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15-inch MacBook Air vs. 13-inch MacBook Air: Which One Wins?

15-inch MacBook Air vs. 13-inch MacBook Air

15-inch MacBook Air vs. 13-inch MacBook Air: Which One Wins?

Key Points

  • The 15-inch and 13-inch MacBook Airs have similar specifications, making it difficult to choose between them.
  • Both laptops offer excellent performance for everyday tasks and resource-intensive applications.
  • There is not much difference in terms of storage performance between the two laptops.
  • Battery life is comparable between the 15-inch and 13-inch MacBook Airs.
  • The 15-inch MacBook Air has superior sound quality with six speakers compared to the 13-inch model’s quad-speaker arrangement.

15-inch MacBook Air vs. 13-inch MacBook Air: which is the best buy? Apple’s lineup of Silicon laptops is a great purchase for users looking for a powerful and compact computer. However, there are some differing models in the lineup which can muddy the waters a bit when it comes to choosing your computer of choice.

Today’s comparison focuses on the MacBook Air line, with 13-inch and 15-inch models going head-to-head. Users sitting on the fence trying to decide which MacBook Air to get are in luck because this guide will get down to the nuts and bolts to see which of these is a better buy.

15-inch MacBook Air vs. 13-inch MacBook Air: Side-by-Side Comparison

15-inch MacBook Air13-inch MacBook Air
Base CPU Configuration8 cores8 cores
Base GPU Configuration10 cores8 cores
Memory AmountMinimum of 8 GB, up to 24 GB availableMinimum of 8 GB, up to 24 GB available
Storage Amount256 GB SSD starting, 2 TB SSD available256 GB SSD starting, 2 TB SSD available
Screen Size15.3 inches13.6 inches
Battery Size66.5 watt-hour52.6 watt-hour
Charger Provided35-watt dual-port charger30-watt USB-C power adapter or 35-watt dual-port charger
Wi-Fi SupportedWi-Fi 6Wi-Fi 6

As you can see, there isn’t much of a difference between these two laptops. This will be a trend going forward with the rest of this comparison.

15-inch MacBook Air vs. 13-inch MacBook Air: What’s the Difference?

Performance

Both the 15-inch and 13-inch MacBook Airs feature the same Apple Silicon M2 processor. There are some key distinctions to keep in mind if just looking at the base configuration, however. The 13-inch MacBook Air comes by default with an 8-core GPU. This does help to keep costs down, with the basic 13-inch model running for $1,099 MSRP.

Light and Powerful
Apple 2023 15.3-inch MacBook Air
$941.14
  • 15.3" Liquid Retina Display
  • Up to 18 hours of battery life
  • 8 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD
  • Apple M2 processor
  • 1080p FaceTime camera and six speakers
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/03/2024 09:05 pm GMT

The 15-inch only has the option of the 10-core GPU, which also accounts for the slightly higher price. When it comes down to raw performance, even with the basic configurations, you’ll be hard-pressed to note a difference. Most users aren’t going to be running a lot of graphically intensive programs for their daily web browsing.

More resource-intensive applications like Photoshop and Final Cut Pro can show a bit of a squeeze on performance. However, the M2 processor performs admirably in both. Applications like Logic Pro X, Adobe Audition, and Geekbench show nearly identical results in single- and multi-core performance.

Storage

This is another category where there isn’t a substantial difference between the two laptops. Both the 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Airs come with a 256 GB SSD by default. When you’re building your laptop of choice through the online portal, you can opt for higher storage.

As a personal recommendation, any potential user should opt for the 512 GB SSD. This does drive the cost up, but it also increases the performance of your laptop considerably. You do have the option of going up to 2 TB for either the 13-inch or 15-inch, but prices will change accordingly.

That said, performance with the storage is roughly identical. You won’t notice much of a difference — if any — when it comes to the likes of writing files and other typical tasks.

Battery Life

Despite having a larger battery, the 15-inch MacBook Air doesn’t really have the edge. The larger battery is certainly there to accommodate the larger screen, but you’ll get roughly the same ideal performance out of either laptop. It really will depend on if you prefer the lighter and more compact size of the 13-inch or a roomier keyboard and screen with the 15-inch one.

Typical uses should see roughly the same amount of battery life. More in-depth testing saw the 15-inch MacBook Air netting 14 hours and 59 minutes of battery life. This is less than Apple’s stated 18 hours of runtime, but still quite considerable for a laptop in this form factor.

The 13-inch MacBook Air has an equally impressive 14 hours and 6 minutes. The 15-inch does have the edge, but it is so slight when looking at the overall lifespan of both batteries that it’s hard to declare an outright winner.

Sound

This is one of two categories where you can see a real divergence between the two laptops. The 13-inch MacBook Air comes with a quad-speaker arrangement. The on-board speakers are great and feature things like directional audio and Dolby Atmos support when watching Apple TV+ or listening to supported media on Apple Music.

Our Pick
Apple 2022 13.6-inch MacBook Air
$983.94
  • Features the M2 chip, a next-generation 8-core CPU, up to 10-core GPU, and up to 24 GB of unified memory
  • 18 hours of battery life
  • 13.6-inch Liquid Retina display (over 500 nits of brightness)
  • 1080p FaceTime HD camera, three-mic array, and four-speaker sound system with Spatial Audio
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/03/2024 05:39 am GMT

The 15-inch MacBook Air takes this further, with six speakers in total. As the 15-inch MacBook Air is considerably larger, there is room for more speakers and better audio output. It is a welcome addition, as the playback from the built-in speakers is clear, present, and greatly balanced.

It won’t replace a soundbar or headphones for bass response, but there is plenty to love. If you’re looking for a laptop based solely on the quality of its sound output, the 15-inch MacBook Air is a clear winner. Both laptops also feature the same microphone array, so you won’t notice a huge difference when doing voice or video calls.

Resolution and Screen Quality

The 13-inch MacBook Air has a slightly brighter screen, which might make a difference if you view a lot of HDR content. The 13-inch has a display resolution of 2560 x 1664, using the same aspect ratio as the 2880 x 1864 resolution of the 15-inch.

Apple’s 15-inch laptop has great color and brightness, but that will be universal among any laptop in the product line. You’ve got Wide Color and True Tone color support for both laptops. The 15-inch is slightly better for media consumption, especially if you watch a lot of television or videos while working.

However, the lower peak brightness gives a slight edge to the 13-inch MacBook Air. The displays on both laptops are clear and crisp; they are Retina screens, after all. It’ll depend more on what your preferred form factor is for a laptop.

The larger screen does have a higher resolution, but it’s a very slight difference when it comes down to it. An average user isn’t going to notice much between the two, but the larger screen could be better for working as a desktop replacement.

15-inch MacBook Air vs. 13-inch MacBook Air: 5 Must-Know Facts

  1. The 15-inch MacBook Air has slightly better battery life.
  2. The 15-inch MacBook Air only costs $200 at retail for a larger screen.
  3. The 15-inch MacBook Air has better speakers.
  4. The 13-inch MacBook Air has better peak brightness on the screen.
  5. The 13-inch MacBook Air offers equivalent performance for a lower cost at retail.

15-inch MacBook Air vs. 13-inch MacBook Air: Which One Is Better? Which One Should You Choose?

So, which of these laptops is a clear winner? Unfortunately, this comparison isn’t nearly as cut and dry as when reviewing laptops from a different company. The Apple Silicon line of processors has done quite a bit to level the playing field, especially for Apple’s lower-cost laptops. As such, you’ll want to opt for the 13-inch MacBook Air for most use cases.

It can be found cheaper and brought to feature parity with a simple $100 addition to get the same GPU as its larger sibling. The 15-inch MacBook Air is a great laptop and is quite light despite the larger overall size. You can’t go wrong with either laptop, so you’ll likely just want to pick one based on either your budget or desire for a particular screen size.

  1. Apple 2023 15.3-inch MacBook Air
    $941.14
    • 15.3" Liquid Retina Display
    • Up to 18 hours of battery life
    • 8 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD
    • Apple M2 processor
    • 1080p FaceTime camera and six speakers
    Buy Now on Amazon

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    02/03/2024 09:05 pm GMT
  2. Apple 2022 13.6-inch MacBook Air
    $983.94
    • Features the M2 chip, a next-generation 8-core CPU, up to 10-core GPU, and up to 24 GB of unified memory
    • 18 hours of battery life
    • 13.6-inch Liquid Retina display (over 500 nits of brightness)
    • 1080p FaceTime HD camera, three-mic array, and four-speaker sound system with Spatial Audio
    Buy Now on Amazon

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    02/03/2024 05:39 am GMT

Frequently Asked Questions

Do both MacBook Airs have the same processor?

Yes, both laptops feature the same Apple M2 processor.

Does the ten-core GPU make a difference in video editing?

The 10-core GPU does improve rendering and other tasks while handling video content.

Is the MacBook Air a good laptop?

Yes, it is one of the best buys in its price bracket. However, if you’re looking for a gaming laptop, you might want to look elsewhere.

Is the 15-inch MacBook Air more powerful?

Not really, it is larger and has a better screen in terms of overall resolution.

Can these laptops run Universal Apps?

Yes, they certainly can.

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