Compare MacBook Air, MacBook, MacBook Pro


You need a laptop. Nothing fancy, only enough to surf the web, use Google Docs or Microsoft office, and store your photos. You want a mac. And you want it to be thin and lightweight enough to carry with you everywhere. This could be a simple choice, right? Sadly, Apple’s MacBook lineup is incredibly confusing right now, with plenty of overlap between the MacBook Air, MacBook, and the entry-level MacBook Pro. However, we predict that if you’re trying to find merely a reliable, everyday Apple laptop that provides you excellent performance for the lowest value, it’s hard to do better than the MacBook Air.

No matter what mac laptop you select, you’re going to get the same overall experience. All of them run the same operating system (macOS). For the most everyday work and school tasks, you won’t notice the difference in performance between models. And all of those models are light-weight and slim enough to hold around all day. For most individuals, the differences come down to things like a variety of ports and the storage space.

Read our comparison on each of Apple’s basic laptops. Want something more powerful? We’ve got a complete guide dedicated to choosing the best MacBook. However, if you don’t entirely want a brand new Mac laptop right now, we tend to recommend waiting because Apple’s laptop lines are due (some may say overdue) for updates.

MacBook Air

It’s been over three years since the 13-inch MacBook Air received any severe updates, so you may wonder if you ought to bother spending your cash on this older machine, mainly when the newer 12-inch MacBook and MacBook Pro are nearly as thin. However the Air’s processor is a bit faster than the one within the MacBook, that is to mention quick enough for many everyday uses, and Apple has shown a commitment to supporting older machines with newer operational systems. (I merely put in a range, the most recent version of macOS, on a 2011 MacBook Air.)

The MacBook Air additionally has the most extended battery life of any Mac laptop. Employees who’ve used versions of the Air over the years say it will last for pretty much a full work or college day of real-world use, whereas the MacBook and MacBook Pro will need a charge by early afternoon. Another massive advantage over the 12-inch MacBook and the current MacBook pro are useful “legacy” ports, two USB-A 3.0 ports, an sd card slot, and a Thunderbolt 2/Mini DisplayPort. This suggests that you don’t need adapters to use the peripherals. The Mac Air is the only MacBook left that still features an excellent keyboard and the helpful MagSafe magnetic power connector.

The Air’s biggest drawback is that it’s the sole MacBook without a retina display. Its 1440×900 resolution appears fine—just not nearly as good as that of the higher-res screens on different models. Still, the Air’s alternative advantages could make getting this model worth giving up some screen quality.

Because the Air is older, it’s the most affordable of Apple’s light-weight machines. Third-party resellers frequently offer it about hundreds of dollars off Apple’s value, and Apple itself often provides heavily discounted refurbished models with a full one-year warranty. If you would like a solid MacBook at an affordable price, the Air is your best choice.


The 12-inch MacBook could be your best choice if you needed the lightest laptop possible and you are prepared to pay extra for it: pricing starts at $1,300 (with 256 GB of storage, double that of the $1,300 entry-level pro and $1,000 Air).

To achieve the 12-inch MacBook’s smooth style, Apple had to make a couple of sacrifices. First, it has a super-thin keyboard that people were having some problems with. Its keys are often sticky, and there’s a general discomfort once typing on it, thanks to its shallow keys. The new keyboard is reportedly a lot of vulnerable to failure than past Apple keyboards too, and we are concerned about its long-term reliableness. Apple is currently addressing these keyboard failures with a service program for eligible models. This covers free repairs for four years after your initial purchase, although this offer does help ease the pain of the keyboard’s drawbacks. It doesn’t change the fact the new keyboard isn’t as convenient or reliable as its last models from years ago.

We think that unless obtaining the smallest available machine is your highest priority. There’s just one compelling reason to decide on the MacBook over the Air right now: The MacBook’s higher-resolution display is perceptibly sharper than the screen on the Air, which may be an enormous difference if you’ll seemingly be staring at the screen for hours each day. However this difference isn’t essential to how you utilize the machine, and that we assume the MacBook Air’s legacy ports make it a lot more usable on a regular basis if you would like to connect to printers or displays or anything else.

MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2017, two Thunderbolt three Ports)

The MacBook Pro (2017 13-inch 2 Thunderbolt 3 Ports) differentiates from the model with the touch Bar (2017 13-inch Four Thunderbolt 3 Ports)—is the machine to get if you want the most powerful and most extensive, sharpest screen while not breaking the $1,500 barrier. It’s pretty much an equivalent weight as the also-13-inch Air, and among all the sub-$1,500 machines, it’s the quickest processor, which means it’ll feel a bit snappier at times—but not enough that you directly can purchase it for its speed alone.

The MacBook Pro’s retina display looks great, although this version of the pro has solely two Thunderbolt 3/USB-C ports, which are a bonus over the Air’s array given that you have got the proper accessories to take advantage of them. The MacBook Pro also uses Apple’s newer mediocre keyboard style. This can be the model to buy if you’re willing to pay more to future-proof yourself—in preparation for when USB-C is that the default connection type, or simply just to own the model that’s most likely to stay usable the most years down the road—you’ll have to pay $400 to $500 more than the cost of an Air to get those benefits.