M3 MacBook Air Teardown Shows Apple Fixed Base Model's Biggest Flaw

The repair website iFixit today shared a video teardown of the base model 13-inch MacBook Air with the M3 chip and 256GB of storage, and it shows that this configuration is equipped with two 128GB flash storage chips. This change results in significantly faster SSD speeds compared to the equivalent MacBook Air with the M2 chip, which has a single 256GB storage chip, as the SSD can read and write from the two chips simultaneously.

macbook air new blue
YouTube channel Max Tech ran Blackmagic's Disk Speed Test tool with a 5GB file size test on both the M2 and M3 models of the 13-inch MacBook Air with 256GB of storage and 8GB of RAM, and they found the SSD in the M3 model achieved up to 33% faster write speeds and up to 82% faster read speeds compared to the SSD in the M2 model.

Apple's decision to switch to a single 256GB chip for the base model M2 MacBook Air was controversial, even though the slower SSD speeds are unlikely to be noticed by the average user working on common day-to-day tasks. Fortunately, the base model M3 MacBook Air's SSD speeds are now roughly equivalent to the base model M1 MacBook Air again, so customers no longer need to be concerned about this potential limitation.

Apple still sells a 13-inch M2 MacBook Air with 256GB of storage for $999, so customers who want maximum SSD performance should avoid that model.

Beyond this SSD-related change, the teardown shows that the M3 MacBook Air models have a virtually identical internal design as the M2 models. The video provides a look at the battery cells with adhesive pull tabs, logic board, trackpad, and more.

Update: iFixit's CEO Kyle Wiens said the base model 15-inch MacBook Air with the M3 chip and 256GB of storage also has two 128GB storage chips.

Related Roundup: MacBook Air
Related Forum: MacBook Air

Top Rated Comments

Apple Knowledge Navigator Avatar
6 weeks ago
I'm not sure if 'fix' is the right term here.

The decision to switch to a single module, just like removing HDMI, SD card ports, and MagSafe from notebooks, was unwarranted to begin with.

They've reversed course and we shouldn't be praising this as an upgrade, but a return to the standard.
Score: 44 Votes (Like | Disagree)
brofkand Avatar
6 weeks ago
I know it's been beaten to death in the year or so since the M2 came out. But I question just how much this means in the real world. Obviously for the price of these machines you don't want any compromises and I get that. But realistically...I didn't buy into the SSD speed boogeyman.
Score: 24 Votes (Like | Disagree)
picpicmac Avatar
6 weeks ago

[HEADING=2]Apple Fixed Base Model's Biggest Flaw[/HEADING]
AS IF the M2 is actually flawed in regards to SSDs. Just because one does not like or prefer something does not mean it is flawed.

...and it shows that this configuration is equipped with two 128GB flash storage chips. This change results in significantly faster SSD speeds compared to the equivalent MacBook Air with the M2 chip
A speed difference which is irrelevant to almost all users of an MBA. First off, the "speed" of SSDs is mostly poorly understood; using testing apps, many of the gadflies on the internet only pick the largest number, which is usually for transfers of the biggest blocks. This ignores two things:
- typical use is transfer of small blocks;
- sustained transfers are slower, sometimes much more so, than what is often tested, because the NAND can only write so quickly and a great many people misinterpret speeds reported as if those are NAND speeds, and not system speed. SSDs as used include fast buffers that fill up first.
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)
bankshot Avatar
6 weeks ago
Biggest flaw? I would argue the 8 GB of memory ('https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/is-8gb-of-ram-enough-for-a-mac-in-2024.2421631/') at that price point is a bigger flaw. At a much lower price it would be fine, but at the actual premium starting price, customers should expect more than what was standard 10+ years ago.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
orbital~debris Avatar
6 weeks ago
In general use, there's really no problem with this version of the M2 MacBook Air.
Those percentages sound large, but it's relative. In practice, the M2 MacBook Air is extremely speedy and there's a high chance the slower performance won't be noticeable to a majority of users.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Fuzzball84 Avatar
6 weeks ago

Apple finally stopped the fraud after years of ripping off customers. Let's keep up the intensity of complaints and lawsuits and public denunciation and ridicule whenever Apple does something shady.

To those who kept defending Apple with "You won't even know the difference," that is the very essence of a scam. But now you will also get the benefit of a faster machine and better value for your money.

Stay vigilant. Don't get Tim cooked.
No one could argue this is fraud ?

If you dislike the company so much, take your custom elswhere. Its as simple as that…
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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