Fri. Apr 19th, 2024

Key Takeaways

  • The M1 MacBook Air remains a top value laptop, excelling in performance, battery life, and design for its price.
  • The M3 MacBook Air offers improved performance, but unless you run processor-heavy tasks, the M1 remains a cost-effective option.
  • Get the M1 MacBook Air at discounted prices from third-party retailers or Apple’s refurbished store for a great return on your investment.

If you’re in the market for a new laptop, the 2024 MacBook Air powered by Apple’s M3 chip probably seems like the obvious choice. But it might be the perfect time to consider the M1 MacBook Air instead, especially if you’re looking to secure the best bang for your buck. Here’s why.

The M1 MacBook Air Is a Modern Classic

The transition to Apple Silicon has transformed the MacBook lineup, bringing about an exponential boost in performance across the board, while maintaining the sleek design and portable form factor that Apple is known for. The most cost-effective MacBook in the lineup is the M1 MacBook Air.

Over three years since its release, the M1 MacBook Air remains one of the best and easily recommendable laptops on the market. It launched at $999, and despite being one of the lower-end Macs in the lineup, it outperformed many higher-end Intel-based Macs and Windows laptops.

Apple M1 MacBook Air Spec Sheet.

Many features make recommending the M1 MacBook Air a no-brainer. Number one on the list is the performance. The M1 chip can handle most tasks you throw at it like a breeze, whether it be web browsing, emails, or even light gaming or photo and video editing. Although the base model comes with only 8GB of RAM, it’s more than enough for the everyday tasks of most users.

It does all this without compromising on battery life. On a single charge, the M1 Air can last up to 18 hours, which will see you through a working day (and sometimes even more). This makes the M1 Air ideal for students hopping between classes or professionals who are always on the move. It also comes with a 720p FaceTime HD camera, which is good enough for video calls with friends and family or Zoom meetings for work.

Even though the M1 is several years older than Apple’s current flagship MacBooks, it still has a beautiful, modern design that is on par with many of its counterparts in its price range. Its fanless design ensures it is silent even during intensive tasks, contributing to a better and more immersive user experience and eliminating the risk of dust buildup and mechanical failure associated with traditional cooling systems.

Additionally, the M1 MacBook Air comes with Apple’s signature Retina Display, which uses True Tone technology and supports the P3 wide color gamut for accurate colors and images.

Unless you’re looking for an everyday laptop that can handle niche needs or demanding tasks, the M1 MacBook Air is still the perfect daily driver. Although it has been out for over three years, you can expect continued software support and access to updates and security patches for the next few years.

Why Upgrade to an M3 MacBook Air?

If you’re among those who need a little extra performance, it might be worth considering the M3 MacBook Air. Apple claims it delivers 60% faster performance than the M1, with a 65% increase in graphics performance and a 35% increase in computing power.

So, if you need a laptop that can handle processor-hungry tasks, the M3 MacBook Air might be a better option. With its upgraded chip, it offers a significant boost in performance compared to its predecessor, which you’ll probably notice when gaming, 4K image and video editing, and rendering.

M3 Chip Spec Sheet.

In addition to its incredible performance, the M3 MacBook Air retains and builds on many of the features that made the M1 so popular. It has a modern, lightweight build. Where the M1 MacBook Air shows its age with the black bezels on the display, the M3 MacBook Air has slimmer bezels and a notch, similar to the recent iPhones. That’s not to everyone’s taste, though.

The difference between an M1 and M3 MacBook Air.

Another improvement on the M3 is the FaceTime HD Camera, which has a 1080p resolution compared to the 720p on the M1. But similar to the M1 Air, Apple claims that the M3 Air’s battery can last up to 18 hours on a single charge. The M3 MacBook Air also supports MagSafe charging and can charge over 50% in under an hour, making it perfect for users who are always on the go.

Yet, none of these things is revolutionary. Unless you specifically need that extra power, you can save a lot of money by going with the older machine.

How to Score the M1 MacBook Air

Though Apple rarely offers sales or discounts, older devices are typically delisted from Apple’s website and listed on third-party retailers for a discounted price.

Walmart and Best Buy are both offering big markdowns on the base model, with 256GB of storage and 8GB of RAM, at prices as low as $649. And you can find the M1 MacBook Air from other third-party retailers for prices ranging from $749 to $799.

Another alternative is to get it from Apple’s refurbished store. Many shoppers are unaware that Apple directly sells refurbished products on its website at discounted prices. The devices undergo a rigorous refurbishment and certification process to ensure full functionality and are given a brand-new outer shell and battery. Apple currently offers the M1 MacBook Air in its refurbished store, starting from $759.

You can always save money by buying a used Mac, but it’s important to remember to conduct thorough research and authenticate the source of the product when shopping with third-party retailers or resellers to avoid problems.

Make the Most of Your M1 MacBook Air

Whether you’re tackling schoolwork, administrative tasks, creative projects, or simply enjoying the Apple experience, the M1 MacBook Air continues to deliver a significant return on investment. Apple’s build quality is second to none, and the M1 chip ensures your machine remains snappy and usable for years to come.

While the M3 might seem like a tempting offer, the M1 MacBook Air is still a powerhouse, and at the current price point, its value is hard to beat.

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By John P.

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