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MacBook Pro 2023 vs MacBook Air M2: How do these M2 laptops compare?

Apple has officially announced the latest addition to the MacBook Pro lineup with the M2 2023 model, which boasts the M2 Pro and M2 Max chips.

The M2 Pro and M2 Max power both variations of the MacBook Pro and look to be some of the most powerful chips on offer from Apple. If you’re interested in seeing how these two chips stack up against each other, then we recommend checking out our M2 Pro vs M2 Max piece.

But how does the new MacBook Pro compare to the latest MacBook Air? We’re going to be taking a closer look at all the differences between the latest MacBook Pro 2023 and the MacBook Air M2, which was released in 2022, so you can decide which laptop is best suited to you.

MacBook Pro model comes with more powerful chips

The standout feature of the latest MacBook Pro range is the two new M2 chips: M2 Pro and M2 Max. Out of these two chips, the M2 Max stands head and shoulders above the rest, with the company claiming that it is the most powerful chip ever seen in a MacBook Pro.

The M2 Pro can be configured up to a 12-core CPU and 19-core GPU, while the M2 Max goes up to a 12-core CPU and whopping 38-core GPU. This is paired with an updated 16-core Neural Engine, which has a quoted performance of 15.8 trillion operations per second.

The M2 Max and M2 Pro differences
Image Credit (Apple)

The MacBook Air comes with the original M2 chip, which can be configured up to an 8-core CPU and 10-core GPU. Due to the difference in chips, the MacBook Air is overall less powerful when compared to the MacBook Pro, with Apple claiming that the M2 Max packs three times more transistors than the M2 and four times the memory bandwidth.

If you’re interested in raw power and want to engage in intensive creative tasks like 3D rendering, 4K video editing or 3D geometry, the MacBook Pro is far and away the best option.

The MacBook Air is more affordable

Since the MacBook Pro 2023 boasts new M2 chips it has an inflated price when compared to the MacBook Air.

While we won’t be going through the price of every configuration from each laptop, we know that the base price for the 14-inch model – M2 Pro with 12-core CPU, 19-core GPU, 16GB RAM and 1TB storage – comes out at $1999/£2149. The base model of the 16-inch model – the same M2 Pro chip with 16GB RAM and 512GB storage – also costs $2499/£2699.

MacBook Air M2 laptop
MacBook Air M2: Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

On the other hand, the base model for the MacBook Air M2 – M2 with 8-core CPU, 16-core GPU, 8GB RAM and 256GB storage – costs $1199/£1249.

While neither of these laptops is particularly affordable compared to other brands on the market, the MacBook Air is more accessible than the MacBook Pro due to its lower price. If you do want to see some more affordable devices, check out our Best Budget Laptops roundup.

The display is more impressive on the MacBook Pro

The MacBook Air features a 13.6-inch LED-backlit display, with Apple claiming that it has a brightness of 500 nits. Our testing proved these results, and we thought that it was significantly brighter than most average 300-nit laptop screens.

Apple seems to have knocked it out of the park with the new MacBook Pro; it boasts a sustained brightness of 1000 nits, and a peak brightness of 1600 nits while HDR content is playing. This is likely due to the Mini LED screen technology that Apple is using for its Pro laptops.

MacBook Pro 2023 14 and 16 inch
MacBook Pro 2023: Image Credit (Apple)

Apple also claims that it has a contrast ratio of 1,000,000:1 with over one billion colours and a wide P3 colour gamut.

These numbers show that the MacBook Pro has an overall brighter screen, which means that it will be able to display more colours with higher accuracy, thanks to that high contrast ratio.

Moreover, the MacBook Pro comes with ProMotion, while the MacBook Air does not. For a more detailed look into ProMotion, click on the link prior, but simply put, it uses an adaptive refresh rate of up to 120Hz for smoother scrolling. In comparison, the MacBook Air has a capped 60Hz refresh rate.

Fewer ports on the MacBook Air

Since the MacBook Pro packs a lot more power, it’s not too surprising to see that it boasts a better port selection. This laptop features an SDXC card slot, HMDI, MagSafe 3, headphone jack and three Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports.

While the MacBook Air still has a good port selection, it does fall short compared to its new sibling. It comes with MagSafe 3, a headphone jack and two Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports. Since neither device supports USB A, anyone who owns any older peripherals will either need to upgrade or purchase a dongle.

Two ports sit on the side of the macbook air m2
MacBook Air M2: Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

The included HDMI port on the MacBook Pro opens the doors to high-quality video and audio streaming on devices like external monitors, TVs and audio receivers. While this can be done via the USB-C port, HDMI is a lot more common on external hardware. Plus, the inclusion of the SDXC card slot means that users can easily download and edit any photos from an external camera.

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