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Apple refreshes MacBook Air with M3 and dual external display support, but there's a catch

You can use two external displays only with your laptop lid closed as the MacBook Air still restricts to two displays at max.
By

Published onMarch 4, 2024

apple macbook air 15 inch lid
TL;DR
  • Apple has refreshed the 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Air with the newer M3 processor, improving performance slightly over the M2 processor.
  • The new M3 MacBook Air models support dual external displays but are restricted to two at maximum, so you must dock your laptop with the lid closed.
  • The 13-inch MacBook Air M3 starts at $1,099, while the 15-inch MacBook Air M3 starts at $1,299. Pre-orders are live, and deliveries begin on Friday, March 8, 2024.

Apple’s MacBooks are one of the most powerful laptops you can get. When treated right, these MacBooks can also potentially last for a long time, so it’s no surprise that their popularity has exploded in recent years. If you were looking for a laptop upgrade, Apple has announced a spec refresh to its MacBook Air lineup, bumping it up to the newer M3 processor and adding in features like dual external display support, but with a catch.

The new 13-inch MacBook Air and 15-inch MacBook Air are similar to their predecessors in all respects, except the processor. Apple has bumped up these thin and light laptops to the newer Apple M3 silicon. The new M3 processor is better than the M2 processor, but Apple chooses to compare it against the M1 processor and the discontinued Intel processors on MacBooks, indicating that the spec upgrade from M2 to M3 isn’t that big.

Apple MacBook Air with M3

The Apple M3 chip is a 3nm chip featuring an eight-core CPU, up to ten-core GPU, and support for up to 24GB of RAM, depending on your chosen configuration. It also includes a new 16-core Neural Engine for on-device machine learning and AI applications. Apple promises 18 hours of battery life, and real-life experiences with Macs come close to this claim better than Windows laptops can manage. The M3 chip also comes with Wi-Fi 6E support.

Beyond the M3 chip, Apple is touting that the new MacBook Air with M3 now supports up to two external displays. But the catch here is that the laptop lid needs to be closed. Previous Apple silicon MacBooks only supported one external display, but they did it alongside the laptop display, giving you two displays to work with.

Apple MacBook Air with M3 1

The new M3 MacBook Air isn’t all that different unless you primarily use your laptop in a docked state with two external displays.

Apple MacBook Air with M3: Pricing and availability

The 13-inch MacBook Air with M3 (2024) starts at $1,099 for 8GB RAM, 256GB storage with an eight-core CPU and GPU; going up to $2,299 for 24GB RAM, 2TB storage with eight-core CPU and ten-core GPU.

The 15-inch MacBook Air with M3 (2024) starts at $1,299 for 8GB RAM, 256GB storage with an eight-core CPU and ten-core GPU; going up to $2,499 for 24GB RAM, 2TB storage with eight-core CPU and ten-core GPU.

Both are available in midnight, starlight, silver, and space gray colors. You can order the new MacBook Air with M3 today from Apple.com, with deliveries beginning March 8, 2024.

13-inch MacBook Air with M2 (2023) continues to be part of the lineup

Apple will continue to sell the 13-inch MacBook Air with M2 (2023) for $999 (8GB/256GB with eight-core CPU and GPU). If you don’t need two external displays, the M2 MacBook Air will be a better choice unless your processing needs are higher.

Apple MacBook Air (2023)Apple MacBook Air (2023)
Apple MacBook Air (2023)
Thin design • Great battery life
MSRP: $1,299.00
High-resolution, high-power MacBook
The 2023 iteration of the Apple MacBook Air offers a high-resolution display, M2 power, up to 24GB of RAM, and 2TB of Storage. The thin design and light weight make it a compelling laptop.

The M1 models of MacBook Air have been discontinued with today’s refresh to M3.

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