If you want to upgrade your laptop, you might ask yourself should I get the MacBook Pro M1 vs. MacBook Air M1? Both run on M1 chips. M1 is Apple’s self-developed and manufactured ARM-based SOC or system on a chip. A SOC is all the components you need to run a computer on one chip instead of multiple pieces and is found on MacBook Pro and MacBook Air. Well, now that they are built on the same system, just slightly different specs, the answer isn’t as straightforward as you’d think.

MacBook Pro M1 Vs. MacBook Air M1: Side by Side Comparison

MacBook Pro M1 (2021)MacBook Air M1 (2020)
Starting Price$1,999$999
Screen Size14 inch13 inch
ProcessorApple M1 Pro, M1 Max (10-core)Apple M1 (8-core)
Graphics16-core or 32-coreIntegrated 7-core M1 GPU |
Integrated 8-core GPU
Memory16GG, 32GB8GB, 16GB
Storage512GB to 8TB256GB to 2TB
Ports3 Thunderbolt, HDMI, SD Card, MagSafe2 Thunderbolt

MacBook Pro M1 Vs. MacBook Air M1: 4 Must-Know Facts

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Apple MacBook Pro 2020 with M1 silicon Chip on a table
Apple MacBook Pro M1 has an 8-core CPU, 8-core GPU, and expandable flexible storage capacity.
  • MacBook Pro and MacBook Air have the same SOC with slightly different specs.
  • The MacBook Air has a fanless design that keeps it quiet but does lead to thermal throttling.
  • There is a $1,000 difference in price between the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air.
  • All the components for both the Air and Pro are soldered onto the board and cannot be user upgraded.

MacBook Pro M1 Vs. MacBook Air M1: What’s the Difference?

As with all computers, you can spend days looking at the specs and comparing numbers. However, what makes the real difference is how well it performs normal tasks. Both of these laptops are excellent performers, but depending on what you need them for, you can decide on one over the other.

Performance

Although, in theory, both notebooks share similar chips (with slight differences), the performance of these two is not the same. That is in big part to the fanless design of the MacBook Air. In many tests, the Air can reach the same speed as the Pro but cannot sustain it because of thermal throttling. This is when the computer’s processor, GPU, storage, memory, or any component reaches a temperature where it cannot retain its running speed.

On the other hand, the MacBook Pro does not run into this issue. The single fan makes CPU and GPU-intensive tasks easier on the laptop, leading to better performance.

Remember, these components will not be user upgradable, especially with Apple’s M1 chip and future SOCs. So make sure to get the specs you need for the performance you are looking for from the start.

Battery Life

If there’s one area where M1 beats previous Macs and current Windows laptops, it has to be the battery life. This is where having all your components inside your laptop pays off. Apple has even gone further to fine-tune its batteries for performance and efficiency.

With a screen brightness of around 150 nits, The MacBook Air M1 lasts 14 hours and 41 minutes on a full charge, while the MacBook Pro M1 lasts 14 hours and 8 minutes. That 30 or so minute difference might not be too noticeable for day-to-day use, but if squeezing every minute out of your laptop battery counts, the Air might be the difference maker.

Display

Air and Pro sport a Retina display that Apple has become known for. The color accuracy is excellent, and the sharpness is nearly unbeatable. But these screens are essentially the same besides one thing, the brightness. Where the Air maxes out around 365 nits of peak brightness, the Pro goes up to 434 nits of peak brightness.

These screens have great viewing angles that can work in a dark room or outside daylight while still displaying accurate colors. Both of these laptops have a native resolution of 2560×1600 pixels and 227 pixels per inch. 13-inch and 14-inch screens with this resolution and pixel per inch will give you excellent sharpness.

Keyboard and TrackPad

Even though it is an undervalued spec most of the time, the keyboard and trackpad are a massive part of how using a computer feels. You can have the most powerful computer ever, but if the keyboard and trackpad suck, the laptop will be awful to use.

That said, Apple and the MacBook lineup have the best trackpad in the industry. The M1 Air and Pro do not change this trend. Instead, the trackpad feels accurate and pleasant to use for hours.

If you are worried about using another Mac laptop with problematic butterfly keys, that won’t be an issue with either notebook. Apple has done away with the butterfly keys and has swapped them out with the magic keyboard everyone used to love.

MacBook Pro

Sale
2021 Apple MacBook Pro (14-inch, Apple M1 Pro chip with 8‑core CPU and 14‑core GPU, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD) - Space Gray
  • Apple M1 Pro or M1 Max chip for a massive leap in CPU, GPU, and machine learning performance
  • Up to 10-core CPU delivers up to 3.7x faster performance to fly through pro workflows quicker than ever
  • Up to 32-core GPU with up to 13x faster performance for graphics-intensive apps and games
  • 16-core Neural Engine for up to 11x faster machine learning performance
  • Longer battery life, up to 17 hours

MacBook Air

MacBook Pro M1 Vs. MacBook Air M1: Which one should you buy?

Both of these notebooks are amazing in their own right. The choice of one over the other comes down to how much performance you hope to get from a new laptop. If you want to max out your performance and don’t have a strict budget, go for the MacBook Pro. But if you want a more budget-friendly option that can still give some excellent performance, get the MacBook Air.

If you are a video editor, content creator, or looking to play mac games, the Pro is the way to go, especially the 14inch from 2021. However, the Air is a perfect option if you are looking for an ultra-slim laptop that allows you to surf the web, create documents, and maybe even do some light creative tasks.

Check out the MacBook Pro M1 on Amazon.

Last update on 2022-12-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

MacBook Pro M1 Vs. MacBook Air M1: Notebooks Compared FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Which one is better MacBook Pro or Air M1?

Overall the price to performance you get out of the MacBook Air is pretty unbeatable. But the MacBook Pro will get you there if you need a little extra pep in your laptop.

Is MacBook Air or Pro better for students?

I would definitely go with the MacBook Air for students who are usually looking to save money. It will also be easier to lug all around campus than its heavier counterpart, the Pro.

Is the MacBook Air M1 faster than the MacBook Pro Intel?

Yes. Because the M1 chips are made entirely by Apple, they can optimize and finely tune every detail to ensure their machines run efficiently and achieve impressive performance.

Is Macbook Pro faster than Macbook Air?

While the Macbook Pro represents a jump in price, it is the undisputed leader in speed thanks to a faster M1 Pro chip.

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  • Tom's Guide Available here: https://www.tomsguide.com/face-off/macbook-air-vs-macbook-pro
  • Make Use Of Available here: https://www.makeuseof.com/m1-macbook-air-vs-m1-macbook-pro/
  • 9 to 5 Mac Available here: https://9to5mac.com/2022/04/29/macbook-air-vs-pro-comparison/
  • Mac Rumors Available here: https://www.macrumors.com/guide/apple-silicon-macbook-air-vs-macbook-pro/
  • Business Insider Available here: https://www.businessinsider.com/guides/tech/apple-macbook-air-m1-vs-macbook-pro-m1