MacBook Air vs MacBook Pro: Which is Better for College Students?

The MacBook Air and the MacBook Pro can both be good laptops for college students. The best option comes down to the preferences and needs of each student. MacBook Air is cheaper, but MacBook Pro has better performance specs. 

This post will look at the MacBook Air versus the MacBook Pro to help determine which is better for college students. I’ll give you some pros and cons of each option to help you determine which of these laptops is best for your specific wants or needs. 

Let’s dive in. 

MacBook Air vs MacBook Pro for College Students

If you are in college, you need a good laptop. These devices will allow you to keep on top of all your studies, help you research, and stay connected with the rest of the world. 

The MacBook and MacBook Pro are two solid options to choose from. You can’t really go wrong with either of these laptops, but it can be challenging to figure out which is better if you’re in college. 

Ultimately, the best choice is whichever option works well for you. To help you figure that out, take a quick look at the table below. Then we’ll break down each topic a bit to give you a better understanding of the difference between these MacBooks. 

MacBook AirMacBook Pro 
More affordable More expensive 
Less powerful, but still very capableHas better high-end technical specs
Only available in one sizeMore sizes available 
Lighter in weightBetter battery life on average
Works well for college studentsWorks well for college students

As I already mentioned, both of these MacBooks will help you out in college. Apple makes some of the best laptops in the market, and both the Air and the Pro represent all of the latest innovations and conveniences from the brand.


First, let’s consider your budget. Many college students have yet to begin their professional lives, so stable income is a significant consideration. The MacBook Air is the more affordable option when compared to the MacBook Pro. 

Neither of these laptops falls into the cheap category. But when you’re in college, every dollar saved can help. Even if you only pay a few hundred dollars less, a MacBook Air might be the best option. 

On the other side, a MacBook Pro is a more capable machine. It has better overall performance features that can be useful, depending on what you need the laptop for. If you want higher tech specs, go with a MacBook Pro. 

The average college student probably doesn’t need all of the high-end performance features of a MacBook Pro. A MacBook Air will be fine if you only need a laptop for browsing the internet, working on documents, and for some entertainment.

But if you have a demanding major or are studying things like computer science or video editing, you might need and want higher performance. The MacBook Pro will be the better choice because it’s more powerful and can be customized to a greater degree. 

Size & Customization

The MacBook Pro also gives you more options for customization and size than the MacBook Air. If you want a larger display, the MacBook Pro is still available with 14-inch and 16-inch displays. The Air only has the 13.3-inch option. 

Display size might not be that big of a deal to the average student, but if you like the idea of a few extra inches, the MacBook Pro is a better option. 

You can choose additional features and functions with either of these laptops when you order them new. If you want more storage space or RAM, you can customize each to your preferences. 

It’s good to know that regardless of which model you choose, adding storage or RAM will cost you extra. And if you want to max out a MacBook Pro or MacBook Air, you’ll pay well over the entry-level price. 

The MacBook Air is lighter and slightly smaller than the MacBook Pro. But this difference isn’t as pronounced on the newer models as on the older ones. Still, if you want a lightweight laptop, the Air is the better option. 

Battery Life

The MacBook Pro offers better battery life than the MacBook Air. They both deliver many hours of reliable use, but you’ll typically get a few extra hours when using the Pro compared to doing the same type of tasks on an Air. 

Battery life is important, but I don’t think it should be the only consideration here. And keep in mind that if you are doing resource-heavy tasks, that battery will drain much faster than the listed life. 

The MacBook Air also comes with more color options than the MacBook Pro. The newer MacBook Airs come in several colorways that you can’t get with a Pro. The Air might be the way to go if you want a little extra style.

Both the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro will work very well for college students. I think most students will be fine with a MacBook Air and don’t need to dish out the extra cash for a MacBook Pro. 

But if you require better performance or just want a larger or more capable laptop, the Pro is the way to go. Regardless of which of these fantastic laptops you choose, you’ll be able to handle all your college responsibilities easily.  

What’s the Best MacBook for College Students?

Here is a list of our top recommendations, along with a quick review of each option so you understand its pros and cons.

1. Apple MacBook Air

As the name suggests, the MacBook Air is a lightweight computer that’s easy to carry around campus.

This slim machine has a decent battery life, which is more than plenty for both class and the library, alongside a strong M2 processor. The 8GB of memory is more than enough for work and play, while the bright display makes everything you do on the machine look great.

Another bonus of the Air is the sleek design. Apple is known for making attractive products, and this one is no different.

Despite the lightweight shell, this machine still manages to pack in USB-C ports on top of a Thunderbolt 4 port. That gives you more options and enables you to use it with your other electronics.

2. New 13-inch Apple MacBook Pro

Students who want a good balance between portability and internal power will love the 13-inch MacBook Pro.

While not as sturdy or as vibrant as larger models, this device gives college students a compact device that can still run their favorite programs and stream their favorite shows. It comes with two Thunderbolt 4 ports, an ultrafast SSD, as well a solid M2 processor.

Where this MacBook shines, besides its inherent versatility, is through the brilliant retina display. This device’s 13-inch screen pops thanks to the true tone technology.

It also has a decent battery life, which is more than enough for both on-and-off campus excursions. Add on the regular Apple attributes, such as the touch bar and touch ID, and you have a complete machine.

3. Apple MacBook Pro (16-inch)

College students who like the features of the 13-inch MacBook Pro but who want something more, will love the 16-inch version.

This machine gives you everything you would expect in the standard MacBook Pro, and then backs it up with even more processing power and a larger display. The extra screen size is fantastic, and the 16GB of RAM combines with the 512GB of storage to give you plenty of space.

One of the best features here is that the 16-inch model can be fully customized to fit exactly what you need. That includes 64GB of RAM, 8TB of storage, and an eight-core processor.

Of course, such features come at a high cost, but if you don’t mind spending extra or want a premium device, this is the way to go.

Useful Tips and Information

There are many aspects to consider when getting a Macbook for college. Though we touch on a few in the above sections, there are many more to consider. This guide breaks down a lot of important attributes to stay on top of as you consider your purchase.

A laptop makes school easier, but the right software can take it to the next level. There are many student-friendly programs that you can use to improve your education. If you’re curious about some of the best, watch this video.


Here are a few quick answers to some of the most commonly asked questions related to if the MacBook Air or MacBook Pro is better for college students. 

Which Mac is best for college students? 

Both the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro are good options for college students. The Air is a bit cheaper and lighter, so it’s good for any student on a budget. The Pro is more capable from a technical perspective, so it can be good for demanding degrees that require better performance. 

Is MacBook Air good for online classes? 

A MacBook Air will work very well for online classes. This reliable laptop comes with excellent specs to give you solid performance. You get a clear screen, good battery life, and many other features that work well for online classes. 

Is MacBook Air worth it for a college student? 

The MacBook Air is a great option for a college student. This is a great model to explore if you are looking for a very capable, lightweight, and reliable laptop. But it’s still relatively expensive, and cheaper laptops are available that aren’t Macs. 

Should I get a 256 or 512 MacBook Air for college? 

If you need or want additional storage space on your laptop, then going with the 512 MacBook Air is a good option. If you don’t want to pay extra for added storage and can get by with less, then the 256 model is the way to go. 

Final Thoughts

If you need a laptop for college, the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro are two excellent models to choose from. Both of these will give you reliable performance and a range of other features that come in useful for your studies. 

The MacBook Air is more affordable and still performs very well, making it the go-to option for many students. But the MacBook Pro is more powerful and might be needed for students with more demanding studies. 

What type of laptop do you use for college? Let me know in the comments below. 

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