Computing

New MacBooks are coming, but they aren’t worth waiting for

The keyboard and trackpad of the MacBook Air.
Luke Larsen / Digital Trends

Ah, yes — the eternal question MacBook buyers have: Is it worth waiting?

On the surface, it might seem like it. After all, we’re at the beginning of a new chip refresh cycle, with Apple launching the M3 in November. But if you’re looking at buying any of the available MacBooks, I’d say you’re in a good spot to buy one that’s currently available and not regret your choices come next year.

The M3 isn’t worth waiting for

A side of the MacBook Air showing the ports.
Digital Trends

Apple’s latest M3 chips are fantastic, though they’re already available for the MacBooks that need them most. Apple led the charge with the MacBook Pro this time around, launching it straightaway with M3, M3 Pro, and M3 Max configurations. These new MacBooks Pros are fantastic, especially if you’re able to opt for the M3 Max. It’s efficient, the hardware is as good as ever, and the new graphics are impressive. These won’t get updated again until the end of 2024, if not 2025 — so it’s a really good time to buy one.

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There are some new MacBooks, however, rumored for launch in spring of 2024. I’m talking about the 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Air. Both models will reportedly get updated to the M3 chip, bringing it to performance parity (more or less) with the current M3 MacBook Pro. That might sound like it’s worth waiting for — especially since those laptops could get announced as early as February or March. As you get closer to a product update, older versions also benefit from deeper discounts. So, in most cases, it’s worth waiting a couple of months if you can.

But in this case, I don’t think it’s necessary. If you’re looking to buy a MacBook Air, you probably don’t need huge amounts of performance — at least not something beyond what the M2 MacBook Air can offer. It’s already an astoundingly well-performing laptop that gets excellent battery life. It’s fanless too, meaning it operates completely silently. Because the M3 MacBook Air won’t have much in terms of design or feature changes, a small bump to performance likely won’t be noticed by the average MacBook Air buyer. It’s just not going to make much of a difference — and if it does, you should probably be considering a MacBook Pro anyways.

More than that, you can already find some really good pricing on the M2 MacBook Air. While it’s true that we could see those prices drop even further once the M3 is announced, I don’t expect to see them dip much lower. The 13-inch model already got an official price drop earlier this year (it now starts at $1,099), and at the time of this writing, you can buy the 15-inch MacBook Air for as low as $1,049. That’s a killer price.

We’ll have to see how Apple repositions its MacBook Air lineup once the M3 model comes out, especially if the M1 model is removed. Regardless, though, I don’t think you’ll regret a purchase of the M2 MacBook Air right now.

Just one exception

Apple's 15-inch MacBook Air seen from above and the side.
Luke Larsen / Digital Trends

There’s just one type of MacBook Air buyer that might want to wait until the M3 MacBook Air comes out. If you’re someone who’s intrigued by the idea of gaming on a MacBook — even just casually — there’s a significant GPU boost awaiting in the M3 MacBook Air. The inclusion of Dynamic Cache and hardware mesh rendering make the M3 a far more inviting platform for gaming. And though AAA games that can use that GPU are still rare, exceptions like Lies of P and Baldur’s Gate 3 are paving the way toward more PC games that can run natively on Apple Silicon.

While the M3 Max is the best example of how good MacBook Pros can be at gaming, even the M3 makes some PC games possible, especially thanks to MetalFX upscaling. It’s not going to be the most glorious PC gaming experience, but it makes it possible.

So, if you’re mostly using your MacBook Air for school or work, but are intrigued by the idea of doing some casual gaming on the side, I could see some use in waiting for the M3 model to show up in the spring. Even this is a fickle scenario, though. After all, if this is you, you might be better off just spending a bit more to opt for the M3 MacBook Pro. It provides a better gaming screen thanks to the ProMotion 120Hz refresh rate, and the mini-LED backlighting is great doe HDR performance. Throw in the better speakers, ports, and cooling, and you have a better laptop for dabbling in gaming.

All that’s to say — Apple might have an M3 MacBook Air release saved for next year, but it’s hardly worth waiting for. Buying one of the current models won’t leave you with regrets come next spring.

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Courtesy by: Digital Trends

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