Skip to main content

Digital Trends may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site. Why trust us?

MacBook (2015) vs. MacBook Air (2015): Spec Showdown

macbook 2015 vs air spec showdown and header
Image used with permission by copyright holder
Apple’s MacBook Air was poised for a refresh even before Tim Cook took the stage at Cupertino to announce the laptop’s updated specifications alongside the redefined MacBook. However, whereas the new MacBook will sport a thinner design and utilize Apple’s gorgeous Retina display, the updated Air will take advantage of an Intel Core i5 processor and quicker flash within the same build Apple debuted in 2010.

The refreshed Air will also retain the same 1,440 x 900-pixel display, which is mediocre at best, but a machine with underwhelming screen resolution isn’t necessarily worse in all facets. Check out the direct spec comparison below for a closer look at the internal hardware and exterior design of each offering, whether talking the edge-to-edge glass display on the MacBook or the 720p FaceTime camera.

2015 MacBook

2015 MacBook Image

2015 MacBook Air (13-inch)

overview_osx_hero copy
Image used with permission by copyright holder
Dimensions 11.04 x 7.74 x 0.14-0.52 (in) 12.80 x 8.94 x 0.11-0.68 (in)
Weight 2.03 pounds 2.96 pounds
Keyboard Full size, backlit keyboard Full size, backlit keyboard
Processor 1.1GHz dual-core Intel Core M processor (4MB Cache, up to 2.4GHz) 1.6GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 (3MB Cache, up to 2.7GHz)
RAM 8GB of 1600MHz LPDDR3 4GB of 1600MHz LPDDR3
Graphics Intel HD Graphics 5300 Intel HD Graphic 6000
Display 12-inch LED-backlit display with IPS technology 13.3-inch LED-backlit display
Resolution 2,304 x 1,440 1,440 x 900
Storage 256GB PCIe-based onboard flash storage 128GB PCIe-based flash storage
Networking 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0
Ports USB-C, minijack USB 3.0, Thunderbolt 2, SDXC card slot, minijack
Webcam 480p FaceTime camera 720p FaceTime camera
Operating System Mac OS X Yosemite Mac OS X Yosemite
Battery 39.7-watt-hour 54‑watt‑hour
Color offerings Silver, Space Gray, Gold Silver
Price $1,300+ $1,000+
Availability April 10 Now
Review Coming soon 4 out of 5 (2013 model)


At first glance, the most apparent difference between the redesigned MacBook and the updated Air is the design. However, it’s what’s kept under the hood that truly differentiates the two high-end laptops. First off, the MacBook comes outfitted with an Intel M Core processor, a device that essentially trades processing power for longer battery life and greater energy efficiency.

The M Core processor likely not as capable as the Core i5 processor housed in the Air, meaning it’s not going to be as proficient when it comes editing photos or video. The 2015 MacBook does boast double the amount of storage and RAM, though, allowing for a greater amount of storage space and better efficiency when it comes to multitasking. Others facets, specifically networking, are the same across both machines, with each offering 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0.

The port selection on each laptop is a completely different story, though. Whereas the Air comes outfitted with two USB 3.0 ports, a Thunderbolt 2 port, a SDXC card slot, and a minijack port, the new MacBook consolidates a bevy of traditional ports into a single offering known as USB-C . The connection features a reversible plug socket and can be used to both charge the system and connect storage, but sadly, it also forces most consumers to opt for a dedicated adapter if they want to connect their machine to more than one device at a time.

The Air shines in terms of battery life, too. The 13-inch machine touts a 54-watt battery, which Apple claims allows for up to 12 hours of web browsing and video playback. However, even with the updated chassis and tiered battery design, the new MacBook is only poised to last around 10 hours or so when web browsing or nine while playing video. The Air also trumps the MacBook with Intel HD Graphics 6000 and a 720p FaceTime camera, opposed to the MacBook’s Intel HD Graphics 5300 and meager 480p webcam.

The Air may look better on paper in some categories, but not so much in the display department. Many industry insiders and consumers were hoping Apple would implement its lauded Retina display within the next iteration of the Air, but as Cook & Co. were quick to point out during the company’s recent press conference, only the new MacBook will be retrofitted with the 2,304 x 1,440-pixel display. The Air will still utilize the same 13.3-inch LED-backlit display which we’ve grown accustomed to, offering a mere 1,440 x 900 pixels worth of resolution.


Needless to say, there are striking design contrasts between the MacBook and the Air. In essence, the refreshed MacBook showcases the same aluminum uni-body construction of the Air, only it’s substantially thinner and lighter than its like-minded counterpart. It measures a mere 0.52 inches at its thickest point and weighs just over 2 pounds, while the Air measures 0.68 inches at its thickest point and weighs nearly 3 pounds.

The fan-less build of the MacBook also allows it to do away with the fan vents hidden in the Air’s hinge, and ultimately, lets it achieve its oh-so-sleek frame. The smattering of colors in which the MacBook is available —  silver, space gray, and gold — only broaden it’s appeal in the same way Apple did with the iPhone 5S.

However, the MacBook also features a redesigned keyboard and trackpad. The full-size keyboard on MacBook features butterfly switches instead of traditional scissor-switch mechanisms, which Apple claims adds greater stability and allows for a better distribution of force when typing. The touchpad, on the other hand, features haptic feedback and uses corner-mounted force sensors to provide you with a more uniform click no matter where you press down.

The Air utilizes the same backlit keyboard it always has, one that is slightly smaller than full-size and uses the entire surface as a levered button. The updates to the keyboard and touchpad aren’t revolutionary, especially to those who have no qualms with the keyboard on the Air, but it still remains worth noting.


Regardless of your preference, you don’t have to wait longer for either offering. The MacBook is set for release on April 10, starting at $1,300, while the newly-announced Air is already on sale through Apple’s website starting at $1,000.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that the above comparison is based on a 13-inch Air and the base configuration — the cheapest iteration — of the forthcoming MacBook. The baseline, 13-inch Air may not be the most comparable in terms of price, but it touts all the aforementioned features and hardware for a mere $1,000.

You can always opt for a better-equipped Air if you’re in need of additional storage, or the cheaper offering if you don’t mind taking a hit when it comes to screen size and battery capacity. There’s also the 11-inch Air, which starts at $900, but of course has a smaller display.


The MacBook Air is probably a better deal. It boasts more processing power and a better selection of ports, not to mention longer battery life and better graphics capabilities.

The base configuration of the new MacBook does offer a healthy amount of RAM and a beautiful Retina display, along with an ultra-thin exterior, but neither hallmark is going win over most consumers when the 13-inch MacBook Air is priced $300 lower.

Design is the MacBook’s selling point, and the wild card. It’s beautiful, it’s thin, it’s light. If you want the coolest notebook around it’s the way to go. From a practical standpoint, though, the Air has an advantage.

Brandon Widder
Brandon Widder is a multimedia journalist and a staff writer for Digital Trends where he covers technology news, how-to…
Best laptop deals: Save on the Dell XPS 14, MacBook Pro 16 and more
The Dell XPS 14 on a white table with the screen open.

There are a lot of excellent laptop brands on the market, and if you're looking to pick up a new laptop, then you'll be happy to know that there are a huge ton of options out there, and there are a surprising amount of deals to be had. While it's true that desktop computers tend to offer a lot more in terms of specs, they aren't as portable, and for those who need to take their computers to work or school, the laptop is the only choice. On the bright side, you don't have to get one of the best laptops to get a well-specced machine, and that's part of the reason why we've collected some of our favorites below.
Since we've collected these deals from the best brands, you'll find HP laptop deals, Dell laptop deals, Acer laptop deals, Lenovo laptop deals, and more. They run the gamut from Chromebook deals and 2-in-1 laptop deals to powerful gaming laptop deals and everything in between.

HP Chromebook 14a -- $300, was $370

Read more
Best Apple deals: Save on AirPods, Apple Watch, iPad, MacBook
Apple MacBook Air M1 open, on a table.

Apple is one of the biggest companies in the world, and if you're looking for some great tech, then you probably already know that Apple makes some of the best wireless earbuds, the best smartwatches, the best laptops, and even the best tablets. That said, it does also garner a very premium price tag, which is a pretty big part of the brand itself, meaning that for a lot of folks in the Apple ecosystem, making any sort of upgrade or expansion to that ecosystem can be very costly. On the bright side, there are a ton of great Apple deals out there in the world, whether it's trade-in value from Apple, or direct discounts from Amazon and Best Buy, you have options.

That's why we've gone out and searched through various big retailers to find you some of the best deals we can find. That includes everything from the MacBook deals, AirPods deals, Apple TV deals and Apple Watch deals to the AirTag, so hopefully, you can find the perfect deal that fits your needs and budget.
Apple AirTag (4-Pack) -- $79, was $99

Read more
MacOS Sequoia release date: Here’s when your Mac will get the update
macOS 15 features.

During Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2024 keynote, we got our first look at the latest macOS version, macOS 15 -- otherwise known as Sequoia.

The update is bringing the exciting new customization features from iPadOS 18 and iOS 18, as well as iPhone mirroring, iPhone notifications, window tiling, Safari updates, and a new password app. Plus, a load of these features will be powered by the new Apple Intelligence.

Read more