MacBook Air or MacBook Pro? We explain what each of the Apple laptops offer so you can decide which is the best for your computing needs
Yes, we may have ticked over into 2016, but Apple’s laptop line still looks the way it performed in 2015. That suggests you’ve got 3 options: MacBook, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro.
We’ll be looking at the latter two here, however we’ve got you sorted if you wish to see MacBook vs MacBook Air. So, do you go Pro or Air? Well, there are numerous distinctions and it completely depends upon your use cases.
Do you desire a larger screen? More option with your internals? Or something slimmer and less severe on the wallet?
Let’s compare the current 2015 MacBook Pro with its MacBook Air cousins to see which one is best for you.
MacBook Pro Vs MacBook Air: Which Should You Buy?
MACBOOK PRO VS AIR 2015: DESIGN
All of Apple’s MacBook laptops have excellent aluminium bodies. The bottom, the cover and the keyboard surround are all-metal. MacBook Airs and Pros all feel fantastic.
Their shapes are a bit various, though. There are 15-inch and 13-inch variations of the MacBook Pro, and both have relatively blocky bodies. Both are 18mm thick.
Pass the measurements alone and the Pro laptops don’t appear all that much chunkier than the 11-inch and 13-inch Airs, which are both 17mm. All that fuss for 1mm?
Well, in reality the MacBook Airs do appear substantially slimmer since their bodies are much more tapered. At their thinnest the Air laptops are just 3mm thick, and you can actually feel it when you choose them up.
In pure practical terms, what matters more than just the feel is weight. Here’s the weights of the various designs readily available in 2015:
MacBook Pro 15: 2.02 kg
MacBook Pro 13: 1.58 kg
MacBook Air 13: 1.35 kg
MacBook Air 11: 1.08 kg
The only one of these MacBooks you most likely wouldn’t want to lug around every day is the 15-inch MacBook Pro. Nevertheless, every little helps when it comes to portability. The 11-inch MacBook will basically sink into your bag without trace. In an excellent way.
All these laptops only can be found in one shade, silver. While the new MacBook comes in Space Gray, Gold and Silver rather like Apple’s iPhones, the old guard laptops don’t.
It’s actually the MacBook Airs that are ageing a bit in style terms, however. They have contoured screen bezels instead of fully-flat screens, and quite obvious rubber protectors around the display screen. It’s clearly a design of a few years back.
MACBOOK PRO VS AIR 2015: SCREEN
One of the most crucial distinctions between the Air and Pro laptops is screen quality. To put it merely, MacBook Pros have terrific display screens. MacBook Airs do not.
While Apple has actually revealed new MacBook Air 11-inch and 13-inch variations for 2015, both have rather dated screens. Lots of were hoping for Retina screens for the next Air refresh, but we didn’t get them.
Rather, both Air models have relatively low-resolution screens using TN panels instead of the IPS kind now being used commonly in higher-end laptops. Here are the specifications of the MacBook Air pair:
11 inch: 1,366 x 768 pixels, TN LCD
13 inch: 1,440 x 900 pixels, TN LCD
There’s a bump up in pixels for the larger-size laptop, however both struggle with relatively clear pixellation. Many Windows laptops at the price get you much better resolution.
The TN LCD panels likewise include their own set of image quality concerns. Colour reproduction isn’t really that terrific and brighter areas of images can appear washed-out.
For a screen of this type they are great, however then laptops have begun to carry on to much better screen technologies. Seeing angles are restricted too. When you tilt the display back or forwards much, contrast shift sets in, as it always mades with TN screens.
Here’s what contrast shift looks like
The MacBook Pro twins, on the other hand, are absolutely various. Both have excellent screens that are ‘Retina’ grade. One once again, here are those specifications:.
13.3 inch: 2,560 x 1,600 pixels, IPS LCD
15.4 inch: 2,880 x 1,800 pixels, IPS LCD
All the concerns with the Air twins are resolved in the Pros. Images look even more rich, seeing angles are just about best and colour performance is method, method better.
MACBOOK PRO VS AIR 2015: CONNECTIVITY
As typically occurs with laptops, the larger you go the better connectivity you get. The 11-inch MacBook Air has quite limited connections while the 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pros have the same, pretty complete, selection of connections.
That full load-out includes two Thunderbolt 2 ports, two USB 3.0 ports, an SD card and a full-size HDMI port. Sure, an additional USB would be available in helpful, however it’s otherwise respectable.
Scale down to the MacBook Air 13-inch and you lose one Thunderbolt port and the HDMI socket. It’s somewhat less versatile, however you can do an awful lot with that one Thunderbolt port, consisting of connecting the laptop to an external display.
Move one step down again to the 11-inch MacBook Air and you lose a pretty serious element, the SD card slot.
In the past, the MacBook Air laptops have likewise lost on a few wireless connectivity requirements, today they are on-par with the MacBook Pros. All 4 laptop styles have Wi-Fi ac, USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt 2.
MACBOOK PRO VS AIR 2015: CPU, GPU AND RAM
There’s a horrible lot of difference in power and processor between the various MacBook designs. The only set with consistency are the MacBook Air designs. Both the 11-inch and 13-inch Airs use dual-core Broadwell Intel Core i5 CPUs clocked at 1.6 GHz, which can be updated to 2.2 GHz dual-core Intel Core i7 CPUs.
While these processors are pretty powerful, they’re also designed for high efficiency rather than max performance.
The Pro models get you a level-up in power terms, and are the better choice if you desire a serious computer system along with one that’s quite portable. That stated, the 13-inch MacBook Pro still uses dual-core CPUs that care a dreadful lot about effectiveness.
It’s just when you step up to the 15-inch Pro model that you get full-blooded quad-core laptop CPUs. While at present the 15-inch Pros use 4th-generation Haswell processors instead of the Broadwell CPUs seen in the other designs, they are still much more effective.
Still, if you’re looking at a 15-inch design you might wish to wait a bit to see what Apple creates in the next MacBook revitalize: it probably will not be a year away. The 15-inch MacBook Pro is also the only one that can be found in a gamer-friendly setup too. For ₤ 2,000 you can get a laptop with an Nvidia GeForce GT 750M card.
Now, for that sort of money you could get a ‘correct’ video gaming laptop with far, far greater gaming power. But it’s a respectable version of that card with 2GB GDDR5 RAM.
Raising RAM introduces an entire other aspect to consider. These laptops do not have the same type of main system RAM either.
The MacBook Pro 13 has 1866MHz LPDDR3 system RAM where all the others have slower 1600MHz RAM. That includes the 15-inch MacBook Pro.
What will impact individuals more, however, is the amount of RAM. MacBook Airs include 4GB RAM by default while all MacBook Pro models now have at least 8GB RAM. That additional bump-up gives you far smoother basic performance when, for instance, you have a half-dozen applications running and about five zillion internet browser windows opened.
MACBOOK PRO VS AIR 2015: STORAGE
All MacBook Air and Pro designs use SSDs for their storage, which are method much faster than the disk drive you have had in your last laptop or desktop. The problem with SSDs is what while rates are gradually coming down, unless you’re prepared to invest big they don’t have anywhere near the capacity of HDDs.
MacBook Airs and Pros both start off with 128GB SSDs. That’s not a great deal for laptop. All sizes of Apple laptop can be updated to 512GB, while Pro designs can go all the way as much as 1TB. Nevertheless, going from 512GB to 1TB will cost you an eye-watering ₤ 400.
One way to obtain more storage one the cheap is to purchase the old, outdated 13-inch MacBook Pro, the design that sells for ₤ 899/$ 1099. It has a 500GB hard disk. However, we do not advise it as the processor is quite old and its screen is no place near as great as the more updated Pro laptops.
MACBOOK PRO VS AIR 2015: KEYBOARD AND TRACKPAD
All MacBooks use respectable slimline chiclet keyboards. And all of them consisting of the 11-inch MacBook Air, have full-size keys. They are quite excellent to type on, each, but if you want something to act as a ‘primary’ computer, we suggest choosing among the 13-inch or larger designs.
They feel that bit more constant, and give you a bit more room to deal with. It’s not so much about the spaciousness of the secrets (they’re practically the same), however the 11-inch MacBook does have a smaller trackpad and cut-down function secrets. These comprise the top row of the keyboard. The keyboard surround is also way smaller, which is what makes the 11-inch design feel a bit more confined.
All MacBooks have backlit keyboards, however, making it easy to type away in the dark.
The MacBook Airs and 15-inch MacBook Pros use the same tech for their trackpads, with a hinged glass-top pad. Nevertheless, the 13-inch MacBook Pro has a brand-new Force Touch pad that is a bit different.
It looks precisely the same, sure, however no longer has that hinged style. Rather, it hardly moves, instead relying totally on haptic feedback for that timeless trackpad ‘click’. The old designs use a software-managed click system, however don’t rely completely on it.
What this enables is a brand-new pressure-sensitive gesture. A basic tap imitates it always does, however you can press down harder to get secondary functions, like seeing web link previews in Safari. It’s quite cool, specifically as the haptic feedback also supplies a more meaty 2nd click to ensure it feels right.
As the new 13-inch MacBook Pro trackpads have a slightly less pronounced first click than the other MacBook models it does take a little getting used to, although you can customise this to a degree in the Settings menu.
MACBOOK PRO VS AIR 2015: BATTERY LIFE
So far the MacBook Airs look a bit like poor relations of the MacBook Pros. And they are in some respects, however it’s also true that their strengths depend on different areas.
Among the best needs to purchase a MacBook Air is battery life. The 13-inch MacBook Pro lasts for approximately 12 hours off a charge. Using the numerous designs for the previous week approximately in series, and the stamina difference is obvious.
This is the pay-off of using a more reined-in CPU. Here are Apple’s figures on the battery life of the most recent designs:.
MacBook Pro 15: 8 hours light use
MacBook Pro 13: 10 hours light use
MacBook Air 13: 12 hours light use
MacBook Air 11: 9 hours light use
As you can see here, the MacBook Air 13 is the clear king of endurance. If you’re just working with e-mails, documents and so on, you’ll let a long day’s work out of the Air, while we’ve drained down the 13-inch Pro within a day’s graft without much problem.
As the figures state, the 15-inch MacBook is truly designed for those who are going to use it at home as well as out and about. Eight-hour endurance is terrific for a laptop that size and resolution, however it’s a way off Air-style longevity.
Which MacBook should you buy? Well if you want the most current of the lot, there’s only one choice, the MacBook Pro 13-inch design. It’s the lone laptop to gain from a Retina screen and the most recent Broadwell processors.
MacBook Pro at Amazon.co.uk from ₤ 900|Amazon.com from $1,157.
The Airs have seriously ageing screens and the 15-inch MacBook Pro still uses last-generation processors. It’s not what you want when you’re paying upwards of ₤ 1000/$ 1200, is it?
However, if you cannot wait till the Air and 15-inch MacBook Pro either get a more serious update or are straight-out changed, they still have their uses. The 15-inch MacBook Pro is available in configs that’ll blow the 13-inch MacBook out of the water, and is the just one that can come with a dedicated graphics card.
MacBook Air at Amazon.co.uk from ₤ 754|Amazon.com from $999.
When it comes to the Air, its endurance is still unequalled. If you’re going to be doing work instead of viewing films, the screen quality needn’t be too much of a concern, and both sizes of Air are also splendidly light.