MacBook Air vs MacBook Pro: M1 Edition

So similar, yet so different?

Photo by Marten Bjork on Unsplash

The 2020 lineup of MacBooks is a little bit confusing, but without a doubt powerful. With the introduction of the M1 chip and having them available in the MacBook Air and the MacBook Pro, you are getting a fantastic, powerful, capable machine. They both run the same Processor and have the same RAM (unless upgraded on the Apple site) and come in the same storage options.

The M1 version of the MacBook Air and the MacBook Pro are similar in a lot of ways, which begs the question: Why should anyone spend the extra money on the MacBook Pro when they can get similar power in the MacBook Air?

The biggest visual difference between the MacBook Air and Pro is the fact that the MacBook Pro has a Touch Bar, which the Air is missing. The Touch Bar has been a great addition to the Mac since it first came out back in 2016, and I love mine. I believe that it adds a lot of conveniences and extra usage to the device. I wish Apple would release an external magic keyboard that includes the Touch Bar.

Smaller differences between the Air and the Pro is the display is slightly brighter on the Pro with 500 nits of brightness compared to 400 on the Air (but still at the same resolution). For Zoom calls that we are on every day, the MacBook Pro has a better microphone system compared to the Air. And, you are getting two more hours of battery life with the MacBook Pro with 20 hours of use compared to 18 hours on the MacBook Air.

Many of these minor difference that I believe the average consumer wouldn’t care about too much. Whenever we use our laptops, we are inside, so having a slightly brighter screen isn’t all that important, the microphones on the MacBook Air are still decent enough to get voice across, and usually, when I am on a Zoom call, I am using some headphones and external microphone solution anyway. And, while the MacBook Air is losing 2 hours of battery compared to the MacBook Pro, 18 hours is still insane battery life!

So, why get the MacBook Pro?

If you are someone who is going to use more intensive programs, such as Adobe Programs for photo editing, video editing, etc. and want to use the power of the M1 chip, I would highly recommend the MacBook Pro simply because it has a fan compared to the MacBook Air, which does not.
Supposedly, the MacBook Air does have good thermal management and should not overheat when it comes to daily tasks and using programs such as Microsoft Office, but when it comes to things like Graphic Design, Photo Editing, Video Editing, it is not worth risking having your machine overheat and die while in the middle of an edit, having to restart. The MacBook Pro has the great thermal management of the MacBook Air, with the addition of a fan that brings an extra piece of mind when using bigger programs.

So, if you are looking at buying a MacBook and debating between the Air or the Pro, the way I see it is this: If you are someone who wants a machine for regular, daily use, and the craziest program that you are going to use is Microsoft Office, the MacBook Air is the perfect computer for you. But, if you are someone who might be doing some editing, coding, web design, etc. then the MacBook Pro will be a worthwhile investment. Having the fan and the additional use of the touchbar will really make the experience a lot smoother, faster and is likely to last you a lot longer.

A young University student very curious about many things and here to share his thinking. Interested in Photography, Technology and sharing stories.

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