MacBook vs 13-inch MacBook Air spec shootout

by Sean P. Aune | March 9, 2015

The new 12-inch MacBook is thinner and lighter than the MacBook Air, but is that enough to make you choose it?

The MacBook Air line received an update today along with the MacBook Pro and the introduction of the new MacBook. Of all of Apple’s laptops, the biggest comparisons will probably be drawn between the 13-inch MacBook Air and the MacBook. How will they stand up against one another? We’re about to find out.

Which would you choose?

Apple - MacBook (2015) Apple - 13-inch MacBook Air (2015)
Display Size 12-inch, 2304 x 1440 pixel display (226 ppi) 13.3-inch, 1440 x 900 pixel display (128 ppi)
Resolution X 2304 1440
Resolution Y 1440 900
Display Type Retina display: 12-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit display with IPS technology; 2304-by-1440 resolution at 226 pixels per inch with support for millions of colors LED-backlit glossy widescreen display with support for millions of colors
Resolution Specs
  • Native resolution: 2304 by 1440 pixels (Retina)
  • Scaled resolutions: 1440 by 900, 1280 by 800, 1024 by 640
  • 1280 by 800
  • 1152 by 720
  • 1024 by 640 pixels at 16:10
  • 1024 by 768 and 800 by 600 pixels at 4:3
Operating System Mac OS X Yosemite (At Launch) Mac OS X Yosemite (At Launch)
Processor
  • 1.1GHz dual-core Intel Core M processor (Turbo Boost up to 2.4GHz) with 4MB shared L3 cache (base model)
  • Configurable to 1.3GHz dual-core Intel Core M processor (Turbo Boost up to 2.9GHz) with 4MB shared L3 cache (base model)
  • 1.2GHz dual-core Intel Core M processor (Turbo Boost up to 2.6GHz) with 4MB shared L3 cache
  • Configurable to 1.3GHz dual-core Intel Core M processor (Turbo Boost up to 2.9GHz) with 4MB shared L3 cache
  • 1.6GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 (Turbo Boost up to 2.7GHz) with 3MB shared L3 cache
  • Configurable to 2.2GHz dual-core Intel Core i7 (Turbo Boost up to 3.2GHz) with 4MB shared L3 cache.
RAM
  • 8GB of 1600MHz LPDDR3 onboard memory
  • 4GB of 1600MHz LPDDR3 onboard memory
  • Configurable to 8GB
Storage
  • 256GB PCIe-based onboard flash storage (base model)
  • 512GB PCIe-based onboard flash storage
  • 128GB PCIe-based flash storage
  • 256GB PCIe-based flash storage, configurable to 512GB flash storage
Camera
  • 480p FaceTime camera
  • 720p FaceTime HD camera
Audio
  • Stereo speakers
  • Dual microphones
  • Headphone port
  • Stereo speakers
  • Dual microphones
  • Headphone port
  • Support for Apple iPhone headset with remote and microphone
Input Output
  • USB-C (supports HDMI, USB 3.1)
  • Headphone port
  • Two USB 3 ports (up to 5 Gbps)
  • Thunderbolt 2 port (up to 20 Gbps)
  • MagSafe 2 power port
  • SDXC card slot
Networks
  • 802.11ac Wi-Fi wireless networking
  • IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n compatible
  • 802.11ac Wi-Fi wireless networking; IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n compatible
Bluetooth Bluetooth 4.0 Bluetooth 4.0
Battery
  • Up to 9 hours wireless web
  • Up to 10 hours iTunes movie playback
  • Built-in 39.7-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery
  • 29W USB-C Power Adapter; USB-C power port
  • Up to 12 hours wireless web
  • Up to 12 hours iTunes movie playback
  • Up to 30 days standby time
  • Built-in 54‑watt‑hour lithium‑polymer battery
Height 0.52 inches (13.2 mm) 0.68 inches (17.3 mm)
Width 11.04 inches (28.04 cm) 12.8 inches (32.51 cm)
Depth 7.74 inches (19.66 cm) 8.94 inches (22.71 cm)
Weight 2.03 lbs (0.92 kg) 2.96 lbs (1.34 kg)
Colors Gold, Silver, Space Gray N/A

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Sean P. Aune

Sean P. Aune has been a professional technology blogger since July 2007, but his love of tech dates back to at least 1976 when his parents bought...