Which M1 MacBook is best for you, Apple’s MacBook Air or MacBook Pro?

Apple’s MacBook line-up has in the recent past — with the MacBook, touch bars, etc. — been a tad confusing. Thankfully, things have since been simplified. Now the main questions are: do you want an M1 Air or Pro, and how big do you want it to be?

The 13-inch MacBook Pro with M1 delivers game-changing performance and the longest battery life ever on a Mac.
The current 13-inch MacBook Pro with M1 delivers game-changing performance and the longest battery life ever on a Mac.
MacBook Air with M1 is an absolute powerhouse of performance and thin-and-light portability.
Apple’s current 13-inch M1 MacBook Air is an absolute powerhouse of performance and thin-and-light portability.

Andrew Griffin for The Independent:

The MacBook Air featured in our round-up of the best high-end laptops for great performance. Our tester said: “The MacBook Air is remarkably lightweight and slim, an effect made the more appealing thanks to a tapering design – at its thinnest point it’s 0.41cm thick. But the new version is the first to use Apple’s own silicon instead of an Intel processor. The M1 chip is breathtakingly fast.

The MacBook Pro also scored a place in our high-end laptop round-up. Our tester raved about the M1 chip, saying: “Like the MacBook Air, this laptop has the brand-new, super-fast Apple-made M1 chip at its centre.” But, as it’s the same as in the more affordable MacBook Air, why would you choose this model instead?

“For the most demanding users, there are benefits to the Pro,” they said. “Unlike the Air, there is a fan in this model, which means the fast performance can continue for even longer. Additionally, the entry-level Pro includes a slightly more powerful graphics chip.”

The most pressing reason to wait will be if you’re very keen on the features of the Intel computers – the extra storage or ports of the four-port 13-inch model, or the variety of upgrades offered by the 16-inch version – but don’t want to be stuck with old chips. In that case, if you can wait, you will be rewarded.

MacDailyNews Take: As users of 16-inch MacBook Pro, we’re happy about everything except the 8-core Intel Core i9 processors inside. Our fans run virtually non-stop (we have a lot of browser tabs open, graphics apps, streaming video, etc. We would not advise buying any Intel-based Mac right now. If your Mac hasn’t been upgraded to Apple Silicon yet, then wait a bit if you can.


  1. The fanless, cold and long running M1 MacBook Air is just too fun. For a large majority of users, this MacBook with 16GB of RAM and the right size HD for your needs is perfect. I sold my 6 mos. old mid-2020 MBP to finance the new MBAir and have never regretted it.

    Okay. Keeping it real here? Just two very small gripes.

    The M1 MBP (with a fan) does have a slightly brighter screen (25% brighter). Ever since the darker retina screens hit MacBooks, I’ve never had one that screamed “too bright!” So I do kinda miss that extra 25%, but it’s nowhere near a deal breaker.

    The other, even tinier gripe, is a seasonal one.

    The fanless M1 MacBook Air does NOT keep your lap warm in the winter even after streaming. Damn thing runs like a speed skater on ice.

  2. In the market to replace my main work machine. Over the last few years in DevOps/AWS I have gone from my MacBook as my only work machine to it splitting time 50/50 with my Linux laptop to Linux being the primary machine with the MB as secondary. We are a big Apple family. 2 MB Pros, 1 MB Air, 1 iPad Pro, 4 iPads and 5 iPhones from the iphone 12 on down to an SE. This is the first time I’m not only shopping for a MacBook to be my new work machine. I’m seriously contemplating a System 76 laptop running Ubuntu. 100% of our infrastructure is Linux and I’m heavy in Terraform, Go, Java, Ansible and Docker. Running KDE and Latte Dock is pretty nice.

    1. @Quicker21. We are a 90% Apple family too. The only exception being a monster PC gaming tower my 17-year-old son built.

      All I said before might change if I needed my MacBook to be work machine. I’m mostly reading, writing, surfing and watching video on my M1 MBAir.

      If you’re doing any kind of heavy lifting with video, music, photos, or any other heavy processing stuff, you probably should wait and see what Apple comes out with in terms of high end MacBook Pros. Nobody knows, but I’d be surprised if we don’t see them out by Xmas at least. My guess is the M1 iMac is next in the queue.

      I will never miss the inefficient fan roar that even my mid-2020, 4-port, high-end MBP had.

      When I was erasing it and setting it up for resale, I heard the fans roar again and shook my head. I’m very, very happy with what I’m seeing in the M1. It’s a game changer the market will slowly grok and embrace. I see few reasons for anyone to ever buy another Intel based Mac.

      But you might need a lap blanket if you go for the Air. 🥶

  3. Traded in a loaded 13” MacBook Pro for an 8gb MacBook Air M1 and it’s double the machine. No fans, long battery life, much better overall performance. A no brained.

  4. I use both. I hate it when my MacBook Pro’s fan turns on. It’s also rather slow sometimes.
    As a teacher, I rely on good connectivity with the Apple TV platform. That could be better as well.
    The MacBook Air is an improvement so I recommend this one. But both lack ports. 2 Thunderbolt ports is just not enough.

  5. Ran into the nearest store to buy a M1 8GB macbook pro…couldn’t notice any real improvement over my 2015 core i7 8GB macbok air at least nothing out of this world (say 5 times faster or something like that). I can’t see why so much fuzzy bout this new mac.

    waiting for the m2…

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