Categories
Latest News

MacBook Air vs MacBook Pro vs Mac Mini: Comparing Apple’s first Macs with M1 chip

Apple has unveiled its first wave of Mac hardware powered by the in-house M1 chip. The fresh Mac hardware includes a new 13-inch MacBook Air, a MacBook Pro and a Mac Mini. Apple has retained the external aesthetics of its new computing machines, but has made a few meaningful upgrades under the hood that would be interesting to test once the devices hit the shelves. If you’re already considering giving the new macOS experience on Apple silicon a try, but are torn between which one to pick, here’s a detailed comparison of the MacBook Air vs MacBook Pro vs Mac Mini to help you out:

Screen or no screen

Being traditional laptops, the new MacBooks come equipped with a Retina display, while buying the Mac Mini should be on your list if you already have a monitor and other input accessories lying around on your work table. With that out of the way, let’s talk about the display on the new MacBooks powered by the M1 chip.

MacBook Pro’s display is brighter (500 nits) compared to that of MacBook Air (400 nits).

The new MacBook Air and its Pro sibling, both come equipped with a 13.3-inch Retina display with a resolution of 2560 x 1600 pixels, translating to a pixel density of 227 PPI. The display on both the devices covers the wider P3 color gamut, compared to the sRGB palette of their older Intel-powered siblings. However, there is a key difference between the display of Apple’s latest MacBooks. The MacBook Air’s panel offers a peak brightness of 400 nits, while the one on MacBook Pro maxes out slightly higher at 500 nits.

At the top, you’ll find a 720p FaceTime HD camera on both the new MacBooks. Media output is handled by stereo speakers, and there is support for Dolby Atmos playback as well. But there is a minor difference here as well. Apple says the new MacBook Pro’s speakers offer a higher dynamic range compared to those fitted inside the MacBook Air

Advertisement
. Similarly, the three-mic array on the Pro model is said to be of ‘studio quality’, while the MacBook Air packs a standard three-mic layout with directional beamforming.

MacBook Air vs MacBook Pro vs Mac Mini: What’s inside?

The Mac Mini is available in two configurations separated by the amount of base storage.

All three devices are powered by the new Apple M1 chip, but Apple sells the three machines in variants with a different integrated GPU. The MacBook Air is available in two models – an entry-level option that features a 7-core GPU and the top-end model that relies on a more powerful 8-core graphics engine. The rest of the chip components such as an octa-core processing unit and the 16-core Neural Engine remain the same across all three models. Apple has, however, not provided the base and boost frequency of the four performance and four efficiency cores that are at the heart of its M1 chip.

All three Macs pack up to 16GB of non-upgradable RAM and up to 2TB of storage. The base variant of MacBook Air gives you 8GB of unified memory (Apple’s fancy word for RAM) and 256GB SSD at $999, while the high-end version ups the storage capacity to 512GB and starts at $1,249.

Performance gap between the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air has shrunk this year.

The entry-level MacBook Pro also follows a similar 8GB+256GB and 8GB+512GB configuration scheme for the base and upscale models that start at $1,299 and $1,499 respectively. As for the Mac Mini, you again get an identical memory setup, with the base model setting you back by $699, while the higher-end version will cost you $899.

It is worth noting here that you get a choice between 7-core and 8-core GPU only for the MacBook Air, and not the MacBook Pro or the Mac Mini. I know, it all sounds confusing, so here is a table to make things easier to grasp:

Advertisement
MacBook Air MacBook Pro Mac Mini
Processor Apple M1 chip Apple M1 chip Apple M1 chip
RAM 8GB
16GB
8GB
16GB
8GB
16GB
Storage 256GB SSD
512GB SSD
1TB SSD
2TB SSD
256GB SSD
512GB SSD
1TB SSD
2TB SSD
256GB SSD
512GB SSD
1TB SSD
2TB SSD
Graphics 7-core GPU
8-core GPU
8-core GPU 8-core GPU
Colors Gold
Silver
Space Gray
Silver
Space Gray
Silver
whataa Base: Starting at $999
8GB unified memory
256GB SSD
7-core GPU
Top: Starting at $1249
8GB unified memory
512GB SSD
8-core GPU
Base: Starting at$1,299
8GB unified memory
256GB SSD
8-core GPU
Top: Starting at $1,499
8GB unified memory
512GB SSD
8-core GPU
Base: Starting at $699
8GB unified memory
256GB SSD
8-core GPU
Top: Starting at $899
8GB unified memory
512GB SSD
8-core GPU

Pre-orders for the new MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and Mac Mini powered by the Apple M1 chip are now live, and they will start shipping next week.

MacBook Air vs MacBook Pro vs Mac Mini: Performance

All three machines will boot macOS Big Sur and will be able to natively run iPhone and iPad apps. A major difference between the MacBook Air and its Pro sibling is how they handle thermals. The MacBook Air has a fanless design unlike its predecessor, while the MacBook Pro relies on an active cooling system.

Following are a few performance gain metrics touted by Apple for each new M1-powered Mac compared to their previous-gen Intel-powered versions:

MacBook Air

MacBook Air
  • 3x faster project export for the web in iMovie
  • 5x faster 3D effect integration into videos with Final Cut Pro
  • Ability to play and edit multiple 4K ProRes streams in Final Cut Pro
  • 2x photo export in Adobe Lightroom
  • 4.3x faster ML-based features such as Smart Conform in Final Cut Pro
  • 3x faster project export for the web in iMovie
  • 5x faster 3D effect integration into videos with Final Cut Pro
  • Ability to play and edit multiple 4K ProRes streams in Final Cut Pro
  • 2x photo export in Adobe Lightroom
  • 4.3x faster ML-based features such as Smart Conform in Final Cut Pro
  • 2x longer video calls on a single charge

MacBook Pro

MacBook Pro
  • 2.8x faster code building in Xcode
  • 5.9x faster complex 3D rendering in Final Cut Pro
  • 3.5x faster game scene designing in Unity Editor
  • 11x faster machine learning tasks in Create ML
  • Full-quality 8K ProRes video playback support in DaVinci Resolve without frame drops
  • 4x more code compilation on a single charge

Mac Mini

Mac Mini
  • 3x faster code compilation in Xcode
  • 4x higher frame rates in graphics-intensive games
  • 6x faster complex timeline rendering in Final Cut Pro
  • 3x more real-time plug-ins support in Logic Pro
  • 15x photo resolution upscaling in Pixelmator Pro

Ports and connectivity

Port selection on the new Mac Mini

Wireless connectivity on all three machines is handled by WiFi 6 (802.11ax) and Bluetooth 5.0 standard. Coming to I/O, the port selection on the new MacBook Air and its Pro sibling is identical. You get two Type-C Thunderbolt ports with USB 4 support. The ports facilitate charging, file transfer (Thunderbolt 3 at up to 40Gb/s and USB 3.1 Gen 2 at up to 10Gb/s), and DisplayPort duties. There is also a 3.5mm headphone jack on the new MacBooks.

As for the Mac Mini, it inherits the two Thunderbolt / USB 4 ports and the 3.5mm headphone jack from the new MacBooks. However, it also adds two USB Type-A ports (up to 10Gb/s transfer rate), an HDMI 2.0 port, and a Gigabit Ethernet port as well. If you’re wondering about the video support capabilities of the new Mac Mini, here’s everything you need to know:

  • Simultaneously supports up to two displays
    One display with up to 6K resolution at 60Hz connected via Thunderbolt + one display with up to 4K resolution at 60Hz connected via HDMI 2.0
    Thunderbolt 3 digital video output supports
  • Native DisplayPort output over USB‑C
    Thunderbolt 2, DVI, and VGA output supported using adapters (sold separately)
    HDMI 2.0 display video output
  • Support for one display with up to 4K resolution at 60Hz
    DVI output using HDMI to DVI Adapter (sold separately)

Now, let’s talk about the keyboard. The backlit Magic keyboard on the MacBook Air has 78 keys (US) and a Force Touch trackpad with support for multi-touch gestures. The MacBook Pro, on the other hand, has a 65 key (US) layout, but adds a Touch Bar at the top that replaces the function key row. The Touch ID sensor backed by an on-chip secure enclave can be found on both the devices. If you get the Mac Mini, though you’ll have to fork out extra cash for a keyboard, mouse, and trackpad.

MacBook Air vs MacBook Pro vs Mac Mini: Battery

MacBook air is available in three trims – gold, silver and space gray

It’s time to talk about the battery. Apple has managed to enhance the battery life of its M1-powered MacBooks despite the fact that they pack the same size Li-Po unit as their Intel-powered siblings. The MacBook Air’s 49.9Wh battery is claimed to last up to 15 hours of web browsing and 18 hours of video playback.

Coming to the MacBook Pro, the 58.2Wh battery inside it ups the wireless web browsing time to 17 hours and video playback to 20 hours on a single charge. Apple ships the MacBook Air with a 30W USB Type-C charger, while the MacBook Pro will come with a faster 61W USB Type-C charger.

Original Article

Advertisement

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *