M3 MacBook Air – 3 Months Later: Some Surprising Issues…

6 min read

MacBook M3 Air – Long Term Review

After using the top-spec 13-inch M3 Air for three months now, I can confidently say that this is the best laptop I have ever owned and used daily. This is not going to be a typical review or benchmark, but rather my observations on the battery life, workflow integrations, productivity, and other findings with this M3 Air after three months of use. If you are considering upgrading your daily work laptop or have not bought one yet, this may help you make an informed decision.

In this article, I will share the negatives and issues I have encountered with the M3 Air, such as the problem with the E button on the keyboard and the simultaneous charging and battery life. I will also discuss the positives, including the RAM upgrade, the M3 processor, and the great trackpad and display. Additionally, I will touch on the growing competition for the M3 Air, particularly the Snapdragon X Elite laptops that may bring the fight to the MacBook.

The Negatives & Issues

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As much as I love my top-spec 13-inch M3 Air, there are a few negatives and issues that I have encountered over the past three months of using it.

The first issue I encountered was with the E button on the keyboard. Specifically, the actuation force needed to register the E button was really low. This meant that when I was resting my fingers on the W-A-S-D buttons on the keyboard, I would accidentally brush over the E button, causing it to register every single time. This was frustrating because it would add random E’s into the words I was typing. I have not found this problem online, so it may be unique to my device.

The other issue I’ve encountered is with simultaneous charging and battery life. The peak wattage and base wattage are different on the CPU and GPU, with a combined peak of 33 watts and a combined base of 9 watts. When I plug in my M3 Air to charge while working on intense tasks, the included 34.5 W charger is sometimes not enough to pull enough power to also charge it back up to 100%. This is especially noticeable when editing 4K footage on Final Cut Pro while running a lot of different apps. The efficiency is still great, but it’s something to note, especially if you’re considering faster 65-watt chargers.

The M3 Air’s speakers are great, but they don’t pack as much punch as I would like. There have been times when I forgot my AirPods and had to rely on the speakers for video editing in a busy cafe, and they just didn’t provide enough volume. The 15-inch model has six speakers with force-canceling woofers, which provide better sound than the 13-inch model’s four speakers.

The keyboard shows a ton of fingerprints, which can be frustrating for those who have a thing for clean keyboards. You’ll have to wipe it down consistently or wash your hands every hour to keep it clean.

Overall, these issues are not major, and most of them are solvable. The battery life is great, and the efficiency is monstrous. The M3 Air is a solid work laptop, but it’s important to note these negatives and issues before making a decision to purchase.

The Positives

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After using the top-spec 13-inch M3 Air for about 3 months now, I can confidently say that this remains the best laptop I’ve owned and have ever used daily. In this section, I’ll share my observations about the positives of this M3 Air.

Firstly, the battery life is great. It’s rated for 18 hours of battery life which is 6 hours more than Intel-based Air MacBook models. I am averaging about 13 hours on this Mac B Air with different tasks which is still great. There have been days when I would go out and then work for like half a day, come back home, forget to charge it, pick it up the next day, and still be able to get through half the day without charging it. The efficiency is monstrous on this MacBook M3 Air and it’s a solid work laptop when it comes to battery life.

Secondly, the RAM upgrade has been the Holy Grail. Coming from M2 with 8 GB of RAM, I was scared to use Chromium apps, and I know we shouldn’t be using Chromium apps in general when it comes to the Mac ecosystem. I still prefer it for my own reasons. I’m able to use those apps with no problem at all on this configuration. That 16 GB jump with the M3 processor has been absolutely amazing. It breezes through my entire workflow. In my opinion, from my first review, the RAM upgrade is highly recommended because I feel like 8 GB will still be limiting for most users.

Thirdly, the M3 processor with that RAM has been powerful enough for me to dock onto my desk setup system, and it’s been such a pleasure hooking this up to the pro-XDR display and using it. Also, still have that portability by just unplugging it and going. It is a great solution, and of course, if you have a dual monitor setup, this M3 Air can now support dual 5K displays, and that’s great.

Lastly, the trackpad, display, webcam, and microphones are amazing. The form factor of the 13-inch is just right, and it’s a really good laptop when I’m traveling and when I’m working outside. It is constantly the laptop that I reach for whenever I am out and off of my desk.

Overall, the M3 Air is an amazing laptop with great battery life, RAM upgrade, powerful M3 processor, and great creature comforts.

Snapdragon X Elite Laptops

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After using the M3 Air for about three months, I can confidently say that it remains the best laptop I’ve ever owned and used daily. However, there is growing competition in the market, particularly from Snapdragon X Elite laptops that are said to bring the fight right to the MacBook and possibly even win, according to early benchmarks.

At the recent Microsoft Build event, Dell laptops like the XPS 13 and the new Surface laptops were announced, featuring the Snapdragon X Elite chipset. We are already starting to see better multi-thread performance than the M3 lineup, which is pretty incredible. The Snapdragon X Elite uses 12 big cores versus the four big and four small cores on the M3.

The only question here is if the Snapdragon X Elites and the laptops that feature that chipset can compete on price and efficiency. If they are more efficient and cheaper, there may be good reason to hold off on the M3 MacBooks and take a serious look at Windows laptops that feature the new Xlite chipset.

Overall, while the M3 Air is still a solid work laptop, it’s worth keeping an eye on the competition and considering all options before deciding on your next laptop purchase.

Is it Still Worth It?

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After using the top-spec 13-inch M3 Air for three months, I can confidently say that it remains the best laptop I have ever used. While there are some cons, the cons that I have for the M3 Air over the past few months are not that much, and most of them are solvable. Fingerprint, speakers, simultaneous charging, and that keyboard issue, which I think was unique to me, that’s about it.

But we have to talk about the growing competition for a moment because there may be Windows laptops out there or just around the corner that you and I may want to consider over the M3 Air, and specifically the Snapdragon X Elite that some are saying are going to bring the fight right to the MacBook. This is going to be an interesting time because there is so much going on with the Snapdragon X Elite. The critical question revolves around whether the Snapdragon X Elites and the laptops that use that chipset can compete on price and efficiency. If they can, it might be wise to put off buying M3 MacBooks and give Windows laptops with the new Xlite chipset a serious look instead. Ultimately, let’s be honest, it’s going to depend on your needs and preferences.

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