Is it worth upgrading from an M2 or M1 mannequin?

Mike Powers

With the launch of the M3 MacBook Air just around the corner, you might be trying to decide if it’s worth upgrading from an M2 model or if you should keep your current laptop. Here’s what we know about the M3 MacBook Air, its new features, and so much more to hopefully help you decide if the upgrade would be the right move for you.

M3 MacBook Air exclusive features

Is it worth upgrading from an M2 or M1 mannequin?Image source: Apple Inc.

Every Mac generation introduces exclusive features. The previous generation focused on a new industrial design similar to the MacBook Pro, and the M3 follows the same trend. Still, a few exclusive features could make the M3 MacBook Air worth the upgrade:

  • New processor: The M3 processor 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.
  • Hardware-accelerated ray tracing: Like the M3 MacBook Pro and the iPhone 15 Pro, Apple is adding hardware-accelerated ray tracing, which is great for gaming and 3D modeling.
  • Reduced fingerprints: The popular midnight color of the 15-inch M2 MacBook Air is back for the M3 models, this time with a new anodization seal to reduce fingerprints.
  • Support for two external displays: While older base model Apple Silicon Macs didn’t support more than one external display, Apple says the M3 MacBook Air works with up to two external monitors as long as the MacBook lid is closed.
  • Improved audio experience: Voice Isolation and Wide Spectrum microphone modes bring enhanced voice clarity in audio and video calls.
  • Wi-Fi 6E: Apple upgraded the Wi-Fi technology in the M3 MacBook Air.

Are these features enough to shell out over $1,000 for a new laptop? If you’re coming from a model with an M1 chip or older, they just might be.

How does the M3 chip compare to previous chips?

M3 MacBook AirImage source: Apple Inc.

Apple highlighted the performance of the new M3 MacBook Air on Monday:

  • Game titles like No Man’s Sky run up to 60 percent faster than they did on the 13-inch MacBook Air with the M1 chip.
  • Enhancing an image with AI using Photomator’s Super Resolution feature is up to 40 percent faster than the 13-inch model with the M1 chip, and up to 15 percent faster for customers who haven’t upgraded to a Mac with Apple silicon.
  • Working in Excel spreadsheets is up to 35 percent faster than on the 13-inch model with the M1 chip, and up to 3x faster for users coming from an Intel Mac.
  • Video editing in Final Cut Pro is up to 60 percent faster than on the 13-inch model with the M1 chip, and up to 13x faster for users coming from an Intel Mac.
  • Compared to a PC laptop with an Intel Core i7 processor, MacBook Air delivers up to 2x faster performance, up to 50 percent faster web browsing, and up to 40 percent longer battery life.

What remains the same?

Whether you’re looking at an M3 MacBook Air or an M2 model, there are plenty of similarities as well, such as the memory, storage, display, size, weight, and camera:

  • Memory: Up to 24GB of RAM
  • Storage: Up to 2TB of SSD
  • Display: Liquid Retina display with 500 nits of brightness
  • Size and weight: The dimensions and weight are the same
  • Camera: 1080p FaceTime HD camera

Price and release date

MacBook Air 15-Inch SideImage source: Christian de Looper for BGR

The new 13-inch M3 MacBook Air starts at $1,099 with an 8-core CPU, 8-core GPU, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of storage. Meanwhile, the M2 MacBook Air starts at $100 less. The M3 MacBook Pro goes on sale on March 8. Preorders have already begun.

Should you wait for a new model?

While the M3 MacBook Air might not be worth it for everyone, it’s unclear when this model will get its next spec bump. Rumors say Apple will add an OLED display to the MacBook Air by 2026. With that in mind, you probably shouldn’t upgrade to the M3 model if you’re happy with your current Apple Silicon Mac, as a bigger upgrade is in the works.

Additionally, every Apple Silicon Mac gets all of the latest software updates, so users don’t have to worry about missing out on any new features or fixes.

Who should buy the M3 MacBook Air?

Image source: Apple Inc.

Is the M3 MacBook Air worth it for you? It depends, of course. This entry-level MacBook is great for college students, social media managers, office workers, and everyone else who is not planning to do heavy editing or heavy coding with it.

The new MacBook Air would last you quite a while with at least 16GB of RAM and 512GB of SSD, so that’s my recommendation. If you’re coming from an M1 MacBook Air, I think the new design is worth it as well, especially if you enjoy bigger displays, better cameras, and louder speakers, although the M1 model is still far from being outdated in 2024.

For those still rocking Intel Macs, it’s time to upgrade.

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