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M3 MacBook Air has this one major upgrade Apple didn't advertise

 MacBook Air 15-inch M3 display showing Dune 2 trailer .
MacBook Air 15-inch M3 display showing Dune 2 trailer .

When Apple announced the M3 MacBook Air without the fanfare of a press event, it seemed to be a modest update, just introducing the power of a new chipset to an already refined line of ultrabooks.

But it appears there’s an upgrade that Apple didn’t mention that should be of special interest to those weighing up the entry-level 256GB models of M2 and M3 Air.

In short, Apple has significantly improved SSD speeds on the 256GB model. This isn’t something that those looking at tiers with more storage space need to consider, but it’s a big reason to consider a 256GB M3 Air over a now reduced M2 model with the same storage.

As we explained last year, the problem with the cheapest M2 MacBook Air model is that it uses a single 256GB storage chip. This not only made it slower than models with larger capacities, but the M1 MacBook Air, which split the same 256GB capacity over two 128GB storage chips.

With the M3 MacBook Air, we’re apparently back up to full speed. The YouTube channel Max Tech performed a teardown on the new laptop revealing that, once again, the 256GB M3 MacBook Air contains two 128GB NAND chips that can perform tasks at the same time, leading to significantly faster data transfer speeds.

How much faster? The video shows the new M3 MacBook Air hitting write speeds of 2,108MB/s — a boost of roughly 33% on the M2 model’s 1,584MB/s. It’s even more marked for read speeds, which nearly doubled from 1,576MB/s on the M2 to 2,880MB/s on the M3.

These speeds are pretty close to the 256GB M1 MacBook Air, which managed write speeds of 2,221MB/s and read speeds of 2,910MB/s. Slower, yes, but only really noticeable in benchmarking software, and crucially overshadowed by the huge improvements of the M3 processor over the M1.

We’ll have a full review of the new M3 MacBook Air laptops very soon, but you can read our hands-on impressions of both the 13 inch and 15-inch models right now. In short, it feels like another home run for Apple, with very little to take issue with.

“You get very strong performance from the M3 chip paired with super long battery life, a great display, and a sturdy, lightweight design,” concludes our global editor in chief, Mark Spoonauer in his hands-on review of the 15-inch M3 MacBook Air. “Competing Windows laptops with Intel Core Ultra 7 processors offer a bit more raw processing power, but they're not in the same league as the 15-inch Air when it comes to endurance.”