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MacBook Pro M2 13-Inch vs. MacBook Air M2: Do You Need to Go Pro?

Apple updated its top consumer MacBook and its smallest Pro model with its new, more powerful M2 chips. But the Air might be the better choice for pros.

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Joshua_Goldman.jpg
Joshua Goldman Managing Editor / Advice
Managing Editor Josh Goldman is a laptop expert and has been writing about and reviewing them since built-in Wi-Fi was an optional feature. He also covers almost anything connected to a PC, including keyboards, mice, USB-C docks and PC gaming accessories. In addition, he writes about cameras, including action cams and drones. And while he doesn't consider himself a gamer, he spends entirely too much time playing them.
Expertise Laptops, desktops and computer and PC gaming accessories including keyboards, mice and controllers, cameras, action cameras and drones Credentials
  • More than two decades experience writing about PCs and accessories, and 15 years writing about cameras of all kinds.
Joshua Goldman
2 min read
A close-up look at the Touch Bar on the 13-inch MacBook Pro.

The Touch Bar is a defining feature of the 13-inch MacBook Pro.

Dan Ackerman/CNET

Say hello to the two new laptops running on M2: the MacBook Air M2 and MacBook Pro M2 13-inch. Finally, you are able to get your hands on Apple's latest additions to the MacBook family. 

The smallest MacBook Pro has long been what Apple fans picked when they wanted a more powerful laptop than the MacBook Air. However, it may be better for professionals to go with the new version of the MacBook Air instead of the MacBook Pro, unless you're a commercial buyer who needs platform consistency. 

MacBook Air (13-inch, M2) vs. MacBook Pro (13-inch, M2)


MacBook Air (13-inch, M2)MacBook Pro (13-inch, M2)
Starting price $1,199, £1,249, AU$1,899$1,299, £1,349, AU$1,999
Display 13.6-inch 2,560x1,664-pixel Liquid Retina (500 nits brightness)13.3-inch 2,560x1,600-pixel Retina (500 nits brightness)
No. of CPU cores 88
No. of GPU cores Up to 10Up to 10
Starting / max RAM 8GB / 24GB8GB / 24GB
Starting/max storage 256GB / 2TB256GB / 2TB
Wireless 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0802.11ax Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0
Connections Thunderbolt/USB 4 USB-C (x2)Thunderbolt/USB 4 USB-C (x2)
Webcam 1080p FaceTime HD camera720p FaceTime HD camera
No. of speakers / mics 4 / 34 / 3 (studio-quality)
Battery life Up to 18 hoursUp to 20 hours
Power adapter 30-watt USB-C (8-core GPU), 35-watt dual USB-C (10-core GPU)67-watt USB-C
Weight 2.7 pounds (1.24 kg)3.0 pounds (1.4 kg)

The fact is, the new 13-inch MacBook Pro is the same as its predecessor but with the new M2 chip replacing the M1. Unlike its 14- and 16-inch line mates, the smallest Pro never received a redesign. Instead of the more blocky, slab-like design of the newer models, it has a more curved base and lid. 

The 13-inch MacBook Pro is also the last model to have a Touch Bar in place of the function key row. It also has a couple of hours more battery life compared to the Air and it includes Apple's more powerful 67-watt USB-C charger. But compared to the revamped Air, that's pretty much where the good times end. 

hands-on
Watch this: Hands-On With Apple's New M2 MacBook Air

The Air has a nicer, larger display but is about the same size and actually weighs less than the Pro. The MacBook Pro also has a lower-resolution webcam and no MagSafe charging option. The MacBook Pro does have an active cooling system, however, aka fans, which might enable the 13-inch Pro to work harder than the fanless M2-based MacBook Air.

macbook-pro-13-inch-watch-apples-full-m1-silicon-chip-reveal-with-price-mp4-00-00-46-19-still001.png
Apple

The 2022 version of the 13-inch MacBook Pro is identical to its predecessor, with the exception of the new M2 chip. That means it has the same look and older features, such as a 720p webcam and no support for MagSafe charging. For fans of the Touch Bar, this is the last option with the new Apple silicon. It also has a slightly longer battery life and comes with the more powerful 67-watt USB-C charger. Plus, its active cooling means better performance than the Air M2. Otherwise, the new M2-based MacBook Air is better in every way.

MacBook Pro M2 13-inch review.

M2 MacBook Air
Dan Ackerman/CNET

The new Air with the M2 chip has the same internal components as the updated 13-inch MacBook Pro. However, the Air has a new fanless design, a larger, higher-quality display, a higher-resolution webcam and four-speaker audio. Plus, it weighs less.   

MacBook Air M2 review.