MacBook Air vs. MacBook Pro: Which Mac should you buy in 2022?

MacBook Air vs. MacBook Pro: Which Mac should y’all buy in 2022?

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Apple’s laptops are now comprised of a 13-inch MacBook Air and 3 flavors of MacBook Pro: thirteen inches, 14 inches and 16 inches. It can be tough deciding which MacBook to buy, especially since Apple offers some models with M1 chips and others with M1 Pro or M1 Max processors.

That’s where our MacBook Air vs. MacBook Pro guide comes in. Between the MacBook Air, the 13-inch MacBook Pro, the 14-inch MacBook Pro and the 16-inch MacBook Pro, we’ll help you determine which laptop is worth your money by comparison price, features, operation, battery life and more. Past the end of this guide, you should know exactly which laptop to spend your hard-earned coin on — or whether you should await for the side by side version to arrive.

If yous desire to get accustomed to life with a MacBook before ownership one, bank check out our review of macOS Big Sur along with how to improve your Mac’s security and privacy. Not sure you desire to go with a Mac? Consider giving our best laptops rankings a look to run across all the other excellent options available in the market. Plus, there’south too the Mac mini with M1 as a laudable selection.

Which MacBook is best?

It’southward a fantastic fourth dimension to be shopping for a MacBook now that Apple has completed its transition from Intel CPUs to custom Apple Silicon chips. Now the MacBook Air and all three MacBook Pro models come up with Chiliad-series processors designed correct in Cupertino.

So far, they deliver scenic functioning and record-setting battery life. The M1 fleck in the MacBook Air and xiii-inch MacBook Pro brings unrivaled performance and endurance to these ultra-portable machines, making them the laptops to beat in their respective categories. Non to mention they support iOS and iPadOS apps, and in the instance of the MacBook Air, don’t even demand a fan to stay cool.

Then in that location is the new 14-inch MacBook Pro and 16-inch MacBook Pro, which come up with either an M1 Pro an M1 Max bit. We got our easily on the M1 Pro flake and are blown abroad past its bonkers CPU and GPU performance, like lxx% faster operation than the M1 and up to 2x faster GPU speeds. And that’s just for the M1 Pro, not the more than powerful M1 Max.

MacBook Air vs. MacBook Pro: Specs compared

All-time for Well-nigh Most Speed for $ For power users For power users who need a big screen
MacBook Air MacBook Pro 13 (Entry Level) MacBook Pro 14-inch MacBook Pro 16-inch
Price $999 $ane,299 $1,999 (starting) $two,499
CPU M1 M1 M1 Pro or M1 Max M1 Pro or M1 Max
RAM Up to 16GB upward to 16GB Upwardly to 64GB up to 64GB
Display thirteen.3 inches (2560 x 1600) 13.iii inches (2560 x 1600) 14.2 inches (3024 10 1964), 120Hz sixteen.2 inches (3456 x 2234), 120Hz
Ports two Thunderbolt iii, headphone ii Thunderbolt 3, headphone 3 Thunderbolt four, HDMI, SDXC card, headphone 4 Thunderbolt iii, headphone
Graphics M1 M1 M1 Pro or M1 Max M1 Pro or M1 Max
Storage upward to 2TB up to 2TB Upwards to 8TB up to 8TB
Bombardment Life (hrs) 14:41 (tested) xvi:32 (tested) 14:08 (tested) 21 hours (rated)
Security Touch ID Touch ID Affect ID Bear on ID
Size 12 10 8.iv x inches 12 x 8.iv x 0.6 inches 12.3 ten x 0.6 inches xiv x 9.8 x 0.66 inches
Weight two.8 pounds iii.1 pounds three.5 pounds pounds
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MacBook Air (M1, 2020): All-time for nigh people

Pros:The new MacBook Air delivers nearly everything y’all could want in an Apple tree laptop thanks to its M1 chip, which enables record-setting performance and battery life. Specifically, the MacBook Air lasted for 14 hours and 41 minutes on our bombardment test, making it 1 of the longest-lasting laptops effectually.

Our MacBook Air with 16GB of RAM scored a resounding 5,962 on the Geekbench 5.ii overall operation test, crushing the XPS thirteen (v,319, Core i7-1165G7) with an 11th Gen (Tiger lake) Intel Core. The Surface Laptop 3 (four,791) with 10th Gen Intel chips dropped further behind, but still topped the category average (4,178).

And, of course, the MacBook Air has the Magic Keyboard, which is far more comfortable and reliable than the previous Butterfly keyboard. We compared these 2 keyboards side-by-side and unanimously voted in favor of the new version due to its bouncier keys and improved layout.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

The screen is sharp, too, with a 2560 ten 1600-pixel resolution. The latest version of the Air supports the P3 color range for punchier tones and True Tone, which adjusts the color temperature on the display based on ambient lighting conditions.

Another characteristic is Bear upon ID, which makes information technology piece of cake to unlock the organisation, make secure payments, and supercede passwords. The new MacBook Air’s 720p webcam besides got a minor upgrade thanks to the M1 chip, and the organisation supports iOS and iPadOS apps at present, although few are optimized for laptops.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

The MacBook Air, at 12 x 8.4 x inches and 2.8 pounds, is larger than the Dell XPS 13 (11.half dozen 10 vii.8 x 0.6 inches, 2.8 pounds), but more compact than the thirteen.v-inch Microsoft Surface Laptop three (12.1 x eight.8 x 0.6 inches, two.9 pounds).

Cons:Two USB-C ports aren’t enough for virtually people and then be ready to use a dongle. Besides, the MacBook Air isn’t the most compact or lightest 13-inch laptop, and the display bezels are as well mesomorphic for 2021. The laptop also lacks an IR camera (for facial recognition login)) and USB Type-A ports and so those legacy devices will need an adapter.

Come across our full

MacBook Air (M1, 2020) review

MacBook Pro (xiii-inch): Best for ability users on a budget

The 13-inch MacBook Pro crams a lot of ability into a slim and lightweight (3 pounds) chassis with its new M1 flake — and information technology even has a good keyboard. Yeah, the thirteen-inch MacBook Pro gets the same M1 chip as the MacBook Air simply this powerful machine can run demanding tasks for longer considering it has a fan inside for keeping things absurd.

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Looking at the numbers, the MacBook Pro accomplished v,882 on the Geekbench v examination, surpassing the 4,215 premium laptop average. The XPS 13 came the closest to matching the MacBook while the Asus ZenBook and HP Spectre x360 thirteen weren’t anywhere near as powerful.

This machine is only a bit heavier than the MacBook Air, just you lot become the same M1 processor and longer bombardment life. I want to emphasize that battery life: the MacBook Pro lasted for 16 hours and 32 minutes
on our test. That’s only…well, ridiculous, and it puts the MacBook Pro in a unlike league than its competitors.

(Image credit: Hereafter)

Apple brought the Touch Bar to the MacBook Pro, likewise equally a Impact ID sensor. The 13-inch MacBook Pro likewise offers an improved 720p webcam, a ridiculously fast SSD and a sleek design. What more can you ask for?

Cons: Unfortunately, the base model MacBook Pro has but two Thunderbolt 3 ports versus four ports on the pricier MacBook Pro thirteen-inch. Oh, and it’s time for Apple to go rid of those cruddy display bezels.

See our full

13-inch MacBook Pro (M1, 2020) review

MacBook Pro (14-inch): Best for creative pros needing portability

If yous’re willing to spend $1,999, the 14-inch MacBook Pro is a practically perfect option, if not the all-time laptop, on the market. The M1 Pro and M1 Max processors Apple revealed hope to be the fastest, well-nigh power-efficient chips ever built for portable computing, and we tin can confirm the M1 Pro fits that description. The center child in Apple’s proprietary line of fries, it has more enough power to outperform some of the most powerful Intel and AMD-powered laptops. And with Apple tree’s commitment to both ability and efficiency, the notebook powers through the nigh grueling tasks with barely a whisper from the fans.

The other performance specs are just as impressive, with the laptop supporting upwards to 32GB of RAM and an 8TB SSD. Battery life is tested at 14 hours and 8 minutes.

Moreover, this redesigned laptop comes with a 14.2-inch, 3024 x 1964-pixel Liquid Retina XDR mini-LED display with a 120Hz refresh rate. This panel is one of the brightest laptop screen ever (at 1,600 nits of peak luminance), and the most bright exterior of OLED panels.

(Image credit: Hereafter)

At 12.3 inches x eight.vii x 0.6 inches and 3.5 pounds, the xiv-inch MacBook Pro remains portable despite the power information technology packs underneath the hood.

Some other nice features include a 1080p webcam, Impact ID, a 6-speaker setup, and a keyboard without a Affect Bar.

Cons: So, what’s wrong with the laptop? Well, there is a notch. Yes, much like the iPhone 13, the MacBook Pro has a cutout at the top center of the display. It isn’t as well distracting, though, because of how much larger the panel is. Also, in that location is no Face up ID despite the size of that cutout. Another unquestionable con with the fourteen-inch MacBook Pro is its $one,999 starting cost, and that’s without a USB-A port. Ouch.

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See our total

MacBook Pro 14 review

MacBook Pro 16-inch: Best for ability users needing a large display

Everything we love nearly the 14-inch MacBook Pro but with a large 16-inch display. It has the same M1 Pro and M1 Max chips forth with up to 64GB of memory and up to an 8TB SSD. Battery life on this model, however, is rated at an outstanding 21 hours (we’ll test that to exist sure).

(Epitome credit: Apple)

Same as the Pro: the 16-inch MacBook Pro is everything nosotros dearest nearly the 14-inch version with a large screen. That means you can score the smaller model at a much lower price without sacrificing anything else besides display size. If yous demand the larger panel, then get this 16-inch MacBook Pro. If you don’t, then it’due south probably won’t be worth the toll trade-off.

Also at 14 ten 9.8 x 0.66 inches and 4.7 pounds, the xvi-inch MacBook Pro is considerably larger than the 14-inch model.

Run across our full

MacBook Pro 16-inch preview

To find out more about how much longer Apple will proceed your MacBook good for you, read our comprehensive

Apple Warranty Check


How we test MacBook laptops

We put MacBooks through all-encompassing benchmark testing — both synthetic and real-world — before they end upwardly in the hands of our reviewers. We evaluate everything from speed and bombardment life to display brightness, speaker volume and organisation heat.

We employ a Klein K10 colorimeter to detect the effulgence and sRGB color gamut of a laptop’southward display. For performance benchmarking, we run the laptop through a gauntlet of benchmarks, including Geekbench 5.0 and 3DMark professional person graphics tests.

To make up one’s mind real-world operation, we task the laptop to convert a 4K video to 1080p resolution and to indistinguishable a 25GB multimedia file. Our existent-world graphics test is the Dirt 3 benchmark with medium settings and 1080p resolution.

We also run heat tests by playing a xv-minute full-screen video and our battery examination consists of continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness. Nosotros consider everything over the category average (8 hours and 36 minutes) to be a good result. Of course, these tests are complemented with hands-on testing from our reviewers.

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Phillip Tracy is the assistant managing editor at Laptop Mag where he reviews laptops, phones and other gadgets while covering the latest industry news. Afterward graduating with a journalism degree from the Academy of Texas at Austin, Phillip became a tech reporter at the Daily Dot. In that location, he wrote reviews for a range of gadgets and covered everything from social media trends to cybersecurity. Prior to that, he wrote for RCR Wireless News covering 5G and IoT. When he’s non tinkering with devices, you can discover Phillip playing video games, reading, traveling or watching soccer.