New Mac Laptop - MacBook Pro or Mac Book Air

After 10 years of loyal service my current Mac Book Pro is on its last legs and needs replacing, this was an entry specification model 16GBRAM/256GB SSD hard drive.

I was just wondering whether the latest MacBook Air is a worthy replacement for the MBP or should I stick to a new MBP. Budget will be around £2500, preferably less.

Uses

Mail, Word, Excel, YouTube, Internet, Video Calls, Photo editing with Lightroom and occasionally Photoshop.

My feeling is that the MBA should be fine but the extra power in the MBP may be more beneficial in the long term.

Does anyone have any thoughts or suggestions on either laptop.

Thanks

Based on what you list as usage the MBA is probably good enough in terms of raw processing power.

You don’t say if you use multiple monitors or how mobile you expect to be. MBP has better external monitor connectivity options as well as having additional ports that may be important to you eg if you use SD cards.

Will it just sit on a desk or does it get taken out and about a lot. If on desk all the time a Mac mini may be better?

There is a website that has lots of details/threads on this - If you do a search on the internet for MacRumors it should be pretty near the top.

Another thing to say is that if you buy it direct from Apple then you have ten days (I think it is) to start a free return. So you could buy the Air and try your most demanding photo edit on it and if it feels clunky or slow, return it.

I bought an Air a couple of years ago but regretted it within a few days. So I returned it and bought the MB Pro which was just better in all sorts of ways.

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Think it depends on what is most important for you, processing power or the rest.

You can kit out a MBA with max RAM and storage for that budget. But that is M3 chip then.

Yet you can get a MBP with M3 Pro that fits in as well.

The MBP also has better connectivity (more thunderbolt ports and HDMI)

So if you want fast speed and better connectivity then MBP if you want more storage and have tons of files that wont fit in 1TB then MBA.

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I recently bought a MBA M2 with a little extra ram and storage and it does everything I need which included large spreadsheet and some games as well as the normal videos, streaming and stuff

Also bought a MBP M3 max with max ram and max storage for my wife. V expensive at about £4.5k but needed for architectural work such as rendering and 3d modelling.

In everyday applications, I cannot tell the difference between the two.

Nick

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I replaced a MacBook Pro with a MacBook Air and it has been absolutely brilliant. I think Apple now market the MacBook Pros at professionals with a specific need. For everyone else the MBA does all that you need in a lightweight and (relatively) good value package

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I missed this the first time around. I think the jump to current spec MBA is going to be so gargantuan from what you have that you will hardly notice the extra speed an MBP will give!

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I did the exact same thing as @crispyduck, Pro to M2 Air, its coming up to its 2nd birthday, no issues what’s so ever.

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Thank you all for the feedback, it is appreciated.

I do think that the MBP is overkill for my needs and that the MBA will be just fine. However the little niggle in the back of my mind keeps chirping about tomorrow and how the internet, graphics driven sites and the like will run in the next few years and how a MBP would give that bit more flexibility/future proof going forward.

After giving everything some thought I decided that whilst I was in town picking up a new to me lens for my camera I would drop by the Apple store and have a chat with them, see the various laptops and get a better idea of what might work for me.

The team in the store were quite open, in their view the MBP would be far more than I would need, the MBA would be more than capable of editing photos or video, they did admit that if I tried editing a large 8k video the MBA would work very slowly but for 98% of what I would use the new laptop for the MBA would cope quite admirably.

Increasing the Memory or SSD wasn’t in their eyes a logical option, they didn’t think that I would benefit from either, if the tasks that the laptop was going to be asked to do required the extra Memory then the MBP might be a better option and as my photo’s go on an external SSD increasing the internal drive was pointless.

There was no sales push, told to think about needs and come back to order or buy online. If I went standard specification then these are stock items although some colours sell quicker than others, any changes have to be ordered and take around 2-3 weeks to get built and be delivered.

Will chat with Mrs O and discuss options.

Thanks again for everyone’s input, my thoughts are a MBA over the MBP.

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I’m in the same situation, my MBP is a late 2013 model. The MBP with 16Go is about £300 more than the MBA, but you get a better screen (albeit slightly smaller), a bigger SSD, and far better connectivity. It’s a difficult choice, I keep putting off the decision.

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After running Macbook Pros for years I went with a Macbook Air a couple months ago to replace an aging MB Pro. 15", one of the faster processors, 1TB hard drive. It’s so much lighter than my MB Pro and all around easier to use. Just need to make sure you get the cable adapters you need. The difference in cost for comparable specs b/w MBP and Air is considerable so it just doesn’t make sense to waste the money for features I don’t need. Very happy with my purchase.

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Hot off the press, I evaluated both Air and Pro and build quality alone said Pro. Arrived yesterday.

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Its not easy, I am very torn between the top M3 MBA at £1500 or a MBP at £2500, my current thought process is the MBA simply because I don’t believe that spending an extra £1k on the MBP is going to give me a monumental improvement over the MBA.

Mrs O pointed out that the MBA we are looking at is in fact a better spec’d computer than the Mini and the Mini is running everything just fine so why spend more to get the MBP. In her eyes we could use the £1k saved to put towards a new Mini in 2025 or 2026 if it starts to struggle. Difficult to argue that one.

List the issues you have with the current Laptop, and what you want it to do, go and have a chat with the team at your local Apple Store and see what they suggest. The guy I dealt with today was brilliant, talked to me in a way that I could understand, went through what has changed since I took on the old Intel based MBP 10 years ago.

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The MBA is sitting in pole position at the moment, a £1k saving over the MBP is too much to ignore and spending that extra money is difficult to justify.

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Interesting, having looked over both computers today I didn’t really see any differences in build quality.

I could see that the MBP is much better at connecting up with peripherals the MBA is much more limited but other than that I really couldn’t see where the MBP was better build wise, in fact the MBA surprised me in just how solid it feels.

What sold you on the MBP?

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I agree, I’m using my computer for personal use and don’t need all the extra features. I don’t miss my bulky MBP and can find other uses for the ~$2K USD I saved.

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Just about everything, I thought the way the screen opened was slicker, I thought it heavier but that’s a double edged sword I guess, speed, ability to run more demanding apps, I like to buy for the long haul so it won me over. 24 hours very pleased.

Regards,

Lindsay

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I agree that the MBP would be better at some tasks but other than a bit of photo editing my computers get a fairly easy life.

The MBA wasn’t around when the old MBP was purchased so there wasn’t a direct comparison, having the choice now is making me question what I need which is good.

I didn’t really find anything in the build to worry me when I looked today, the issue for me is the connectivity options they are not great on the MBA but nowadays I don’t have much connected, that is all on the Mini in the office so maybe I’m worrying about an issue that isn’t an issue.

In the event that I do go with a MBA I have the option of adding a hub/dock which will give me plenty of connection options if I need it. At the moment I can only see me using one port to connect a mobile SSD drive and attaching a memory card reader in the other port and backing up images from the memory card to the SSD.

Long term - Yes that is a worry, having had two Apple laptops a Power Book and a MacBook Pro both of which lasted years I am concerned how long the latest laptops will last. There is no guarantee that either the MBP or the MBA will go the distance in terms of longevity, equally both could work happily for years, is the MBP better placed to run tomorrow’s software, damn I have no idea.

I will sleep on my dilemma and decide tomorrow what to do.

Enjoy the Pro.

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I have both m3 macbook pro 16" and m3 macbook air 15", and I only use the macbook air for travelling. The reason is it is lighter, thinner, but the big minus the input/output sound is very muddy, so I do not like using it for zoom, or facetime. Whereas the m3 macbook pro is excellent with media video/sound - loud, clear, and crispy.

As far as the processing power is concerned, I guess it depends on how you use it, for simple day-to-day tasks like internet surfing, email, simple MS office works, the macbook air should be OK.

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For longevity, we’ll have to see, how long Apple will support the M-Macs with OS updates. Looking at the Intel Macs they threw overboard the last years, they don’t last 10 years in supported state.
(Though my bet that they wanted to clean them out to move ASAP to ARM only might be contradicted by them not deprecating more models this year.)

But using anything less than 16 GB RAM seems risky to me - both for your foto editing, but also for longevity. They introduce “Apple Intelligence” this year, and minimum requirement is 8 GB.
You can expect some models to take some 1-2 GB RAM or so extra, so the “8 GB is enough” is a bit hilarious these days. (Very fast SSD notwithstanding.)
For SSD: just look at your current usage, unless you plan to change your ways of working or get higher resolution cameras.
I guess, I personally would pick the M3 model. Though that’s more a fuzzy feeling on my side.

Otherwise, unless you need the GPU power, the upgraded screen, the multi-screen support, … sticking with the Air sounds very reasonable.

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