The 13-inch MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro share an all-aluminum finish. Both offer space gray and silver color options, while the MacBook Air adds a third gold option. Outside of that, the two devices look almost identical.
Both devices pack Retina displays with a native 2560 × 1600 resolution, or 227 pixels per inch. Although similar on that front, the brightness levels between the two laptops couldn’t be more different. While the display on the MacBook Air is decent, it doesn’t get as bright or impressive as the MacBook Pro’s. It only manages a total brightness of 389 nits — while better than the 291 nits of the previous version, it still lags significantly behind the MacBook Pro’s 500 nits. The color accuracy comes in at high levels, but again, the MacBook Pro will be a better option for photographers and graphic designers.
The specs under the hood and the pricing on the MacBook Air point to big differences between it and the MacBook Pro. Although the MacBook Pro 13 was recently upgraded to 10th-generation Intel processors, only the two high-end models actually get this newer chip; the two entry-level MacBook Pro 13 models are still stuck on 8th-generation Intel processors, with prices starting at $1,299.
You have to spend $1,799 to get a new processor — as we said that’s halfway between the entry-level prices of the MacBook Pro 13 and the MacBook Pro 16, but nowhere near halfway in terms of performance
While it offers double the cores of the i3 CPU in the entry-level MacBook Air, it only gives you around 27% extra performance in multi-core tasks and a mere 8% boost in single-core workloads. That’s due to the low 9-watt power draw of these chips, which leads to performance limitations. If you want power, the MacBook Pro is your best bet, despite its older processor.Apple’s high-tier MacBook Air with the same $1,299 price features Intel’s 10th-gen i5-1030NG7 four-core chip clocked at 1.1GHz (base) and 3.5GHz (max). The key takeaway here is the 10nm process technology used to manufacture this new CPU, which promises better performance and power efficiency over similar 14nm-based chips.
The MacBook Pro comes in at 0.61 inches thick and 11.97 inches wide, whereas the MacBook Air is a mere 0.16-0.63 inches thick and 11.97 inches wide. That makes the MacBook Air (very) slightly thicker than the MacBook Pro, but it’s lighter at 2.8 pounds versus the MacBook Pro’s 3.1 pounds. Honestly, you won’t know the difference between the two unless you break out the measuring tape or scale. If anything, the only defining visual difference between the two is the Air’s additional gold color and its lack of a Touch Bar.
As for the battery life across the two models, the 2020 MacBook Air falls a bit short of competitors but is still decent. The MacBook Pro netted us 6.5 hours of battery life in our web browsing workflow, which is around an hour and a half longer than the previous version we reviewed.
It gets crushed by 1080p laptops like the XPS 13 or Spectre x360, with the former giving you around 4 hours of extra juice. Once you compare the MacBook Pro 13 to 4K laptops, though, things are a bit closer, with Apple’s laptop lasting around 45 minutes longer than the 4K XPS 13.