MacBook Air vs. MacBook Pro: New M1 Models, Compared

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Both MacBook air and MacBook Pro 13 have moved to Apple powerful M1 chip – So the question is, what should you get? Although both have Retina monitors and even fall into a similar price range, there are some significant differences in features and capabilities that differentiate the two devices. There is even 16-inch MacBook Pro if you’re looking for a larger high-end model – even if it still runs on older Intel processors. If you want to find out what could be next in the MacBook world, we have all the latest MacBook Pro rumors get you up and running.

MacBook air:

MacBook Pro:

In this guide, we’ll connect your MacBook Air to a 13-inch MacBook Pro to see what’s best. Want to buy one of these MacBooks? Check out our guide the latest MacBook deals With Apple’s flagship devices.

Design

Both the MacBook Pro 13 and the MacBook Air 13 look very similar at first glance. Both have sleek aluminum finishes, silver and space gray color options for each (the MacBook Air also has a gold option). In addition, the main distinguishing feature of the design is the Touch Bar – more on that later.

You get a Retina display with a resolution of 2560 x 1600 and 227 pixels per inch, regardless of the model you choose. Apple makes some of the best laptop monitors in the business, so you get a great display no matter which laptop you choose, but there have to be important differences in brightness and color space. Meanwhile our testing showed that the MacBook Pro exceeded the brightness of 485 nits, the MacBook Air just succeeded 389 staples. The MacBook Pro also performs better in color resolution with 91% AdobeRGB compared to the MacBook Air’s 79%. This means that if a bright, color-accurate screen is important to you and your work, the MacBook Pro is a better choice. For everyone else, the MacBook Air works great.

Although the device screens indicate the point of separation, you get the same keyboard on both. And no need to worry about low keystrokes and sticky keys – both the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro 13 now have an Apple Magic Keyboard rather than a split butterfly keyboard. We’ve found that the Magic keyboard is comfortable and consistent, and much more than the old popular Apple keyboards. Both laptops also have Apple’s oversized trackpad, which gives plenty of space MacOS gestures. It’s the best trackpad you’ll find on any laptop, Apple, or otherwise.

As mentioned earlier, there is one significant difference between the MacBook Air and the MacBook Pro 13 that is immediately noticeable: the Touch Bar (or lack thereof). The MacBook Air has never come with Apple’s touch-sensitive control list, and this is true for the latest model; instead, it uses a traditional function key row with a Touch ID button on the right side. On the other hand, the MacBook Pro sticks to the touch bar, even though it may not be much longer. Rumors suggest that Apple ditched it and replacing it with function keys immediately later this year.

Both Air and Pro offer Thunderbolt 3 compatible USB-C ports which also work USB 4. These ports perform a wide variety of tasks, including downloading and high-speed data transfer. In the air, you only see two on the left, which means you have to buy a USB-C hub if you need an extra connection. The situation is the same with the MacBook Pro 13 – provided you purchase the M1 version. Apple still sells two models of MacBook Pro 13 with Intel chips, both with four USB-C ports. However, we don’t recommend them – it’s better to get a much more powerful M1 model and buy an expansion center for more ports than to buy an older, slower Intel version to get just two USB-C slots. As we will see in the next section, the excellent performance of the M1 chip is worth the port trade.

Both laptops have 720p webcams, stereo speakers and a 3.5mm headphone jack. If sound is especially important, the MacBook Pro speakers are great – in fact, we found them a pleasure to listen to and much better than the scarce supply of most other laptops.

Presentation

Here things get really interesting. Both the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro 13 have graduated from Intel processors and now use Apple’s own internal chip, called the M1. It is based on the ARM architecture, which means it is much more energy efficient than competing chips. We’re not just talking about small power savings here – it’s so efficient that the MacBook Air doesn’t even need a fan, which means it’s completely quiet.

The M1 is not just a great chip that is only suitable for performing simple tasks and applications. No, this thing definitely flies despite its low power consumption. Its eight-core CPU – four high-performance cores and four high-performance cores – and a seven- or eight-core GPU (depending on the model) can handle almost anything you throw at them. Apple has managed to achieve something quite significant here.

So what numbers are we talking about? Well, on the Geenekch 5, really the M1 MacBook Air better M1 MacBook Pro, scoring 1727 single-core and 7585 multi-core with the Pro 1707 and 7337. Remember, there is no fans, and even then the laptop hardly warms up. Both of these points are much higher than the best Tiger Lake processor Intel can offer, and the i7-1185G7 lags behind the 1593 and 5,904 in the same tests.

“But synthetic benchmarks can only tell us so much,” we hear you say, and you’d be right. The good news, though, is that Apple’s M1 chip works just as well in actual use. In HandBrake 1.4.0 beta – a video encoding software version optimized for M1 chips – the MacBook Air encoded a 420MB file into H.265 in two minutes, 48 ​​seconds, compared to Intel’s tenth song in about four minutes, 30 seconds. – generation Core i5 processor. The MacBook Pro did the same HandBrake test in two minutes, 36 seconds.

Neither laptop is really a gaming machine – they’re meant for productivity – but you can get by with the Apple M1 chip and its integrated graphics. In the air, we hit 33 frames per second (fps) in Fortnite using high graphics and a resolution of 1,680 x 1,050 Civilization VI hit 51 frames per second with the same resolution and medium-sized graphics. On the MacBook Pro, we saw 60 frames per second Fortnite using intermediate settings. Neither laptop was even a little hot, so while they don’t break the game results, they can gently control gaming comfortably without sweating.

However, performance is more than just CPU and GPU memory matters. Here, too, Apple laptops work admirably thanks to the architecture they use this time. In the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, the CPU, GPU, and memory are not separate. Instead, they are all located together within a single chip (known as a system on a chip or SoC). Such closeness to each other means that they can use something called a unified memory architecture. Instead of sending instructions from the CPU to the GPU and switching between a separate memory bank for each component, memory memory is shared. As we learned when we asked the developers creating applications on Apple’s M1 chip, this allows applications to operate with far fewer obstacles. Both the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro use this combined memory architecture, which means they both benefit from what it brings to the desktop.

And it cuts the core between the Air and the Pro. Because both use the same chip, there are remarkably few differences in performance between them. In some cases, Air transcends Pro (something we’ve never thought to say before), while sometimes Pro comes up. The differences are small. Given the lower price of the Air and the complete lack of a fan, we think it’s a better choice if you’re looking for pure performance.

Portability

MacBook Air M1
Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

The MacBook Pro is 0.61 inches thick and 11.97 inches wide, while the MacBook Air is 0.16 to 0.63 inches and 11.97 inches wide. It makes the MacBook Air (well) a little thicker than the MacBook Pro, but it’s lighter at 2.8 pounds compared to the MacBook Pro’s 3.0 pounds. Honestly, you don’t know the difference between the two unless you cut a tape measure or scale. If anything, the only defining visual difference between the two is the Air’s extra golden color and its absence from the touchbar.

Another key part of evaluating laptop portability is battery life. Remember how we said Apple’s M1 chip was incredibly energy efficient? This not only means that it almost never heats up – it also results in considerable battery life. When the pre-M1 MacBook Pro got about 6-7 hours of juice and the Air an average of nine to 10 hours, the M1 models dropped those numbers from the park.

In our review, The M1 MacBook Pro succeeded in 16 hours of light web browsing and honestly ridiculous 21 hours of video playback testing. MacBook air lasted a staggering 15.5 and 18.5 hours in each test, respectively. If Apple previously offered anemic battery life on its laptops, it will now set the bar for other manufacturers.

Remember, Apple does this with a power-hungry high-resolution display and chip that definitely chews on all the tasks you throw. Neither the Air nor the Pro are weak machines with low-resolution displays, which makes their incredible battery life particularly noteworthy.

The MacBook Air is the best option

MacBook Air M1
Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

Now that both MacBook air and MacBook Pro using the same M1 chip, picking between them is even more difficult than before, and in some ways it is due to secondary considerations. Whatever you choose, the built-in M1 chip means you get top-class performance and incredible battery life. After many years of absence, Apple has established itself in the world of laptops.

So what are the main differences – and which Apple laptop should you choose? If you’re a graphic designer, photographer, or someone else who values ​​using a color-accurate display, the MacBook Pro is the right choice. Its higher brightness class and better color accuracy with respect to AdobeRGB can affect all your work. While the MacBook Air’s display is typically excellent, it doesn’t hit the same heights as the MacBook Pro.

The Touch Bar issue comes to your liking. While the touchbar has never actually reaped its potential, it has a place (and can be greatly improved in a convenient way Touch Bar Apps). If you worry about accidentally moving it, or just want physical function keys, the MacBook Air is the best option.

In some areas, however, the MacBook Air is a clear winner. Its fanless design keeps it completely quiet in all functions, which is perfect if you find that you’re bothered by the buzzing fans that activate at the slightest hint of taxable workload. Still, despite the lack of fans, the Air stays with the Pro in terms of performance and even manages to pull forward in many cases. This gives it a significant advantage over the MacBook Pro.

And then there is the price. The M1 MacBook Pro is priced at $ 1299, but the MacBook Air is a full $ 300 less, starting at $ 999. Industry-best fanless laptop for $ 300 less than a Pro sibling without a clear loss of performance? We take the MacBook Air every time, and we think you should too.

MacBook air:

MacBook Pro:

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