MacBook Pro 2013 vs MacBook Air 2013: Which Should You Buy?

  macbook_pro_15  macbook_pro_13  macbookair_13  macbookair_11 

13-inch MacBook Pro
with Retina display
15-inch MacBook Pro
with Retina display
11-inch MacBook Air
13-inch MacBook Air
Starting Price  $1,299 $1,999  $999 $1,099 
Display / Resolution  13.3 inches /
2560 x 1600 pixels

15.4 inches /
2880 x 1800 pixels

11.6 inches /
1366 x 768 pixels 

13.3-inch /
1440 x 900 pixels

CPU   2.4-GHz dual-core Intel Core i5  2.0-GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 1.3-GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 1.3-GHz dual-core Intel Core i5
Graphics  Intel Iris Graphics  Intel Iris Graphics (upgradeable to
NVIDIA GeForce GT 750m)
Intel HD Graphics 5000 Intel HD Graphics 5000
Storage 128 / 256 / 512GB 256 / 512GB 128 / 256GB 128 / 256GB
Weight 3.46 lbs  4.46 lbs 2.4 lbs 3.0 lbs
Size 12.4 x 8.6 x 0.71 inches 14.1 x 9.7 x 0.71 inches 11.8 x 7.6 x 0.68 inches 12.8 x 9.0 x 0.68 inches

Apple has fully updated its line of MacBook Pros with Intel’s fourth-generation Haswell processors, new graphics chips and improved battery life. That means all of Apple’s laptops, from its MacBook Pro and MacBook Air lines, can be had with Intel’s latest CPUs and graphics processors. There are still, however, significant differences between the laptop lines, which means you have a tough choice to make if you’re trying decide between buying a new MacBook Pro or Air. To help make your decision easier, we’ve broken down the specs for both versions. Here’s how the notebooks stack up against each other.

If you’re going to be traveling a lot, the MacBook Air could be your ideal traveling companion. The 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Air  weigh just 2.4 pounds and 3 pounds, respectively.  The 13-inch Pro weighs in at 3.46 pounds, while the 15-inch is a pound heavier. The Airs are also, obviously, slimmer than the Pros, with both notebooks measuring just 0.68 inches thick to the Pros 0.71 inches.

MORE: Top 10 Features of OS X Mavericks

The new MacBook Pros may be a bit heavier and bigger than the MacBook Airs, but the Pros have their lightweight stablemates beat in the display department, offering sharper details than the featherweight Airs. The MacBook Pros with Retina Display each pack high-resolution screens, with the 13-inch’s offering 2560 x 1600 pixels and the 15-inch’s coming with 2880 x 1800 pixels. Apple’s 11-inch MacBook Air, on the other hand has a 1366 x 768-pixel display, while the 13-inch has a 1440 x 900-pixel screen.

macbook pro refresh 670x265

In terms of internal specs, the MacBook Pro easily bests the MacBook Air. With its 2.4-GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor, Intel Iris Graphics, 4GB of RAM and your choice of a 128GB, 256 GB or 512GB solid-state drive, the 13-inch Pro is a powerhouse capable of handling nearly anything you throw at it. If you need even more power, you can grab the 15-inch Pro, which includes a 2-GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB of RAM and your choice of a 256 GB or 512 GB SSD. There’s also an available Nvidia Geforce GT 750M processor with 2GB of GDDR5 RAM. With that kind of horsepower, the Pro 15-inch can outclass most desktop computers, let alone laptops.

The MacBook Airs, on the other hand, feature ultra-low voltage versions of Intel’s Haswell processors. Both laptops come with 1.3-GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processors, 4GB of RAM and your choice of a 128GB or 512GB SSD. Though not nearly as powerful as the MacBook Pros, the Air can certainly handle your everyday tasks and then some.

Of course, the biggest difference between the MacBook Pro line and MacBook Air line is their respective price tags. The new 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display starts at $1,299 and tops out at $1,799 with all the bells and whistles. The 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display starts out at $1,999 and can hit a whopping $2,599. The 11-inch MacBook Air, on the other hand, costs a relatively low $999 and reaches just $1,199. Similarly, the base 13-inch MacBook Air comes in at 1,099, with the souped-up version costing $1,299.

So which MacBook should you get? It depends on what you’re going to use them for. If you’re always on the go and need a lightweight notebook with a fairly powerful processor, then the 11-inch or 13-inch Air is the one to go with. But if you need serious horsepower from your notebook, the 13-inch or 15-inch MacBook Pro is the right laptop for you. Either way, both MacBook lines are a solid choice for most users.

Daniel P. Howley
Daniel P. Howley
A newspaper man at heart, Dan Howley wrote for Greater Media Newspapers before joining He also served as a news editor with ALM Media’s Law Technology News, and he holds a B.A. in English from The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.
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Submit Comments

  1. fv Says:

    Great article. Thanks.

  2. Al Says:

    15 inch rMBP actually has Iris Pro graphics, not merely Iris graphics.

  3. Yasmine Says:

    I think this review was very helpful in the case as I want to buy one of them. I will be using it for school and not so much for media so I’m leaning towards the MacBook Air at the moment. What do you think? Thanks for your help

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