Which MacBook should I buy

Apple makes the MacBook choice agony for beginners

What happened?

Since 2015, Apple's notebook portfolio has become difficult to understand. The naming makes this clear. Until early 2015, experts speculated that Apple was working on a MacBook Air with a Retina display. However, the MacBook Air stayed as it was and the 12-inch MacBook was introduced. The compact notebook represents everything that the "Air" actually stands for: It is light, compact and ideal for on the go. But Apple did without the addition and simply called it "MacBook", while the MacBook Air was resold.
Hardly a year later, Apple also revised the MacBook Pro series and made the Air even more competitive with the 13-inch entry-level model. Apple changed the Pro model to such an extent that it was only 20 grams heavier than the Air and at the same time took up a smaller volume. With this and the Retina display, it had a decisive advantage, so that only the lower price made the MacBook Air attractive. In the meantime, the Air has also been modernized and comes with the latest standards, which, however, also raised the price. Since the end of 2018, Apple has therefore had three notebook models in its range that are in the same price range and seem to differ very little.

Apple makes the decision difficult

With the new announcements, Apple seems to have lost the thread and is increasingly blurring the lines between the model series. This makes it difficult, especially for laypeople, to choose the right device.
The answer could be so simple: If you want a super light device for on the go and for surfing the net, then take the MacBook Air. If you need more computing power on the go, then it should be the MacBook Pro. For a mixture of mobility and computing power, however, you should take the MacBook. However, neither the names nor the price scales of the devices are correct, so that the decision-making process determines a more delicate approach. You should therefore use four criteria: display, performance, mobility and idiosyncrasies.

Every display is different

With a diagonal of 12 inches, the MacBook has the smallest display in the field. Still, like the other two models, it has a high pixel density of 226 ppi, while the Air and Pro have 227 ppi. The difference is imperceptible to the human eye. The situation is different when it comes to brightness. With 500 nits, the MacBook Pro has a particularly high luminance, while the other two devices with 300 nits each are not quite as bright. The higher luminance can be particularly useful in sunlight to see more on the display. Incidentally, the Pro not only delivers the best brightness, but also the best color fidelity, as Apple relies on the large P3 color space for the display, which is particularly important when editing photos and videos.

More power extends the service life

The MacBook is the only one of the three models to have a fanless design. However, Apple swapped the fan for an Intel M processor. With a 1.2 GHz dual-core Intel Core m3, it is the weakest device of the three. The MacBook Air, on the other hand, already has a 1.6 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 in its basic configuration, which requires a fan that can only be heard in high-power operation. Most of the computing power can be accessed on the MacBook Pro. The 2.3 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 is supported by Intel's Iris Plus Graphics 640. In order to be able to enjoy a notebook for years to come, it is worth planning a performance reserve so that updates and new functions do not slow down everyday routines.

Always on the move

Due to the compact architecture, the lack of a fan and the smaller display, the MacBook with 12-inch Retina display is of course the lightweight of the three. The MacBook Air weighs around 330 grams more. Another 120 grams are added to the Pro model. Weight can make all the difference, especially when you're out and about. Incidentally, the MacBook is even lighter than an iPad Pro (12.9 inch) with Apple's Smart Keyboard Folio and only slightly heavier than the 11 inch version. If, on the other hand, you need computing power outside of the office, then you should ignore the MacBook Air and choose the MacBook Pro. The size and weight difference between the two can safely be neglected.

Every Mac is special

The MacBook, the MacBook Air and also the MacBook Pro have various peculiarities that set them apart from the others. The MacBook is super light, the Macbook Air is equipped with Touch ID and the MacBook Pro offers a fast processor and a true-color display. Another factor should also be considered. The Air and the Pro not only have several USB-C ports, these even meet the Thunderbolt 3 specifications and are therefore future-proof. The FaceTime camera of the MacBook is also not up to date with a resolution of 480p. The MacBook Pro and MacBook Air even have a FaceTime HD camera with 720p. This is another factor to consider before buying.


For years, Apple made it easy for users to choose between the different Mac models. While this is still valid for desktop devices, beginners in particular are “spoiled for choice” with Apple notebooks. The entry-level models are very close together and do not make the decision easy.
The MacBook impresses with its very low weight, a solid 12-inch retina display and compact dimensions that clearly undercut the other two models. However, the high mobility also has its price. This is not only noticeable in the wallet, but also in the computing power. Apple uses a processor from Intel's M series here, which is not up to large tasks such as graphics and video editing. Therefore, this should be considered when making a purchase decision, if you are looking for a lightweight device for writing and surfing the web on the go, then you will enjoy the MacBook, but ...
... the new MacBook Air is an equally good candidate in this regard. Of course, it weighs almost 300 grams more, but offers a larger display and longer battery life when surfing. The processor, which is clocked a little higher and supported by a stronger graphics unit, is also better. However, Apple saves on storage space, which fortunately is also noticeable in the lower entry price.

If you loved the old MacBook Air but didn't get enough performance, then the smallest MacBook Pro is probably the most sensible choice. The weight is roughly the same as the old MacBook Air, but Apple was able to reduce the volume at the same time so that it is more manageable. With the 2.3 GHz dual-core processor from Intel, it is significantly more powerful than the other two models. At the same time, it costs as much as a MacBook (12 inch). So if you are looking for a high-performance Apple notebook for as little money as possible, the MacBook Pro (13 inch without Touch Bar) is the best choice.