Video Comparison: M3 MacBook Air vs. M3 MacBook Pro

With the refresh of the MacBook Air models in March, Apple now has M3 versions of the 13-inch ‌MacBook Air‌, 14-inch MacBook Pro, and 15-inch ‌MacBook Air‌, all with the same chip inside. For those trying to decide between the MacBook Pro and the ‌MacBook Air‌, we did a comparison video to highlight what you’re getting with each machine.

While the ‌MacBook Air‌ and the 14-inch MacBook Pro have the same M3 chip, there is a difference with the low-end ‌MacBook Air‌. At the entry-level $1,099 price, the 13-inch ‌MacBook Air‌ has an 8-core CPU and 8-core GPU. The more expensive $1,299 13-inch ‌MacBook Air‌ has an 8-core CPU and upgraded 10-core GPU, with all 15-inch ‌MacBook Air‌ and 14-inch MacBook Pro models also starting with the upgraded 10-core GPU.

So you can get a ‌MacBook Air‌ for as little as $1,099, but at that price point, the GPU is downgraded. That won’t matter for general day-to-day use, but it’s something to keep in mind. The 15-inch ‌MacBook Air‌ is priced starting at $1,299, and the 14-inch ‌MacBook Air‌ is priced starting at $1,599, so there is a major price difference.

The 14-inch MacBook Pro is priced higher because it starts with a 512GB SSD instead of 256GB like the ‌MacBook Air‌, and because it has a better display. Apple uses a mini-LED Liquid Retina XDR display that has ProMotion with refresh rates up to 120Hz and up to 1,600 nits peak brightness. The ‌MacBook Air‌ has an LCD display with up to 500 nits brightness, so the real notable difference between the machines is the display quality.

Mini-LED offers deeper blacks, more vivid colors, and it overall just looks better, especially for work where color is important like photo editing and for watching movies or other HDR content. There are no fans inside the ‌MacBook Air‌, while the MacBook Pro has fans for active cooling. In theory, you could see better performance out of the M3 with the active cooling when using very system intensive tasks. Ports are another difference, with the MacBook Pro featuring an HDMI 2.1 port and an SDXC card slot in addition to two Thunderbolt 4/USB-C ports. The ‌MacBook Air‌ doesn’t have the extra ports, and is limited to the two Thunderbolt 4 ports.

Both versions of the ‌MacBook Air‌ are thinner and lighter than the 14-inch MacBook Pro, so the ‌MacBook Air‌ wins out when it comes to portability, but the MacBook Pro has longer battery life (18 hours for the ‌MacBook Air‌ vs. 22 hours for the MacBook Pro. Other specs are largely the same, though there are some differences in speaker and microphone quality.

Basically, the 14-inch MacBook Pro is more expensive but has better display quality, while the ‌MacBook Air‌ wins out when it comes to portability and price. Choosing one will depend on workload, but the ‌MacBook Air‌ is the computer that we recommend for most people. You’ll want to go with the MacBook Pro if display quality is important or if there are specific ports you need.

Make sure to watch our video up above for a full comparison of the two machines, and we also have a comparison guide that includes the M3 Pro and M3 Max chips.

Related Forums: MacBook Air, MacBook Pro

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