MacBook Air vs Pro – Which is better? 2023 Comparison

In 2020, Apple launched the first MacBooks with the new Apple M1 processors. He thus separated himself from his stable supplier, Intel. Thanks to the switch to ARM instruction set processors; the new MacBooks have far better battery life and higher performance. On the other hand, some benefits, such as BootCamp, have disappeared.

Summary of the article

MacBook Air or Pro: Regular users should focus more on the Air variant, which will give them lightweight, solid performance and an affordable price. Models labelled Pro are intended for professionals. The only exception is the MacBook Pro 13 model, which only offers a few advantages compared to the Air.

MacBook Air vs Pro Comparison: MacBooks have yet to fare well in recent years, mainly due to problems with cooling Intel processors. The situation has changed with the new M1 MacBooks, and the device offers an excellent reason to replace the old model with the new one.

How the M1 processors differ in performance – The differences in performance between the M1, M1 Pro and M1 Max mainly lie in the graphics capabilities. The M1 processor is suitable for 2D graphics, the M1 Pro is ideal for creating videos, and the M1 Max will satisfy the most demanding users. Filmmakers can use it.

Final Summary: If you’re a freelancer and need solid performance on the go, look to the MacBook Air or Pro 13. The MacBook Pro 14 or 16 will do better for professional graphics work or video production.

MacBook Air and Pro comparison

Between 2020 and 2021, the American manufacturer with a logo in the form of a bitten apple released several variants of the MacBook with an M1 processor. They differ in terms of their processor, dimensions, display and connectivity. We will look at the equipment of individual models in more detail below. You can also find a comparison of selected devices clearly in the tables. Bold parameter values indicate an advantage over the other compared models.

MacBook AirMacBook Pro 13MacBook Pro 14MacBook Pro 16
Price£1,015£1,400£1,719£2,099
Display size “13.313.314.216.2
ProcessorApple M1Apple M1Apple M1 ProApple M1 Max
Processor Cores88810
RAM881632
Memory2562565121024
Display24
TechnologyIPSIPSOLEDOLED
Resolution2,560 x 1,600 px2,560 x 1,600 px3,024 x 1,964 px3,456 x 2,234 px
MacBook AirMacBook Pro 13MacBook Pro 14MacBook Pro 16
Price£1,015£1,400£1,719£2,099
Camera720p720p1080p1080p
Data connectThunderbolt 2xThunderbolt 2xThunderbolt 2xThunderbolt 2x
3.5 mm jackYesYesYesYes
HDMINoNoYesYes
Touch IDYesYesYesYes
External displays1124
ChargingThunderbolt 3Thunderbolt 3MagSafeMagSafe
Battery life (h)17201721
TouchBarNoYesNoNo
Width (mm)15.614.915.516.8
Weight (kg)1.251.371.602.20

MacBook Air or MacBook Pro 13

In 2020, the thirteen-inch MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models were released first. Both use the same M1 processor. In this case, the processor has eight processor and eight graphics cores. However, the cheapest MacBook Air model has only seven graphics cores. However, the difference in the performance of these two devices is relatively small during everyday activities.

The only situation where it is worth investing in the Pro model is when your work consists of frequent rendering of videos or similar demanding tasks. Then the active cooling of the MacBook Pro 13 comes into play, ensuring slightly better performance. Both devices have the same 13.3-inch IPS display with a 2560 x 1600 pixels resolution. The refresh rate is limited to the classic 60 Hz, and the screen reaches a maximum brightness of 400 nits.

The limiting factor of the first generation of M1 processors is their limited connectivity. You can connect only one external monitor to the MacBook Air and Pro 13 in the usual way. There are only two Thunderbolt 3 connectors, one of which you will use for charging. But that won’t be a big problem, as the laptops last between 17-20 hours on a charge. The weight is between 1.25 and 1.37 kilograms, and the body is high quality.

MacBook Pro 14

The cheaper model from the already professional line is the MacBook Pro 14. It uses an improved M1 Pro processor with ten processor cores and 14/16 graphics cores. This will make work with graphics faster, especially during rendering. The performance is also significantly better when editing videos, primarily if you work with 4K recordings or higher resolutions.

Surprisingly, the display also received an improvement. It uses a high-quality OLED panel with a high refresh rate and brightness. You will thus receive a perfect contrast ratio and correct display of colours, as well as a refresh rate of up to 120 Hz. The brightness is sufficient for working outdoors in direct sunlight, reaching 1,000 nits (maximum up to 1,600 nits).

There are also significant differences concerning connectivity. Apple once again pleasantly surprised its fans and worked on significantly better connectivity. So you have three Thunderbolt 4 ports, classic HDMI and an SDXC card reader available. Charging occurs via the MagSafe connector, and there is also a jack for headphones. The criticised TouchBar disappeared from the keyboard, and functional keys returned. The webcam uses 1080p resolution for the first time.

MacBook Pro 16

The best Apple offers in the spring of 2022 is the MacBook Pro 16. You can find the device on the market in three variants divided according to the processor used. You can buy a model equipped with an M1 Pro processor with 10/16 cores, an M1 Max with 10/24 cores or the highest configuration with 10/32 cores. The fastest model achieves high performance and will satisfy even the most demanding users.

In most other parameters, the device corresponds to the MacBook Pro 14. It uses the same OLED panel with a refresh rate of up to 120 hertz, the same 1080p webcam and the same connector for charging (MagSafe). However, there are differences in overall connectivity. Although the ports are equipped in the same number and types, they support the connection of up to 4 monitors (only M1 Max). Specifically, 3x 6K/60 Hz and one 4K monitor with a frequency of 60 Hz as well.

However, the device also carries an extremely high price tag, so we recommend it only to the most demanding users, especially in the film industry. The average user will not benefit much from the higher graphics performance. Of course, this model can also smoothly play games available for the MacOS system.

Apple M1 chip

Whether aiming for a MacBook Air or a Pro 13, you’ll get an Apple M1 processor. It has eight processor cores and, depending on the configuration, 7 or 8 graphics cores. There is so little difference between these processors that we recommend choosing based on the features of specific MacBooks and their price.

Devices equipped with this piece of silicon are particularly suitable for office work, travel and video production. Of course, it will suit graphic designers and photographers who work in 2D space. When creating videos, expect the processor to handle a maximum of 4K.

Apple M1 Pro

You can find three different variants under the designation Apple M1 Pro. The first configuration uses eight processor and 14 graphics cores. A model with 16 graphics cores is slightly better. If you’re choosing between the two processors, their difference in graphics performance is less than 11%. The most powerful M1 Pro has ten processors and 16 graphics cores.

Compared to the classic Apple M1, better connectivity is enabled. You will be able to connect two external monitors with a resolution of up to 6K and a refresh rate of 60 Hz. Models equipped with M1 Pro are suitable for more demanding work with videos and 3D graphic work. They will also offer enough performance for gaming.

Apple M1 Max

The top model in Apple’s product line is the Apple M1 Max in spring 2022. You will come across it in two configurations. Both use ten processor cores and differ only in graphics cores (24 or 32 cores). The processor provides high graphics and computing power and will satisfy the most demanding users. Allows smooth work with 8K video.

A significant benefit is connecting up to 4 external monitors, 3x 6K/60 Hz and 4K/60 Hz, via the HDMI cable. MacBooks with the M1 Max are suitable for professionals working in 3D or those who make a living from demanding video editing. It will suit, for example, professional filmmakers. With solid graphics, you can play games available for MacOS on the M1 Max.

Summary

The new MacBooks with M1 processors have finally succeeded Apple. Unfortunately, it also brings several limitations deliberately created as part of Apple’s marketing. For example, you only connect one external display to the cheapest MacBook Air and Pro 13 models. More expensive models then support 2 or 4 external monitors.

If you choose between these devices and have a more comprehensive budget, you should focus on the MacBook Pro 14. It offers the best ratio of price and features. However, this is a relatively expensive device, and most ordinary users will do just as well with a MacBook Air.

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