New 14" MBP or M1 Air, Power vs Battery Life

Thinking out loud here:

I swore that I wasn’t going get one of the new MBPs, but the increased GPU power is really tempting. Now I’m trying to decide if the trade off is worth the sacrifice of battery life (11 hours vs 15 hours for “wireless web browsing”).

In favour of switching:

Much better GPU performance
More RAM
Much nicer display
(most likely) A Much better camera

In favour of not switching:

Better battery life for the Air
Zero cost to stay with the Air


Air is slightly more portable

My current situation is that I have a 16" i9 with 64GB RAM for my heavy lifting work. Had I known that I would be spending a couple of years working from home, I’d have gotten a desktop instead. It spends every day docked at my desk with 2 external displays. I also have an M1 Air with 16GB RAM that I use for travel (starting up again, with one trip done), work around the house (really hate being at the main desk all day, every day), and will be used for my forays back to in-person work. For media consumption and quick communication as well as light to moderate work, I have an 11" 2018 iPad Pro + Magic Keyboard. The overlap between the iPad and the Air is not complete, but considerable.

Most of my “power” work happens either in VMs on the 16" MBP or on remote servers, but I do muck about in virtual worlds so GPU performance is important.

Anyway, thanks for taking the time to read my forum-therapy session :slight_smile: (I find that often when I’ve expressed something to other people, my own thoughts clarify)


Is 11 hours really not enough battery life? How much does your Intel MacBook get, 3 or 4 hours? Unless you really need to spend more than 11 hours away from a power source, you should get the 14-inch MacBook Pro. The GPU performance will be significant compared to the Air.

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That’s what I’m thinking too, but battery life anxiety is real, if not rational :wink:

For what it’s worth, the Air seems to get about 12 - 13 hours of RL battery life when I used it for typical work, and I assume that the Pro would also not quite live up to the stated 11 hours.

Also, thank you for being an enabler for my tech spending habit :grin:

(The 16" MBP is almost always docked, so its battery life isn’t an issue.)


Not crazy at all to hang with the air.

I have a spec’ed our 2017 iMac and just got an M1 11” iPad Pro. I was waiting for the announcement but honestly considering just getting a base M1 air (maybe with 16gb of ram). While the new MBP chips appear to be beasts, most of my use case is access of medical record system via Citrix, photos, and video editing. The M1 on the air is fine for videos so the reviews say, but my 2017 iMac runs it ok. The sad truth is luma fusion on my iPad Pro M1 is ridiculous and now supports external drives so is a viable option.

The MacBook Air is more than good enough for use case, and at leas than half the cost probably a better buy for now (and save for an upgraded Mac mini with M1 pro or new iMac down the road).

But it is tempting since money isn’t a huge issue….just seems a bit of a waste. I am going to wait for real world reviews as well before deciding.

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I’m going to be travelling during the first week of December, so I’m going to have to wait at least until delivery dates slip beyond that before having to decide :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

You have plenty of time. Single core processes seem to be similar, I am curious to see what the “everyday” speed differences are. I’m guessing normal use for non optimized apps may be less of a performance bump……but if they are I’ll probably get the 14” at that point!

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I think that the cores are identical to the M1, so unless an application scales to use more performance cores or it’s GPU bound, I don’t think there’s much “everyday” gain with the new machines. I’m curious to see all the benchmarks next week!

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To the extent there is a bump in everyday performance, my guess is it will have more to do with faster SSD and memory than with the CPU portion of the SOC.


Will your VMs run on an M1? I haven’t yet tried any on my M1 MBP.
And curious if you’re using Docker, VMWare, ESXi, etc.

We’re a VMWare shop, so I get Fusion for “free”. I signed up for the Fusion M1 early access program but haven’t gotten around to trying it on my Air yet. My VMs are all Linux, so I should have no problem eventually moving that work over.

One of my projects is begging to be containerized, so I’ll probably have to get Docker running sometime too, but I’ll likely do that in a Linux VM instead of on Apple’s bare metal.

ETA: Apparently we also have Windows for ARM available to us, so I may explore that a bit too, but mainly for the curiosity aspect.


This is what I thought……which is why I may end up getting an air and being done with it. It will probably be a decision of getting a base air or maybe with 16gb and planning on keeping for a short time so I can trade in in a few years if I want, or going with a base 14” if real world usage for non creative workflow makes a difference.


If I were spending MY money I probably would not have ordered the M1 Pro MBP, but it will help with some of the work I do so there I went^H^H^H^Hspent.

I am keeping my M1 MBAir because it’s 1/2lb lighter and a little smaller and for the stuff I do day-to-day, it’ll be just as fast. Certainly just as fast to the extent I’d be able to tell…


I have a 2020 MacBook Air and I couldn’t ask for a nicer computer. I just LOVE it! The battery is astounding. I have never gone below 60%. It is lightweight, very comfortable. Nice keyboard that lights up. Easy to type with.

Someone mentioned graphics. I am a professional amateur photographer and I have not noticed anything lacking at all. The screen is a good size. I don’t even want anything larger (unless the Great Pumpkin wants to bring me a desktop but I would not trade.)

The only modification I’d make is going for the 16 gb but I’d like it, but I cannot say I’d even need it (certainly not now). I’ve never had a crash.

Good luck whatever you select!

I was thinking. If money is not a concern, I’d get may 32 gb ram and a one T hard drive space. But I’d still get the MacBook Air, I think. LOL!.

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Just to put everyone at ease and let you relax (because I know you were all waiting on the edges of your seats), this morning I ordered a 14" MBP with the Max/32. The finally deciding factors were that the iPad has so much overlap with the Air that I don’t really use the Air on battery much at all, and the hope that the 32 GPU cores will help quite a lot where the Air’s 8 are a bit lacking.


iPad has so much overlap with the Air that I don’t really use the Air on battery much at all, and the hope that the 32 GPU cores will help quite a lot where the Air’s 8 are a bit lacking.

I’m not sure I understand how the MB Air overlaps with the iPad. Can you explain?

I still use my iPad Air all the time. It is a really nifty machine!

Oh yeah, and ENJOY your new computer!

It means that for the things that I would use the MB Air for on battery, the 11" iPad Pro with Magic Keyboard works just as well, or very nearly just as well, or in some cases better. Things like reading news, basic communication, web browsing, taking notes, doing basic work while travelling (especially while flying), development work on remote servers, stuff like that.

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Ok. I can certainly see the similarities, how they overlap. They are both very lightweight, e.g.

You know, it has been so long since I have had a computer that I think of my MB Air as a computer basically although I do do a lot of what I use to do on the iPad Air because I didn’t have any computer available. I can do so much more with the computer, which includes much of the stuff I typically did on the Air.

I did invest in a fast charger for my iPad and it makes a world of difference. I am so glad I bought it.

I cannot type worth a hoot. I never took typing because I didn’t want to be a secretary. So I am the fastest one-handed typist you are ever going to see. I cannot do that on my iPad Air.

But it is so cool to be able to automate or if you take an app like Photos, there is a wealth of things you can do that you just cannot do on an iPad. A lot of it is just plain tedious. The Mac is so much more efficient. I can scarcely believe it.

For me, the MP Air is a totally renewing experience.

When do you get your computer? I imagine you are thrilled!

GPU are graphics?

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I love the idea of giving yourself a retirement gift!

Dec 10 - 17th. I had to hold off buying because I’ll be away until the 10th.

Yup, yup. The GPU stands for Graphics Processing Unit, similar to how CPU is Central Processing Unit. Since the M1 series are SoCs (System On a Chip), the CPU and GPU are just different parts of the chip in this family.


Thank you very much! it will make a welcome Christmas gift to yourself. I hope you have someone that can get it if you are not available.

I got snowed out of O’Hare once. We were coming from Phoenix. We could get off in Albuquerque or go on to Kansas City. I figured N. Mex. was warmer. Me and just one other girl got off in New Mexico, got put up in a nice hotel, great prime rib dinner. Free. We had a nice time. The people who went on to Kansas City got stuck in the airport all night long. Then they finally opened up O’Hare. I don’t care for Southwest Airlines. Egads. They are like Greyhound buses.