New MacBook Air v MacBook Pro

I’ve been satisfied with my 15-inch (2016) MacBook Pro, 2.7 ghz quad-core Intel Cor i7, 16 GB 2133 MHz which I use primarily for XOJO, MySQL databases and the standard computer uses. I appreciate decent screen size and queries and programs that run quickly. Would I likely be satisfied with the new 15-inch MacBook Air (cheaper, lighter and presumably faster than what I have now) or should I continue with the more expensive and, I suspect, more powerful MacBook Pro series when I get a new machine. What would I be giving up? Saving money is always nice, but luckily it is not a priority at present.

From what I’ve noticed, the main thing for my purposes is that the Air is more limited in maximum memory it will take. I like the elbow room of 32G for running a Windows VM with 12 or 16G dedicated to it if I wish, a Postgres server for development, etc. I have an older (2015??) 8G Air and a newer (late 2021??) 32G M1 Pro and that was the main reason I went to the Pro rather than another Air. The Air is my workaday machine for banging out emails and writing documentation, the Pro has all my current dev tools on it but the Air could stand in for it if the Pro were in the shop for a few days, and vice versa.

The wedge form factor and general thinness of the Air is another thing you’re giving up, plus the Pro is a little heavier, but in practice I don’t really notice those things on an everyday basis, as in, ugh, I have to lug the Pro around today. But I believe the newest Airs are losing the wedge profile too, if that matters to you.


The Air can have up to 224 24Gb RAM - the Pro up to 96
(air 15" vs Pro 16")

The pro has more cores

I think the Air is more limited in the # of external monitors it can drive as well
It can handle one external 4K display
Depending on the MBP (using the M2 Pro or M2 Max you can drive 2 or 4 external 4K monitors)

yep, the monitors are the main limitation for me. From pure RAM and CPU perspective the Air has enough power for what I am doing, as I don’t do any movie and only little graphical stuff.

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I watch movies
Graphics are “I can draw a box if there’s a box tool in the tool palette” :stuck_out_tongue:

The new Airs can go to 224 G or is that a typo? I can’t imagine the Air having > 2x the max RAM as a Pro. However if it’s 24G you meant to say, that makes the latest Airs vs Pros a more difficult choice for me – but it’ll change by the time I’m in the market again, I suppose.

probably typo :slight_smile: 24Gb

yeah the biggest issue for me is still 1 vs 2 or more externals

but I’m not in the market to update right now anyway

Thanks to everyone for the comments.

MacBook Air can have up to 24 gb.

Typically, I only use my laptop monitor. I also have a 27 inch desktop Mac but don’t use it very much because it is actually too big for me, and my eyes, to use comfortably. I’ve also gotten by with 16 gb of memory even though I often have a slew of windows, several applications and 2 or 3 XOJO projects open (mostly to steal code for the one I’m currently working on). So life and speed could be improved by more memory. Multiple ports for power, external drives and occasional play with other devices are good.

What I’d be looking at is either a

15 inch MacBook Air with 16 gb memory and 1 TB storage for $1899 ($1699 with 8 gb (too little), $2099 with 24 gb (more than I have now)). 2 thunderbolt, 4 usb ports

or a

16 inch MacBook Pro with an M2 Pro, 16 gb memory and 1 TB storage for $2699. 32 gb would take it to $3099. Switching to M2 Max would add $400 but it seems to be aimed at users with high end graphic developers which I am not. 3 thunderbolt ports, 1 hdmi, (no usb?), sdxc slot, headphone jack.

IMHO it comes down to several things.

  1. The screen is the major difference, the 16" is higher resolution, brighter and supports dimming zones for watching HDR content.
  2. The 16" has more cores and better cooling, so for specialized tasks or long tasks the 16" will be better. Otherwise both will browse the web, do Xojo things, e-mail, music, movies etc etc at the same speed.
  3. The 16" can connect to more external displays.

You’ll need more memory than 16GB if you’re used to that already, due to M series using shared RAM between CPU and GPU, and ARM apps just seem to use more memory.

You’ll need to get the 1TB option on either Mac to avoid the half speed SSDs that Apple include on base models. It’s like buying a car with a powerful engine, but being gimped by a shit transmission on the bottom trim.

There is a 3rd option. A refurbished 16" M1 Pro, here in Taiwan they go for around $1,000 USD less than the equivalent M2 Pro, if you can get one. It’ll be a little slower than either brand new machine, but you get the better display, better SSD, more memory etc etc.


Sam, thanks for the comments re memory and storage.

It does always seem that it is best to select the middle option when Apple offers 3 choices as it is doing for memory and storage for the MacBook Pro. The first choice is nearly always underpowered for anyone doing real work and the third choice is only for those with money to burn or who make “real” money with their programming.

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You gotta choose what’s right for you. Memory is more important than ever as demand for memory has increased and Apple’s uses that to boost it’s bottom line.

Storage is also incredibly important, not just because bottom model has gimped storage speeds (bottom line), but because of how I personally work. I partition the internal drive, so I have 3. One for current OS version and that’s in perpetual beta. The last partition is where my work and apps are stored. That way, I can blast my OS partitions any time without having to worry about losing important stuff.

For my older machines, I have even more partitions so I can boot between multiple versions for testing. Which if you’re serious about developing macOS applications and start to use Apple’s API, you’re going to need, you can only remember so much…

OS partitions typically need at least 128 GB nowadays, especially if you need to install Xcode! (you need plenty of space for updates).

BTW, I’ve also been considering the same. About a month ago I’d already decided that I’d go for a refurb M1 Pro as it’s only slightly slower than a M2, but at 70% of the price. I was interest in the 15" for 66% of the cost, but I decided I’d rather have an extra 8 GB of RAM and the better screen for that extra 4% cash.

The only concern I have, is that I suspect Apple will lower 7 years of support to 5 or less, so that refurb M1 has lost nearly two years of OS updates already, meaning I’ll have to replace it sooner than if I bought a M2. That’s if I can get a refurb M1 with the specs I want, it’s been over a month and I’ve not seen it again.

I think [but not sure] that the US Government mandates 7 years of support for a product, if that is true, then Apple has no choice in that

At least in the EU, there is currently a discussion and pressure for significantly longer support times for all manufacturers. In this respect, a reduction to 5 years (even if it were permitted by law - it currently still is) seems rather unlikely. The ecological trend, pressure and zeitgeist are in the opposite direction.

At least in the EU, there is currently a discussion and pressure for significantly longer support times for all manufacturers. In this respect, a reduction to 5 years (even if it were permitted by law - it currently still is) seems rather unlikely. The ecological trend, pressure and zeitgeist are in the opposite direction.

This will hurt Android worse than any other platform.

12 posts were split to a new topic: The green vortex

FWIW this came up on ZDNet today:

Unfortunately, marketing bullshit.

Ex: they said “No HDMI port”, yes, fine, but how do I connect an external screen ? How many, what size/res, etc.

And what about the internal SSD ? Do they have the same speed (the 256, 512 models) ? Or must we takes the 512 GB model because the other SSD is slow (as seen previously)…

OK: I am not in a replacement time, but, I’l looking at what is done !:innocent:

External Display → USB-C

How many: 1 as written by apple and known also from M1 MacBook Air before, no changes

And no, where in M1 Series you saw a really “slow” SSD? Man what a discussion

And where’s the marketing bullshit in it? I can’t see. The only thing is the questions asked here and answered in the docs.

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Slow SSD: two 128GB SSD slow sticks to get 256 GB vs the other (512GB , etc.).

I read that in the press, but not only.

Marketing bullshit: if the marketing data are enough for you, it is OK for me, but I need more than what can be found in the Apple Store Spec sheet (more than what is usually disclosed to the newspaper people).

Okay, first: I have done performance checks with Mac M1 with 256 GB and 512 GB. Guess what? Slow was there nothing. The 256 GB was a bit faster than the 512 GB. But to speak about slow? I don’t know if that makes in your use any huge difference.

We have done that also with MacBook Air M1 model and guess what: the same. A bit better than the specs. Okay, I can live with that. So my question is: what do you need? The best performance ever? Is it not acceptable that one is faster than the other? I can’t get it. We could speak about if we would have a performance problem with it. There is non. Definitely not.