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    HomeTechnologiesThe MacBook Air M3 is a sexy beast

    The MacBook Air M3 is a sexy beast

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    Apple upgrades the MacBook Air with the M3 chip. This means that it is not as powerful as the manufacturer's current Pro models, but for a slim laptop without a fan it offers unrivaled performance and great endurance. However, the price is high and the features are poor.

    According to Apple, the MacBook Air is “the most popular laptop in the world.” At least in the upper class, this also seems to apply in Germany, as the Amazon charts show. The current bestseller there is a 300-euro device from Lenovo, but MacBook Air models take second and fourth place, and in the upper class they are the lonely leader. Reason enough for ntv.de to take a closer look at the latest update with the M3 chip.

    The test device is the top version, which costs around 2060 euros and has a 15-inch display, 16 gigabytes (GB) of RAM and 512 GB of SSD storage. The cheapest model for around 1300 euros has a 13-inch screen and is equipped with 8 and 256 GB. In terms of performance, there are basically no differences, but the graphics processor (GPU) of the cheapest MacBook Air only has eight cores, while all other models have ten. The main processor (CPU) has eight cores in all variants.

    Unchanged design

    The new MacBook Air also only has two Thunderbolt ports. The new MacBook Air also only has two Thunderbolt ports.

    The new MacBook Air also only has two Thunderbolt ports.

    (Photo: kwe)

    The design has not changed from last year's M2 series. In addition to a headphone jack and a Mag Safe 3 charging port, the MacBook Air M3 only has two Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports that allow data transfers at up to 40 gigabits per second (Gbit/s). The slim design and low weight of the laptop continue to impress. When folded, the 15-inch model is just 1.15 centimeters thick and only weighs around 1.5 kilos.

    The midnight blue version tested by ntv.de is new. This is usually not worth mentioning, but the surface has a special coating that is supposed to make it less susceptible to fingerprints. This is actually the case, but the microfiber cloth still needs to be used regularly.

    The display, the excellent, large trackpad, the comfortable keyboard and the quick and precise fingerprint sensor also remain good. The same applies to the very good speakers and the FaceTime HD camera. The real innovations are under the hood. This is the more current WLAN standard 6E and of course the M3 chip.

    Better WiFi, even more powerful chip

    This gives the MacBook Air another performance boost. The 15-inch MacBook Air from last year achieved around 2,600 points in the Geekbench 6 benchmark test with one computing core, and around 10,000 points with all eight cores. The test device with M3 chip achieved almost 3100 and 12,000 points. The new processor with an improved Neural Engine is also a little more on the ball when it comes to AI applications.

    If you close the device, you can connect two external displays. If you close the device, you can connect two external displays.

    If you close the device, you can connect two external displays.

    (Photo: kwe)

    According to Apple, the difference in performance between the main processor (CPU) and a MacBook Air M2 is up to 20 percent and up to 35 percent compared to an M1 model. The GPU is up to 20 and 65 percent faster, making the new MacBook Air almost a gaming laptop.

    Many games run smoothly even on battery power. For particularly graphically demanding titles you have to turn down the settings a little, but the gaming experience on a new MacBook Air is more than acceptable, especially because the performance remains very consistent – even on battery power. There was no unpleasant development of heat during the test.

    High endurance

    Despite the improved performance, endurance remains as high as ever. In an average everyday life you can expect around nine hours. According to Apple, the new MacBook Air lasts up to 18 hours in video mode, like its predecessor, and 15 hours in wireless surfing.

    The SSD storage does not slow down the fast chip. In the Blackmagic Disk Speed ​​Test test, it achieved write and read rates of around 4100 and 3000 megabits per second (Mbit/s). This time, buyers of a 13-inch model with 256 GB of storage apparently don't have to accept any speed penalties. According to “Techradar”, two modules are also installed in this variant. Last year, a single memory chip in the cheapest model resulted in significantly slower rates.

    Another advantage makes the new MacBook Air even more productive. Previously, you could only operate another external screen with a resolution of up to 6K in addition to the built-in display; with the M3 model you have the option of connecting another panel with up to 5K. However, this only works when the device is closed.

    A class of its own

    All in all, the MacBook Air M3 is an excellent laptop that is unparalleled in the fanless class. Without active cooling, the laptop achieves very high and stable performance and still boasts excellent endurance. All other components are also top, as is the workmanship. Although it is Apple's cheapest notebook, the new MacBook Air is also expensive fun, especially if you want more memory.

    An upgrade is particularly worthwhile for users of older MacBooks whose software support is ending. If you use a newer device, you can wait and see what Apple comes up with in the coming years.

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