Apple MacBook Air vs. MacBook Pro: Which Mac Laptop to Buy in 2021?

Because both the Air and the Pro have similar specs and exterior styling, deciding which one is best for you comes down to the size of screen you need and how much processing power your typical computing tasks require. There are two broad Mac laptop families to choose from nowadays, with the powerful Apple MacBook Pro, available in multiple screen sizes, and the slim, efficient MacBook Air. They’re both outstanding.

The MacBook lineup may be about to change dramatically, with Apple expected to release new 14-inch and 16-inch laptops this fall. New features, such as a faster M1X processor, are rumored to be included. higher-density displays.. If you don’t want to wait, there are two excellent MacBook product families to choose from right now.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro and MacBook Air now come with Apple’s new Touch Bar. The easy part is deciding between the two families. Getting down to the nitty gritty within each family, on the other hand, is more difficult. M1 processor, which promises speedy performance but might not be the right choice We’ll go over the various processor options, as well as the various CPU, memory, storage, and other component options available on Apple’s latest MacBook laptops. Everyone is welcome.

The MacBook Air: The More Portable Pick

It’s a sleek machine that’s only 0.63 inch thick at its thickest point and weighs only 2.8 pounds. Obviously, the cheapest and most portable way into the macOS ecosystem has a lot of appeal. The MacBook Air is Apple’s smallest laptop. The MacBook Air is also Apple’s most affordable laptop, with prices starting at $899 for students and teachers and $999 for everyone else.

True Tone automatically adjusts color temperature to match ambient lighting conditions, and support for the P3 color gamut means vibrant colors and basic color correction for photos and videos. 2,560 by 1,600 pixels is the native resolution. The LED-backlit panel impresses with its brightness and clarity, despite the fact that it isn’t the highest-resolution 13-inch display available. The display is equipped with in-plane switching (IPS) technology, which means that the stunning image you see when you’re sitting in front of it doesn’t suffer much when you turn it to show a colleague what you’re working on. The MacBook Air’s screen isn’t low-quality just because it’s cheap.

(Photo: Zlata Ivleva)

The Magic Keyboard on the current MacBook Air is identical to that on the MacBook Pro. It provides a far more comfortable typing experience than the previous MacBook Air and MacBook Pro keyboards, which had extremely shallow key presses.

If you choose the MacBook Air, you may need to purchase a third-party expansion dock with additional ports. The pair of USB Type-C ports, which handle everything except audio output, from charging the battery to connecting an external display or hard drive, are the most limiting factor. In order to fit everything into the small enclosure, Apple had to make some compromises in terms of connectivity and power.

Four more are dedicated to lower-power tasks, ensuring that the chip doesn’t use more energy than it needs to. It has a whopping 16 processor cores, but don’t think of them in the same way as traditional Intel processor specifications. On the fly, tasks are routed to the appropriate core set. The Apple M1 chip is the only processor option inside the laptop. Four of the cores are compute cores, which are used to perform complex calculations that require a large amount of processing power.

Finally, the M1 chip has up to eight additional cores dedicated to graphics processing, similar to Intel’s Iris integrated graphics. Both graphics options are capable of powering an external monitor at 60Hz and up to a 6K resolution, making them suitable for casual games. M1 performance is generally excellent, but it varies. The entry-level MacBook Air costs $999 and has seven graphics cores, while the $1,249 model has eight. depending on which app you’re running.

While the memory limit is 16GB, you can upgrade the storage space of either model to a 2TB SSD for an additional fee. The base MacBook Air has 8GB of memory and 256GB of solid-state storage, while the $1,249 model has double those capacities.

(Photo: Zlata Ivleva)

For the most part, we recommend the Mac laptop. The MacBook Air is an excellent travel companion, as well as a status symbol, thanks to its sleek design and Apple’s clout. However, because you’ll be spending at least $999 on it, you’ll want to check out the other, larger Apple portables, which provide more connectivity and, in some cases, more computing power.

The MacBook Air vs. the MacBook Pro

Because not all Mac software runs natively on the M1 chip, the Intel MacBook Pro might be a better choice if you need to run apps that haven’t been updated yet. The entry-level MacBook Pro offers a choice of Apple M1 or Intel Core processors in exchange for a slightly higher starting price ($1,299) and a little more weight. Most MacBook Pro buyers will be better off with the M1, but the Intel Core i5 or Core i7 options may be appealing to some. The entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro, which weighs 3 pounds, is the closest Apple alternative to the MacBook Air. Some parts of Adobe’s key Creative Suite, for example, runs natively on M1, while others use Rosetta 2 emulation.)

(Photo: Zlata Ivleva)

Because all of the ports use the same oval-shaped USB-C connector, you’ll still need adapters or special cables, but with four of them, you might not need to buy an expensive docking station. The base 13-inch MacBook Pro with M1 processor has only two USB Type-C ports, whereas the $1,799 Intel version has four. If you need to connect to multiple peripherals or external displays, the extra ports may come in handy.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro offers the same memory and storage options as the MacBook Air. The 13-inch MacBook Pro comes with an active cooling fan on both the Intel and M1 models, which the MacBook Air does not. Instead, the MacBook Air relies on passive cooling, which is fine for simple tasks like browsing the web but may slow down more intensive tasks like video encoding.

Touch Bar, But No Touching

The Touch Bar is a unique feature of the MacBook Pro models that you should consider if the “Pro” part of the name applies to you. Apple’s Touch Bar is a one-of-a-kind and highly specialized feature. It’s Apple’s response to Windows 10’s touch gestures, and it’s most useful in professional apps like Adobe Creative Suite and Apple’s iWork. This is a touch-enabled, long, thin OLED screen that sits in front of the MacBook Pro’s keyboard. Final Cut Pro X, which allows you to scrub through a video timeline, switch tool selections, and more using the Touch Bar. The MacBook Air does not have this feature.

(Photo: Zlata Ivleva)

The Touch Bar, on the other hand, isn’t a replacement for the touch screens found on many Windows ultraportables. An is a You can’t use it to interact with basic screen elements like website menu buttons, and you can’t draw on the screen with it. Apple iPad or a Windows laptopFor these tasks, is your best option. Thankfully, all Apple laptop trackpads are excellent, with oversize glass surfaces and virtual “haptic” feedback rather than a physical click mechanism.

The Apple M1 chip is not currently available for the 16-inch MacBook Pro. There are more factors to consider here than just the three extra screen inches that contribute to the 16-incher’s weight exceeding 4 pounds. If you’re a multimedia professional who would benefit from the Touch Bar on the MacBook Pro, you’ll need to decide between the 13-inch and 16-inch models. You must also determine whether you require the additional processing power that a discrete GPU and an optional Intel Core i9 CPU can provide.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro model is available with either Intel integrated graphics or M1 graphics, but no discrete GPU option. (This is the main selling point of the Radeon Pro; it’s capable of gaming as well, but not powerful enough for true high-end gaming.) If you’re a video or photo editor, the 16-inch model with an AMD Radeon Pro graphics card, which can speed up editing tasks, is a must-have.

These additions will push the list price well above $5,000, an exorbitant sum that can only be justified if you know you’ll use the extra storage space and memory capacity. In addition, the 16-inch MacBook Pro has more memory and storage than the smaller Mac laptops. It can be customized with up to 8TB of solid-state storage and 64GB of RAM.

Investing in the Future

User-replaceable components were once available on Apple laptops, allowing owners to upgrade their hard drives to SSDs and add more memory as their computing needs changed. Unfortunately, Apple has turned its back on tinkerers, forcing people who want to future-proof their laptops to spend a lot of money maxing out the specs at purchase time rather than upgrading later when component prices fall or new needs arise. With today’s Apple laptops, such improvements are impossible because the entire chassis is sealed shut. That is no longer the case.

Many MacBook-inspired designs can be found among the legions of clones in the laptop aisles at Best Buy or MicroCenter. Apple laptops are, without a doubt, highly innovative and influential machines. By all means, look at the alternatives, but you can rest assured that you made the right decision if your laptop shopping trip ends with you carrying a white plastic bag out of an Apple Store.

If you’re not sure if a MacBook Air or Pro is right for you, check out our roundup of the best laptops. best laptops overall.