MacBook Air Buyer’s Guide: Comparing the Generations

Apple’s MacBook Air has undergone some major changes in recent years, including the switch to Apple silicon, a complete redesign, and the introduction of a 15-inch model, making it all the more important to consider if now is a good time to upgrade or if an older model will suffice for your needs.

Following its latest refresh, Apple discontinued the M1 13-inch ‌MacBook Air‌ from 2020 and the M2 15-inch ‌MacBook Air‌ from 2023. Now, customers can choose between the ‌M2‌ 13-inch ‌MacBook Air‌ from 2022 for $999, and the M3 13- and 15-inch MacBook Airs that were just introduced for $1,099 and $1,299, respectively.

See the breakdown below for each new feature, change, and improvement that was added with each ‌MacBook Air‌ model since 2018 compared to its direct predecessor:

MacBook Air (M3, 2024)

M3 Chip

15% faster Neural Engine

Support for AV1 decode

New GPU architecture

Dynamic Caching

Hardware-accelerated ray tracing

Hardware-accelerated mesh shading

Support for up to two external displays when the lid is closed

Voice Isolation and Wide Spectrum microphone modes

Enhanced voice clarity in audio and video calls

Wi-Fi 6E

Anodization seal to reduce fingerprints with Midnight finish

MacBook Air (M2, 2022/2023)

Thinner design with flat lid, rounded bottom edges, and uniform thickness

13.6- or 15.3-inch Liquid Retina display

Apple ‌M2‌ chip

Up to 10-core GPU

Hardware-accelerated H.264, HEVC, ProRes and ProRes RAW

ProRes encode and decode engine

Up to 24GB unified memory

100GB/s memory bandwidth

500 nits brightness

1080p FaceTime HD camera

Four-speaker sound system or six-speaker sound system with force-cancelling woofers

3.5mm headphone jack with support for high-impedance headphones

Bluetooth 5.3

MagSafe 3

Fast-charge capable with available 70W USB‑C Power Adapter

Available in Silver, Space Gray, Starlight, and Midnight

1.24 kg (2.7 pounds) or 1.51 kg (3.3 pounds)

MacBook Air (M1, 2020)

Apple ‌M1‌ chip

8-core CPU

Up to 8-core GPU

Media engine

Hardware-accelerated H.264 and HEVC

Video decode engine

Video encode engine

16-core Neural Engine

Up to 16GB unified memory

62.5GB/s memory bandwidth

Wide colour (P3)

Image signal processor with computational video

Up to 18-hour battery life

MacBook Air (Intel, 2020)

Up to Intel Core i7 processor

Intel Iris Plus Graphics GPU

Up to 2TB storage

Magic Keyboard

Bluetooth 5.0

1.29 kg (2.8 pounds)

MacBook Air (Intel, 2018)

Tapered “wedge” design

13.3-inch Retina display

Up to Intel Core i5 processor

Up to 4-core CPU

Intel UHD Graphics 617

Up to 16GB memory

Up to 1.5TB storage

Butterfly Keyboard

400 nits brightness

Full standard colour (sRGB)

720p ‌FaceTime‌ HD camera

Stereo speakers

3.5mm headphone jack

Wi‑Fi 6

Bluetooth 4.2

Up to 12-hour battery life

Available in Silver, Space Gray, and Gold

1.25 kg (2.75 pounds)

‌M2‌ ‌MacBook Air‌ users have very little reason to upgrade to an M3 model unless they need absolute peak performance and don’t want to buy a MacBook Pro, or perhaps if they purchased the 13-inch machine in 2022 and are now interested in the 15-inch M3 model.

Most ‌M1‌ ‌MacBook Air‌ users will stand to benefit from upgrading to the M3 model, especially if they are looking for a bigger screen and opt for the 15-inch model. These users would gain a much more modern design, a larger and brighter display, better performance, faster memory, a 1080p camera, improved speakers, ‌MagSafe‌ 3, fast-charging, and more. Nevertheless, some ‌M1‌ ‌MacBook Air‌ users may be better off waiting for the next major refresh if they are still happy with the machine, and upgrading is not essential.

13-Inch vs. 15-Inch M2 MacBook Air Buyer’s Guide

For those who have an Intel-based ‌MacBook Air‌, either of the generations currently on sale represent a highly worthwhile upgrade spearheaded by Apple silicon for a major performance improvement and upgrading is recommended, with many of the above upgrades quickly stacking up.

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