Feature Differences between MacBook Air and MacBook Pro

By Arnold Reinhold

The MacBook Pro is Apple’s full-featured laptop line, with a number of features that set it apart from the MacBook Air models and a great alternative to Windows-based laptops for those who are considering a switch.

  • A wider choice of display sizes (13.3, 15.4, or 17 inches)

  • Faster processors with more memory

  • Two graphics processors on the 15- and 17-inch models for faster gaming and 3D support

  • Built-in SuperDrive for reading and writing CDs and DVDs

  • Gigabit Ethernet port

  • FireWire 800 Mbps port

  • SDXC Card slot (13-inch and 15-inch models) or ExpressCard/34 slot (17-inch model)

  • Separate audio line in jack (15-inch and 17-inch models)

  • Kensington cable lock slot for physical security

  • Heftier, 85-watt AC power module on some models (which can also power a MacBook Air, but the 45-watt power module that comes with the MacBook Air isn’t powerful enough to supply the bigger MacBook Pros)

Details, details, details. Each MacBook Pro includes these items:

  • A glossy widescreen display: The 17-inch model can be ordered with a higher resolution of 1920 x 1200. (Table 2-1 lists standard resolutions.) You can order the 15- and 17-inch models with a reduced-glare screen rather than the standard glossy model. Many graphics designers find that glare interferes with precision color editing.

  • Intel Sandy Bridge processor: The 13-inch model has two processor cores; the 15- and 17-inch models have four cores. All models come with at least 4GB of RAM. Two SO-DIMM slots support up to 8GB of RAM.

  • An Intel HD 3000 graphics processor: The more-expensive models add an AMD Radeon HD and graphics memory.

  • A 320GB hard drive on the 13-inch model, 500GB on the 15-inch model, and 750GB on the 17-inch model: You can order your MacBook Pro with larger disk drives or solid-state disk drives, if you prefer.

  • Full-size backlit keyboard: The keyboard includes 12 function keys and 4 arrow keys (inverted T arrangement).

  • Scrolling Multi-Touch trackpad for cursor control: Senses one, two, three, or four fingers, allowing for a wide variety of gestures.

  • Thunderbolt port with Mini DisplayPort support

  • Two USB 2.0 ports (three on the 17-inch model)

  • An aluminum case

  • Lithium-polymer battery: The battery supports up to 7 hours of wireless web use.

The MacBook Pro cable connections include

  • MagSafe power connector

  • Gigabit Ethernet

  • FireWire 800 Mbps port

  • Thunderbolt port with Mini DisplayPort external video

  • Two USB 2.0 ports (three on the 17-inch model)

  • SDXC card slot (13-inch and 15-inch models) or ExpressCard/34 slot (17-inch models)

  • Combined digital audio input/audio line in — 3.5mm minijack (13- and 17-inch models)

  • Combined digital audio output/headphone out — 3.5mm minijack