Professional workhorse

16-inch MacBook Pro

Compact power

MacBook Air

The new 16-inch MacBook Pro features a larger screen in a familiar chassis, thanks to having less bezels. It also gets rid of the butterfly mechanism keyboard and goes back to a standard scissor-switch, which should be less troublesome. It also starts off with a 512GB SSD and 16GB of RAM, configurable all the way up to 8TB and 64GB, respectively. The only thing is that it is still expensive for most people and it's heavy.

From $2399 at Apple

Pros

  • Bigger Retina Display with True Tone
  • Starts at 512GB SSD, configurable up to 8TB
  • Starts with 16GB RAM, configurable up to 64GB
  • AMD Radeon Pro 5300M or 5500M graphics up to 8GB
  • Four Thunderbolt 3 ports
  • Scissor-switch keyboard

Cons

  • Still expensive
  • Heavy

The MacBook Air is a great MacBook for most consumers. It's lightweight and compact, so it's easy to take with you anywhere, and it packs in enough power for most daily tasks. However, if you need to do a lot of professional video editing and other resource-intensive tasks, then you should go for the MacBook Pro.

From $1099 at Apple

Pros

  • Very affordable
  • Small and compact size
  • Retina Display with True Tone
  • Touch ID
  • Configurable up to 1TB SSD and 16GB RAM

Cons

  • Only two Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports
  • Can't go beyond 1TB storage or 16GB RAM
  • Not made for resource-intensive tasks

If you need to do a lot of resource-intensive work, such as photo and video editing, audio, or graphic design, then the 16-inch MacBook Pro is probably your best bet. However, for most people, the cost may be an issue, and the MacBook Air is very affordable and still a great machine to get most tasks done for the average user.

Pro power or affordability?

16-inch MacBook Pro on BoxSource: Rene Ritchie / iMore

Despite the higher price tag, we think the 16-inch MacBook Pro is the better buy, that is, if you can afford it and need to do resource-intensive work on it. This would include heavy photo and video editing, graphic design, audio, and even gaming. Otherwise, then we believe that the MacBook Air is good enough for most people, as it can handle pretty much everything else just fine.

16-inch MacBook Pro MacBook Air
Cost From $2399 From $1099
Size 16-inch 13-inch
Colors Silver and Space Gray Gold, Silver, and Space Gray
Weight 4.3 pounds 2.75 pounds
Processor Starts at 2.6GHz 6‑core Intel Core i7, Turbo Boost up to 4.5GHz 1.6GHz dual-core Intel Core i5, Turbo Boost up to 3.6GHz
Keyboard Scissor-switch Butterfly
Graphics AMD Radeon Pro Intel UHD Graphics 617
Retina Display Yes Yes
True Tone Yes Yes
Storage Starts at 512GB SSD, configurable up to 8TB Starts at 128GB SSD, configurable up to 1TB
Memory 16GB up to 64GB 8GB up to 16GB
Touch Bar Yes No
Touch ID Yes Yes
Ports Four USB-C Two USB-C
Audio Six speakers with support for Dolby Atmos Stereo speakers
Microphone Studio quality Three-mic array Three microphones

The new 16-inch MacBook Pro is a big upgrade and surprised everyone by keeping it at the same starting price. From $2399, you get double the starting storage (starts at 512GB) and RAM (starting at 16GB). The 16-inch screen is also possible by reducing the bezels, and the body is still very similar to its 15-inch predecessor.

With at least six cores in the 2.6GHz i7 processor (with Turbo Boost up to 4.5GHz) and at least a 4GB AMD Radeon Pro 5300M graphics card, you'll be ready to take on pretty much anything you can throw at your 16-inch MacBook Pro, from heavy video editing to audio recording to programming to gaming. It also has a six-speaker system with support for Dolby Atmos for the best sound in a MacBook. Plus, the 16-inch MacBook Pro has the new keyboard that trades in the previous butterfly mechanism and returns to a scissor-switch that should be less troublesome.

MacBook Air 2018Source: iMore

However, if you don't need all of that power, and just want a lightweight laptop that can handle simple web browsing, writing, some coding, a bit of simple photo and video editing, email, and media playback, then the MacBook Air should suit your needs. And it's also about a thousand dollars cheaper.

Go big or go home

16-inch MacBook Pro

Power for the professionals

The 16-inch MacBook Pro has powerful internals and a larger screen than its predecessor. It will handle anything you throw its way with ease, but this power doesn't come cheap.

The MacBook for everyone

MacBook Air

Affordable portability

The MacBook Air is the laptop for the everyday, average consumer. It's lightweight, portable, and packs enough processing power to help you get through a school or workday.

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