The Apple M3 Chip could make the new MacBook Air a must-buy

MacBook Air M2 2022
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Apple's rumored M3 chip has been tipped to come with a lot more power than we were expecting, which could be very promising for a next-generation MacBook Air. 

The China Times (via Wccftech) reports the new Apple M3-series chip will use TSMC’s N3E 3-nanometer process; a more advanced production than many have predicted. Previously, it was thought Apple would go for TSMC’s 3mn process, so this is a welcome upgrade if true.

If the report is accurate, it will mean Apple is the first company to use this advanced process node. What does that mean for you? If you’re in the market for one of the best laptops or best tablets, the next MacBook Air and iPad Pro should be far more powerful than their predecessors. 

Speaking of which, there’s a chance this rumored Apple M3 chip could feature in the equally rumored 15-inch MacBook Air. There’s been a lot of speculation from reliable sources regarding this potentially larger laptop, which would supplement the current 13.3-inch model. The addition of the M3 chip would very likely make it a huge upgrade over the MacBook Air with M1

The N3E node could also be used for the A17 Bionic chip that could well power future iPhones and iPads, making this rumor an even bigger deal. 

Apple M3 chip could be a big deal for the next MacBook Air

an image of Total War: Warhammer 3 running on a MacBook Air M2

(Image credit: Future)

If the M3 chip does feature in Apple’s latest laptop, MacBook Air M1 owners should take note. While the MacBook Air M2 (2022) delivered an impressive combination of battery life, design and performance, the latter wasn’t game-changingly better placed next to the M1.

The MacBook Air M2 is undoubtedly one of the best laptops in 2023, but unless you’re a hardcore Apple obsessive, it was a fairly mild update over the MacBook Air M1; sure there was a new design and display notch, but below the surface the changes were more incremental. 

If Apple does go with the N3E node, the next MacBook should offer a substantial upgrade over the MacBook Air M2. Not only will the new chip offer even better battery life, but performance could well be boosted by as much as 30%. For fence-sitting M1 owners, that would be a heck of an upgrade. 

We could even see the MacBook Air evolve into a bit of a low-key gaming machine, as the MacBook Air M2 already impressed us with some surprisingly capable gaming clout

Should the M3 report prove to be true, Apple’s next MacBook could be a stunner. Our best buying advice right now? Hold off on buying the MacBook Air M2, because it's rumored successor could blow it out of the water. We're likely to hear more come WWDC 2023 on June 5, so maybe wait until then before taking the plunge on one of the best MacBooks

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Dave Meikleham
UK Computing Editor

Dave is a computing editor at Tom’s Guide and covers everything from cutting edge laptops to ultrawide monitors. When he’s not worrying about dead pixels, Dave enjoys regularly rebuilding his PC for absolutely no reason at all. In a previous life, he worked as a video game journalist for 15 years, with bylines across GamesRadar+, PC Gamer and TechRadar. Despite owning a graphics card that costs roughly the same as your average used car, he still enjoys gaming on the go and is regularly glued to his Switch. Away from tech, most of Dave’s time is taken up by walking his husky, buying new TVs at an embarrassing rate and obsessing over his beloved Arsenal.