MacBook Air vs. MacBook Professional: New M1 Fashions, In contrast


Each the MacBook Air and the MacBook Professional 13 have moved to Apple’s highly effective M1 chip — so the query is which one must you get? Though they each boast Retina shows and even fall in an identical worth vary, there are some vital variations in specs and options that differentiate the 2 units. There’s even a 16-inch MacBook Professional in the event you’re in search of a bigger, top-end mannequin — though it nonetheless runs on older Intel processors. If you wish to discover out what could possibly be coming subsequent within the MacBook world, we’ve got all the newest MacBook Professional rumors to get you up to the mark.

MacBook Air:

MacBook Professional:

On this information, we pit the MacBook Air towards the 13-inch MacBook Professional to see which is greatest. Desirous about shopping for both of those MacBooks? Take a look at our information to the newest MacBook offers on Apple’s flagship units.


Each the MacBook Professional 13 and the MacBook Air 13 look very comparable at first look. Each boast stylish all-aluminum finishes, with silver and area grey coloration choices for every (the MacBook Air additionally has a gold choice). Apart from that, the principle design differentiator is the Contact Bar — extra on that later.

You’re going to get a Retina show with 2560 x 1600 decision and 227 pixels per inch no matter which mannequin you select. Apple makes among the greatest laptop computer shows within the enterprise, so you can be getting an important display screen irrespective of which laptop computer you choose, however there are key variations to pay attention to when it comes to brightness and coloration gamut. Whereas our testing confirmed the MacBook Professional topping out at 485 nits of brightness, the MacBook Air solely managed 389 nits. The MacBook Professional additionally performs higher on the subject of coloration accuracy, with its 91% AdobeRGB in comparison with the MacBook Air’s 79%. Which means if getting a vivid, color-accurate show is necessary to you and your work, the MacBook Professional is the higher alternative. For everybody else, the MacBook Air will do exactly positive.

Whereas the system’s shows mark a separation level, you’re going to get the identical keyboard with both. And there’s no want to fret about shallow key presses and sticky keys — each the MacBook Air and MacBook Professional 13 now include Apple’s Magic Keyboard fairly than the divisive butterfly keyboard. Now we have discovered the Magic Keyboard to be snug and constant, and way more like the favored Apple keyboards of outdated. Each laptops additionally include Apple’s outsized trackpad, which supplies loads of room for MacOS gestures. It’s the greatest trackpad you’ll discover on any laptop computer, Apple or in any other case.

As talked about earlier, there’s one key distinction between the MacBook Air and MacBook Professional 13 that’s instantly noticeable: The Contact Bar (or lack thereof). The MacBook Air has by no means include Apple’s touch-sensitive management strip, and that continues to be the case with the newest mannequin; it as a substitute makes use of the normal row of perform keys, with a Contact ID button on the right-hand finish. The MacBook Professional, alternatively, is sticking with the Contact Bar, though that might not be the case for for much longer. Rumors level to Apple ditching it and changing it with perform keys as quickly as later this 12 months.

Each the Air and the Professional provide Thunderbolt 3-compatible USB-C ports that additionally work with USB 4. These ports accomplish all kinds of duties, together with charging and high-speed knowledge switch. On the Air, you’ll see solely two on the left aspect, that means you’ll must buy a USB-C hub in the event you want added connectivity. The scenario is similar with the MacBook Professional 13 — supplied you purchase the M1 model. Apple continues to be promoting two MacBook Professional 13 fashions with Intel chips, and each of those include 4 USB-C ports. We’d not advocate them, although — it’s higher to get a way more performant M1 mannequin and purchase an enlargement hub for extra ports than to purchase an older, slower Intel model simply to get two extra USB-C slots. As we are going to see within the subsequent part, the excellent efficiency of the M1 chip is definitely worth the port trade-off.

Each laptops have 720p webcams, stereo audio system, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. If sound is especially necessary, the MacBook Professional’s audio system excel — actually, we discovered they have been a pleasure to take heed to and a lot better than most different laptops’ meager choices.


That is the place issues get actually fascinating. Each the MacBook Air and the MacBook Professional 13 have graduated from Intel processors and now use Apple’s personal in-house chip, dubbed the M1. It’s primarily based on the ARM structure, which implies it’s way more energy-efficient than competing chips. We’re not simply speaking a small energy financial savings right here — it’s so environment friendly that the MacBook Air doesn’t even want a fan, that means it’s fully silent.

The M1 is not only some puny chip solely good for operating the best of duties and apps. No, this factor completely flies regardless of its tiny energy consumption. Its eight-core CPU — 4 high-performance cores and 4 high-efficiency cores — and seven- or eight-core GPU (relying on the mannequin) can deal with virtually something you throw at them. Apple has managed to realize one thing fairly exceptional right here.

So, what sort of numbers are we speaking about? Nicely, in Geekbench 5, the M1 MacBook Air really outperformed the M1 MacBook Professional, scoring 1,727 in single-core and seven,585 in multi-core to the Professional’s 1,707 and seven,337, respectively. Keep in mind, that’s with out any followers, and even then the laptop computer barely received heat. Each of these scores are far greater than the perfect Tiger Lake processor Intel can provide, with the i7-1185G7 lagging manner behind with 1,593 and 5,904 in the identical checks.

“However artificial benchmarks can solely inform us a lot,” we hear you say, and you’ll be appropriate. The excellent news, although, is that Apple’s M1 chip performs simply as effectively in real-world utilization. Within the HandBrake 1.4.0 beta — a model of the video-encoding software program optimized for M1 chips — the MacBook Air encoded a 420MB file to H.265 in two minutes, 48 seconds, in comparison with the roughly 4 minutes, 30 secondsforf Intel’s Tenth-generation Core i5 processor. The MacBook Professional did the identical HandBrake check in two minutes, 36 seconds.

Neither laptop computer is basically a lot of a gaming machine — they’re meant for productiveness — however you will get by with Apple’s M1 chip and its built-in graphics. On the Air, we hit 33 frames per second (fps) in Fortnite utilizing excessive graphics and a 1,680 x 1,050 decision, whereas Civilization VI hit 51 fps on the identical decision and medium graphics. On the MacBook Professional, we noticed 60 fps in Fortnite utilizing medium settings. Neither laptop computer received even barely sizzling, so whereas they won’t break any gaming efficiency information, they’ll comfortably handle mild gaming with out breaking a sweat.

Efficiency is about extra than simply the CPU and GPU, although — reminiscence issues too. Right here, too, Apple’s laptops carry out admirably, this time because of the structure they use. Within the MacBook Air and MacBook Professional, the CPU, GPU, and reminiscence are usually not separate. As a substitute, they’re all housed collectively inside a single chip (referred to as a system-on-a-chip, or SoC). Being in such shut proximity to one another means they’ll make use of one thing known as a Unified Reminiscence Structure. As a substitute of sending directions from the CPU to the GPU and switching between every element’s separate reminiscence financial institution, there’s a shared reminiscence retailer. As we came upon once we quizzed builders about making apps for Apple’s M1 chip, this permits apps to run with far fewer hurdles. Each the MacBook Air and MacBook Professional use this Unified Reminiscence Structure, that means they each profit from what it brings to the desk.

And that cuts to the core of choosing between the Air and the Professional. As a result of they each use the identical chip, there are remarkably few variations between them on the subject of efficiency. In some circumstances, the Air outperforms the Professional (one thing we by no means beforehand thought we might say), whereas different instances the Professional comes out on prime. The variations are minimal. Given the Air’s cheaper price and full lack of a fan, although, we predict it’s the more sensible choice if you’re wanting purely at efficiency.


Macbook Air M1
Mark Coppock/Digital Tendencies

The MacBook Professional is available in at 0.61 inches thick and 11.97 inches vast, whereas the MacBook Air is 0.16 to 0.63 inches thick and 11.97 inches vast. That makes the MacBook Air (very) barely thicker than the MacBook Professional, but it surely’s lighter at 2.8 kilos versus the MacBook Professional’s 3.0 kilos. Truthfully, you received’t know the distinction between the 2 except you get away the measuring tape or scale. If something, the one defining visible distinction between the 2 is the Air’s extra gold coloration and its lack of a Contact Bar.

The opposite key element when assessing laptop computer portability is battery life. Keep in mind how we stated Apple’s M1 chip is extremely energy environment friendly? That doesn’t simply imply it virtually by no means heats up — it additionally ends in exceptional battery life. Whereas the pre-M1 MacBook Professional received round six to seven hours of juice and the Air received about 9 to 10 hours in common use, the M1 fashions knock these figures out of the park.

In our overview, the M1 MacBook Professional managed 16 hours of sunshine net shopping and a frankly ridiculous 21 hours in our video-playback check. The MacBook Air lasted a equally whopping 15.5 and 18.5 hours in every check, respectively. The place Apple used to supply anemic battery life in its laptops, it’s now setting the bar for different producers.

Keep in mind Apple is doing this with a power-hungry high-resolution show and a chip that completely chews up any job you throw its manner. Neither the Air nor the Professional are weak machines with low-resolution screens, making their unbelievable battery life all of the extra noteworthy.

The MacBook Air is the best choice

Macbook Air M1
Mark Coppock/Digital Tendencies

Now that each the MacBook Air and MacBook Professional use the identical M1 chip, choosing between them is even tougher than it was earlier than, and in some methods comes right down to secondary issues. Whichever you select, the onboard M1 chip means you’re going to get class-leading efficiency and unbelievable battery life. After a few years of absence, Apple has reestablished itself on the forefront of the laptop computer world.

What are the important thing variations, then — and which Apple laptop computer must you choose? If you’re a graphic designer, photographer, or anybody else who locations excessive significance on having a color-accurate display screen at their disposal, the MacBook Professional is the one to go for. Its greater brightness ranking and higher coloration accuracy on the subject of AdobeRGB might make all of the distinction in your work. Whereas the MacBook Air’s show is usually glorious, it doesn’t hit the identical heights because the MacBook Professional.

The Contact Bar query will come right down to your private style. Whereas the Contact Bar has by no means actually lived as much as its potential, it does have a spot (and will be a lot improved with some useful Contact Bar apps). Should you fear you’ll by chance nudge it or just favor bodily perform keys, the MacBook Air is your greatest guess.

In some areas, although, the MacBook Air is the clear winner. Its fanless design retains it fully silent in all operations, which is ideal if you end up irritated by whirring followers that activate on the slightest trace of a taxing workload. But regardless of this lack of followers, the Air retains up with the Professional when it comes to efficiency, and even manages to drag forward in lots of circumstances. That offers it a serious benefit over the MacBook Professional.

After which there’s the worth. The M1 MacBook Professional begins at $1,299, however the MacBook Air is a full $300 much less, beginning at $999. Trade-beating efficiency in a fanless laptop computer for $300 lower than its Professional sibling with no discernible loss in efficiency? We’d take the MacBook Air each time, and we predict it’s best to, too.

MacBook Air:

MacBook Professional:

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