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Asus Chromebook Plus CX34 review: A premium Chrome-powered portable?
9:00 pm | April 2, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Chromebooks Computers Computing Gadgets Laptops | Comments: Off

Asus Chromebook Plus CX34: Two-minute review

Google wants to push its Chromebook laptops a little upmarket and to do that it's pairing up with several big brands. The latest member of this initiative is the new Asus Chromebook Plus CX34, an Intel-powered 14-inch model.

Google is calling this new class of devices "Chromebook Plus" and it's a little like Intel's Evo standard. The idea is to dictate some minimum standards of performance and features to ensure a certain level of user experience. That applies to both hardware and software.

On the hardware side, that means at least an Intel Core i3 chip or an AMD Ryzen processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 1080p screen. This Asus laptop meets all that with its Intel Core i3-1215U CPU, 8GB of DDR5 memory, 256GB of UFS storage, and a 14-inch 1080p screen.

As for software, Google builds its Docs, Sheets, and Slides apps into the OS, so they all work without needing an internet connection. Meanwhile syncing both to and from Google Drive works seamlessly. Google has also built in some extra features, including webcam enhancements like background blurring and noise cancellation that work at the OS level - and will therefore work natively with any video calling platform.

The Asus Chromebook Plus CX34 photographed on a tan carpet.

(Image credit: Future)

You can, of course, run most Android apps from the Google Play Store too, though the lack of a touchscreen can be problematic for apps designed to run on smartphones. More broadly, Google is making a few AI-related claims about these Chromebook Plus machines. But the hardware is nothing special in that regard, so that's a bit of a stretch.

Anyway, as a physical specimen, the Asus Chromebook Plus CX34's all-plastic chassis feels mostly sturdy barring a slightly bouncy keyboard bed. The styling is pretty bland and the screen bezels are hardly minimalist. It's not exactly ultra-thin or ultra-sleek, either, and there isn't much about the design that communicates the intended upmarket vibe. 

Overall performance is reasonable from the Intel chip. But this remains an entry-level device in performance terms and we can't help thinking that Chromebooks are better suited to more efficient and cheaper ARM-powered CPUs.

It's worth noting that only the highest spec model comes with a proper M.2 SSDs. Our test system was specified with generic flash storage. And of course, the usual ChromeOS limitations that apply to all the best Chromebooks remain for those who want to run Windows applications. All of which makes this a worthy enough device that offers reasonable value. But it's not cheap enough to be truly compelling.

Asus Chromebook Plus CX34: Price and availability

  • How much does it cost?  $394.99 / £429 (about AU$610)
  • When is it available? Available now
  • Where can you get it? Available in the US and UK but not yet listed in Australia

The Asus Chromebook Plus CX34 looks like good value compared with similarly-specced Windows laptops like the Lenovo IdeaPad 3. It meets the Chromebook Plus required specifications at a pretty appealing price - but the lack of touchscreen functionality is conspicuous compared to some alternatives, like the Acer Chromebook Spin 714.

Notionally, you're getting better performance than most similarly priced Chromebooks. But in practice, it's debatable how much CPU grunt matters on a device like this, and a Chromebook with a lesser CPU but a touchscreen and sleeker design like Asus's own Chromebook Flip series will arguably be preferable for many users. 

  • Price: 4 / 5

The Asus Chromebook Plus CX34 photographed with the lid closed.

(Image credit: Future)

Asus Chromebook Plus CX34: Specs

While this is the only configuration currently available at the time of writing, Asus will be offering several other CPU, SSD, memory, and screen options. You will be able to upgrade to 10-core Intel Core i5 and i7 chips, a touchscreen, and up to 512GB of storage. However, the most significant option is arguably 16GB of RAM. That will come in handy for anyone who likes to open lots of browser tabs or indulge in heavy multitasking.

It's also worth noting that you'll need that 512GB storage upgrade to get a proper M.2 SSD. The 128GB and 256GB options make do with generic UFS flash drives with much lower bandwidth. Of course, any of these upgrades will add to the price and arguably detract from the appeal of the Asus Chromebook Plus CX34, which majors on price.

Asus Chromebook Plus CX34: Design

  • Slightly generic design
  • Sturdy build quality
  • Good connectivity

The whole point of Google's Chromebook Plus standard is to deliver a new class of devices that can compete directly with full-feature Windows laptops. It's a premium alternative to cheaper Chromebooks.

However, in design terms, the Asus Chromebook Plus CX34 has a pretty bland and basic aesthetic. The plastic chassis is sturdy enough, though the keyboard bed is a little bouncy. But the relatively large screen bezels and slightly boxy chassis don't make for a terribly slick or contemporary vibe. That design also means that this 14-inch laptop isn't especially compact, though at 1.44 kg (3.17 lbs) it is reasonably light for a 14-incher.

Image 1 of 3

The Asus Chromebook Plus CX34 photographed on a tan carpet.

(Image credit: Future)
Image 2 of 3

The Asus Chromebook Plus CX34 photographed on a white desk.

(Image credit: Future)
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The Asus Chromebook Plus CX34 photographed on a white desk.

(Image credit: Future)

Still, with two USB-C ports, two USB-A sockets, HDMI, and 3.5mm audio, connectivity is reasonable. More of a highlight is the integrated 1080p webcam. It's a definite step above most laptop webcams, even on much more expensive machines. It also has a physical shutter for guaranteed privacy.

That said, the webcam doesn't support facial recognition and there's also no fingerprint reader, so security is password-based. It's worth noting that this is a conventional laptop with no touchscreen functionality as reviewed, nor a 360-degree hinge. We're back to that basic vibe, again.

The trackpad is reasonably proportioned and there's nothing conspicuously wrong with the overall design. But the vibe is slightly dated and dreary. All of this means it's hard to get excited about the Asus Chromebook Plus CX34 just based on its looks. If worthy and workmanlike is your thing, this Asus delivers. But if you're expecting Google's new Chromebook Plus platform to automatically translate into something slick and premium, you'll be disappointed.

  • Design: 3 / 5

Asus Chromebook Plus CX34: Performance

  • Intel CPU gets the job done
  • Screen and webcam are both decent
  • Google's AI pretensions are just that
Asus Chromebook Plus CX34: Benchmarks

Here's how the Asus Chromebook Plus CX34 performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

Geekbench 5:  1,458 (single-core), 4,507 (multi-core)
Mozilla Kraken (fewer is better): 
476ms
JetStream 2 (higher is better): 242
Octane 2.0: 83,372
WebGL Acquarium 30,000 fish: 45fps
TechRadar battery life test: 10h 21m

Thanks to a proper Intel Core CPU, albeit the fairly lowly Intel Core i3-1215U with two Performance cores and four Efficient, the Asus Chromebook Plus CX34 has the basic performance to take on full-feature Windows laptops. The question is whether it matters.

Google is promoting the offline capabilities of these Chromebook Plus devices, promising double the performance of typical low-cost Chromebooks. Google even makes a pitch for these devices as content creation machines, including video editing.

But that's pretty unrealistic, as is the AI narrative Google is attaching to these Chromebook Plus laptops. The Intel CPU is decent, to be sure, but it doesn't have any particular AI capabilities since it lacks a dedicated NPU. So, any remotely significant AI work will be done in the cloud.

The Asus Chromebook Plus CX34 photographed on a white desk.

(Image credit: Future)

It's also worth noting that if you're the sort of web browser that likes to have a zillion tabs open, this 8GB model won't cut it and you should opt for the 16GB upgrade which should be available soon. As I noted earlier, you'll need to upgrade to 512GB of storage for a proper M.2 SSD as opposed to the generic UFS flash storage in this model.

But short of running out of RAM, general system responsiveness is good. Realistically, most people will use a laptop like this for web browsing and web apps, plus some content consumption. And they'll find it's well up to the task.

As for the 14-inch display, it offers decent working space thanks to 1080p native resolution. Brightness is decent at 250 nits, and the colors are reasonably vibrant. But compared to, say, a typical tablet, it's nothing special for image quality or pixel density. The integrated speakers, meanwhile, are pretty terrible. The volume levels are OK, but the sound quality is horribly thin.

That said, one of the better hardware features is the 1080p webcam. It has much better image quality than most laptops, even far more expensive machines. It also benefits from operating-system level processing, including background blur and noise cancellation, which can be applied to any video calling or conferencing application.

Overall, the Asus Chromebook Plus CX34 has the basic grunt to take on lower-cost Windows laptops thanks to its Intel CPU. But given that Chrome OS will run just as happily on a cheaper and more efficient ARM CPU, it's hard to see the logic in paying the Intel premium.

  • Performance: 3.5 / 5

Asus Chromebook Plus CX34: Battery life

The Asus Chromebook Plus CX34 photographed on a white desk.

(Image credit: Future)
  • Medium-sized battery
  • But decent light-usage battery life

At 50Whrs, the Asus Chromebook Plus CX34 doesn't have the biggest battery. Nor do Intel CPUs have the best reputation when it comes to operating away from a wall outlet. But perhaps thanks to the efficiency and minimal bloat of the Chrome OS operating system, battery life in light usage is decent, with over 10 hours of movie playback possible.

You'll get a lot less than that if you put any real amount of load on that Intel CPU, so bear that in mind if you're planning to run demanding software. But given the modest price point, the battery life is in line with expectations.

  • Battery life: 4 / 5

Should you buy the Asus Chromebook Plus CX34?

Buy it if...

You want a sturdy, reliable, and cheap laptop
The Asus Chromebook Plus CX34 doesn't look exciting. But it's well built, has a decent screen, a good webcam, and reasonable battery life.

You don't need Windows
If what you want to do with a laptop mainly revolves around accessing your Google account and apps, the Asus Chromebook Plus CX34 gets the job done.

Don't buy it if...

You want something sleek and slick
The Asus Chromebook Plus CX34's design is a little dated, with fairly large bezels and a boxy chassis design.

You want a movie machine
If you're looking for something to take on trips and holidays for watching Netflix in your Airbnb, look elsewhere. The Asus Chromebook Plus CX34's built-in speakers are terrible.

Asus Chromebook Plus CX34: Also consider

If our Asus Chromebook Plus CX34 review has you considering other options, here are two more laptops to consider...  

How I tested the Asus Chromebook Plus CX34

  • Used for a week in place of my usual laptop
  • Office work, general web use, Android apps, media playback
  • Ran the Techradar benchmark suite

I spent a week with the Asus Chromebook Plus CX34 giving it full reign over my Google account and running all my usual apps from web browsing to photo editing. Of course, there was a spot of YouTubing and Netflixing, too, plus our suite of more formal benchmarks. I also tested the Asus Chromebook Plus CX34's battery life for both general usage and light content consumption off the mains.

Along with assessing objective performance, the aim was to get a feel for how this Chromebook stands up as an all-round replacement for a conventional Windows laptop. Just how does Google's Chromebook Plus standard stack up?

Read more about how we test

First reviewed March 2024

Dell XPS 14 9440 review: a stunning laptop that gives Windows users a real MacBook competitor
11:44 pm | April 1, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Computing Gadgets Laptops | Tags: , | Comments: Off

Dell XPS 14 9440: Two minute review

The Dell XPS 14 is the newest entrant into an already storied line of laptops, and it is arguably the best laptop of this newest crop of XPS devices thanks to its powerful new processor, stunning OLED display, and a design that looks better than just about any other Windows laptop on the market.

The XPS 14 9440 starts at a somewhat pricey $1,499 / £1,599 / AU$2,998.60, and it lacks the dedicated Nvidia RTX 4050 GPU and OLED display, so you'll want to upgrade these two specs in particular, though it will end up costing you much more for the privilege. 

To be clear, Dell XPS laptops have never been cheap, but my recommended configuration, the same as the one I reviewed, will set you back nearly $2,400 / £2,650 / AU$4,300. For the hardware packed into such a slim 14-inch form factor, it's more than worth the investment as this laptop will last for years before it becomes obsolete.

In terms of design, the XPS 14 fully commits to the design changes that the Dell XPS 13 Plus introduced back in 2022, but introduces a couple of quality-of-life improvements on its smaller cousin.

For one, the down-firing speakers have been moved up top alongside the keyboard, producing far better sound in exchange for diminishing the XPS 13 Plus's infinity edge-style keyboard. This is a much better design choice, ultimately, and you don't sacrifice much in the way of key space on the deck itself.

The display is what really steals the show here: a gorgeous 3.2K OLED display with super-slim bezels. This latter feature is impressive because Dell has somehow managed to squeeze in a 1080p webcam. There's no physical privacy shutter, but that's never really been Dell's thing, unfortunately.

The Dell XPS 14's Intel Core Ultra 7 155H and the Nvidia RTX 4050 deliver powerful performance across all workloads, and in some cases can even match or exceed what you'd get from a MacBook Pro 14-inch, especially for gaming (though the RTX 4050 isn't nearly powerful enough to keep up with the best gaming laptops).

Overall, the Dell XPS 14 9440 is a powerful performer for everything from everyday computing use to 1080p gaming to moderate content creation. It's an expensive investment, but on balance, it's one of the best Windows laptops you can buy right now.

Dell XPS 14 9440: Price and availability

A Dell XPS 14 on a desk

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)
  • How much does it cost? Starting at $1,499 / £1,599 / AU$2,998.60
  • When is it out? It's available right now
  • Where can you get it? You can get it in the US, UK, and Australia

The Dell XPS 14 9440 is available now in the US, UK, and Australia, starting at $1,499 / £1,599 / AU$2,998.60. For that price, you get an Intel Core Ultra 7 155H processor with integrated Arc graphics, 16GB LPDDR5x memory, 512GB M.2 PCIe SSD storage, and a 14.5-inch full HD+ (1920x1200p) non-touch display.

My review unit, which sells for $900 / £1,050 / AU$1,300 more, upgrades to discrete graphics with an Nvidia RTX 4050 (30W) GPU, 32GB LPDDR5x memory, 1TB M.2 PCIe SSD, and a 14.5-inch 3.2K (3200x2000p) OLED display.

You can max out your configuration with 64GB LPDDR5x RAM and 4TB M.2 PCIe SSD, in addition to the above, for $3,399 / £3,238.99 / AU$5,999.40.

  • Value: 4 / 5

Dell XPS 14 9440: Specs

A Dell XPS 14 on a desk

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

Dell XPS 14 9440: Design

A Dell XPS 14 on a desk

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)
  • Gorgeous design
  • OLED display is stunning
  • Upfiring speakers

The Dell XPS 14 doesn't shy away from the design choices that the XPS 13 Plus introduced, for better or for worse, but it does make some very important improvements to the previous design iterations.

For one, let's talk about top-firing speakers. Down-firing speakers are genuinely terrible. They might be necessary, but they're terrible, and any time we can get top-firing speakers on a laptop, your audio experience is automatically going to improve substantially.

A Dell XPS 14 on a desk

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

The exterior finish comes in two colors: Platinum or Graphite. The finish is a CNC machined aluminum with a glass palm rest, and everything about it feels premium. The chasis itself isn't all that heavy, but it's not as light as something like the LG Gram or some of the best ultrabooks that prioritize portability over performance.

A Dell XPS 14 on a desk

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

For ports, you have three Thunderbolt 4 ports with power delivery and DisplayPort output, a 3.5mm combo jack, and a microSD slot. Given its size, I'm not expecting all that much on the ports front, but it's good to see the microSD slot included since this at least gives some flexibility for creative professionals or those who might have a device that saves to microSD, like one of the best drone models.

A Dell XPS 14 on a desk

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

As for the keyboard, this is one area that's not so great, since the nearly flat surface of the keys makes it difficult for touch typers who are used to a bit more definition to find their place among the keys. You'll get used to it, but it's not the best typing experience I've ever had on a keyboard out of the box.

A Dell XPS 14 on a desk

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

Another major issue is the trackpad, in that it's invisible. This does give the laptop a bit of a 'future' feel to it, but at the cost of accessibility. Likewise, the touchbar along the top is in place of actual function keys. All of these features work fine enough for me, but I can see someone with reduced vision struggling with this keyboard and trackpad.

A Dell XPS 14 on a desk

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

Next, you have the webcam. Somehow, Dell managed to fit a 1080p webcam into the narrow top bezel of the display panel, and it's a welcome addition. Too many laptops skip the 1080p webcam in order to retain the thin bezels, and that was fine in the pre-work-from-home era, but nowadays, you need a quality webcam, there's just no getting around it.

A Dell XPS 14 on a desk

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

Finally, the air intake on the Dell XPS 14 comes in from the side and bleeds out the back though a vent underneath the display hinge. The heat management is ok, but given its thin form factor, the underside can get hot under load.

A Dell XPS 14 on a desk

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

As far as Windows laptops go, this is possibly one of the best-looking laptops going. There are some who won't love—or even like—the planar-leveled keyboard and lack of physical function keys or clearly defined trackpad, but overall, there is way more to like here than to nitpick, especially if you're opting for the OLED display.

  • Design: 4.5 / 5

Dell XPS 14 9440: Performance

A Dell XPS 14 on a desk running resource intensive apps

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)
  • Excellent all-around performance
  • Surprisingly competitive against the MacBook Pro for creative work
  • Fantastic productivity and solid gaming performance

Finally we come down to the performance of the Dell XPS 14, and I can definitely say that it is among the best you're going to get on a laptop right now.

The direct rival of the Dell XPS 14 is the Apple MacBook Pro 14-inch with M3 Pro, and the XPS 14 holds its own against the best Apple has to offer in terms of general performance, features superior gaming performance, and also manages to battle the MacBook Pro 14 to a draw for some typical creative workloads.

While the MacBook Pro 14-inch ultimately offers better single-core performance and slightly better multicore performance, the Intel Core Ultra 7 155H paired with an Nvidia RTX 4050 GPU does an admirable job against one of Apple's best processors.

In terms of overall system performance, the MacBook Pro 14 with M3 Pro (11-core) does manage to score about 23% better in our Crossmark benchmark, as well as scoring about 12% better in Geekbench 6.2's multicore performance test. 

The two laptops are evenly matched for SSD performance, and the MacBook Pro 14-inch scores better in 3DMark's Wildlife Extreme and Wildlife Extreme Unlimited. The RTX 4050 in the XPS 14, meanwhile, pulls ahead of the M3 Pro's GPU in Solar Bay and Solar Bay Unlimited, which are ray-tracing workloads, so this shouldn't be surprising as Nvidia's hardware can handle ray tracing far better than Apple's chips right now.

In terms of creative performance, the Nvidia RTX GPU in the XPS 14 will outperform pretty much any comparable Apple device when it comes to 3D modeling, since just about every 3D modeling tool relies on Nvidia's CUDA instruction set, so Apple, AMD, and Intel will always be at a disadvantage.

When it comes to video encoding, the XPS 14 manages to encode a 4K video into 1080p about 7% faster in Handbrake 1.7, though depending on the app you're using, Apple's specialized encoding engine might be determinative. If you're a creative pro working in film and video, you'll know which tools play best with Apple and which lean towards Nvidia, so which is better will come down to the tools you'll ultimately need to use.

A Dell XPS 14 on a desk running resource intensive apps

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

Finally, taking the average 1200p gaming performance on Max settings, the Dell XPS 14 does a better job than the MacBook Pro 14 across the board. The XPS 14 does about 62% better with Civilization VI, getting nearly 90 fps at 1200p with performance and memory impact set to max. In Total War: Warhammer III's battle benchmark, the XPS 14 gets around 40 fps, which is about 25% higher than the MacBook Pro 14-inch's 32 fps. It's only in Shadow of the Tomb Raider that the MacBook Pro 14-inch scores a win, getting 48 fps at 1200p on highest settings, while the Dell XPS 14 manages to get 47 fps, but there's a huge caveat there.

This doesn't factor in the RTX 4050's DLSS upscaler, which can push the XPS 14's fps much higher than that, depending on the settings you select. This is a huge advantage for the XPS 14 that, for right now at least, Apple's best MacBook struggles to counter since its upscaler, Apple MetalFX, is developer-dependent, and not a lot of games include it as an option.

In the end, then, the Dell XPS 14 manages to go toe-to-toe with the venerable MacBook Pro 14 and comes out with some very important wins in the process.

  • Performance: 5 / 5

Dell XPS 14 9440: Battery life

A Dell XPS 14 on a desk

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)
  • Intel Evo is back, baby!
  • Charges to full in less than 90 minutes

Intel chips have not had good battery life for years. Back in 2020, Intel Evo was a big deal, and one of its biggest qualifiers was achieving more than 9 hours of battery life on a standard battery test. With the 12th-gen Intel Alder Lake laptop processors released in 2021, battery life on Intel laptops absolutely tanked, and Intel Evo faded away for a few years as Intel went through Alder Lake, Raptor Lake, and Raptor Lake Refresh, all of which had generally terrible battery life (even on an ultrabook!).

Now, with the Intel Core Ultra 7 155H, Intel seems to have refocused itself on more battery efficiency rather than dumping electrons into maximum performance.

The Dell XPS 14 benefits with a nine-hour 35-minute battery life on our proprietary web surfing test, which is far better than the six or seven hours these laptops were getting just a year or two ago.

Under heavier load, the XPS 14 still struggles to get more than seven hours of battery life on PCMark 10's Modern Office battery test, and the PCMark 10 Gaming battery test only ran for about one hour 50 minutes before shutting down.

These are a far cry from what Apple is able to pull off with the MacBook Pro 14-inch with M3 Pro, which lasted about 17 hours 32 minutes in our battery tests, but knowing where Windows laptops have been in the past couple of years, I'll gladly take a laptop that can last a full workday without a charge.

  • Battery Life: 4 / 5

Should you buy a Dell XPS 14 9440?

A Dell XPS 14 on a desk

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

Buy the Dell XPS 14 9440 if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider

Dell XPS 14 9440: Report card

  • First reviewed April 2024

How We Test

We pride ourselves on our independence and our rigorous review-testing process, offering up long-term attention to the products we review and making sure our reviews are updated and maintained - regardless of when a device was released, if you can still buy it, it's on our radar.

Read more about how we test

Samsung Galaxy Book4 Pro review: Samsung’s MacBook killer gets Intel’s latest CPU
7:21 pm | March 13, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Computing Gadgets Laptops | Tags: , , | Comments: Off

Samsung Galaxy Book4 Pro: Two-minute review

If you like the look of Apple's MacBooks but prefer or simply require the Windows ecosystem, well, you can do a lot worse than the new Samsung Galaxy Book4 Pro. Like its predecessor, the very similar Samsung Galaxy Book3 Pro, it owes its overall look and feel to the MacBook.

Thanks to its sleek wedge-shaped chassis, it's most similar to Apple's now defunct MacBook M1 Air in terms of design. But for features and performance it probably falls somewhere in between the newer and boxier MacBook Air 13-inch (M3) and the base model MacBook Pro 14-inch.

Available in both 14-inch and 16-inch formats, this 14-inch model has both advantages and weaknesses compared to Apple's alternatives. The Samsung Galaxy Book4 Pro's OLED screen is a definite highlight with incredible image quality plus 120Hz refresh. It also supports touch input. Apple simply can't compete.

On the other hand, the Samsung Galaxy Book4 Pro's speakers disappoint and its trackpad is merely OK. Apple definitely does those things better. As for performance, it's a close-run thing compared to the Apple M2 chip, though the latest M3 is arguably a step above. You get Intel's hot new Meteor Lake CPU in Intel Core Ultra 7 155H configuration with six performance cores and eight efficiency cores.

Samsung says the new Intel chip improves the Galaxy Book4 Pro's already impressive battery life by about 10% and we found you can get nearly 14 hours of video playback and over 11 hours of more intensive use. Put simply, this laptop offers genuine all-day longevity.

On the downside, the design is definitely derivative, the speakers are very disappointing and the trackpad is merely OK. But overall, this isn't just one of the best Windows alternatives for MacBook fans. It can take the fight to any competing laptop in our best laptop 2024 guide.

 

Samsung Galaxy Book4 Pro in use on a desk showing the screen

(Image credit: Future)

Samsung Galaxy Book4 Pro: Price & availability

  • How much does it cost? $1,449 / £1,599
  • Where is it available? Available in the US and UK

Priced at $1,449 in the US and £1,559 in the UK for the entry-level model with 16GB of memory and a 512GB SSD, the Samsung Galaxy Book4 Pro is definitely premium priced but it's not outrageously expensive. It's a little pricier than a comparably specced MacBook Air, but cheaper than the entry-level 14-inch MacBook Pro.

On the other hand, Dell's XPS 13 can be had with the same Meteor Lake CPU with matching memory and storage specs for a little less money, and the XPS 14 for about the same money. 

However, the XPS 13 can't be had with an OLED display and with the XPS 14 an OLED panel can be configured, but adds $300 / £200 to the price. All of which means the Samsung Galaxy Book4 Pro isn't cheap, but it does still offer a strong value proposition.

  • Price score:  4 / 5

Samsung Galaxy Book4 Pro: Specs

The Samsung Galaxy Book4 Pro comes in two configurations, 14-inch and 16-inch versions.

  • Specs score: 4 / 5

Samsung Galaxy Book4 Pro next to a MacBook Air

(Image credit: Future)

Samsung Galaxy Book4 Pro: Design

  • Good build quality
  • Apple-derivative design
  • Very portable

There's no denying it. The Samsung Galaxy Book4 Pro wouldn't look like it does were it not for the Apple MacBook and more specifically, the MacBook Air and its wedge-shaped chassis. The Galaxy Book4 Pro is awfully, awfully similar, from the tapering chassis thickness to the keyboard design, the look of the trackpad, and the way the screen lid hinges and closes.

Samsung has also come pretty close to matching Apple's signature build quality and engineering. The keyboard bed is super rigid and the chassis feels strong even if the way the various parts fit together doesn't quite match Apple's peerless precision.

There are other details where Samsung can't match Apple. The Samsung Galaxy Book4 Pro's speakers don't even come close to those of the MacBook Air, let alone the MacBook Pro. That's a real pity and it's hard to understand why Samsung can't give this laptop high sound quality to match the stunning OLED screen. That display, of course, is a touchscreen, which adds an extra string to this Windows laptop's bow that no MacBook offers.

The trackpad, meanwhile, is fine by Windows laptop standards, but isn't quite as precise and satisfying to use as Apple's haptic trackpad. On the other hand, Samsung has managed to offer better port selection than the MacBook Air. Along with a pair of Thunderbolt USB-C ports, you get a legacy USB-A, a full HDMI socket, microSD, and a headphone jack.

That's impressive given the compact form factor which comes in at just 11.6mm thick and 1.23kg. This is an extremely portable laptop, a fact that's only helped by the teeny-tiny 35W USB-C power adapter.

So, this is a very nicely designed and engineered machine on pretty much every level. Among Windows laptops, few if any are better built. But it is, ultimately, a pretty derivative machine in aesthetic terms. Dell's XPS portables are much more distinctive, while Apple's MacBooks are ultimately the real deal.

  • Design score: 4 / 5

Samsung Galaxy Book4 Pro in use on a desk showing the screen

(Image credit: Future)

Samsung Galaxy Book4 Pro: Performance

  • Intel Meteor Lake CPU is punchy
  • OLED screen is stunning
  • Good storage performance
Samsung Galaxy Book4 Pro: Benchmarks

Here's how the Samsung Galaxy Book4 Pro performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

3DMark: Night Raid: 22,295; Fire Strike: N/A; Time Spy: 3,343
Cinebench R23 Multi-core: 7,016 points; Single-core: 1,579
CrystalDiskMark 8 SSD sequential: 5.047MB/s (read); 3,993MB/s (write)
CrystalDiskMark 8 SSD 4K: 72MB/s (read); 175MB/s (write)
CrossMark: Overall: 1,601 Productivity: 1,466 Creativity: 1,803 Responsiveness: 1463
Sid Meier's Civilization VI: Gathering Storm: 38fps
PCMark 10 Battery Life: 11 hours and 48 minutes
1080p video playback battery life: 13 hours and 54 minutes

Intel's new Meteor Lake CPU isn't a radical step forward for performance. But it does deliver all the performance you could reasonably ask for in a thin and light laptop like this.

The Intel Core Ultra 7 155H gives you six meaty Performance cores running at up to 4.8GHz, plus eight Efficient cores capable of 3.8GHz. For day-to-day tasks like web browsing and content consumption, the combination of the Intel chip plus 16GB of fast DDR5 memory and a really quick Samsung SSD makes for an ultra-speedy and responsive experience.

But you also have plenty of performance in hand for some pretty serious workflows like image and video editing. Really, the only limitation involves graphics performance. The new Intel Meteor Lake CPU has a good integrated graphics processor. But it can't quite match that of the integrated GPU in AMD's competing Ryzen laptops APUs and it isn't up to the job of playing modern PC games.

Of course, you can get similar performance from a whole slew of Windows laptops that offer Intel's new Meteor Lake chips. But it's still impressive to experience this level of performance in such a compact and portable laptop.

Another highlight is the AMOLED screen. It's just so vibrant and offers perfect per-pixel lighting control, so the HDR experience is truly spectacular. No LCD screen, even one with local dimming, comes close. It's also much brighter than comparable desktop OLED monitors. What's more, it runs at 120Hz for extreme smoothness and responsiveness and has touchscreen functionality.

Samsung Galaxy Book4 Pro in use on a desk showing the screen

(Image credit: Future)

The only slight flaw involves the screen's dynamic refresh mode. It can switch between 60Hz and 120Hz on the fly and according to application demand. The idea is that running at 120Hz increases battery load, so the screen only steps up to 120Hz when significant on-screen motion is detected. We noticed very occasional stutters that may be related to this feature. It's not a major flaw and, in any case, you have the option of running in conventional 60Hz and 120Hz modes.

Overall, our only significant reservation regarding the Samsung Galaxy Book4 Pro's performance is those aforementioned speakers. By Windows laptop standards, they're OK. But if you are familiar with Apple's MacBooks and thinking of making the switch, you'll be very disappointed. 

Where watching movies and video content on MacBooks, perhaps while on holiday, is a really enjoyable experience, thanks to some great speakers, on the Samsung Galaxy Book4 Pro you'd have to bring an additional Bluetooth speaker to get a similar experience. That's a pity.

  • Performance score: 4 / 5

Samsung Galaxy Book4 Pro in use on a desk showing the screen

(Image credit: Future)

Samsung Galaxy Book4 Pro: Battery life

  • Even better than before
  • Genuine all-day battery life

The Samsung Galaxy Book3 Pro already had great battery life. With the upgrade to Intel's latest CPUs, it just got better. For movie and video playback, you're looking at the thick end of 14 hours, more than enough for pretty much any plane flight.

Even under heavier loads browsing the web and undertaking more demanding workflows, well over 10 hours is possible. That means with light and occasional use, you'll get multiple days out of this laptop. And when you're getting important work done, you can rely on it lasting all day away from the mains.

Should you buy the Samsung Galaxy Book4 Pro?

Buy it if...

You want a MacBook-style Windows experience
The Samsung Galaxy Book4 Pro looks and feels a lot like Apple's MacBook machines and that's mostly a good thing.

You want great battery life
With around 14 hours of video playback and well over 10 hours with more demanding use, all-day battery life is genuinely achievable.

Don't buy it if...

You want to play games
The Intel Meteor Lake CPU is great for just about everything. But despite an improved integrated GPU, that doesn't include games.

You want to watch movies and video
The OLED screen is fabulous. But the built-in speakers are very disappointing and spoil the content consumption experience.

Samsung Galaxy Book4 Pro: Also consider

If our Samsung Galaxy Book4 Pro review has you considering other options, here are two laptops to consider...

How I tested the Samsung Galaxy Book4 Pro

  • I tested the Samsung Galaxy Book4 Pro for a week
  • I used it both on a desk and while travelling

I used the Samsung Galaxy Book4 Pro as my main workhorse for a week, including as a desktop machine plugged into monitors, when on the move, lounging on the sofa, the works.

That gave me a good idea of how it coped with all kinds of tasks, how portable it is and how well the battery lasts in the real world (spoiler, it lasts really well). I have a MacBook Air of my own, so it made for an intriguing comparison. And I have, of course, been testing and reviewing laptops since the early Mesozoic period, so I have plenty of context to draw on.

Read more about how we test

First reviewed March 2024

Apple MacBook Air 15-inch (M3) review: Bigger, bolder, faster, better
5:00 pm | March 7, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Computing Gadgets Laptops Macbooks | Tags: , | Comments: Off

Apple MacBook Air 15-inch (M3): Two-minute review

Sometimes I struggle to explain why someone might choose a larger, heavier MacBook Air 15-inch over the regular super light and thin MacBook Air. It's an especially difficult conversation because, aside from size, there are no functional differences between the new Apple MacBook Air 15-inch (M3) and equally-new MacBook Air 13-inch (M3). 

Aesthetically, they have the same design. MacBook Air left the wedge look behind a couple of years ago (and officially canceled it this year with the removal of the M1 MacBook Air) and now sports a flat and still pleasing slab look. Both MacBook Airs are made of recycled aluminum and an anodized midnight black finish that does a decent if imperfect job of repelling fingerprints (space black on the MacBook Pro hides the prints a little better).

The Magic Keyboards and trackpads are essentially the same, including the quite useful Touch ID/power/sleep button. 

They have similar, spatial-audio-capable sound systems that I like (though I tend to use AirPod Pros with them so as not to disturb my office mates). Due to the larger size of the MacBook Air 15-inch, however, you get two extra speakers (six rather than four), and the 15-inch model's speakers include force-canceling woofers that offers decent bass without causing distracting vibrations. 

Apple MacBook Air 15-inch M3 REVIEW

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Ultimately, it all comes down to size. The MacBook Air 15-inch offers significantly larger palm rests, which makes my typing experience that much better. The screen, though no sharper than the MacBook Pro 13-inch's 224ppi Liquid Retina display, adds hundreds of pixels to make it the most expansive MacBook Air experience available.

And that's what it comes down to – more space. Is that worth an extra $200? Perhaps. I've been using the MacBook Air 15-inch (M3) for the better part of a week and already am a little spoiled by the extra screen real estate and roomy keyboard base.

It still bothers me that, despite the larger, thicker, and heavier chassis, the 15-inch MacBook Air offers no more battery life than its substantially smaller sibling. Still, having a powerful M3 chip inside makes this a big-screen workhorse that might turn a few heads from the pricier MacBook Pro 14-inch that can also be configured to feature an M3 chip. Sure, you give up an SD card slot, an HDMI port, a little bit of battery life, and that higher-resolution screen, but you get a larger screen, a slightly lighter system, and save $300.

Overall, I think for those who demand more screen real estate (without connecting it to up to two external displays – but while keeping the laptop closed), the 15-inch MacBook Air is the right choice.

Compared to the 15-inch laptop market, the MacBook Air 15-inch M3 will maintain its leadership position atop our best 15-inch Laptop buying guide. It's better looking, faster, and either comparable or more affordable than many of the top-tier models available from Dell, HP, and Razer (I'm not talking about heavy, bargain basement 15-inch models, by the way).

Apple MacBook Air 15-inch (M3) review: Price and availability

  • Announced on March 4, 2024
  • Shipping March 8
  • Base model is $1,299 / £1,399 / AU$2,199

The Apple MacBook Air 15-inch M3 (2024) begins shipping out globally to customers on March 8, 2024.  

The base model starts at $1,299 / £1,399 / AU$2,199 and ships with an M3 CPU (8-core CPU and 10-core GPU ), 8 GB of unified memory, and a 256GD SSD. The system is configurable to up to 24GB of memory, and 2TB SSD. My test unit arrived with 16GB of memory and a 512GB SSD, a configuration that would run you $1,499.

While it can be hard to directly compare Intel Core i7 systems with those running Apple silicon, the price of the MacBook Air 15-inch M3 base model still compares favorably to Core i7 systems like the Dell XPS 15.

  • Price score: 4.5/5

Apple MacBook Air 15-inch (M3) review: Specs

The Apple MacBook Air 15-inch M3 (2024) is available in three configurations that essentially add memory and storage but otherwise leave the base system unchanged.

You get your money's worth, but I do think it's time for the base model of all MacBook Airs to start with at least 512GB of storage.

Apple MacBook Air 15-inch M3 REVIEW

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Each of these options can be configured to add more memory (up to 24GB), and add storage up to 2TB. 

Apple MacBook Air 15-inch (M3) review: Design

  • Larger 15-inch screen
  • Design unchanged from M2 MacBook Air 15-inch
  • The Midnight finish rebuffs fingerprints

I know some people still mourn the loss of the MacBook Air's original wedge shape and like to imagine what that would look like on a 15-inch model, but the slab look of the new MacBook Airs (now on their second generation) has grown on me. The recycled aluminum chassis is all clean lines and buffed corners.

The dimensions of this M3-sporting MacBook Air match those of the last 15-inch model. It's still 0.45 (11.5mm) inches thick (a hair thicker than the 13-inch model, which is 11.3mm thick), 13.40 inches wide, and 9.35 inches deep. The portable weighs 3.3 lbs, which is a little more than half a pound heavier than the 13-inch model. That's still pretty lightweight for a 15-inch model. However, as much as I like this big screen, I still prefer carrying the lightest possible laptop and would probably choose the 2.7 lb. MacBook Air 13-inch over this one. 

Apple offers the MacBook Air in a variety of colors (silver, starlight, space gray, and midnight)  but my preference is for the new midnight, which like space black (available on the MacBook Pro 14 M3 Max I reviewed last year) is anodized to cut down on fingerprints. Because midnight is not as dark as the black, it's not quite as successful at hiding all of my fingerprints. I hope that future MacBook Airs get the  awesome space black option.

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Apple MacBook Air 15-inch M3 REVIEW

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Apple MacBook Air 15-inch M3 REVIEW

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Apple MacBook Air 15-inch M3 REVIEW

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Apple MacBook Air 15-inch M3 REVIEW

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Apple MacBook Air 15-inch M3 REVIEW

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Apple MacBook Air 15-inch M3 REVIEW

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Apple MacBook Air 15-inch M3 REVIEW

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

The MacBook Air 15-inch M3 design is, in some ways, cleaner than that of the MacBook Pro. Where the latter has fine speaker grills on either side of the keyboard, the MacBook Air 15 – which has room for speakers – is all smooth metal. I like the look of it.

Apple's Magic Keyboard remains one of my favorite ultraportable typing experiences. There's a pleasing amount of travel and response and, of course, lots of room to work. Similarly, the force touch trackpad is huge and responsive. I still wish Apple would offer an update where you could draw on the touchpad using an Apple Pencil (a guy can dream, can't he?).

As you might expect the MacBook Air 15-inch M3 is not packed with every port you can imagine or need. There is, however, a pair of Thunderbolt ports capable of driving up to two external displays (but only with the laptop closed). I used my test system with it connected to a Targus 7-port universal USB-C adapter, which was then connected to a 24-inch HD display. The ports are also useful for data and power. They both sit on one side of the laptop, next to the MagSafe charge port. On the other side is that vestigial 3.5mm headphone jack that audiophiles will appreciate. Apple should add one more USB-C port on this side of the laptop. Maybe they will the next time they redesign the MacBook Air.

Apple MacBook Air 15-inch M3 REVIEW

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

One of the big (get it?) selling points of the 15-inch MacBook Air is the expansive Liquid Retina display. It's still 224ppi but where the 13-inch MacBook Air's 13.6-inch Liquid Retina display offers a resolution of 2560 x 1664 pixels, my 15-inch MacBook Air's 15.3-inch display offers a 2880 x 1864 resolution, which means hundreds more pixels and a lot more screen real estate

There is a lot to love about this display. It supports 1 billion colors and and the P3 wide color gamut. This means that everything from the depressing Netflix movie Spaceman to games like Death Stranding Directors Cut looks excellent. 500 nits is not necessarily the brightest screen, but I found the display viable in all manner of light situations.

I have grown used to the rather larger notch at the top of the screen, which accommodates the Facetime camera. That 1080p camera is also excellent for Google Meets, and Zoom conferences. One person told me I looked "crystal clear" during our one-on-one video meeting, while another, who was part of a more bandwidth-constrained group meeting, told me I looked a bit cartoonish.

  • Design score: 4.5/5

Apple MacBook Air 15-inch (M3) review: Performance

  • Powered by M3 chip
  • It does it all
  • All the power and intelligence you need for local AI tasks
Benchmarks

Here’s how the MacBook Air 15-inch (M3) performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

Geekbench 6.2.2 Single-Core: 3,102; Multi-Core: 12,052 Battery Life (Web Surfing test): 15 hours and 3 minutes

In Apple silicon's short history, there has yet to be a shred of disappointment. Every iteration builds on the last in spectacular fashion. I've tested every Apple silicon update from the initial M1 to this new class of M3 chips and, without exception, each one is as blindingly fast and as efficient as an SoC (System on Chip) can be. 

Without Apple silicon, the MacBook Air 15-inch would be a relatively lightweight, big-screen laptop bursting with Apple's signature style but perhaps weighed down a bit by Intel's still underperforming desktop-class silicon.

With the M3, my MacBook Air 15-inch is fast, flexible, and ready for just about anything. Its Geekbench 6 numbers are noticeably higher than those of the previous-class M2 MacBook Air 15-inch. 

In real-world use, the ultrabook is as effective an everyday browsing and information-gathering system as it is a platform for intense image editing and a wide array of onboard and in-the-cloud AI operations.

In Adobe Photoshop, I asked the Firefly Generative AI platform to create a whole picture based on a thumbnail of a house in the hills. The result came instantly and looked real but also dreamy. 

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Adobe Firefly

Running Adobe Firefly (Image credit: Future)
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Adobe Firefly

(Image credit: Future)

When I asked the local AI engine Freechat for a presentation on horology, it quickly spit out an outline for all my slides. It would not, however, create the slide images. And when I asked Microsoft's Copilot for images, the cloud-based app took a bit longer but I eventually got a bunch of pictures of "A middle-aged bald guy with glasses using a laptop in the middle of a magical park".

I tried the same prompt with the local AI tool DiffusionBee (it lets you download the image models to the MacBook) and while it was a bit faster, the results were not nearly as good.

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local and cloud-based AI

A Microsoft Copilot test (Image credit: Future)
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local and cloud-based AI

A DiffusionBee test (Image credit: Future)

If you're wondering why I'm suddenly talking about generative AI in the context of a MacBook Air, blame Apple. The company's been doing AI forever and has built every Apple Silicon SoC with an onboard Neural Egninge but only recently started touting its AI bona fides because, well, everyone else is doing it.

To be fair, it's clear to me that whatever generative AI skills Apple introduces at WWDC 2024 in June, the MacBook Air 15-inch M3 will be ready for it.

The MacBook Air 15-inch M3 is also an able gaming system. I played Death Stranding: Directors Cut and Asphalt 8 (with a connected PlayStation Controller). The M3 is well-equipped to handle HD-level gameplay on both games. I tried cranking the resolution up to the max on DeathStranding, but the frame rate sputters to well below 30fps. If you want to play AAA games on this laptop at a smooth 60fps, you'll want to keep the resolution at an HD level (1920x1080). In that setting, I could still see the texture of Léa Seydoux's skin.

On the connectivity front, Apple upgraded the WiFi from Wifi 6 to WiFi 6E. Bluetooth is the same as it was on the last model: 5.3.

Image 1 of 5

If you're wondering why I'm suddenly talking about generative AI in the context of a MacBook Air, blame Apple. The company's been doing AI forever and has built every Apple Silicon SoC with an onboard Neural Egninge but only recently started touting its AI bonafides because, well, everyone else is doing it. To be fair, it's clear to me that whatever generative AI skills Apple introduces at WWDC 2024 in June, the MacBook Air 15-inch M3 will be ready for it. The MacBook Air 15-inch M3 is also an able gaming system. I played Death Stranding: Directors Cut and Asphalt 8 (with a connected PlayStation Controller). The M3 is well-equipped to handle HD-level gameplay on both games. I tried cranking the resolution up to the max on DeathStranding, but the frame rate sputters to well below 30fps. If you want to play AAA games on this laptop at a smooth 60fps, you'll want to keep the resolution at an HD level (1920x1080). In that setting, I could still see the texture of Léa Seydoux's skin. On the connectivity front, Apple upgraded the WiFi from Wifi 6 to WiFi 6E. Bluetooth is the same as it was on the last model: 5.3.

Playing DeathStranding on a MacBook Air 15-inch M3 (Image credit: Future)
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If you're wondering why I'm suddenly talking about generative AI in the context of a MacBook Air, blame Apple. The company's been doing AI forever and has built every Apple Silicon SoC with an onboard Neural Egninge but only recently started touting its AI bonafides because, well, everyone else is doing it. To be fair, it's clear to me that whatever generative AI skills Apple introduces at WWDC 2024 in June, the MacBook Air 15-inch M3 will be ready for it. The MacBook Air 15-inch M3 is also an able gaming system. I played Death Stranding: Directors Cut and Asphalt 8 (with a connected PlayStation Controller). The M3 is well-equipped to handle HD-level gameplay on both games. I tried cranking the resolution up to the max on DeathStranding, but the frame rate sputters to well below 30fps. If you want to play AAA games on this laptop at a smooth 60fps, you'll want to keep the resolution at an HD level (1920x1080). In that setting, I could still see the texture of Léa Seydoux's skin. On the connectivity front, Apple upgraded the WiFi from Wifi 6 to WiFi 6E. Bluetooth is the same as it was on the last model: 5.3.

(Image credit: Future)
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If you're wondering why I'm suddenly talking about generative AI in the context of a MacBook Air, blame Apple. The company's been doing AI forever and has built every Apple Silicon SoC with an onboard Neural Egninge but only recently started touting its AI bonafides because, well, everyone else is doing it. To be fair, it's clear to me that whatever generative AI skills Apple introduces at WWDC 2024 in June, the MacBook Air 15-inch M3 will be ready for it. The MacBook Air 15-inch M3 is also an able gaming system. I played Death Stranding: Directors Cut and Asphalt 8 (with a connected PlayStation Controller). The M3 is well-equipped to handle HD-level gameplay on both games. I tried cranking the resolution up to the max on DeathStranding, but the frame rate sputters to well below 30fps. If you want to play AAA games on this laptop at a smooth 60fps, you'll want to keep the resolution at an HD level (1920x1080). In that setting, I could still see the texture of Léa Seydoux's skin. On the connectivity front, Apple upgraded the WiFi from Wifi 6 to WiFi 6E. Bluetooth is the same as it was on the last model: 5.3.

(Image credit: Future)
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If you're wondering why I'm suddenly talking about generative AI in the context of a MacBook Air, blame Apple. The company's been doing AI forever and has built every Apple Silicon SoC with an onboard Neural Egninge but only recently started touting its AI bonafides because, well, everyone else is doing it. To be fair, it's clear to me that whatever generative AI skills Apple introduces at WWDC 2024 in June, the MacBook Air 15-inch M3 will be ready for it. The MacBook Air 15-inch M3 is also an able gaming system. I played Death Stranding: Directors Cut and Asphalt 8 (with a connected PlayStation Controller). The M3 is well-equipped to handle HD-level gameplay on both games. I tried cranking the resolution up to the max on DeathStranding, but the frame rate sputters to well below 30fps. If you want to play AAA games on this laptop at a smooth 60fps, you'll want to keep the resolution at an HD level (1920x1080). In that setting, I could still see the texture of Léa Seydoux's skin. On the connectivity front, Apple upgraded the WiFi from Wifi 6 to WiFi 6E. Bluetooth is the same as it was on the last model: 5.3.

(Image credit: Future)
Image 5 of 5

If you're wondering why I'm suddenly talking about generative AI in the context of a MacBook Air, blame Apple. The company's been doing AI forever and has built every Apple Silicon SoC with an onboard Neural Egninge but only recently started touting its AI bonafides because, well, everyone else is doing it. To be fair, it's clear to me that whatever generative AI skills Apple introduces at WWDC 2024 in June, the MacBook Air 15-inch M3 will be ready for it. The MacBook Air 15-inch M3 is also an able gaming system. I played Death Stranding: Directors Cut and Asphalt 8 (with a connected PlayStation Controller). The M3 is well-equipped to handle HD-level gameplay on both games. I tried cranking the resolution up to the max on DeathStranding, but the frame rate sputters to well below 30fps. If you want to play AAA games on this laptop at a smooth 60fps, you'll want to keep the resolution at an HD level (1920x1080). In that setting, I could still see the texture of Léa Seydoux's skin. On the connectivity front, Apple upgraded the WiFi from Wifi 6 to WiFi 6E. Bluetooth is the same as it was on the last model: 5.3.

(Image credit: Future)

Part of the reason you want this (or really and MacBook) is because of the platform. MacOS is not only a mature operating system. it's one that manages to feel unencumbered by its years of existence. Apple's managed to marry its fast and efficient Apple silicon with a desktop-class OS without any noticeable compromises.

This is a system that works, is flexible, and never crashes. Better yet, all your favorite apps already work on it. Perhaps even more exciting is that macOS and Apple Silicon are slowly but surely becoming a viable platform for gaming. AAA titles like Lies of Pi feel perfectly at home and, I can tell you, they are a joy to play on the large 15.3-inch display.

  • Performance score: 4.5/5

Apple MacBook Air 15-inch (M3) review: Battery life

  • Lasts almost 18 hours
  • Still charges quickly

Apple MacBook Air 15-inch M3 REVIEW

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

If you want to know why I love the current generation of MacBooks, it's not just because of their good looks and blazing performance: It's the battery life. I absolutely love a laptop that can deliver a full day of work without being plugged in.

Apple promises 15 hours of web browsing and 18 hours of video streaming. In our Future Labs tests and my anecdotal ones, the MacBook Air 15-inch M3 lives up to those promises. We got over 15 hours of continuous web browsing. I spent the better part of a day unplugged and only truly taxed the battery when I played Death Stranding, a game that can zap a full battery in a matter of a few hours (I had a similar experience when gaming on the MacBook Pro 14 M3 Max).

My only criticism is that I wish the larger MacBook Air 15-inch provided more battery life than the smaller MacBook Air 13-inch. 

  • Battery score: 4.5/5

Should you buy the Apple MacBook Air 15-inch (M3)?

Buy it if...

You're looking to marry thin and light with a big screen
You won't get more battery life but all that screen real estate is enticing.

You want Apple Silicon without the price or heft
This 15-inch laptop is a great alternative to the pricier entry-level MacBook Pro.

You want the best-looking 15-inch laptop
No one makes laptops like Apple and macOS is one of the most reliable platforms on the planet.

Don't buy it if...

You value portability above all else
This is a MacBook Air that comes perilously close to blowing the "air" part of the name. It's light for 15 inches but also over 3 lbs. 

You want more battery life for the size and money
Apple still can't figure out how to make a 15-inch MacBook Air that gets more battery life than its much smaller MacBook Air 13-inch sibling.

Apple MacBook Air 15-inch (M3) review: Also consider

If our MacBook Air 15-inch (2023) review has you considering other options, here are two laptops to consider...  

How I tested the Apple MacBook Air 15-inch (M3)

  • I used the MacBook Air 15-inch (M3) for most of the week
  • I used it as my day-to-day work laptop
  • I ran a number of cloud and local Generative AI operations on it

I received the Apple MacBook Air 15-inch (M3) at the start of the week and, after quickly unboxing it, adopted the laptop as my work system. 

I used it to produce stories, edit photos, play games, watch movies, read content, and generate AI-based images and text. 

I've been testing laptops and technology for over 30 years.

Read more about how we test

First reviewed March 2024

Apple MacBook Air 13-inch (M3): the best laptop in the world just got better
5:00 pm |

Author: admin | Category: Computers Computing Gadgets Laptops Macbooks | Tags: | Comments: Off

Apple MacBook Air 13-inch (M3): Two-minute review

After several months of rumors and speculation, Apple has officially launched the MacBook Air 13-inch (M3) (alongside a 15-inch version as well) – so has it been worth the wait?

While Apple’s announcement came out of the blue – there was no event to announce the launch, just a press release emailed to media outlets – it wasn’t entirely surprising.

As well as all those aforementioned rumors about new MacBook Airs, when Apple launched its M3 chip last year it also launched new M3-powered MacBook Pros and a new iMac. The fact that this was the first M-series launch to not feature a MacBook Air didn’t go unnoticed – and many of us assumed (or hoped) that an M3-powered Air would appear at some point. Thankfully, we’ve not had long to wait.

Starting at $1,099 / £1,099 / AU$1,799, the latest MacBook Air model straight away addresses one of my main complaints about the previous M2 version: the high starting price. The M2 MacBook Air launched in 2022 with a new, noticeably higher, price for its base model ($1,199 / £1,249 / AU$1,899), and while it remained the best laptop you could buy due to design and performance, it wasn’t as good value as the earlier M1 MacBook Air model, which launched at $999 / £999 / AU$1,599.

So, the MacBook Air 13-inch (M3) is a much better-value proposition, and in a world where the price of everything seems to be climbing it’s great to see Apple buck that trend and release a laptop that’s cheaper than its predecessor. With the launch of the M3 version, Apple has officially dropped the price of the M2 model to $999 / £999 / AU$1,599, and has stopped selling the M1 version altogether (it’s still available for the moment from third-party retailers, and will likely drop further in price).

New MacBook Air 13-inch with M3 being used in a cafe

(Image credit: Future)

While the base M3 model’s price is a nice surprise, what’s less surprising – and less nice – is the fact that this model has the same 8GB of unified memory and just 256GB of SSD storage space as its predecessor. In 2024, those specifications don’t really cut it – especially for a laptop that starts at just over $1,000.

The configuration I was sent from Apple comes with double the memory and storage and 16GB and 512GB, along with a slight bump to GPU cores in the M3 chip over the base model, and it’s a much more well-rounded offering that won’t feel outdated after a year or so. This model is significantly pricier, though, at $1,499 / £1,499 / AU$2,399.Other than the switch to the M3 chip, the new MacBook Air 13-inch keeps essentially the same design as the M2 version, which is no bad thing, as that model remains one of the nicest-looking thin and light laptops out there. I much prefer the 13-inch MacBook Air to the 15-inch model, as the smaller device is much more easy to carry about. The fact that the battery lasted over 14 hours on a single charge in our battery life tests again shows just how good the 13-inch MacBook Air is for people who want a compact laptop they can use almost anywhere.

Performance-wise, the MacBook Air 13-inch (M3) does an excellent job with day-to-day tasks such as web browsing and watching TV shows, while also putting in an impressive showing when used for content creation. I used applications including Adobe Photoshop and Ableton Live 11, and even played a few games, and the MacBook Air 13-inch (M3) proved fast and dependable at all times. Even when putting this laptop through its paces by trying out a range of apps (often at the same time), the MacBook Air 13-inch (M3) didn’t once freeze or crash. The M3 model retains its predecessors' fan-less design, so it’s essentially silent when in use.

While the MacBook Air 13-inch (M3) isn’t a radical reimagining in the way the M2 model was, it doesn’t need to be. This is an assured release from a company at the top of its game, offering improved performance for a lower price, which means I have no trouble recommending the MacBook Air 13-inch (M3) as the best laptop you can buy right now.

New MacBook Air 13-inch with M3 being used in a cafe

(Image credit: Future)

Apple MacBook Air 13-inch (M3) review: Price and availability

  • Starts at $1,099 / £1,099 / AU$1,799
  • Lower launch price than M2 model
  • M2 model is now the cheapest MacBook sold by Apple

The MacBook Air 13-inch (M3) was announced on March 4, 2024, with pre-orders from Apple’s online store going live on the same day and the new MacBook hitting physical stores from March 8.

The base model costs $1,099 / £1,099 / AU$1,799, and comes with an M3 chip with an 8-core CPU, 8-core GPU, 8GB of unified memory, and 256GB SSD storage. This is the same M3 chip as found in the base iMac 24-inch (M3), which starts at $1,399 / £1,399 / AU$2,199. That’s quite a leap in price for the all-in-one PC.

You can also get the MacBook Air 13-inch (M3) with an 8-core CPU, 10-core GPU, 8GB unified memory, and 512GB SSD storage. This model also comes with a more powerful 35W dual USB-C power adapter (the base model’s adapter tops out at 30W), and costs $1,299 / £1,299 / AU$2,099.

Finally, you can get a pre-configured MacBook Air 13-inch (M3) with the same M3 chip and other specs, but with 16GB of unified memory and 512GB SSD storage for $1,499 / £1,499 / AU$2,399. This is the model I’m reviewing here.

As with previous models, you can further configure the new MacBook Air with up to 24GB of unified memory, 2TB SSD storage, and a 70W USB-C power adapter. This fully maxed-out model costs $2,299 / £2,299 / AU$3,599.

In a rather rare bit of welcome news, the M3 MacBook Air has launched at a lower price for the base model than the M2 MacBook Air. When that MacBook Air debuted back in 2022 the base model was priced at $1,199 / £1,249 / AU$1,899. Since then, it’s had an official $100 price cut, but one of the few complaints I had about the M2 MacBook Air (which went straight to the top of our best laptops list) was that high price. It’s great to see Apple somewhat rectify that with the M3 model, and while it’s still an expensive laptop, it’s now better value for money – which is an important consideration these days.

Apple will also continue to sell the 13-inch MacBook Air with M2, dropping the price to a very appealing $999 / £999 / AU$1,599. This is a repeat of the move it made when it launched the M2 MacBook Air, as it continued to sell the M1 model at the lower $999 price point.

It’s good to see Apple doing this again, as the M2 model remains an excellent laptop, especially at this new lower price. Unfortunately, it means that the M1 model is no longer sold by Apple. However, we’re already seeing that model on offer for an even lower price at other retailers looking to clear their stock ahead of the new MacBook Airs arriving.

So, if you’re looking for the cheapest sold-by-Apple MacBook to get into Apple’s ecosystem, the M2 MacBook Air is the one to go for, but the M3 model represents very good value for money – and it’s now the cheapest M3-powered Mac on the market (until an M3-powered Mac mini arrives at some point, which is likely).

  • Price score: 4.5/5

Apple MacBook Air 13-inch (M3) review: Specs

The Apple MacBook Air 13-inch (M3) comes in three pre-configured options, and you can further configure the amount of memory and storage space before you buy. You’ll need to do that to match the review and max configurations below. 

The specs of the new MacBook Air 13-inch (M3) are broadly in line with what we were expecting. However, and as mentioned above, in 2024 the base configuration with just 8GB of memory and only 256GB SSD storage is looking increasingly outdated, especially for the price. With the 8GB of memory being shared between compute tasks (regular day-to-day jobs, essentially) and graphics, it could start to struggle if you’re running multiple apps at once.

The 256GB SSD will likely fill up fast as well, especially if you’re thinking about buying the new MacBook Air 13-inch (M3) for creative work, such as photo or video editing. In typical fashion, Apple has made the MacBook Air as difficult as possible to open up, so you won’t be able to upgrade the memory or storage later. Add in the fact that the base model comes with a weaker integrated GPU in its M3 chip (eight cores as opposed to the 10-core GPU included in the other models), and I’d recommend spending a bit more to get the review configuration that I tested, as the more powerful GPU, 16GB of memory and 512GB SSD makes it far more future-proof.

New MacBook Air 13-inch with M3 being used in a cafe

(Image credit: Future)

Apple MacBook Air 13-inch (M3) review: Design

  • No major redesign
  • Midnight color has been improved to reduce fingerprints
  • More recycled materials than ever

The Apple MacBook Air 13-inch (M3)’s design doesn’t break any new ground – but it didn’t really need to. While we loved the M1 MacBook Air, its design increasingly felt dated, and when the M2 MacBook hit the shelves in 2022 it came with a bold redesign that included a better and larger screen, thinner bezels around the display and a much more modern look. I personally loved the redesign, so the fact that the M3 MacBook Air looks pretty much identical doesn’t bother me.

This is still an impressively thin and light laptop. The 13.6-inch LED display looks bright and vibrant, and the native 2560 x 1664 resolution offers 224 pixels per inch, leading to a pleasingly sharp and detailed image. As with the previous generation of MacBook Airs, the 15-inch MacBook Air (M3), which launched alongside the 13-inch model, comes with a larger screen, but also a higher resolution, which means the pixels per inch number is very similar to the 13-inch model.

Basically, you won’t lose out on image quality no matter which MacBook Air model you go for. For many people, the 13-inch model will be much more convenient as it’s lighter and smaller, yet still very powerful. The keyboard once again feels comfortable to use, with a surprising amount of key travel for such a thin device. This means that typing away on the MacBook Air’s keyboard feels tactile and responsive. It comes with a Touch ID button that powers on the MacBook and can quickly log you in by just using your fingerprint. The touchpad below the keyboard is spacious and performs well - just as it did with the previous model.

New MacBook Air 13-inch with M3 being used in a cafe

(Image credit: Future)

Port-wise the MacBook Air M3 keeps the same selection as the previous model, with two Thunderbolt 3/USB 4 ports that offer up to 40Gb/s data transfers, a MagSafe 3 port for charging, and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

The MagSafe 3 and Thunderbolt ports are all on the same side (the left) which can be a bit fiddly if you’re using them all at once, and it also means you don’t get a choice of which side of the laptop to plug the charger into (you can also use USB-C chargers from other manufacturers to top up the battery if you find yourself without the MagSafe connector).

None of the new MacBook Air models support Thunderbolt 4, which remains exclusive (in the Mac space) to Macs running M3 Pro and M3 Max chips.

New MacBook Air 13-inch with M3 being used in a cafe

(Image credit: Future)

The bump to M3 also allows the new MacBook Air 13-inch to support two external monitors at once, one with up to 6K resolution and 60Hz, and the other with up to 5K resolution. The previous M2 model could only handle one 6K external monitor.

There is a rather large caveat to this, however: you can only run two external monitors with the MacBook Air’s screen closed. Opening the lid turns off one of the screens – so don’t go thinking this new feature will let you work on three screens simultaneously. For office workers who usually use their laptop in a dock with the lid closed this may not be an issue, but it’s a curiously inelegant implementation. Interestingly, the MacBook Pro 14-inch with the M3 chip launched without this feature, but Apple will be enabling it in a future software update.

Overall, the MacBook Air 13-inch (M3) is another fine-looking thin and light laptop from Apple, and while it looks almost identical to the previous model, it still feels like a stylish and modern device.

I say ‘almost identical’ as there is a tiny difference with the new MacBook Air. The model that comes in the Midnight color (essentially, a very dark blue) now benefits from a “breakthrough anodization seal to reduce fingerprints.” This seems to be a response to criticisms of the previous model in the same color due to how easily fingerprints, scratches and other marks showed up (and remained) on the body.

While the 13-inch MacBook Air that Apple sent me to review was in the Starlight color (four colors are available – Midnight, Starlight, Space Gray and Silver), I was also able to get my hands on a Midnight 13-inch MacBook Air for a few minutes at Apple’s headquarters in London, and from what I could see the new Midnight finish does indeed seem more resistant to fingerprints.

Apple is also keen to highlight the fact that the new MacBook Air is its first product to be made with 50% recycled materials. The body uses 100% recycled aluminum, and the main logic board uses 100% recycled copper. While I would like to see Apple be more flexible when it comes to allowing its customers to repair or upgrade its products, having any company use more recycled materials is always welcome.

  • Design score: 4.5/5

New MacBook Air 13-inch with M3 being used in a cafe

(Image credit: Future)

Apple MacBook Air 13-inch (M3) review: Performance

  • M3 chip brings decent gains
  • You can actually game on this MacBook
  • New focus on AI
Benchmarks

Here’s how the MacBook Air 13-inch (M3) performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

Geekbench 6.2.2 Single-Core: 3,148; Multi-Core: 11,893
Cinebench 2024 Single-core: 141 ; Multi-core: 615
Battery life (TechRadar movie test): 14 hours and 19 minutes

The major change for the new MacBook Air 13-inch is the inclusion of the M3 chip, Apple’s most recent piece of silicon, which debuted at the end of last year alongside new MacBook Pros. Unlike last year’s MacBook Pros, the MacBook Air 13-inch only comes with the M3 chip, not the more powerful M3 Pro or M3 Max versions. However, the MacBook Air is a much more mainstream device, so it’s unlikely that  people will be using it for heavy-duty creative tasks.

The Apple MacBook Air 13-inch comes with two versions of the M3 chip: a base model with an 8-core GPU, and a slightly more powerful chip with a 10-core GPU. Both versions feature an 8-core CPU with four high-performance cores and four efficiency cores, which the MacBook Air switches between depending on what kind of tasks you’re performing. This allows it to achieve a good balance between performance and battery life.

The Apple MacBook Air 13-inch (M3) can be configured with up to 24GB of unified memory and 2TB SSD storage, and the review sample the company sent for me to test comes with the 10-core M3 chip, 16GB of memory and 512GB storage. So, if you go for the cheaper base model of the MacBook Air 13-inch, the performance might not quite match what I’ve experienced, though I’d be surprised if there was a huge difference.

However, I would recommend going for a MacBook Air with more memory and storage if possible. In 2024, 8GB of RAM and 256GB SSD feels a bit mean for a laptop, with the SSD especially likely to fill up quickly if you install lots of apps and store a lot of photos and video. Out of the box, the MacBook Air I tested had 30GB of space already used by macOS and pre-installed apps, and while this isn’t an issue with the 512GB model, it may be more of a concern with the 256GB model.

In day-to-day use, the Apple MacBook Air 13-inch (M3) performs brilliantly. macOS Sonoma feels fast and responsive, and there’s now a large library of apps that have been built natively for Apple’s M series of chips, which means they can take full advantage of Apple’s latest hardware.

I used a variety of apps, including Safari, Garage Band, and Apple TV, and the MacBook Air 13-inch (M3) kept pace with ease. Even when I was using more demanding applications such as Adobe Photoshop, the MacBook Air performed really well. For the vast majority of users, the MacBook Air 13-inch with the M3 chip will be plenty powerful enough.

One of the best things about the efficiency of Apple’s M-series chips is that they produce less heat, and thanks to Apple’s thermal design of the modern MacBook Airs, it means the Apple MacBook Air 13-inch (M3) is completely fanless. So, even when it’s working hard, you’re not getting annoying fan noise in the background.

This is impressive, and a very pleasant change from many Windows laptops, which often fire up their fans at the drop of a hat. It’s also incredibly useful if you’re using the MacBook Air to record audio, as it means the built-in microphones (or any external ones you plug in) won’t pick up any background noise from the laptop.

New MacBook Air 13-inch with M3 being used in a cafe

(Image credit: Future)

Speaking of the built-in microphones, the new 13-inch MacBook Air comes with a three-mic array to help with clarity and minimize pick-up of ambient noise, and the FaceTime HD camera is again 1080p. In a world where many laptops at this price point still come with 720p webcams built in, it’s good to see Apple include a high-quality camera for the video calls and meetings that have become a regular feature of both work and social interactions since the pandemic.

According to Apple, the M3 chip also pitches in to improve video and audio quality, and while I couldn’t see any difference in quality compared to the M2 MacBook Air, which has the same webcam and mic array, the results are nevertheless crisp and clear.

The M3 MacBook Air also gets an upgrade to its Wi-Fi, as it supports Wi-Fi 6E (the previous model has Wi-Fi 6). This offers faster speeds and more reliable connections over larger distances, and during my time with the MacBook Air 13-inch (M3), I found its wireless connection to be excellent.

The MacBook Air 13-inch (M3) also makes a decent fist of playing modern games, even some rather graphically-intensive ones. I played a few titles, including a fast-paced racing simulation game, and while it’s never going to challenge the best gaming laptops out there, gaming on a thin and light MacBook Air is possible – something that until recently didn’t seem like a realistic prospect. And, while you won’t be able to crank up visual settings to the max, the games I tried looked very nice on the vibrant 13.6-inch screen. As a PC gamer, it’s also a real novelty to play games on a fan-less laptop – usually, gaming laptops are big and bulky beasts, with noisy fans that keep the powerful components cool, but which can also be distracting. Not so with the MacBook Air.

When Apple announced the new MacBook Air 13-inch (M3), a lot of people noted that the company made a big deal about its AI capabilities. Artificial intelligence, especially when it comes to generating content, is a hot topic at the moment, with many of Apple’s competitors, most noticeably Microsoft and Google, going in hard on the technology. You’ll certainly be hearing a lot about AI laptops this year – and it almost felt like Apple was being left behind.

So, Apple’s focus on the MacBook Air 13-inch (M3)’s AI performance was a pleasant surprise – especially as the M-series chips have actually been ahead of the game for quite a while for AI thanks to the Apple Neural Engine, which has been included since the original M1 chip, and which even back then was pitched as being able to help with machine learning tasks. While Apple’s chip-making rival Intel has only just put out new processors with NPUs (Neural Processing Units) dedicated to AI tasks, we’ve now had three generations of Apple silicon that have this capability – and Apple is now, understandably, making a big deal about it.

The M3 comes with an upgraded 16-core Neural Engine, which Apple claims is “faster and more efficient” than previous versions, making this MacBook Air, in Apple’s words, “the world’s best consumer laptop for AI.” While it’s difficult to confirm this, especially until other laptops with AI-focused chips come out, I saw how the MacBook Air 13-inch (M3) coped with cloud-based AI in the form of Microsoft Copilot – which is included in the Mac version of Microsoft Office and is dependent on an internet connection – as well as on-device AI in apps such as Pixelmator Pro and Photoshop. The on-device performance was especially impressive, as everything is handled by the M3 chip – so you can be offline and still make use of AI tools to automate repetitive tasks such as sharpening photos, or generating content like text based on a simple prompt.

The screen and speakers aren’t the best you’re going to get in a MacBook – the far more expensive MacBook Pros offer mini LED technology for stunning contrast and vibrancy, along with ProMotion features that offer faster refresh rates for smooth and snappy scrolling.

The new 15-inch MacBook Air also comes with better speakers – you get six speakers with force-cancelling woofers in the larger model, which offers richer and deeper sounds.

The 13-inch MacBook Air (M3) makes do with four speakers, which to be honest is still a lot for a thin and light laptop, and while this model doesn’t feature Apple’s highest-end tech, it still does a very good job when you’re watching or listening to media, or working on projects. The sound is loud and clear – certainly a far cry from the often tinny speakers in most laptops. The screen is also bright and crisp, and as usual comes with support for the P3 color gamut to help ensure colors are accurate. This means the MacBook Air 13-inch (M3) remains a compelling and affordable alternative to the MacBook Pro for content creators.

  • Performance score: 4.5/5

New MacBook Air 13-inch with M3 being used in a cafe

(Image credit: Future)

Apple MacBook Air 13-inch (M3) review: Battery life

  • Lasts over 14 hours
  • Charges quickly

The battery life of Apple silicon-powered MacBooks has always impressed, and is one of the reasons why I recommend them so enthusiastically. The MacBook Air 13-inch (M3) continues this – while the M3 chip brings performance increases, it remains impressively efficient, so the battery doesn’t appear to drain significantly faster.

Apple claims the 13-inch MacBook Air (M3) is good for up to 18 hours of Apple TV and up to 15 hours of wireless internet browsing – this is the same theoretical battery lifespan that Apple quotes for the 15-inch MacBook Air (M3). While the 15-inch model comes with a larger 66.5 watt-hour battery, compared to the 13-inch’s 52.6 watt-hour battery, the reason for the parity is most likely due to the larger 15.6-inch screen being more power-hungry.

In our battery life test, where we play a looped 1080p video until the battery dies, the Apple MacBook Air 13-inch (M3) managed 14 hours and 19 minutes. That’s a drop from the 16 hours and 6 minutes the M2 version managed in the same test, and may be evidence that the performance gains of the M3 chip have come at a cost to efficiency. Still, the drop isn’t huge, and over 14 hours is still very impressive – you should get through a full work or school day on a single charge, although the more intensive the tasks you perform, the quicker the battery will drain. Impressively, even when gaming, the MacBook Air 13-inch (M3) lasted for hours, when usually gaming drains battery extremely quickly.

Another thing I really appreciate about the MacBook Air 13-inch (M3) is that even when it’s unplugged there’s no impact on performance. Other laptops usually throttle performance when on battery power to prolong battery life, but the MacBook Air 13-inch (M3) doesn’t seem to do that – at least not in any noticeable way. That, combined with the long battery life, makes the MacBook Air 13-inch (M3) a brilliant laptop for people who want a device to work on when out and about. Using the included charger, the MacBook Air 13-inch (M3) charged to over 50% in under an hour. As with other MacBooks, the new 13-inch MacBook Air also does a great job of conserving battery life when not in use, so you can leave it for several days, open it up and you’ll still have battery. To prove this – and as a nice touch too – the MacBook Air 13-inch (M3) comes fully charged out of the box, so you can set it up and start using it straight away.

  • Battery score: 4.5/5

Should you buy the Apple MacBook Air 13-inch (M3)?

Buy it if...

You're after the best laptop in the world
Apple has done it again with an incredible laptop that isn't outrageously expensive and will cope with almost any task you throw at it.

You want a laptop to work on while travelling
The 13-inch formfactor is ideal for taking this laptop out and about with you, and the long battery life will also help.

You don't need extreme power
The MacBook Air 13-inch (M3) offers brilliant performance, so if you don't need a MacBook Pro for heavy creative tasks, the Air is a great alternative.

Don't buy it if...

You want a big screen
The 13.6-inch screen makes the MacBook Air a great portable device, but some people may prefer the 15-inch model for working on.

You want the cheapest Mac
The M2 MacBook Air has a new price cut, and the Mac mini both offer lower costs of entry if you want a modern Mac.

Apple MacBook Air 13-inch (M3) review: Also consider

If our  Apple MacBook Air 13-inch (M3) review has you considering other options, here are two laptops to consider...  

How I tested the Apple MacBook Air 15-inch (M3)

New MacBook Air 13-inch with M3 being used in a cafe

(Image credit: Future)
  • I used the Apple MacBook Air 15-inch (M3) for most of the week
  • I used it as my day-to-day work laptop
  • I ran several apps and games throughout my time using it

The MacBook Air 13-inch (M3) was announced on Monday, March 4, and by Tuesday I was at Apple's headquarters in London to test out the new laptop. I also received both the 13-inch and 15-inch models to fully review, and have been using the 13-inch model primarily throughout the rest of the week.

I used the MacBook Air 13-inch (M3) for various work tasks, including writing some of this review, while also testing out various apps including Adobe Photoshop and Ableton Live 11. I also watched a few movies and TV shows, and played a couple of games as well.

I've reviewed almost all of Apple's MacBooks for TechRadar over the past 10 years, as well as hundreds of Windows laptops and Chromebooks, and used this experience, alongside my time with the MacBook Air 13-inch (M3) to draw my conclusions.

Read more about how we test

First reviewed March 2024

Dell XPS 17 (9730) review: large and beautiful
8:30 pm | February 20, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Computing Gadgets Laptops | Comments: Off

Dell XPS 17 9730: Two-minute review

The Dell XPS line has been the gold standard among laptops for some time now. Though some models stumble a bit, at least in relation to the heights of the best versions of the XPS, these laptops typically ooze quality and elegance.

The Dell XPS 17 9730 reviewed here, certainly does that. Of course, you miss out on the portability that makes the smaller versions such perennial members of our best Ultrabooks guide. This is on the heavier, bulkier side.

However, if you don’t need something that you can easily throw in a backpack for on-the-go work, the Dell XPS 17 is among the best laptops for its performance – including the fact that it can handle editing work and gaming – and elegant design. It also comes with a gorgeous screen, especially if you upgrade to the UHD+ resolution that our review unit sports.

If you’re looking for a larger laptop with more screen real estate with plenty of power, you can’t go wrong with the XPS 17 9730. Just be prepared to pay for it.

Dell XPS 17 9730: Price & availability

Dell XPS 17 laptop in use on a wooden desk

(Image credit: Future)
  • How much does it cost? Starting at $1,599 / £2,698.99 / AU$4,398.90 
  • Where is it available? RTX 4050 model is only available in US, more expensive models worldwide

Though the Dell XPS 17 isn’t technically an Ultrabook, it comes from Ultrabook stock. After all, the Dell XPS 13 is the standard bearer for the category. It’s no wonder then that the Dell XPS 17 comes with the kind of premium price tag that these types of laptops come with.

Of course, part of that is the fact that even the base configuration, which goes for $1,599, comes with some powerful specs including an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050. Still, the price of entry is nowhere near budget. Also, it seems that the model with an RTX 4050 is only available in the US - for UK and Australian readers, the base model starts with the more powerful - yet also more expensive - RTX 4060 GPU.

In Australia, the base model comes with a 13th gen i7 processor, RTX 4060 GPU, 16GB of DDR5 RAM and 512GB SSD storage for AU$4,298.80.

In the UK, the base model is more expensive, and while it comes with mainly the same specs as the Australian Dell XPS 17's base model, it only offers a minimum of 32GB of DDR5 RAM and 1TB SSD storage for £2,698.99.

You’ll have to spend even more if you want the review unit with its 32GB of RAM, slightly more powerful RTX 4060, and UHD+ screen. Specifically, you’ll have to spend $1,949 / £3,099 (about AU$2,990).

Now, the best 17-inch laptops usually aren't cheap. You can save a little money on an LG Gram if you don’t need all that power and want something a little more lightweight and portable. But, you’re still spending around $1,400 on one.

If you’re okay with a more gaming aesthetic and want some power to go along with that large screen, there are some other budget-ish options, such as the Acer Nitro 17. Its starting price of $1,249.99 (around £980 / AU$1,860) offers a bit of a saving, though you won’t end up with quite as elegant of a computer. 

  • Price score:  4 / 5

Dell XPS 17 9730: Specs

The base configuration of the Dell XPS 17 is already pretty powerful with a 13th-Gen Intel Core i7, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050, 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD (in the US, at least). But, there’s plenty of customization to add even more power and/or storage. You can also choose a more powerful i9 CPU, up to an RTX 4080 GPU, and up to 64 of RAM. You can even upgrade to an 8TB SSD (technically two 4TB SSDs). 

Beyond the internal specs, you also can choose between two different panels. There’s the more basic non-touch 1920x1200p screen or the one reviewed here that’s 3840x2400p with touch capabilities. 

  • Specs score: 5 / 5

Dell XPS 17 9730: Design

Dell XPS 17 laptop in use on a wooden desk

(Image credit: Future)
  • It’s very large
  • Powerful components inside
  • Limited amount of ports, but they’re versatile

As you would expect with a 17-inch laptop, the Dell XPS 17 is large. And, unlike some models such as the LG Gram, it owns it instead of trying to balance that with portability. It weighs over five pounds to start, which while technically portable, is not the kind of weight you want to carry around all day if you’re hopping from coffee shop to coffee shop.

The Dell XPS 17 is not for that person. Instead, it offers the kind of components that typically can’t fit in those smaller models. So, it comes with a dedicated GPU (you can choose between the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050, 406, 4070, and 4080) and you can also max out specs that you'd otherwise couldn’t with a smaller (and thinner) laptop, as you can upgrade to up to 64GB of RAM and 8TB of storage.

Since this is a Dell XPS laptop, it’s also a gorgeous computer with a platinum silver exterior machined aluminum shell with a black carbon fiber covering around the keyboard. It’s like a BMW version of a laptop.

Dell XPS 17 laptop in use on a wooden desk

(Image credit: Future)

Since it’s on the bigger side, that means it comes with a large 17-inch screen. While I’ll go into further detail on the display below, I’ll just mention for now that it has 'Infinity edge' bezels, so they’re tiny, and the upgraded UHD+ version reviewed here also has touch capabilities. On that note, the panel feels very high quality when using the touch functionality.

Port-wise, the Dell XPS 17 skews a bit more Ultrabook-ish with just four Thunderbolt ports and an SD card reader. However, all the Thunderbolt ports have power delivery and DisplayPort capabilities, so you can use an adapter to plug into an external display if that monitor doesn’t have USB-C inputs.

Since I’m used to using smaller laptops, the large keyboard and trackpad are a bit of an adjustment. However, they’re also of high quality and don’t create any issues other than being different from what I’m used to. Probably the biggest adjustment is that the keyboard is set further back than I would like. But, again, that’s just personal preference.

  • Design score: 4.5 / 5

Dell XPS 17 9730: Performance

Dell XPS 17 laptop in use on a wooden desk

(Image credit: Future)
  • Powerful performance
  • Great color accuracy and coverage
  • Webcam just 720p
Dell XPS 17 9730: Benchmarks

Here's how the Dell XPS 17 9730 performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

3DMark: Fire Strike: 21,588; Time Spy: 9,467
GeekBench 6: 2,504 (single-core); 13,214 (multi-core)
Sid Meier's Civilization VI: Gathering Storm:
122fps @1080p
25GB File Copy: 12.9
Handbrake 1.6: 5:10
CrossMark: Overall: 1,895 Productivity: 1,776 Creativity: 2,115 Responsiveness: 1,657
Web Surfing (Battery Informant): 9:05:31 

As someone who gets their hands on a lot of gaming computers, I’m always surprised when I get something that can hang that’s not really intended for that purpose. So, when booting up the Dell XPS 17, I can honestly say that I was surprised.

Whether you’re a bit shy about your extracurriculars or need a laptop that has the horsepower to handle editing work (within reason), the Dell XPS 17 is more than capable. The review unit tested here is quite powerful with a 13th-Gen Intel Core i7, 32GB of RAM, and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060. Of course, you can scale down a little bit to 16GB of RAM and a 4050 GPU. But, you can also go up to 64GB of RAM and a 4080, not to mention an Intel Core i9 CPU.

Frankly, it might be more power than you might need, depending on what you’re considering this for. But, more power is better than not enough, especially when you have a high resolution screen to power. The UHD+ (4K in 16:10 ratio) panel here is sharp, bright, and vibrant and has a Delta-E of 0.24. Color coverage is 188.8% sRGB and 133.7% DCI-P3 as well so you don’t have to worry about accuracy or color gamuts if you want to do some photo or video editing. At the very least, watching the latest streaming series is a pleasure.

The sound quality is pretty good for a laptop, though don’t believe Dell’s claims that you can mix on this (for any budding musician that’s considering this – get some good speakers).

Interestingly, the only issue I have performance-wise is the fact that Dell only included a 720p webcam.

  • Performance score: 4.5 / 5

Dell XPS 17 9730: Battery life

  • Battery life is average
  • Charges quickly

Considering the fact that the Dell XPS 17 is quite a powerhouse, it’s no surprise that it doesn’t quite perform as well in the battery department as the newest MacBooks or Ultrabooks. In our battery informant benchmark, for instance, it last just over nine hours. That’s not bad at all, all things considering. Just be aware that there’s a bit of a trade-off for powering the high-res display and GPU.

A little more disconcerting is the fact that it does seem to lose some charge over time when the lid is closed. While I won’t hold that against the XPS 17, it something to keep in mind. Since it receives power via Thunderbolt however, it doesn’t take long to charge back up.

  • Battery life score: 4 / 5 

Should you buy the Dell XPS 17 9730?

Buy it if...

You want power
This laptop has some serious power behind it. Whether you want a work laptop that can do some gaming when you’re done or you have to also do some editing work, the Dell XPS 17 is more than capable.

You want a premium looking and feeling laptop
True to the Dell XPS name, this laptop exudes elegance. Everything about it looks and feels like a lot of thought went into its design. 

Don't buy it if...

You’re trying to save money
While its price tag makes sense for its size and power, this is not a cheap computer. If you’re on a budget, there are plenty of other options out there. 

You need portability
As good as the Dell XPS 17 is, it’s not a portable computer. It’s heavy and a bit bulky, so you should look elsewhere if you need something to constantly take on the go.

Dell XPS 17 9730: Also consider

If our Dell XPS 17 9730 review has you considering other options, here are two laptops to consider...

How I tested the Dell XPS 17 9730

  • Tested for a couple weeks
  • Used for regular work as well as gaming
  • Used regularly unplugged

I used the Dell XPS 17 9730 for a couple weeks for work as well as for play. In particular, I wrote this review on it. I was able to play some demanding games like Battlefield 2042 on it, though with some adjustment to the settings, and spent some time streaming on it as well.

After spending time with the Dell XPS 17 9730, I was impressed by the fact that its power is more on par with a gaming computer than with its Ultrabook competition.

I’ve spent the last few years reviewing tech gear for gaming and otherwise, where I’ve gotten a feel for what to look for and how to put a piece of kit through its paces to see whether it’s worth the recommendation.

Read more about how we test

First reviewed February 2024

Acer Swift X14 review: a powerhouse machine with Ultrabook looks
2:30 pm | February 4, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Computing Gadgets Laptops Windows Laptops | Tags: , | Comments: Off

Acer Swift X14: Two-minute review

Let’s get the easy part out of the way: I’m a fan of the Acer Swift X14. The short version of it is the fact that Acer managed to put a powerful CPU and GPU, not to mention a gorgeous OLED screen, in a slim Ultrabook package.

While it doesn’t feel as premium as a MacBook Pro 14, it truly belongs among the best Ultrabooks right now. There are certainly some trade-offs as the price is nowhere near close to the best cheap laptops and the battery life suffers a little since it has to power an Nvidia graphics card. I find the trackpad to be annoying to use as well. And, for a device legitimately vying for attention among the best laptops out there, it surprisingly skips out on a Windows Hello-capable webcam.

That said, the pros vastly outweigh the cons, especially if you don’t want to lug around a gaming computer and prefer the experience of using Ultrabooks, but still want the power of a gaming computer, whether that’s for booting up Cyberpunk 2077 or for some photo and video editing. When it comes to competing with the Dell XPSes of the world, the Acer Swift X14 may be one of the most surprising laptops I’ve used. 

Acer Swift X14 open front

(Image credit: Future)

Acer Swift X14: Price and availability

  • How much does it cost? Starting at $1,099 (about £870 / AU$1,670) 
  • When is it available? Available now 
  • Where can you get it? Available in the US, UK, and Australia 

The Acer Swift X14 is not the most affordable laptop out there. While its most basic configuration is available for $1,099 / AU$2,699 (about £870), which is certainly affordable – this is a model that comes with an 13th-Gen Intel Core i5 and a last generation Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050, not to mention 512GB of RAM and a lower 1600p resolution – it seems to only still be available in the US and Australia.

For everyone else or those wanting a current gen 4000 series GPU, you’re looking at $1,499 / £1,429 (about AU$2,277). That gets you a faster 13th-Gen Intel Core i7, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050, 16GB of RAM, 1TB SSD, and a 2880 x 1800p screen. And, if you’re in the UK, there are some slight variations as you can pay £170 more for 32GB of RAM.

The Acer Swift X14 isn’t the only light and thin laptop to come with a powerful GPU. The Samsung Galaxy Book3 Ultra covers a lot of the same ground. In fact, our Galaxy Book3 Ultra review unit, which is the base model, has the same specs as the Acer Swift X14 including the screen (well, it’s AMOLED vs OLED), but goes for a much pricier $1799.99 / £2,649 / around AU$4,875. Of course, you can pay even more – $2399.99 / £3,049 / around AU$5,610 – for a configuration with a 13th-Gen Intel Core i9 and Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070.

That said, many Ultrabooks come with that premium price tag without the kind of hardware to keep up with a gaming laptop. For instance, as great as its performance is, the Lenovo Yoga 9i Gen 8 only has Intel Iris Xe graphics and goes for $1,399.99 / £1,440. At least, it has that same OLED screen with HDR.

Value: 4 / 5

Acer Swift X14: Specs

There are basically two configurations of the Acer Swift X14. The more affordable one isn’t available in the UK, and comes with a 13th-Gen Intel Core i5, a last-generation Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050, and 512GB SSD. 

The more expensive configuration that we've reviewed here upgrades the CPU to an i7, the GPU to a 4050, and the SSD to 1TB of storage. And, in the UK, you can spend a little more for 32GB of RAM instead of 16GB. 

Beyond the internal components, there aren’t any additional variations as there aren’t different colorways except for the screen. If you go with the cheaper model, you also have a slightly lower resolution (2560 x 1600p). 

Acer Swift X14 closed lid

(Image credit: Future)

Acer Swift X14: Design

  • Gorgeous display with HDR and accurate colors 
  • Trackpad has issues with dragging and dropping 
  • Webcam doesn’t support Windows Hello, but fingerprint reader does 

The Acer Swift X14, like most Ultrabooks, comes in an elegant if discreet shade of gray called 'Steel Gray'. It doesn’t quite set itself apart from the pack visually, but it certainly looks good and is light and diminutive enough for easy on-the-go computing.

The display is probably the most impressive outward-facing feature on this laptop as the 14.5-inch OLED screen comes with a sharp 2.8K (2880 x 1800) resolution that runs natively at 120Hz for smoother results. Plus, it comes with Vesa Certified Display HDR True Black 500 to really make the colors pop.

The colors are definitely impressive. Not only is it incredibly accurate, measured at Delta E of 0.09, but it has fantastic color coverage, making this laptop more than good enough for video and photo editing. Specifically, it has 195% sRGB and 138.1% DCI-P3.

The keyboard is good enough, though I wouldn’t consider it to be the most comfortable I’ve ever used. The trackpad, however, gave me some issues. It’s nice to the touch and moving the cursor around is smooth, but the trackpad didn’t seem to want to cooperate when dragging and dropping unless I had my fingers positioned very accurately.

Acer Swift X14 keyboard and trackpad

(Image credit: Future)

At least the port selection is robust enough for an Ultrabook with two USB-C ports (that are also Thunderbolt 4 / USB 4), two USB-A, an HDMI, and a microSD reader, along with the requisite headphone jack. Those worried about security will be happy to note that there’s a Kensington lock as well.

Beyond that, there’s a 1080p webcam that unfortunately doesn’t support Windows Hello Facial Recognition. However, there’s a fingerprint reader in the power button for that purpose.

There are some aspects of the Acer Swift X14 that are a bit hard to pin down but worth mentioning and that is in regards to its use in AI tech. The laptop supports Windows Copilot, enhancements for the webcam and mic, as well as using AI to accelerate the performance of a number of apps.

Design: 4 / 5

Acer Swift X14 left ports

(Image credit: Future)

Acer Swift X14: Performance

  • Fast render scores 
  • Powerful gaming performance 
  • Good thermal performance 
Acer Swift X14: Benchmarks

Here's how the Acer Swift X14 performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

3DMark: Night Raid: 27,076; Fire Strike: 13,642; Time Spy: 5,730
GeekBench 6: 2,500 (single-core); 12,118 (multi-core)
Sid Meier's Civilization VI: Gathering Storm:
92.030fps @1080p
25GB File Copy: 13.7
Handbrake 1.6: 7:46
CrossMark: Overall: 1,924 Productivity: 1,847 Creativity: 2,022 Responsiveness: 1,872
Web Surfing (Battery Informant): 7:26:37 @ 60Hz 

Whether that AI acceleration puts the Acer Swift X14 over the top or it’s just a matter of powerful components, the performance of this laptop is a dream. With its 13th-Gen Intel Core i7, Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050, and 16GB of RAM, it’s no wonder that it can easily handle day-to-day work without breaking a sweat.

But, it can handle much more intensive workloads as well. Taking a quick look at the benchmarks, its 3DMark scores are much higher than the Lenovo Yoga 9i Gen 8 mentioned before and its Handbrake score, which measures how quickly a computer can render video, is two minutes faster. This is surely due to that powerful GPU.

I was also able to capably game on this laptop as well, running titles like Starfield and Gotham Knights on fairly high settings, certainly on par with settings I’ve used on gaming laptops equipped with the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050.

Acer Swift X14 screen

(Image credit: Future)

Since the screen is an OLED panel with HDR as well as that great color coverage and accuracy, images pop and look rich and vibrant.

Really, every aspect of the Acer Swift X14’s performance is to be lauded in my opinion. Even its thermal performance is good, with it only really heating up underneath a bit when pushed.

The webcam is clear and sharp with auto framing, and comes with a feature that can make it look like you’re making eye contact with whomever you’re on a video call with (rather than looking down at the screen).

The audio quality is, as it is with most laptops, passable. It lacks some low-end and can be just a little hollow sounding, but it’s not bad and about what I would expect from a laptop like this.

Performance: 5 / 5

Acer Swift X14 underneath venting

(Image credit: Future)

Acer Swift X14: Battery life

  • Good battery life considering hardware 
  • Fast charging on hand 

Since the Acer Swift X14 has to power some robust components, it’s no wonder that it doesn’t have the battery life of a lot of other Ultrabooks. 

Make no mistake, a benchmark score of 7:26:37 for the Battery Informant test (though at 60Hz) is pretty good when compared to gaming laptops with similar internals, which are considered to have amazing battery lives when reaching the same scores, but don’t expect the 15 hours that you would get with a MacBook. And, if you run this laptop hard, expect that battery to go down pretty quickly.

It does seem to charge up pretty quickly when plugged in. However, it does seem to not quite hold onto its charge as well as it should when the lid is closed. But, this seems to be something that most Windows laptops don’t do as well as they should.

Battery life: 4 / 5

Acer Swift X14 screen close up

(Image credit: Future)

Should I buy the Acer Swift X14?

Buy it if… 

Don't buy it if... 

Also consider

If our Acer Swift X14 review has you considering other options, here are two laptops to consider...   

How I tested the Acer Swift X14

  • Tested for a couple weeks 
  • Used for regular work as well as gaming 
  • Used regularly unplugged 

Acer Swift X14 angled

(Image credit: Future)

I used the Acer Swift X14 for a couple weeks as a work computer. I did a decent amount of writing here, including this review. I also used it to do some gaming to see if it really had what it takes (clearly, it does). I took a look at all the features, not to mention used it regularly to see how it does unplugged.

After spending time with the Acer Swift X14, I was impressed by the fact that its power is more on par with a gaming computer than with its Ultrabook competition.

I’ve spent the last few years reviewing tech gear for gaming and otherwise, where I’ve gotten a feel for what to look for and how to put a piece of kit through its paces to see whether it’s worth the recommendation.

First reviewed February 2024 

Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3i review: chic but cheap
3:16 pm | January 16, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Computing Gadgets Laptops | Comments: Off

Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3i: Two-minute review

When reviewing a laptop like the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3i, it can be a bit tough deciding what kind of standard to set it against. Despite its somewhat chic look, this is not an Ultrabook. And, you’re not going to run any high-end gaming or editing programs on it, either.

Instead, it fits the criteria for the best laptop for those on a budget. In fact, my focus here is on whether it truly is among the best cheap laptops available right now, as its price to performance ratio is the barometer of whether it’s successful for what it’s supposed to do.

Since this is a budget model from Lenovo, you can be sure to see it on sale regularly – it’s discounted by about $200 at the time of writing – and that will probably affect how good of a purchase this laptop is. It does have a few features I don’t often see on budget laptops, namely a privacy shutter and fingerprint reader, not to mention Wi-Fi 6 support. For better or worse though, this is essentially the Honda Civic of laptops with an Abyss Blue sheen.

Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3i: Price and availability

  •  How much does it cost? Starting at £400 (about $550 / AU$746) 
  •  When is it available? Available now 
  •  Where can you get it? Available in the US, UK, and Australia 

The review configuration of the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3i, the only Intel-equipped model in the states goes for a relatively inexpensive $659.99 / £518 (about AU$970). However, this is the kind of laptop that I would like to see at a slightly lower price tag, considering its compromises (discussed below). Of course, being a Lenovo, you should see it regularly on sale – it’s currently discounted to $464.99 in the US for example.

For comparison’s sake, the base configuration of the Acer Aspire 5 Spin 14 (2023) goes for $749.99 / AU$1,399 (about £600). For that small increase in price, you get a bit more power, an hour more of battery life, and a lighter weight. Of course, its screen, despite the higher resolution, is also middling.

If you’re in the UK or Australia, there are cheaper configurations, but they’re also weaker. For £400 (about $550 / AU$745), you’ll end up with an Intel U300 CPU and only 128GB flash storage. In Australia, you’ll get an even weaker CPU in the Intel Processor N100, just 4GB RAM, but more storage with a 256GB SSD. That will all cost AU$799.00 (about $545 / £430.

Value: 4 / 5

Lenovo IdeaPad 3i closed

(Image credit: Future)

Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3i: Specs

Comparing the different configurations can be a bit difficult since the US, UK, and Australia all have different models available to them. 

The United States just has the review configuration available, while the UK has it as well along with some weaker and stronger versions available. 

Those UK configurations range from an Intel U300 CPU to a 13th-Gen Intel Core i7 and a range of 4GB –16GB of RAM and 256GB – 1TB SSD. You’ll pay accordingly, but you have choice. And, those in Australia can only choose between an Intel N100, N200, or N305 CPU and 4 or 8GB of RAM. 

Some of the premium features that I appreciated Lenovo including are not available in the base configurations – no privacy shutter, no fingerprint reader, and no touchscreen functionality. Of course, you don’t have to worry about that in the US as you only have the one configuration available. 

Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3i: Design

  • Has a sleek look hiding budget level components 
  • Privacy shutter on webcam and fingerprint reader appreciated 
  • Trackpad is too far left 

I don’t mean to stick too much to comparing the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3i to cars, but it reminds me of when I drove a Toyota Celica. It looked snazzy and for a split second made me feel like I could keep up with anyone. But, after that split second, I would come back to the reality that I was driving what is essentially an economy car.

And, it feels like an appropriate comparison here as it has a certain sleek look, especially in its Abyss Blue colorway, that harkens to the elegant, status-symbol design of Ultrabooks like the Dell XPS’ of the world. It even has an aluminum lid and top plate.

Lenovo IdeaPad 3i camera shutter

(Image credit: Future)

However, the undercarriage is made of plastic, the internal specs consist of a 13th-Gen Intel Core i3, 8GB of RAM which is the bare minimum these days, and a 512GB SSD. And, there are weaker versions of this laptop in Australia and the UK.

That’s not to disparage the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3i. I actually like the look. It’s just a reminder that looks can be deceiving and this is a budget laptop. Even the 1080p screen is a little underwhelming in areas. When tested, it has 60.5% sRGB and 42.9% DCI-P3 color coverage, which not only makes it the last laptop you would want to do any photo editing on, but keeps those colors from popping when just pulling up a show on Netflix.

On the brighter side, the serviceable 720p webcam comes with a privacy shutter. A fingerprint reader is also included in the power button – a feature I would have expected on a slightly more expensive laptop. And, it has Wi-Fi 6 support, also a nice inclusion.

The keyboard is nice to use as well. And, though there’s nothing particularly remarkable about it, I didn’t find it cramped or uncomfortable to use. The trackpad is decent as well, though its far left placement is a bit uncomfortable, especially since my resting left palm sometimes got in the way of it tracking accurately.

Design: 3.5 / 5

Lenovo IdeaPad 3i keyboard

(Image credit: Future)

Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3i: Performance

  • Good browsing performance 
  • Speedy and accurate touchscreen 
  • Sound quality is mediocre 

When it comes to the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3i’s performance, it’s pretty good for a budget level computer. You’re not going to do any gaming on it – just consider the  sub-18 fps it achieves running Civilization VI. That’s pretty abysmal.

But, if you’re considering this computer, you’re probably not thinking in terms of gaming. Instead, you’re looking at it to get on the internet, type up some emails, and maybe watch Netflix. And, it can do a lot of that just fine.

Lenovo IdeaPad 3i power button

(Image credit: Future)
Benchmarks

Here's how the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3i (15" Intel) performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

3DMark: Night Raid: 11,991; Fire Strike: 2,948; Time Spy: 1,144
GeekBench 6.2.1: 2,206 (single-core); 6,371 (multi-core)
Cinebench: 5,631 (multi-core)
Sid Meier's Civilization VI: Gathering Storm:
17.473fps
25GB File Copy: 26.8
Handbrake 1.6: 15:59
CrossMark: Overall: 1,307
Productivity:
1,356
Creativity:
1,296
Responsiveness:
1,199
Web Surfing (Battery Informant): 9:02:09 

In fact, it did fine with 20 tabs open on Google Chrome, which as a browser takes up a lot of RAM. Those 20 tabs include three videos streaming through Youtube, the google doc used to write up this review, and a number of TechRadar pages. While some of them took a second to load, switching between tabs was immediate even when playing video.

I mentioned before the poor color coverage of the display but I don’t want to dissuade the average user too much. The screen is colorful enough for most people and you probably won’t care that it doesn’t quite pop as much as screens with better color coverage. It’s kind of like the difference between a budget and high-end flat screen TV. You can tell quite the difference in the store. However, you don’t want to pay the huge price differential, and you probably won’t care when you’re home. More importantly, the touchscreen functionality is accurate and quick.

The sound quality is not great, but I have yet to come across a budget laptop that sounds particularly impressive. There’s very little soundstage so everything sounds like it’s coming from the center. There’s also very little low end so the quality is best described as nasal. It’s fine in a pinch, but I suggest using headphones or earbuds for your audio needs.

Performance: 4.5 / 5

Lenovo IdeaPad 3i ports

(Image credit: Future)

Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3i: Battery life

  • Decent battery life for a budget laptop 
  • Battery runs down when the lid is closed 

Though plenty of computers these days can reach upwards of 15 hours when it comes to battery life, the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3i is not one of those. Lasting just over nine hours in our battery informant benchmark, the battery life here is actually decent for budget laptops. At least, it’s enough to get through a day without having to charge.

The one real complaint about the battery life, however, is the fact that it tends to run down the battery when in sleep mode with the lid closed. Some laptops have this issue while others are able to conserve that battery life for when it’s in use. Maybe I’ve been spoiled by MacBooks, but more premium models won’t dissipate the same amount of battery in sleep mode as during use.

Battery life: 4 / 5

Lenovo IdeaPad 3i ports

(Image credit: Future)

Should you buy the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3i?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider

If our Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3i review has you considering other options, here are two laptops to consider...   

How I tested the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3i (15" Intel)

Lenovo IdeaPad 3i open

(Image credit: Future)
  •  Tested for a couple weeks 
  •  Used for all sorts of browsing needs 
  •  Used regularly unplugged 

I used the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3i for a couple weeks as a work computer. I did a decent amount of writing on here, as well as plenty of web browsing including streaming video. I took a look at all the features, not to mention used it regularly to see how it does unplugged.

After spending time with the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3i, it’s clear that this is meant to be a budget-conscious model for those that just want a day-to-day laptop that can get online without issues.

I’ve spent the last few years reviewing tech gear for gaming and otherwise, where I’ve gotten a feel for what to look for and how to put a piece of kit through its paces to see whether it’s worth the recommendation.

First reviewed January 2024 

Acer Aspire Vero 16: a more sustainable laptop that won’t hurt the wallet
7:47 pm | January 11, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Computing Gadgets Laptops | Comments: Off

The Acer Aspire Vero 16 is Acer’s latest budget laptop, and it looks set to outpace other laptops in the affordable 16-inch display market. Between its WQXGA screen, current-gen CPU, and solid RAM and storage, it's a pretty stacked laptop that's perfect for demanding productivity work and light editing projects. 

What sets the Vero 16 apart from Acer's other offerings is how eco-friendly the build is, and it shows how dedicated the manufacturer is to building laptops that have less of an impact on the environment while keeping the quality up and the pricing affordable.

Acer Aspire Vero 16: Price and availability

The Acer Aspire Vero 16 is slated for an April 2024 release in the US, with pricing starting at $749.99 – that’s around £590 / AU$1,120, but we don’t yet have confirmed release dates or prices for the UK or Australia.

That list price is impressive, considering that the Vero 16 is equipped with an Intel Core Ultra CPU and a large display. Add in its other solid specs and you have a laptop that's competitive with the best ultrabooks and the best thin and light laptops in the same market that cost at least double the price.

Acer Aspire Vero 16: Design

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The Acer Aspire Vero 16 has an impressive 16-inch WQXGA (2560 x 1600) screen, though it also being OLED would have made this laptop more competitive with Acer's Swift Go 14 and 16.

As mentioned, this is an eco-friendly laptop, and its chassis is more than 60% PCR (post-consumer recycled) material, with the touchpad made from Acer’s OceanGlass, and the packaging made from 100% recycled material. It feels lightweight for a laptop with such a large screen and with such a high-quality build, and the chassis has an interesting texture, giving the Vero 16 a more distinctive look and feel that I personally enjoy.

Like the Acer Swift Go 14 and 16 laptops, the Aspire Vero 16 has a 1440p webcam, which is a clear upgrade over most other ultrabooks, which still use 1080p or even 720p. And this camera even comes with a physical privacy shutter, a feature that in my opinion should be standard on laptops.

Its port selection is pretty decent, with Type-C and Type-A USB ports, an HDMI port, one 3.5mm headphone/microphone combo jack, and a Kensington lock. However, it's missing both an Ethernet port and a microSD slot, which is disappointing. 

The touchpad is smooth and responsive, and has a built-in fingerprint reader in the top-left corner; rather convenient for avoiding mishaps with a reader and the power button. The keyboard features lovely backlighting and an interesting detail – the 'R' and 'E' keys are backward, which an Acer rep explained is related to the 'recycle' theme of the laptop.

Acer Aspire Vero 16: Performance

white laptop

(Image credit: Future)

Though we couldn't test the Acer Aspire Vero 16's performance through benchmarks, the Intel Core Ultra CPU all but guarantees a speedy laptop that eats processor-intensive tasks for breakfast. 

As for the other specs, the GPU is the standard Intel Graphics, meaning that you won't be squeezing out much power on that end. I wish the Intel Arc Graphics upgrade option was available, as that would have kept the laptop lightweight while still offering a way to customize your laptop to better handle more demanding creative and editing work.

Acer Aspire Vero 16: Early verdict

white laptop

(Image credit: Future)

The Acer Aspire Vero 16 is a solid laptop that generally holds up well to other 16-inch models. What sets it apart is its price, which is quite budget-friendly, especially for the size of the screen, and its impressive eco-friendly credentials.

It shares most of the same specs and upgrades as the Acer Swift Go 14, and even starts at the same price. However, compared to the Swift Go 14, the Aspire Vero 16 is missing key features like an OLED screen, higher RAM options, and a microSD slot, to name just a few.

But, if you want a larger screen for an affordable price, a webcam that has a physical privacy switch, and if you care about the growing issue of e-waste, then this is the laptop for you. Otherwise, you could get the Swift Go 14 or 16-inch model for at or around the same price, and either would offer you more in terms of specs or features.

Acer Swift Go 14: a well-priced laptop that offers so much value
2:36 pm | January 9, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Computing Gadgets Laptops | Comments: Off

Acer's refresh of the Swift Go 14 comes in two flavors: the already-released version that's about as a vanilla refresh as you can get, and the upcoming enhanced version that comes with more features. If you waited past the initial release, this new version is shaping up to be quite the 

We've had some hands-on time with the upcoming model and it's a thing of beauty, with great specs and a lovely display. Coupled with the more than affordable pricing, this could easily be one of the best thin and light laptops and best cheap laptops around. It seems that Acer has stepped up its game as its offerings are well-balanced.

Acer Swift Go 14: Price and availability

So far, the Acer Swift Go 14 has been revealed for the US market, slated to release in March 2024 for a starting price of $749.99 (around £588 / AU$1,116). However, we don't have official pricing for either the UK or Australian markets at this time.

The pricing is quite good - close to budget even - as buyers would be able to have at least the current-gen Intel Core Ultra 5 CPU built-in for a low cost. Even with higher specs, the pricing would still be well under most Ultrabooks with worse specs.

Acer Swift Go 14: Design

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The most notable feature of the Acer Swift Go 14 is its incredibly thin and light design, with a weight under three pounds and a thickness of nearly half an inch. It barely weighs anything, yet has a nice metal sleek chassis. 

Compared to the current model, this upcoming model has a notch in the bezel due to it being outfitted with a superior 1440p QHD camera that produces an impressive image. It also has a privacy shutter, which is handy - though I wish it was a physical switch rather than a keyboard key.

The keyboard has a nice typing feel to it with well-sized keys and a lovely backlight for late-night typing. Its touchpad, made of Gorilla Glass, is responsive and smooth to use. It also features integrated media controls in the touchpad and has 'Swift' engraved at the bottom corner for a classy touch.

The display is a WQXGA+ OLED (2880 x 1880) screen and it looks stunning, delivering that OLED crispness that few laptops consistently have other than the Dell XPS series. And considering the price point, it's an excellent value.

Port selection is well-balanced, with Type-A and Type-C USB ports, an audio jack, an HDMI port, a micro SD slot, and a Kensington lock for security. It's missing an ethernet port - disappointing but not a deal breaker.

Acer Swift Go 14: Performance

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The Acer Swift Go 14 is outfitted with the latest Intel Core Ultra CPUs, with up to an Intel Core Ultra 9 185H to choose from. Combined with the DCI-P3 100% color gamut, you have the perfect creative machine that's able to tackle both editing and art projects with ease. 

The GPU starts at the standard mobile card but can also be configured to have an Intel Arc GPU, which is a solid budget card that means it can handle the more demanding processes of editing and high-end software.

While we don't yet have official benchmarks to properly gauge performance, the specs alone are almost guaranteed to give buyers way more than their money's worth.

Acer Swift Go 14: Early verdict

silver laptop

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The Acer Swift Go 14 model slated for a March 2024 release proves that Acer is offering a great affordable laptop. It's not only for those who need a portable machine for productivity work, but for creatives and editors as well. Its advanced CPU should translate to significant performance gains and if you equip it with an Intel Arc GPU, that bolsters its output even more. Its OLED display with a 100% color gamut and solid port selection serves to enhance an already solid laptop.

The real triumph here is the pricing, which is far cheaper than most other laptops on the market for comparable specs. Considering how expensive most Windows laptops have been for the past several years, it's a breath of fresh air to have one so well-priced. This is definitely a laptop to look forward to, if you ignore the bare-bones version that's already out to market.

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