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Macbook Air M3 vs Macbook Pro M2 – is the Air better?

Which laptop will come out on top?
Last Updated on March 11, 2024
Two Macbook Air M3 laptops displaying vibrant wallpapers compared side by side against a blue background with a "vs" symbol indicating a comparison or face-off with Macbook Pro M2. Image shows the Macbook Air and pro on a Navy background below the PC guide
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2022 saw the introduction of the M2 chip to the MacBook Air lineup. This chip has made the MacBook Pro M2 a formidable player in the world of high-end laptops for the past two years, but will the recent introduction of the MacBook Air M3 be enough to knock it off the top spot? Let’s find out, in our MacBook Air M3 vs MacBook Pro M2 comparison guide, where we’ll look at each device’s specs, performance, and cost, to ultimately decide if it’s time for an upgrade.

The main difference between the MacBook Air M3 and the MacBook Pro M2 is their performance capabilities. The M3 chip outperforms the M2 by about 17% in single-core tasks and almost 21% in multi-core ones. Furthermore, in GPU performance, the M3 exhibits an improvement of around 15% over the M2. This enhancement positions the MacBook Air M3 as a more powerful option for users who require higher efficiency and speed for their tasks.

If you’d like to read up on all things MacBook Air M3, then check out our MacBook Air M3 review round-up, where we take a look at everything that’s been said about the M3 since its release. Additionally, you could also have a look at some of our other comparison guides, including our MacBook Air M3 vs MacBook Air M1 comparison, where we discuss the differences between the two products.

Macbook Air M3 vs Macbook Pro M2 – specs at a glance

SpecificationsMacbook Air M3 13-inchMacbook Pro 13-inch M2
CPU CoresApple M3 (8-core CPU, 16-core neural engine)Apple M2 (8-core CPU, 16-core neural engine)
GPU Cores10-core GPU10-core GPU
MemoryUp to 24GBUp to 24GB
StorageUp to 2TBUp to 2TB
Display13.6-inch, Liquid Retina, True Tone, 2560 by 1664 pixels13.3-inch, LED-backlit, True Tone
Nits of Brightness500 nits brightness500 nits brightness
Ports2x Thunderbolt 3 / USB-C 4 slots, MagSafe 3, 3.5 mm headphone jack2x Thunderbolt 3 / USB-C 4 slots, MagSafe 3, 3.5 mm headphone jack
Battery life52.6 WHr58.2 WHr
Price$1,299 (8GB-512GB)$1,499 (16GB-512GB)$1,099 (8GB-512GB)$1,399 (24GB-1TB)
Available colorsMidnight, Starlight, Space Gray, SilverMidnight, Starlight, Space Grey, Silver
KeyboardTouch BarPhysical function keys

Specs and performance comparison

Apple’s strategy remains consistent across its product lines: the newest Air model equals or even surpasses the capabilities of the older Pro versions. This approach, seen with the iPhone, holds true for the MacBook as well. The introduction of the MacBook Air M3 sets a new benchmark, effectively raising the performance bar previously set by the MacBook Pro M2.


One standout feature that highlights the superiority of the M3 Air over the M2 Pro is the inclusion of hardware-accelerated ray tracing. As AI, gaming, AI design, and content creation increasingly rely on advanced graphic performance, the M3 chip’s support for ray tracing positions the MacBook Air M3 as a more versatile and future-proof choice. In contrast, the MacBook Pro M2 lacks this cutting-edge display technology, marking a clear distinction in their suitability for modern, graphics-intensive tasks.


If you’re someone who considers audio quality an important feature when purchasing new laptops, then it’s worthwhile to note the disparity within this comparison. MacBook Air M3 has a four-speaker sound system that consists of two tweeters and two force-cancelling woofers, which has support for spatial audio when playing music or video with Dolby Atmos. Whereas the MacBook Pro M2 just has stereo speakers with high dynamic range. Both are adequate options, it’s just about deciding which setup would best suit you.


For the tech-savvy, the transition from the M2 to the M3 chip reveals some nuanced yet significant improvements. Despite both chips sharing a 16-core Neural Engine, the M3’s shift to a 3nm fabrication process enhances its ability to handle machine learning and AI tasks with greater efficiency. Furthermore, while maintaining up to 24GB of unified memory similar to the M2, the M3 chip makes use of this newer process to utilize memory bandwidth more efficiently.

Energy efficiency

Energy efficiency stands out as another key difference between the M2 and M3 chips. Thanks to the 3nm fabrication process, the M3 delivers enhanced performance without significantly impacting power consumption. This feature is especially valuable for laptop users who prioritize a harmonious blend of power efficiency and battery longevity, offering an optimal computing experience without frequent recharging.

Price comparison

With the introduction of the new 14-inch MacBook Pro, Apple has discontinued the 13-inch MacBook Pro model, removing it from their website alongside the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models with M2 Pro and M2 Max chips. However, the MacBook Pro M2 is still available through third-party vendors.

While the MacBook Air M3’s starting price is $1,099 for the 8GB RAM and 256GB storage, the old M2 Pro (13-inch) can go up to $1,399 for the 24GB RAM, 1TB storage. Therefore, you can get a lot more RAM and storage for your buck. However, it’s important to question whether the M3’s other advancements, such as Ray-tracing, are worth more than storage options.

MacBook Air M3 vs MacBook Pro M2 – which is better?

Considering the advancements in the MacBook Air M3, such as hardware-accelerated ray tracing and the benefits brought by the 3nm fabrication process, it arises as the superior option when compared to the MacBook Pro M2. The main difference, enhanced performance, and efficiency without significantly increased power consumption, makes the Air M3 an attractive option for both new buyers and those considering an upgrade.

For those users upgrading from an M1, the M3 Air offers substantial improvements over the M2 Pro, making it the recommended choice for anyone looking to experience the latest in Apple’s MacBook lineup.

MacBook Air M3 vs MacBook Pro M2 – conclusion

The recent release of the MacBook Air M3 has been successfully received by reviewers and everyday users alike. But, it’s important to understand how it fares against other members of the MacBook lineup, especially successful variants such as the MacBook Pro M2. This article has provided a comprehensive comparison of the two products to hopefully help you with any purchase/upgrade decisions.

Eve is a writer and copy editor at PC Guide, who focuses on a broad range of topics but main interest lies in the development of AI technology.