MacBook Pro vs. Air: Which Apple laptop is for you? | CNN

Deciding between the MacGuide Air and the MacGuide Pro was once easy: get the Air in case you want one thing primary; get the Pro in case you want numerous energy for video enhancing or 3D rendering. However, now that Apple’s highly effective M1 chip has made the MacGuide Air a reputable beast — and with a complete of three MacGuide Pro fashions to select from — discovering the right Apple laptop for you isn’t fairly as simple as of late.

Fortunately, we’re right here to assist. We’re breaking down Apple’s total present lineup of MacBooks and who they’re for, from the svelte-but-speedy Air to absolutely the monster that is the brand new 16-inch MacGuide Pro.

Jacob Krol/NCS

You need the most cost effective and slimmest MacGuide

MacBooks aren’t precisely low-cost, however the MacBook Air is the way in which to go in case you’re seeking to spend as little cash as potential. Apple’s entry-level MacGuide begins at $999, and we’ve seen it dip just a few hundred bucks under that in huge gross sales. As its title suggests, it’s nonetheless probably the most transportable and sleekest MacGuide of the bunch, with sharp edges that slim down to only 0.16 edges and a light-weight 2.8-pound body. It’s additionally the one MacGuide that is available in gold, if that’s your factor.

You need numerous energy for on a regular basis duties — and a little bit of heavy obligation work

Despite its comparatively low value and small body, the newest MacGuide Air nonetheless delivers among the greatest efficiency you’ll discover in a mainstream laptop. Thanks to the M1 chip inside, Apple’s most inexpensive pocket book was nonetheless in a position to juggle tons of apps with ease, export high-quality video in seconds and ran circles round many comparable Windows laptops in our efficiency exams.

You need a quiet laptop

The MacGuide Air is the one MacGuide within the present lineup and not using a fan inside, which means it doesn’t run the danger of sounding like a jet engine when it’s underneath a heavy workload. The Air stayed silent for us at the same time as we exported heavy 4K information and had 20 totally different apps open — and it didn’t get excessively scorching both.

Key specs

  • Starting value: $999
  • Display: 13.3 inches at 2560 x 1600
  • Processor: Apple M1 (7-core or 8-core CPU, 8-core GPU)
  • Memory: 8GB / 16GB
  • Storage: 256GB / 512GB / 1TB / 2TB
  • Ports: Two Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports, headphone jack
  • Weight: 2.8 kilos


You need extra energy than the Air with out paying a fortune

The newest 13-inch MacBook Pro has the identical processor because the Air, however with an extra graphics processing unit (GPU) core that provides it a bit extra muscle for visually intensive duties. It additionally has a fan built-in, which means it might let the processor work somewhat more durable when the laptop is being pushed to the max throughout a heavy video export or huge 3D render.

There’s undoubtedly a distinction between the 2 — in our testing, the Pro rendered 8K video information minutes sooner than the Air, and we noticed notably increased graphics scores on our benchmarks. We additionally acquired a pair additional hours of battery life out of the Pro, which clocked in at 16 hours and half-hour in comparison with about 14 hours on the Air. This makes the 13-inch mannequin a pleasant center floor within the present Mac lineup, as you’ll get extra energy and endurance than the Air for a fairly cheap beginning value of $1,299.

You care concerning the Touch Bar (for some purpose)

If you insist on having a MacGuide with Apple’s highly polarizing Touch Bar, the 13-inch MacGuide Pro is the one present Mac to function one. The Touch Bar ditches the standard row of bodily operate keys in favor of a touch-sensitive floor that may supply contextual controls based mostly on what you’re doing. For instance, it’ll allow you to simply swipe by means of an extended timeline in Final Cut Pro, and might supply predictive textual content whenever you’re typing up an e mail or textual content message. We’re not big followers of the Touch Bar, however it definitely has its makes use of for artistic sorts. So in order for you a bit extra contextual management for sure apps, this is the Mac to get.

You need a MacGuide Pro and not using a notch

The 14-inch and 16-inch MacGuide Pros function larger and sharper screens with thinner bezels, however that each one comes on the expense of a notch the place the webcam sits. This received’t essentially be a dealbreaker for all people, however in order for you a MacGuide Pro with a extra even display screen, the 13-inch is your greatest wager. And whereas it doesn’t have the extra superior Liquid Retina XDR show of its pricier siblings, the 13-inch MacGuide Pro’s 2560 x 1600 display screen was nonetheless a magnificence to have a look at in our testing.

Key specs

  • Starting value: $1,299
  • Display: 13.3 inches at 2560 x 1600
  • Processor: Apple M1 (8-core CPU, 8-core GPU)
  • Memory: 8GB / 16GB
  • Storage: 256GB / 512GB / 1TB / 2TB
  • Ports: Two Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports, headphone jack
  • Weight: 3 kilos


You need probably the most highly effective MacGuide on the market — and are keen to pay for it

The M1-powered MacGuide Air and Pro already supply among the greatest efficiency we’ve ever seen from a laptop, however the new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros appear like they might blow even these out of the water. That’s as a result of they pack your alternative of Apple’s new M1 Pro or M1 Max chip, that are designed for probably the most hardcore of energy customers and true artistic professionals.

Apple says that M1 Pro can ship as much as 70 % sooner processing efficiency than M1, and as much as twice the graphics efficiency. The M1 Max chip goes even additional with twice the GPU cores, which means it might pump out twice the graphics efficiency of M1 Pro and as a lot as 4 occasions that of the bottom M1. The 16-inch mannequin particularly is additionally rated for the very best battery lifetime of any Mac at as much as 21 hours. We’ll have to check the brand new machines to see how that each one nets out in actual world use, however these numbers counsel that the higher-end MacGuide Pros are Apple’s greatest on the subject of demanding video rendering and 3D graphics.

Of course, all of this efficiency comes at a value. The 14-inch MacBook Pro and 16-inch MacBook Pro begin at $1,999 and $2,499 respectively, each with an M1 Pro chip. If you wish to improve to M1 Max on the 14-inch or 16-inch, you’ll need to pay at the least an additional $200 so as to add it to both system.

You need numerous ports

If you need to have the ability to hook up with numerous equipment and screens out of the field, the 14-inch and 16-inch MacGuide Pros are the way in which to go. These laptops every supply three USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports for connecting to exterior 4K screens and speedy storage drives, an HDMI port for much more exterior show choices, an SDXC card slot for rapidly transferring media information out of your digital camera and a MagSafe charging port. You additionally get a headphone jack that helps high-impedance headphones for music producers and audiophiles.

By comparability, the MacGuide Air and 13-inch MacGuide Pro solely supply a measly two Thunderbolt 4 ports every, certainly one of which shall be taken up when you’re laptop is charging. So in case you’d slightly keep away from utilizing a USB-C dongle, the higher-end MacGuide Pros are for you.

You need the most effective show on a Mac

The new MacGuide Pros aren’t simply extra highly effective than earlier than, in addition they have the most important, sharpest and most fluid shows of any Mac. We’ll have our remaining verdict on these screens as soon as we’ve examined them, however on paper, they’re wanting like the best choice for of us who want numerous actual property and as a lot coloration and element as potential.

The new MacBooks have shows which can be 14.2 inches at a 3024 x 1964 decision and 16.2 inches at 3456 x 2234, which places them near 4K and makes them notably larger and sharper than the 13.3-inch, 2560 x 1600 panel you’ll discover on the newest 13-inch Pro. The newest MacGuide Pros use the identical Liquid Retina XDR know-how as the newest iPad Pros, which actually wowed us with their robust brightness, distinction and element.

They’re additionally the primary MacGuide screens to function a refresh fee of as much as 120Hz, which successfully implies that doing issues like scrolling by means of internet pages and watching excessive frame-rate video will look twice as easy in comparison with different MacBooks. We’ve seen a giant distinction when utilizing 120Hz shows on laptops, tablets telephones (together with the iPad Pro and iPhone 13 Pro), so we’re desperate to see how they maintain up on the brand new MacGuide Pros.

You need the most effective webcam on a Mac

The 14-inch and 16-inch MacGuide Pros additionally bump the webcam decision as much as 1080p in comparison with 720p on the opposite two fashions, which ought to enable for even clearer video calls. We’ll have to check this ourselves, but when our time with the 1080p digital camera on the 24-inch iMac is any indication, the brand new Pros will probably supply a noticeable improve on the subject of capturing tremendous particulars and true-to-life pores and skin tones. Unfortunately, there’s nonetheless no Face ID for hands-free logins, and no CenterStage assist for having the digital camera robotically hold you in body when you transfer — these are each nonetheless unique to iPad. Still, whenever you couple the higher digital camera with the six-speaker setup on the higher-end Pros, you can be the most effective MacBooks for video calls and content material creation.

Key specs

  • Starting value: $1,999 (14-inch); $2,499 (16-inch)
  • Display: 14.2 inches at 3024 x 1964 (14-inch); 16.2 inches at 3456 x 2234 (16-inch)
  • Processor: Apple M1 Pro or Apple M1 Max
  • Memory: 16GB / 32GB / 64GB (M1 Max solely)
  • Storage: 512GB / 1TB / 2TB / 4TB / 8TB
  • Ports: Three Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports, HDMI, SDXC slot, MagSafe charging port, headphone jack with excessive impedance assist
  • Weight: 3.5 kilos (14-inch); 4.7 kilos (16-inch)