Apple first introduced us to the MacBook Pro in 2006. Then they followed that release with the thin-as-air MacBook Air in 2008. And over the past 15 years, Apple has produced sleeker and more powerful versions of these popular laptops.
At first glance, these laptops may seem fairly similar, even down to the price. However, there are some key differences to consider that will help you choose the best laptop for your needs.
Whether you’re looking to update your old computer or invest in a new laptop for college, the information below can help you make a well-informed decision if you’re considering the MacBook Air vs MacBook Pro.
Similarities Between MacBook Air & MacBook Pro
Processing chip: One of the main similarities between the MacBook Air and the MacBook Pro is that the most recent models both use the Apple M2 chip. This means that both have improved memory capacity and a faster graphics processing unit (GPU) compared to previous models with the M1 chip (which are also still available at a cheaper price).
This means current versions of both laptops:
- Load programs faster
- Can run more programs at once
- Are better at processing graphics and images (Which makes them both more powerful for gaming, video editing, or graphic design than previous models.)
Memory: With either model, you get up to 24GB (gigabytes) of memory.
Efficiency: They also both have a 10-core GPU, which is more power efficient than previous Apple laptops with an 8-core GPU.
Storage: Both the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro have up to 2 terabytes (TB) of hard drive space. This is enough to store more than 100 movies or thousands of songs.
Standard features: The MacBook Air and MacBook Pro have similar standard features as well, including:
- Two Thunderbolt ports for plugging in Apple accessories like keyboards
- Three USB4 ports for plugging in USB-powered accessories like studio microphones
- FaceTime audio and video calling
- Ask Siri digital assistant
- Apple Pay digital wallet
With so many similar features, you may find it hard to decide between a MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. However, the choice between Air vs Pro for your next Apple MacBook could depend on the following:
Price of the MacBook Air vs MacBook Pro
Perhaps one of the most important factors when choosing a laptop is price, especially for students on a budget. But price may not help when it comes to deciding which Apple laptop to go with now, because the cost for these 2022 models is nearly identical.
The MacBook Air starts at $1,199, while the MacBook Pro starts $100 higher at $1,299.
Portability of the MacBook Air vs MacBook Pro
One of the perks of having a laptop is being able to take it to the coffee shop, coworking space, or class. However, a bulky laptop can become cumbersome when you’re on the go.
On the other hand, if you work from home and want the ability to work in any room you choose, portability may not be such a huge issue.
As expected from the name, the MacBook Air is more lightweight than the MacBook Pro, but only by 4.8 ounces. The MacBook Air weighs in at just 2.7 pounds, while the MacBook Pro comes in at 3.0 pounds.
Another portability factor is size. Both laptops have the same width and measure just under 12 inches (11.97 inches to be exact).
The MacBook Air has a slightly larger depth (think screen height), measuring 8.46 inches compared to the MacBook Pro’s 8.36 inches.
If you plan to pack your laptop in a bag or backpack, the thickness can make a significant difference. Inspired by air, the MacBook Air is less than half an inch thick, measuring only 0.44 inches when closed. Meanwhile, the MacBook Pro has a thickness of 0.61 inches.
Design of the MacBook Air vs MacBook Pro
Even though Apple advertises both as 13-inch laptops, the MacBook Air has a slightly larger screen size. The display measures 13.6 inches diagonally, while the MacBook Pro’s screen measures only 13.3 inches diagonally.
But if you’re looking for the best resolution, the MacBook Air again has a marginally higher resolution with 2560 x 1664 pixels. On the other hand, the MacBook Pro’s resolution comes in at 2560 x 1600 pixels.
While perhaps not an essential factor, color does play into the laptop’s overall aesthetic. Both the MacBook Air and the MacBook Pro come in silver and space gray.
Yet, the MacBook Air is also available in cream and black, labeled starlight and midnight on Apple’s website, respectively.
Internal Features of the MacBook Air vs MacBook Pro
A few other distinguishing features may help you decide between the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. These include the following:
- Battery Life: You can enjoy up to 20 hours of battery life with the MacBook Pro, while the MacBook Air’s capacity is only 18 hours.
- Camera: This is one of the biggest differences between the two. The MacBook Air has a 1080p camera, but the MacBook Pro camera has only 720p resolution. The Air is a high-resolution camera at 1920 x 1080 pixels, while the Pro gives a grainier image from its webcam at only 1280×720 resolution.
- Audio: Most audio features are comparable between the two models. However, the MacBook Pro has a much higher-quality three-mic array that strengthens the sound of your voice compared to background noise. The Pro also has dynamic-range stereo speakers, while the MacBook Air only has an audio system with four speakers.
MacBook Pro Advantages
There are two features found on MacBook Pro but not on MacBook Air: cooling fans and the Touch Bar.
The cooling fans make your laptop’s processors run at a high performance level for longer. These fans can help make your MacBook last longer, and perform better over a full day of work. One drawback to the cooling fans is that they do take up space.
The Touch Bar is a digital bar with customizable “buttons” which give you access to core functions in popular applications. For example, shortcuts to video editing tools when you’re using Adobe Premiere editing software or photo shortcuts in Adobe Photoshop. Though perhaps not essential, people do find the Touch Bar extremely convenient.
Choose Your MacBook
Ultimately, the decision between MacBook Air and MacBook Pro depends on the individual. From the comparable price to the same M2 chip, these Apple laptops have a lot in common.
Still, you may prefer the MacBook Air for its portability and high-resolution camera. Or, the MacBook Pro may get your vote for its more robust cooling system, longer battery life, and digital Touch Bar.
But no matter which MacBook you choose, you’ll have a high-performance laptop for school, work, or play.