- The Air and Pro 13.3” both carry the same M1 processor.
- The MacBook Pro 16” can be configured with up to 8 TB of storage and 64 GB of RAM.
- The M1 Max outperforms the M1 Pro and M1 on graphic performance benchmark software and multicore processes.
- Apple’s M1 processors have replaced Intel’s processors in the latest MacBook Air and Pro models.
- All current models of MacBook have Touch ID.
- All models of MacBook have similar performance in single-processor tasks.
Purchasing a new laptop has always been a bit of an adventure. The wide selection available across the different ecosystems can make it a very difficult decision. This is one of the reasons Apple users have stuck within Apple’s ecosystem. The selection of configurations is simpler to choose from and the options aren’t overwhelming.
For the most part, the easiest way to think about Apple’s two laptop lineups is very simple. The MacBook Air is a general laptop offered for the average home and school use. The MacBook Pro is meant for professionals who need more hardware power.
Before 2021, that’s most of the decision-making an Apple user needed to make when purchasing a new MacBook. Then, Apple decided to launch the M1 Pro and M1 Max. This made the MacBook Pro 13.3” and the MacBook Pro 14” different devices.
Read on to explore our full comparison between the two devices, including key differences and which MacBook is better.
- $1,302.08Buy on Amazon
- It features 8-core CPU, 10-core GPU and up to 24GB of unified memory.
- Up to 20 hours of battery life.
- 13 inch retina display with 500 nits of brightness and P3 wide color for vibrant images.
- 8GB RAM
- 512GB SSD storage
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MacBook Air vs MacBook Pro: Side by Side Comparison
|What it is
|Personal computer laptop
|Personal computer laptop
|Computer programs and web access
|Computer programs and web access
|Apple MacBook Air
|Apple MacBook Prog
|3.0 pounds, 3.5 pounds, 4.7/4.8 pounds
|256 GB or 2 TB
|256 GB, 512 GB, 1 TB, 2 TB, 4 TB, 8 TB
|Apple M1 (8-core)
|Apple M1 (8-core), Apple M1 Pro, M1 Max (10-core)
|Integrated 7-core M1 GPU/ Integrated 8-core GPU
|Integrated 7-core M1 GPU/ Integrated 8-core GPU, 16-core, or 32-core
|14 hours, 41 minutes of web browsing; up to 18 hours of video playback
|16 hours, 32 minutes of web browsing, 17 hours of video playback, or 21 hours of video playback
|13.3 Inches, 2,560 X 1,600 resolution
|13.3 inches (2,560 X 1,600), 14.2 inches (3,024 X 1,964) mini-LED, 16.2 inches (3,456 X 2,234) mini-LE
|Touch ID, Thunderbolt, Dolby Atmos
|Touch ID, Thunderbolt, SD card slot, MagSafe, Dolby Atmos
|$1299, $1999, $2399, $2799, $3499
MacBook Air vs. MacBook Pro: Key Differences
MacBook Air and MacBook Pro are both powerful laptops which are suitable for a wide range of tasks. However, they are not exactly the same, having different power, storage, speed and graphics. The MacBook Air is a lightweight, slim laptop which is run by Apple’s M1 processor and comes with either 8 or 16 GB of RAM and 256 GB or 2 TB of hard drive space. However, the MacBook Pro is a laptop which is designed with professionals in mind. It is powered by either the M1, M1 Pro, or M1 Max processors from Apple. However, it is a much more expensive device. Let’s take a closer look at these differences below.
Apple has strayed far from its design choices of the past. MacBook Air is still meant to be the lightest available laptop with a thin, sleek design. The MacBook Pro is meant to be the beefier, durable workhorse for mobile creatives.
If you looked at both laptops from the top angle with the lids closed, you’d be hard-pressed to see the difference. The tight shell is well produced on both designs and offers a clean, solid look. That is until you pick them up.
The MacBook Air is a slim wedge design on the bottom. It’s lighter than all of the MacBook Pro designs, but also has fewer ports. The MacBook Pro comes in three different models. The first model in 2021 is like the MacBook Air with more RAM and storage options.
The second set of MacBook Pro’s introduced the new Apple M1 Pro and M1 Max 10-core processors, the MacBook Pro 14” and the MacBook Pro 16”. These are much heavier than the Air and wider. The Pro’s weight is attributed both extra internal components like RAM sticks and the larger battery size.
The 14” and 16” also now features the camera notch that gained popularity from the latest models iPhones on the top of the screen. Both keyboards are similar and neither feels better to type on than their other.
The MacBook Pro 14” and 16” are powered by a much more powerful processor, extreme storage options, and a great range of memory configurations that caps at 64 GB. So, will you see the performance difference in everyday use? If you are a creative designer, engineer, video editor, or any other profession that uses powerful software, then the M1 Max difference will become obvious. If your MacBook is purely for research, typing, and social interactions, then the power difference isn’t important.
Users looking for the longest possible battery life may wonder why the Pro models with a larger battery appear to have shorter or similar battery life. In order to provide the hardware features that come with an M1 processor, the Pro models have to use more battery power to keep it going. Even though the Pro models have a larger battery capacity, they use its juice much faster.
MacBook Air vs. MacBookPro: Who’s It For?
The Air is Apple’s lower-priced option meant for just about everybody. With computer use being a part of everyday life, the population of computer users is massive. The reality is that most of them don’t need access to a powerhouse of a computer for heavy video editing with 64 GB of memory. Most people just need access to a word processor, a web browser, a calculator, and email. This is why the lightweight design of the Air is perfect for the average light computer user.
The MacBook Pro is for mobile Mac power users. Just like the name implies, it is designed for professionals. The extra weight and boxier design are a trade-off for power that professionals need to perform specific high requirement tasks. Some common examples of MacBook Pro users are audio producers, video editors, graphic designers, programmers, engineers, and gamers.
MacBook Air vs. MacBook Pro: Which Is Better?
The added power and capability of the M1 Pro and M1 Max has power users asking if it’s worth the upgrade. If your software makes use of multi-core processing, the M1 Pro and M1 Max outperform the M1 by nearly double the benchmark scores. The M1 Max shows the highest performance of all three when compared to performance on Geekbench 5 and Affinity benchmark.
These high-performance marks by the M1 Pro and M1 Max merit their purchase by professional creativity. The extra memory and storage are also advantageous features. The M1 Max is a true force to be reckoned with. Which it should be as it carries a heavy price tag of $1999 to over $3000. The price is among one of the top reasons Apple users question if they need a MacBook Pro and the unattractive camera notch they added to the screen.
Objectively, everything about the MacBook Pro 14” with the M1 Max is better than the other models. It packs a powerhouse of a processor with access to large amounts of RAM and storage without being too bulky. If it weren’t for the $1000 price difference, the MacBook 14” would be an easy choice.
However, better is subjective. As such, better as defined for a larger audience is won by the Air. It is a sleek and durable design that comes with enough power for almost everyone’s average use. It’s still more expensive than say a Chromebook or a cheap Windows laptop, but $999 for a laptop that will last for nearly ten years isn’t so bad.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©19 STUDIO/Shutterstock.com.