What are the difference between Macbook Air vs Macbook Pro?

Apple has two series of laptops on the market: Macbook Air and Macbook Pro. Both have quite a few similarities, and this makes it difficult to differentiate between one and the other. That is why in this article we show you the comparison between the Macbook Air vs Macbook Pro, with all the differences that you should know. That way you can buy the most suitable according to your needs…

Design, ports and notch

You have to consider one very important thing, which is that Macbooks are similar in many ways and they all have a great design. However, all 13″ models are more compact in size and therefore have fewer ports on the side. On the other hand, the 14″ and 16″ versions of the Pro have more ports as they are slightly larger in size. if you need a large number of connected peripherals, you should opt for the larger models and leave the 13-inch models for mobility-only users.

On the other hand, it is worth highlighting one more detail, which is the controversial notch on the 13″ Air models, which was chosen to house the webcam. So you will see an “island” where the camera sensor is located and the image cannot be seen. This is something to watch out for and it’s important for creators and designers to avoid it as it can be irritating.

On the other hand, the Macbook Pro 13″ with the M2 chip reintroduced an invention we’ve seen in previous Macbooks and that Apple has decided to withdraw until now. This is the touch bar with lots of functions or shortcuts. Common to all of them are the Touch ID biometric sensor power button, the HD camera for FaceTime (now 1080p resolution compared to 720p on older Intel models), scissor-type keyboard, Force Touch trackpad, etc.

In short, Apple has these five current models to meet different needs, thus satisfying all potential customers. Of course, in these systems, some strengths are developed and others are sacrificed. For this reason, the models target quite different users despite their similarities. Regarding the rest of the design and finish, you will find a product with a very high quality and minimalist design, as with Apple products.

In addition, the Cupertino firm chose aluminum to offer a nicer touch, premium design and better internal temperature distribution, because this metal has good thermal conductivity. Additionally, you can find it in several skins available so you can choose the one that best suits your style.

SoC and displays

Another detail to keep in mind when choosing is that you should rule out the Macbook Air and Macbook Pro models with SoC M1 and M2 if you are going to use a multi-monitor configuration. And it is that these two chips greatly limit the use of external screens. This leaves the Macbook Air out of the fray, as the Pro and Max versions are only present on Macbook Pros.

Note that the Macbook Air and Macbook Pro M1 and M2 versions have only 2 Thunderbolt ports, while the M1 Pro and M1 Max versions have three Thunderbolt 4 ports and one HDMI port. Therefore, the M1 and M2 can only be connected to a single external screen, while in the Pro and Max versions you can connect up to 4 external screens, which gives you the possibility of using a multi-monitor.

Different screens

If you’re focused on finding the best display, you don’t have to look too far. All MacBooks have sizes that don’t vary much, between 13.6 and 16″, as well as high resolutions and a high pixel density to achieve the best results, something Apple calls Retina.

Beware though, because the 13.6-inch Macbook Air M2 has a brighter screen than other M1 Air variants, specifically it offers 100 nits more, i.e. 500 nits instead of 400 nits. It also offers a clearer image than its older siblings, the Macbook Pro. That’s despite the fact that they all come with a wide color gamut (P3) and True Tone compatibility, so they’ll look really cool.

But don’t worry too much about the brightness, if you are going to use the equipment indoors, all the screens are more than enough, but if you are using it outdoors in bright sunlight, then you should choose the ones with the highest nits. The Macbook Pro versions are perfect for outdoor use as they have 1600 nits which is really impressive.

Performance and cooling

The 13-inch MacBook Air with the original M1 SoC, the 2020 release, was a major departure from Intel-powered Macs. Performance wasn’t compromised too much, and consumption was kept fairly well in check. According to Apple, the performance provided by the M1 chip was up to 3.5 times faster than Intel’s and up to 5 times faster in graphics, and up to 11 times faster in machine learning, although this must be taken with a grain of salt.

I want to say that an Apple M1 may be inferior to Intel chips. In fact, the Intel Core H that were previously integrated in Apple models are as powerful as the M1 Pro, but there is something you should keep in mind, and that is that the Apple chip consumes very little energy and does not need active cooling. Therefore, Macbook Airs do not have fans with M1 and M2 chips because it is not necessary. This is why they can have much slimmer profiles.

On the other hand, Macbook Pros do have active cooling, which is why they are somewhat thicker. This means that in longer periods of time or in higher workloads, the Pro performs better by not having to throttle as far in advance as in the Air models. And that for work is something to take into account.

There is also something else to consider. The 13-inch MacBook Air with Apple M1 is limited to a maximum of 16GB of RAM and 2TB of SSD storage. It’s still a lot, but if you plan to store a lot of high-resolution video projects and work with memory-intensive applications, it’s pretty limited. The 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models can have up to 64GB of RAM and 8TB of storage, thanks to new M1 Pro/Max chips. If you only care about the highest RAM, then the M2 MacBook Air and Pro models can go up to 24GB and max out at 2TB when it comes to SSD storage.

Another thing that is impressive is the battery life enabled by the Apple M1 SoC, despite its performance. The MacBook Air has the smallest battery of the laptops reviewed here, but it can still last up to 18 hours of video playback on a single charge. The 13-inch MacBook Pro has a slightly larger battery, promising up to 20 hours on a single charge. However, the 16-inch MacBook Pro promises up to 21 hours of video playback, despite the larger and more power-hungry panel (remember these are IPS panels, not OLED).

More details about Macbook Air vs Macbook Pro

Comparing the Macbook Air with the Macbook Pro models can be difficult, because Apple has been changing some elements in the different updates it has undergone since 2020, with the arrival of Apple Silicon also on Macs, and not only on mobile devices as was the case before with its A-Series. There are several chips available, and several differences as we have seen above that should be evaluated to see which Macbook model suits you best.

Here I will try to give some keys for the election, although the final word is up to you:

  • Macbook Air is lighter and easier to carry from one place to another.
  • Battery life is better on the Macbook Pro.
  • Brightness is higher on Macbook Pros, making them perfect for outdoor use.
  • If you choose Pro/Max versions of the Apple chip, like in the Macbook Pro, you’ll get much better performance than the base M1 and M2.
  • For students, the Macbook Air M1 could be perfect, due to its internal price and for being perfect to take to the library, study center, etc.
  • For professional use and heavy workloads, always choose the Macbook Pro with M1 Pro and M1 Max chips.
  • Don’t be fooled by the M2, although it is a newer chip, it does have a performance gain over the M1, but is still inferior to the M1 Pro and M1 Max.
  • The Macbook Pro M2 might be the best option for the undecided as it accommodates a large number of applications.