Apple offers three options when it comes to MacBooks
- MacBook Air 13-inch (M1)
- MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1)
- MacBook Pro 14-inch (M1 Pro)
- MacBook Pro 16-inch (M1 Pro & M1 Max).
However, when I look at the many options for RAM, CPU, and disk storage, it becomes exponentially more diverse.
How do you make your decision?
How can you ensure that your decision will not be regrettable in a few months?
Today, I’ll help you make the best decisions based on your individual needs and resources. If you don’t wish to read this, scroll down to the quiz section.
Three approaches to selecting a MacBook will be considered:
- Budget driven.
- Want based.
Let’s start by comparing the Apple laptops.
MacBook Air vs. MacBook Pro 13-inch
Here is a table of differences between all MacBooks:
|Characteristic||MBA||MBP 13″||MBP14″||MBP 16″|
|Max Storage||2TB SSD||4TB SSD||8TB SSD||8TB SSD|
|CPU choice||M1||M1||M1 Pro, M1 Max||M1 Pro, M1 Max|
|Weight, lb||2.8||3.1||3.5||4.7 (Pro), 4.8 (Max)|
|Size, inches||11.97 x 8.36 x 0.16-0.63||11.97 x 8.36 x 0.61||12.31 x 8.71 x 0.61||14.01 x 9.77 x 0.66|
|Battery time||15 hours||17 hours||17 hours||14 hours|
|Colors||Gold, Silver, Space Gray||Silver, Space Gray||Silver, Space Gray||Silver, Space Gray|
The table shows that the main differences between MacBook Air and MacBook Pro (MBA) are:
- Choose from a variety of processors. MacBook Air 13” and 13” MacBook Pro older models only come with the Apple M1 processor. MacBook Pro 14’’ and MacBook Pro 16’’ are both new models that allow you to choose between M1 Pro or more advanced M1 Max processors.
- Start Price. Entry Level MBA is $300 lower than the entry-level MBP.
- Battery life. MBP can last for 2 hours more under the same load that an MBA.
- Touch Bar. The only old MacBook Pro with M1 chips has Touch Bar. All other models support Touch ID only.
- Weight. MBA weighs slightly less than MBP13”, and MBP13” is slightly heavier than MBP14”.
- Fan. MBA doesn’t have a fan.
- Colors. Only Air offers a Gold option.
- Price. The MacBook Air 13” and MacBook Pro 13’’ are more affordable. The new models are priced at around $2000, which may make them too costly for many people.
MBP 13-inch vs. MBP 14-inch vs. MBP 16-inch
Apple introduced new MacBook Pro models in October 2021. The second generation of Apple’s processor chips is included in the new models. They are called M1 Pro or M1 Max.
They also sold an older MacBook Pro 13” (I doubt it for very long), which was equipped with the 1st generation M1 chip.
Comparing similar chips with 8 cores, the new M1 Pro chip is 70% faster than the older M1. You can also upgrade to the 10 core M1 Max, which comes with a 32-core GPU and provides more power.
Charging and Expansion
For years, users have complained about the actions of the company in the last few years.
Apple seems to have listened to almost all complaints. The new MacBooks actually look and feel identical to the 2015 models.
They first brought back the MagSafe port. Now, you don’t have to connect the USB-C charger to your laptop. Your laptops are now safe. Your laptop will not be damaged if you trip on the charger.
They also added back the HDMI port and SDXC slot. There are no more dongles!
You still have three USB-C ports. You can charge via USB-C ports, but MagSafe charges much faster.
Video, Camera and Sound
The MacBook Pro 14’’ and 16’’ models get better sound and video quality, as with all new models. A slight camera upgrade is another nice feature. MacBooks had a 720p camera for the past 7-8 years. They finally upgraded it to a 1080p camera.
MacBook Pro 14’’ or MacBook Pro 16’’
The 16-inch MacBook Pro is larger than its 14-inch counterpart in every respect: size, weight, storage, RAM and CPU, as well as price.
Comparing them is futile. It is more important to ask yourself if you really need this beast. You may need it in some cases.
This approach will allow you to answer the following questions.
- Why would you need a MacBook Pro?
- Are you going to use your MacBook at work, school, or at home?
- Why MacBook, and not a Surface-type PC laptop?
Let’s look at several examples to help answer these questions.
MacBook for data science students
Yap X. reached me with the following question
“Hello, I’m a freelance web developer and data scientist. I can use Google colab to do data science stuff in my browser. I only need a text editor to create a web. I am currently considering a MBA or MBP em>
The next question was whether he needed more storage or RAM. While I understand that data science projects require a lot memory, web developers can benefit from more storage (for code and assets).
A MacBook for law students
Hassan H. asked me: “I’m a UK law student. Your article on macbook storage sizes has been very helpful to me. I would like to purchase a macbook (latest), but I am unsure which one is best for me. Macbook air or macbook Pro .”
Hassan didn’t require a lot of power. Hassan needed a lightweight laptop that could hold as many batteries as possible. He chose the MacBook Air.
The same process was used for the two MacBooks that I purchased at work. Both were 15-inch MacBook Pros (now it’s 16-inch MacBook Pros with 16GB RAM, at least 512GB storage).
Because I code, it is important to have more RAM and storage on-board than the CPU, I chose the least powerful processor. Aside from that, even the most powerful CPU in the MBP is better than the one in the 13-inch Pro.
A larger display would have allowed me to work from home with no external monitor.
What does this mean for you?
It is easy to make a decision if you know how you plan to use your laptop.
If you require a larger display, more RAM, CPU, and disk, go for the MacBook Pro 16-inch.
If you are looking for a lightweight laptop and can travel frequently, you should consider the MacBook Air. The MBA is a good choice if you aren’t expecting to do much other than read documents, send emails and surf the internet.
Get the MacBook 13-inch if in doubt. It is a perfect combination of power and usability.
We would buy the best, worst, and most importantly, not worry about it. All of us have budgets. Of course, budgets can be inconsistent with our wants and needs.
Here are some suggestions and observations if you’re short of money.
MacBook Air is a great laptop
The MBA is sufficient for most people in most cases. Even web developers. It may take some time to grow your MBA resources if you’re just beginning your studies in web design or software engineering.
You will most likely be able afford a better machine when you are a professional.
MacBook Air vs MacBook Pro 13”
Although there was always a clear choice between Air or Pro, the MacBook Pro 13’s appeal has diminished with the introduction Apple M1. Both the MacBook Air 13’’ and MacBook Pro 13’’ currently have the exact same CPU.
A MacBook Pro has a fan, while the Air doesn’t.
They launch both apps at the same time.
When you require sustained CPU usage, such as when working with graphics or playing games, the Pro is an advantage. When you are playing or working with graphics.
MacBook Air slows down the CPU when you play games for a while. Pro kicks in the fan to keep the computer running at maximum speed.
The new processor is far more powerful than any other laptop CPU, so Pro must be very careful to get MBA or fan to turn off the CPU.
MacBook Air vs MacBook Pro 14”
M1 MBA and MBP are similar in many respects, but it wouldn’t be fair to compare MacBook Air with the new MacBook Pro 14′. In all aspects, the latter is faster, smaller, more RAM, storage, video and audio, charging, expansion, etc.
But there’s a catch. The new MacBook Pro 14’’ is twice as expensive than the MacBook Air.
If you have the money to spend two grand on a new laptop, get it. MBA, if not, is still a great laptop.
You might consider refurbished or used items
You can still get a 15′” or 16’1 inch MBP if you are really in need, but don’t have the budget.
A whole article was written on how to select a used MacBook, and which Apple laptop offers the best price-performance ratio.
Don’t pay retail
I have never purchased Apple products from the Apple Store. I shop online and save at least $100 every time.
Don’t forget to mention that credit can be used to pay for your device. This makes it even easier.
A Want Based Approach
Daniel S. sent me this email three months ago:
“I don’t know what gift to get my girlfriend. MBP 128GB or MBA 256GB Both come at the same cost. MBP wins in all parameters, except memory. My girlfriend only needs a browser, simple photo editing, office work, and movie watching. My computer should last longer. Given the trend in application development, it might be more profitable to use more power.
After much discussion, we realized that his girlfriend had already decided. She loved the TouchBar option and was happy with a smaller disk because she didn’t intend to store many photos, documents, or video.
The bottom line is If you don’t have the option of choosing between them, choose what you prefer. It doesn’t matter if it’s a look or a color.
Once you have decided on the type of MacBook that you want, the next step will be to determine if it is worth investing in more storage or memory or a faster processor. Over the years, I have accumulated a lot of resources that can help you with your upgrade questions.
Is it worth the extra storage? My post at http://macmyths.com/howmuch-storage do-i-need for-macbook /”>” Is 128GB enough for MacBook Pro/Air? Storage Guide” will show you how to determine your options regarding disk space.
This link will help you with RAM questions.
These resources will assist you in choosing the right specs for your used MacBooks.
The choice of the right CPU has become more difficult since Apple introduced four options (Apple M1, Apple M5, Apple i7, Apple i9, and Apple i5).
That’s all. Thank you!
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