M1 MacBook Air vs M1 MacBook Pro: Which Should You Buy?

Apple has started a computing revolution. They gave up the Intel CPU in exchange for a seriously improved version of the silicon you’ll find in iPhones and iPads. That’s a huge deal, and if you want to know what makes this new “M1” Apple chip so special, check out our Apple M1 Vs Intel i7 article before reading the rest of the article. this.

Assuming you want to buy one of the new 13” MacBook M1 options, which should you buy? There’s a price difference of at least $300 based on this decision, but there’s more to it than just money. So when it comes to the MacBook Air M1 and MacBook Pro M1, which should you spend your cash on?

Chip M1: Under the Hood

One of the main reasons there’s been some confusion between these two MacBook models is because they seem pretty much the same under the hood. The truth is that both of these machines are essentially the same.

The only difference is that the base model M1 Air has seven GPU cores, while all other MacBook M1s have eight cores. Regarding the actual central processor, it is the same unit. There is only one M1 processor design.

One Apple M1 . chip

Between the two MacBooks, you’ll get the same RAM and SSD options and two Thunderbolt 3 ports. The most obvious difference is on the outside, starting with the fact that the MacBook Air M1 has no fan at all.

Fanless advantage

Like the iPad, the MacBook Air M1 is passively cooled. No fan and no vent. That’s because the M1 is so energy efficient it can run without generating much heat.

Without a fan, what could be better? Consider the following:

  • No fan means no noise. When.
  • The fan is the final moving component in the MacBook Air. Now it is a completely solid state device.
  • There are no vents for dust to enter the computer.
A computer fan with a "X" Cross it

While the MacBook Air M1 hasn’t been out long enough to provide proof of that, we expect these to be particularly reliable. Eventually the fan fails, but with the Air that problem goes away.

The noise aspect is less important as it seems that the fan on the MacBook Pro M1 rarely works unless you are doing heavy continuous workloads.

Body image

The weight difference between the MacBook M1s is negligible. Also, even though the Air is a bit thinner, that difference doesn’t affect how likely you are to put it in your pocket. The real difference, as always, is that the Air has a tapered, wedge-shaped body. Instead of the more complex, more enterprise-like framing of the Pro.

M1 and Air side by side

Some people feel the wedge shape provides better typing ergonomics, so if you’re a heavy typist, keep that in mind.

Performance difference

If two computer models have the same processor, why is there a difference in performance? Again, however, the answer to this question has to do with the presence of a fan. Active cooling allows the M1 processor to run at full speed on all cores indefinitely. Without the fan, heat would build up over time and the CPU’s speed would have to slow down to get things under control again.

M1 vs PC performance comparison chart with M1 at the top

However, this will take some time, so for CPU tasks that require only short-term CPU effort, there is no difference in performance between the two computers. However, if you’re doing something like exporting your large video project, the MacBook Air falls behind. The difference in peak performance under load isn’t huge, but it’s noticeable.

Touch Bar (y)

The other rather controversial difference between the MacBook Air M1 and the MacBook Pro M1 is the Touch Bar. This small touchscreen strip is exclusive to MacBook Pro models only. If you’re not sure what the Touch Bar is, see Everything you need to know about the MacBook Pro’s Touch Bar.

MacBook Pro Touch Bar

The Touch Bar seems to be a feature everyone either hates or loves, with very little room in between. So it’s hard to say whether you would consider it a pro or a scammer in this comparison. Instead of the Touch Bar, the MacBook Air M1 has a normal row of keys. The choice is really yours.

Although you should note that the MacBook Pro M1 has a physical escape key. This addresses a common complaint of Touch Bar haters.

Battery Durability

All MacBook M1s have significantly improved battery life compared to the Intel models they replace. However, there is a notable difference between the two M1 laptop options.

Mac battery rendering

The Air is rated for 15 to 18 hours of use, depending on what you’re doing. Less if you really ask it to lift heavy. For the same set of situations, the Pro is rated between 17 and 20 hours. So on average you’ll get an extra two hours.

Screen and sound performance

Both the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro have excellent displays and speakers. It’s just that the Pro is a bit better. With more than 100 “nits” of brightness, a body and sound-enhancing speakers, the Pro delivers more. Even so, the MacBook Air is no slouch and still gives pretty much every other laptop in its price range a squeeze in this department.

Color options

Color options for M1

If you want something other than Space Gray or Silver, the Air offers a Gold option. We wish there were more colors in both model lines, but the Air slightly outperforms the Pro in this department.

Who Should Buy the MacBook M1 Air?

We think the vast majority of users looking for a 13-inch MacBook should buy the Air. Previous MacBook Air models were significantly less powerful than the 13” Pro. This only makes them practical for light computational tasks. Now, whatever the 13” Pro can do, the Air can do too. Although a bit slower in some cases.

MacBook M1 Air

If you can live without the touch bar and a slightly better display and sound, we recommend saving $300 or spending it on a memory or RAM upgrade.

Who Should Buy the MacBook M1 Pro?

If you are someone who really needs a MacBook for more professional purposes, such as video editing or other heavy duty tasks. Consider the M1 MacBook Pro 13. Upgrading the display and speakers will make your life easier for one thing. The big improvement here is the actively cooled M1 CPU.

MacBook M1 Pro

If you’re going to work with numbers or export video projects that will run for more than ten to fifteen minutes, the M1 MacBook Pro 13 will outperform the M1 MacBook Air. Also, don’t forget that the Pro has an extra GPU core over the base $999 Air model. In applications (such as video editors) that use GPU acceleration, it’s an additional source of performance. additional.

The Pro is clearly a high-end machine, and if you don’t mind the price difference, you’ll have the most powerful laptop ever made in this form. However, for most people, the split between these two models simply doesn’t add up to the price difference. So carefully consider whether the marginal improvements the Pro model offers are worth the asking price.

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