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MacBook Air (2018)

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MacBook Pro (2017)

The MacBook Air (2018) is Apple's most affordable laptop available right now — and it's powerful enough for most people. In addition to a beautiful design, the MacBook Air is great for sending email, browsing the web, and light content creation.

$999 at Amazon

Pros

  • Small, lightweight design
  • Touch ID

Cons

  • Limited ports
  • Shallow keyboard

If you're a photographer, designer, or filmmaker, the MacBook Pro (2017) is a great tool for getting work done. It features a beautiful wide color (P3) display, powerful guts, and a gorgeous design. This is the laptop you should get if you plan to do more strenuous tasks.

$1,299 at Apple

Pros

  • Beautiful, vibrant display
  • Great performance

Cons

  • Limited ports
  • Shallow keyboard
  • Expensive

If you plan to do intensive content creation, including photo editing, video editing, or graphic design, then the MacBook Pro is a great option. If you want a machine for more general use—with some light content creation—you should buy the MacBook Air, because it's more affordable and still offers plenty of great features. Overall, the MacBook Air is the best MacBook for most people.

The MacBook Pro is for content creation

If you plan on flexing your creative muscles, whether it be with photography, videography, or graphic design, the MacBook Pro should be in your bag. It offers the most power out the Mac laptop lineup, along with the best display, which is important for photographers and filmmakers.

The MacBook Pro comes equipped with a 13.3-inch screen that features a wider DCI-P3 color gamut, which provides users with a wider range of colors. Again, if color science is important to your workflow, then the MacBook Pro's screen is worth the more expensive price tag.

The MacBook Pro is a nice option for users who want to start down the path of content creation.

From a design standpoint, the MacBook Pro is a little larger than the MacBook Air. It doesn't feature a tapered wedge, but rather a flatter and more squared design. But it's still just as portable at 3.02 pounds, despite not being quite as svelte.

The base MacBook Pro features a 2.3GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB RAM, 128GB of storage, and two Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports. If you want to step up in price, you can get features like a Touch Bar with integrated Touch ID sensor.

Although the MacBook Pro is faster than the MacBook Air, it's not faster by much. Apple hasn't updated the non-Touch Bar MacBook Pro for over a year, and it's unclear if we'll see any changes now that the MacBook Air is around.

The MacBook Air is great for the everyday user

Not everyone needs a laptop to edit photos and video. If you want something more tailored to everyday tasks, such as sending email, browsing the web, and document editing, the MacBook Air is the device for you.

At 0.61 inches tall and weighing in at just 2.75 pounds, the MacBook Air is a small, beautiful laptop that's perfect for lugging to class, work, or the nearest coffee shop. But just because it's portable doesn't mean it's not capable. Even though it's not quite as powerful as the MacBook Pro, the MacBook Air can still handle plenty of intensive tasks.

The MacBook Air features Touch ID and the MacBook Pro (non-Touch Bar) does not.

The MacBook Air doesn't feature a screen that's quite as nice as the MacBook Pro's. However, the base MacBook Air does come equipped with a Touch ID sensor, while the non-Touch Bar MacBook Pro does not. That's not a huge deal, but it does make the MacBook Air a little more convenient to use, especially when buying things online.

Additionally, the newest MacBook Air features Apple's third-generation keyboard, which includes a rubber membrane to protect the keys from dirt and dust. The second-generation butterfly keyboard found in the MacBook Pro, meanwhile, has run into a number of documented reliability issues regarding durability.

Finally, the MacBook Air features Apple's latest T2 Security Chip, which the company says will protect your machine from malicious attacks while keeping your files and personal information safe. You don't get that with the base MacBook Pro.

MacBook Pro vs. MacBook Air specs

Although the MacBook Pro is the more powerful machine, you'll find that the MacBook Air isn't that far behind. The Air features the same number of ports, RAM, and storage, plus the same size display.

Category MacBook Pro (2017) MacBook Air (2018)
Processor 2.3GHz dual-core Intel Core i5
Turbo Boost up to 3.6GHz
1.6GHz dual-core Intel Core i5
Turbo Boost up to 3.6GHz
Display 13.3-inch LED backlit display with IPS technology
2560-by-1600 native resolution
Wide color (P3)
13.3-inch LED-backlit display with IPS technology
2560-by-1600 native resolution
Memory 8GB RAM (configurable to 16GB)
128GB of storage (configurable to 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB)
8GB RAM (configurable to 16GB)
128GB of storage (configurable to 256GB, 512GB, or 1.5TB)
Size and Weight Height: 0.59 inch
Width: 11.97 inches
Depth: 8.36 inches
Weight 3.02 pounds
Height: 0.16-0.61 inch
Width: 11.97 inches
Depth: 8.36 inches
Weight: 2.75 pounds
Graphics Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640 Intel HUD Graphics 617
Battery Built-in 54.5-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery
Up to 10 hours wireless web
Up to 10 hours iTunes movie playback
Built-in 50.3-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery
Up to 12 hours wireless web
Up to 13 hours iTunes movie playback
Ports Two Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) Two Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C)
Camera 720p 720p

Which one should you buy?

Both the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air offer plenty of great features, so it comes down to how you plan to use it.

If you have aspirations to edit photos, video, or high resolution graphics, then you're better off going with the MacBook Pro. Generally, the MacBook Pro is the all-around better laptop despite the higher price tag.

However, if you have no interest in any of those things, then consider the MacBook Air. For more general use, the MacBook Air is the smarter option, because it's cheaper and comes with Touch ID. Plus, it's easier to carry around, thanks to its tapered design and lighter frame. If we had to pick between the two, we'd go with the MacBook Air. It's just the best option for most people.

Our Pick

MacBook Air (2018)

A great laptop for everyone

The new MacBook Air is a great all-around machine for getting work done. It's nice and portable and is capable of handling multiple tasks, whether you're sending out email or doing light content creation. It's also Apple's most affordable laptop, making it a great entry point into Apple's ecosystem.

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MacBook Pro non-Touch Bar

Great for content creation

The non-Touch Bar MacBook Pro is a nice entry into Apple's more powerful lineup of Pro laptops, giving you the tools to perform more intensive tasks, whether it be editing and exporting video or powering through RAW photos after a photoshoot.

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