- Taryn Colbert/Business Insider
- Apple’s MacBook has long been the go-to laptop for students, professionals, and creatives.
- There are a few MacBook models these days, including the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro.
- But, which one is right for your needs? We compare the two in this guide.
- You can also read our review roundup of the 2019 MacBook Pro and Air models as well as our guide to the best MacBooks for every use case.
The MacBook laptop lineup has long been considered the epitome of style and performance for many, thanks largely to that classic Apple design and the macOS operating system.
But there are multiple MacBook models out there, so it can be difficult to find the exact model that’s right for your needs. That, however, is why we’ve put together this comparison of the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air.
Specs: MacBook Pro vs. MacBook Air
The specs of the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro can vary a lot based on the configuration you choose. You can tweak the specs to better meet your needs. For example, you may want to get a more powerful processor or more storage. There are also two sizes for the MacBook Pro: 13 and 16 inches.
- Alyssa Powell/Business Insider
As you can see, there’s a major difference in specs between the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air. At first glance, the base model of the MacBook Air and Pro may look more or less the same, but it’s important to note that a quad-core processor will offer significantly more performance than a dual-core one – and a 6-core chip at that will be even more powerful.
Once you start upgrading the MacBook Pro, you’ll get a ton more power than the MacBook Air. That, however, doesn’t necessarily mean that the MacBook Air is weak – it’ll still offer plenty of performance for most tasks you throw at it from surfing the web and responding to emails to streaming video and doing light photo editing.
Another main difference between the two is the screen size options. You can only get a 13-inch Air, but the Pro comes in 13- and 16-inch sizes.
You can get the MacBook Pro with a discrete graphics card, much more RAM, more storage, and a slightly better and larger screen. With the more powerful processors, the MacBook Pro is clearly a better option for those who need a laptop that can keep up with heavier multitasking and things like audio editing, video editing, or graphic design.
However, most people will likely be happy with what the Air offers.
Design: MacBook Pro vs. MacBook Air
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You’ll immediately recognize a MacBook when you see one. It’s hard to look past that metallic design and iconic Apple logo on the lid. That said, there are a few small differences between the design of the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro.
On paper, it may look like the MacBook Air is thicker than the Pro, but the Air has a tapered design, so it feels a lot thinner in the hand. The Air is also a quarter pound to a full pound lighter than the Pro models (depending on which screen size you choose), making it much more portable.
Another major difference is that the MacBook Pro has Apple’s Touch Bar, which is essentially a long and thin touchscreen that replaces the row of function keys and allows you to control different features depending on the app that’s open. Some people love the Touch Bar, but most won’t need it.
Performance and features: MacBook Pro vs. MacBook Air
While Apple’s keyboards have gotten a bad reputation over the past few years, we actually don’t mind them. The keyboard experience on the MacBook Air and Pro is relatively similar: Both offer a low level of travel. That said, you’ll get used to typing on the keyboard, and eventually, you might even like it – that’s what happened to me on my MacBook Air.
It is important to note that some MacBook keyboards have become unresponsive or broken in recent years, so it is something to keep an eye on. Apple has a service program that was built to address keyboard problems, so if you do have a problem, they may fix it for you.
Other details represent minor differences. The MacBook Air and Pro both offer a 720p webcam, along with decent speakers. The speakers on the MacBook Pro are slightly better than the MacBook Air, but not by a lot – and for most, the quality of the MacBook Air will be more than good enough.
The bottom line: The 13-inch MacBook Pro is the best for most people
The MacBook Air and MacBook Pro may look similar, but there are some clear differences between the two. If you want ultimate portability and don’t need a ton of performance, then the MacBook Air is the way to go.
If you want a blend of portability and performance, then the 13-inch MacBook Pro is probably your best bet. For those of you who need absolute performance, then we recommend the new 16-inch MacBook Pro. We think the middle-of-the-road 13-inch MacBook Pro is likely the best option for most people.
Of course, it’s also worth keeping in mind price. None of the MacBook models are necessarily cheap, but the MacBook Air is the cheapest of the bunch, while the 13-inch MacBook Pro comes in second, and the 16-inch MacBook Pro is the most expensive.
If you are a student, you can get Apple’s Education Discount, though, and the MacBooks frequently go on sale, so you may be able to get a lower price.