The super fast M3 MacBook Air is here

  • Apple is launching new MacBook Air laptops, now including its latest silicon – the M3 chip.
  • The company says this chip improves performance of the devices, making them 60 percent faster than MacBook Air machines with the base M1 chip.
  • The laptops will launch across nearly 30 countries worldwide on 8th March 2024.

The latest Apple device to get the “super fast” treatment thanks to the new M3 chip is the MacBook Air. On Monday, the Cupertino tech giant revealed its new M3 MacBook Air laptops, featuring much faster performance, portable design, and what Apple describes as “power-efficient performance” and “all day battery life.”

According to an announcement from Apple, the company claims the new M3 MacBook Air is up to 60 percent faster than the same device with the M1 chip, and 13 times faster than the fastest MacBook Air with an Intel chip.

The “Air” in MacBook Air is still present, as the devices can be purchased in 13″ and 15″ configurations, both with aluminium chassis.

In terms of hardware in the new Apple laptops, the company has indicated that they ship with Liquid Retina displays, as well as new capabilities in that they now support two external displays and faster WiFi connectivity.

The laptops come in configurations with either an 8-core CPU up to a 10-core GPU, where more cores mean better performance. Apple says the devices come with 24GB of “Unified memory” which is the company’s branded version of RAM.

Apple claims that the devices have an 18-hour battery life.

In terms of what this hardware can do, Apple indicates that “MacBook Air supports hardware-accelerated mesh shading and ray tracing, offering more accurate lighting, reflections, and shadows for extremely realistic gaming experiences. It also includes the latest media engine with support for AV1 decode, providing more efficient and higher-quality video experiences from streaming services.”

M3 MacBook Air – Performance and Productivity

For example, the company says that game titles like No Man’s Sky run up to 60 percent faster than the 13-inch MacBook Air with the M1 chip. No Man’s Sky is not a performance-intensive game by any stretch, it would have been better if Apple suggested a more hardware-consuming title, like Lies of P, for example.

In terms of productivity, working in Excel spreadsheets is “up to 35 percent faster than the 13-inch model with the M1 chip, and up to 3x faster for customers who haven’t upgraded to a Mac with Apple silicon” while video editing in Final Cut Pro is “60 percent faster than the 13-inch model with the M1 chip.”

AI “enhancements”

Of course, with the rest of the world, Apple is including AI capabilities – or rather, is promoting these capabilities. The M3 chip includes a “more efficient” 16-core Neural Engine. This ensures that the laptop “delivers intelligent features that enhance productivity and creativity, so users can enable powerful camera features, real-time speech to text, translation, text predictions, visual understanding, accessibility features, and much more.”

“Combined with the unified memory architecture of Apple silicon, MacBook Air can also run optimized AI models, including large language models (LLMs) and diffusion models for image generation locally with great performance,” Apple adds, trying to position the device as a rival against laptops with similar AI capabilities from the likes of ASUS and Acer.

Pricing and availability

The new M3 MacBook Air is available in four colours: midnight, starlight, space gray and silver. The laptops will be available in 28 countries around the globe from 8th March 2024. There is no word currently that South Africa is included in that initial launch map.

The 15″ version retails for around $24 700 ($1 299), and the 13″ version for ~R20 923 ($1 099). There are also cheaper “education” versions being sold by Apple, which feature fewer capabilities and less advanced hardware.

It is likely that the devices will soon be available locally, as Apple has ported over M3 devices in the past, especially with MacBook Pro machines. The usual situation will see local iStores, licensed resellers of Apple products, have the new M3 MacBook Air in store a few weeks after the 8th March worldwide launch date.

Hypertext will indicate to our readers when the new laptops hit South Africa, as well as with local pricing.


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