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Apple M1 MacBook Air vs Pro: Which One Should You Buy?

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Image: Max Tech on YouTube

In its Nov. 10 event, Apple unveiled two new MacBooks — the 2020 MacBook Air, and the 13-inch 2020 MacBook Pro — powered by the first-generation of Apple silicon, the M1. In a recently published YouTube video, Max Tech pits the two MacBooks against each other in a comprehensive comparison (CPU and GPU stress tests included!).

Both of the MacBooks have the same ports, and physical differences between the two include a larger Magic Trackpad on the Pro, a slightly sloping and therefore more comfortable keyboard on the MacBook Air, and no Touch Bar on the Air. In addition, the Pro comes with a cooling fan, whereas the Air doesn’t have one.

The MacBook Pro does have a larger battery than the Air, giving it an extra 2 hours of battery life, and comes with a 61W charger as compared to the Air’s 30W USB-C charger.

The MacBook Pro has a new studio-quality microphone with better audio fidelity and improved noise reduction, and a brighter screen with a peak brightness of 500 nits (as compared to 400 nits on its competitor).

Under maximum CPU load, the Pro runs 2-3°C cooler than the Air thanks to its built-in cooling fan, but the fan is only engaged under high CPU load, so idle temperatures on the two MacBooks are alike.

The MacBook Pro was found to be slightly better at image editing than the MacBook Air (2 minutes, 58 seconds to export an image in Lightroom on the Pro as compared to 3 minutes, 08 seconds on the Air), whereas video editing performance was the same across both MacBooks.

Both M1 MacBooks get virtually identical Geenkbench 5 CPU benchmark scores, but the Pro scores 17% better on Geekbench 5’s GPU Compute test.

A Cinebench R23 CPU Stress Test revealed that the MacBook Pro (starting at $1699 CAD) performs 14% better than the MacBook Air (starting at $1299 CAD), for a 30% increase in price.

So, which Apple Silicon Mac should you buy? The MacBook Air or MacBook Pro? Honestly, it looks like the base MacBook Air is a beast and you save $400 versus the MacBook Pro, as the differences aren’t exactly huge. With the money saved on the Air, you can use it towards AppleCare+, which may be wise since these are first-generation M1 Macs.

You can visit Apple.ca to buy the M1 MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and Mac mini today.

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