Apple MacBooks aren't cheap, so it's important that you know what you get when you buy a MacBook before parting with your cash.
We take a look at the key differences between the Apple MacBook Air and MacBook Pro ranges, so you can be confident that you're buying the right MacBook for you.
Whatever your budget, our lab tests reveal which models are worth your money and which aren't. See our expert pick of thebest laptops.
Which MacBook should I buy? Mac specs and prices compared
There are three different MacBook Pro models and just two Air models, one from 2020 and one from 2022. The Pros differ in what they’re capable of but there is one common thread; they’re all more expensive than the Air, so you’d be right to consider how you can save money by opting for the cheapest option.
In the table below we’ve lined up all five of the current MacBook models and their most important specs. After that, we go in-depth to bring you our verdict on what MacBook might suit your needs. Logged-in Which? members get a more detailed conclusion based on our test results.
|2020 MacBook Air||2022 MacBook Air||2022 13-inch MacBook Pro||2023 14-inch MacBook Pro||2023 16-inch MacBook Pro|
|Processor||Apple M1 (fanless)||Apple M2 (fanless)||Apple M2||Apple M2 Pro or M2 Max||Apple M2 Pro or M2 Max|
|Storage||256GB-2TB||256GB-2TB||256GB-2TB||512GB - 8TB||512GB-8TB|
|Screen||13.3-inch, 2,560x1,600||13.6-inch, 2,560x1,664||13.3-inch 2,560x1,600||14.2-inch 3,024x1,964||16.2-inch 3,456x2,234|
|Claimed battery life||15-18 hours||15-18 hours||17-20 hours||12-18 hours||15-22 hours|
|Typical lowest price at Apple.com||£999||£1,249||£1,349||£2,149||£2,699|
MacBook Air 2020 vs 2022: Best MacBook Airs compared
The 2020 Air uses Apple’s 2020 M1 chip and makes use of an older chassis design, so isn’t as fast and is a touch heavier (only by a matter of grams, mind you). It also doesn’t benefit from the very latest 'Liquid Retina' screen tech so the screen isn’t quite as sharp. The spec sheet says battery life should be about the same, but we found in our lab tests that one of these models lasted a few hours longer than the other.
There are reasons to go for the more recent model, though; that screen is not only sharper but it’s also a touch squarer, meaning it’s better for reading text as you can fit more lines onto the screen. Also, while this is far from guaranteed, Apple tends to support newer devices for longer than older ones – so it might be that the 2020 model stops getting security updates a few years sooner than the 2022 edition.
On the face of it, the newer model does have some perks that you can’t get on the 2020 model, but the price difference is significant enough to justify going for the previous-generation model.
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Read our full2020 MacBook Air reviewand our2022 MacBook Air review
MacBook Air prices
Below you'll find the best prices we can find at the major retailers for the 2020 and 2022 MacBook Air models.
Best MacBook Pros: 13-, 14- and 16-inch compared
The MacBook Pro range is split into two distinct ranges.
- There’s the 13-inch model, which comes with a standard Apple M2 processor
- The larger models feature the more powerful M2 Pro and M2 Max processors and are mostly identical, aside from their physical size and battery capacity.
If you’re choosing between the MacBook Pros, it’s worth assessing exactly what you need. If you simply need a fast, thin and light laptop the 13-incher will likely do you fine. But if you have the budget to spend and want the very fastest laptops available and want a larger screen, the bigger models are worth looking into.
13-inch MacBook Pro
The 13-inch MacBook Pro has a pin-sharp 13.3-inch Retina display and it also features the Touch Bar mini touch screen above the keyboard. The base model only has two USB-C/Thunderbolt ports and a headphone jack; a more expensive model adds a further two USB-C/Thunderbolts if you need them.
It’s substantially lighter than the larger models, weighing less than 1.4kg.
14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros
The larger models have their own perks. While they’re both a fair bit heavier and bulkier than the 13-inch model and battery life comes up a tad short, they also feature upgraded screens, faster processors and more ports. You get an SD card reader and a HDMI port on the bigger Pros, in addition to three USB-C/Thunderbolt ports.
These laptops should also be capable of intensive video and photo editing tasks.
Keep in mind that, at the moment, 2023 and 2021 versions of the larger MacBook Pros are being sold at the same time, and the 2021 editions are virtually identical for a slightly slower set of processors. We suggest you look at grabbing a bargain before they go off sale, as you can save upwards of £400.
See our 13-inch 2022 MacBook Pro review, 14-inch 2023 MacBook Pro review and16-inch 2023 MacBook Pro review
MacBook Pro prices
Below you'll find the best prices we can find at the major retailers for the 2022 and 2023 MacBook Pro models.
MacBook Pro vs MacBook Air
We’ve summarised the ranges above, but if you’re still not sure which you’re going to buy, you should consider the following:
- Just want a MacBook but won’t be doing much in the way of heavy photo and image editing? Pick the 2020 MacBook Air, or the 2022 MacBook Air if you have a bit more budget and want the squarer screen. This is because while the Air has the same type of processor as the 13-inch Pro, the lack of a built-in cooling fan means the processor is a touch slower in order to stop the laptop from getting too warm.
- Want a faster laptop but don’t need the ultimate in performance? Pick the 13-inch MacBook Pro. It blends portability and performance into a very attractive package that isn’t terribly much more expensive than the 2022 MacBook Air.
- Need, or simply fancy, the fastest laptop Apple has to offer? Pick the 14-inch MacBook Pro or 16-inch MacBook Pro.
Mac Self Service Repair program
Apple launched its UK Self Service Repair program in December 2022, allowing those with the confidence and experience to perform repairs on their MacBooks (and iPhones) to buy genuine Apple parts and tools. Apple says the tools and parts that are available to buy are the same as those made available to authorised repair shops.
In order to conduct a repair yourself:
- Your device needs to be listed on the Self Service Repair website (when we checked in December 2022, this includes only the 2020 M1 13-inch MacBook Pro and Air, and the 2021 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros)
- You will need to physically have the device, as you need its serial number to see the list of parts available to buy
- Then you can purchase the necessary tools and parts to complete the job. The self-service website also includes manuals that guide you through the process.
Note, though, that these jobs still require experience in repairing electronics. If you are at all unsure, you should probably use a qualified repair shop instead - use our Which? Trusted Trader service to find a good, local one.
Available parts include screens, logic boards, case components, fans, speakers and antennas. You can also replace the battery although, on the model we checked, you can only replace a battery if you also replace the entire keyboard unit, which cost £510 when we checked. The Self Service Repair website says a separate battery will be available 'in the future'.
When buying parts, you can receive a discount if you return the part you're replacing. For example, when we checked in December 2022 a 2020 MacBook Pro logic board costs £594, but you'll get £110 back if you return the faulty board to Apple.
For more information on the process, head to Apple's Self Service Repair information page.
Definitely know you want to buy an Apple laptop? Check out our Apple MacBook reviews to find out which one's right for you, and which retailer has it on sale for the best price.