The new Mac laptops with Apple silicon chips are finally here! The good news is MacBook Air and MacBook Pro are the first Apple Silicon Macs. However, picking which model to buy isn’t nearly as easy as it was last week because Apple has stopped selling the Intel-powered MacBook. Read on to find out all the new features of the M1 MacBook Air vs MacBook Pro and figure out which Mac laptop is right for you.
Although we still have a 16-inch version for the MacBook Pro, Apple didn’t mention any changes in this model at the “One More Thing” event. So, it’s quite unfair if you compare it with the 13-inch MacBook Air. Therefore, we will focus more on the 13-inch MacBook Pro vs MacBook Air in this article.
Design & Display
The new M1 MacBook Air and MacBook Pro still feature the original design with all-aluminum finish. Also, both Macs share the same Magic Keyboard that launched last year. So, you don’t need to worry about loud and sticky keys like its old Butterfly keyboards.
Back in the days, the MacBook Pro lineup had its upper hand thanks to its DCI-P3 gamut support for better color saturation. But, now Apple also adds that feature to the MacBook Air, making both the Pro and Air displays are nearly identical:
- 13.3-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit IPS
- 2560 by 1600 pixels
- Wide color (P3)
- True Tone
However, there is still one small difference here. While both models share the same Retina display, the brightness levels between the two are quite different. In fact, the MacBook Air 400 nits display can’t get as bright or impressive as the Pro’s 500 nits display. Besides, the Pro’s high dynamic range also gives it a better audio.
Unfortunately, instead of including Touch Bar into the MacBook Air, Apple only focuses on its Touch ID security and login button. Meanwhile, every Pro model now comes with this feature by default.
Overall, we believe the only advantage of MacBook Air here is having the third gold color option.
Processor, Performance, and Fan
Both of Apple’s new laptops feature the new M1 processor, which is claimed to be the world’s fastest CPU core.
According to Apple, the new MacBook Air is 3.5x faster than the previous generation. On the other hand, the MacBook Pro has up to 2.8x faster-processing performance than the Intel-based MacBook Pro. But, like the iPhone, Apple didn’t give us any hard data to back those claims. Therefore, we only assume the M1 chip in the MacBook Pro has a faster CPU and more cache memory than the Air now.
Below are some performance improvements that Apple claims the new M1 MacBooks can offer:
- Exporting a project with “iMovie” is 3x faster.
- Integrate 3D effects into video in “Final Cut Pro” with 5x speed.
- Playback and edit multiple videos in “Final Cut Pro” without dropping a frame.
- Exporting photos from “Lightroom” is twice as fast.
- Using ML-based features like Smart Conform in “Final Cut Pro” to intelligently frame a clip around 4.3x faster than normal.
Until now, you might wonder why we mentioned a fan in this comparison. Well, the shocking news is that the M1 MacBook Air isn’t equipped with a fan now!
Luckily, the lack of a fan is actually what makes MacBook Air stand out from the crowd. This means the device can run completely silently, no matter how intensive the task you’re trying to perform is. Also, there is no need to worry about overheating here because the MacBook Air has its aluminum heat spreaders to keep it cool.
Price & Specs
Basically, you only get a 7-core GPU with the new 256GB MacBook Air, while all M1 MacBook Pro comes with an 8-core GPU. We’re not sure that one core can make any big difference. But, it is quite certain that the MacBook Pro will have stronger processing power than the Air.
On top of that, the M1 chip is designed based on Apple’s A-series chip, which is made for iPhone. And, there is no fan on any iPhone models. So, this could be the reason why they removes it in the MacBook Air. However, unlike the Pro models, we believe the Air will have lower clock speed in order to maintain its temperature.
Sadly, both of the new M1 MacBooks still use the same old 720p FaceTime camera. But, Apple does say the images will be improved with the new chip.
While the MacBook Pro comes in at 0.61 inches thick and 11.97 inches wide, the Air is slightly bigger at 0.63 inches thick. However, it is still lighter at 2.8 pounds compared to the Pro’s 3.1 pounds. But, honestly, it’s very difficult to notice the difference when holding these models!
What’s impressive here is that despite having the same battery capacity, the battery file in these two models has improved remarkably. In fact, Apple says because the new M1 chip is very power efficient, it can actually improve the laptop battery life.
Now, the MacBook Air battery can last for 15 hours (up from 10 hours). And, the MacBook Pro is able to hit 17 hours of use – a huge jump over the previous 11 hours.
Once again, the differences are quite small between these two machines. The 17-hour battery life in the Pro is very tempting, but then again 15 hours in the Air isn’t too shabby either. So, it’s tough to make a recommendation!
Pros & Cons
Which is the Best MacBook to Buy?
Picking one over the other is a tough choice given the similar price range and features. However, we believe there are still a couple of noticeable areas that set the two apart, though. So, here is what we think!
Overall, our best choice is the 13-inch MacBook Air ($1,249) with 512GB. With all things being equal, this version has specs that should last for many years. Plus, it is also strong enough to deal with intensive tasks like video editing, too. But, in case you need something bigger and the price isn’t a factor, then the 13-inch MacBook Pro or its 16-inch version are the perfect choices.
Let us know if you have any questions about the new Apple M1 MacBook in the comments!