ARMs Race | New MacBook Air vs MacBook Pro

 ARMs Race | New MacBook Air vs MacBook Pro

Apple just announced three new ARM-based Apple M1-powered Macs yesterday and as we pointed at yesterday, there seems to be very little difference in the specs from the new MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro. Let’s dive into the specs to understand the differences and which one may be right for you.

256GB MacBook Air

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The 256GB MacBook Air base model configuration is the least expensive configuration and has one key difference between it and the 512GB configuration. If you are looking to buy the least expensive MacBook Air configuration at $999, you will only have a 7-core GPU. If you upgrade to the 512GB configuration, then that eighth core gets unlocked. Yes, that’s right; the eighth core is artificially locked down so that Apple can charge more for the fully unlocked GPU in the M1, $250 more to be exact. Perhaps in the near future, hackers could unlock the eighth core that Apple has saw fit to artificially lock down. One thing remains though, this is a shady move.

MacBook Air (512GB) vs MacBook Pro

The 512GB MacBook Air is the configuration with the 8-core GPU model and is near identical to the new MacBook Pro powered by the same M1 chip. Below we will compare the specs to better understand what makes the MacBook Pro a Pro-Tier model. We bolded the specs with the most value in the table below.

MacBook Air (512GB)MacBook Pro
M1 chip8-core CPU with 4 perform­ance cores and 4 efficiency cores8-core CPU with 4 perform­ance cores and 4 efficiency cores
GPU8-core GPU8-core GPU
Neural Engine16-core Neural Engine16-core Neural Engine
Memory16GB8GB
Storage512GB256GB
Display13.3-inch 2560-by-1600 at 227 PPI, 400 nits13.3-inch 2560-by-1600 at 227 PPI, 500 nits
KeyboardNo Touch BarTouch Bar
CoolingNo FanFan
Wireless802.11ax Wi-Fi 6 wireless networking
IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac compatible, Bluetooth 5.0 wireless technology
802.11ax Wi-Fi 6 wireless networking
IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac compatible, Bluetooth 5.0 wireless technology
Portsx2 Thunderbolt / USB 4 portsx2 Thunderbolt / USB 4 ports
Size & WeightHeight: 0.16–0.63 inch
Width: 11.97 inches
Depth: 8.36 inches
Weight: 2.8 pounds
Height: 0.61 inch
Width: 11.97 inches
Depth: 8.36 inches
Weight: 3.0 pounds
Price$1249$1299

The value points of the 512GB MacBook Air

After comparing the specs in the table above we can see that the 512GB MacBook Air for $1249 gets you 16GB of RAM, 512GB of Storage, in a thinner and lighter package.

The Pro specs of the new MacBook Pro

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The Pro tier MacBook isn’t necessarily faster based on its specs. With the addition of the fan for cooling it could have a higher thermal envelope, but that is speculation at the point. We won’t really know if that minor difference makes the Pro model faster. The only other feature that the Pro model has over the MacBook Air ais the Touch Bar. Depending on your personal preference, the Touch Bar may not be a feature you find to be valuable. The last feature that the MacBook Pro has versus the MacBook Air is the brighter display. The MacBook Pro has a 500 nits display vs 400 nits display on the MacBook Air. The question we are left with then did Apple artificially make the MacBook Air have lower brightness? Every other specs of the display appears to be the same except for brightness.

Which new MacBook is a better value?

The new MacBook Air (512GB) at $1249 vs the new MacBook Pro at $1299 share nearly every spec, but with the MacBook Air you get it all in a thinner and lighter package. One question remains, what are the Clock Speed of each of the devices. We know that each device has M1 chips but we do not have a clear idea about their clock speeds. Could the M1 in the MacBook Air be clocked at 3.0 GHz and the M1 in the MacBook Pro could be clocked at 3.15 GHz or higher. This could make the Pro model have higher performance and further support the Pro model differences. Apple seems to be artificially creating differences with their new M1-powered Macs and perhaps clock speed is the last difference that could solidify the MacBook Pro’s position as the kill of the M1 hill.

If the MacBook Pro is clocked higher, it could stand to reason that the Mac Mini is also clocked higher. We will update our readers when we find out.

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