Which Is Better Macbook Or Macbook Air - We have both M2 Macs here in our test studio. We compared the MacBook Air M2 to the MacBook Pro M2 to see how they stack up and how much difference the thermal limitations make.
Apple Silicon's introduction of the M2 generation from Apple Silicon is similar to the launch of the M1 in several ways. Again, Apple is starting with entry-level Mac models, with the M2 MacBook Air and 13-inch M2 MacBook Pro the first options on the block.
Which Is Better Macbook Or Macbook Air
However, instead of just being a specs issue to consider, Apple has added a major wrinkle to the process by revising its MacBook Air.
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Wrinkles don't make the decision-making process any more difficult. Indeed, changes made by Apple make it easier to recommend one over the other.
In the M1 generation, there are very few clear differences between the 13-inch MacBook Pro and MacBook Air, and they boil down to physical weight and dimensions, thermal throttling, and that's it. In terms of specifications, the two are similar enough to make you think about choosing one model over the other.
Externally, the MacBook Air update brings it closer to the 14-inch MacBook Pro and 16-inch versions, with a flatter display instead of its signature tapered display. The 13-inch MacBook Pro still looks the same as the previous generation.
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The two are very similar in footprint, each measuring 11.97 inches wide, but the Air is slightly deeper at 8.46 inches to 8.36 inches for the Pro. The difference in thickness is still quite large at 0.44 inches for the Air and 0.61 for the Pro, with the Air also lighter at 2.7 pounds to 3.0 pounds.
Opening both gives you a similar but different view. The Air's display is larger at 13.6 inches than the Pro's 13.3-inch display, with the Air slightly larger. This is also reflected in the resolution of 2560 x 1664 pixels for the Air and 2560 x 1600 for the Pro.
However, while the 13-inch MacBook Pro has a larger bezel space up top to house its FaceTime HD camera, the MacBook Air opts for thinner bezels but uses a notch.
This design aesthetic can be a deal breaker for users, but it is used in most of the other MacBooks sold by Apple. It's also relatively low-profile, as you still get the same size and resolution as the Pro for full-screen apps, since Apple removed the display's 'ears' around the notch.
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The camera is also better on the MacBook Air, because Apple uses a 1080p FaceTime HD camera instead of 720p on the Pro. Both benefit from advanced image signal processing, providing computer video adjustments.
The keyboard is also different, but it's more the 13-inch MacBook Pro that still holds the Touch Bar. Instead, the Air uses a full-altitude function button and a dedicated Touch ID button.
Complementing the exterior, both models have a pair of Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports and a headphone jack with support for high-impedance headphones, except the MacBook Air also has a MagSafe 3 charging port.
Speaking of audio, the MacBook Air has a quad-speaker system with wide stereo sound and spatial audio support, while the Pro has stereo speakers. Each also features a three-microphone array with directional beamforming to feed audio back into the Mac.
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Although the exterior is different, you can expect the general internal specifications to be the same. Up to a point this is true, but even here there are some differences.
The main addition, the M2, has an 8-core processor consisting of four high-performance cores and four high-efficiency cores, which Apple says offers an 18% improvement over the M1 version.
There is an increase in memory bandwidth to 100GB/s, while the Integrated Memory capacity has grown from the 8GB and 16GB options to the 24GB variant.
Then there's the Neural Engine, which offers a 40% performance boost. The M2 also gets the Media Engine, a hardware video encoding and decoding component for handling H.264 and HEVC video, as well as ProRes 4K and 8K footage.
Apple Macbook Air 13
The difference in implementing the M2 on the MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro revolves around the GPU.
The 13-inch MacBook Pro only has one M2 configuration, which uses an Apple-designed 10-core GPU. The MacBook Air has two options: a 10-core coupled with an 8-core alternative.
The difference may seem small, but it's enough change for Apple to justify the cost difference between an 8 core and a $100 10 core.
One connected performance difference is that the MacBook Air is passively cooled, while the 13-inch MacBook Pro includes an active cooling system. This means the MacBook Pro can better handle sustained and demanding workloads for much longer than the MacBook Air before succumbing to thermal throttling.
Apple Macbook Air With Apple M1 Chip (13 Inch, 8gb Ram)
With a typical Geekbench 5 processor test, the MacBook Air scored a single-core 1909 and a multi-core 8547. The MacBook Pro scores slightly higher with 1941 and 8966 on single-core and multi-core respectively.
In this brief test, we saw the fan slightly increase the speed of the MacBook Pro, but not by much. Especially if you see a single core score like
We didn't start to see a significant difference until we turned to our continuous performance benchmarks. We do this by running Cinebench R23 repeatedly in quick succession, which maxes out the CPU. At the same time, we monitor fan speed - on MacBook Pro, CPU temperature, and CPU frequency.
In total, we ran Cinebench R23 eight times, which took almost an hour and a half. We log the CPU temperature and frequency at the end of each run and what its multi-core score is.
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In our first round we got the same score. The Air 8, 210, and Pro got the 8636. Once running Cinebench only slightly represents a typical workflow that can temporarily speed up the CPU, but at ten minutes per round, it's even more than most tasks.
While we kept the processor maxed out, the MacBook Pro's scores remained static, hovering around 8,600 the entire time with a constant internal temperature of 214 degrees Fahrenheit and a processor speed of 3.2 GHz. To keep it cool, the fan is increased to 3500-4000 rpm.
This means that even after a full hour of 100% CPU usage, the fans can cool the machine down enough not to compromise performance.
The MacBook Air, however, doesn't fare well. About halfway through, the MacBook Air hit 226 degrees Fahrenheit and performance started to suffer. In the end, the CPU only ran at 2.6 GHz and the score dropped to 7529.
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It looks like Apple had to drastically reduce the M2's speed to prevent overheating, dropping the temperature to 208 Fahrenheit the last time it ran.
The good news here is that these tests are in no way representative of real-world use. The MacBook Air is nearly as fast as the MacBook Pro in every way that matters. It was only after pushing the processor to its limits for an incredible amount of time that we saw performance take a hit.
No one who buys a MacBook Air is going to have a workload that will push the processor to 100% for that long. Even pausing for a few seconds allows the processor to cool down to an acceptable level and increase performance.
Simply put, there's no need to worry about the MacBook Air's thermal limitations. This is not a problem for Air's target audience.
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Users with more demanding needs may go with the 13-inch MacBook Pro as a possible answer, but you can quickly direct those customers to the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros that come with the M1 Pro or M1 Max if performance is needed. .
Another internal difference is power, with the MacBook Air packing a 52.6 watt-hour lithium-polymer battery versus the 13-inch MacBook Pro's 58.2 watt-hour version. The Pro had better battery life compared to Apple's metric, equating to 17 hours of wireless web use vs. 15 hours of live streaming, or 20 hours of movie playback on the Apple TV app vs. 18 hours .
It's different, but not a big problem, because it shows that both of them are able to survive their daily work.
In an article about which M2-equipped MacBook to buy, you'd expect more debate about which model is best for most users. This is certainly not the case here.
Macbook Air Vs. Pro
On the one hand, you have the modern MacBook Air which has a better screen, better speakers, additional chip options, and lightness to back it up while providing a similar level of performance. Instead, you have an older design MacBook Pro which offers little to gain.
These benefits are minimal, such as longer battery life and active cooling over passive cooling. Sure, it'll be able to perform more demanding tasks longer before thermal throttling kicks in, but that won't be a factor for most of the target audience for Apple's value-focused MacBook line.
There isn't much else to be gained from its benefits, notwithstanding the people who may be bothered by it
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