Apple @ Work: MacBook Air vs. MacBook Pro 14 “- Which One is Best for Business Users?

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While we are still waiting for the Apple Silicon Mac Pro and possibly the upgraded Pro models of the Mac Mini and iMac, we now have full visibility into Apple’s plans for the laptop line. The question people are asking now: What is the best laptop for business customers: MacBook Air or MacBook Pro?

About Apple @ Work: Bradley Chambers managed a corporate IT network from 2009 to 2021. With his experience in the deployment and management of firewalls, switches, mobile device management system, Wi-Fi network Corporate Fi, Hundreds of Macs, and Hundreds of iPads, Bradley to Highlight Ways Apple CIOs Deploy Apple Devices, Build Networks to Support Them, Train Users, Stories IT management trenches and ways Apple could improve its products for IT departments.


A look back at Pro vs Air

Back on the Intel lineup, many users without demanding needs have opted for Pro laptops to have more ports than Air, higher screen resolution, or a little more power. I have been in this camp for many years. I’m not a developer, designer, or video editor of any kind, so I don’t have “Pro” needs, but I’ve opted for the MacBook Pro time and time again.

Current IT configuration

When Apple released the 2020 MacBook Air model with the M1 chip, I immediately sold my current laptop and ordered it. Honestly, I have never been happier with a computer in my life. Of course, we should still feel this if we upgrade to a new model, but it hasn’t always been the case, especially when it comes to Butterfly keyboards from previous models.

I have really enjoyed the daily use of the MacBook Air for work, play, and the like over the past year or so. However, with the release of the 2021 14 “MacBook Pro and 16” MacBook Pro with an upgraded processor, I took a close look at my daily needs as well as the ports I would like to have on my daily driver.

Simplified IT life

One of my goals for this year was to streamline my IT life. I work from home, so I’m not always in the exact same place every day. Some days I’m at the desk in my room. The others, I’ll be in the kitchen. Finally, one or two days a week, I go out of my house to a cafe.

As part of this goal, I got rid of my external monitor, keyboard, and mouse. I wanted to make my laptop the only computing device, so I had to adjust my workflow to that reality. During this process I realized I was OK with only two ports on my computer. I mainly use it to charge my laptop and phone when I’m away from home. I plug in a USB hard drive once a month to run a Time Machine backup, but otherwise I don’t use a lot of accessories.

Enough power

When I compared the power of the MacBook Pro to that of the MacBook Air, I was a little jealous, but when I looked at my computer workflows, I realized that the Air has enough power for my needs for the next few years. Sure, the Pro would be great, but I also really like the Air’s form factor.

MacBook Air vs Pro: which is better for business?

When I look at which computers are best for business customers, I look at large-scale and volume purchases. For example, if your business usually buys MacBook Pros for 100 employees and you plan to move 75% of them to Airs on your next lease, how much money would you save?

For this exercise, I am considering the original MacBook Air versus the original 14-inch MacBook Pro.

If you bought 75 MacBooks Air for $ 999, you would be $ 74,925 before taxes. The 25 additional 14-inch MacBook Pros would cost $ 49,975. Thus, the total purchase would be $ 124,900 before MDM license, taxes, AppleCare, etc.

If you run the same exercise with all 14 “MacBook Pros, you would be $ 199,900. That’s a big jump in price. When you look at the ROI of buying Pro in the business, this just doesn’t make sense. Are the 14 “and 16” Pros incredible computers? Absolutely, but the MacBook Air is fantastic for the power / price ratio.

I like what Apple has done with the MacBook line. It lowers the power / price ratio on the low end while offering attractive options on the high end. I would dare say that the original MacBook Air would suffice for professional use for almost everyone apart from developers, video editors, photographers, etc. So when looking at Macs for work, go for Air unless there’s a reason to upgrade to Pro. With a hugely convincing low-cost Mac, Apple has made it easier to justify buying Macs in business.

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Maria D. Ervin