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MacBook Air vs. Pro

In the market for a new shiny Mac? We know how daunting it is to decide between the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air, especially when the owners of both devices sing their praises. Truthfully, both machines are great picks. Each make is fast, reliable, and durable… But could the MacBook Pro be a better choice?

 

Check the main differences between MacBook Pro and MacBook Air for a quick plunge into the topic.

 

Note: This table focuses on the MacBook Pro model with 14-inch and 16-inch display and contains the M2 Max chip.

MacBook Air

MacBook Pro

Storage options: 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TBStorage options: 512GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TB, 8TB
Unified memory: 8GB, 16GB, or 24GBUnified memory: M2 Pro options include 16GB or 32GB unified memory, while M2 Max options include 32GB, 64GB, or 96GB unified memory
13.6-inch display14.2-inch and 16.2-inch display options
Apple ‌M2‌ chipApple ‌M2‌ Pro chip or Apple ‌M2‌ Max chip
LCD Liquid Retina displayMini-LED Liquid Retina XDR display with ProMotion
500 nits brightnessUp to 1,000 nits of sustained full-screen brightness and 1,600 nits of peak brightness
10-core GPUM2‌‌ Pro offers up to 19-core GPU while M2 Max offers up to 38-core GPU
8-core CPU with four performance cores and four efficiency coresUp to 12-core CPU with eight performance cores and four efficiency cores
100GB/s memory bandwidthUp to 400GB/s memory bandwidth
18-hour maximum battery life18- or 22-hour maximum battery life
Integrated 52.6-watt-hour lithium-polymer batteryIntegrated 70-watt-hour or 100-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery
Wi-Fi 6Wi-Fi 6E
Bluetooth 5.0Bluetooth 5.3
Four-speaker sound systemHigh-fidelity six-speaker sound system with force-cancelling woofers
Two Thunderbolt/USB 4 portsThree Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C) ports
N/AHDMI 2.1 port with support for multichannel audio output
N/ASDXC card slot
30W, 35W, or 67W USB-C Power Adapter67W, 96W, or 140W USB-C Power Adapter
Three-mic array with directional beamformingStudio-quality three-mic array with high signal-to-noise ratio and directional beamforming

Before we start

 

Of all the key features shoppers consider when looking for a new computer, performance is often at the top of the list. No matter what computer you use, including a MacBook device, you can enhance its performance using a few tools and practices. One of the most effective of these is a memory cleaner.

 

MacKeeper’s Memory Cleaner should be your top choice if you’re looking for a fast, safe, and reliable tool. It optimizes your Mac by freeing up memory and closing useless apps. The result is a Mac that runs more smoothly, starts up faster, and has more random access memory (RAM) to go around. If you want a high-performing Mac, start using MacKeeper’s Memory Cleaner today. Here’s how:

  1. Download MacKeeper on your MacBook device
  2. Select Memory Cleaner in the Performance section on the left
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Deciding on the MacBook device you need is a crucial decision. We’ve made it easier by breaking down the key factors to consider. Continue reading to learn more about the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro devices.

Value and price

Mac devices don’t come cheap, but some are more affordable than the others. Here are the starting prices for MacBook Pro and Air devices:

  • MacBook Air (2020): $999
  • 13-inch MacBook Pro (2020): $1,299
  • 14-inch MacBook Pro: $1,999
  • 16-inch MacBook Pro: $2,499
  • 13-inch MacBook Pro (2022): $1,299
  • MacBook Air M2: $1,199
  • 14-inch MacBook Pro (2023): $1,999
  • 16-inch MacBook Pro (2023): $2,499.

Remember: Newer models never come cheap due to the improvements added to them and other factors. So, if you’re looking to get your hands on a brand-new Mac, whether it’s a MacBook Pro or MacBook Air, it'll be more expensive than older devices.

Specs

Below are the main specifications for MacBook Pro and MacBook Air devices from 2020 through 2021.

 

MacBook Air (2020)

13-inch MacBook Pro (2020)

14-inch MacBook Pro (2021)

16-inch MacBook Pro (2021)

                  Starting price                               

$999

$1299

$1,999

$2499

Screen

13.3 inches

13.3 inches

14.2 inches

16.2 inches

Dimensions

12 x 8.4 x 0.6 inches

12 x 8.4 x 0.6 inches

12.31 x 8.71 x 0.61 inches

14.01 x 9.77 x 0.66 inches

Weight

2.8 pounds

3 pounds

3.5 pounds

4.7 to 4.8 pounds

Battery life

Up to 18 hours of video playback (M1)

Up to 20 hours (Apple M1)

Up to 17 hours of video playback

Up to 21 hours of video playback

Storage

256GB, 512GB SSD, 1TB, or 2TB

512GB, 1TB, or 2TB

1TB, 2TB, 4TB, or 8TB SSD

1TB, 2TB, 4TB, or 8TB SSD

Memory

8GB, 16GB

8GB, 16GB, 32GB

16GG, 32GB

16GB, 32GB, 64GB

Processor

Apple M1 (8-core)

Apple M1 (8-core)

Apple M1 Pro, M1 Max (10-core)

Apple M1 Pro, M1 Max (10-core)

Graphics

Integrated 7-core M1 GPU | Integrated 8-core GPU

Integrated 7-core M1 GPU | Integrated 8-core GPU

16-core or 32-core

16-core or 32-core

Touch bar

No

Yes

No

No

Ports

2 Thunderbolt

2 Thunderbolt

3 Thunderbolt, HDMI, SD Card, MagSafe

3 Thunderbolt, HDMI, SD Card, MagSafe

Security              

Touch ID

Touch ID

Touch ID

Touch ID

Audio

Stereo speakers, Dolby Atmos support

Stereo speakers, Dolby Atmos support, 3-mic array

6-speaker array, Dolby Atmos support

6-speaker array, Dolby Atmos support

Now check the key comparison details for Apple devices released between 2022 and 2023.

 

13-inch MacBook Pro (2022)

MacBook Air with M2 (2022)

14-inch MacBook Pro (2023)

16-inch MacBook Pro (2023)

                      Starting price                                                           

$1,299

$1,199

$1,999

$2,499

Screen

13.3 inches

13.6 inches

14.2 inches

16.2 inches

Dimensions                                  

11.94 x 8.36 x 0.61 inches

11.97 x 8.46 x 0.44 inches

12.31 x 8.71 x 0.61 inches

14.01 x 9.77 x 0.66 inches

Weight

3 pounds

2.7 pounds

3.5 pounds

4.7 to 4.8 pounds

Battery life     

Up to 20 hours of Apple TV movie playback

Up to 18 hours

Up to 24 hours

Up to 22 hours Apple TV app movie playback and up to 15 hours wireless web browsing

Storage

512GB, 1TB, or 2TB

512GB, 1TB, or 2TB

1TB, 2TB, 4TB, or 8TB

1TB, 2TB, 4TB, or 8TB

Memory

8GB to 24GB

8GB to 24GB

16GB to 96GB

16GB to 96GB

Processor 

Apple M2 (8-core)

Apple M2 (8-core)

Apple M2 Pro, M2 Max

Apple M2 Pro, M2 Max

Graphics

Integrated 8-core M2 CPU | Integrated 10-core GPU

Integrated 8-core M2 CPU | Integrated 8-core GPU

M2 Pro/Max Up to 12-core CPU | Up to 38-core GPU

M2 Pro/Max Up to 12-core CPU | Up to 38-core GPU

Touch bar            

Yes

No

No

No

Ports

2 Thunderbolt/USB4, headphone jack

2 Thunderbolt / 1 USB-4, 1 headphone

3 Thunderbolt, HDMI, SD Card, MagSafe

3 Thunderbolt, HDMI, SD Card, MagSafe

Security

Touch ID

Touch ID

Touch ID

Touch ID

Audio

Stereo speakers, Dolby Atmos support, 3-mic array

Four-speaker sound system, spatial audio and Dolby Atmos support

6-speaker array, Dolby Atmos support

6-speaker array, Dolby Atmos support

CPU

First things first: CPU is a term you’ve probably heard countless times, but what does the acronym “CPU” stand for, and what does it mean?

 

A computer’s central processing unit (CPU) is the core of your computer’s performance. It’s sometimes referred to as a processor or microprocessor. Think of it as the brains of your computer, which stores data, intermediate results, and programs. A computer’s CPU controls all the processes and operations of a computer and plays an integral role in how well it performs.

 

Both MacBook Pro and Air devices are fast for everyday use. Each device scored high on Geekbench’s single-core tests, which evaluate device CPU performance.

 

The MacBook Pro with Apple M2 Max (16-inch, 2023) came out on top with a score of 2732. It was followed by the MacBook Pro with Apple M2 (16-inch, 2023, which scored 2638), and the MacBook Pro with Apple M2 Pro (14-inch, 2023, which scored 2633). The MacBook Pro with Apple M2 (13-inch, 2022) and MacBook Air with Apple M2 (2022) devices scored lower at 2577 and 2560 respectively.

 

When looking at CPU performance alone, the 2023 MacBook Pro models are the best.

GPU

MacBook Pro and MacBook Air devices have similar core GPUs. However, MacBook Air models might be a bit slower if you overwork them because of other factors. For instance, to keep MacBook Air computers slim in design, Apple opted not to include fans in these devices, which makes them ill-equipped to handle high temperatures or overheating. As a result, MacBook Air devices have to self cool. This pressure can cause them to perform slowly.

RAM

The 13-inch MacBook Air with the Apple M1 chip is only offers up to 16GB of RAM. That can be too little or sufficient, depending on what you plan to use your Mac for. If you’ll be using it to store lots of video content or use many memory-intensive apps for work or personal use, you may find 16GB of RAM limiting.

 

In that case, you might want to consider the 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro models, which offer a maximum of 96GB of RAM. This would be a better option for photographers, videographers, and content creators.

Storage

Both MacBook options offer a ton of storage, with the lowest option being 256GB for the MacBook Air and 512GB for the MacBook Pro. MacBook Pro devices can offer up to 8TB of storage, while MacBook Air device storage is capped at 2TB.

Design

When you walk into the iStore and check out the MacBook devices on display, you can immediately spot the apparent differences between the two computers. But they have similarities, too.

 

For example, both devices have smooth aluminum surfaces and come in Apple’s signature colors, silver and space gray. Both devices have the lip that Apple computers are known for, which makes it easy to flip them open. The Air ditched its signature tapered design, making it look more similar to the Pro.

 

However, MacBook Pro and MacBook Air devices are designed to look and different, and everyone has their preferences. Here’s how the two devices differ in design:

  • MacBook Air computers are lighter, therefore more portable and convenient to carry around, given that they weigh under 3 pounds
  • Pro devices have larger screens at 14 and 16 inches, compared to Air devices, which are around 13 inches
  • MacBook Air devices have more color options than Pro devices. The M1 MacBook Air offers a Gold option, while the M2 MacBook Air comes in Starlight and Midnight options, too
  • 13-inch MacBook Pro models feature a distinctive Touch Bar strip, which has since been removed for newer models.

Ports and Connectivity

Depending on what you plan to use your MacBook device for, the number of ports available on each laptop could be a deciding factor. If you need multiple ports, the Air and M1 13-inch MacBook Pro aren’t for you, as they feature two Thunderbolt 3 ports and two Thunderbolt 3/USB-C ports, respectively. (M2 devices also offer two ports, although they're Thunderbolt 4/USB4.) Of course, there’s an option of using an adapter.

 

Instead, the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro devices would be what you need. Here are the ports they come with:

  • An HDMI port
  • Three Thunderbolt 4 ports
  • A SD Card slot.

What’s more, these MacBook Pro devices have MagSafe chargers for safe, quick, wireless charging.

 

If you’re an entrepreneur or business owner, you might need something with more ports, but there are more factors to consider. Learn which is the best Apple laptop for business.

Display (Technology & Size)

When it comes to display, you won’t be disappointed with either device, but MacBook Pros have a significant advantage over MacBook Airs: More vivid displays.

 

Instead of Retina, The M2 MacBook Air offers a Liquid Retina display, which gives it an improved contrast and allows it to support more colors. Be that as it may, it doesn’t compare to the Liquid Retina XDR displays in the high-end MacBook Pro models, which boast a maximum of 1,000 nits of brightness, ProMotion, more vivid colors, and even deeper blacks.

Keyboard and Touch Bar

What sets MacBook apart from other computers is the flat keyboard surface. It makes typing comfortable, unlike the clunky keys on other laptops that give feedback. It makes for a more stable typing experience, which can help you work faster. However, there’s one small but insignificant difference between MacBook Air and Pro keyboards.

 

13-inch MacBook Pro devices include a Touch Bar that runs at the top of the keyboard. However, it wasn’t well-received, so Apple ditched it in later models.

Performance

One of the main factors every computer buyer is concerned with is performance, and rightfully so. The last thing you want to deal with is lagging while working on your computer. And after spending your hard-earned cash on a shiny new device, you don’t want to be stressed by poor performance, like your computer randomly freezing or shutting down, or the battery depleting fast.

 

Generally speaking, all MacBook devices deliver impressive performance, so you should only consider this metric if you need a high-performing machine. But if we’re splitting hairs, newer devices perform better, like the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros. That’s why they’re so expensive.

 

Go for these machines if your work depends on it. It’s particularly tailored for IT and tech professionals, creatives, etc. Of course, if you don’t fall into any of these categories but have more money to throw around, you can get one of these models, too. However, it isn’t necessary, and you’d still get value for your money if you chose a MacBook Air.

 

Will you be using your MacBook for school? Learn which is the best MacBook for students.

Battery life

The 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro 2023 models boast the best battery life of up to 24 hours and 22 hours, respectively. MacBook Air models average about 18 hours max. With each new release, Apple aims to improve the battery life of its computers. For that reason, newer models will almost always perform better than older ones, even if the difference is minor.

 

Keep in mind that how you use your computer also determines the longevity of the battery and its lifespan. For example, apps running in the background and power-intensive programs can put a lot of strain on your battery, causing it to deplete faster.

Audio

Both MacBook Pro and MacBook Air devices offer decent sound. However, MacBook Pro devices take the cup for several stand-out features. These include the high-fidelity six-speaker feature with force-canceling woofers that comes with the 14-inch and 16-inch models, and Dolby Atmos support in newer models. Needless to say, music buffs and professionals would appreciate these features, as they provide a deeper audio experience.

 

Learn how to choose the best MacBook for music production.

Which is better? MacBook Air versus MacBook Pro

When you compare MacBook Air and Pro, which device is best or worth buying for yourself? If you’re looking to buy your first MacBook for the experience and have a limited budget, the MacBook Air will give you a great first-time user experience. You can always upgrade when you’re ready and comfortable.

 

But if money isn’t an issue, and you want to get the best of the best, MacBook Pro laptops are the way to go. Truthfully, any model would do—older models are more affordable and newer ones come with all the bells and whistles. If you can, get the latest model to enjoy the best that Mac has to offer.

 

Still stuck on which MacBook to get? Consider the pros and cons of MacBook Air and MacBook Pro devices once again.

 

MacBook Air

MacBook Pro

Pros   

CheaperM2 chips offer amazing performance
Lighter and more compactBest battery life
More color options available if you want to stand outMore ports available
M2 chips offer great performanceClassic design
 Offers up to 96GB of memory
 Better displays
ConsCamera notch ruins the displayCostly
Limited ports availableLimited color options

One of the biggest deciding factors when looking to purchase a tech device is its performance. No matter what you’ll use it for, you want to ensure it won’t let you down. There are many ways to support your Mac in this regard, like closing unnecessary apps and switching your Mac off properly after use.

 

But there’s a more effective method. Regardless of which Mac model you go for, prioritize using MacKeeper’s Memory Cleaner to support its performance and keep it working at its best. Use it regularly to optimize your Mac faster than you could do so yourself, so you can focus on what’s important: work and entertainment.

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