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MacBook Air vs MacBook Pro - Comparison

MacBook Pro or Air - Which is The Answer?

Billed as the world's thinnest laptop the Apple's MacBook Air is a mere 0.76-inch thick at its thickest part tapering to 0.16-inch. Otherwise the MacBook mimics the 13-inch silhouette of the current MacBook line But is it worth the money ask the pragmatic. Mac lovers will love the MacBook Air - but the question is - which should you buy? The MacBook Pro or the MacBook Air - and why?

In this review I try to be fair and look and the pros and cons of both models. As usual it comes down to what you want to do with your new MacBook... How you use a laptop is very individual and the thinking about those questions up front will mean that you find the right product to fill your needs

Apple's MacBook Air at a Glance:

MacBook Air World's Thinnest Notebook

MacBook Air World's Thinnest Notebook

MacBook Air  Back lit Keyborad Photo: Apple Inc

MacBook Air Back lit Keyborad Photo: Apple Inc

MacBook Air Photo:

MacBook Air Photo:

Inside the stylish silver shell you will find a a 1.6GHz or 1.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo CPU, 2GB of RAM, and a choice of either an 80GB standard 1.8-inch hard drive or a 64GB SSD drive. Moving up to the SSD drive and faster CPU drives the price up from US$1,799 to a huge US$3,098. The MacBook Air comes with Bluetooth and wireless networking built-in and standard.

Features of the Apple MacBook Air

The MacBook Air includes a new multitouch track pad, which incorporates a range of gesture controls that will be familiar to iPhone users, in which users can zoom by pinching in or out, rotate images by spinning two fingers, flick through items by wiping left or right and move windows in a new way. MacBook Air's keyboard is full size and similar to that of the standard MacBook. A nice touch is that the Air's backlit keyboard allows you to keep computing when the lights go down.

In addition to being more energy efficient than a traditional LCD panel, the LED-backlit screen also allows for a thinner lid.

The Air also comes with an iSight camera on top of the screen, the same as MacBookPro notebooks. Connections include a 45-Watt MagSafe power adaptor on the left and a USB 2.0 port, micro-DVI port and headphone port under a flip-down panel on the right.

There is no optical drive but the Air can connect wirelessly to an optical drive in another nearby computer. Alternatively you can purchase a USB-powered SuperDrive as an US$99 extra.

Other missing features include any kind of mobile broadband, an SD card slot, FireWire, an onboard Ethernet jack, and Express card slot.

While the MacBook Air may draw you in with its sleek looks, you may be concerned to discover that its battery is apparently not user replaceable. That means an overly complicated and pricey battery replacement procedure when it begins to slowly slip in holding a charge.

The Best Points of MacBook Air

The MacBook Air weighs 2 pounds and Apple claims battery life for the MacBook Air is rated at five hours.

The full size keyboard and generously-sized 13.3-inch, 1280- by 800-pixel, glossy LED screen, using the same LED technology found in the MacBook Pro makes the MacBook Air much more typist friendly than many true ultraportables with their cramped keyboards and smaller screens.

However despite the claims of the world's thinnest notebook the Air's footprint is considerably larger than that of many subnotebooks on the market; in fact, the Air's 12.8-inch width and 8.94-inch depth are each 0.02 inches longer than the corresponding dimensions of the MacBook.

It's in weight and thickness-or, if you will, thinness-that the MacBook Air shines. Whereas the MacBook and MacBook Pro are each around 1 inch thick, the MacBook Air is essentially three-quarters of an inch thick at the thickest point, and less than a fifth of an inch thick at the thinnest. At only 3 pounds, the Air is 2 pounds lighter than the next-lightest Apple notebook.

Apple has made an effort to make the Air environmentally friendly. While the brushed aluminium case creates a lovely exterior, the MacBook Air is also beautiful on the inside. Apple has eliminated mercury and arsenic from display components, and PVCs from the circuit boards. Packaging sizes were reduced, as well.

MacBook Air and MacBook Pro Compared

Apple's flagship notebook line, MacBook Pro, have been around for a number of years now and developed an enthusiastic following.

For those who do not truly need, or want to pay for, the Air's lightness and thinness the MacBook Pro still offers a valuable alternative.

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The MacBook Pros include a range of optical drives. Multiple ports abound including an ExpressCard slot, FireWire, Ethernet, multiple USB ports, audio input, and optical audio output.

Also the MacBook Pro ship with faster processors of the 2.0GHz to 2.4GHz compared with the Air's 1.6GHz Core 2 Duo or, a 1.8GHz chip. The Air is limited by heat and space issues.

Space and heat issues also limit the MacBook Air's storage options. Because the laptop is so thin, it appears that only single-platter, 1.8-inch hard drives-the same type found in the 80GB iPod classic-fit. These drives are also slower than a typical laptop drive, at 4200rpm compared to 5400rpm, and are ATA rather than the now-common SATA. The only alternative here, performance-wise, is the optional 64GB solid-state drive, although the high prices for such drives adds US$999 to your tab.

Finally, the MacBook Air adheres to the general rule that you pay more for smaller size. Even though it isn't as full-featured as the MacBook, it costs $300 to $700 more than Apple's consumer-level notebook, and for only $200 more you can get a much more capable-but larger and heavier-Mac Book Pro.

The Author

Lis Sowerbutts has been traveling since age 7, and has to date visited over 55 countries. She firmly believes in traveling for the over-30's and that you are never too late to start traveling Lis writes on a broad variety of subjects and you may be interested in other articles by her including:


Jyotirmoy on May 24, 2012:

Macbook air, even though its a beautiful piece of machinery, is undoubtedly overpriced..

Its way out f da hands of common people...

Joe on May 20, 2012:

pro's the best

Whatthisgamecalled? on May 14, 2012:

I have both a Macbook air and a Macbook pro. I think the Macbook pro is way better. Air is delicate and I might break it. Also the Air does not have a Disc slot or multiple usb slots.

exthus on April 15, 2012:

Awesome hub :) I'm all about PC, but I am tempted by a mac air - they look great... what I would use it for though, I don't know.

Abdullah on March 20, 2012:

Iwish have mac air but ithink mac pro better ......

Newbie on March 19, 2012:

Just wanted to say thank you for a great review - I am quite a newbie with all these technical terms and loved how I could actually learn something and understand the difference between Air and Pro. Trust me, I have read about 10 reviews and I did not understand half of it.Thank you :)

gargi arora on March 12, 2012:

i have mac book pro and i really liked it !! moreover , i am glad that i don't have macbook air as its really delicate . i am not good with handling stuff like that !!

Carlos on February 28, 2012:

I regret not buying the MacAir 13 inches earlier. I was working on an old Dell and what a difference. It is worth every penny. If you divide the price difference from a PC by the number of months you will be using it, it is a steal, compared to a slow and heavy OS such as Windows. You will not regret buying a MacAir.

fai'za on February 06, 2012:

very well said.. ill go with the macbookPRO ;)

Lexie on January 30, 2012:

I really want a macbook pro!!!

Fishy on January 09, 2012:

Nice hub lissie, i used to have a macbook pro but ive sold it on ebay for a macbook air 2010, had it for a year and ive sold it again for a new air with the backlit keyboard *sigh. Tell u what apple made me lose money on their products. They keep upgrading an i keep selling the older one for muuuuch cheaper than ive bought it for. And now i want to sell my current air to get back to pro. In my opinion, get a macbook pro. Its probably bigger than air but not much, You will not having trouble carrying it, it has everything you need and it is better value for money.

FuzzyCookie on December 29, 2011:

I got Macbook pro but I can say I am stupid being a windows user all my life, the switch was not that smooth, specially I missed the keyboard shortcuts in excel, word powerpoint (there are shortcuts but not the same) I could nt accomplish tasks in time, so had to add windows 7 on bootcamp. nevertheless, i am happy with my macbook pro, specially because its got more harddisk capacity and a cd drive lol and all

buddy on December 12, 2011:

aawweessoommee OMG MACBOOK AIR IS AAAAAAAAWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!HA HA MACBOOK PRO my cousin likes macbook pro he has a macbook pro i like both eqealy i like macbook pro and macbook air

aaliyah on December 12, 2011:

eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee i am so excited to get a macbook air ...i want it even if it is thin ... its still nice oh my bithday is january 29 but i have to wait till next year well next two years

aaliyah on December 12, 2011:

i want a macbook air so bad im going to save my money until my birthday

ujjal on December 06, 2011:

i cant understand the price with configuration, because here given one price and also i have seen another price for same configuration.why this ?

NzWonderstruck on October 28, 2011:

I want a macbook that I can do like Lyrics vids on,vid call and play some games ^_^ i think the Pro a=can do all those but how much does it weigh?

Amy on October 26, 2011:

I'm so glad I bought an Air. The portability factor outweighs the small inconveniences by a million! It fits in my camera bag and I can edit on the go.

CAgirl on October 20, 2011:

Hi I'm 10 and just bought a MAcBook Pro and just wanted to let you know my neighbor has an Air. I was going to buy the Air but decided to stick with the Pro because on hers you can't put in CDs or multiple USB plugs or whatever those things are. Now the Pro has a large multi touch pad and I'm very happy with my choice.

Birhanu on October 14, 2011:

Thanks for the the lovely article. I was struggling which Mac to choose but now I will go for PRo.

Ana on October 05, 2011:

Can't wait to get a Mac still can't make up my mind as to which one. After getting an iPad my pc seems useless.

kadiyalasiddhu on October 03, 2011:

hi hub

i am trying to buy an apple laptop in with graphic card and a speedy processor, does the mac OS works only in the apple laptop... can u suggest me the laptop suitable for me!!

CheckTwiceBeforeBuying on September 22, 2011:

Returning my Macbook Air due to the networking issue - Airport utility completely sucks, constantly losing connection due to Apple settling on one standard for connectivity. Go to the Apple support site to see what I am talking about. Over a 1,000 posts on one thread on this topic, multiple threads, over 266,000 views should tell you that it is a huge issue.

SMcK on September 17, 2011:

Need to upgrad from MBP 2006 model for classwork, just going back for a doctoral degree. Anyone have some input? I'll will be doing LOTS of writing, editing, all APA style.

aladdin on September 14, 2011:

still undecided but when i read this comments i am sure to go for macbook pro. more power more battery life can be use in games and editing,

Jack on September 06, 2011:

Can somebody confirm that with both of these macbooks, it's possible to scroll down using two fingers on the touchpad?

Also, i've read somewhere about macs not getting any viruses, or less likely, can somebody breifly explain that to me too

Troy on August 22, 2011:

No@ Eric the new Macbook pros do come with Lion if you get an older one you can upgrade to lion for free...

eric on July 29, 2011:

tushar, the new pro comes out with the older snow leopard whereas the new air comes out with the new lion.

James on July 24, 2011:

Thanks for the great article. For a grade 4 - 8 classroom, which would you recommend? The 13 inch Air or the 13 inch MBP? I am leaning towards the MBP because I don't need it to be extremely portable. And correct me if I'm wrong, the clock speed is slower on the Air.

popop on July 24, 2011:

ugh cant choose! i really want an apple laptop but i dont know which one

Tushar on July 23, 2011:


Can anyone tell me the new Mac book pro comes with lion os or the older one?

Caio on July 06, 2011:


Don't go for it, it may be portable but there are many features that backfired on it, but if you don't listen, rent on for a week and test it out.

Aamir on June 02, 2011:

Well, I already have MacBook Pro 13 inch but I am now thinking to buy MacBook Air due to its lightweight feature. Finding it difficult to decide.

kanishk saraf on May 16, 2011:

I was confused if I should get a Macbook pro or Macbook air, I guess I'll go for Macbook pro.and that is very good

myi4u from United Kingdom on May 16, 2011:

Finally, I bought the new Macbook Air recently. It has been a struggle as to which one to choose; 11" or 13". I didn't really consider Macbook Pro because I am after a real portable laptop.

Unfortunately, the new MacBook Air doesn't come with backlit keyboard.

Daveyyy on May 08, 2011:

I'm really struggling with which macbook i should go for, Air or Pro? You see i'm looking for a laptop which is capable of running Avid (editing system) and requires You a lot!! Please help!!

james on March 24, 2011:

Mac book airs rock

K9 Coach on March 23, 2011:

Nice info. Just sold my home and am off to live in Hawaii... and add more travel to my life. Still hard to decide... they are both cool but think I'm going to go with the Air. Just got rid of most of my stuff and am enjoying the whole idea of traveling light! :)


FuzzyCookie on March 19, 2011:

Great hub, Thanks for providing a great review, I was confused if I should get a Macbook pro or Macbook air, I guess I'll go for Macbook pro.. Thanks again! :D

Joyce F from USA on February 26, 2011:

Nice Hub on the MacBook Air vs Pro. I'd take either if someone were giving them away, but I'd prefer more power over light and easy to carry any day. Voted up and useful.

m8rkC on February 19, 2011:

Lissie, This isn'tt the first generation of the MBAir, its an evolution of the previous model. I think it's the second or third.. not 1005 sure. EVeyone else who isn't sure weather to go MacOS or PC...GO into your local store na dplay with both...I can assure you, which you'll be paying for!!!!!

abrt on November 18, 2010:

MACBOOK PROPROPRO (eco) thumbs up

Anon on November 09, 2010:

There is no backlit keyboard display in the MacBook Air!

MacBook Laptops on November 08, 2010:

Great Comparison! Pro is more powerful while the Air is more portable. It really depends on what the intended use of the MacBook is to determine which is better.

Anne on November 07, 2010:

I like the MacBook Pro looks good.

mashimaroz from Palo Alto, USA on October 24, 2010:

Why the new Macbook Air still has no ethernet port. It's important because I have no WiFi network available all the time. Other than that I prefer the Air. :D

rshemeley on August 18, 2010:

This was an awesome comparison -- it's a pretty tough decision to make between the MacBook Pro and the MacBook Air, as they're both awesome models and share many common traits. Your overview helps demystify it. Thanks!

harleen bains on July 04, 2010:

hi i am new with computers, never really used one, and i was wondering you only talked about the pros design not about the pro itself like what it is useful for and what it could hold and stuff and when i searched which one is better i was hoping to find out if you are going into college which one is more convenient to me.

9to5 on March 04, 2010:

Personally, I think the Air is quite flimsy - I know of at least two people who have broke them in the past year! Pro is much better, in my opinion.

achase on August 09, 2009:

Nice review and comparison.

Ikki Wae on July 13, 2009:

Macbook Air video capabilities are weak, just sufficient enough to get by, the harddrive speed is noticably inferior--the read access time and write performance are palpably slower but wait harddrive space is limited as well, and considering there's no dvd/cd player, it magnifies the problem

I'll choose Macbook pro....:P

the battery life is excellent.great display, MacBook Pro graphics are twice as fast as MacBook graphics, so if you do anything visual with your computer

NateRider from Missouri on May 14, 2008:

I am someone who enjoys taking computers apart and putting them back together with more powerful parts, such as memory upgrades, additional hard drives, things of that nature. I had never heard all of the specs for the MacBook Air before today, or even the Pro. The more I read about the Air though, the more I think it is before its time. Let the micro technology catch up and the Air will become a better computer.

Overall, a great, informative hub. Nice Job!

adam on May 13, 2008:

Wonderful Hub about truly amazing laptop. Apple MacXXX and Leopard OS, that's the best possible combination, ever.

Elisabeth Sowerbutts (author) from New Zealand on April 19, 2008:

If thats the case Jarrod u probably need a toughbook or 1 of the other ruggedezied models - I dont think Apple does those !

JarrodHaze on April 19, 2008:

Awesome, but does it come in titanium? You see... I'm not the most careful and would probably end up stepping on my bag, or sitting on it, or something. ;)

solarshingles from london on April 16, 2008:

I would love to have one of them just for matter which one, thou...they are both just amazing

myi4u from United Kingdom on April 10, 2008:

how i wish that i could get my hands on macbook air. however, i can only afford macbook unless i am able to buy a laptop with the price tag of more than £1000 without getting chopped by my gf

Joanie Ruppel from Texas on April 04, 2008:

I think a lot of folks get hung up on the "missing features". Admittedly, those features would be a big deal if that was your only computer, but for a travel computer, this looks like a great idea. On my MacBook Pro, I can't remember the last time I used either the Firewire port or the optical drive, but I do have another machine where they get lots of attention. Bottom line, it's not the machine for everyone, but that's why they offer more than one model.

Elisabeth Sowerbutts (author) from New Zealand on March 14, 2008:

Its a real issue seamus - you always pay premium prices for 1st generation anything

seamus on March 06, 2008:

I am considering a Mac Air versus a Mac Book. I don't know what to but the downside of buying something new on the market had not yet crossed my mind.

Talem from South Carolina on February 15, 2008:

^ Mac's are such polarizing machines. I've found fanatics, and haters aplenty, but personally I find them so fascinating. Their GUI, software, and feel is so attractive.

I would be wary about the macbook air though...the absence of an optical drive doesn't sit with me well, and having to buy a $100 external one just seems a hassle.

creatingwealth on February 14, 2008:

I'd like to have the thinnest laptop in the world, but I never had Mac before.

joeplante on February 06, 2008:

Makes me want one :) But it seems like we live in a PC world

ChristineRitter from Ohio on January 30, 2008:

GREAT INFO ! I want one!

Elisabeth Sowerbutts (author) from New Zealand on January 29, 2008:

For those of you who can't decide - here are another 4 options on the light notebook front

AaronBeats on January 26, 2008:

great hub lissie! i love all things apple, and own a macbook pro and about 3 other macs. i think i may add the macbook air to the equation as well....we shalt see....those darn apple guys are always trying to make us spend more of our money with these new innovative releases every week! lol!

caspar from UK on January 25, 2008:



Excellent hub, Lissie. I've always wanted a laptop I could pop in my bag and be able to carry around everywhere without getting backache, and the Mac book Air seems to be just the thing.

Elisabeth Sowerbutts (author) from New Zealand on January 24, 2008:

Peter I will send you a link to my next hub when I pubilsh it - I promise you'll hate it even more!

Peter M. Lopez from Sweetwater, TX on January 24, 2008:

This was NO HELP AT ALL, Lissie...Now I want both. Thanks a lot.

Great hub, though.

Elisabeth Sowerbutts (author) from New Zealand on January 23, 2008:

Glad to be of help Chantel. IMHO the best way to decided PC Mac is to look at what sort of applications (software) you want to run - and then buy the Operating system Mac or PC that runs it best - in general for high end graphics design the answer will be Mac but a lot the progams I use won't run on a Mac

chantelg4 from Northern Ontario on January 23, 2008:

I've been pondering for a few months on which laptop to buy, the Mac or the PC. I've heard such phenomenol things about Mac, but they're so darn expensive. At least now I know the difference between the new Air and the Pro thanks to your article. I don't think I will run out and buy the air, but the pro is looking good. Thanks for the info.

TheSocialNetworkr from Australia on January 21, 2008:

Wow - can't wait to get my hands on one of those... I heard that they're upgrading the macbook pro to include the new multitouch trackpad at some time soon.

Macs rock. Thanks!


Elisabeth Sowerbutts (author) from New Zealand on January 21, 2008:

You always pay for first generation tech!

spuds on January 20, 2008:

Great hub. Thumbs up from me. I have to say the MacBook air does look rather impressive. It's a little pricy though.

Michael Long on January 20, 2008:

The Air weighs three pounds Sparky, not two.

Elisabeth Sowerbutts (author) from New Zealand on January 19, 2008:

I hear your pain MM However if you can spare you limbs - please feel free to order it via my Ebay or Amazon capsules!

MM Del Rosario from NSW, Australia on January 19, 2008:

hmmm... I really like the thinnest laptop in the world, but I think it would cost me me an arm and a leg.....

chinking on January 18, 2008:

Yeah pritty powerfull laptop!! and nice shape but a lot of money on some laptop,

maybe I wait for the next generation.

but man I wanna tell you that youIr hub looks pritty. a lot of content,

thank you!

retireyoung from Bali on January 18, 2008:

The new air looks nice, but it is expensive for what you get.

Elisabeth Sowerbutts (author) from New Zealand on January 17, 2008:

It has got regular wireless as well as bluetooth but I agree with you sunshine - especially as people tend to use Macs because they are doing graphic intensive stuff!

sunshine1221 from Pennsylvania on January 17, 2008:

One USB port and no firewire port? Eek! I think that this alone will turn a lot of people away from the MacBook Air. Even with the Bluetooth capabilities, there are a lot of users like myself who need to have the ability to connect their laptop to other devices that are not bluetooth enabled. Thanks for the informative hub!

Elisabeth Sowerbutts (author) from New Zealand on January 17, 2008:

I don't think its a good idea to buy the first generation of any technology and you would have to be firmly wedded to MacOS to pay Apple's prices for laptops compared to PC laptops!

helenathegreat on January 17, 2008:

GREAT hub on a technology that is not even widely available yet, Lissie! I don't know if I think it's ever wise to buy the "first generation" of an Apple product, but I think that the MacBook Air is a pretty exciting advance in laptop technology. And it's so pretty! :)

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