Apple’s MacBook lineup has been revised between the new MacBook Pro that arrives with the M2 Pro and Max chips to start in 2023 and the M2 chip-powered MacBook Air that launches in 2022. Follow us for our detailed look at the MacBook Pro vs Air to see what’s new and different between these laptops.
The MacBook Air with the M2 chip received a big update in 2022 with an all-new design, a larger 13.6-inch display, a flat-edged chassis, a new midnight color, an improved webcam, and more.
And to kick off 2023, MacBook Pro laptops were updated with M2 Pro and M2 Max chips and more that build on late-2021 updates that brought a fresh design, mini-LED display, the return of I/O like HDMI. , SD card slot and MagSafe.
For a detailed comparison between the 2023 and 2021 MacBook Pro laptops, we’ve got a guide dedicated to that, too:
MacBook Pro vs Air: How do they compare?
CPU, GPU, RAM, neural engine
M2 allows up to 24GB of RAM, up to 10 GPU cores, with up to 2TB of storage.
With the MacBook Pro, meanwhile, you get either the M2 Pro or M2 Max chip with a choice of up to 12 CPU cores, 38 GPU cores, and up to 96GB of RAM.
|Hardware||macbook air (2022)||macbook pro (2023)|
|CPU||M2: 8 cores||M2 Pro or Max: 10 or 12 cores|
|Storage||Up to 2TB||Up to 8TB|
|RAM||8, 16 or 24 GB||16 to 96GB|
|Graphics||Up to 10 cores||Up to 38 cores|
|motor neural||16 cores||16 cores|
|Speakers||4-speaker system with wide sound||6 hi-fi speakers|
|microphones||3 microphone array||Studio-quality 3-microphone array|
|thermal management||no fan||Active cooling with fans|
Apple brought up to 18% faster CPU performance and up to 35% faster GPU performance with the M2 compared to the M1. And it has more than 20 billion transistors thanks to its second-generation 5nm chip technology.
But M2 Pro and M2 Max offer 20, 30 and 40% performance improvements compared to M1 Pro and Max for CPU, GPU and neural engine. The M2 Pro doubles the M2’s 20 billion transistors to 40 billion, and the M2 Max boasts 67 billion transistors.
Another big difference between the M2 and the M2 Max will be the capabilities of the GPU.
Apple says the new media engine has “double the support for ProRes to dramatically speed up media playback and transcoding.” The new M2 Max chip continues to include two video encoding engines like Apple did with the M1 Max.
Meanwhile, the MacBook Air with M2 chip and M2 Pro chip have unique ProRes encoding, decoding, and encode/decode engines.
We’ve even seen the M2 Max outperform the M1 Ultra when it comes to ProRes exports:
The MacBook Air has the smallest screen by just under half an inch. Of course, the MacBook Pro is available in 14.2 and 16.2″ versions.
For screen brightness, the MacBook Air has up to 500 nits. which is the same for the MacBook Pro (for SDR content). But that goes up to 1,000 nits of sustained brightness (1,600 peak) for HDR content on the MacBook Pro. Other over-the-air display upgrades include 120Hz refresh rates with ProMotion, mini-LED backlighting, and higher pixel density with Pro.
|macbook air (2022)||MacBook Pro 14″ (2023)||MacBook Pro 16″ (2023)|
|actual screen size||13.6″||14.2″||16.2″|
|aspect ratio||16:10 + notch||16:10 + notch||16:10 + notch|
|nits (sparkle)||500||500 for SDR, 1000 sustain, up to 1600 peak for HDR||500 for SDR, 1000 sustain, up to 1600 peak for HDR|
|Liquid Retina Display||✅||✅ + XDR||✅ + XDR|
|Promotion (up to 120 Hz)||❌||✅||✅|
|backlit mini LED||❌||✅||✅|
|wide color P3||✅||✅||✅|
MacBook Air and MacBook Pro include a notch in the top-center of the display for the 1080p FaceTime camera. But unlike the iPhone, the notch doesn’t include Face ID support/hardware, even on the 2023 MacBook Pro models.
All current MacBooks feature much thinner bezels than their predecessors.
I/O: MacBook Pro vs. Air
The 2022 MacBook Air got MagSafe charging like the modern MacBook Pro. However, Apple has kept additions like HDMI, SDXC slot and support for up to 4 external displays exclusive to the 14 and 16″ MacBook Pro.
The 2022 MacBook Air supports only 1 external display up to 6K@60Hz, even with the new M2 chip. That may be a deal breaker for some.
Other updates that came with the M2 Pro/Max MacBook Pro include Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3, and support for 8K video output with the new HDMI 2.1 port.
|||macbook air (2022)||macbook pro (2023)|
|SDXC card reader||❌||✅|
|Wifi||Wi-Fi 6 (802.11.ax)||Wi-Fi 6E (802.11.ax)|
|external display support||1 external display up to 6K/60Hz||M2 Pro: Up to 2 external 6K/60Hz displays, 1 external 8K/60Hz display, or 1 4K/240Hz display via HDMI
M2 max.: Up to 4 external displays, 3 at 6K/60Hz and 1 at 4K/60Hz or 3 total with 2 at 6K/60Hz and 1 external 8K/60Hz display or 1 4K 240Hz display via HDMI
Size, weight and finish.
Unsurprisingly, the MacBook Air is still the lightest machine, and both MacBook Pro models weigh more. The MacBook Air is also super slim at 11.3mm (0.44 inches).
The new MacBook Pro laptops remain available in space gray and silver, while the Air comes in four options.
|MacBook Air (2022)||MacBook Pro 14″ (2023)||MacBook Pro 16″ (2023)|
|Weight||2.7 pounds (1.24 kg)||3.5 pounds (1.6 kg)||4.7 lbs (2.1 kg)|
|Thickness||0.44 in. (1.13cm)||0.61 inches (1.55cm)||0.66 inches (1.68cm)|
|Broad||11.97 inches (30.41 cm)||12.31 in. (31.26cm)||14.01 inches (35.57 cm)|
|Depth||8.46 in. (21.5 cm)||8.71 inches (22.12 cm)||9.77 inches (24.81 cm)|
|Screen size||13.6 inches||14.2 inches||16.2 inches|
|finishes||silver, space gray, starlight, midnight||silver or space gray||silver or space gray|
Ever since the 2022 MacBook Air changed the wedge design it’s had for years, all new MacBooks share the flat-edged chassis.
Real-world battery life for Apple MacBooks Silicon compared to older Intel models has been impressive and generally matches the company’s claims. But that can depend on your workflow, screen brightness, and more.
Apple has increased the battery life of the M2 Pro/Max MacBook Pro to the point where the 16″ MacBook Pro has up to 22 hours of video playback. Here’s how the machines compare:
|MacBook Air 2022||MacBook Pro 14″ (2023)||MacBook Pro 16″ (2023)|
|wireless web battery||15 hours||12 hours||15 hours|
|video playback||18 hours||18 hours||22 hours|
|Power adapter included||30W, 35W or 67W USB-C + MagSafe||67W or 96W USB-C + MagSafe||140W USB-C + MagSafe|
|Fast charge||✅ with 67W||✅ with 96W||✅|
All of these modern MacBooks can be fast-charged to provide up to 50% battery life in just 30 minutes. But keep in mind that you will need to use the larger power adapters mentioned above.
Starting at $1,199, the MacBook Air costs $800 less than the 14-inch MacBook Pro, which starts at $1,999.
The $1,999 base model 14-inch MacBook Pro comes with an M2 Pro chip, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB SSD. The 16-inch MacBook Pro with the same basic specs starts at $2,499.
|model/price||MacBook Air 2022||MacBook Pro 14″ (2023)||MacBook Pro 16″ (2023)|
|256 / 8GB||$1,199||–||–|
|512 / 8GB||$1,399||–||–|
|256 / 16GB||$1,399||–||–|
|512 / 16GB||$1,599||Starting at $1,999||Starting at $2,499|
|1TB/16GB||$1,799||Starting at $2,199||From $2,699|
|1TB/32GB||–||Starting at $2,899||Starting at $3,499|
|custom builds||Up to $2,499||Up to $6,299||Up to $6,499|
Summary of MacBook Pro vs Air
- For light to medium performance needs and some limited heavy-duty needs, in the lightest package with all-day battery life, the MacBook Air is the best choice starting at a reasonable price of $1,199.
- If you need or value the most power (still with an all-day battery), active cooling for heavy workloads, a brighter display, more ports, more external display support, and more, the MacBook Pro is the way to go. to follow.
- While the 13-inch MacBook Pro has been updated with the M2 2022 chip, you shouldn’t buy it. You should go for the M2 MacBook Air which has a lot more upgrades, or if you really need some extra power, move up to the M2 Pro or Max MacBook Pro.
- Apple still sells the M1 MacBook Air, but with plenty of upgrades for just $200 more, go for the M2 MacBook Air if possible
What do you think of the current MacBook lineup? Share your opinion in the comments! Thanks for reading our guide on MacBook Pro vs Air!
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