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Which is best: 13 inch M2 Air vs M3 Air

A new generation of MacBook Air and an old generation are both a part of the current range, so which is the better deal?

Buying a Mac has never been “cheap”, but Apple has gradually been making the entry into the world of Macs more and more affordable. Kinda sorta.

We saw a great example of that when the 13 inch M2 MacBook Air was introduced, and Apple kept the excellent M1 MacBook Air around for folks who didn’t necessarily need the best of the best, but still wanted something amazing.

This year, Apple is doing it again with the release of the M3 MacBook Air, because it’s keeping the slightly older model in the range just like it did with the M1. That’s a surprise simply because of how good the 13 inch M2 Air is, and it makes the choice between the models a little more complex.

Specifically, if you’re keen on the 13 inch Air, do you choose the slightly older M2 MacBook Air, or go for the newer M3 variety? We’re putting the features head-to-head to see which one will come out on top.


We’ll start with design, as we so often do in our head-to-head battles, and that’s a bit of an issue here, because it’s identical.

The 13 inch M2 Air is a dead ringer for the 13 inch M3 Air because the M2 was the reinvention of the design, and the M3 just continues it. There is no difference, except for maybe a slightly different approach on the anodisation, which affects the paint job for midnight blue.

All in all, though, these two machines are the same in looks and aesthetics.

Winner: Tie


Next up is the screen, which stays the same, too.

We’re talking about the 13 inch MBA, which means it’s a 13.6 inch IPS (In-Plane Switching) screen running 2560×1664, a screen type Apple calls “Liquid Retina” that’s nice enough, even if it lacks the ProMotion tech seen on the more expensive MacBook Pro models.

It also comes with a part of the top cut out for the camera, which may remind you of the notch/shelf on older iPhones, starting with the iPhone X before finishing with the iPhone 14 range. The shelf carves a little spot out of the screen on the MacBook Air, but it’s hardly distracting.

Regardless of the 13 inch MacBook Air you consider today — M2 or M3 — it’s the same screen. Which means this one is another tie.

Winner: Tie

The screen on the 13 inch M2 MacBook Air (above) is identical to the screen on the 13 inch M3 Air.


Unsurprisingly, an identical design means both the M2 Air and M3 Air are as durable as each other.

We wouldn’t go so far as to drop either of them — please protect your laptops for long-term durability! — but they’re both made from aluminium and feel strong.

Winner: Tie


And they both sport the same keyboard and trackpad, which makes them as usable as each other, except in one specific place: dual screen support.

A feature new to the M3, the latest MacBook Air sports the ability to run two screens when the laptop lid is shut, provided you plug both into the Thunderbolt ports on the laptop. On the M2 Air, it’s just one screen, while on the M3 Air, there are two.

It’s a minor change that could make all the difference for some people, and gives this one a slight edge over its sibling.

Winner: M3 MacBook Air

Connection & reliability

Apple’s latest MacBook also has one other point over its older sibling, but it’s so minor, we’re not going to award it the point here.

In the M2 MacBook Air, you’ll find WiFi 6, while the M3 model has WiFi 6E. We tested both, and while WiFi 6E is technically better, it’s not a feature that will make a tremendous amount of difference for everyone. We have a WiFi 6E router for the Pickr Reviews Desk, and the speed difference isn’t dramatic enough for even the sticklers (us).

Winner: Tie

Sound quality

Both 13 inch MacBook Air models also sport the same sound system, with a four-speaker spatial-capable sound system on either model, while the 15 inch MacBook Air gets a six-speaker system.

For the sake of this comparison, we’re looking at the 13 inch MacBook Air variations, which means this one is a clear tie.

Winner: Tie

The four speaker system in the 13 inch Air (top) is different from the six speaker system in the 15 inch Air (bottom), but between the 13 inch MBA models, it’s the same.


And they both come with the same battery, as well, supporting up to 18 hours of usage depending on what you do.

Throughout both of our reviews (and continued use in each following our testing period), we’ve found between 10 and 15 hours was easily possible in each, making them practically identical in this department. That’s another tie.

Winner: Tie


But if you don’t need the slightly faster processor or the dual monitor solution, the M2 MacBook Air gets you pretty much everything else that’s amazing about the M3 Air, but with a less expensive price.

In Australia, the M2 Air starts at $1599 for an 8-core CPU and 8-core GPU with 256GB storage and 8GB RAM, while the M3 equivalent of that is $1799. If you need 512GB storage, a 13 inch M2 MacBook Air with an 8-core CPU, 10-core GPU, 8GB RAM, and 512GB storage will cost $1899, while the M3 Air equivalent in every way will cost $2099.

Simply put, there’s a two hundred dollar difference between the M2 and M3, and that might just be enough for people to consider the lower priced model. That’s $200 you could use for practically anything else. A case, a decent pair of headphones, or really just throwing it back into the bank.

Winner: M2 MacBook Air

What should I choose: M2 Air or M3 Air

At the end of the day, deciding between the M2 MacBook Air and the newer M3 edition will come down to savings and screens.

If you don’t mind saving a couple of hundred dollars, the 13 inch M2 MacBook Air represents a solid bargain. Back when we reviewed it in mid-2022, it was a solid machine with a lot of grunt and processing power, and nothing has changed.

Comparing the 2022 M2 MacBook Air still in market against laptops with 2023 laptops carrying Intel Core i7 and AMD Ryzen 7 chips showed the 2022 Air still had an edge, while the 2024 M3 model pushes on ahead of both.

It’s stunning to know that on benchmarks, the 2022 M2 Air beats some 2023 PCs.

That shows the older laptop still likely has the power to match many of this year’s computers, and still makes a formidable machine today.

Is the M3 Air the better machine? Without a doubt. But if you wanted to save money, the M2 Air still gets you quite a machine, and that could make the case for many out there.

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