions of the Mac mini alongside these MacBook Air updates, but new Mac minis can’t be far behind. The Mac Studio and Mac Pro will undoubtedly join the M3 party later this year once Apple completes the M3 Ultra chip.


Speaking as someone who is still pondering the best Apple silicon replacement for a 27-inch iMac with 5K display and a secondary 27-inch Thunderbolt Display, this improvement extends the choices for a base-level Mac with two matched displays. Previously, I was weighing the differences between a Mac mini and an M3 Pro 14-inch MacBook Pro, both outfitted with a pair of Studio Displays. Now the M3 MacBook Air becomes portable competition for the Mac mini in that comparison. The M3 Pro 14-inch MacBook Pro offers more performance, a third screen, and a built-in keyboard and trackpad, but it costs a lot more and would require me to modify my standing desk to hold it.


Don’t misunderstand—there’s nothing wrong with Wi-Fi 6E, whose support for the 6 GHz band can be welcome if you’re in an area where the 5 GHz band is too crowded. But you need Wi-Fi 6E-capable gear to take advantage of it, and unless you have to replace an old router right away, it might be better to wait for prices to fall for Wi-Fi 7 gear, which was ratified recently. Plus, faster Wi-Fi won’t improve the Internet experience for most people, given that the bottleneck is usually the Internet connection, not the local Wi-Fi network.

John Gruber:

Apple’s Newsroom post announcing the speed-bumped M3 MacBook Airs has an entire section about “AI”[…]

Steve Troughton-Smith:

In other Apple news, it seems like they’re actively adopting the term ‘AI’ this year, having ignored it previously. The seal now broken, I imagine ‘AI’ will be used heavily in iOS 18’s marketing.

Stephen Hackett:

It sounds like the fingerprint-happy Midnight finish is now getting the same coating the Space Black MacBook Pro gets to help reduce smudges.


Wi-Fi 6E support is sweet.

Joe Rossignol:

Apple today discontinued the MacBook Air with the M1 chip, which launched in November 2020 as one of the first Apple silicon Macs.

Mr. Macintosh:

Farewell MacBook Air wedge design👋

2008-2024 🪦💐


Update (2024-03-05): Jack Brewster:

The 14" M3 MacBook Pro, configured with the same RAM and SSD as the 15" M3 MacBook Air, is only $100 more. 🤔

13" MBA is a bigger difference at $300.

Update (2024-03-06): Benjamin Mayo:

The “Compare MacBook Air with M3 to your current MacBook Air” tool conveniently forgets the M2 Air existed.

I don’t mind that the press releases focus on comparisons to Intel models or whatever, but I wish they’d at least publish the last-generation-ago compare on the site somewhere.

Update (2024-03-07): Collin Donnell:

Apple needs to stop selling Macintosh computers with 8GB of ram. It’s a stingy amount for even relatively light use. Run a few Electron apps for work (which everyone does) and you’re already bumping up against it. Ridiculous.

Apple products are supposed to be a premium experience. There is nothing premium about paying $1100 for a machine with a 256GB SSD and 8GB of ram. That was a stingy amount like eight years ago. Today it just feels gross.


Tech reviewers need to start demanding 8GB/256GB review units from Apple, along with the 16/512 units Apple sends out, to compare performance, or refuse to do the reviews.

Doing ‘rave’ reviews on Apple’s most expensive units destroys credibility, as most buyers don’t benefit.

Jason Snell:

My reaction is pretty much the same as the one I had to the MacBook Pro: Apple hasn’t “cured” fingerprints. It is absolutely possible to put fingerprints all over the midnight MacBook Air. I managed to cover it in streaks in a couple of minutes. It might be a little more resistant than the old model, and it might be easier to wipe the surface clean, but after a day’s use, the M2 and M3 midnight Airs in my house looked more or less the same.

It’s worth noting that the MacBook Air’s 1080p FaceTime camera is passable but not amazing—I wish Apple would tuck a nicer camera up there.


On my home Internet connection, I was able to get 931 Mbps down and 813 MBps up via Wi-Fi, which is more or less the same speed as my wired connection to my router. In the same spot, my M2 Air could only manage 618 up and 700 down. I wouldn’t buy a new laptop just to have faster Wi-Fi—and keep in mind that you need to upgrade your router and possibly your home internet to take advantage of these speeds—but that’s the fastest Wi-Fi connection I’ve ever experienced.

Update (2024-03-11): Tyler Stalman:

I have a theory that 90% of people who by the base MacBook Air are totally happy with 8GB of ram

But 100% of the people who watch YouTube videos about MacBooks hate it

Sam Rowlands:

I have to disagree… Seen too many people I know get really disappointed with new MacBooks. “My old Mac only had 4GB and could do these things without the spinning pizza and memory popups”. What makes ’em ANGRY is having to buy a New Mac to add RAM.

The last one I dealt with only used Safari, Mail, Pages and Keynote. Which worked all fine with a 4GB MacBook.

What people don’t understand is many old Macs had dedicated GPUs, now they lose 1~2 GB of RAM for the GPU. macOS needs more RAM, apps need more RAM…

Snazzy Labs:

The real problem is the ludicrous price to upgrade away from that 8GB.

Tim Hardwick:

The debate over whether 8GB of RAM is sufficient for a Mac has long been a topic of contention. The controversy goes back to at least 2012, when Apple launched the first MacBook Pro with Retina display, which started with 8GB of RAM.


While the overall result of this integrated SoC architecture is better performance and efficiency, the downside is that Apple's unified memory is fixed at the point of purchase and cannot be upgraded at a later date.

Opting for more unified memory is not cheap either. For instance, going from the base 8GB of unified memory to 16GB or 24GB costs an extra $200 and $400, respectively. Therefore, it's important when buying a new Mac that you choose the right amount for your individual needs.

Update (2024-03-20): Omar Sohail:

One major advantage for productivity buffs wanting the 13-inch or 15-inch M3 MacBook Air as their daily driver was that they could attach two external monitors instead of one, but that is only possible when any one of these models was being used in clamshell mode, or in other words, with the lid closed. However, a recent stress test shows that you can lose nearly half of the portable Mac’s original performance in this mode, which will make everyone wonder if the trade-off is worth the extra monitor support.

3 Comments RSS · Twitter · Mastodon

[…] and up to 13x faster than the fastest Intel-based MacBook Air […]

When you look for the footnote for this claim, you are requested to check another page

Which then redirects you to another footnote, which just states:

"Results are compared to previous-generation 1.2GHz quad-core Intel Core i7-based MacBook Air systems with Intel Iris Plus Graphics, 16GB of RAM, and 2TB SSD."

So, absolutely no details about the case(s) where this 13x performance improvement is supposed to happen.

[…] MacBook Air continues to be the world’s best consumer laptop for AI.[…]

AI with 8GB of RAM? AI® != Air.

Waiting to see more details about what currently looks like to be some marketing bullshit.

"The 14" M3 MacBook Pro, configured with the same RAM and SSD as the 15" M3 MacBook Air, is only $100 more. 🤔"

One gets you a thinner (the MBA closed is the thickness of the MPB body w/o screen), lighter, silent (fanless) computer. The other gives you a nicer screen, an HDMI port and a fan for longer-running process performance. It's good to be able to choose what you want not just based on price.

Having just moved to the MBP more or less precisely for the third port, I do agree, but the ramp ends are still too close for comfort; it's just like how the Mac Mini ramps off onto the base Studio. Form factors do matter but I think there's too much hidden in the cost of the Pro, like the recently-discussed multi-display restrictions, and, I believe not unrelated/coincidental, the fact that the MBP appears to support multiple bus-powered Thunderbolt devices, where the Air does (did?) not.

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