Portable workhorse

13-inch MacBook Pro

Compact power

MacBook Air

The 13-inch MacBook Pro is the same size as the MacBook Air, but it has more power for everyday use. With the latest refresh, the 13-inch MacBook Pro uses the latest 10th-generation Intel processors with the high-end versions, but the base models also have the updated backlit Magic Keyboard. It starts with a 256GB SSD, goes up to 1TB, and can be configured for up to 2TB or 4TB — whatever you need. The RAM also starts at 8GB and 16GB, configurable up to 16GB and 32GB.

From $1299 at Apple

Pros

  • Storage starts at 256GB SSD, configurable up to 4TB
  • Starts with 8GB RAM, configurable up to 32GB
  • Has Touch Bar
  • Base configuration of two Thunderbolt 3 ports, goes up to four ports
  • 10th-generation Intel processors

Cons

  • Only the higher-end versions come with the 10th-generation processor
  • Slightly more than MacBook Air

Apple's MacBook Air is a great MacBook option for most consumers, especially those who don't plan on doing a lot of resource-intensive work on it. It's lightweight with enough power for the daily tasks of most people. The MacBook Air starts with 8GB of RAM, but this can be configured up to 16GB if needed. The base storage starts with a 256GB SSD, which can be customized to 2TB if need be.

From $999 at Apple

Pros

  • Very affordable
  • Small and compact size
  • Retina Display with True Tone
  • Touch ID
  • Configurable up to 2TB SSD and 16GB RAM

Cons

  • Only two Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports
  • Can't go beyond 2TB storage or 16GB RAM

For those who plan on doing a lot of resource-intensive work, like heavy photo and video editing, audio work, graphic design, or even gaming, then the 13-inch MacBook Pro is the better and more versatile option. But if you don't need a lot of power, and just need a MacBook for work and school (like a lot of people), then the MacBook Air is still the best MacBook for most people.

Pro power or affordability?

13 Inch Macbook Pro 2020 Rene Podcast HeroSource: Rene Ritchie

Despite the slightly higher price tag, we think the 13-inch MacBook Pro is the better buy, especially if you don't mind paying more and need to do some resource-intensive work on it. This includes serious photo and video editing and rendering, graphic design, audio recording, programming, and even gaming. Otherwise, then we believe that the MacBook Air is the best MacBook for the majority of folks, as it can handle pretty much everything else just fine.

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13-inch MacBook Pro MacBook Air
Cost From $1299 From $999
Size 13-inch 13-inch
Colors Silver and Space Gray Gold, Silver, and Space Gray
Weight 3.1 pounds 2.8 pounds
Processor Starts at 1.4GHz quad‑core 8th‑generation Intel Core i5, Turbo Boost up to 3.9GHz Starts at 1.1GHz dual-core Intel i3, Turbo Boost up to 3.2GHz
Keyboard Scissor-switch Magic Keyboard (backlit) Scissor-switch Magic Keyboard (backlit)
Graphics Intel Iris Plus Graphics 645 Intel Iris Plus Graphics with support for Thunderbolt 3-enabled eGPUs
Retina Display Yes Yes
True Tone Yes Yes
Storage Starts at 256GB SSD, configurable up to 4TB Starts at 256GB SSD, configurable up to 2TB
Memory 8GB up to 32GB 8GB up to 16GB
Touch Bar Yes No
Touch ID Yes Yes
Ports Starts with two, goes up to four USB-C Two USB-C
Audio Stereo speakers with high dynamic range, wide stereo sound, and Dolby Atmos support Stereo speakers with wide stereo sound and Dolby Atmos support
Microphone Three-mic array with directional beamforming Three-mic array with directional beamforming

The new 13-inch MacBook Pro is a nice upgrade and surprised everyone by keeping it at the same starting price. From $1299, you get double the starting storage (starts at 256GB), though the RAM starts at 8GB for the lower end models and can be configured to 16GB, with the two higher-end models starting with 16GB and can go up to 32GB.

With four cores in the higher end 2.0GH 10-th generation Intel i5 processor (with Turbo Boost up to 3.8GHz) and an Intel Iris Plus Graphics card, you'll be ready to take on pretty much anything you can throw at your 13-inch MacBook Pro, from video editing to audio recording to programming to gaming. It also has stereo speakers with high dynamic range, wide stereo sound, and support for Dolby Atmos, making it the second-best MacBook Pro for sound (that goes to the 16-inch MacBook Pro). Plus, the 13-inch MacBook Pro has the updated backlit Magic Keyboard now as well, so no more woes from the butterfly mechanism, since this goes back to the old scissor-switch.

So, which should you buy?

Macbook Air 2020 Shelf HeroSource: Rene Ritchie / iMore

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 a few hundred dollars cheaper. Plus, the latest 2020 model MacBook Air starts with a higher base storage, can be configured to go up to an i7 processor, and comes with the new scissor-switch keyboard mechanism that was first introduced with the 16-inch MacBook Pro.

Portable power

13-inch MacBook Pro

Power for anything, anywhere

The 13-inch MacBook Pro has plenty of power and storage for your needs, thanks to more starting storage and the 10th-generation Intel i5 processor in the higher-end models. It also has the newly updated backlit Magic Keyboard across all four versions, so you still get the improved typing experience, regardless of price point.

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. Plus, the butterfly keyboard is out, and scissor-switch back in!

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