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Which MacBook: we help you choose between the MacBook Air, Retina MacBook Pro and the 12in Retina MacBook

Karen Haslam | July 21, 2015
Should you buy the MacBook Air, MacBook, Retina MacBook Pro or non-Retina MacBook Pro? We help you find the right Mac laptop for your needs.

Which MacBook should I buy for portability?

The new 12in MacBook is the lightest and thinnest MacBook available, with a height of 0.35-1.31cm and a weight of 0.92kg. However, there are sacrifices to be made in terms of power, this being Apple's lowest specced computer. It's also one of the most expensive Macs, so not one for the budget conscious.

Next up is the 11in MacBook Air, with a height of 0.3-1.7cm and a weight of 1.08 kg (sure at it's thinnest point the MacBook Air is thinner than the MacBook, but it tapers to a thicker 1.7cm). We still think this Mac is ideal for carrying with you on business trips or in your bag on the way to work.

Both these Macs could be slightly limiting due to their diminutive screen size. The 11in MacBook is the more limiting of the two, however. The actual screen size of the smallest MacBook Air is 11.6 inches, which is just 1.9 inches bigger (diagonally) than the iPad Air. Some people find the dimensions of the MacBook Air screen restrictive too, because the display is shallower than any other Mac due to it being 16:9 rather than 16:10, which is a more normal laptop screen aspect ratio.

The 12in MacBook has a bigger screen than the MacBook Air, plus it offers a much better quality display, more on that later.

We think that the best Mac for portability is actually the 13in MacBook Air, sure it's bigger and heavier than both of the Macs mentioned (its the same 0.3-1.7cm dimensions as the 11in model, but is wider at 32.5cm rather than 30cm). But at 1.35kg it is not a lot heavier than the 11in model, and it is lighter than the 13in MacBook Pro (1.58kg).

The price of the 13in MacBook Air is a lot better than that of the MacBook too, starting at £849 rather than £1,049. You get the best of both worlds, a light laptop with a decent screen size.

Which MacBook is best for battery life?

The battery life of the 13in MacBook Air is the highest of any MacBook available. Apple calls it an "all-day battery" but what that means is up to 12 hours, and a whopping 30 days standby time.

Next up is the 13in Retina MacBook Pro which can manage 10 hours wireless web (and Apple claims 12 hours if you are just watching video in iTunes).

The MacBook, 11n MacBook Air, and the 15in MacBook Pro with Retina display all offer 9 hours of battery life for wireless web (10 hours for iTunes on the MacBook and Air, while the MacBook Pro offers 9 hours of iTunes).


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