MacBook Air vs MacBook Pro

Best
MacBook for Gaming
iMore
2019

Apple MacBooks have never been designed to perform solely as gaming laptops. Despite this, some models are better than others for this type of use. Our favorite current model, the 15-inch MacBook Pro (2019) i7 processor, includes numerous features that make it a terrific device for casual gamers. There are other noteworthy models we’ve gathered to help you choose the one that fits your needs best.

Best Overall: 15-inch MacBook Pro (2019) i7 processor

MacBook Pro 15 inch

For gamers, we’re recommending the least expensive of the two 15-inch models, which includes a 9th-generation Intel Core i7 processor with Turbo Boost up to 4.5GHz. We’re picking this one because it offers a nice mix of features at a price that’s far more affordable than the premium offering we highlight below.

The base 15-inch MacBook Pro comes with 16GB 2400MHz DDR4 memory, 256GB SSD storage, and four Thunderbolt 3 ports. The model comes standard with an AMD Radeon Pro 555X graphics processor and can be upgraded to Radeon Pro 560X for better performance for an extra $100.

On the obvious downside, this is still an expensive laptop. Plus, you’ll need to recharge this laptop more often than the MacBook Air. And like all MacBooks, it isn’t usually on sale at a discount.

Pros:

  • The least expensive 15-inch model
  • Pay only $100 extra for a graphics boost
  • Biggest MacBook Pro display to date

Cons:

  • Still very expensive
  • Not the most powerful MBP you can buy
  • Up to 10 hours wireless web

Best Overall


15-inch MacBook Pro (2019) i7 processor

Largest display for less

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The entry-level 15-inch MacBook Pro is an excellent choice for the occasional computer gamer.

Best Value: MacBook Air (2019)

MacBook Air

At 2.75 pounds, the 2019 MacBook Air is the lightest MacBook currently on the market despite having the same screen size as the smaller of the two MacBook Pro models. Along with being less weighty, the MacBook Air provides two more hours of use between charges, although actual performance depends on what you’re doing.

The entry-level price for the MacBook Air is appealing. However, it comes with drawbacks, starting with having an older and slower processor and less robust graphics card. It also contains fewer Thunderbolt 3 ports than most of the MacBook Pro models.

If you’re purchasing a laptop solely for gaming, this isn’t the one to buy. However, it will work well in a pinch when you need to take a break from your studies or work.

Pros:

  • Same screen size as 13-inch MBP
  • Up to 12 hours of wireless web between charges
  • Price

Cons:

  • Only two Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports
  • Not as powerful as MBP models

Best Value


MacBook Air (2019)

When saving money is critical

Casual-casual gamers will enjoy using this MacBook Air model during the occasional break from work or school.

Best Alternative: 13-inch MacBook Pro (2019)

13-inch MacBook Pro

When it comes to the 13-inch MacBook Pro, $500 separates the base and most complete package. Add more memory, storage, and a better processor, and the price can jump even more. Despite this, the smaller of the two MacBook Pro models has a lot going for it.

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At just over three pounds, the 13-inch MacBook Pro is only slightly heavier than the MacBook Air. For this, you receive a better processor and graphics card, more storage availability, and a Touch Bar. On the downsize, adding an even better graphics card or more storage suddenly pushes this model past the $2,000 mark, which might make you reconsider buying a 13-inch versus 15-inch model.

If you’re comfortable with the 13-inch screen size and less concerned with price, you should buy this model over the MacBook Air. If you intend to spend more than one-fourth of your time gaming, it’s even more vital for you to consider this model over the Air.

Pros:

  • Better internals than MacBook Air
  • Great mobility
  • Much cheaper than the 15-inch model

Cons:

  • You can’t upgrade the graphics card
  • Price can rise quickly as you add components
  • Is 13-inches enough?

Best Alternative


13-inch MacBook Pro (2019)

A step up

There’s much to love about this model, which offers better internals than the MacBook Air.

Best Premium: 15-inch MacBook Pro (2019) i9 processor

MacBook Pro 15-inch

You can elect to go with the 15-inch MacBook Pro with an 8‑core 9th‑generation Intel Core i9 processor and Turbo Boost up to 4.8GHz. For this, you’ll receive a graphics card boost and 512GB of storage versus 256GB of storage found on the base model. If this isn’t enough, you can add more memory, an even better graphics card, and more storage. In doing so, the cost of this model can quickly exceed $5,000.

Pros:

  • Apple’s best MacBook Pro to date
  • Graphics boost, upgrades
  • Up to 32GB of memory available
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Cons:

  • Most expensive MacBook Pro on the market
  • Still only a 15-inch display

Best Premium


15-inch MacBook Pro (2019) i9 processor

The best of the best

If you’re okay with the price, no doubt this is the MacBook to get. Happy gaming!

Bottom line

In 2019, the MacBook lineup shrunk after Apple discontinued the 12-inch MacBook. The change brings to four the number of Apple laptops we recommend for gaming purposes. Our favorite, the 15-inch MacBook Pro (2019) i7 processor, should give you enough power to play your favorite casual computer games. Still, it will cost you, especially if you add extras. It’s still an expensive laptop, which no doubt is something to consider too.

The base model includes a 9th-generation Intel Core i7 processor with Turbo Boost up to 4.5GHz with 16GB 2400MHz DDR4 memory, 256GB SSD storage, and four Thunderbolt 3 ports. The model comes standard with an AMD Radeon Pro 555X graphics processor and can be upgraded to Radeon Pro 560X for better performance for an extra $100.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Bryan M. Wolfe is a dad who loves technology, especially anything new from Apple. Penn State (go Nittany Lions) graduate here, also a huge fan of the New England Patriots. Thanks for reading. @bryanmwolfe

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