Differences Between the MacBook Lineup: Your Guide to Picking the Right MacBook for You

Updated on February 6, 2019
Ryley PJ profile image

I am very enthusiastic about the MacBook Lineup. I currently own a MacBook Pro myself and would love to educate others on them.

The Apple Device Lineup
The Apple Device Lineup | Source

Whether you're new to the world of Apple Products or you've been in it for some time, there's always that challenge of picking which product is right for you. With all the different sizes, storage capacities, functions, and colors, it's definitely a hard decision. But hopefully, this article will help you a little more in making your decision. First off, let's start with the different models of MacBook that are available from 2018

MacBooks in 2018

From the regular MacBook to the MacBook Air and the MacBook Pro. All of these laptops have their pros and cons for different people, so let's take a look at the specs for these devices of 2018.

MacBook Pro 13-inch, TouchBar

  • Touch Bar with Touch ID Built-in
  • Retina 13.3-inch display with IPS technology. A native resolution of 2560x1600 pixels at 227 pixels per inch with support for millions of colors. (Can be scaled to 1680x1050, 1440x900 or 1024x640 if required) 500 Nits brightness, Wide color & True Tone Display.
  • Silver or Space Grey Finish
  • 2.3GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 Processor, turbo up to 3.8GHz with 128MB of eDRAM. (This can be configured all the way up to a 2.7GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 Processor, turbo up to 4.5GHz with 128MB of eDRAM)
  • SSD Sizes: 256GB, 512GB, 1TB or 2TB)
  • Memory Sizes: 8GB or 16GB of 2133MHz DDR3 Memory
  • Intel Iris Plus Graphics 655
  • Four thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports, with support for Charging, DisplayPort, Thunderbolt up to 40GBps, USB 3.1 Gen 2 up to 10GBps
  • Full Size Backlit keyboard with 64/65 keys including four arrow keys, Ambient Light Sensor, Touch ID integrated into TouchBar and Force Touch Trackpad
  • 802.11ac Wi-FI
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • 720p FaceTime HD Camera
  • VGA, HDMI, DVI, DisplayPort and Thunderbolt 2 output via adapters
  • Stereo Speakers with High dynamic range, three microphones, and 3.5mm Headphone Jack
  • Battery Life: Up to 10 hours web browsing, Up to 10 hours iTunes movie playback, Up to 30 days standby time, Built-in 58 watt-hour lithium-polymer battery, 61-watt USB-C Power Adapter.
  • Price: ~~£1,249 starting price~~

As you can see, there are a lot of variables that could help you decide if this is the right laptop for you. These specs basically copy over to the 15-inch model with only a few minor adjustments. So, this model of the MacBook could be the one for you. However, if you're not in need of something as powerful as these two models, you could always head back to the bog standard MacBook or even the MacBook Air, which was recently refreshed in late 2018 for the first time since 2015. Here are the specs for the regular Macbook.

MacBook 12-inch

  • 12-inch Retina Display with IPS technology
  • 2304x1440 resolution at 226 pixels per inch with support for millions of colors. (Can be scaled to 1440x900, 1280x800 and 1024x640)
  • Gold, Silver or Space Grey Finish
  • Either: 1.2GHz dual-core Intel Core M3, Turbo Boost up to 3GHz with 4MB L3 Cache, or 1.3GHz dual-core Intel Core i5, Turbo Boost up to 3.2GHz with 4MB L3 Cache
  • 8GB of 1866MHz DDR3 Memory, configurable up to 16GB
  • 256GB PCIe-based SSD or 512GB PCIe-based SSD
  • Intel HD Graphics 615
  • 802.11ac WiFi
  • Bluetooth 4.2 Technology
  • USB-C port with support for charging, USB 3.1 Gen 1, DisplayPort 1.2 video output, VGA Output using an adapter, HDMI Output using an adapter
  • 480p FaceTime Camera
  • Stereo Speakers, Dual microphones, 3.5mm Headphone Jack
  • Full-size keyboard with 78/79 keys, including 12 function keys and 4 arrow keys. Ambient light sensor and Force Touch trackpad
  • Battery Life: Up to 10 hours of Web Browsing, Up to 12 hours of iTunes film playback, Up to 30 days of Standby time. 41.4 watt-hour lithium-polymer battery, 29W USB-C Power adapter.
  • ~~£1,249 Starting Price~~

As you can see from this information, the regular MacBook does pack less of a punch than the Pro models rising above it; however, it still is perfect for those of you who just need a laptop for light work, sometimes including more heavy work however not often. Obviously, there are a few noticeable details that are different from the Pro models compared with the regular model. For example, the screen is 1 inch smaller; the Bluetooth technology is one generation older, the graphics setup isn't as powerful however the display is still Retina and can display millions of colors, which is a plus if you dabble in photo editing. On the other hand, the base model doesn't come with the best processor. It is nowhere near as powerful as the Core i5 or i7 that you can upgrade to, however, if you're on a tight budget, then the lowest M3 processor might be your only option. On the plus side though, the regular MacBook is also available in that lovely Gold color that the Pros just don't seem to want. It is an amazing, glowing color, but Apple clearly seems to think that the Pro models should stick to the ever so 'professional' colors of Silver and Grey. Did you hear that too? Yeah, it just doesn't sound as nice when you just say 'grey' instead of 'Space Grey,' does it? Anyways, why don't we take a look at the specs for the MacBook Air that was released in 2018, and compare all three of the MacBook models!

MacBook Air

  • 13.3-inch Retina Display with IPS technology, 2560x1600 native resolution at 227 pixels per inch with support for millions of colors (Can be scaled to 1680x1050, 1440x900 and 1024x640)
  • Integrated Touch ID sensor
  • Gold, Silver or Space Grey Finish
  • 1.6GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor, Turbo Boost up to 3.6GHz with 4MB L3 cache.
  • Either: 128GB PCIe-based SSD or 256GB PCIe-based SSD, however, both are configurable up to 512GB and 1.5TB
  • 8GB of 2133MHz DDR3 Memory, configurable up to 16GB
  • Battery Life: Up to 12 hours web browsing, Up to 13 hours of iTunes film playback, Up to 30 days of standby time. 50.3 watt-hour lithium-polymer battery, 30W USB-C Power Adapter
  • Intel UHD Graphics 617, support for Thunderbolt 3 enabled external graphics processors (eGPUs)
  • 720p FaceTime HD Camera
  • Two Thunderbolt 3 ports with support for charging, DisplayPort, Thunderbolt and USB-C 3.1 Gen 2
  • 802.11ac WiFi
  • Bluetooth 4.2 Technology
  • Stereo Speakers, three microphones and 3.5mm Headphone Jack
  • Full-Size keyboard with 78/79 individual keys, including 12 function keys and 4 arrow keys. Ambient light sensor and Force Touch trackpad.
  • ~~£1,079 Starting price~~

So, the specs on the all-new MacBook Air 2018 are way better than those on the 2015 model, and they're also much better than the regular MacBook. There are better features in this MacBook that could be perfect for lightworkers who also do some heavy work more than sometimes and need something that houses a little more power for their needs, but not the full powerhouse of the Pro models.

Which One Do I Buy?

In conclusion, depending on your needs as a user, either one of the three types of MacBook could be for you. So, take a look at the descriptions below, that will hopefully help to make your choice a little bit easier.

Reasons to Buy:

  • MacBook, 12-inch model: The regular, base model MacBook is perfect for those who don't need the full power of a MacBook Pro. It has enough power for simple users who need to do everyday tasks, such as word processing, web browsing or audio/video streaming. However, if you are a business-type person who tends to have a lot of video call meetings using either Skype or FaceTime, then I would recommend you go for the Air, as its camera records at 720p rather than the quite frankly crap 480p quality of this model. Moreover, this model is ideal for educational institutions such as schools, colleges or universities, as they are the cheapest in the lineup and have the power necessary to deliver basic needs to students, as listed above. The battery life is also okay for this purpose, as they could last the length of a lesson period or study session, before needing to be returned for charging.
  • MacBook Air, 13.3-inch model: The MacBook Air is the perfect model for most average people. It houses enough power to accomplish the same basic tasks mentioned in the above paragraph, plus more for more advanced, but still light, tasks such as photo editing, audio editing, coding or lightweight video editing using iMovie or Final Cut Pro. However, if you still need more power than this, perhaps because you need to edit 4K video footage using Final Cut, then the Pro option would probably be better for you as it packs more power to give you a much faster export time than the Air would ever be possible of achieving.
  • MacBook Pro 13.3/15-inch models: The MacBook Pros are the perfect models if you require a more high-performance machine. These laptops pack an amazing punch that can handle everything mentioned in the previous paragraphs plus a whole lot more. The price is off-putting for a lot of consumers, however, if you require the power and have the available budget, then I would highly recommend the Pro for heavy, advanced and power-hungry users like me. Personally, I used the 13-inch Pro model, which is great for all of my heavy video editings and exporting that I do every week. It is also great to take to college with me thanks to the amazing battery life.

If you still need any more help picking which MacBook is right for you, then please don't hesitate to leave a comment below and I'll be sure to answer it as soon as possible if another member of the community doesn't beat me to it!

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© 2019 Ryley PJ


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