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Home Guide Do I Need New M1 MacBook Air or MacBook Pro: How to...

Do I Need New M1 MacBook Air or MacBook Pro: How to Choose the Right M1 MacBook

Apple’s new MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models come with Apple’s M-series chipsets, which are far ahead in terms of performance and power efficiency compared to the older Intel chipsets. Since both the MacBook Air and Pro come with similar chipsets with a slight change in features, you must be really confused about which one to choose from. We heard you, Here is a detailed comparison between the new MacBook Air and MacBook Pro.

Read our complete buying guide to make the right decision before buying the new MacBook Air or MacBook Pro.

Content

  1. New M1 MacBook Air vs. MacBook Pro
  2. MacBook Air M1 vs Pro M1: Performance
  3. Battery Life Comparison
  4. Should I Buy MacBook Air or MacBook Pro
  5. Why Should I Buy MacBook Air M1
  6. Why Should I Buy MacBook Pro M1
  7. Who Should Choose MacBook Air
  8. Who Should Choose MacBook Pro
  9. Final Verdict

New M1 MacBook Air vs. MacBook Pro

As we all know, Apple MacBook Air and MacBook Pro fall under different categories of users, even though they share a plethora of features. Apple just replaced the Intel processors with all-new M1 chipsets. That means you get better performance with both the MacBook Air as well as MacBook Pro.

It was all about i3 vs i5 or i5 vs i7 when it came to the MacBook Air vs MacBook Pro. Well, not anymore. Apple just replaced both the MacBook lineups with substantially powerful M1 chipsets, yes the same ones. Running on similar chipsets (with slight differences) you must be expecting the same level of performance with both.

Is it really worth to buy the MacBook Pro when the MacBook Air is pretty powerful enough? Well, there is no one-word answer to it. Take a look at the tech spec comparison of both MacBook Air and MacBook Pro first.

MacBook Air M1 MacBook Pro M1
Chipset Apple M1 chip with 8‑core CPU, 7‑core GPU, and 16‑core Neural Engine Apple M1 chip with 8-core CPU, 8-core GPU, and 16-core Neural Engine
Display 13.3‑inch, 2560×1600 Retina Display, 400 nits 13.3‑inch, 2560×1600 Retina Display, 500 nits
Memory 8GB, 16GB 8GB, 16GB
Storage 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB
Ports 2 USB 4.0 Ports with Thunderbolt, 3.5mm Audio Jack 2 USB 4.0 Ports with Thunderbolt, 3.5mm Audio Jack
Touchbar No Yes
Battery 18 Hours 20 Hours
Fan No Yes
Connectivity WiFi 6, Bluetooth 5.0 WiFi 6, Bluetooth 5.0
Colors Space Gray, Gold, Silver Space Gray, Silver
Buy Buy from Amazon Buy from Amazon

New M1 MacBook Air vs. MacBook Pro: Performance

Apple ships both the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro with an M1 chipset, that packs CPU, GPU, Neural Engine, and I/O in a single chip. Since they both share a similar set of specs, all we expect is a performance without any bar.

MacBook Air M1 Specification
M1 MacBook Air Tech Specification & Features

The 8-core CPU in MacBook Air and Pro works similarly, but thermal management plays a major role in the performance showcase. Most apps on both MacBook Air and MacBook Pro M1 get a smooth launch without any notable delay in between. But, if you continue to work with the CPU-oriented tasks for a longer time, the lag gets more noticeable.

M1 MacBook Pro Tech Specification & Features
M1 MacBook Pro Tech Specification & Features

In case you are unaware, the CPU cores and clock speed alone do not define the performance of your system. The heat management system should be pretty much enough to keep the system cool, otherwise, it will burn the whole chipset. So, it seems Apple did some workaround to keep the top-notch performance of MacBook Air even though it sports the same chipset as MacBook Pro.

Adobe Photoshop CC on MacBook Air M1 and MacBook Pro M1

We put the latest Adobe Photoshop CC 2020 on both the MacBooks. They were pretty much the same in launching the apps and running functions, and at times both were performing far ahead compared to the older Intel-based MacBook Air or Pro.

Next up is the Final Cut Pro, which is likely to take the lion’s share of CPU and GPU cores. The editing part was smooth, with a 30 minutes 4K video on the timeline. We did not feel much of frame skips or jumps in the previews – thanks to the 8-core CPU in the M1 chip.

Apple Final Cut Pro X on MacBook Air M1 and MacBook Pro M1

The things will be a bit different when you try to render lengthy 4K videos. This is where the actual fan in the MacBook Pro kicks in. The more the CPU gets cooled, the more it takes the best out of it. The aluminum heat spreader in the MacBook Air did not seem to be a great help. Yes, the fan-less design keeps the MacBook Air to run silent, but it is not what you want if you are to fully draw on with heavy tasks.

The 7-core GPU in MacBook Air matching against the 8-core GPU in MacBook Pro, this is where most similarities end. The CPU performance on MacBook Air is still a slight below (compared to the new MacBook Pro) because of the limited thermal efficiency. The same can be seen with the GPU performance as well.

If you are buying the new MacBook for AutoCAD, 3D Modelling, 3D animation, VFX, and other cinematic purposes, MacBook Pro M1 is your machine. The GPU cores matter when you run graphics tools. But if you are a student or developer looking to polish your design skills with a low-power machine (and limited tools), MacBook Air also would do.

You must be already looking for the memory management comparison, and here it is. Both the MacBook Air and Macbook Pro M1 models come with 8GB integrated memory for the base models. You can get an upgrade up to 16GB for both as well. In case you are confused between the 8GB and 16GB variants of MacBook Air/Pro, check out our guide to choose between 8GB and 16GB MacBook.

MacBook Pro vs. MacBook Air Battery Life Comparison

There is no laptop that could beat MacBook models in battery life and efficiency. From the last year’s 12-hours backup, the new MacBook Air gets a major jump to 18-hours and the MacBook Pro gets 20-hours of backup in total. You are obviously not expecting the maximum range in everyday usage.

MacBook Pro M1 Battery Usage
MacBook Pro M1 Battery Usage

Apple’s tests show up to 17-hours of web browsing on MacBook Pro. On the other hand, MacBook Air will get around 15-hours of battery backup straight if you just surf through the web over WiFi.

Related: How to Check Battery Health on MacBook

Should I Buy MacBook Air or MacBook Pro

Before making up your mind based on the performance charts and analysis, keep some things in your mind. Make sure you are buying the right MacBook model that fits your need.

  • MacBook Air and MacBook Pro perform pretty much similar in simple CPU-oriented tasks. But if you push through its limits, the thermal management system in MacBook Pro helps you finish tasks a bit faster than in MacBook Air.
  • DO NOT go for MacBook Air if your main focus is on 3D modeling or other GPU-stressed tasks.
  • If you are looking for a better battery backup, the MacBook Pro comes with a larger battery pack and will help you run all day long without plugging it. At the same time, MacBook Air will die only a couple of hours before the Pro.
  • Buying the new MacBook for gaming? Go for MacBook Pro.

Check out the chart below to get a clearer idea of what tasks both MacBook Air M1 and MacBook Pro M1 can do.

Activity MacBook Air M1 MacBook Pro M1
Heavy Browsing Yes Yes
Basic Documents Yes Yes
Heavy Documents Yes (with 16GB) Yes
Media Playback Yes Yes
Basic Photo Editing Yes Yes
Advanced Photo Editing No Yes
Basic Video Editing Yes Yes
Advanced Video Editing No Yes
Gaming No Yes
3D Modelling, Animation, VFX No Yes
Heavy Multitasking Yes (with 16GB) Yes

Why Should I Buy MacBook Air M1

Confused why you should buy the new MacBook Air M1 right now? See if these match your requirements.

  • Better portability.
  • Lightweight design, crafted for traveling.
  • Good for basic coding, editing, and lightweight rendering.
  • $300 cheaper than MacBook Pro (with almost similar performance).
  • Good enough if you don’t have 3D or graphics requirements.

Related: MacBook Air and MacBook Deals from Amazon & BestBuy

Why Should I Buy MacBook Pro M1

Here are the best reasons why you should choose MacBook Pro M1 over MacBook Air.

  • Best-in-class performance
  • Larger battery hence runs all day long.
  • 3D, CAD, rendering, etc. are pretty smooth.
  • You get a touch bar, which is a good utility.
  • Good for gaming.
  • Brighter display (500 nits).
  • Runs better than Intel-powered MacBook Pro, at an even affordable price tag.

Who Should Choose MacBook Air

If you fall under the categories listed below, the MacBook Air is what you should choose.

  • School/University students.
  • Frequent travelers or travel vloggers.
  • Moderate developers (mostly web and lightweight applications).
  • Bloggers and content writers.
  • Teachers and university professors.

New Apple MacBook Air with Apple M1 Chip (13-inch, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD Storage) - Silver...
  • Apple-designed M1 chip for a giant leap in CPU, GPU, and machine learning performance
New Apple MacBook Air with Apple M1 Chip (13-inch, 8GB RAM, 512GB SSD Storage) - Silver...
  • Apple-designed M1 chip for a giant leap in CPU, GPU, and machine learning performance

Who Should Choose MacBook Pro

Are you still planning to buy the more powerful MacBook Pro finally? We have made a list of those who need a MacBook Pro over a MacBook Air.

  • Media creators (with frequent video rendering tasks).
  • Hardcore developers (especially for Android Studio, Xcode, etc.).
  • Those who do not move the system out of the desk often.
  • Moviemakers, 3D designers, architects

New Apple MacBook Pro with Apple M1 Chip (13-inch, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD Storage) - Space...
  • Apple-designed M1 chip for a giant leap in CPU, GPU, and machine learning performance
New Apple MacBook Pro with Apple M1 Chip (13-inch, 8GB RAM, 512GB SSD Storage) - Space...
  • Apple-designed M1 chip for a giant leap in CPU, GPU, and machine learning performance

Final Verdict

You already got a clear idea about whether to buy the MacBook Air or MacBook Pro. This is not a one-to-one comparison to find out the best among them, but to help you choose the right one you need.

New MacBook Air M1 can, of course, compete well with the MacBook Pro. If you are a university student and can afford only the MacBook Air at the moment, you are not compromising on performance except on the GPU part. MacBook Pro, in fact, is a more powerful option (with a touch bar, too) if you are ready to spend a couple of hundred dollars more. Remember one thing, you might not need the MacBook Pro unless you are going to push hard through the limits of the new M1 chip, especially with the graphics, 3D, and rendering.

Hope you now have some clarity about the new MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. The MacBook Pro M1 is basically a slightly powerful MacBook Air with a bright display, touch bar, better cooling system, and a powerful GPU on board. At $999 ($899 for students), MacBook Air should be worth enough for most of your daily tasks.

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