MacBook Professional vs. Air: Which Apple laptop computer is for you?


Deciding between the MacBook Air and the MacBook Professional was easy: get the Air when you want one thing fundamental; get the Professional when you want a number of energy for video modifying or 3D rendering. Nonetheless, now that Apple’s highly effective M1 chip has made the MacBook Air a reliable beast — and with a complete of three MacBook Professional fashions to select from — discovering the suitable Apple laptop computer for you isn’t fairly as straightforward lately.

Thankfully, we’re right here to assist. We’re breaking down Apple’s complete present lineup of MacBooks and who they’re for, from the svelte however speedy Air to absolutely the monster that’s the new 16-inch MacBook Professional.

Jacob Krol/CNN

You need the most cost effective and slimmest MacBook

MacBooks aren’t precisely low-cost, however the MacBook Air is the best way to go when you’re seeking to spend as little cash as doable. Apple’s entry-level MacBook begins at $999, and we’ve seen it dip a number of hundred bucks beneath that in massive gross sales. As its title suggests, it’s nonetheless essentially the most transportable and sleekest MacBook 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 MacBook that is available in gold, if that’s your factor.

You need a number of energy for on a regular basis duties — and a bit of professional quality work

Regardless of its comparatively low worth and small body, the most recent MacBook Air nonetheless delivers a number of the finest efficiency you’ll discover in a mainstream laptop computer. Due to the M1 chip inside, Apple’s most inexpensive pocket book was nonetheless in a position to juggle tons of apps with ease and export high-quality video in seconds, and it ran circles round many comparable Home windows laptops in our efficiency exams.

You need a quiet laptop computer

The MacBook Air is the one MacBook within the present lineup with no fan inside, which means it doesn’t run the danger of sounding like a jet engine when it’s below a heavy workload. The Air stayed silent for us whilst we exported heavy 4K recordsdata and had 20 totally different apps open — and it didn’t get excessively sizzling both.

Key specs

  • Beginning worth: $999
  • Show: 13.3 inches at 2560 x 1600
  • Processor: Apple M1 (7-core or 8-core CPU, 8-core GPU)
  • Reminiscence: 8GB / 16GB
  • Storage: 256GB / 512GB / 1TB / 2TB
  • Ports: 2 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 Professional has the identical processor because the Air however with a further graphics processing unit (GPU) core that provides it a bit extra muscle for visually intensive duties. It additionally has a fan inbuilt, which means it may let the processor work a little bit tougher when the laptop computer is being pushed to the max throughout a heavy video export or massive 3D render.

There’s undoubtedly a distinction between the 2 — in our testing, the Professional rendered 8K video recordsdata 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 Professional, 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 affordable beginning worth of $1,299.

You care in regards to the Contact Bar (for some cause)

In case you insist on having a MacBook with Apple’s extremely polarizing Contact Bar, the 13-inch MacBook Professional is the one present Mac to function one. The Contact Bar ditches the standard row of bodily operate keys in favor of a touch-sensitive floor that may supply contextual controls primarily based on what you’re doing. For instance, it’ll allow you to simply swipe via a protracted timeline in Last Minimize Professional, and may supply predictive textual content if you’re typing up an electronic mail or textual content message. We’re not enormous followers of the Contact Bar, but it surely definitely has its makes use of for artistic sorts. So if you need a bit extra contextual management for sure apps, that is the Mac to get.

You need a MacBook Professional with no notch

The 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Execs function greater and sharper screens with thinner bezels, however that every one comes on the expense of a notch the place the webcam sits. This gained’t essentially be a deal breaker for everyone, however if you need a MacBook Professional with a extra even display screen, the 13-inch is your finest guess. And whereas it doesn’t have the extra superior Liquid Retina XDR show of its pricier siblings, the 13-inch MacBook Professional’s 2560 x 1600 display screen was nonetheless a magnificence to have a look at in our testing.

Key specs

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


You need essentially the most highly effective MacBook on the market — and are prepared to pay for it

The M1-powered MacBook Air and Professional already supply a number of the finest efficiency we’ve ever seen from a laptop computer, however the brand new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Execs appear like they might blow even these out of the water. That’s as a result of they pack your selection of Apple’s new M1 Professional or M1 Max chip, that are designed for essentially the most hardcore of energy customers and true artistic professionals.

Apple says that M1 Professional 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 may pump out twice the graphics efficiency of M1 Professional and as a lot as 4 occasions that of the bottom M1. The 16-inch mannequin particularly can be 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 every one nets out in real-world use, however these numbers counsel that the higher-end MacBook Execs are Apple’s finest in relation to demanding video rendering and 3D graphics.

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

You need a number of ports

If you would like to have the ability to hook up with a number of equipment and screens out of the field, the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Execs are the best way 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 recordsdata out of your digital camera and a MagSafe charging port. You additionally get a headphone jack that helps excessive impedance headphones for music producers and audiophiles.

By comparability, the MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Professional supply solely a measly two Thunderbolt 4 ports every, one among which will probably be taken up whereas your laptop computer is charging. So when you’d fairly keep away from utilizing a USB-C dongle, the higher-end MacBook Execs are for you.

You need one of the best show on a Mac

The brand new MacBook Execs aren’t simply extra highly effective than earlier than; additionally they have the largest, sharpest and most fluid shows of any Mac. We’ll have our last verdict on these screens as soon as we’ve examined them, however on paper, they’re trying like the best choice for people who want a number of actual property and as a lot colour and element as doable.

The brand 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 greater and sharper than the 13.3-inch, 2560 x 1600 panel you’ll discover on the most recent 13-inch Professional. The newest MacBook Execs use the identical Liquid Retina XDR know-how as the most recent iPad Execs, which actually wowed us with their robust brightness, distinction and element.

They’re additionally the primary MacBook screens to function a refresh price of as much as 120Hz, which successfully implies that doing issues like scrolling via webpages and watching high-frame-rate video will look twice as clean in comparison with different MacBooks. We’ve seen a giant distinction when utilizing 120Hz shows on laptops and tablets telephones (together with the iPad Professional and iPhone 13 Professional), so we’re desperate to see how they maintain up on the brand new MacBook Execs.

You need one of the best webcam on a Mac

The 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Execs additionally bump the webcam decision as much as 1080p in comparison with 720p on the opposite two fashions, which ought to permit 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 Execs will seemingly supply a noticeable improve in relation to capturing effective particulars and true-to-life pores and skin tones. Sadly, there’s nonetheless no Face ID for hands-free logins, and no Middle Stage assist for having the digital camera routinely hold you in body whilst you transfer — these are each nonetheless unique to iPad. Nonetheless, if you couple the higher digital camera with the six-speaker setup on the higher-end Execs, you possibly can be taking a look at one of the best MacBooks for video calls and content material creation.

Key specs

  • Beginning worth: $1,999 (14-inch); $2,499 (16-inch)
  • Show: 14.2 inches at 3024 x 1964 (14-inch); 16.2 inches at 3456 x 2234 (16-inch)
  • Processor: Apple M1 Professional or Apple M1 Max
  • Reminiscence: 16GB / 32GB / 64GB (M1 Max solely)
  • Storage: 512GB / 1TB / 2TB / 4TB / 8TB
  • Ports: 3 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)


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