The MacBook Air Awaits Its M3 Chip

MacBook Air

A year and a half after the launch of the M2 chip inaugurated by the MacBook Air, Apple presented the M3 chip in October 2023 but it was another model that had the first of it with a new entry-level version of the MacBook Pro 14 inch. Apple has changed its strategy to promote sales of its more high-end models, but an M3 version of the MacBook Air would be in the pipeline for next year according to Mark Gurman, star journalist at Bloomberg whose sources are generally excellent.

We have yet to determine exactly when this update will take place. Still, it could be in spring 2024: it would in any case be strategic for the launch to take place in time for integration into the Back to School offer which takes place every summer from July as students equip themselves for the start of the school year. By using the same chips on different ranges without updating all models simultaneously, Apple can encourage a move upmarket but also cause a postponement of purchases: we now know precisely what to expect with the M3 chip.

Engraved at a fineness of 3 nanometers instead of 5 for the two previous generations, the M3 chip integrates many more transistors. It offers excellent extra raw power as well as a significantly more efficient GPU (hardware-accelerated Ray Tracing, Dynamic Caching, Mesh Shading) accompanied by a more powerful Neural Engine and a new media engine supporting hardware acceleration of the AV1 format. 

The only disappointment is that this finer engraving was entirely offset by the increase in power, which notably involves a higher clock frequency. On the MacBook Pro, the M3 chip did not allow any gain in autonomy, and it does not. We should, therefore, not expect progress on this point for the MacBook Air M3. Regarding storage, there should be no change with a minimum of 256 GB as standard and up to 2 TB as an option—same thing for the RAM with 8 GB of RAM as standard and up to 24 GB optional. 

As for connectivity, the connectors should not move (two Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports and MagSafe 3 charging port), but wireless should evolve with the transition from Wi-Fi 6 to Wi-Fi 6E (802.11 ax). It remains to be seen whether Apple will take the trouble to update other technical characteristics. There is little room for maneuvering: we can, for example, imagine a slightly brighter screen (at 600 nits in SDR instead of 500 as on the MacBook Pro) but no significant change in technology (no Mini-LED, no ProMotion).

The most significant uncertainty concerns how Apple will reorganize its range with the arrival of the M3 chip. Will the 13.3″ MacBook Air disappear, see its price drop, and be updated with the M2 chip? Will the 13.6″ and 15.3″ MacBook Air continue to be offered with an M2 chip at the entry-level, which would open the door to a reduction in the entry ticket? We can get lost in conjectures, but we should, in any case, gain.

If you plan to change computers but your current configuration does not put the knife in your throat, it becomes interesting to wait for the renewal of the MacBook Air range to invest, even if there are still several long months of waiting. The gain in power will only be necessary for some, but the interest lies mainly in durability if you plan to keep your Mac for many years. On the other hand, you will probably not gain any particular new functionality.

Prices

If you do not want to or cannot wait, be aware that you can benefit from significant discounts on current models. The cheapest option is to opt for a model refurbished by Apple on the Refurb Store: you can get the MacBook Air 13.3″ M1 there from €959 ( silver, space gray, gold ) instead of €1,159, or 20% savings.

The MacBook Air 13.6″ M2 with 256 GB is €1,099 ( silver, starlight, space gray, midnight ) instead of €1,299, and the 512 GB model is €1,399 ( silver, starlight, space gray, midnight ) instead of €1,649, or 15% discount.  The MacBook Air 15.3″ M2 is also offered with 256 GB at €1,359 ( silver, starlight, space gray, midnight ) instead of €1,599, and the 512 GB model is €1,549 ( silver, starlight, space gray, midnight ) instead of €1,829. Please note that stocks vary depending on the day.

You can also buy your MacBook Air at a discounted price from official resellers. The MacBook Air M1 can often be obtained for €999 instead of €1,199, or a 17% discount, for example, at Amazon ( silver, space gray, gold ) or Fnac ( silver, space gray, gold )., Darty, Fnac, Boulanger or CDiscount. You can find all the offers in real time on our price comparison.

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