M3 MacBook Air review: The ideal Mac laptop for Intel hold-outs

2»

Comments

  • Reply 21 of 32
    nubusnubus Posts: 450member
    M68000 said:
    Does anybody find the notch in the top of screen annoying?  It just seems wrong to have that and distracting.  Who is approving this kind of thing and do these people actually use these laptops? Lol
    You don't see it. Surely you can switch to dark mode, but there is no need. And consider alternatives like moving the camera down (Dell XPS had a lot of these chin-cams with nose hairs in every call - never again) or making it top bezel heavy. This is a very smart design.
    williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 22 of 32
    I'm still running a 2020 MacBook Pro with 2.0gz i5, 16gb and 512 ssd.  Thinking about upgrading but I'm not sure if I want the 15 Air with 24gb and 1tb ssd or the m3 Pro with only 16gb and 1tb  ssd.
    edited March 14 watto_cobra
  • Reply 23 of 32
    M68000M68000 Posts: 773member
    nubus said:
    M68000 said:
    Does anybody find the notch in the top of screen annoying?  It just seems wrong to have that and distracting.  Who is approving this kind of thing and do these people actually use these laptops? Lol
    You don't see it. Surely you can switch to dark mode, but there is no need. And consider alternatives like moving the camera down (Dell XPS had a lot of these chin-cams with nose hairs in every call - never again) or making it top bezel heavy. This is a very smart design.
    We agree to disagree.  And i’m not interested in comparing windows laptops.  
  • Reply 24 of 32
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 15,376moderator
    M68000 said:
    Does anybody find the notch in the top of screen annoying?  It just seems wrong to have that and distracting.  Who is approving this kind of thing and do these people actually use these laptops? Lol
    After installing the software TopNotch, you never see it:

    https://topnotch.app/



    It would be nice if Apple added a built-in option to use a dark menu in light mode and make it the default option so people have to turn it off to see the notch.
    williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 25 of 32
    I don't regard 'flat and square' as 'modernisation'. It is a hark back to the awful past. Can you imagine how expensive the more ergonomic 'wedge' MBA was to develop and produce? Layer upon layer of custom lithium-ion flat cells to fit the shape. 

    Fan-less changes recording studio architecture. There suddenly is no need for a separate booth for the engineer. The MBA is silent. 

    The M1 MBA, the first Apple Silicon and the last 'wedge' is likely to be a priceless classic. 
    williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 26 of 32
    Rogue01Rogue01 Posts: 164member
    macxpress said:
    timpetus said:
    Notably speedier unless you need to run Windows software that isn't compatible with Windows on ARM, in which case I guess the solution is switching to Windows or buying two laptops? I don't know for sure, but I'd bet that's a large portion of the Mac power users who are still using an Intel Mac. 
    Unless they're using Bootcamp I doubt using Parallels is any faster on an Intel Mac versus an M series Mac. In my testing of Windows 11 in Parallels on an M1 MacBook Pro it was more than adequate. 
    Are you limited to ARM only apps, or can Windows 11 ARM in Parallels on Apple Silicon run x86 apps?  Do you have native hardware support, or is it all emulated without any native drivers?  Windows in Parallels on an Intel Mac is still far better than running emulated on Apple Silicon.
  • Reply 27 of 32
    Rogue01Rogue01 Posts: 164member
    Even Intel Mac users would likely choose the MacBook Pro models.  More performance, more ports, more features, and a much better display compared to the Air.  Best savings are at B&H with the clearance models.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 28 of 32
    CheeseFreezeCheeseFreeze Posts: 1,282member
    dewme said:
    Nice article. I know the article briefly touches on the audio port on 2021 and later Macs supporting high impedance headphones. However, I don't think most users really understand how much better Apple's built-in DAC is on their machines that support high impedance headphones than most PCs on the market. As a brand, Apple has always put a lot of thought and great engineering into the audio subsystems on their devices, from iPhones to Mac Pros. Audio performance is part of Apple's DNA.

    Don't for a minute think that the vintage leaning 3.5 mm audio jack on a Mac is just along for the ride. Unless you've done all of your homework as an audiophile, removed all monetary restraints from your budget, and able to detect audio subtleties and nuances that only "true audiophiles" can mysteriously detect, there's a pretty good chance that Apple's built-in audio subsystem is going to be on-par or better than a lot of external add-on DACs, at least those DACs in the lower to moderate price range, i.e., $100-$300 dollar range, maybe higher.

    The audio upgrade on Apple Silicon Macs is very significant and is yet another thing that older Intel Mac users are missing out on. If you needed (for whatever reason) an external DAC with your old Intel Mac, there's a very good chance that you won't need it at all with an Apple Silicon Mac. 

    I learned about this firsthand. I brought my external (USB) DAC I used on my older Mac over to my Mac Studio so I could use higher impedance headphones. Everything worked great and sounded great. But recently, and after one of Apple's many updates, the Mac Studio no longer worked well with the DAC. Noisy and staticky as hell. I initially thought the DAC was fubar, but I saw other users online reported the same issue. I also confirmed my DAC still worked great on my old Intel iMac. I started Amazoning for a replacement, thinking a newer DAC with different components might be in order. Before I pulled the trigger I tried plugging my high impedance headphones into the lonely little 3.5 mm socket hiding in the rear of my Mac Studio. Wowser, not only did it sound as good or better than how my external DAC sounded, but the range of volume was at least as good and indiscernibly different than what the external DAC (actually a DAC+Amp) delivered, and without having to fiddle with knobs on the DAC. The Mac's built-in volume control works perfectly. This saved me from buying something that would not have improved my listening experience at all, at least for someone lacking audiophile mystical powers of audio perception. 

    Finally, I understand those who are reluctant to leave Intel Macs for virtualization reasons. I too have Windows apps and to a lesser extent Linux apps that require me to keep a PC or virtual PC around. VMWare Fusion has served me impeccably well in this regard. The fact that I can now use VMWare Fusion (Player) for FREE saves me the costs I was previously incurring with upgrades tied to every new release of macOS. It's the deal of the century. When Apple Silicon came around all of that changed. I could no longer run Intel images of Windows or Linux on my Apple Silicon Mac. I could however run Windows 11 Pro ARM on my Apple Silicon Mac using the latest (still free for me) version of  VMWare Fusion and it works extremely well and is very stable.

    But what about my Windows apps that require an Intel processor? While Microsoft provides a runtime environment for x86 apps on Windows ARM, I really need as close to bare metal as I could get. Solution: I bought a mini PC that cost me $250 USD that sits right next to my M2 MacBook Air, with both machines sharing a glorious 4K monitor, Bluetooth keyboard, and Bluetooth mouse. The mini PC is not equipped with the latest and greatest components, and it isn't as well endowed with memory, storage, I/O, and metal chassis parts as my Intel NUC, but it has a fairly recent vintage 7 nm Ryzen 6-core/12 thread CPU, integrated Radeon GPU, HDMI 2.0, DP 1.4, expandable memory and storage, 10 Gbps USB-A and USB-C ports, gigabit networking, Wi-Fi 6, etc., and has about a 3" x 5" footprint. Doesn't make a sound and has been working for months with no hangs, shutdowns, or restarts other than Windows Update. Probably doesn't play the most demanding PC games particularly well, but I don't play games.

    The performance of my mini PC sidekick for my Mac setup completely blows away of my Intel dependent virtual machines that I was running on my Intel Macs. I could even install the free VMWare Workstation Player on it if I wanted to have different Windows or Linux images available on the mini PC. Sure, if I want to take it on the road with my M2 MacBook Air I would need a portable display, keyboard, and mouse as well. You can pick up a usable 15" 4K portable monitor for about $225 USD and I already have the required Bluetooth kb/mouse. As a bonus, a portable monitor would also extend my MacBook Air's visuals to two monitors. At the price point I got the mini PC I knew it wasn't getting the latest & greatest specs to use for more processor intensive tasks. But it's reliable, runs very cool, and if you dig around a bit more you'll find newer mini PCs that have very impressive specs but haven't gotten part their teething problems quite yet. There are also a plethora of cheaporoni mini PCs on the market that have low end Celerons and Atom CPUs or newer Intel CPUs that have no performance cores at all. Sounds a bit nasty, but for some folks it may still be a better platform performance-wise than what they're getting from VMs running on their Intel Macs that they're still reluctant to leave behind.

    Of course you can always keep your old Intel Mac around as a VM host and backup Mac.

    Your mileage and needs may vary, but there are very logical and viable paths to making your move to Apple Silicon sooner and finally getting to enjoy the many benefits that come with such a move. Depending on your needs, a hybrid approach with a mini PC sidekick may actually deliver more utility and better performance than what you are getting with an older Intel Mac laden with VMs.
    Most people who invest in a DAC are musicians and video editors. They buy one because they offer ports otherwise unavailable. 
    I have the DAC connected to balanced studio monitors. I’m not at all interested in connecting a headphone to my MacBook Pro; that port is also available on the DAC and doesn’t need a minijack converter.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 29 of 32
    charlesn said:
    Damn. Can I just say that the writing on AppleInsider has never been better--with this review being yet another recent example of superb focus, evaluations that absolutely nail the essential-to-know information and identify the target buyer with great clarity. I also appreciate the dismantling of nonsense "FAILS" that pass for "information" in the clickbait review world of Apple products. Yes, if you land a job as editor on the upcoming Dune 3, you probably shouldn't buy a Macbook Air as your work laptop. 

    As someone who routinely sells my used Mac equipment privately when it's time for an upgrade, a further word of advice to those with Intel MBAs: better to sell now, while it's still supported and can run the latest MacOS. Makes a difference to potential buyers that it's still "current." The resale price will take a big hit once your MBA gets EOL'd by Apple and is stuck on an old OS. 

    Assuming you gloss over the continued misinformation of the “there’s room in the notch for a FaceID assembly” implication, which you did. 
  • Reply 30 of 32
    Bought an 13” M3 MBA yesterday in midnight colour (16gb/512gb) with AppleCare. Excellent laptop. Ideal combination of size, weight and processing grunt if you don’t need the larger screen. In use it looks/feels premium - probably the closest a consumer MacBook has come to the MBP range. Great that the new ‘midnight’ anodising treatment has resolved the previous models fingerprint issue.
  • Reply 31 of 32
    M68000 said:
    Does anybody find the notch in the top of screen annoying?  It just seems wrong to have that and distracting.  Who is approving this kind of thing and do these people actually use these laptops? Lol
    Don’t actually notice it in use. Not an issue.
  • Reply 32 of 32
    sphericspheric Posts: 2,597member
    dewme said:
    Nice article. I know the article briefly touches on the audio port on 2021 and later Macs supporting high impedance headphones. However, I don't think most users really understand how much better Apple's built-in DAC is on their machines that support high impedance headphones than most PCs on the market. As a brand, Apple has always put a lot of thought and great engineering into the audio subsystems on their devices, from iPhones to Mac Pros. Audio performance is part of Apple's DNA.

    Don't for a minute think that the vintage leaning 3.5 mm audio jack on a Mac is just along for the ride. Unless you've done all of your homework as an audiophile, removed all monetary restraints from your budget, and able to detect audio subtleties and nuances that only "true audiophiles" can mysteriously detect, there's a pretty good chance that Apple's built-in audio subsystem is going to be on-par or better than a lot of external add-on DACs, at least those DACs in the lower to moderate price range, i.e., $100-$300 dollar range, maybe higher.

    The audio upgrade on Apple Silicon Macs is very significant and is yet another thing that older Intel Mac users are missing out on. If you needed (for whatever reason) an external DAC with your old Intel Mac, there's a very good chance that you won't need it at all with an Apple Silicon Mac. 

    I learned about this firsthand. I brought my external (USB) DAC I used on my older Mac over to my Mac Studio so I could use higher impedance headphones. Everything worked great and sounded great. But recently, and after one of Apple's many updates, the Mac Studio no longer worked well with the DAC. Noisy and staticky as hell. I initially thought the DAC was fubar, but I saw other users online reported the same issue. I also confirmed my DAC still worked great on my old Intel iMac. I started Amazoning for a replacement, thinking a newer DAC with different components might be in order. Before I pulled the trigger I tried plugging my high impedance headphones into the lonely little 3.5 mm socket hiding in the rear of my Mac Studio. Wowser, not only did it sound as good or better than how my external DAC sounded, but the range of volume was at least as good and indiscernibly different than what the external DAC (actually a DAC+Amp) delivered, and without having to fiddle with knobs on the DAC. The Mac's built-in volume control works perfectly. This saved me from buying something that would not have improved my listening experience at all, at least for someone lacking audiophile mystical powers of audio perception. 

    Finally, I understand those who are reluctant to leave Intel Macs for virtualization reasons. I too have Windows apps and to a lesser extent Linux apps that require me to keep a PC or virtual PC around. VMWare Fusion has served me impeccably well in this regard. The fact that I can now use VMWare Fusion (Player) for FREE saves me the costs I was previously incurring with upgrades tied to every new release of macOS. It's the deal of the century. When Apple Silicon came around all of that changed. I could no longer run Intel images of Windows or Linux on my Apple Silicon Mac. I could however run Windows 11 Pro ARM on my Apple Silicon Mac using the latest (still free for me) version of  VMWare Fusion and it works extremely well and is very stable.

    But what about my Windows apps that require an Intel processor? While Microsoft provides a runtime environment for x86 apps on Windows ARM, I really need as close to bare metal as I could get. Solution: I bought a mini PC that cost me $250 USD that sits right next to my M2 MacBook Air, with both machines sharing a glorious 4K monitor, Bluetooth keyboard, and Bluetooth mouse. The mini PC is not equipped with the latest and greatest components, and it isn't as well endowed with memory, storage, I/O, and metal chassis parts as my Intel NUC, but it has a fairly recent vintage 7 nm Ryzen 6-core/12 thread CPU, integrated Radeon GPU, HDMI 2.0, DP 1.4, expandable memory and storage, 10 Gbps USB-A and USB-C ports, gigabit networking, Wi-Fi 6, etc., and has about a 3" x 5" footprint. Doesn't make a sound and has been working for months with no hangs, shutdowns, or restarts other than Windows Update. Probably doesn't play the most demanding PC games particularly well, but I don't play games.

    The performance of my mini PC sidekick for my Mac setup completely blows away of my Intel dependent virtual machines that I was running on my Intel Macs. I could even install the free VMWare Workstation Player on it if I wanted to have different Windows or Linux images available on the mini PC. Sure, if I want to take it on the road with my M2 MacBook Air I would need a portable display, keyboard, and mouse as well. You can pick up a usable 15" 4K portable monitor for about $225 USD and I already have the required Bluetooth kb/mouse. As a bonus, a portable monitor would also extend my MacBook Air's visuals to two monitors. At the price point I got the mini PC I knew it wasn't getting the latest & greatest specs to use for more processor intensive tasks. But it's reliable, runs very cool, and if you dig around a bit more you'll find newer mini PCs that have very impressive specs but haven't gotten part their teething problems quite yet. There are also a plethora of cheaporoni mini PCs on the market that have low end Celerons and Atom CPUs or newer Intel CPUs that have no performance cores at all. Sounds a bit nasty, but for some folks it may still be a better platform performance-wise than what they're getting from VMs running on their Intel Macs that they're still reluctant to leave behind.

    Of course you can always keep your old Intel Mac around as a VM host and backup Mac.

    Your mileage and needs may vary, but there are very logical and viable paths to making your move to Apple Silicon sooner and finally getting to enjoy the many benefits that come with such a move. Depending on your needs, a hybrid approach with a mini PC sidekick may actually deliver more utility and better performance than what you are getting with an older Intel Mac laden with VMs.
    Most people who invest in a DAC are musicians and video editors. They buy one because they offer ports otherwise unavailable. 
    I have the DAC connected to balanced studio monitors. I’m not at all interested in connecting a headphone to my MacBook Pro; that port is also available on the DAC and doesn’t need a minijack converter.
    If you're never on the road, that's fine. Most of us buy laptops to work away from the studio, as well, and not needing a dedicated DAC to drive studio headphones is a big plus. 
Sign In or Register to comment.