Update: If your MacBook Pro is older than six years, it's time to get a new one.
The new MacBook Pro and MacBook Air were revealed during WWDC 2022. Given how rare it is to see hardware reveals at WWDC, the new laptops received a fair bit of attention — especially since they both sport Apple’s new M2 processor. As our Apple M2 chip benchmark tests revealed, this is an impressive processor.
Of the two laptops, the MacBook Air 2022 seems more enticing. It sports an updated design akin to 2021’s MacBook Pro 14-inch and MacBook Pro 16-inch laptops, a larger display, MagSafe charging and a sharper webcam. In contrast, the new 13-inch MacBook Pro has the same MacBook Pro design that’s been around since 2016. That includes the old 720p webcam and the much-maligned Touch Bar. The MacBook Air also starts at $1,199 whereas the base MacBook Pro begins at $1,299.
As detailed in our 5 reasons you should buy MacBook Air 2022 instead of the new MacBook Pro and MacBook Air 2022 vs MacBook Pro 2022: Which new MacBook should you buy? articles, the updated Air seems like the clear winner over the Pro. However, the latter has features that could make it the better choice for some people.
Here's why you should buy the MacBook Pro 2022 instead of the new MacBook Air.
Active cooling is the biggest advantage the new MacBook Pro has over the redesigned MacBook Air. Because it doesn’t have a fanless design, the Pro can achieve higher levels of performance.
For example, on our Handbrake video editing test, which involves transcoding a 4K video clip, the new MacBook Air M2 took 7 minutes and 52 seconds to complete the task. However, the MacBook Pro M2, which has active cooling for better-sustained performance, took a minute less than the new Air at 6:51.
Active cooling may not be important for users who generally use laptops for web surfing, watching streaming content or for word processing. However, video and music editors want a machine that can deliver sustained performance. If you fall into that camp, the MacBook Pro could be more appealing than the Air.
10-core GPU as standard
While both of Apple’s newest laptops pack the M2 chip, the MacBook Pro has a 10-core GPU as standard. If you want that for the Air, you’ll need to shell out an extra $300.
More GPU cores mean faster rendering and processing. Combined with active cooling, this is another aspect of the MacBook Pro that could make it more performant than the MacBook Air. But as with active cooling, additional GPU cores may only deliver meaningful benefit to pro users like video and audio editors.
Longer battery life
The MacBook Pro 2022 has epic battery life, clocking in at 18 hours and 20 minutes. This makes it the longest battery life of any laptop we've ever tested. This is slightly short of the marketed 20 hours of life, but it's hard to complain about what the actual machine can do in the real world.
The MacBook Air 2022 clocked 14 hours and 6 minutes during our testing. That's better than a lot of laptops, though it doesn't match the MacBook Pro M2. If you want the longest-lasting battery life possible, the latter is the best bet.
Reasons you might still consider the MacBook Air
Based on what we’ve covered, the MacBook Pro 2022 seems like a laptop geared toward professional editors who need a machine that delivers sustained performance.
However, the majority of prospective buyers don’t necessarily need to render videos or edit audio tracks. They just want a solid laptop for everyday use. Because of that and other reasons, the MacBook Air appears to be the ideal machine for most people.
The MacBook Air has a new design that’s more in line with the MacBook Pros released in 2021. In contrast, the MacBook Pro 2022 features the same design that the Pro line had has for nearly half a decade. The new Air also sports a sharp 1080p camera, a larger display and MagSafe charging.
You get all of these modern features for $100 less than the Pro. If nothing else, price alone may steer people into getting the Air over the Pro.
Though I still maintain that the new MacBook Air is the better overall deal compared to the MacBook Pro 2022, the latter shouldn’t be completely written off.
On its own, the Pro is a more than capable laptop for both casual and professional users. This is mostly due to its M2 processor. Sure, it may not be as powerful as the M1 Pro or M1 Max chips, but it’s certainly a big improvement over the original M1. This is why it landed on our best laptops list.
The Pro also has several benefits over the Air, such as active cooling, more GPU cores as standard and potentially longer battery life. While better and sustained performance may not be necessary for average users, professionals or those who want a beefier rig will no doubt appreciate the additional power. To that end, the MacBook Pro 2022 is worth considering.
Be sure to read our full reviews of the MacBook Pro M2 and MacBook Air M2 to help you determine which is right for you.