Base 13-Inch MacBook Pro vs. MacBook Air

MacRumors

macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
48,122
9,670


Apple recently updated the 13-inch MacBook Pro, and the $1,299 base model remains a popular alternative to the $999 MacBook Air. To help with your buying decision, read our comparison of the notebooks below.


The differences between the base 13-inch MacBook Pro and the MacBook Air are quite nuanced, with each notebook possessing some unique features.

What's the Same
  • 13-inch Retina display with 227 pixels per inch and True Tone support
  • Magic Keyboard with reliable scissor switch design
  • Force Touch trackpad
  • 2 × Thunderbolt 3 ports
  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • 256GB of SSD storage standard, configurable up to 2TB
  • Touch ID
  • T2 security chip
  • 720p webcam
  • 802.11ac Wi-Fi, also known as Wi-Fi 5
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • Three-microphone array with directional beamforming
  • Dolby Atmos surround sound
Advantages of Base 13-Inch MacBook Pro
  • The display supports the P3 wide color gamut for more vibrant and lifelike colors
  • The display is brighter at up to 500 nits vs. 400 nits on MacBook Air
  • Touch Bar
  • Slightly better sounding speakers
Advantages of MacBook Air
  • Up to 11 hours of battery life vs. 10 hours on base 13-inch MacBook Pro
  • Weighs slightly less at 2.8 pounds vs. 3.1 pounds for base 13-inch MacBook Pro
  • Faster RAM: 3733MHz LPDDR4X vs. 2133MHz LPDDR3 for base 13-inch MacBook Pro
  • 6K display support vs. 5K on base 13-inch MacBook Pro
Unlike the MacBook Pro, the MacBook Air also has a gold color option.Performance

Generally speaking, the MacBook Air remains best suited for lightweight day-to-day tasks like web browsing and creating spreadsheets, while the MacBook Pro is better equipped to handle more intensive tasks like rendering large video files. This is not only because the MacBook Pro has faster processors than the Air, but also because it has a more advanced thermal design for dissipating heat inside the computer.

While the MacBook Air has been updated with Intel's latest 10th-generation processors, the base 13-inch MacBook Pro continues to use older 8th-generation processors. However, the Air uses lower-wattage Y-series chips with lower clock speeds, so the Pro still has faster overall performance, as confirmed by benchmarks.

Geekbench 5 scores for the latest 13-inch MacBook Pro and MacBook Air configurations:
  • MacBook Air / 1.1GHz dual-core Core i3: 1,002 single-core and 1,998 multi-core
  • MacBook Air / 1.1GHz quad-core Core i5: 1,055 single-core and 2,645 multi-core
  • MacBook Air / 1.2GHz quad-core Core i7: 1,102 single-core and 2,843 multi-core
  • MacBook Pro / 1.4GHz quad-core Core i5: 927 single-core and 3,822 multi-core
  • MacBook Pro / 1.7GHz quad-core Core i7: 1,036 single-core and 3,909 multi-core
Takeaways:
  • The base model 13-inch MacBook Pro for $1,299 has up to 91 percent faster multi-core performance than the base model MacBook Air for $999
  • If considering the MacBook Air, upgrading to the quad-core Core i5 option is well worth the extra $100, as it is up to 32 percent faster than the base model and more closely rivals the base 13-inch MacBook Pro

Geekbench 5 scores are calibrated against a baseline score of 1,000, which is the score of an Intel Core i3-8100. Higher scores are better, with double the score indicating double the performance. Compare with other Mac benchmarks here.

Bottom Line

If you value portability and up to an extra hour of battery life, and are willing to sacrifice some performance, the MacBook Air is a relatively good value. Just remember to consider spending an extra $100 on the quad-core Core i5 processor option, as the $999 base model is equipped with a particularly sluggish dual-core processor.

For more intensive tasks, the 13-inch MacBook Pro's faster processors and more advanced thermal design will allow you to push the limits more without the fans running obnoxiously. You'll also get the Touch Bar, a brighter and more vibrant display, and slightly better sounding speakers with high dynamic range.

Article Link: Base 13-Inch MacBook Pro vs. MacBook Air
 

thadoggfather

macrumors G4
Oct 1, 2007
11,658
8,997
All reviewers say , air base processor fine, macrumors says , give Apple 100 dollar more ... mhhh ... why would that happen?
I think both can be true haha

go base if you want to save $100 and have low compute overhead

go i5 quad core cause its $100 for a quad core air which is a first, and gives you the warm and tingles.

its not a life or death situation either way
 
Comment

[AUT] Thomas

macrumors 6502
Mar 13, 2016
482
477
Graz [Austria]
You forgot: What's the Same:

Size. The Air isn't smaller as the name would imply. In fact it's even slightly thicker.

This is very important to mention because it debunks the claim that "there wasn't enough space for a proper cooler".
Microsoft did a better job on the Surfaces... they even have a thermal buffer so themperature doesn't jump immediately to thermal throttle levels when load is applied.
 
Comment

noreply

macrumors newbie
Jun 26, 2010
12
7
You should compare in a similar fashion the mba with the ipad pro. Considering that with a performance-limited mba you can’t do that many things
 
Comment

RichP74

macrumors regular
Dec 16, 2012
146
37
We just bought the base $999 Air for my wife, and it's really a fantastic little laptop. Blows the doors off my ancient Macbook Pro.... :p

We opted not to spend the extra $100 for the i5; she literally just uses the thing for browsing, job hunting, absolutely nothing that's going to tax it. My favorite feature is the keyboard; it's actually very similar to my old Macbook's pre-butterfly keyboard. Over the moon Apple ditched those things.

If anyone has any questions, shoot! We took advantage of a Best Buy sale and got 50 bucks off, to boot.
 
Comment

Spudlicious

macrumors 6502a
Nov 21, 2015
502
319
Bedfordshire, England
We just bought the base $999 Air for my wife, and it's really a fantastic little laptop. Blows the doors off my ancient Macbook Pro.... :p

We opted not to spend the extra $100 for the i5; she literally just uses the thing for browsing, job hunting, absolutely nothing that's going to tax it. My favorite feature is the keyboard; it's actually very similar to my old Macbook's pre-butterfly keyboard. Over the moon Apple ditched those things.

If anyone has any questions, shoot! We took advantage of a Best Buy sale and got 50 bucks off, to boot.
Apple seemed to have nailed it (at last) with the present Macbook range and it's real good to read of happy buyers. Hope your wife isn't job hunting too long.
 
Comment

now i see it

macrumors 601
Jan 2, 2002
4,908
9,795
Since it can't dissipate heat as well as the MBP, it would be wisest to configure it with the lowest power CPU and just deal with the waiting
 
  • Like
Reactions: fbr$
Comment

Jury

macrumors regular
Jan 13, 2020
221
72
Apple is not using an accurate picture of the 13” Macbook Pro in multiple webpages with asymmetrical bezel and symmetrical bezel. What the hell??
 
Comment

iRun26.2

macrumors 68000
Aug 15, 2010
1,666
17
I would hate to see what it's like running a 6K display off a MBA. My 2018 13" quad core MBP is just barely good enough to run a 4K display. Just because the specs support it doesn't mean it would be a good idea to buy that laptop to drive a 6K
My 2015 MacBook can drive a 4K and only at 30Hz but I’ve never noticed it having trouble.
 
  • Haha
Reactions: monfera
Comment

Westside guy

macrumors 603
Oct 15, 2003
5,551
2,596
The soggy side of the Pacific NW
Argh. Enough with the tired memes! We’ve been seeing comparisons where the low-end computer is only “best for web browsing and making spreadsheets“ for at least 20 years now.

For the most part, the increase in processor power over time has dramatically outstripped software’s increasing demands for that power. The new, low-end Air can likely run circles around most higher-end laptops from the first half of this decade.

I realize an Apple-centric forum is probably the wrong place to say this, but - people need to become more cynical regarding marketing claims.
 
Comment
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.