MacBook Air M2 vs. M3: Is it worth the extra cost for the new one?

In March 2024, Apple updated its MacBook Air and equipped it with its latest chip. The guide will find out for you whether the extra charge is really worth it compared to the predecessor and what the differences between the two models are.

The MacBook Air is traditionally Apple’s entry-level laptop, although a device costing over 1000 euros can hardly be described as such. Nevertheless, Apple’s Airs offer some of the best value for money, because the truth is that Windows equivalents with similar build quality, performance and display are similarly expensive. In March 2024, Apple was due to update the MacBook Air again and if you want, you can now get the laptop with an M3 chip. Cost on the in-house website for the smallest version: 1299 euros. The predecessor with M2 chip costs 1199 according to the official list price. We’ll find out whether the 100 euro surcharge is worth it.

MacBook Air M2 vs. M3: The design

We don’t want to make it too complicated and start with what both generations have in common, because that’s much more than their differences. Apple didn’t change anything about the design. Both versions are available as 13 and 15 inch versions in the colors “Midnight”, “Polarstern”, “Space Gray” and “Silver”. However, it should be said that Apple slightly modified the production of the material. In the star-When testing the MacBook M3, it was positive that fingerprints were much easier to remove from the laptop. Apart from that, the two generations are similar in appearance.

Display and camera

The displays of both Airs also remain untouched. No matter the size, Apple gives you a so-called Liquid Retina display with a pixel density of 224 pixels per inch and a maximum brightness of 500 nits. Of course, the monitors of both generations also cover the P3 color space. Or to put it more simply: No matter whether on the Air with M2 or M3 chip – You see images and videos in the same quality. Conversely, your colleagues or employees will also see you in the same quality through the integrated webcam, because Apple hasn’t changed anything here either. Both in M2 as well as in the M3, a lens with Full HD resolution (1080p) is used.

RAM and internal storage

When it comes to RAM and internal storage, both models start at 8 gigabytes (GB) of RAM and 256 GB of internal storage. Apple naturally gold-plates its upgrades. For both generations you pay 230 euros for 512 GB, 460 euros for 1 terabyte and 920 euros for 2 terabytes of internal storage. The same applies to RAM: Here the upgrades cost 230 euros for 16 GB or 460 euros for 24 GB. Important: You can manage the internal storage relatively easily using external storage media. The guide for external hard drives for the Mac explains which ones are worth it. However, when it comes to RAM, you might consider upgrading, especially if you’re leaning towards the M2. We explain why in the differences between the two processors.

M2 vs. M3: The differences between the two chips

At first glance, they may seem marginal: Both the M2 and M3 have an 8-core computing unit with four efficiency and four performance cores and a 10-core graphics card. So everything is the same? Not at all, because the chips differ in the way they are manufactured, as Apple is creating its M3 chips for the first time using the 3-nanometer process M2 chips however, still in 5 nanometers. This simply means that the transistors of the M3 are smaller than those of the M2, making it possible to place more transistors in the same area. And that simply means that the M3 chip offers more performance despite the same cores. Overall, this results in an increase in performance of around 20 percent.

It should be said that this is probably irrelevant for most users, because in the real world it simply means that the M2 renders a short video in maybe 20 minutes and the M3 in 16. If you’re just surfing, answering emails and streaming something would like to benefit even less from the additional performance. Even Apple’s almost four-year-old M1 chip still performs impressively here. What still speaks in favor of the M3 are the additional innovations that Apple has given it. On the one hand, that would be the dynamic cache. As a reminder: The processor temporarily stores tasks in the main memory in order to be able to access them quickly.

M3 manages memory better

If many tasks are open at the same time, for example because many tabs in the browser and many programs are open at the same time, the RAM quickly fills up. When it is full, the processor outsources its tasks to the internal memory. This isn’t particularly bad with Apple computers because the internal memory works so quickly that it’s hardly noticeable where the processor places its tasks. However, the dynamic cache ensures that the RAM is only used for programs that you are currently working with.

So it is a real-time memory management that conserves the scarce resource of RAM. This is particularly interesting because you have two options: either upgrade the memory to 16 GB for 230 euros or choose the more resource-efficient processor that offers more performance for an additional 120 euros. So it makes perfect sense here M3 Air to choose. But this is not the only point where the M3 is the better option because it is future-proof.

Ray tracing and AI: Better to use the M3

Because only the M3 chip offers ray tracing acceleration on the hardware side. This is a realistic calculation of light rays. Of course, this is more useful for professionals who work with programs like Blendr that rely on this technology. Normal consumers are more likely to come into contact with ray tracing in video games. However, it should be said here that the money is better invested in a Windows computer with an Nvidia graphics card if you plan to play ray tracing games on it.

Nevertheless, the M3 still offers a plus point over that M2 namely an improved Neural Engine. This is a processor on the chip that is used exclusively for artificial intelligence (AI) calculations. If you now interject that these calculations are done on the server side and not on the devices themselves, that is completely correct. However, Apple is known for its data protection. If you assume that in the future there should be AI software that does its calculations on the devices, that is M3 chip the better choice for you.

Microphone, Wi-Fi, ports and battery

When it comes to the microphone, the MacBook Air M3 offers minor improvements in the form of different microphone modes such as voice isolation. And it offers a newer Wi-Fi standard with Wi-Fi 6E. So it receives a wider range of frequencies, if your router is transmitting at all. Apple hasn’t changed anything about the connections.

Both generations have two Thunderbolt 4 sockets on the side. Next to it is the MagSafe charging port, i.e. the magnetic charging socket that Apple reintroduced in the M2. The battery life of the battery has not changed either. According to Apple, both laptops can last up to 18 hours of video playback.


With a price difference of only 100 euros, it makes little sense compared to the old one M2 to grab. The performance advantages and innovations of the outweigh the M3 too much. Even in the price comparison, the difference is “only” 120 euros between the two laptops. If you treat yourself to a laptop for over 1000 euros, you should definitely invest this 120 euros, because with a useful life of around five years, that amounts to an additional charge of 24 euros per year. And you’ll almost certainly be able to use the M3 for a little longer, considering that even Apple’s M1 chip, three years and a few months into its existence, handles everyday tasks without a murmur.


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