If you’re interested in one of Apple’s new M2 MacBooks but are confused about which one to buy, don’t worry—it’s confusing. The two devices are very similar, but they have some important differences.
To get a large group of people out of the way: If you use this machine for work on a consistent basis and your work includes basically anything more powerful than Chrome (for example, any software that has Adobe in its name), you should buy a 14-inch MacBook Pro inch with the M1 Pro or M1 Max instead of one of these computers. These laptops are much faster, with bigger screens and Many Choose a more useful outlet, and these upgrades will be well worth the extra money.
But if you’re not in that category and you’ve set your heart on the M2, here’s how to approach your decision. (And of course, before going into any buying decision, you should know exactly why you’re looking for a new computer, what doesn’t work in your current computer, and what to look for in a new computer.)
MacBook Pro vs MacBook Air: Price
The price difference between MacBook Air and MacBook Pro is not that significant.
Air starts at $1,199 for an eight-core CPU, eight-core GPU, 8GB of memory, 256GB of storage, and a 30W power adapter and goes up to $2,499 for an eight-core CPU, 10-core GPU, and 24 GB of CPU memory, 2 TB of storage, and a 67W adapter.
Pricing for the Pro starts at $1,299 for similar specs to the base Air – an eight-core CPU, eight-core GPU, 8GB of memory, a 256GB SSD, and a 67W adapter (no 30W option here). However, it also maxes out at $2,499 (with similar specs to the top Air: octa-core/10 cores, 24GB of memory, 2TB of storage, and the same charger).
Exact prices for configurations and variations between them vary. In general, the price difference between the two models if you select them as similarly as possible will be in the range of $100.
MacBook Pro vs MacBook Air: Chassis Differences
Here is a list of the differences between the M2 MacBook Pro and the M2 MacBook Air, some of which may interest you and some that you may not.
- The MacBook Pro is a little heavier – at 3 lbs (1.4 kg), while the Air is 2.7 (1.24 kg). I would say that the difference is noticeable but does not change in life, although the air feels a lot thinner.
- Both MacBooks come in Space Gray and Silver, while the Air comes in Midnight (dark blue) and Starlight (gold). Beware of the midnight color – it picks up fingerprints very easily.
- The MacBook Air has a larger screen – 13.6 inches versus 13.3 inches in the Pro. (This means that the Air’s resolution is a bit higher technically, but it’s not really noticeable.) The two have the same brightness and color coverage, but the Air’s is a Liquid Retina display while the Pro’s is the same LED-backlit IPS panel as last year’s Pro.
- The MacBook Air has a hole for the camera, and the cursor will disappear when you pass it under it. So, while you’ll have more screen space to work with over the air, the notch can interfere with some menu bar apps.
- The MacBook Pro has an OLED touch screen bar (Touch Bar) at the top of the keyboard, while the MacBook Air has a row of physical function keys. People on the internet have all kinds of strong feelings for the Touch Bar. If you’re not familiar, TL; DR is that the Touch Bar gives users a way to access features like brightness, volume, emoji selection, Siri activation, and other toggles in one place, but it’s also slower for most people to use than physical keys and easy to accidentally knock.
- The MacBook Pro charges only via USB-C, while the MacBook Air also has a MagSafe power port. This essentially gives you an extra port on your MacBook Air since one of the Pro ports will be busy when plugged in (both models have Thunderbolt/USB-4 ports). MagSafe connectors also pop out of their slots very easily, which means air is less likely to be drawn off your desk if someone stumbles through your wire.
- MacBook Air has a better webcam – 1080p to 720p for the Pro. I don’t find either of them amazing, but the air does make me look crispier and less washed out.
- The MacBook Air has a number of power adapter options, including a 30-watt USB-C adapter, a dual-port 35-watt USB-C adapter, and a 67-watt fast-charging adapter. The Pro only comes with the 67W version.
- MacBook Air has a “four-speaker sound system” while MacBook Pro has “high dynamic range stereo speakers.” These sounds the same to me as far as I can tell.
MacBook Pro vs MacBook Air: Performance Differences
The Pro and Air both have the same M2 processor and run the same macOS. But that doesn’t mean they’ll work the same because the Pro has something inside of it that Air doesn’t: a fan.
Machines need to protect their processors from overheating when they are working really hard. Pro does this by turning on a fan. Since Air can’t do that, it needs to limit processor performance less than Air does. In practical terms, this means that if you are running heavy loads on air for extended periods of time, you will see a decrease in performance. In our testing, the Pro managed to run the Cinebench R23 for 30 minutes without any drop in performance, while the Air’s performance started dropping soon after.
The air also gets hotter than the Pro, although I will confirm that it is Not Get hot calling within Zoom calls, Chrome tabs, and most web-based downloads you’ll get. But you might feel some heat at the bottom of the Air or the keyboard if you’ve been running heavier programs on it for long periods of time. By contrast, I’ve never felt the slightest bit of heat in the Pro chassis, even while doing video stuff (and I didn’t hear fan noise).
When it comes to graphics performance, our testing saw a 26 percent increase in Shadow of the Tomb Raider Performance and a difference of over two minutes in Premiere Pro 4K export time.
The Pro also has a larger battery and offers longer battery life in our tests. I generally get an average of 16 and a half hours of continuous use from the M2 Pro and an average of 13 hours and 15 minutes of air. Your results may certainly vary based on the work you do, but based on your findings and those of others online, I expect you’ll get a few extra hours of Pro.
Well, let’s try some scenarios
I work a lot with video, music, graphics, virtualization, visual effects, or other demanding use cases, but the 14″ is out of my price range: Buy Pro. If I’m using a device for these things and am going to use it all day, I’d rather be on the Pro. However, if you’re dead on a Mac, I’ll save up for an M1 Pro or M1 Max MacBook (or Mac Studio) if you can. They will save you a lot of time.
I code: If you mostly work on tasks like web design, Air is fine. MagSafe in my office space can save you some stress, perhaps outweighing the performance benefit you’ll see. If you frequently compile complex things, Pro will probably save you some time. Pro beat on air by 10 seconds in Xcode Benchmark.
I don’t use these fancy software, but I use a pretty heavy load of Chrome, which worries me that the air won’t be enough for: I will continue to have Air unless you really believe that any of the other Air benefits will make a difference in your life. I work with some pretty huge documents and spreadsheets, and the performance difference between the Pro and Air was barely noticeable.
I’m using my computer only with Netflix and I’m sending an email on my couch: buy air. A better screen and lighter weight will benefit you more from the added performance.
I usually only use my computer with Netflix and email, but sometimes I make YouTube videos: Buy a Pro if you work on your YouTube videos every day or if you often need to do this work on battery – the air gets too warm if you push it hard all the time. Otherwise, the air should be fine.
I’m a student who needs to walk around all day and work mostly in Google Docs, Word, or something else: buy air. You won’t see much difference in performance, and its battery life should be adequate to get you through a school day. The Pro’s larger battery is outweighed by its extra weight and size; A thin laptop is a huge benefit when your backpack is full.
I want to play games on my MacBook: First of all, good for you. I support you and your dreams. Don’t let the haters put you down. Second, get Pro. You’ll see higher frame rates, get more time playing on battery, and the air becomes uncomfortably fun if you’ve been playing for a while.
I travel alot: this is difficult. I think it comes down to whether extra battery life or a thinner and lighter device is more important to you: if it’s battery life, the Pro; If the portability of air transport.
I hate cracks: vanguard.
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