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MacBook Air vs. MacBook Pro

MacBook Air vs. MacBook Pro

At a Glance

The MacBook Air is Apple’s least expensive notebook. It starts at just $999 and is small enough to fit almost anywhere — but be warned, you can’t upgrade it after you buy it.

The MacBook Pro is a better solution for professionals and gamers. It’s slightly larger and heavier but features more powerful components and is available with a high-resolution Retina Display. You can upgrade the memory and hard drive if desired.

Mac computers were once considered niche products at best, but times have certainly changed since then. The popularity of Apple’s mobile products such as the iPhone has made their computers more popular than ever, and today it seems as though everyone wants to own a Mac. The MacBook Air and MacBook Pro are undoubtedly the two most popular computers in Apple’s product lineup, and it may be difficult for you to decide between the two. Ultimately, the decision to purchase the MacBook Air vs. the MacBook Pro is a question of whether you prioritize size or performance.

Size and Weight

Weighing just over two pounds and measuring .68″ at its thickest point, the 11-inch MacBook Air is undoubtedly one of the smallest notebook computers on the market. The smallest MacBook Pro is significantly larger and heavier, weighing more than three pounds and measuring .75″ thick. In addition, the MacBook Pro is not available with an 11-inch screen. Therefore, carrying the MacBook Pro everywhere you go isn’t quite as easy; it requires a dedicated laptop bag, while the MacBook Air can easily be slipped into an existing purse or briefcase.


The MacBook Air and MacBook Pro both use the latest series of Intel Core processors. However, the extremely thin design of the MacBook Air makes it impossible to outfit it with the fastest processors on the market. The fastest processor available for the MacBook Air is a dual-core Intel Core i7 processor clocked at 2.0 GHz, while the fastest processor available for the MacBook Pro is a quad-core Intel Core i7 clocked at 2.7 GHz. The MacBook Pro is also available with high-end NVIDIA graphics for gaming, while the MacBook Air uses integrated Intel HD graphics.

Retina Display

In recent years, Apple has updated several of its products with new displays so dense that the human eye cannot identify the individual pixels at a standard viewing distance. The Retina Display is now standard on the iPhone and iPad and is available on the MacBook Pro, supporting a maximum display resolution of 2880 by 1800 on the 15-inch model. At the time of writing, Apple has not yet released a MacBook Air with a Retina Display. The maximum display resolution available on the MacBook Air is 1440 by 900 pixels.


Many people purchase computers with the understanding that they can perform simple upgrades to increase their performance later. If you buy a MacBook Pro, you can increase its performance and storage capacity by installing additional memory and replacing the hard drive. However, the MacBook Air is not designed to accommodate aftermarket upgrades. The memory is soldered permanently to the computer’s logic board and cannot be replaced. While it is possible to remove the MacBook Air’s solid-state drive, few companies make replacement drives in the MacBook Air’s unusual form factor. If you buy a MacBook Air, it is extremely important to buy as much memory and storage capacity as you can afford.


At a starting price of $999, the 11-inch MacBook Air is the least expensive notebook computer Apple sells. Stepping up to the 13-inch model costs $1,199, and speed or storage upgrades increase the cost further. The starting price for the MacBook Pro line is $1,199, although the MacBook Pro does not include a Retina Display at this price. Upgrading to a Retina Display-enabled model costs $1,699. If you need a MacBook Pro with a larger display, a 15-inch model with a Retina Display costs $2,199.