2018 MacBook Air vs. 2018 MacBook Pro Tests and Comparison

Wingzfan61

macrumors regular
Original poster
Dec 1, 2012
113
95
The question of “which one should I get” comes up alot and I get asked more times than I care to answer from friends and colleagues. I’ve been wanting to compare the 2 devices and today ended up being a good day to do so. These are basic tests on my day to day usage scenarios. I dont do alot of photo editing and zero video editing. I primarily use the devices to run a business on the financial end of things. Quickbooks, Mail, Word, Numbers/Excel and some video throughout the day.


Disclaimer: Both devices have the latest updates and same software versions. The Pro has 110 cycles on the battery but Coconut battery reports 98.5% life left. The Air is new. Both devices are base models with 8gb of ram. The only difference is my Pro has 512gb storage and the Air has 256gb of storage. Both devices were wiped clean and each app was installed in the same order mirroring each device. All settings have also been mirrored between devices. No other apps were in use during the below tests. Bluetooth, wifi, location services etc were left on to simulate day to day usage. Bluetooth was not connected to any device. Wifi was connected to the same 5g connection on both devices and they were side by side 15 feet from the router. Auto-brightness left on both devices in hopes to have roughly the same level of screen brightness on each device since I don’t have a meter. True-Tone is turned on for the Pro. Volume was at the same level on each device.



Battery Life (Full capacity verified with coconut battery. Air would not go above 99% in CB even after 2 hours of being plugged in. Pictures below):

Same Youtube Video, played in Safari, on loop for 2 hours from 100% charge.

- Air down to 74.6%

- Pro down to 74.9%

Mac OS showed 78% for the Air and 79% for the Pro which I found interesting.


Same local video played for 1 hour in VLC from the percentage listed above (Air 74.6%, Pro 74.9%)

- Air down to 60.1%

- Pro down to 61.2%

Mac OS showed 65% for the Air and 66% for the Pro.


Charge Time:

Air - Roughly 3 hours
Pro - Roughly 2 hours


Speed:

Opening Photoshop CC 2018 (Fresh Reboot)

- Air 5.93 seconds

- Pro 5.13 seconds


Quit Photoshop and reopen after 30 seconds

- Air 3.59 seconds

- Pro 2.46 seconds


New Install Intel Power Gadget (I had downloaded it before tests began and hadn't installed it on either machine until now)

- Air 1:23.44

- Pro 0:43.48


Open Microsoft Word from fresh reboot

- Air 4.87 Seconds

- Pro 3.26 Seconds


Reboot (From when the Apple logo appeared)

- Air 21.25 Seconds

- Pro 21.24 Seconds


Heat (Using Intel Power Gadget):

10 minutes of idle

- Air 32.60C

- Pro 29.60C


10 minutes of the same Youtube video in Safari

- Air 43.10C

- Pro 37.30C


Back to battery life:

After finishing these tests the batteries are as follows.

- Air down to 52.2%

- Pro down to 53.6%

Mac OS showed 55% for the Air and 56% for the Pro.


Conclusion:
I’m rather shocked by the results in regards to battery. The main reason I got an Air was for more battery life. Maybe this gets better after a few cycles but I don’t see it getting that much better. The Pro, with 110 cycles, and 98.5% life, not only maintained with the Air but actually had more juice left in every scenario.

As for speed, I knew the Pro would be faster so no surprise there. I really thought the reboot would be much faster for the Pro.

Heat wise, the Pro clearly does better in this regards and I wouldn't expect anything less.


My Opinion:
Where the Air used to shine in battery life, it just isn't the case when the Pro has the bigger battery. The Pro has a better screen in terms of brightness, True Tone and the P3 Wide Color Gamut. If you can afford the cost increase which varies week to week, the Pro is the better buy imo. At this point Im thinking I will return the Air and get another Pro since I need 1 for the office and 1 for the home. I'd much rather have the extra power and better screen.

Heres the screenshots and some side by side comparison pics.

Screen Shot 2019-03-29 at 11.30.08 AM.png Screen Shot 2019-03-29 at 11.56.09 AM.png Screen Shot 2019-03-29 at 1.59.40 PM.png Screen Shot 2019-03-29 at 1.59.47 PM.png Screen Shot 2019-03-29 at 3.00.01 PM.png Screen Shot 2019-03-29 at 3.00.15 PM.png Screen Shot 2019-03-29 at 3.37.56 PM.png Screen Shot 2019-03-29 at 3.37.51 PM.png IMG_0144.JPG IMG_0145.JPG
 
Last edited:

UKBeast

macrumors 6502a
Jan 21, 2010
542
26
Turkey
Try finishing all battery, sometimes battery percent numbers are not accurate.

And try using my cpu intensive apps, my opinion is mba will keep battery consumtion at steady levels even on higher intensive tasks whereas mbp may go down dramatically due to high speed fans and higher clock rates as this cpu is designed for perfmance.


Another thing is, during all these tests what was noise level ? Is mba dead silent while mbp was kicking fans ?

The only advantage i found in mbp is p3 and true tone. Forget the brightness i am indoor with my comp. but after seing p3 truetone, mba screen looks dull and cool.
 

Wingzfan61

macrumors regular
Original poster
Dec 1, 2012
113
95
Try finishing all battery, sometimes battery percent numbers are not accurate.

And try using my cpu intensive apps, my opinion is mba will keep battery consumtion at steady levels even on higher intensive tasks whereas mbp may go down dramatically due to high speed fans and higher clock rates as this cpu is designed for perfmance.


Another thing is, during all these tests what was noise level ? Is mba dead silent while mbp was kicking fans ?

The only advantage i found in mbp is p3 and true tone. Forget the brightness i am indoor with my comp. but after seing p3 truetone, mba screen looks dull and cool.
I will go back to running them down to zero another day. As for running CPU intensive apps, VLC runs the CPU pretty good. I just tested it on the Air and it's at 78.1%. I'll test the Pro with the same file later tonight.

I didn't hear the fans on either machine throughout the day. The fans on my Pro have only came on in the past 6 months or so maybe 6 or so times. I know downloading all my One Drive files will kick them on. Both machines produced almost non-existent noise during the testing.

For me the biggest advantage is not worrying about the CPU and what its capable of on the Pro. As for the screen, I couldn't agree more.
 

UKBeast

macrumors 6502a
Jan 21, 2010
542
26
Turkey
I will go back to running them down to zero another day. As for running CPU intensive apps, VLC runs the CPU pretty good. I just tested it on the Air and it's at 78.1%. I'll test the Pro with the same file later tonight.

I didn't hear the fans on either machine throughout the day. The fans on my Pro have only came on in the past 6 months or so maybe 6 or so times. I know downloading all my One Drive files will kick them on. Both machines produced almost non-existent noise during the testing.

For me the biggest advantage is not worrying about the CPU and what its capable of on the Pro. As for the screen, I couldn't agree more.
Is mbp fans are off by default and running only on extensive tasks ?

my mbp 2010 always runs fan even if i am doing nothing on there.
 

Wingzfan61

macrumors regular
Original poster
Dec 1, 2012
113
95
Is mbp fans are off by default and running only on extensive tasks ?

my mbp 2010 always runs fan even if i am doing nothing on there.
As far as I can tell, they are either off or running at an extremely low rpm that produces virtually no noise. Like I said, I have only heard my fans a handful of times since I bought the machine.