Choosing Between the 2019 MacBook Air and Entry-level MacBook Pro

The latest update to the MacBook line simplifies things nicely, making it easier to choose between models.

The 13 inch MacBook with physical escape has been replaced with an entry level model which includes a Touch Bar, True Tone display and a T2 chip. The MacBook Air is now cheaper, with a True Tone display, while the 12 inch MacBook is no more.

MacBook Pro 2019

The most interesting decision for most people will be which to choose: the MacBook Air, or the similarly priced MacBook Pro 13 inch base model.

Stephen Hackett sums things up nicely:

Once you start poking around, you can see some differences. Upgrading from the $1,099 MacBook Air to $1,299 MacBook Pro comes with these features:

  • A quad-core Intel processor, with twice the cores of the MacBook Air. While the base clock speed is slower on the Pro, its Turbo Boost frequency is higher, and in its higher-TDP application, the Pro should be able to sustain higher speeds for longer.
  • A display that at 500 nits is a full 100 nits brighter than the MacBook Air. The Pro’s display supports the P3 wide color gamut while the Air does not.
  • The Touch Bar. Your mileage will vary on how useful you find it.
  • A slightly more robust Intel GPU. The Pro can push more external pixels, but performance wise, it shouldn’t be a night and day difference.
  • Worse battery life. The Pro comes with a 58.2-watt-hour battery clocked at 10 hours on Apple’s “wireless web” test, but the Air’s 49.9‑watt‑hour unit tested at 12 hours. I’d blame that core count.

I think for almost everyone, the MacBook Air is the right notebook. It’s thin and light, with plenty of power for most tasks, but if you need a better GPU or more cores, the MacBook Pro is a logical upgrade.