The base MacBook Air M3 has one glaring flaw — here's the cost to fix that problem

The base MacBook Air M3 has one glaring flaw — here's what it will cost to buy the one you actually want
(Image credit: Future)

This morning, Apple unveiled the MacBook Air M3, the latest iteration of Apple's most popular laptop. This marks a significant leap forward, with the M3 chip boasting a 17% and 21% improvement in single-core and multi-core performance, respectively, compared to its predecessor. However, Apple retains its starting point of just 8GB of RAM for the M3 MacBook Air, a point of contention for some users. While an upgrade to 24GB is possible, it comes at a premium cost.

The starting price for a MacBook Air M3 with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of SSD storage will run you $1,099. The Air with 8GB of RAM and 512GB of SSD storage will run you $1,299, or for the same price you can jump to 16GB of RAM and stick to a 256GB SSD. Need to bump up both? Now we are looking at $1,499, which puts it up against some stiff competition on the Windows laptop side with Intel and AMD powered laptops getting a solid AI boost in recent months.

MacBook Air M3 alternatives

The MSI Prestige 16 AI Evo presents a compelling alternative to the MacBook Air. For $1,399, it offers an Intel Core Ultra 7 155H CPU, Intel Integrated Arc GPU, a generous 32GB of RAM, and 1TB of SSD storage. Our tests revealed impressive battery life exceeding 13 hours, even while editing 6K videos in DaVinci Resolve and playing games.

The MacBook Air, on the other hand, falls short in terms of RAM and storage at its price point. It maxes out at 24GB of RAM, and reaching 1TB of storage requires an $1,899 configuration. Upgrading to 2TB bumps the price to a staggering $2,299.

Now if money is no object or if it's macOS or bust for you, then none of this matters, but for more cost-conscious buyers the MSI Prestige 16 AI Evo offers more RAM, equal storage and performance, and exceptional battery life for $500 less. 

While the Apple ecosystem holds appeal for many, the transition to a PC has become easier than ever thanks to tools like Intel Unison and Microsoft Copilot. This might be the perfect time to make the switch and free up some budget for other needs or personal treats.

Final thoughts

The new MacBook Air M3 starts at a tempting $1,099 ($999 for education) for 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. It'll deliver a smooth experience for everyday tasks, but if you're the type to juggle 50 Chrome tabs while simultaneously editing 4K videos, you might experience some sluggishness. Naturally, that is speculation, the MacBook Air M3 hasn't made its way through our labs just yet.

Even if that is the case the base model will still be great for plenty of tasks: Web browsing, document editing, and some photo editing should be a breeze. However, if you multitask heavily or work with large files, consider bumping up the RAM to at least 16GB and the storage to 512GB or whatever you can afford. Trust me, your future self will thank you for the extra headroom. (Especially if you, like me, take enough photos on a weekend trip to rival a National Geographic photographer.)

On a tighter budget? Consider a PC laptop like the MSI Prestige 16 AI Evo. It offers comparable performance and battery life at a more wallet-friendly price point.

Remember, the best laptop is the one that fits your needs and budget. Choose wisely, and happy computing!

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Mark Anthony Ramirez

Mark has spent 20 years headlining comedy shows around the country and made appearances on ABC, MTV, Comedy Central, Howard Stern, Food Network, and Sirius XM Radio. He has written about every topic imaginable, from dating, family, politics, social issues, and tech. He wrote his first tech articles for the now-defunct Dads On Tech 10 years ago, and his passion for combining humor and tech has grown under the tutelage of the Laptop Mag team. His penchant for tearing things down and rebuilding them did not make Mark popular at home, however, when he got his hands on the legendary Commodore 64, his passion for all things tech deepened. These days, when he is not filming, editing footage, tinkering with cameras and laptops, or on stage, he can be found at his desk snacking, writing about everything tech, new jokes, or scripts he dreams of filming.