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Chromebook vs. Apple MacBook vs. MacBook Air: How Do They Compare?

MacBook M1 vs M2

Chromebook vs. Apple MacBook vs. MacBook Air: How Do They Compare?

Chromebooks and MacBooks are two of the most popular laptop options in the market. MacBooks are premium laptops retailing at a higher price and have outstanding performance. In contrast, Chromebooks have limited features and retail at a significantly lower price.

In terms of functionality, Chromebooks handle essential functions like running Android and Google suite applications and streaming services, making them a great option for students. Besides, Apples’s MacBook and MacBook Air have better processors and are best suited for professionals, particularly those using video editing or 3D rendering software. A similarity between the two laptops is that they’re sleek and have a longer battery life. That being said, if you’re still figuring out whether the MacBook, MacBook Air or Chromebook is right for you, this guide details how these three laptops compare.

Chromebook vs. Apple MacBook vs. MacBook Air: Side-by-Side Comparison

FeatureChromebookMacBookMacBook Air
ProcessorIntel Celeron, Intel Core i3  and 10th Generation Core i5/i7Intel Core i5 and i7Intel Core M processors
Operating SystemChromeOSMacOSMacOS
Battery LifeUpto12 hoursUp to 18 hoursUp to 18 hours
StorageMost Chromebooks have a standard storage of 12 or 64 GB eMMC 128GB or 256GB PCIe-based SSD storage256GB or 512GB PCIe-based SSD storage
Primary UseMainly for online work(web browsing, streaming, and cloud storage)Can handle both online and local work, like video and audio editing or 3D rendering.Can handle both online and local work, like video and audio editing or 3D rendering.
RAM2 to 8 GB8 to 16 GB8 to 16 GB
PriceFrom $200 From $999 From $999 
Loading SpeedFast performance due to minimal hardware and web applicationHave slower performance compared to Chromebook due to their hardware complexityHave slower performance compared to Chromebook due to their hardware complexity
Best MacBook
2020 Apple MacBook Air Laptop (M1 Chip)
$1,178.96
  • Ultrathin and super light notebook, powered by Apple M1 chip
  • Fast and powerful 8-core CPU
  • 7-core GPU for graphic-intensive apps
  • Upto 18 hours of battery life
  • Highly portable laptop
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/21/2024 08:58 am GMT

Chromebook vs. Apple MacBook vs. MacBook Air: What’s the Difference

Let’s compare Chromebooks and MacBooks over several categories to find out exactly which one is best for you.

Processor

The processor of the Chromebook differs significantly from that of the MacBook and MacBook Air. There are different Chromebook laptop manufacturers, each using different processors. Generally, some common Chromebook CPUs include the Intel Celeron, Intel Core i3, and 10th Generation Core i5/i7. You’ll hardly find workhorse processors in Chromebooks because of ChomeOS devices’ low need for them.

In contrast, MacBook processors have excellent processing power. For instance, MacBook is powered by Intel Core M processors that are highly energy efficient, which helps extend their battery life. However, these processors aren’t as efficient as the Intel Core i7 and i5 in the MacBook Air. For basic use, you may not notice any difference in the performance of your laptop. However, by multitasking with video editing or 3D rendering applications, you’ll experience sluggishness with the MacBook.

MacBook M1 vs M2
The MacBook M1 is the first ARM-based custom system-on-chip (SoC) designed from the ground up. This remains a very good option to buy.

Internal Storage

Most Chromebooks have an internal storage space of between 16 to 64 GB. You don’t need much storage space as ChromeOS is mostly web-based, meaning most of your files will be stored online, particularly using Google Drive. You can still find a Chromebook with 128GB SSD internal storage, but these types are pricier than other models. Unlike Chromebooks, the MacBook and MacBook Air can expand their storage up to 2TB.

Battery Life

A key selling point of Chromebooks is their battery life. Given their slow processing capabilities, these laptops can run for a long time without needing a recharge. On average, most Chromebooks last up to 12 hours on a single charge.

Much like Chromebooks, the MacBook and MacBook Air have long battery life. You can expect your laptop to last up to 18 hours. However, how long your battery can last will depend on several factors, such as your daily usage and screen brightness. Luckily, there are ways to check the activities consuming a lot of energy and minimize their usage.

Operating System

Chromebooks run on ChomeOS, developed by Google, and look almost similar to Google Chrome. The operating system’s user interface has different applications like Google G Suit (Docs, Slides, Calendar, etc), with some Chromebooks offering support for Android applications. In addition, ChromeOS works almost like a browser, and its programs are web-based. While this is the case, you can still run some applications offline before reconnecting your internet.

In contrast, the MacBook and MacBook Air run on macOS, an operating system that accepts third-party applications on the Mac App Store or the developer’s website. One similarity between ChromeOS and macOS is that they’re less prone to malware. You should also know that, unlike Chromebooks, Macs have one manufacturer- Apple. Considering that Apple controls the hardware in its line of laptops, you won’t experience issues like bluescreen, which is common in some Chromebooks.

Design and Build Quality

Chromebooks come in different weights, sizes, and price ranges, depending on your preferred model. Typically, they weigh between 3 to 4 pounds. MacBooks and MacBook Air are also lightweight, with their weight ranging from 2 to 5 pounds. In terms of the material, Chromebooks utilize different materials based on the laptop manufacturer you choose. Some laptops use plastic, while others are constructed from metal. This isn’t the case with MacBooks because they are mostly made using aluminum. 

As far as screen size, most Chromebook sizes range between 13 to 15 inches, while the MacBook and MacBook Air have a standard screen size of 13.3 inches. An outstanding feature of MacBooks is the Retina Display, which gives bright, vibrant colors and clear, sharp text. Keep in mind that, unlike the MacBook, the MacBook Air screen goes to the edge, giving you an unrestricted view of the screen from different angles. Additionally, the MacBook Air automatically adjusts the screen color temperature based on your environment for a natural viewing experience.

Price

Chromebooks are budget-friendly, so you’ll get these mid-range laptops for anywhere from $200 to $700. Besides, premium versions retail from $500 to $1700 (for high-end models). MacBooks have a higher price tag than Chromebooks, partly because Apple manufactures them. That being said, the MacBook retails between $999 and $1300. The older model of MacBook Air goes for $999, with the newer models going from $1,200 to $2500.

Best Chromebook
Lenovo 2022 IdeaPad Flex 3 11.6" HD 2-in-1 Touchscreen Chromebook
$397.27
  • Laptop mode made possible with a 360-degree hinge
  • 64GB eMMC Storage
  • Durable and portable stylus made from aluminum
  • Comes with a one-year warranty from Lenovo
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/21/2024 08:59 am GMT

Chromebook vs. Apple MacBook vs. MacBook Air: 6 Must-Know Facts

  • Chromebooks have a battery life of about 12 hours, with MacBooks going for up to 18 hours.
  • The Chromebook OS has built-in virus protection that protects your data. They provide more security by running a verified boot every time you power on the Chromebook, which helps prevent malware.
  • The MacBooks are built with faster processors, which means you can run heavy applications like 3D rendering software, which isn’t the case with Chromebooks designed to handle light tasks.
  • The macOS on the latest MacBook Air has many improved features, like the stage manager that lets you organize your window and application so that your desktop remains clutter-free. The spotlight feature lets you perform actions like setting a timer or using live text to search for text in images.
  • Most Chromebooks have an internal storage space of between 16GB to 64GB, but you can use an SSD card or external hard drive if you want more storage space. This isn’t the case with MacBooks because their storage capacity mostly is 256GB and 512GB for new versions.
  • Chromebooks are more budget-friendly than MacBooks. This is mostly because of their limited functionality and processing capabilities. 

Chromebook vs. Apple MacBook vs. MacBook Air: Which One Should You Choose

Chromebooks and MacBooks are two of the most popular laptop brands that cater to different market segments. For instance, MacBooks are an excellent choice if you want an efficient laptop for running applications like video or photo editing software. Alternatively, if you’re on a budget and want a laptop to help you perform lightweight tasks, you’re better off with a Chromebook.

A key difference between MacBooks and Chromebooks is that Chromebooks support the Google Play Store, meaning you can enjoy some of your favorite Android games on the Chromebook. Generally, choosing between Chromebooks and MacBooks depends on your budget and the work you wish to perform on your laptop.

  1. 2020 Apple MacBook Air Laptop (M1 Chip)
    $1,178.96
    • Ultrathin and super light notebook, powered by Apple M1 chip
    • Fast and powerful 8-core CPU
    • 7-core GPU for graphic-intensive apps
    • Upto 18 hours of battery life
    • Highly portable laptop
    Buy on Amazon

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

    02/21/2024 08:58 am GMT
  2. Lenovo 2022 IdeaPad Flex 3 11.6" HD 2-in-1 Touchscreen Chromebook
    $397.27
    • Laptop mode made possible with a 360-degree hinge
    • 64GB eMMC Storage
    • Durable and portable stylus made from aluminum
    • Comes with a one-year warranty from Lenovo
    Buy on Amazon

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

    02/21/2024 08:59 am GMT

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it possible to use a Chromebook without connecting it to the internet?

Yes, using your Chromebook offline is possible. However, different applications like Gmail need to be configured beforehand so that you can enjoy offline capabilities. For instance, when using a school or work Gmail account, you can request your administrator to help you configure your account to offline settings.

What are the downsides of using a Chromebook?

Chromebooks feature eMMC storage with a capacity of between 16 to 64 GB. Note that newer Chromebook models have a storage capacity of up to 128GB, significantly lower than MacBooks, whose storage capacity can go up to 2TB. It’s also impossible to run intensive applications like video editing software due to their limited processing capacity.

Is it better to purchase a Chromebook or a MacBook?

Buying a Chromebook or a MacBook will depend on the work you wish to perform. If you’re a professional and need a laptop to help you perform demanding computing needs, consider getting a MacBook. The Chromebook is an excellent choice if you’re looking to work with web-based applications and are not concerned about laptop processing power.

Between Chromebook and MacBook, which is best for schoolwork?

MacBooks are great laptops to own due to their reliable battery life, excellent display, and faster performance. However, their expensive price tag doesn’t make them affordable to many students. Chromebooks are budget-friendly, have long battery life, and are quick enough to handle school-based work.

Can you download applications on the Chromebook?

Yes, it’s possible to download applications on the Chromebook. First, open Play Store from the Launcher and then search for the application you’re looking for by name. Next, click the install button, which will install it on your laptop.

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