M1 MB Air vs 14" MB Pro- Returning MB Pro!

I’ve been using the M1 MB Air since it came out (8 Core; 16gb ram; 1tb). Aside from usual stuff everyone does (mail, web, etc), I’m a serious (though amateur) photographer- using it for Lightroom, Photoshop, Luminar, etc.

I bought the 14" MB Pro (10 Core; 16gb ram; 1tb) on Tuesday, and after using it this week, have made the somewhat difficult decision to return it today.

Overall, the MB Pro is a great machine. In particular, for me, the screen is a significant upgrade, and the SD slot is great. However, I ultimately decided I simply do not need the power this offers. And it is significantly larger and heavier (though actually less “extra” heavy than I expected), and I really love the light form factor of the M1 Air. I will certainly consider the next gen Air, especially if it has the new screen technology as rumored.

For anyone else on the fence, Max Tech on Youtube JUST put out a great comparison of these 2 machines: 14" MacBook Pro vs M1 MacBook Air - Worth $1,000 MORE? 🤔 - YouTube


That’s an interesting perspective. Coincidentally, just this morning I ordered a 14" MBP (M1 Max, 32 GPU cores) with a trade in on my M1 Air (similar to yours but with 512GB). I found the Air to be a fantastic machine, but the GPU was a little weak for some of the things that I do. Once VMWare Fusion is released, the extra RAM will be welcome too.

Like you, this was for me not an easy decision, because I love the smallness of the Air and its incredible battery life. I really hope the next Air has the improved screen, especially the reduced bezels.


I have a new MacBook Air 2020 I bought in July w 8 GB RAM and 500 GB hard drive space and I LOVE it! It is so lightweight, the keyboard is wonderful, lights up nicely. The screen size is plenty big. (I’m one of these rare persons that is not into big screen tvs etc.) The graphics are nice. There is nothing about this machine that I don’t love and maybe a few of you wish I’d quit saying so. LOL! I’m like a kid in a toy store.

I, too, do a lot of photography (and art work) and find the MacBook Air to be a very apt machine. It just goes to show you that you don’t necessarily need to get a far more expensive Mac although I would never ever begrudge anyone their dream machine.

These M1 Macs are nothing short of phenomenal. My battery hardly drains. Apple Music seems to put the biggest drain. The charge is unbelievably fast.

Overall it is a phenomenal machine that should be more than adequate for years to come. I’d be surprised if it’s not but you never know what Apple will come up with.


I am sitting on the fence with 900 in gift cards at apple trying to decide which to get. I think I am leaning towards the MB Air as well. Honestly at this point trying to decide if I just get the base model 8/256 or get the 16/256. For travel seems perfect, and my needs are relatively light. While the 16/512 would be ideal it starts getting into the realm where its not super budget friendly and might as well get the MB Pro 14"

Thoughts on the 8 vs 16gb of ram in the MB Air? Worth it in day to day use?

For me, I have the 16GB Of RAM and find I still run low all the time. It’s the reason I’m interested in the MacBook Pro. The M1 machines have faster access to RAM, but you still need RAM on your machine for the same reasons as before.

What are you running that runs out of ram? But seems hit or miss if people have issues, some never running into this with 8gb and others all the time.

I will be running stock apps, obsidian, Citrix receiver occasionally, and very light use of photos app and iMovie, so nothing particularly demanding.

Figma with pretty huge documents open will happily consume 12gb of ram — let alone Photoshop, Lightroom, Capture One, or Docker.

(I’m basically the target market for one of the new MacBook Pros.)

I’m still at this crossroads and leaning towards returning the 14", because while the screen is amazing (even with the smearing) and so are the speakers, it just feels like a waste to me because my workflow is pretty basic these days.
I have the same 14" config as you, but my M1 machine is the Pro from last year.

Not using at least 6 CPU performance cores and at least 8 GPU cores (of the 2e+8c/16g config) just feels bad! In fact a setup of 4e/4c+8g of my M1 13" is already more than enough for me.
I don’t do any creative video or photo work, or even play games on macOS, so the extra GPU cores are just idle most of the time.
Also the 14" seems to get just 14hr of mixed usage for me, compared to 22-30hrs on the M1 13" with Low Power mode.

Again, the miniLED is the main draw of the 14" for me too, but as you said the next Air is rumored to get this display (minus ProMotion), and I think that laptop may be a suitable upgrade/sidegrade instead.

I’ve still got a month left to somehow justify the 14" purchase, because I can still choose to keep both laptops and/or gift the 13", but it’s not looking likely.