This article is based on an article from the Japanese edition of Engadget and was created using the translation tool Deepl.

After evaluating three different Macs with the Apple M1, I can confidently say that the MacBook Air is arguably the best choice. I already mentioned this in my last column, so I don't need to emphasize it again, but the differences between the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro are not significant.

And, as I've quietly written, unless you want a desktop model, if you want an Apple M1-equipped MacBook this time around, you should definitely consider the Air first.

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Check the difference between Pro and Air

  • The Air is 110 grams lighter

  • With or without Touch Bar

  • The Pro is equipped with a studio-quality microphone (the method is the same but the sound quality is different)

  • Battery capacity is larger in the Pro (58.2Wh, Air is 49.9Wh)

  • The maximum brightness of the display is higher on the Pro (500 nits on the Pro versus 400 nits on the Air)

  • The trackpad of the Pro is larger

  • The output of the bundled USB-C power adapter (61 watts for the Pro, 30 watts for the Air. They can be used interchangeably, although there are differences in charging time)

Even though the Air is lighter, it is about half the weight of the iPhone 12 Pro Max, a difference of 110 grams. The Air also has a battery that lasts a staggeringly long time, the brightness doesn't feel inadequate at times, and the trackpad, though small, is wider than most Windows laptops.

The quality of the microphones is certainly different, but when it comes to the quality of the voice with the built-in microphones (the directivity is the same since they all have a speaker-oriented directivity), there is no definite difference there either.

As for AC adapters, many people have ultra-compact chargers that use GaN elements for carrying around.

If it was the previous MacBook Air, the display is sRGB, which was a concern, but since everything else is no longer the same except for the brightness, the question is whether or not you will find the value of the Touch Bar for 30,000 yen more.

Equipped with M1 and versatile. Choose Air if you're on the fence

With the current chassis design, the MacBook Air has been optimized for what Intel calls the "Y-series" processors, but performance has been poor because power consumption has been kept to the bare minimum.

The Ice lake model that came out earlier this year had significantly improved performance, but the increased power consumption caused it to generate a bit more heat, and performance degraded quickly after a bit of a sustained high load. I even personally recommended a cheaper dual-core, low-cost model because of the inability to take advantage of the performance of the quad-core. If I was going to buy a quad-core model, it was more comfortable and cost-effective to choose a lower-end MacBook Pro as well (two Thunderbolt models).

Originally, MacBook Air is a model that needs to be a standard product, so much so that you can say "If you can't decide, you should buy the Air". Because of the price, it is often purchased by students. It was not easy to explain to people that they can choose it if they are a person with a variety of excuses.

However, with the arrival of the M1 model, this relationship has changed dramatically: two MacBooks with the M1 can both perform about the same. Of course, as noted in the comparison test, the Air may be warmer and perform about 15% (or a bit more, depending on the outside temperature) less well for processing that uses up the CPU and GPU continuously for more than 10 minutes.

However, it's still a "blast" as a mobile computer, and I don't think that this is going to hurt the value of the MacBook Air too much. Rather, it may be that the previous model, which was not able to run even the Y processor (even though it uses a cooling fan) in a healthy manner, was positioned more special.

I am sorry for this post-mortem, but Apple may have been designing for the introduction of the M1-based MacBook Air. That's how well the M1 balances power and performance, and for the majority of people who are interested in an M1-equipped Mac, the MacBook Air is the right choice. Finally, it has become a standard "If you're on the fence, choose the Air". In that sense, it also coincides with the major update of the iPad Air.

Pro also has a role in Pro

So what does that mean for the MacBook Pro? In addition to professional applications such as Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro, there are a number of applications that use the Touch Bar in their own rights, such as iWork, Microsoft Office, and others such as djay Pro, which is often used in the M1 demo.

The quality of the Pro's built-in microphone may also be helpful in online meetings, as it certainly captures a sound that is easy to hear. That said, many people in online meetings, for example, will use a headset or earpiece microphone to prevent sound from getting around and getting in the way of living noise.

The quality of the built-in microphone is certainly high when you try it out, and here's the data I recorded to test it out. It's not as good as RODE's NT-USB (external condenser microphone), but it does pick up a pretty clear voice.

So, MacBook Pro has a reason for being, of course, but since it is "for Pro" from the beginning, I think that I want to choose the Apple Silicon version when replacing the even more powerful option for more Pro-like uses, specifically, the 4 Thunderbolt model that is currently left behind.

The question is, when will it come out, but I personally think it will be at least six months later. Possibly, next year at WWDC, it could be a scenario in which developers are delighted to see the perfect Apple Silicon for developers, along with a new product. But if it doesn't come out there, it will be the timing of the Apple M2, which is expected in a year's time.

It's a big jump up every few years or so, and when switching from Intel, you want to carefully choose the right fit for your application, so if you're going to choose Pro, I think it's when a more Pro-like and scalable model comes out.

There is no more reason to shy away from the MacBook Air

Now, back to the Air. Again, there is no longer any reason to shy away from the MacBook Air. You don't have to keep listening to high-frequency fan noise, but you don't have to give up on performance.

You don't have to endure a hot enclosure with a heavy CPU load all the time just to do a little processing. It's much cooler to use, even though it's not equipped with a fan. High performance means less heat buildup because the load is lighter, even if you're doing the same work.

Some might say that compatibility is a concern, but so far we have very little incompatible software at hand. The only one I've had problems with is Fortnite, which I tried out, with good performance and a decent frame rate despite the conversion from Intel instructions, but I had problems returning to the lobby after playing. But other than that, there is no other application that is not working so far, not to mention some well-known names like Microsoft and Adobe.

It is said that Apple Silicon native versions of these popular apps will be released in the next month or so, after a round of testing on actual devices, although it is only at the rumor level. Here and there, people ask me how Adobe's Premiere Pro works, but I'm sure that native versions will be out before you worry about it. This would be the same for Office.

So, if you've been considering buying a laptop Mac, you can't go wrong by choosing the MacBook Air, which is also less expensive. As someone who has been using a 13-inch MacBook Pro (2018 Late), it looks like a particularly attractive choice because of its different keyboard.

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This article is based on an article from the Japanese edition of Engadget and was created using the translation tool Deepl. The Japanese edition of Engadget does not guarantee the accuracy or reliability of this article.