Oftentimes, we have a pretty good idea about what’s coming soon from Apple. Other times, however, the tech giant still finds ways to surprise us. The most recent example? Their surprise announcement on January 17th, 2023. From the MacBook M2 Pro to the MacBook M2 Max to the addition of the highly anticipated (and long-rumored) Mac Mini, these unexpected press releases made quite an impact… and raised more than a few questions. Here’s one, for example: What are the key differences between the MacBook M2 Pro vs. MacBook Air M2? Let’s compare.
MacBook M2 Pro vs. MacBook Air M2: Side By Side Comparison
|MacBook M2 Pro
|MacBook Air M2
|January 24th, 2023
|July 15th, 2022
|Available Screen Size(s)
|14 inches; 16 inches
|14-inch model: 12.31 in. x 8.71 in. x 0.6 in.
16-inch model: 14.01 in. x 9.77 in. 0.66 in.
|11.97 in. x 8.46 in. x 0.44 in.
|14-inch model: 3.5 lbs
16-inch model: 4.7 lbs
|256GB – 8TB
|256GB – 2TB
|Liquid Retina XDR display
|Liquid Retina display
|External Display Support
|Up to 8K resolution
|Up to 6K resolution
|Number of Ports
|3 Thunderbolt 4/USB-C ports
|2 Thunderbolt 3/USB 4 ports
|6-speaker Dolby Atmos with Spatial Audio
|4-speaker Dolby Atmos with Spatial Audio
- Sleek 16.2-inch Retina display
- Exceptionally long battery life (up to 22 hours)
- 32GB unified memory, and 1TB storage
- M2 pro with 12 CPU cores for exceptional performance
- Compatible with Adobe Creative Cloud, Microsoft 365, and iOS apps
- 1080p HD camera and amazing audio system
Key Differences: MacBook M2 Pro vs. MacBook Air M2
As you can plainly see, there are numerous differences between the MacBook M2 Pro vs. MacBook Air M2. The list truly goes on and on, making it difficult to truly tell what matters most. Let’s take a closer look at the key differences, homing in on the most important particulars between the two. Inside and out, these are the key differences that set apart the MacBook M2 Pro vs. MacBook Air M2.
Most apparent from the start is the difference in price between the MacBook M2 Pro vs. MacBook Air M2. The M2 Pro model begins at $1,999 and only increases from there. For more advanced configurations, the price can very easily exceed $2,699 or more. For the M2 Air, the price begins at just $1,199. Larger, more complex configurations drive the price up to $1,499 or more. This is ultimately still lower than even the cheapest configuration for the MacBook M2 Pro. (However, you’re paying for some pretty advanced specs with the M2 Pro’s price tag.)
Secondly, and perhaps most obviously, there’s a difference in size between the MacBook M2 Pro vs. MacBook Air M2. The MacBook M2 Pro comes in two possible sizes: the 14-inch screen model and the 16-inch screen model. The Air, by comparison, only comes in one possible size: the 13.6-inch model. This difference might not sound like much, but it becomes a lot more distinct when looking at the weight of the two. The M2 Pro can weigh up to 4.7 pounds, while the Air M2 weighs just 2.7 pounds at most.
Of all these key differences, the varying systems-on-a-chip are surely the most distinct. The M2 Pro’s chip is right there in the name: the M2 Pro. Released alongside the M2 Max chip on January 18th, 2023, the two SOCs are Apple’s greatest and most advanced to date. They effectively elevate chip technology to all new heights. The M2 Air, by comparison, utilizes the M2 chip. This M2 chip is still fantastic, by all means — First announced back in June of 2022, the M2 was formerly the best Apple had to offer. Now, it has been surpassed by the M2 Pro and M2 Max to become the 2nd-best.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all those internal specs listed above. You can plainly see that differences exist between the MacBook M2 Pro vs. MacBook Air M2, but what does it all mean? Simply put, the M2 Pro (alongside its sister product the M2 Max Pro) represents the most powerful and high-performance MacBook Pro model to date. While the M2 Air is most certainly the highest-performing Air released thus far, it undoubtedly pales in comparison to the M2 Pro. (Similarly, both pale in comparison to the M2 Max Pro, but that’s a conversation for another time.)
Another important consideration to make between the MacBook M2 Pro vs. MacBook Air M2? The differences in connectivity specs. For one, the MacBook M2 Pro supports Wi-Fi 6E — the fastest Wi-Fi connection around. It also supports Bluetooth 5.3 connectivity, the best in Bluetooth technology today. Given the fact that the M2 Air was released last summer, there’s just no way it could possibly expect to go toe-to-toe with the new M2 Pro in this regard. It only supports Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0 — in other words, still good, but not the best on the market.
Lastly, there are differences in display technology to consider with the MacBook M2 Pro vs. MacBook Air M2. For one, the M2 Pro utilizes Liquid Retina XDR technology, while the M2 Air uses standard Liquid Retina technology. This means that the M2 Pro can support a peak brightness of 1600 nits, while the M2 Air can reach just 500 nits. What’s more, the M2 Pro supports external displays with resolutions up to 8K, while the M2 Air can only support external displays with resolutions up to 6K.
5 Must-Know Facts About the M2 Pro Chip
- Apple announced the M2 Pro, the M2 Max, and the Mac Mini all on the same day. Unlike Apple’s usual press announcements, this one was somewhat unexpected. The January 17th press release was not hyped up or teased in the usual Apple fashion.
- Apple’s M2 Pro chip has 40 billion transistors inside — twice as many as the baseline M2 chip found in the M2 Air. The M2 Max has even more: 67 billion transistors in all.
- The M2 Max is even more advanced than the M2 Pro chip, supporting as much as a 38-core GPU, up to 400 Gb/s of unified bandwidth, and as much as 96GB of unified memory in all.
- Graphics speeds with the M2 Pro are as much as 30 percent faster compared to the M1 Pro from October 2021.
- The 16-core Neural Engine in Apple’s M2 Pro chip is able to perform 15.8 trillion operations a second. That’s as much as 40% faster than the tech giant’s previous generation of chip technology.
The History of the MacBook Pro
The MacBook M2 Pro is the next in a long line of MacBook Pro releases dating back to January 2006. The MacBook Pro product line serves as Apple’s most powerful version of their iconic Mac notebook computers. They’re made to be more advanced than the MacBook Air (not to mention the now-defunct MacBook base model, which has been discontinued and revived and discontinued again). Currently, the MacBook Pro is offered in three different sizes — the 13-inch, 14-inch, and 16-inch — all with variations on Apple’s current generation of M1 and M2 chips.
Naturally, the M2 Pro and the M2 Max Pro are the next logical step in this long line of chip technology. Apple has come a long way since the MacBook Pro’s humble beginnings. As a matter of fact, the first generation MacBook Pro from January of 2006 relied on the PowerBook G4 for its design and Intel Core processors for its chip technology. Complete with a webcam and the first generation of MagSafe charging technology, the first MacBook Pro came in just two size options: the 15-inch model, released in January 2006, and the 17-inch model, released in April 2006.
The second generation MacBook Pro was available in 2008 — a much faster turnaround than the MacBook Pro has been known for since. Following this 2008 release, Apple has made a habit of releasing a new MacBook Pro model every four years. That means the third generation arrived in 2012 and the fourth generation arrived in 2016. However, the fifth generation did not arrive until 2021 — a rare five-year gap between models. They subsequently re-released the fourth generation 13-inch Pro, now equipped with M2 chip technology, in July of 2022.
The M2 Pro and M2 Max
Despite the return to fourth-generation MacBook Pro technology in July of 2022, Apple has once again returned to its fifth-generation Pro tech for the M2 Pro and M2 Max. To call this joint release a surprise would be an understatement, to be sure. As recently as early January of 2023, experts and insiders were estimating that the M2 Pro and M2 Max chips would not be seen until at least March. Some were even estimating that the tech potentially wouldn’t even be ready until as late as the fall of 2023. Needless to say, they were wrong.
The M2 Pro and M2 Max follow a trend established by the release of the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips in October of 2021. However, these two new chips far exceed the power and the specs of the previous generation in every conceivable way. The M2 Pro builds and improves upon the existing architecture of the M2 chip bring a 12- or 19-core CPU combined with as much as 32GB of spectacularly fast unified memory. The M2 Max does the same, but takes it a step further by supporting as much as a 38-core GPU with three times as much unified memory as the M2 Pro.
Looked at side by side, the M2 Pro and M2 Max represent the most energy-efficient, most powerful chips put in a pro laptop the world over. You won’t find a more powerful pro laptop from Apple, let alone from any other tech brand on the planet. This kind of computing power means the M2 Pro and M2 Max could support multiple 8K ProRes videos being played at once — all while using very little battery. All this power and efficiency extends the MacBook Pro’s battery life to an unbelievable 22 hours.
MacBook M2 Pro vs. MacBook Air M2: Pros and Cons
|Pros of MacBook M2 Pro
|Cons of MacBook M2 Pro
|More powerful than the M2 chip
|Available in 14-inch and 16-inch models
|Less powerful than the M2 Max Pro
|More battery life than ever before
|Lower battery life compared to the M2 Max Pro
|Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3 support
|Less memory bandwidth than the M2 Max Pro
|Pros of MacBook Air M2
|Cons of MacBook Air M2
|The most powerful MacBook Air to date
|Fewer GPU and CPU cores
|Less expensive than the MacBook Pro
|Lower peak brightness than the Pro
|Lighter and smaller than the MacBook Pro
|Only two Thunderbolt 3 ports
|Equipped with M2 chip technology
|No option for the M2 Pro or M2 Max chips
MacBook M2 Pro vs. MacBook Air M2: Which Is Best?
When it comes to choosing the best MacBook between the M2 Pro and the M2 Air, there’s really no contest here. The MacBook M2 Pro is one of the most powerful products Apple has ever released. It’s unquestionably better than the MacBook Air, even with its most recent M2 chip upgrade. (The only thing better than the M2 Pro would be the M2 Max Pro.) There’s nothing inherently wrong with the MacBook Air M2, especially with its lower price, but the MacBook M2 Pro is simply the superior product overall.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©tinhkhuong/Shutterstock.com.