MacBook Air vs Pro: The Great MacBook Civil War Continues
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MacBook Air vs Pro: The Great MacBook Civil War Continues

/ 10:13 AM November 22, 2021

Choosing a side between MacBook Air vs Pro is harder than ever — The MacBook Air vs Pro conversation continues to evolve at a breakneck pace, even as the laptops become more and more similar. These two laptops have improved in functionality, thanks to the Magic Keyboard and Apple silicon.

Before this, the 14-inch Macbook Pro was released with features such as an M1 Pro/M1 Max chip, bigger mini-LED display, extra ports, and crisper 1080p webcam, while the 16-inch MacBook Pro had the same features but with more battery life, bigger and sharper display.

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Apple is now reaping the bountiful rewards of ditching Intel’s processors for their own native Apple silicon, and the results are amazing. Upgrading these MacBooks with Apple silicon has given them surprising speed and insanely better battery life.

So here’s everything you need to know to find your ideal MacBook when choosing between the MacBook Air vs Pro. Also, hang around for our full reviews of the new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models.

FEATURED STORIES

Specs

MacBook Air

  • Starting Price – $999
  • Screen – 13.3 inches (2560 x 1600)
  • Battery Life – 14:41 of web browsing (M1, tested) | Up to 18 hours of video playback (M1, claimed) | 9:31 (Intel, tested)
  • Processor- Apple M1 (8-core)
  • Graphics – Integrated 7-core M1 GPU | Integrated 8-core GPU
  • Storage – 256GB to 2TB
  • Memory – 8GB, 16GB
  • Ports – 2 Thunderbolt
  • Touch Bar- No
  • Security – Touch ID
  • Audio – Stereo speakers, Dolby Atmos support
  • Dimensions – 12 x 8.4 x 0.6 inches
  • Weight – 2.8 pounds

13-Inch MacBook Pro

  • Starting Price – $1299
  • Screen – 13.3 inches (2560 x 1600)
  • Battery Life – 16:32 of web browsing (M1, tested) | Up to 20 hours (Apple M1, claimed) | 10:21 (Intel, tested)
  • Processor- Apple M1 (8-core)
  • Graphics – Integrated 7-core M1 GPU | Integrated 8-core GPU
  • Storage – 256GB to 4TB
  • Memory – 8GB, 16GB, 32GB
  • Ports – 2 Thunderbolt
  • Touch Bar- Yes
  • Security – Touch ID
  • Audio – Stereo speakers, Dolby Atmos support, 3-mic array
  • Dimensions – 12 x 8.4 x 0.6 inches
  • Weight – 3.0 pounds

14-Inch MacBook Pro

  • Starting Price – $1,999
  • Screen – 14.2 inches (3024 x 1964) min-LED
  • Battery Life – 17 hours of video playback (rated)
  • Processor- Apple M1 Pro, M1 Max (10-core)
  • Graphics – 16-core or 32-core
  • Storage – 512GB to 8TB
  • Memory – 16GG, 32GB
  • Ports – 3 Thunderbolt, HDMI, SD Card, MagSafe
  • Touch Bar- No
  • Security – Touch ID
  • Audio – 6-speaker array, Dolby Atmos support
  • Dimensions – 12.31 x 8.71 x 0.61 inches
  • Weight – 3.5 pounds

16-Inch MacBook Pro

  • Starting Price – $2499
  • Screen – 16.2 inches (3456 x 2234) min-LED
  • Battery Life – 21 hours video playback (rated)
  • Processor- Apple M1 Pro, M1 Max (10-core)
  • Graphics – 16-core or 32-core
  • Storage – 512GB to 8TB
  • Memory – 16GB, 32GB, 64GB
  • Ports – 3 Thunderbolt, HDMI, SD Card, MagSafe
  • Touch Bar- No
  • Security – Touch ID

Design

Design

The M1 MacBook Air and Pro share the same aluminum shell design and colorways – Space Gray and Silver. They also share the same small lip nestled at the base front to help users easily open their devices. On its own, the Air has a regular thin-wedge design.

The latest MacBook Pros have thin bezels and swapped the Touch Bar for a more improved function row. The 1080p webcam comes with a slight notch at the top. Although the tear-drop wedge in the MacBook Air is legendary, we love the distinction of the gold design, which appears more striking than the dark and light silver choices.

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But when it comes to portability, the sleek 2.8-pound MacBook Air remains the lightest, followed by the 3-pound 13-inch MacBook Pro. But the 14-inch MacBook Pro remains pretty portable at a nimble 3.5 pounds, and the 16-inch goes to 4.7 pounds.

Newest MacBook Pros deliver slim bezels and abandon the Touch Bar in favor of a better-dedicated function row (good riddance, in our opinion). There’s a notch for the 1080p webcam at the top, but it’s not too distracting. The MacBook Air 2022 could also have thinner bezels and a notch for the camera.

Sadly, our new MacBook Pros are limited to Silver and Space Gray.

Our winner: MacBook Air for their portability, new MacBook Pros for their slimmer bezels

Ports

If ports are a sticking point for you, the MacBook Air is not for you. They offer only two Thunderbolt 3 ports, and the M1-powered 13-inch MacBook Pro has only two Thunderbolt 3/ USB C ports.

The new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros have more ports than any laptops here, including three Thunderbolt 4 ports, an HDMI port, and an SD Card slot. Plus, MagSafe charging.

Our winner: New MacBook Pros

Display

Display

The 13-inch MacBook Pro and MacBook Air have crisp and colorful Retina displays, but the Pro wins this round because of its brightness. The MacBook Air (M1) provides 365.8 nits of brightness, while the M1 MacBook Pro 13-inch offers 434.8 nits.

Although both devices have similar color output, the Air (M1) scored 114.3% sRGB on the colorimeter, while the M1 13-inch Pro scored 110.6%

Thanks to their Liquid Retina XDR displays, the latest MacBook Pros elevate quality to more impressive levels. Both MacBooks have remarkable brightness and provide mini-LED technology to enhance colors and contrast. In addition, there is a 120Hz ProMotion display to boost performance.

Our winner: New MacBook Pros

Keyboard and Touch Bar

All MacBooks offer you a chance to buy Apple’s Magic Keyboard, which delivers strong tactile performance and comfort.
The MacBook Air comes without a Touch Bar, while the 13-inch MacBook Pro does. This OLED bar frankly doesn’t add any more value. It’s telling that both the 14-inch MacBook Pro and 16-inch MacBook Pro ditch the Touch Bar entirely, favoring a dedicated function row of physical keys.

Our winners: It’s a draw

Performance

Performance

Apple has been justified in its claims of improved performance in the M1-based MacBook Air and Pro. On the Geekbench 5 benchmarks, the new MacBook Air (M1, 16GB RAM) scored a 5,962, and the new Pro (M1, 16GB RAM) came pretty close at an impressive 5,925.
In a video transcoding analysis for converting 4K video to 1080p, the MacBook Pro emerged as the winner as it took 7:44 minutes while the Air took 9:15 minutes.

For the Blackmagic Disk Speed Test, the M1 Pro (13-inch) SSD’s scored 2,824.9 MBps, outranking the M1 Air – 2,92 MBps and the 16-inch Pro – 2,540 MBps.

The 16-inch MacBook Pro and the 14-inch MacBook Pro support the speedy M1 Max chip with a 32-core GPU and 64GB unified memory.

Our winner: MacBook Air for value, new MacBook Pros for sheer speed

Audio

While the MacBook Air and the 13-inch MacBook Pro have great stereo sound (the latter showing the dynamic range) — the new MacBook Pros are on a whole other level.
This is because the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro offer an amazing six-speaker setup, and they are offering more bass and an octave lower sound for an even more robust audio profile. Plus, the new MacBook Pros support Dolby Atmos speakers instead of just headphones.

Our winner: New MacBook Pros

Value and Price

Value and Price

At a $999 starting price, the MacBook Air is the king of value, and it arguably offers more for your money regarding performance quality than the 13-inch MacBook Pro does. The 13-inch Pro indeed offers a lengthier battery life, but we don’t think it’s adequate to make a strong case for the $1,299 price.

Now, the 14-inch MacBook Pro is a huge price leap compared to its 13-inch counterpart; but it’s worth all the features you get to use. These features include a superior 14-inch mini-LED display (and 120Hz refresh rate), extra ports, and a crisper-looking 1080p webcam. We should mention here that if you have a heavy workload, just go ahead and get this MacBook.
The 16-inch MacBook Pro is the pinnacle of Apple laptops, perfect for people who want the biggest display, and is priced accordingly at $2,499. And you also get a longer-lasting battery.

Our winner: MacBook Air

Conclusion

We have assessed the design, performance, audio, display, and price of the MacBook Air vs Pro, and armed with this information, MacBook Air is the overall winner for users who just want a “good Apple Laptop.” It is the best MacBook because it offers impressive M1 performance and has a lengthier battery life wrapped up in a suitably handy design.

The Apple MacBook Pro 14-inch, it’s a premium upgrade from the 13-inch and is great for users who have a bigger budget. The 16-inch MacBook Pro takes the Pro to the ultimate level. It is a perfect choice for people who love big screens and big power laptops.

Both MacBook Pros and The MacBook Air are all winners in their rights. Choosing the best largely depends on what you want from a MacBook.

So we’ll just have to wait and see what new features these amazing laptops bring up against each other in the next installment of MacBook Air vs Pro. Then maybe we can have a winner.

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TOPICS: Amazon Associate, Apple, evergreen, macbook, MacBook air, macbook pro, review, US Affiliates
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