MacBook Pro vs MacBook Air: Which Mac Laptop Is Best For You?

​Apple have a great variety of different laptops and desktop computers. 

If you are looking to take the plunge and buy yourself one of these great machines, we are here to help.

Read on to find out the differences and similarities of these two Apple laptops.

MacBook Pro

Macbook Pro in Store

The Macbook Pro has been around since 2006 and is a great laptop.

We will be looking at the two latest generations of the Macbook Pro.

If you don’t think the various components of the more expensive Macbooks are essential, then it is not worth spending the money.

Components

The Macbook Pro definitely has more processing power when compared to the Macbook Air.

The default configuration of the Pro is 2.3 GHz or 3.1 GHz. Macbook Pros come with 8GB of RAM, unless you opt for the 15-inch, which comes with 16GB of RAM.

The graphics of the Macbook Pro are also far superior to the Air.

The Pro without Touch Bar comes with Intel Iris 640 graphics. The 4th generation Macbook Pros with Touch Bars, have even more impressive graphics. The 13-inch Pro with Touch Bar comes with Intel Iris Plus 655 and the 15-inch has AMD Radeon Pro 55X (4GB).

These powerful processors in the Touch Bar Pros make the machines up to twice as fast as previous generations.

Storage wise, the Pro starts at 128GB and goes up to 256GB in both the 13- and 15-inch Pro with Touch Bar. This is a reasonable amount of storage across the board. However, with more storage comes a higher price.

Design

Macbook Pro Touch Bar

When it comes to the design of the Macbook Pro there are some great features.

All Macbooks have a similar sleek, silver appearance. The most stand-out feature of the Macbook Pro is the Touch Bar, however, this is only available on some models.

The Touch Bar is positioned above the keyboard and is designed to improve the user’s productivity. It replaces the function keys that are present on older generations of Macbooks. This intelligent piece of design work changes automatically depending on what programs are open.

This is convenient for the user, as it gives options related to the task you are currently working on. Essentially, it serves as an adaptable and flexible tool box. The Touch Bar allows you to make quick adjustments to everything, from brightness to the way you are browsing content.

The Macbook Pro weighs in at three pounds and is only half an inch thick. Both of these design features make it a very compact and portable laptop. The Pro has 10 hours of battery life, and is complete with a backlit keyboard.

One of the major design flaws of the Pro is related to the ports, or lack thereof.

The Macbook Pro only comes with two USB-C (Thunderbolt) ports and a headphone socket. While this does create a sleek and minimal design appearance, it isn’t the most practical of design elements.  

Price

When it comes to price, the Macbook Pro is more expensive than the Macbook Air.

That said, it does offer slightly better features, so the difference in price is unsurprising.

Starting at $1299 without a Touch Bar it goes up to just under $2400 for the 15-inch Pro with a Touch Bar.

Comparing the 13-inch models of the Macbook Pro, with and without Touch Bar, there is a considerable price difference. Both have very similar components; however, the Touch Bar model comes with larger storage and more thunderbolt ports. While the components may be similar, there is still a $500 price difference.

This is a considerable amount extra to pay for the luxury of a smart Touch Bar and more storage. If you are on a tight budget, the Pro with Touch Bar is not the best option.

Innovation

Apple Macbook Thin

The design of the Macbook Pro has been subject to considerable innovation with the release of the latest generation.

Mac adapted the previously heavy and bulky design to give us a Macbook Pro the same weight as their lightest laptop, the Macbook Air.

Not only have Mac improved the portability of the Macbook Pro but extra elements have been added to improve usability and productivity. The main element to enhance user productivity is the addition of the Touch Bar.

Why the Macbook Pro Stands Out

AMD GPU in Macbook Pro

The Macbook Pro has a much faster and more powerful CPU.

The Pro also features better graphics along with a sleek design. Minimal ports on the exterior laptop is a great feature if you are a devoted user of the cloud. If you are unlikely to attach extra hardware to your computer, then the Macbook Pro is a viable option.

The sleek, clever and convenient design of the touch bar also makes the Macbook Pro stand out from the Air.

However, while it does improve usability and productivity, it is not an essential feature. The Macbook Air is capable of giving you the same flexibility, just not in the same convenient way. 

What Other People Say about the Macbook Pro

Overall, the new generation of Macbook Pro laptops (with and without Touch Bars) have been very well received.

Reviewers have particularly praised the lighter and more compact design, along with excellent performance.

Any negative reviews reflect the lack of ports along with the steep price tag.

Surprisingly, the Touch Bar has not featured a great deal in people’s comments. While some do mention that it is a nice feature, many are not convinced by its use.

Macbook Air

Macbook Air On Table

First released in 2008, the Macbook Air was Apple's first lightweight computer.

It has maintained a light and compact design and has not changed a great deal since the first release. The Macbook Air is also one of the most affordable computers by Mac.

Components

The latest generation of the Macbook Air features very similar components to the Macbook Pro without a Touch Bar.

In fact, if you were comparing them directly on paper you may be fooled into thinking they were from the same computer.

There are only 3 major differences.

First of all, the Air has a slightly less powerful CPU with a 1.8-GHz 5th gen core i5. While this may make the Air slightly slower than the Macbook Pro, considering the difference in price, it is worth the saving if you are on a tight budget.

The Air has the same 128GB of storage, along with 8GB of RAM. However, it doesn’t feature Intel Iris graphics like the Pro. The Macbook Air’s graphics are still great though—with Intel HD graphics 6000.

The Air arguably features two favorable components when compared directly to the Pro without a Touch Bar.

The Air has almost one hour longer battery life and has three external ports.

With one Thunderbolt port, two USB ports, and an SD Card port, the Air is definitely more user-friendly for those using extra hardware.

Design

Connectivity on the Macbook Air

As we have previously mentioned, the Air was originally designed to be light, sleek, and compact. While it maintains all of these features, the Macbook Pro now offers the same features. Both the Air and 13-inch Pros weigh three pounds.

So, for those of you considering weight as the main factor in the design, the Air no longer stands out.

The best design feature of the Air when compared to the Macbook Pro comes down to the external ports.

If you are looking for a Macbook with universal accessibility, the Air is your best bet. The Macbook Pro’s lack of USB and SD card ports may provide an aesthetically minimal design feature. However, the Air still looks minimal and sleek but offers more usability and convenience without the need for extra adapters.

Price

The Air is the clear winner when it comes to price, ringing in at $999. 

While you are compromising on some of the flashy features of the Macbook Pro, the Air is still a great laptop. Many of the features are the same with the difference hardly noticeable to the everyday computer user.

If you aren’t bothered about having the latest graphics and an extremely fast CPU, the Air is great value for money.

Innovation

Macbook Air 13.3 On table

In terms of innovation, the Macbook Air has seen limited to no changes at all in its design since its launch. The 11-inch version has also been discontinued so it is now only available to buy with a 13-inch screen.

It is most likely that the Macbook Air will not see much change or development in design either, as the Macbook Pro now features many of its key standout design elements.

One of the most important elements is weight and portability. What once was the standout feature of the Air is no more.

Why the Macbook Air Stands Out

The Macbook Air stands out for three main reasons.

First and foremost, it is the most affordable computer available from Apple. While you may think you are compromising on components and features when paying less, you most certainly are not.

The Macbook Air has the longest battery life compared to all the Macbooks, with and without Touch Bars.

Finally, the Air features a variety of ports which improve practicality and accessibility. If you regularly use USB memory sticks and SD cards, then the Air is, without a doubt, the best option. 

What Other People Say About the Macbook Air

MacBook Air On Table

The Macbook Air is widely well-received, particularly in reflection of its price.

Users praise its variety of ports, compact design and great battery life.  However, flaws that are raised include the now outdated design that has not changed since it launched.

The majority of negative reviews about the Air highlight the less advanced graphics when compared to other Macbooks.

The Air also has less power than other Macbooks, however, this does improve its battery life.

What Are the Main Differences Between the Macbook Pro and the Macbook Air?

macbook pro vs macbook air

The ports, battery life, and the power of the CPU are the primary differences between the two products.

The Macbook Air features a slower CPU, but better battery life and more external ports.

The Macbook Pro also has the added feature of a Touch Bar which is not present on the Air. The Touch Bar is a great feature to increase productivity.

When to Choose the Macbook Pro

Macbook Pro

The Macbook Pro is the best choice if you have a larger budget and are looking for an extremely powerful machine.

If you are not willing to compromise on speed or graphics quality, then the Pro is the best option.

It is great for multitasking and for those who will be using programs or software that need a lot of power.

The Pro is also a great option if you are looking for a sleek, minimal design.

The absence of different ports is designed to create more dependency on using the Cloud and wireless technology. If you are already comfortably using those things, the Pro is the perfect choice.

When to Choose the Macbook Air

Laptop Air

The Air is the best choice if you are on a tighter budget.

While is does have slightly inferior components and features to the Macbook Pro, it is still great value for money.

This laptop also offers the longest battery life which is an important factor to consider. Especially if you use your laptop often on the go.

Finally, make sure you choose the Air if you still want access to a variety of different hardware and media. The Air features more accessibility, with USB, SD card and Thunderbolt Ports.

Final Verdict

Macbook Pro Touchpad

When it comes down to choosing one winner it is a difficult decision to make, as many of the components are quite similar.

 In terms of size and weight, both the Pro and Air are great, compact laptops that are easy to transport.

The graphics and storage of the Macbook Pro with Touch bar may be superior to the Air.

However, this is only a key factor for some customers.

Overall, we think the Air is the best choice because it offers a great deal of competitive components and features, but is considerably cheaper.

While the Touch Bar on the Macbook Pro is impressive and will be a deciding feature for those looking to improve their multitasking, it is not a deal breaker. The bar is designed well and is a great added feature; however, it is not essential.

Whichever Macbook you decide to go for, make sure you compare all of the features available, and consider what is essential for you.

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