When it comes to the MacBook Air vs. MacBook Pro, we think that the MacBook Air with M1 is the best MacBook for most people. It has been updated with the new Apple M1 SoC, is super lightweight and portable, and you get Touch ID without having the Touch Bar. The biggest difference, aside from cost, between the MacBook Air with M1 and the MacBook Pro with M1 is that you get slightly less battery life and GPU power.
MacBook Air vs. Pro: Breaking it down
The MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro are the two MacBook models that have been updated to include Apple's brand new M1 SoC that debuted in 2020. The MacBook Air and MacBook Pro are very similar on the surface since they both have the 8-core M1 chip with four performance cores and four efficiency cores. They both start at 8GB of memory and go up to 16GB, base point of 256GB of SSD storage that goes up to 2TB, and they both have a 13.3-inch Retina display. But there are a few minor differences that one needs to look out for.
|MacBook Air||MacBook Pro|
|Cost||From $999||From $1299|
|Display||13.3-inch Retina||13.3-inch Retina, also available in 16-inch size but with Intel|
|Resolution||2560 x 1600 pixels||2560 x 1600 pixels|
|Security||Touch ID||Touch Bar with Touch ID|
|CPU||8-core M1 SoC||8-core M1 SoC|
|GPU||Up to 8-core||8-core|
|Dimensions||0.16-0.63 x 11.97 x 8.36 inches||0.61 x 11.97 x 8.36 inches|
|Weight||2.8 pounds||3.0 pounds|
|Battery Life||18 hours||20 hours|
|Ports||Two Thunderbolt / USB 4 ports||Two Thunderbolt / USB 4 ports|
When it comes to the MacBook Air vs. Pro, we definitely would recommend picking up the MacBook Air with M1 for most people. That's because it has a lower starting price point, but you're still getting the latest and greatest with Apple's M1 chip, which outperforms the older Intel-based MacBooks by far.
The M1 chips have 8-cores, with four performance cores and four efficiency cores — this means you're getting blazing fast performance while not burning through the battery. And while the MacBook Air with M1 is fan-less, you won't have to worry about it overheating thanks to the power efficiency cores. It starts at 8GB of memory (also found in the M1 chip), but you can bump it up to 16GB if needed. Storage starts with a 256GB SSD that you can configure up to 2TB. You'll also get Touch ID for security biometrics without the Touch Bar that Apple never fully embraced.
However, the MacBook Pro with M1 is slightly better if you need a little more graphics power. That's because it has a full 8-core GPU, whereas the Air starts only with a 7-core GPU. The MacBook Pro with M1 also has the Touch Bar with Touch ID, which can become an invaluable tool with some of the best Touch Bar apps. The MacBook Pro also has two more hours of battery life, clocking in at 20 hours on a full charge, whereas the MacBook Air with M1 lasts about 18 hours (real-life results may vary depending on usage).
Keep in mind, though, that new MacBook Airs do not have an Intel-based version. If you still require apps that aren't compatible with M1 yet, Apple still has Intel-based 13-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros for sale. We expect the 16-inch MacBook Pro to get an M1X chip upgrade sometime later.
MacBook Air vs. Pro: Which should you buy?
For most people, the MacBook Air with M1 is the best option. It has the latest and greatest M1 chip from Apple, and it has blazing fast performance, and is even capable of running certain iOS apps because of the new silicon. The MacBook Air is also super lightweight and portable, and it's the most affordable MacBook for the average person. You also still get Touch ID for biometrics without having a gimmicky Touch Bar.
But if you need a little bit more graphical power for photo and video editing or the like, then you should consider the MacBook Pro with M1. That's because it starts with an 8-core GPU, whereas the Air starts with a 7-core GPU. And if you prefer to have the Touch Bar, then the Pro is the way to go. One more thing to consider is that the MacBook Pro still offers Intel-based versions, so if that's something you still need for certain apps, then your only option is the MacBook Pro.
Powerful computing for all
MacBook Air with M1
The MacBook Air with M1 blazing fast and powerful for most people. It can get up to 16GB memory and 2TB SSD storage.
Even more power
MacBook Pro with M1
For the pros
The MacBook Pro is like the Air but has more battery, Touch Bar, and GPU power. There are still Intel-based versions available.
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