MacBook Pro vs MacBook Air | What you need to know about Apple MacBooks

MacBook Pro vs MacBook Air | What you need to know about Apple MacBooks

Whether you are a big Apple fan or not, understanding the differences between the MacBook Pro and the MacBook Air can be very helpful. Generally, there is quite a jump between the two models in terms of price, with the Air typically being cheaper. Both MacBook models have great qualities and in general Apple laptops are very high quality. For this article we will be looking at the models we have on our site. You can see our full Apple range here.

MacBook Pro and MacBook Air | A Quick Comparison

The main differences you will find between the two models is their build and their price. If you are looking for a quick comparison, we can tell you right now that MacBook Airs are cheaper and lighter, but not as powerful. You can tell quite quickly the difference between the two from their shape. The MacBook Air has more of a wedge look, with a base that gets slimmer towards the trackpad end of the laptop. This makes them ultra-lightweight which is great for students and workers who move from location to location. MacBook Pros have a thicker base which is uniform from end to end, but as with the Airs, the screens are extremely thin (less than 1cm in width across various models). Normally the Pros also have more ports, particularly generations from 2016 and older. You can see a great example of this with our 2015 models; MacBook Pro (Early 2015) and MacBook Air (Early 2015).

MacBook Air (top) vs MacBook Pro (bottom)

MacBook Pricing

As stated earlier, MacBook Airs are always released at a lower price point than their counterparts, the Pros. Lets take for example one of our most popular MacBook Pros, the A1502 Early 2015 model, as it’s currently on sale on our site for £599.99. For this price you are getting a Retina display, i5 5th gen processor, 8GB RAM and a 128GB SSD. This is a great device with great specs that means you can boot the laptop up in well under a minute and run multiple programs such as Chrome, Excel, Word and Adobe Acrobat at the same time. However, for £579.99, you can get our MacBook Air Early 2015 model, with an i5 5th gen CPU and 8GB RAM but with a 256GB SSD. Both models have the same screen size and similar specs, but for a lower price the Air has the advantage of a larger hard drive. This is the same with Apple MacBooks across most generations. If they are within the same release year, the Airs are likely to be cheaper (unless the specs are significantly better in the Air you are looking at). The main difference between the two examples we have provided is that the MacBook Pro has the Retina display, with more ports on the base which provides more flexibility. The MacBook Air, in particular generations from 2016 and older, tend to have larger bezels and often don’t feature the Retina display. So, if you don’t have a need for a fancy screen and like good specs for less, the Air is a more than capable device for everyday and office based tasks.

P.S. make sure to check in on our listings when looking for a new laptop as we periodically put sale prices on for certain devices, bringing you even more savings. 

MacBook Screens and Displays

This transitions nicely into the next category; screens and displays. In continuation of the discussion above, we’ll compare the MacBook Pro A1708 (Mid 2017), MacBook Air A1932 (Late 2018) and the MacBook Air A1534 (Mid 2017). The A1534 is the same year as the Pro, but it is a 12” model. Having said that, both MacBook Airs listed above do have “Retina Displays”, which is good for our customers because it means they don’t have to necessarily choose the Pro model. That being said, while its still got the Retina display, it actually has a lower native resolution, sitting at 2304x1440 as opposed to the Pros 2560 x 1600. This is typically the case with all MacBook Airs when comparing to the Pros of the same generation. You will notice however, with the A1932, that the display on this model matches the Pro of the previous year. So, if you are after the lightweight and colourful designs of the Airs, but need the best screen quality, look at some of the 2018 model Mac Airs we have. This goes for all generations you might look at. Pro Tip (pun intended): if you find a MacBook Pro you like, but prefer the Airs, try looking for the Mac Air released the following year to the Pro you have found. They typically improve the specs of the Air year on year, meaning they more closely match the previous generation of Pros. 

MacBook Retina screen display

MacBook Performance

Lets talk about the biggest differentiator between the two models. Performance varies with each generation but of course newer models are more powerful. The gap has increased further with Apples introduction of their M1 chip, which if you are interested in you can read more about on our CPU blog. Without looking at the specs, you can typically expect better resolution, a higher spec CPU and additional features such as a Touch bar or more ports. With our 2017 models for example, the Airs have CPUs with speeds of around 1.3GHz while the Pros clock in at 2.3GHz. The RAM is also faster, but it’s not such a noticeable difference unless you are a content creator or into music production as both have LPDDR3 SDRAM type RAM.As both have flash drives (SSD’s), they both load up very quickly and are practically the same when accessing files and data. Therefore, it really comes down to processing power. Unless you really need the extra power for processor intensive tasks you can lean more towards a MacBook Air. Typical office type tasks and online courses or meetings can easily be done on the Airs which may save you a lot of money when going with Apple.

MacBook Air late 2018 – Ideal Home Worker and Student Laptop

Should I Buy Refurbished MacBooks?

You could pick up a great deal from us here at Refurbo. A new MacBook Pro, base model from Apple with 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD will set you back a minimum of £1,299. A refurbished Mid-2017 model on our site with the same specs is £799.99 (view listing here). Granted you are not getting the shiny new M1 chip, but considering all we have talked about in this blog and our previous blogs, do you actually need it? Especially when you are saving yourself just shy of £500. What’s more is that any purchase of a refurbished unit is covered by a 1-year warranty as is the industry standard. This means no additional payment for warranties. We also provide BullGuard anti-virus software free for 1 year and are always on hand to help with queries you may have. We really believe in the power of our refurbished MacBooks. In addition, we also have various grades on offer that other companies do not have for some of our MacBook Airs, which means you can pick up a big bargain if you don’t mind some scratches and scuffs. Check the different grades here.


It’s quite difficult to make a decision when comparing Mac Pros and Mac Airs. It is like choosing between a Porsche and a Lamborghini (yes, we really like Apple MacBooks). They are both extremely high quality builds and offer brilliant specs for such sleek laptops. They rival any Windows laptop of the same spec, the biggest difference being the price. However, with refurbished Apple MacBooks you will find the price points are much more similar to their Windows counterparts and could be the perfect solution to those looking to enter the Mac market or indeed pick a more environmentally friendly way to buy Apple. We highly recommend looking into a refurbished MacBook. On this occasion, we will have to recommend our Refurbished Apple Macbook Pro A170813" Retina (Mid 2017) i5 8GB 128GB SSD - Space Grey as Refurbo’s champion. While we love the slim little MacBook Air as a lightweight, portable unit we can take anywhere, we think this Mac Pro really packs a punch. Because it is a 2017 model its cheaper than the 2018 Air we have but has much better performance than its sister model the 12” 2017 Air. It scores an 8811 on Geekbench while the others clock in at 7022 (2017 Mac Air) and 8134 (2018 Mac Air) respectively. We hope this helps inform your decision, but if you have any comments, let us know what you think!

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Apr 29, 2021 Sergio Osorio

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