MacBook Air vs 13-inch MacBook Pro

Both the MacBook Pro and the MacBook Air are available as laptops from Apple right now. The MacBook Pro may be purchased in 13-inch M2 versions, 14-inch M1 Pro/Max models, and 16-inch M1 Pro/Max variants (which are available in 13.3-inch M1 or 13.6-inch M2 models). There are a lot of Mac laptops here, and they all have extremely varied specifications.

There is a collection of 13-inch Mac laptops within this lineup that share comparable specifications and are intended for usage in a variety of settings, including the home, the classroom, and the workplace. These include an older variant of the 13.3-inch MacBook Air that was released in 2020 and a 13.6-inch MacBook Air model that was equipped with an M1 chip. Both of these models went on sale in July 2022. The 13-inch MacBook Pro also features the M2 chip. The 14- and 16-inch variants of the MacBook Pro, which were released in 2021, are more ideally suited to the needs of professional users.

MacBook Air vs MacBook Pro with M2

These Mac laptops with a 13-inch screen are of particular interest to us at this time. This article will help you select which product to purchase by comparing the MacBook Air with the MacBook Pro with a 13-inch display.

Find out which MacBook Pro is best for you by reading our comparison of the 13, 14, and 16-inch models. This article may also be of interest to you if you are pondering whether or not your requirements may extend a bit farther on the professional side. We also examine the two variants of the MacBook Air M2 and look at the differences between the M1 and M2 models of the MacBook Air.

MacBook Air vs MacBook Pro: Design

The design of the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models for 2022 is, in some respects, more comparable than it has ever been. The MacBook Air 2022 no longer features the tapered shape that distinguished it from the Air and made it easily recognizable (and is still available if you buy the M1 version of the MacBook Air). The new design of the MacBook Air makes it appear to be a more compact version of the MacBook Pro. Nevertheless, there are several key differences between these two Macs.

M2 MacBook Air
The M2 MacBook Air no longer has the tapered shape that distinguished the Air.

The MacBook Air, which has undergone a significant amount of redesign, includes numerous features that the 13-inch MacBook Pro does not have. The most notable difference between the 13-inch MacBook Pro and the 13-inch MacBook Air is that the latter has an older display that measures 13.3 inches, while the former has a larger screen measuring 13.6 inches (the same as the M1 MacBook Air).

This larger screen does have one potential drawback, though, and that is the fact that it has a notch, similar to those found on the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro, iPhones, and some iPads. Although others do not like the notch, we believe that it should be forgiven because it enables Apple to raise the size of the screen overall. The notch does not actually accomplish anything other than sitting on the menu.

Another significant distinction is that the Apple Touch Bar strip is only available on the 13-inch MacBook Pro, which is the only Mac laptop to provide this feature. With the release of the 2021 MacBook Pro models, Apple eliminated the Touch Bar from the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models.

As a result, the Touch Bar is only available on the 13-inch MacBook Pro, which is the only Mac laptop model. One and the same Magic Keyboard with scissor-switch keys are included with each of the three MacBooks. Additionally, a Touch ID sensor and a Force Touch trackpad are included on each and every model.

Although the difference is negligible, the MacBook Air is noticeably more portable than its more powerful counterpart, the MacBook Pro. The MacBook Air was the lightest laptop on the market when it was first introduced in 2008, however as time has passed, the weight of the MacBook Pro has also decreased, making the gap between the two much smaller than it once was:

  • M2 MacBook Air: 2.7 pounds (1.24kg)
  • M2 MacBook Pro: 3 pounds (1.4kg)
  • M1 MacBook Air: 2.8 pounds (1.29kg)

As a result of the revision that it underwent in 2022, the MacBook Air is actually very slightly bigger than the 13-inch MacBook Pro. Because of this modification, Apple is now able to support a more capacious display. The M1 MacBook Air shares the same dimensions as the 13-inch MacBook Pro in terms of its dimensions.

  • M2 MacBook Air: 30.41cm x 21.5cm x 1.13cm
  • M2 MacBook Pro: 30.41cm x 21.24cm x 1.56cm
  • M1 MacBook Air: 30.41cm x 21.24cm x 1.61cm-0.41cm
MacBook Air 2022 four different colours
The MacBook Air model year 2022 comes in a variety of colors, namely four of them.

MacBook Air vs MacBook Pro: Display

The display on the new 2022 MacBook Air is a significant improvement over the display found on the previous generation of MacBook Air. It is both larger and brighter than the display found on the M2 MacBook Pro.

M2 vs M1 MacBook Air display size
The display of the M2 is larger than on the M1 MacBook Air. There’s also a notch.

The regular Retina display on the M2 MacBook Air has been replaced with a 13.6-inch Liquid Retina display in this model. Simply put, this indicates that the more recent display has a higher contrast ratio and is capable of supporting a wider color gamut (a billion versus millions).

However, neither of these screens is as excellent as the Liquid Retina XDR displays that are found in the 14-inch and 16-inch versions of the MacBook Pro. The more expensive models of the MacBook Pro offer a brightness of up to 1,000 nits (compared to 500 on the M2 MacBook Air and 400 on the M1 MacBook Air), deeper blacks, and more vibrant colors, as well as ProMotion.

The diagonal measurement of the screen on the 2022 MacBook Air is 13.6 inches, which is an increase from the previous measurement of 13.3 inches; as a result, the display on the MacBook Air now offers a few more pixels than it did before:

  • M2 MacBook Pro: 2,560 x 1,600 pixels
  • M2 MacBook Air: 2,560 x 1,664 pixels
  • M1 MacBook Air: 2,560 x 1,600 pixels
13 inch M2 MacBook Pro
In comparison to its predecessor, the M2 MacBook Pro has not seen many significant changes.

MacBook Air vs MacBook Pro: Specs

Apple has now upgraded all of its Mac laptops so that they all run on the company’s proprietary system on a chip. Following the release of the M1 in November 2020, the M1 Pro and M1 Max in October 2021, and the M2 on the 2022 MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro in July 2022, the second generation of the M chip has finally come.

Even though the M1 Pro and M1 Max were released before the M2 chip, the M1 chips are still more advanced than the M2 chip. Please refer to “M2 vs. M1 Pro, Max, and Ultra: Why Apple’s Latest Chip Isn’t the Best” for more information.

If you believe that you require something more powerful, you should consider purchasing a 14- or 16-inch MacBook Pro with the option of M1 Pro or M1 Max, or you could wait until the M2 series expands before making your purchase. Read through our guide to the M1 series of chips if you are interested in learning more about the M1 chip family. More information regarding the M2-series can be found here: The M2 chip used by Apple: Everything you need to know about it

The following is a breakdown of the models:

MacBook Air, M1 (2020, $999/£999)

8-core CPU with 4 perform­ance cores and 4 efficiency cores
7-core GPU
16-core Neural Engine
8GB Unified Memory (up to 16GB)
256GB SSD

MacBook Air, M2 (2022, $1,199/£1,249)

8-core CPU with 4 perform­ance cores and 4 efficiency cores
8-core GPU
16-core Neural Engine
8GB Unified Memory (up to 24GB)
256GB SSD

MacBook Air, M2 (2022, $1,499/£1,549)

8-core CPU with 4 perform­ance cores and 4 efficiency cores
10-core GPU
16-core Neural Engine
8GB Unified Memory (up to 24GB)
512GB SSD

13in MacBook Pro, M2 (2022, $1,299/£1,349)

8-core CPU with 4 performance cores and 4 efficiency cores
10-core GPU
16-core Neural Engine
8GB Unified Memory (up to 24GB)
256GB SSD

13in MacBook Pro, M2 (2022, $1,499/£1,549

8-core CPU with 4 performance cores and 4 efficiency cores
8-core GPU
16-core Neural Engine
8GB Unified Memory (up to 24GB)
512GB SSD

13 inch M2 MacBook Pro
A MacBook Pro is the better option to go with if you need to push your Mac to its limits with graphically heavy applications.

You will find that there is a model of the MacBook Air and a model of the MacBook Pro that both have the same specifications and cost the same amount of money ($1,499 or £1,549) Because of this, you might therefore anticipate that the benchmarks for these two models are comparable; however, there are other factors that can slow down the MacBook Air somewhat. Because it is more compact and fanless, the MacBook Air is less able to manage heat, and as a result, it might be throttled somewhat if you were to really push it.

CPU

The M2 chip is utilized in both the 2022 MacBook Air and the 13-inch MacBook Pro by Apple. The M2 processor, just like the M1 chip, which is still available in the base model of the MacBook Air, has a total of eight CPU cores; however, only four of those cores are high-performance cores, while the other four are high-efficiency cores.

When the high-efficiency processing cores are busy doing things like backing up to iCloud or syncing images, the high-performance cores will still be accessible for more intense processes. This is one of the advantages of the semiconductor design that Apple uses.

According to Apple, the M2 is superior to the M1 because this time around the quicker performance cores is paired with a larger cache, and the efficiency cores enjoy even greater performance benefits. Both of these factors contribute to the M2’s overall superiority. It may therefore appear as though the CPU is the same, although this is not the case.

In the CPU testing that we ran with Geekbench 5, we found that the M2 MacBook Air’s peak performance was comparable to that of the M2 MacBook Pro and somewhat higher than that of the M1. However, it cannot compete with the more advanced M1 Pro and Max CPUs in terms of performance.

GPU

The number of graphics cores is another important factor that differentiates the many Mac laptops that are available in this selection; as you can see from the specifications shown above.

When compared to the eight or ten graphics cores that are available in the higher-end M2 MacBook Air models, the entry-level MacBook Air only has seven graphics cores. This is in contrast to the higher-end M2 MacBook Air models, which have either eight or ten graphics cores.

The number of GPU cores may play a significant role in determining which model is the most suitable option for your requirements.

Investing in the more expensive Air model could seem like the ideal choice if you believe it is likely that you will require an additional GPU core shortly. As we are about to demonstrate, however, the MacBook Pro, which comes with a GPU option that has 10 cores, might be a better choice.

As a result of the presence of a fan for cooling, the MacBook Pro is a superior choice to the MacBook Air when it comes to graphically demand tasks. As a consequence of this, you will be able to push it a little further than you would be able to with the MacBook Air. Because it does not have a fan, the MacBook Air will function normally without any issues; however, if you push it beyond its capabilities, you may notice that it slows down to prevent it from overheating.

The results of the Geekbench 5 Compute benchmarks showed that the M2 MacBook Air with 10-core GPU had scores that were comparable to those of the M2 MacBook Pro. Additionally, the new M2 MacBook Air was almost 60 percent faster than the previous generation M1 MacBook Air (which had 7 GPU cores), and it was approximately 40 percent faster than the “full” M1 with 8 GPU cores found in the M1 MacBook Pro.
Even with the enhancements, we found in the M2, a MacBook Air has never been known for its prowess as a gaming laptop, and this will not change. However, it is fascinating to observe how much better it performs in comparison to the M1 when it comes to running premium games.

RAM

In their most basic iteration, the M1 MacBooks (both the Pro and the Air) each come standard with 8 gigabytes of Unified Memory. While the M1 chip can only support up to 16GB of random access memory (RAM), the M2 chip has an optional upgrade to 24GB of RAM.
You might be concerned that 8 gigabytes of random access memory (RAM) won’t be sufficient for your requirements, but you should be aware that this RAM, which Apple refers to as Unified Memory, is integrated into the M2 (or M1) chip. Because of this, it is accessible to both the central processing unit (CPU) and the graphics processing unit (GPU). This brings performance benefits that mean the 8GB RAM in these models isn’t really comparable to the 8GB RAM in an Intel-powered Mac.

If you are concerned, however, you may upgrade the RAM in your MacBook Air or MacBook Pro 13-inch to either 16GB or 24GB at the point of sale; nonetheless, we do recommend that you get 16GB if you have the financial means to do so.

If you believe that you will require more than 24GB of storage space, then you will be required to purchase either the M1 Pro (which comes standard with 16GB of Unified Memory and can be upgraded to 32GB) or the M1 Max (which ships also with 16GB Unified Memory, but is upgradable to 64GB). Even 128GB of RAM is not out of the question, but to do so, you will need the M1 Ultra in the Mac Studio.

Storage

One additional model is available with 512GB of storage space, and both the Air and the 13-inch Pro come standard with 256GB of storage space out of the box. At the point of sale, you can also upgrade to a larger SSD, however, the maximum capacity of the M1 MacBook Air and Pro models is 2 terabytes.
Concerns have been raised regarding the 256GB solid-state drive (SSD) that is included in the base model of the M2 MacBook Air.

According to some sources, the SSD in this model is up to 50 percent slower while reading and 30 percent slower when writing. When we carried out our own battery of testing with the Blackmagic Disk Speed Test, we discovered that the aforementioned observations were, in fact, accurate.

We also tested the 1TB model of the MacBook Air and found that its read rates were significantly faster than those of the 256GB model. However, write speeds were a stunning 50.2% slower than planned, which is a significant drop from what was anticipated. Unfortunately, the base variant of the Air was also quite a bit slower than the 2020 version of the car.

MacBook Air vs MacBook Pro: Battery life and charging

The battery life of these Macs has not altered since the introduction of the M1 Macs, but they are still light years ahead of the original models of the Intel MacBook. Apple claims that the M1 and M2 editions of the MacBook Air give a battery life of 18 hours, while the 13-inch model of the MacBook Pro offers an incredible 20 hours. When compared to this, the battery life of 10 hours on the now-defunct 2.0GHz 13-inch MacBook Pro looks horrible.

According to our internal tests, the battery life of the MacBook Air was 17.5 hours, which was superior to the M1 MacBook Air and the M2 MacBook Pro by almost an hour and a half. When put through its paces daily, the battery life is just as impressive.

It is an odd sensation to open up your laptop after working on it for twenty minutes and then notice that the battery percentage has not moved by even one percent, but this is how the Apple silicon works. The amount of time a laptop’s battery can last depends on several factors, but if you fit the profile of the typical person who uses a laptop for home use and productivity, it’s unlikely that you’ll ever need to plug it in for a charge before the end of the day.

These numbers are certainly impressive; however, the Apple MacBook with the longest battery life, which is 22 hours and is available for the 16-inch model of the MacBook Pro in 2021, falls short of these numbers.

However, the improvement in battery life is not the only benefit offered by the MacBook Air. If you have a high-quality USB-C power adapter, Apple has boosted the charging speed of its products. Within ten minutes, a typical 35W dual-port adaptor (which is included with all variants of the Air, except the entry-level model), can accomplish a charge of 10 percent (30 percent in 30 minutes).

This can be increased to 72 percent in just 30 minutes using the 61W USB-C Power Adapter that is sold by Apple. Check out our side-by-side evaluation of Apple’s new M2 chargers for the MacBook Air.

Apple dual USB-C Power Adapter
The M2 MacBook Air has a braided MagSafe cable and 35W dual-USB-C power adapter (in all but the base configuration).

MacBook Air vs MacBook Pro: Ports and Expansion

Throughout the years, it has appeared as though Apple has been on a crusade to eliminate ports from Macs to make those computers increasingly more compact. This has been a detriment for a great number of people, even though in most cases if you require additional or other ports, you can simply put in an adaptor or a dock (read: Best USB-C hubs and adapters for Mac).
Apple did include a MagSafe charging connector with the release of the 2022 MacBook Air, which indicates that the two USB connections will continue to be accessible even while the computer is being charged.

This places the 13-inch MacBook Pro and earlier models of the MacBook Air at a disadvantage because they only have two USB 4 ports and two USB/Thunderbolt ports combined; therefore, one of those ports will be used for charging in addition to its other functions.

M2 MacBook Air magsafe
The 2022 MacBook Air has MagSafe as well as two USB/Thunderbolt ports.

If you believe you require additional ports, both the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros are equipped with a variety of connectors, some of which include three Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C) ports, an HDMI port, and an SDXC card slot. (If you are asking what the difference between USB-C and USB 4 is, the answer is that USB 4 should be able to give 40Gb/s, which is the same speed that Thunderbolt 3 already provides. (USB-C allows transfer speeds of up to 20Gb/s.)

There is a 3.5mm headphone jack available on every Mac notebook.

MacBook Air vs MacBook Pro: Price

Regardless of the characteristics, the price difference between the MacBook Air and the MacBook Pro can be the deciding factor in which model to choose. You might be searching for the option that will cost you the least amount of money, in which case the $999/£999 M1 MacBook Air is the obvious choice, or you might be willing to pay a little bit more to acquire a product that will provide you with a greater value for your money.

Because you won’t be able to upgrade your system in the future, we strongly advise you to buy the most advanced computer you can afford at the time of purchase. Given the issues that have been reported with the storage in the entry-level M2 MacBook Air, we would normally recommend that you upgrade the RAM before the storage; however, given the nature of the problems that have been reported, we would recommend that you go with a larger storage capacity this time around.

An M2 MacBook Air with 8-core GPU and 512GB SSD would cost an additional $200 or £200, bringing the total price to $1,399 or £1,449; but, at that point, you might as well spend an additional $100 or £100 on the 10-GPU core variant.

Because you don’t necessarily have to pay Apple’s price, we’ll run through the pricing for the various models below, including some of the most recent offers on new MacBooks. Additionally, if you are interested in purchasing a MacBook at a reduced price, we suggest that you check out the Apple Refurbished Store.

MacBook Air prices

The MacBook Air is available in two default configurations:

  • M1 Chip with 8‑Core CPU and 7‑Core GPU, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD: $999/£999.
  • M2 Chip with 8‑Core CPU and 8‑Core GPU, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD: $1,199/£1,249.
  • M2 Chip with 8‑Core CPU and 10‑Core GPU, 8GB RAM, 512GB SSD: $1,499/£1,549.

Buy directly from Apple, or look below for the best prices right now:

13in MacBook Pro prices

There are two 13 configurations of the MacBook Pro sold by Apple:

  • M2 Chip with 8‑Core CPU and 8‑Core GPU, 16GB RAM, 256GB SSD: $1,299/£1,349
  • M2 Chip with 8‑Core CPU and 10‑Core GPU, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD: $1,499/£1,549

You’ll see that the more expensive Air model has the same price tag as the more expensive 13-inch MacBook Pro model. Both have the same technical specifications. The distinctive feature is found in the construction.

Purchase from Apple itself, or take a look down this page for the best deals available right now:

M2 MacBook Pro, 10-core GPU, 256GB SSD (MSRP: $1,299/£1,349)

MacBook Air vs MacBook Pro: Buying advice

Both the MacBook Air and the MacBook Pro with a 13-inch screen are excellent models. In all honesty, the decision needs to be made based on how much money you have available. If saving money is your top priority, then the M1 MacBook Air is the best option for you.

However, you will need to decide whether or not having twice as much storage space is more important to you than having a longer battery life, an additional graphics core, and a fan in the MacBook Pro. If cost is your top priority, then the M1 MacBook Air is the best option for you. The 7-core MacBook Air might be adequate for your needs if you don’t conduct the kind of work that demands a lot of graphics processing.

If you had to choose between the M2 MacBook Air and the M2 MacBook Pro, the M2 MacBook Air has a little better screen and a newer design, thus it comes out ahead of the M2 MacBook Pro. If you need to use your Mac for a lot of heavy work, the MacBook Pro might be a better choice for you than the MacBook Air because it has superior cooling to the Air model. The Touch Bar is the only thing that gives the M2 MacBook Pro an advantage over the Air model.

However, if you truly require the most amount of power available, you should consider purchasing either the 14- or 16-inch MacBook Pro, as these models come with a greater number of GPU processors and can accommodate a greater amount of RAM. They also provide a large number of ports, which will be of use to many people.

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