MacBook Air and MacBook Pro 2020 Buying Guide

And one, and two, and three MacBooks! Choosing a MacBook Air rather than a 13 “MacBook Pro, and a 13 “MacBook Pro rather than another, falls under the pledge. A more powerful processor for one but more recent for the other, a little more storage for one but a little more memory for the other, additional ports for one and additional hours of autonomy for the other… How to choose, when the prices are similar, even identical? With the help of our guide to buying the MacBook Air and the MacBook Pro 13 “2020.

MacBook Air. Apple image.

MacBook Air or MacBook Pro 13 “with two Thunderbolt ports?

For a hundred bricks, you have nothing left, but for a brick, you are spoiled for choice! Known for excellence in the subtle and frustrating art of upmarket very progressive, Apple has not done in detail with its range of laptops. The Premium MacBook Air and the Low-end 13 “MacBook Pro are displayed at the same price, a little less than a brick, i.e. € 1,499.

Both machines have a quad-core and eight-core Intel Core i5 processor threads. Core processor i5-1030NG7 MacBook is slower than the Core processor i5-8257U MacBook Pro 13 “, but benefits from the latest architectural refinements. More fundamentally, these two chips do not play in the same court. With a thermal envelope of 15 W, the processor of MacBook Pro is much more efficient than that of MacBook Air, limited to 10 W.

The two machines we compare.

Oh, the MacBook Air easily competes in daily operations and office applications. You won’t see a difference when you click a link in Safari or add a slide in Keynote. But the MacBook Pro stands out in complex operations and creative applications. You will clearly feel the discrepancy when editing photos in Lightroom or manipulating effects in Logic Pro.

If you really want to, and have endless patience, you can perfectly edit a Hollywood production in 4K HDR with a MacBook Air. The MacBook Pro is more suited to continuous efforts: its processor can run at full speed for hours without the slightest sign of weakness, and the measures of throttling are greatly reduced when the graphics card is used.

In a way, the MacBook Pro with two Thunderbolt ports can be seen as a MacBook Air freed from thermal constraints. The MacBook Air is a pretty machine, but the MacBook Pro 13 “offers an even higher degree of refinement:

  • its screen supports the DCI-P3 color space;
  • its backlight delivers an additional 100 cd / m2 to reach 500 cd / m2;
  • its 720p webcam and three microphones offer – very – slightly better quality in videoconferencing;
  • his speakers “High dynamic range” deliver a more powerful and balanced sound.

Both machines have a Touch ID fingerprint sensor, only the MacBook Pro 13 “has a Touch Bar, this touch strip still largely underused, but not completely useless.

The MacBook Air has a Touch ID sensor, but no Touch Bar. Apple image.

Despite its more greedy processor and thanks to a “large” battery of 58.2 Wh, against 49.9 Wh for that of the MacBook Air, the MacBook Pro 13 “with two Thunderbolt ports is enduring. Used as an electronic typewriter, it borders on the bar of 7:30 am of autonomy, which the MacBook Air barely exceeds. Turn up the screen brightness, put on some music, watch some videos, and the MacBook Air stands out more clearly.

This is the benefit of a more economical processor, but also of the more modern Intel Iris Plus graphics circuit, which makes the MacBook Air compatible with larger screens. Be aware: the supposedly professional machine is reluctant in front of 4K screens at 60 Hz, not to mention the 5K or 6K screens, which the supposedly light machine manages without problem. A roof!

You will understand, the MacBook Pro 13 “is more powerful and sophisticated, but can be faulted by the MacBook Air on certain plans. Including that of storage, since for € 1,499, the MacBook Air ships 512 GB of storage, against 256 GB for the 13 “MacBook Pro. The MacBook Pro 13 “dual-port Thunderbolt remains fun and versatile, but the MacBook Air is a wonderfully balanced machine.

MacBook Pro 13 “two-port or MacBook Pro 13” four-port Thunderbolt?

Take it a step further with the 13 “four-port Thunderbolt MacBook Pro, which is worth € 2,129 at the very least. Configured with 1 TB of storage and 16 GB of RAM, its little brother with two Thunderbolt ports worth € 2,124. As we explained at length in our review of the MacBook Pro 13 “2020, the difference between these two machines is not limited to the number of ports. With its processor Core i5-1038NG7 With a 28W thermal envelope, the 13 “four-port Thunderbolt MacBook Pro is significantly more powerful than its little brother.

The two machines we compare.

In operations that involve only one processor core, the 13 “four-port Thunderbolt MacBook Pro is up to 30% faster than the 13” dual-port Thunderbolt MacBook Pro, and rivals the 16 “MacBook Pro In applications capable of drawing all of the substantial marrow from the eight logical cores, the “big” model is 15 to 25% faster than the “small”.

The difference is all the more marked as the graphics circuit is stressed, since the MacBook Pro 13 “with four Thunderbolt ports integrates a chip Intel Iris Plus of last generation. Like the MacBook Air, the large MacBook Pro 13” manages perfectly 4K screens at 60 Hz. It can especially boast of being the first MacBook 13 “capable of running recent games in high definition, perfectly smoothly, with the settings to the maximum.

In addition to its two additional ports, the large MacBook Pro 13 “is distinguished by its side vents, which guarantee sufficient ventilation to cool the processor. However, the MacBook Pro 13” with four Thunderbolt ports is not basically better suited to tasks complex than her little brother. It’s only faster, to the point of offering performance comparable to that of the MacBook Pro 15 “from 2016 or 2017.

The 13 “MacBook Pro with its Touch Bar.

Furthermore, these machines are identical. This means that the MacBook Pro 13 “with four Thunderbolt ports pays for its higher power with significantly less autonomy. And that power is paid for: at the same price and through the options, the MacBook Pro 13” with two Thunderbolt ports carries as many memory, and twice as much storage. The big model can carry up to 32 GB of very fast LPDDR4X memory, but …

Ultimately, the choice is simple. MacBook Pro 13 “Dual Thunderbolt Port is a machine for prosumers, versatile and sophisticated, whose relatively low price makes it possible to envisage doubling memory and storage. MacBook Pro 13 “four-port Thunderbolt is a machine for professionals that can justify – and absorb – the extra expense, a powerhouse, the best we can do in this compact size.


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