Wednesday, April 17, 2024

MacBook Air vs MacBook Pro: A Accurate 2024 Buyer’s Guide

MacBook Air has M3 chip, but how does it compare to MacBook Pro? The MacBook Air vs MacBook Pro look alike but are different. Choose between the cheaper 13- or 15-inch MacBook Air and the more costly 14- or 16-inch MacBook Pro, which cost at least $600 more. Choose one of these two popular Apple silicon devices. Guide is helpful.

Design

Despite their flat tops and rounded edges, the MacBook Air vs MacBook Pro feature slight design changes. Despite both MacBooks’ “notch” for the camera, the MacBook Pro has thinner bezels. Black keyboards on high-end MacBook Pros.

The MacBook Air and M3 MacBook Pro versions are available in Silver, Space Gray, Starlight, and Midnight. Select the ‌MacBook Air‌ for a certain style. Space Black only comes in M3 Pro and M3 Max MacBook Pros.

The MacBook Air vs MacBook Pro vary in size. 16-inch MacBook Pro is larger and heavier than 15-inch MacBook Air, whereas 14-inch and 13-inch MacBook Air differ greatly. Even while the 14-inch MacBook Pro has a larger display than the MacBook Air, its larger size, thickness, and weight (0.8 pounds) make it less portable for light travelers.

If you need its additional capabilities, the 14-inch MacBook Pro balances mobility with performance, so its size and weight shouldn’t stop you. If size matters, consider the 13-inch MacBook Air. The 15-inch MacBook Air balances mobility and display.

Plugs and Connectivity

MacBook Air vs MacBook Pro  Ports and Connectivity
Image credit to MacBook

Port choices vary widely across machines. MacBook Air features two Thunderbolt ports, M3 MacBook Pro offers HDMI 2.1 and SDXC card slots. The MacBook Pro M3 Pro or M3 Max has three Thunderbolt 4 ports, HDMI 2.1, and SDXC card slot. The 3.5mm headphone jack on both laptops supports high-impedance headphones.

For professionals who use SDXC cards from digital cameras or USB devices, the MacBook Pro provides more physical connections.

Display Size

MacBook Air’s 13.6-inch display is smaller than the 14.2 and 16.2 MacBook Pros. Most buyers should be satisfied with 13.6 inches, which is bigger than the largest iPad Pro (12.9 inches) and previous MacBook Air vs MacBook Pro models. 14.2-inch MacBook Pros provide high-end consumers more screen area.

Ideal desktop alternatives, the 15.3-inch MacBook Air and 16.2-inch MacBook Pro provide more screen area for multitasking and professional applications.

Display Tech

These gadgets’ displays vary widely. Apple’s MacBook Air has a Liquid Retina display with thin bezels and rounded corners, including an LCD screen like prior models. Apple’s 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros’ mini-LED Liquid Retina XDR technology enhances blacks, dynamic range, and color accuracy.

HDR content may peak at 1,600 nits on XDR. MacBook Pro 14- and 16-inch Pro Motion panels offer 120Hz refresh rates. Refresh rate is not configurable on the MacBook Air.

High-framerate sports and HDR viewing and editing warrant high-end MacBook Pro versions. The MacBook Air’s display is fine for most users, with others not seeing any difference. The MacBook Pro has improved on-screen movements and deeper blacks.

Chips

MacBook Air vs MacBook Pro Chip
Image Credit to MacBook

The MacBook Air has the M2 or M3 chip, while the MacBook Pro offers the M3, M3 Pro, or M3 Max option. CPU and GPU cores increase in M3 Pro and M3 Max chips. Below are the M2, M3, M3 Pro, and M3 Max Geekbench 5 benchmark results:

The M3 Pro and M3 Max have eight CPU and 30 GPU cores. The M3, M3 Pro, and M3 Max outperform the M2 CPU in the entry-level MacBook Air in single-core activities, but the M3 CPUs, notably the Pro and Max variants, excel at multi-core and graphics tasks.

Experts need powerful CPUs like the M3 Pro and M3 Max with more transistors, CPU cores, and GPU cores. The consumer-oriented M2 and M3 CPUs lower heat and improve battery life with outstanding performance and efficiency.


‌M2‌
M3M3 ProM3 Max
Single-Core2,570–2,6303,0103,1203,120
Multi-Core9,630–9,65011,76314,010–14,41019,160–21,215
Metal (Graphics)41,300–45,55047,43068,330–77,070124,060–157,120

The MacBook Air is passively cooled and has no fan, which may hinder performance compared to the MacBook Pro, which has huge fans to cool and push the CPUs harder.

Only one external display works with the M2 MacBook Air. MacBook Air vs MacBook Pro with this processor can only handle two external monitors with the lid closed due to M3 restrictions, however M3 Pro and M3 Max can support two and four, respectively.

Memory and storage

Up to 24GB of unified memory and 2TB of storage give the MacBook Air enough capacity for most people. The top-spec MacBook Air lacks RAM and storage choices, while the MacBook Pro does.

The M3 Pro and M3 Max processors in the MacBook Pro provide 150GB/s and 400GB/s memory bandwidth, up from 100GB/s in the M2 and M3.

The 256GB MacBook Air has up to 50% slower SSDs than higher storage variants. Base models include one SSD module, while higher-capacity ones have two, speeding up storage.

Microphones and speakers

Though small, the 13-inch MacBook Air offers a strong four-speaker sound system. Six-speaker sound systems with force-cancelling woofers improve music quality on the 15-inch MacBook Air vs MacBook Pro. Apple’s MacBook Pro speaker system is “high-fidelity,” which may assist audio producers and loud music fans.

A three-mic array with focused beamforming makes the MacBook Air excellent for video conversations and voice notes. With its high signal-to-noise ratio and directional beamforming, Apple calls the MacBook Pro’s three-mic array “studio-quality”. The MacBook Pro’s microphones are great for podcasting, but not as good as specialized microphones.

Energy Lasting

Macbook Air has an 18-hour battery life, equivalent to the 14-inch MacBook Pro with M3 Pro or M3 Max CPUs but four hours less than the 16-inch MacBook Pro with M3 chip.

A final thought

Due to its tiny size and excellent functionality, the MacBook Air is suitable for casual users. A school discount or Apple Deals Roundup offer may cut the MacBook Air’s $999 starting price by $100 as compared to the MacBook Pro. The MacBook Pro may not be worth $600 to most buyers. They may appreciate the MacBook Air’s smaller, lighter size and many colors.

The more expensive 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro with M3 Pro and M3 Max CPUs may be better for professionals that require larger and more accurate displays, more ports, more memory and storage, and better speed. For device-dependent creatives and professionals, the high-end MacBook Pros are developed. Advanced users and professionals should utilize these high-end versions. The massive 16-inch MacBook Pro might replace a PC.

Consider the M3 MacBook Pro instead of the $1,299 15-inch MacBook Air. For $200 extra, the M3 MacBook Pro includes a Liquid Retina XDR display with ProMotion, a faster CPU with active cooling, four more hours of battery life, better speakers and microphones, an HDMI port, SDXC card slot, and more. One hundred dollars separates the 15-inch MacBook Air with 512GB of storage and the M3 MacBook Pro. The more powerful computer is typically preferable, unless screen size is your major priority.

MacBook Air vs MacBook Pro Specifications

‌MacBook Air‌MacBook Pro
M2: 13.6-inch display
M3: 13.6- or 15.3-inch display
14.2- or 16.2-inch display
LCD Liquid Retina displayMini-LED Liquid Retina XDR display
60hz refresh rateProMotion for refresh rates up to 120Hz
500 nits brightnessUp to 1,000 nits sustained (full-screen) brightness and 1,600 nits peak brightness
Apple M2 or M3 chipApple M3, M3 Pro, or M3 Max chip
M2: Enhanced 5nm node (N5P) based on A15 Bionic chip from iPhone 13 (2021)
M3: 3nm node (N3B) based on A17 Pro chip from iPhone 15 Pro (2023)
‌3nm‌ node (N3B) based on A17 Pro chip from ‌iPhone 15 Pro‌ (2023)
M2: 3.49 GHz CPU clock speed
M3: 4.05 GHz CPU clock speed
4.05 GHz CPU clock speed
8-core CPU with 4 performance cores and 4 efficiency coresM3: 8-core CPU with 4 performance cores and 4 efficiency cores
M3 Pro: Up to 12-core CPU with 6 performance cores and 6 efficiency cores
M3 Max: Up to 16-core CPU with 12 performance cores and 4 efficiency cores
Up to 10-core GPUM3: 10-core GPU
M3 Pro: Up to 18-core GPU
M3 Max: Up to 40-core GPU
100GB/s memory bandwidthM3: 100GB/s memory bandwidth
M3 Pro: 150GB/s memory bandwidth
M3 Max: 300GB/s or 400GB/s memory bandwidth
8GB, 16GB, or 24GB unified memoryM3: 8GB, 16GB, or 24GB unified memory
M3 Pro: 18GB or 36GB unified memory
M3 Max: 36GB, 48GB, 64GB, 96GB, 128GB unified memory
M3 models only:
New GPU architecture
Dynamic Caching
Hardware-accelerated ray tracing
Hardware-accelerated mesh shading
Support for AV1 decode
New GPU architecture
Dynamic Caching
Hardware-accelerated ray tracing
Hardware-accelerated mesh shading
Support for AV1 decode
M2: Neural Engine
M3: 15% faster Neural Engine
15% faster Neural Engine
256GB, 512GB, 1TB, or 2TB of storageM3: 512GB, 1TB, or 2TB storage
M3 Pro or M3 Max: 512GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TB, or 8TB storage
Passive coolingActive cooling
M2: Wi-Fi 6
M3: Wi-Fi 6E
Wi-Fi 6E
Two Thunderbolt / USB 4 portsM3: Two Thunderbolt / USB 4 (USB-C) ports
M3 Pro or M3 Max: Three Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C) ports
HDMI 2.1 port with support for multichannel audio output
SDXC card slot
13-Inch: Four-speaker sound system
15-Inch: Six-speaker sound system with force-canceling woofers
High-fidelity six-speaker sound system with force-cancelling woofers
Three-mic array with directional beamformingStudio-quality three-mic array with high signal-to-noise ratio and directional beamforming
M2: Support for one external display
M3: Support for up to two external displays when the lid is closed
M3: Support for up to two external displays when the lid is closed
M3 Pro: Support for up to two external displays
M3 Max: Support for up to four external displays
13-Inch: 52.6-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery
15-Inch: 66.5-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery
M3 14-Inch: 70-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery
M3 Pro or M3 Max 14-Inch: 72.4-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery
16-Inch: 100-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery
18-hour battery lifeM3 14-Inch: 22-hour battery life
M3 Pro or M3 Max 14-Inch: 18-hour battery life
16-Inch: 22-hour battery life
30W, 35W, or 67W USB-C Power Adapter67W, 96W, or 140W USB-C Power Adapter
Silver, Space Gray, Starlight, or Midnight color optionsM3: Silver or Space Gray color options
M3 Pro or M3 Max: Silver or Space Black color options
M2 13-Inch: Starts at $999
M3 13-Inch: Starts at $1,099
M3 15-Inch: Starts at $1,299
M3 14-Inch: Starts at $1,599
M3 Pro 14-Inch: Starts at $1,999
M3 Pro 16-Inch: Starts at $2,499
Cheekuru Bhargav
Cheekuru Bhargav
Cheekuru Bhargav has been writing Laptops, RAM and SSD articles for govindhtech from OCT 2023. He was a science graduate. He was an enthusiast of Laptops.
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