Comparing lightweight laptops: MacBook vs MacBook Air

MacBook Air vs MacBook. Which One Should You Buy?

Probably you have been a fan of the design, look, and feel of Apple computers’ long enough that you are considering buying one. Before getting super powerful and expensive models, you want to start from the simplest, get used to it, see if you like it, and test its limits. So, you would have two models to choose from: MacBook Air and MacBook, so let’s compare those two. In upcoming posts, we will also discuss the differences in tech specifications between different generations of iMacs, MacBook Airs, and MacBook Pros.
If you want to buy a used MacBook, follow these simple 3 steps that will help you to choose the right MacBook.

2017 MacBook Specs

12-inch Retina display, 2lbs, 13.1mm thin for $1,299 before tax. $1,249 with education pricing.

  • Colors: Space Gray, Gold, Rose Gold, and Silver.
  • Processor: 1.2GHz dual-core 7th-generation Intel Core m3 processor with Turbo Boost up to 3.0GHz. Upgrade to 1.4GHz dual-core 7th-generation Intel Core i7 (Turbo Boost Up to 3.6GHz) for $250.
  • Memory: 8GB 1866MHz LPDDR3 memory. Upgrade to 16GB LPDDR3 memory for $200.
  • Storage: 256GB SSD storage. No option of upgrading storage.
  • Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 615 with 2304-by-1440 resolution at 226ppi pixel density. No option of upgrading graphics.
  • Battery: 31.4-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery. Up to 10 hours of wireless web surfing, 12 hours iTunes movie playback, 30 days of standby time.

Source: Apple

2018 MacBook Air Specs

13.3-inch screen, 2.96lbs, 17mm thin for $999 before tax. $849 with education pricing.

  • Color: Silver Aluminum.
  • Processor: 1.8GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor with Turbo Boost up to 2.9GHz. Upgrade 2.2GHz dual-core Intel Core i7 (Turbo Boost up to 3.2GHz) $150.
  • Memory: 8GB 1600MHz LPDDR3 memory. Cannot upgrade memory.
  • Storage: 128GB SSD storage. Upgrade to 512GB SSD for $400.
  • Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 6000 with 1,440 x 900 pixels display resolution & 128ppi (pixels per inch) pixel density. Not as smooth as Retina screen. No option of upgrading graphics.
  • Battery: 54-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery. Up-to 12 hours of wireless web surfing, 12 hours of iTunes movie playback, 30 days standby time.

Source: Apple


Savings & Price Difference

MacBook Air wins by $200 and by $400 with education pricing. On top of that, with education pricing, you can get upgrade to more powerful Intel Core i7 processor for $110 and 256 GB SSD for $200. it will still cost you $90 less than MacBook, but you will have the same storage and faster processor.



MacBook slightly wins since both models have 8GB, but MacBook comes with higher frequency memory sticks. MacBook also wins the capacity race: RAM can be upgraded up to 16GB.



MacBook wins since it comes with 256GB SSD while MacBook Air with only 128GB SSD. However, MacBook Air has higher storage capacity – up to 512GB.


Battery Life/Capacity

MacBook Air is the winner with 54-watt-hour vs MacBook’s 31.4-watt-hour battery.


Final Verdict

For $1,299 budget, considering the upgrades and education pricing, MacBook Air is winner as far as specs go. However, it is hard to say no on MacBook’s design. It is the slimmest laptop in the world and looks more visually appealing than Air considering that it is also available in different colors. If you need a home computer, also consider buying iMac for that price.

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