Which MacBook, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air to buy?

Apple MacBook Pro 2016 Display

New MacBook Pros are currently hundreds of dollars cheaper on Amazon. Click here >>>

This is a very good questin. Apple produces three series called “MacBook”. This smallest and lightest one is the 12″ MacBook, officially just called MacBook. For users, who need the best performance, there is the MacBook Pro series, which are very fast and offer display sizes up to 15″. If your budget is limited, but you still need good performance, the MacBook Air is the machine for you. We tell you advantages and disadvantages of all models, so that you know whats best for your usage scenario.

Decision support for the MacBook Pro with Thunderbolt 3 Ports.

Apple MacBook Pro 2016 tippen

The MacBook Pro got its latest update in May 2019. Non TB models and 2 core 13″ models were not updated (introduced June 2017).

We inform you here if it is a good time to buy the product.

green means: up to date
orange means: coming to the end of the product cycle
red means: don’t buy, an update is coming soon

Decision criteria for a MacBook Pro

Apple MacBook Pro 2016 Touch Bar

The newest iteration of the MacBook Pro lineup introduced the Touch Bar, a touch sensitive display stripe above the keyboard for all models except the base one. In addition, all machines only come with Thunderbolt 3 ports. The base 13″ model comes with two, the Touch Bar 13″ model and all 15″ variants do have four ports.

The Thunderbolt 3 ports support very high speeds up to 40 GBit/s, so can use single cable to run an external 5K display. In addition to that, you will find a 3,5 mm headphone jack.

At the current time, there may be a downside for some users: for everything existing, you will need an adapter to connect it to your MacBook. Apple has been always to first to break with old standards, like DVD drives and ethernet ports, but when they did, there already was well working alternative like USB sticks and fast wifi. This time it seems, Apple is a bit ahead of time. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as your machine will be up to date a long time, but you should now that you will have to adapters for some devices in the current time.

Extremely fast Thunderbolt 3 ports – adapters necessary for some devices.

Another thing to take into consideration is the missing SD card slot. If you a videographer, you should be prepared to get your data on the machine otherwise.

The keyboard has gotten very flat. Is uses the butterfly mechanism introduced first with the 12″ MacBook, but comes in the Pro machines in the second iteration. It gives you a bit more key travel and therefore a much better type feel. It may sound a bit louder, so try it our before you buy it.

The keyboard is pretty flat. But snappy.

However, time has shown that even the latest revision of the butterfly keyboard is not very durable. Therefore Apple has returned to a keyboard based on conventional scissor mechanics in the last update of the big MacBook Pro, which now has a 16″ display. In principle, Apple has built the Magic Keyboard, which is also included with the iMacs, into the MacBook Pro. This makes the keys smaller again, the butterfly keys were much bigger. But now you finally get a keyboard that should last a MacBook life. Be aware that the 13″ models are still delivered with butterfly keyboards.

On the positive side is the as always fantastic glass trackpad: it has grown in size and so it makes gestures for users with big hands easier. Also positive for constant travellers: the weight has further gone down.

The new gadget on the MacBook Pro is the little display above the keys called “Touch Bar”, which replaces the function keys with a freely configurable space. It shows you keys that fits the open program and you can even put your favourite shortcuts there.

A bit on the downside for power users is the RAM situation: more than 16 GB RAM are not available to date.

Technical Specifications

Apple MacBook Pro 2016 Display bunt

13″ MacBook Pro with Touch Bar(base model)

  • display with 2560 x 1600 pixels
  • 1.4 GHz Quad-Core i5, i7 optional
  • 8 GB RAM, optional 16 GB
  • Intel Graphics 645
  • 2 Thunderbolt 3 ports
  • Bluetooth 5.0

13″ MacBook Pro with Touch Bar

  • True Tone Display with 2560 x 1600 pixels
  • Touch Bar instead of function keys, Touch ID
  • 2,4 GHz Quad-Core i5, 2,8 GHz i7 optional
  • 8 GB RAM, optional 16 GB
  • Intel Graphics 655
  • 4 Thunderbolt 3 ports
  • Bluetooth 5.0

16″ MacBook Pro with Touch Bar

  • True Tone Display with 2880 x 1800 pixels
  • 2,6 GHz 6-Core i7 or 2,3 GHz 8-Core i9
  • 16 GB RAM, 32 GB optional
  • Radeon Pro 5300M or 5500M with 4 GB RAM, optional 8 GB
  • 4 Thunderbolt 3 ports
  • Bluetooth 5.0

identical specs over all machines

  • stereo speakers, microfone
  • 3,5mm audio jack
  • Force Touch Trackpad
  • 720p FaceTime camera
  • ac Wifi

The non-Touch Bar MacBook Pro is the rational choice. Or is it?

Why should you buy a MacBook Pro? Well, it is a bit heavier than a 12″ MacBook, but its case is sturdier, the display bigger and brighter, CPU and graphics much more powerful. You might think that you could just get a Pro without further thinking about it.

If start comparing 12″ MacBook and 13″ MacBook Pro though, you’ll find out that both models base configuration cost the same: 1.299 dollars. The difference being that the 12″ MacBook comes with double the storage, 256 GB that is. The CPU is slower is, it only reaches 73% of the MacBook Pro’s performance. Besides these technical specifications, the other quite significant different characters of the models help to make a decision: If you need performance, a bigger display and two USB-C ports with Thunderbolt 3 capability, get the MacBook Pro. If you need the MacBook always with you with all important documents on it and you just attach a cable to charge it, you’ll be happy with the 12″ MacBook.

Which options make sense for the 13″ MacBook Pro?

The basic model comes with 128 GB SSD storage. As these are soldered on we advise against buying this configuration. It’s just far too little memory, because you have to account for the operating system and installed programs – then you don’t have much space left. In addition, the resale value is significantly lower, since word has got around that such a small SSD is almost unsuitable for everyday use. So in any case it will use at least 256 GB storage space for the SSD.

You should also upgrade the RAM when the budget is available, as it is soldered in the factory. A subsequent upgrade is no longer possible. 16 GB is basically better than 8 GB and the investment in more RAM makes much more sense than 300 MHz more processor speed, which Apple also offers. So – except you only do Office – you should get more RAM.

The 13″ model, however, has strong in-house competition if you want to upgrade your SSD and RAM: the new 16″ model.

Options that make sense for the 16″ MacBook Pro

Since the 16″ models of the MacBook Pro already come with 16 RAM and a 512 GB SSD, they are a clear price competition to the 13″ models. If you want to upgrade a lot of RAM and a large SSD to a 13″, compare it to a 16″ model. The larger models are the sweetspot in the lineup due to the better features and price. They also have a better keyboard, newer CPUs, better speakers, etc. As we wrote here in detail, they are currently the better choice – the 13″ models appear outdated in comparison. Computing power, memory and graphics card should be based on your requirements. Again the note: if you equip a 13″ model as a 16″ model there are either only a few hundred dollars between the models or the 16″ model is even cheaper.

Where to buy the MacBook Pro?

Buy here:     Amazon     Apple

Which MacBook to buy? Tips for your decision making.

MacBook flach

The 12″ MacBook is Apple’s newest creation when it comes to ultra portable MacBooks. Its 12 inch display is a bit smaller compared to the MacBook Air’s and it is also a bit weaker when it comes to processor power. Nonetheless though, it is fast enough for everyday tasks, is very lightweight and has a brilliant display.

Where to buy the MacBook?

Buy here:     Amazon     Apple

When to buy a MacBook? The best moment to buy.

MacBook all colors

The MacBook is not sold anymore. The last hardware revision is from 2017.

We inform you here if it is a good time to buy the product.

green means: up to date
orange means: coming to the end of the product cycle
red means: don’t buy, an update is coming soon

Decision criteria for the 12″ MacBook

Apple offers the 12 inch MacBook in two configurations: you can a 1.2 GHz processor and 256 GB flash storage or a 1.3 GHz processor and 512 GB flash memory.

MacBook: Demonstration of the technically possible.

It is a bit difficult to find the right spot in Apple’s portfolio, where we have a Macbook Air, MacBook Pro and MacBook Pro Retina in similar sizes. The best comparison may be the very first iPhone and MacBook Air: they were very expensive, less powerful than other devices in the portfolio, but technically ahead and very stylish.

The MacBook is hopefully fast enough for normal work, as there is internet browsing, text processing and light photo editing. It shows the way Apple’s hardware development is going. It may be not as powerful as other MacBooks, but this is not needed for some people. It only got one audio and one USB-C port and only has a 480p Webcam. But it is beautiful, very light and doesn’t bring a fan. In addition, the battery life is high.

Technical Specifications

MacBook gold

MacBook 12″

  • 1,2 GHz Dual-Core m3 or 1,3 GHz i5 processor
  • 8 GB RAM
  • 256 GB or 512 GB flash storage
  • FaceTime camera (480p)
  • stereo speakers, two microfones
  • Audioanschluss
  • one USB 3.1 port
  • Intel Graphics 615
  • ac WLAN and Bluetooth 4.2
  • Force Touch Trackpad

MacBook vs. MacBook Air

The difference between a MacBook Air and a MacBook Pro are clear: the Pro is the work horse, the Air the lightweight for standard tasks.

Now there is a model below the Air: The MacBook 12″ is much less powerful than the Air. In addition, there is no SD-card slot, no USB 3.0 ports, not Thunderbolt 3, no FaceTime HD camera and the battery is a bit smaller. Interestingly enough, the MacBook Air now seems extremely powerful, but it misses a Retina Display.

To be honest though, there are a lot of user that never made use of the MacBook Air’s performance and never used the Thunderbolt port anyway. This is exact the focus group that will love the 400 gram lighter MacBook: completely silent, incredibly light, brilliant display. And the only port? Well, it gets connected to the only accessory which is always used: the charger.

Where should I buy the MacBook?

Buy here:     Amazon     Apple

Which MacBook Air Retina to buy?

The MacBook Air Retina is the successor to the MacBook Air, which is still available. The MacBook Air Retina is more expensive than the MacBook Air without retina display, but cheaper and much more powerful than the smaller 12-inch MacBook. In addition, the MacBook Pro with function keys is also very close in price.

When to buy a MacBook Air Retina?

The MacBook Air Retina was updated in June 2019.

We inform you here if it is a good time to buy the product.

green means: up to date
orange means: coming to the end of the product cycle
red means: don’t buy, an update is coming soon

Decision criteria for the MacBook Air Retina

The two MacBook Air variants offered are the same except for the memory. Starting from the basic configuration, you can choose more RAM or upgrade the flash memory.

A dual-core processor and 8 GB are standard.

What’s great is that Apple gave the MacBook Air Retina a Touch ID sensor in the keyboard without integrating an expensive touch bar. It’s even better positioned than MacBook and MacBook Pro, both of which are more expensive.

Since both the memory and the SSD are freely configurable, we recommend both depending on your budget, but a slightly larger SSD first. With 256 GB you can live well in everyday life, with 128 GB you have to limit yourself very much, except it is the second computer and you really have everything in the cloud.

Technical Specs

MacBook Air Retina 13″

  • Display with 2560 x 1600 pixels
  • 1,6 GHz Dual-Core i5 processor
  • 8 GB RAM
  • 128 GB or 256 GB SSD
  • FaceTime HD camera
  • Stereo speakers, three microphones
  • 3,5 mm audio port
  • two Thunderbolt 3 ports
  • Intel UHD Graphics 617
  • ac Wifi and Bluetooth 4.2

MacBook Air Retina vs. MacBook Retina vs. MacBook Pro

Interestingly, the new MacBook Air Retina is 100 dollars cheaper than the MacBook in its basic configuration, although it has the larger screen, two Thunderbolt 3 ports instead of a USB-C port, Touch ID in the keyboard and a faster processor. Only the SSD is only half as big with 128 GB. If you upgrade it to 256 GB like the 12″ Macbook, the Air is 100 dollars more expensive – but technically still superior in every category. The smaller MacBook scores only in weight: it is 300 grams lighter.

If you spend 100 dollars more, you can get a MacBook Pro instead of a MacBook Air. Both have about the same computing power, as the chip in the Pro is one generation older. Both models also have the same RAM and SSD size. In addition, both have two Thunderbolt 3 ports. The MacBook Pro has a display with a slightly better color rendering. On the MacBook Air, you get a Touch ID sensor in the keyboard – and it’s easier. The bottom line is that MacBook Air is the more modern device in this price range.

MacBook Air Retina vs. MacBook Air non-Retina

The MacBook Air is still the computer in Apple’s product portfolio that is meant for beginners and users, who primarily depend on adequate computing power, low price and many interfaces, packed into a light, portable computer with a very long battery life. So it’s a MacBook for surfing, writing, managing pictures, etc., less for video editing (which is quite limited).

Also, MacBook Air doesn’t have a Retina display – but that’s not as bad as you might think: Apple has given the MacBook Air a higher resolution panel than the old MacBooks, so the difference is not too big. If you’re not sure, just compare it.

Which MacBook Air non-Retina to buy? Decision criteria.

Apple MacBook Air 11 13

The MacBook Air is the cheapest mobile Mac in Apple’s range, though no longer the smallest and lightest. It offers enough computing power for everyday tasks and a very long battery life. We’ll give you tips on what options make sense for a MacBook Air.

When to buy a MacBook Air?

MacBook Air

The MacBook Air got its last update in June 2017 and is not sold anymore.

We inform you here if it is a good time to buy the product.

green means: up to date
orange means: coming to the end of the product cycle
red means: don’t buy, an update is coming soon

Decision criteria for the MacBook Air

Both currently offered MacBook Air variants are just two configurations of the same base model, only the size of the SSD is different. As an option, you can choose a better processor and more storage space.

A fast CPU and 8 GB RAM come as standard.

The faster processor can make sense under some circumstances, this depends heavily on your work though. The Air does not turn into a computer monster with the optinal 2.2 GHz i7, but it can speed up picture conversions for example. If you just use the machine for office work and internet surfing, just go for the base processor. If this machine will be used for CPU extensive tasks like video cutting though, pay the price for more performance.

We always say that 256 GB should be minimum when it comes to SSD storage space. For this model, Transcend already offers new and bigger SSDs. They are not cheap, but it means the MacBook Air can be upgraded later. You can start with a cheaper configuration now and update later, when you have more budget.

Technical specifications

Apple MacBook Air 11 13

MacBook Air 13″

  • display with 1440 x 900 pixels
  • 1,8 GHz Dual-Core i5 processor
  • 8 GB RAM
  • 128 GB or 256 GB flash storage
  • FaceTime HD camera
  • stereo speakers, two microphones
  • 3,5 mm audio jack
  • two USB 3.0 ports
  • SDXC port
  • one Thunderbolt 2 port
  • Intel Graphics 6000
  • ac Wifi and Bluetooth 4.0

MacBook Air vs. MacBook Retina

The Air is Apple’s offer in the MacBook lineup that is for beginners and users that want a fair price, good performance and lots of different ports wrapped in a light case with a very long battery life. It is a MacBook for surfing, writing, photo organizing etc.

For more complex tasks Apple offers the Pro lineup, which can offer more RAM and lots of performance. In addition, the Air comes without retina display. It is not that bad though: it has a higher resolution display, so the difference to the more expensive retina variants is ok. If you are not sure, just go into an Apple store and have a look.

Attraktive. A MacBook Air.

iCloud MacBook Air

Although the MacBook Air doesn’t offer the newest CPUs or the fastest SSDs, it is very snappy computer, which is still a joy to use. The small enclosure makes it easy to carry it around. For some users this model is still the most attractive of all offers that many find very sympathic.