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If you've been planning to buy a new Mac, then the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air are two popular options that you're possibly considering. Right now, Apple sells six different MacBook models, each featuring its own unique characteristics and price tag. This makes deciding which variant to get a bit confusing. Worry not; we're here to show you exactly what the difference is between each MacBook Pro and MacBook Air model currently on sale.


First off, let's take a look at the tech specs for the latest MacBooks. This lets us see some of the notable differences at a basic level.

MacBook Air M2

MacBook Pro M2 Pro/Max


  • Apple M2 (8-core CPU + 16-core Neural Engine)
  • Apple M2 Pro (10-core CPU + 16-Core Neural Engine)
  • Apple M2 Pro (12-Core CPU + 16-Core Neural Engine)
  • Apple M2 Max (12-Core CPU + 16-Core Neural Engine)
  • Apple M2 Max (12-Core CPU + 16-Core Neural Engine)


  • 8-Core GPU
  • 10-Core GPU
  • 16-core GPU
  • 19-core GPU
  • 30-core GPU
  • 38-core GPU


  • 8GB
  • 16GB
  • 24GB
  • 16GB
  • 32GB
  • 64GB
  • 96GB


  • 256GB
  • 512GB
  • 1TB
  • 2TB
  • 512GB
  • 1TB
  • 2TB
  • 4TB
  • 8TB


  • 13.6-inch Liquid Retina, 2560x1664, 500 nits
  • 15.3-inch Liquid Retina, 2880x1864, 500 nits
  • 14.2-inch Liquid Retina XDR, 3024x1964, 500 nits (1600 nits for HDR)
  • 16.2-inch Liquid Retina XDR, 3456x2234, 500 nits (1600 nits for HDR)


  • 1080p FaceTime HD camera
  • 1080p FaceTime HD camera


  • Up to 18 hours
  • Up to 18 hours (14-inch model)
  • Up to 22 hours (16-inch model)


  • Two Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports (40Gbps, Power Delivery, one external display)
  • MagSafe 3 port
  • Headphone jack
  • Three Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports (40Gbps, Power Delivery, up to four external displays)
  • SDXC card slot
  • HDMI port
  • MagSafe 3 port
  • Headphone jack


  • Wi-Fi 6 (802.11a/b/g/n/ac compatible)
  • Bluetooth 5.3
  • Wi-Fi 6E (802.11a/b/g/n/ac compatible)
  • Bluetooth 5.3


  • 11.97 x 8.46 x 0.44 inches (13-inch model)
  • 13.4 x 9.35 x 0.45 in (15-inch model)
  • 12.31 x 8.71 x 0.61 in (14-inch model)
  • 14.01 x 9.77 x 0.66 in (16-inch model)


  • Starts at 2.7 pounds (13-inch model)
  • Starts at 3.3 pounds (15-inch model)
  • Starts at 3.5 pounds (14-inch model)
  • Starts at 4.7 pounds (16-inch model)


  • Silver
  • Starlight
  • Space Gray
  • Midnight
  • Silver
  • Space Gray


  • Starts at $1,099 (13-inch model)
  • Starts at $1,299 (15-inch model)
  • Starts at $1,999 (14 inches)
  • Starts at $2,499 (16 inches)

Design and ports: The 13- and 15-inch MacBooks miss out on ports

The Macbook Air M2 headphone jack

MacBooks didn't vary a lot in terms of design until Apple released the redesigned, notched MacBook Pro and Air models. The company now sells six different MacBook variants. The M2 MacBook Air 13- and 15-inch follow the same design language as the 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro models. However, they lack the variety of ports introduced in the Pro models after the major design refresh. This could be because the Air targets average consumers rather than pro creators who might need to attach more equipment to their machines. Though, it includes more finishes and introduces the controversial notch in its display.

That leaves us with two models that follow the original design — the M1 MacBook Air 13-inch and the M2 MacBook Pro 13-inch. The former is the original Apple Silicon MacBook Air from 2020. It's an okay option today for those on a very limited budget. Though, we advise you to pay $100 more and grab the M2 variant, which offers plenty of upgrades for a small price difference. Meanwhile, the MacBook Pro M2 is the only model that still has the Touch Bar and dated chassis that lacks the port variety.

At this point, Apple is offering six models for a reason. Each covers one or two areas where it excels while sacrificing other aspects in the process. Users will need to weigh the pros and cons carefully and decide what their priorities are.

As far as the rest of the design goes, these are all aluminum laptops that look fairly similar. All the MacBook Pro models come in the same color options (Silver and Space Gray), but the M1 MacBook Air adds a Gold variant, while the M2 MacBook Air introduces Starlight and Midnight options. Those might be worth keeping in mind if you want something that stands out a bit more.

If you're planning to work in a multi-monitor environment, the Apple M1 and M2 processors are very limiting.

There are huge differences when it comes to the ports, though. Both the MacBook Air and the Apple M2-powered MacBook Pro only have two Thunderbolt ports, while the M2 Pro/Max variants come with three Thunderbolt 4 ports, an HDMI port, an SD card slot, and more. Also, while the Thunderbolt ports have 40Gbps of bandwidth, the Apple M1 and M2 models can only connect to one external display, regardless of the resolution. Meanwhile, the 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro models can support up to four external displays. If you're planning to work in a multi-monitor environment, the Apple M1 and M2 processors are very limiting.

Another notable difference is the MacBook Air models and 14- and 16-inch Pros don't have a Touch Bar, while the 13-inch M2 Pro model does. The Touch Bar on MacBooks gives users customizable quick controls, which can be tailored for different apps and scenarios, like media playback controls, a color picker, and more. On the MacBook Air and other Pro models, you have the typical function keys in place of it. Otherwise, most elements are similar. There's Touch ID on the power button, the keyboard uses a scissor mechanism, and all the models have a Force Touch trackpad. So if you really want a Touch Bar on your MacBook, the 13-inch Pro is your only option.

Front view of the MacBook Pro 13 display

It's also worth pointing out the camera. The 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro models in addition to the M2 Air come with an upgraded 1080p FaceTime camera. You get a 720p camera instead on the other models. Apple's M chips improve the white balance, exposure, and dynamic range, thanks to the image signal processor on board. So the 720p camera on the 13-inch MacBook Pro and MacBook Air will result in better image quality when compared to that of the 720p camera on retired Intel models. However, the new M2 Air and larger Pro models bring a significant upgrade — 1080p. If you depend on video calls for work or studies, you might want to keep this in mind.

Display: The larger MacBook Pro models are brighter

If you're focused on finding the best display, you don't have to look too hard. All the 13-inch MacBooks have similar sizes and 2560x1600 resolutions. Yes, the M2 MacBook Air introduces a larger 13.6-inch screen with higher brightness and a larger 15.3-inch variant, but it still isn't as bright and clear as those on the larger MacBook Pro models. Plus, they all come with a wide color gamut (P3) and True Tone support, so they should look great, but they're not the best out there. The outliers are the 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro models, which kick the resolution up to 3024x1964 and 3456x2234, respectively.

Mini LED MacBook screen

One of the most notable differences between the 13-inch MacBooks and the larger Pros is their brightness. The display on the 13-inch and 15.3-inch ones can go up to 500 nits of brightness, and that's better than the majority of laptops already. However, the 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro models can go up to 1,600 nits of brightness when viewing HDR content — specifically, SDR brightness remains limited to 500 nits, while sustained XDR brightness caps out at 1,000 nits. If you're using your laptop indoors most of the time, you probably don't need the extra brightness, but for working on the go, it can really help visibility under bright sunlight.

Performance: The MacBook Pro has active cooling

m1 chip overview

The 13-inch MacBook Air has the original Apple M1 chipset, and it's a big leap from previous models across Mac lines. Apple touts up to 3.5x faster CPU performance, 5x faster graphics, and 11x faster machine learning performance than previous Intel models. We can look to GeekBench to understand how powerful the Apple M1's CPU is.

The Apple M1-powered MacBook Air is pretty much neck and neck in terms of performance, far outclassing the Intel processors in the retired models. The Apple M1 is both powerful and efficient, so even though it doesn't consume a lot of power, it's still more powerful than an H-series Intel processor in some ways. You may look at that and think the MacBook Air is just as good as the Pro, but there's something to keep in mind.

Apple M2 specifications graphic

The Apple M1 and M2 chips don't require active cooling, and the MacBook Air models don't have fans, but the MacBook Pro models do. The GeekBench benchmark is relatively short, so that doesn't come into play for these results. During longer usage periods, the MacBook Pro will probably sustain its performance better than the Air because it has an active cooling fan. However, this is just a CPU comparison, and there are other things worth keeping in mind.

Apple M2 Pro and M2 Max chips

There's something else to consider, too. The 13-inch MacBook Air with the Apple M1 is limited to a maximum of 16GB of RAM and 2TB of SSD storage. That's still a lot, but if you're planning to store lots of video projects and work with memory-intensive apps, it's quite limited. The 14 and 16-inch MacBook Pro models can have up to 96GB of RAM and 8TB of storage, thanks to the M2 Pro/Max chips. If you only care about the higher RAM, then the M2 MacBook Air and Pro models can go up to 24GB while maxing out at 2TB for SSD storage.

Something else that's impressive is the battery life enabled by the Apple M1 chipset, despite its performance. The MacBook Air has the smallest battery of the laptops here, but it still claims up to 18 hours of video playback on a charge. The 13-inch MacBook Pro has a slightly bigger battery and promises up to 20 hours on a charge. However, the 16-inch MacBook Pro promises up to 22 hours of video playback — the longest battery life on a Mac to date.

Bottom line

2020 MacBook Pro and 2022 MacBook Pro 13-inch
The 2020 Intel-powered 13-inch MacBook Pro (left) and the 2022 M2-powered 13-inch MacBook Pro (right).

Comparing the MacBook Air to the Pro models can be hard because Apple has mixed a lot of elements together. Some models have the latest chipsets, while others have the latest design chassis. Similarly, some go for more ports, while another model includes a Touch Bar. Unfortunately, you can't have it all — there's no MacBook model with the new exterior design, port variety, and Touch Bar. You have to pick, but you can't get everything.

It's worth mentioning that the MacBook Air is lighter, and it's safe to say it can still handle almost anything you throw at it if you're using it for school. You might also want to consider the longer battery life on the Pro model, but to be fair, the 18 hours promised for the MacBook Air should already be enough to get you through any normal day.

For college students or occasional users on a very limited budget, the M1 MacBook Air will most likely do a fantastic job.

Bringing the M2 Pro/Max models into the mix makes things a bit more complex. These MacBook models take professional Macs to the next level. The power they offer isn't aimed at average users. Instead, they're for people who require plenty of resources and computing power for their projects. So if you're an advanced audio, photo, or video editor, you might want to invest in one of these powerhouses.

For college students or occasional users on a very limited budget, the M1 MacBook Air will most likely do a fantastic job. Though, if you can afford to pay $100 more, we certainly advise you to invest in the 13-inch MacBook Air M2. That's because it looks better, packs newer tech, and is more future-proof. If you're a creative professional and considering the MacBook Pro, then it probably makes sense to look at the 14- or 16-inch models more because of the larger displays and port variety. With all the options available, it's always worth considering every tier to make sure you're getting something that's just right for you. If macOS isn't your thing, check out our list of the best laptops, which includes many Windows PCs.