You’re planning on buying a new Mac laptop. So you head over to your local Apple store, or you peruse the pages of Apple’s website, and you find yourself with money to spend but no idea on which MacBook to buy.
Don’t worry! That’s why we’re here. In this guide, we’ll go over Apple’s current MacBook lineup, point out their differences and similarities, and provide you with the information you need to pick the right MacBook for you.
Longtime Mac users may remember when the MacBook Air made its debut years ago as Apple’s entry into the ultra-portable laptop market. But times have changed, and starting in 2015, the MacBook was repositioned as Apple’s affordable laptop.
What are the prices for the MacBook Air? With a $999 model, the MacBook Air is Apple’s most affordable laptop. If you decide to customize the features set, the price will change.
What are the $999 MacBook Air specifications?
Apple M1 System on a Chip with an 8-core CPU (4 performance cores and 4 efficiency cores), 16-core Neural Engine
8GB of unified memory
256GB SSD storage
7-core Graphics Processing Unit
13.3-inch LED-backlit Retina display with a 2560×1600 resolution
Two Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports
Weighs 2.75 pounds
What is it good for? The MacBook Air can easily handle typical tasks, like internet access, writing, spreadsheets, presentations, and other productivity-related jobs. It also has enough processing punch for using Apple Photos to edit and manage your pictures or to create short YouTube videos in iMovie. It has the power to handle high-end work with pro apps, but because of its design, it may need to throttle down its CPU speed in order to maintain a proper temperature.
Okay, we know, we just got done talking about how the MacBook Air was originally released as Apple’s lightweight solution, and how it was repositioned as the company’s affordable laptop. Here’s the thing: it’s also Apple’s smallest laptop, able to fit in most backpacks, briefcases, satchels, and bags. And it’s a tad lighter than the 13-inch MacBook Pro while being about the same size.
How big is it? Here are the specifics of the MacBook Air compared to the 13-inch MacBook Pro.
13-inch MacBook Pro
0.16 to 0.63 inch
Why pick the MacBook Pro instead: If you want more processing power, go with the 13-inch MacBook Pro. The $1,299 and $1,499 13-inch MacBook Pro have the same 8-core Apple M1 System on a Chip, but its design lends it to better handle the heat generated while doing more intensive tasks that are often performed in pro apps.
What is it good for? If you have a heavy workload, the MacBook Pro has the power to handle it, no sweat. Video production, graphics and animation, serious data crunching—you name it, the MacBook Pro is built for it. The MacBook Pro isn’t as powerful as a desktop computer, but it is strong enough to serve as your only computer.
All this processing prowess comes at a price—the MacBook Pro is Apple’s priciest laptop. And it’s also its heaviest, with the 16-inch models pushing just past 4 pounds. That may not sound like a lot, but imagine yourself on the road, meeting with people, working remotely. The weight wears on you as the day goes on.
Save some money and buy refurbished: Apple’s Refurbished and Clearance online store has a few MacBook Pro models for sale. While not brand new, these gently-used laptops have been refurbished to Apple’s strict guidelines and are like new. Plus, you can save some money. The inventory fluctuates a lot, however, and it’s possible that you wil only find older models.
Macworld’s buying advice: Picking a MacBook Pro is a little complicated, not just because of the size differences, but the differences between the features offered within each size category.
The 16-inch $2,799 MacBook Pro is the laptop with all the bells and whistles. It’s the one for the most demanding users, who will like the hefty discrete graphics card.
Because the new MacBook Pros rely on Thunderbolt 3, you’re going to need to stock up of adapters to connect items like an external display, hard drive, and more. We have a MacBook Pro Thunderbolt 3 adapter guide to help you find the ones you need.
As for the 13-inch MacBook Pro, the $1,299 and $1,499 models use the Apple M1 System on a Chip and offer tremendous processing power when using native software. You can check this list to see if the software you use has native versions available, or you can also check with the developer. Eventually, all of Apple’s Macs will ditch Intel processors and use Apple silicon. The $1,799 and $1,999 models still use Intel processors that have plenty of power.
Why should you choose the $1,299 or $1,499 13-inch MacBook Pro over the MacBook Air? The MacBook Pro’s screen is a little brighter, it supports the wide color P3 color gamut, and the Pro has better speakers. If these features don’t seem necessary for you, consider the MacBook Air.
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