Turn and move, readers ask us what the difference is between MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, as well as whether it is more worthwhile to buy a MacBook or an iPad.
Well, this assessment is certainly very personal and complex at the same time, but we decided to make a quick “joke” on the idea of spending, nowadays, $ 12,000 on a Mac or iPad. What would you get from this (big) investment?
The idea of this article is not to go into the minimum comparative details between products, but rather to give an overview of the most significant differences between them. After all, it is the same twelve thousand reais that would come out of your bank account.
And we're not going to take that exact number to the letter, of course. The first option listed below, for example, is the more stout MacBook Air (which is not yet sold in Brazil), which costs R $ 13,299.00 in up to 12x or R $ 11,969.10 if paid in cash. In other words, we will consider products at this level of around R $ 12,000 per view, with a certain variation for more or less.
Well, let's go to the options:
Top-of-the-line MacBook Air
At R $ 11,970, this is the base model for our comparison. the standard top-of-the-line model of the MacBook Air, although it can still be customized and made (well) more expensive.
Here we have a newly updated Mac, quite capable for general use. It is a laptop, of course, with a Retina display (with True Tone technology) of 13 inches, with Intel Core i5 processor (10 generation) quad-core 1.1GHz (Turbo Boost up to 3.5GHz), 8GB of LPDDR4X RAM at 3,733MHz, 512GB SSD, Intel Iris Plus graphics, Magic Keyboard with Touch ID, Force Touch trackpad, two Thunderbolt 3 ports, 3.5mm headphone jack, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, T2 security chip, decent speakers and microphones, but a very bad 720p webcam.
It runs, of course, macOS is a very mature and capable operating system, with a multitude of software from the most basic to the advanced, but with little variety of games (although you can install Windows or even Linux on it if you want, too, and to further expand its collection of both applications and games).
The machine has a thickness ranging from 0.41 cm to 1.61 cm, and weighs only 1.29 kg. It is made from 100% recycled aluminum and is sold in three colors: space gray, silver or gold.
13 ″ MacBook Pro input
Spending a little more, at R $ 12,510, we arrived at a Mac model that is a little out of date and right away I would no longer recommend anyone for not having the Magic Keyboard yet. In other words, it is still equipped with the problematic “butterfly” keyboard and, therefore, is part of Apple's recall.
Its processor is inferior to that of Air, an Intel Core i5 (8 generation) quad-core 1.4GHz (Turbo Boost up to 3.9GHz), there are also 8GB of RAM but LPDDR3 type at 2.133MHz, only 128GB of SSD (shame!), Intel Iris Plus Graphics 645 and, in addition to the Touch ID itself, we have the Touch Bar polemic above the keyboard .
Although the screens of both are Retina and of the same size, the one of the Pro goes to 500 nits brightness (against 400 nits Air) and it supports a wide range of P3 colors, that is, more suitable for those who work with graphics, video editing and the like.
The MacBook Pro is thicker (1.49 cm) and heavier (1.37 kg) than the Air, and is only available in space gray or silver. Apple also promises an average of 10 hours for battery life, 1 hour less than Air.
, as we said, a outdated model that has everything to be updated by Apple in the next 1-2 months. Kind of unfair to put it in our comparison, but what we have for today. Apple's own fault for leaving a Mac so clumsy in its line, like this.
Top-of-the-line custom Mac mini
Moving from portable Macs to desktop Macs, we have the personalized top-of-the-line Mac mini.
Why customized? Well, the standard top-of-the-line model costs R $ 9,810 to view, so to take it to the level of our comparison, we can choose one of the three customization options from Apple that add exactly R $ 2,000 to the machine's value: a better processor, the twice as much RAM or twice as much SSD you choose whichever is most important to you.
Or else we can consider here that the Mac mini is just the "CPU" (everything inside a computer), and you still need to have a monitor, keyboard and mouse. In other words, these ~ R $ 2,000 can be spent precisely on the periphery.
So, the basic configurations without customization are of an Intel Core i5 processor (8 generation) hexa-core 3GHz (Turbo Boost up to 4.1GHz) ie the most powerful so far, 8GB of DDR4 RAM at 2,666MHz (also the fastest so far), 512GB of SSD and Intel UHD Graphics 630.
Behind the Mac mini, we have four (!) Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports, a 10-Gigabit Ethernet, an HDMI 2.0, two USB 3 and a 3.5mm headphone jack. In other words, in terms of connectivity, he bathes the laptops above, but we are talking about a desktop Mac (although very light: 1.3 kg), which obviously does not have an internal battery. He even has a loudspeaker, but very bad, and no microphone.
You can buy the Mac mini in any color you like, as long as it's space gray.
21.5 ″ iMac with Retina 4K display
Apple still sells an old entry-level iMac, without a Retina 4K screen, but what we are going to use here in comparison is the entry-level model of the current generation that costs R $ 12,420 per view.
Here we are still talking about a Mac desktop, but at least it is an "all-in-one". Then it is equipped with the “CPU”, a beautiful screen (21.5 inches with 4K resolution, 500 nits brightness and support wide color range P3) and comes with keyboard + mouse or trackpad. He is not at all portable, however: they are nothing less than 5.6 kg.
The processor of this model is inferior to the Mac mini, an Intel Core i3 (8 generation) quad-core of 3.6GHz, also 8GB of RAM and also of the DDR4 type, however at 2,400MHz (a little slower), we have a conventional hard disk (yes, slower, and still shameful 5,400RPM) of 1TB, graphics card AMD Radeon Pro 555X with 2GB of GDDR5 memory, two Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports, four USB 3, one Gigabit Ethernet and 3.5mm output at the rear, one slot for SDXC memory cards (this is rare on a Mac today), good lower speakers and microphone. Even though it is much thicker than any laptop, the iMac is still equipped with a tiny webcam with HD resolution.
In other words, a very complete solution, however, can leave a lot to be desired in terms of performance. Furthermore, the design of the Mac is already a little out of date especially when we look at it from the front and compare the frames of its screen with those of the Pro Display XDR.
Not that this greatly influences the use of an iMac, but this generation is still equipped with Bluetooth 4.2. And, oh, there are no color options; just silver.
Here, we jump to a device completely different from all the ones we mentioned above. And, like the MacBook Air, it was updated very recently so it is not yet sold in Brazil.
In addition, in this case we have a few different options for models to stay at the house for about R $ 12,000 a month:
- 11 inch, 512GB, Wi-Fi + Cellular
- 11 inch, 1TB, Wi-Fi
- 12.9 inch, 256GB, Wi-Fi + Cellular
- 12.9 inch, 512GB, Wi-Fi
In other words, the consumer would need to choose between screen size, internal storage and whether or not it would require built-in cellular connectivity (3G / 4G). This last point, incidentally, is already a great differential of the iPad Pro in relation to any Mac.
Obviously, it is much more thoughtful to compare the iPad Pro to a Mac laptop, be it MacBook Air or Pro after all, we are talking about a portable device. Beeem portable, say: they are 5.9mm thick, weighing 471-473g for the 11 ″ model or 641-643g for the 12.9 ″ model, with a variation of 2g in versions with cellular connectivity.
The screens of iPad Pro are sensational, with Retina resolution, True Tone and ProMotion technologies (up to 120Hz), support for wide color tones (P3) and up to 600 nits shine.
Of course, we're talking about a multi-touch screen here that Apple is reluctant to implement on any Mac. That is, the interaction can be done 100% with your fingers. No external mouse / trackpad or keyboard is required, although they are recommended for greater productivity; the virtual keyboard alone occupies about half of the screen, and that is not to mention that it is not pleasant to type for hours by tapping your fingers on a glass surface. We can not forget the support for Apple Pencil, a huge differential for those working with design, for example.
It is very difficult to compare the power of Intel processors with Apple's own ARM chips, such as the A12Z Bionic from the latest iPad Pro, but benchmarks of CPU show the Core i5 of the Mac mini is more or less at the same level: only 1,017 points for single-core and 4,766 for multi-core on the Mac mini, against 1,114 and 4,654 points on the iPad Pro respectively. In the graphical section, there are already another five hundred without mentioning that the iPad is also equipped with a movement coprocessor and a Neural Engine all focused on artificial intelligence / machine learning.
The main thing here, of course, is to consider the differences between the operating systems. IPadOS is now much more complete and round, but it still lacks macOS in some aspects of productivity / multitasking, as well as in the diversity of software available. To date, for example, there are no iPad versions of Xcode (Apple's software development environment) nor of Final Cut Pro (Apple's professional video editor). These two alone are reason enough for many not to even consider migrating to an iPad Pro as the main device including this one that writes you.
Moreover, the iPad Pro is the most complete one can expect from a laptop. It has four very powerful stereo speakers, five “studio quality” microphones, two rear cameras + a LiDAR scanner, a front camera inside the TrueDepth system (ie, with Face ID), several sensors (accelerometer, gyroscope, barometer, compass) and a USB-C port at the bottom. In addition, his Wi-Fi already version 6 (aka 802.11ax), something that Apple has not yet put on any Mac.
The battery of the iPad Pro is also sensational, promising 10 hours of autonomy that dictates how much more accurate than promised by Apple for its laptops. And, oh, it is available in space gray or silver.
Well complicated, right?
My intention here is not to choose one of the above options as the best and most appropriate, as each one knows his own needs and his own tastes.
If you, for example, are familiar with iPadOS and unaffected by its current limitations, iPad Pro can be an excellent choice for you. Likewise, if you don't need portability, you can choose to have a nice screen like the one on the iMac; or, if you already have a monitor, prefer a better machine like the Mac mini.
The important thing here is to understand the differences between them so you know what to get when you invest your hard-earned money. As I explained above, the 13 ″ MacBook Pro is well out of date and I would not recommend it to anyone today; the comparison here will certainly be more suitable when it is updated, possibly with a 14 ″ screen. I also have some caveats to the iMac, another one that already deserves a good upgrade from Apple.
Important: I based all this comparison on the official values of Apple Brazil, but I don't think * none * of them is worth what it costs today in our country. If you can buy them abroad, even declaring the amount in excess of your $ 500 quota and paying the due tax, you will still spend much less.