25 Key Differences – MacBook Pro 13 Retina Vs Air 11-Inch

MacBook Air 11 and 13 inch on top of each other.
Quite capable, and with a smaller screen, the 11-inch MacBook Air is a fantastic portable writer. Here it is pictured on top of the 13-inch MacBook Air.

I just finished a huge 3GB thirty-three-minute video about the differences between two Apple computers that are both great for writers.

[Page Updated: 1 September 2017]

MacBook Pro 13 with Retina Screen Vs Air 11-inch

Which one is right for you as a writer though? Take a look at these 25 key differences and see which computer makes more sense to you. The choice is not really as obvious as the one with the better screen or keyboard.

The MacBook Pro Retina 13 inch and the MacBook Air 11 inch are obviously different machines, but if you are ready to choose between MacBook notebook computers, you should watch this review.

Now that I own both of these MacBooks, there is no reason I’d ever buy the 13 inch Air. It doesn’t offer anything better than either of these machines. If you’re considering the 13 inch Air – just get the retina 13 Pro. If your eyes are good and you want the ultralight style – get the 11 inch Air. You won’t be unhappy.

Now, if you NEED great resolution to see your photography as you edit, or need the power of a decent processor to render your photo or video edits – get the Pro 13 retina.

Here are 25 differences between these machines that are significant, and that may affect your purchase decision.

I had the Air 11-inch for over a year, and the retina 13-inch for just about forty days now. I have used both extensively. There are some obvious differences between them and not just the size and weight.

MacBook Pro 13-inch Retina screen notebook computer, ideal for writers.
2015 model MacBook Pros are the ones to get, as the keyboard is still awesome. Later models have very shallow keys, and the typing experience is junk.

Here are the 25 Key Differences between MacBook Air and Retina computers:

1. Size and Shape of Screens. 1 1/8″ difference in width. 1 3/8 diff on height. 1 3/4 diff on diagonal.

2. Brightness of Screen, the Pro is considerably brighter.

3. Glare of Screen – black background and lighter. Seems same to me. I don’t see any difference at all. You’ll catch a little more glare just because the size of the screen is bigger, but that’s the only reason. The strength of the glare in my office seems same on both – very little. Using screens outside, there is no real difference.

4. Colors of Screen – miraculous for photo and video editing. You wouldn’t want anything less. Using retina resolution at preferred and others. The best is the default – which looks awesome. Not much different than 11-inch air.

5. Contrast of Screen, straight out of the box, the Retina has black blacks and blue whites. The air has grey blacks and white whites.

6. Clarity of Text on both Screens – no big difference. But the contrast of the retina makes text easier to read. The sharpness of the retina makes very small font much easier to read. The text looks magic, for lack of a better way to describe its quality.

7. Keyboard Key Travel is more on pro. But, nicer to type on the Air.

8. Speed of Typing – 80 wpm on retina. 85 wpm on Air. Spacing a little different. Can get used to either one. I find I’m more accurate on the MacBook Air’s keyboard, it might be because I’ve only had a month on the Pro. I think the difference is due to the key travel differences.

9. Pro Keys are Slightly Harder to Press. More effort needed. Air keys are lighter and yet you know when you pressed a key.

10. Weight is Very Different – picking up, traveling. Pro is not magic. Air feels like magic. Amazing. Macbook Pro after having Air is like having a regular heavy computer.

11. Trackpad Differences? Size – Pro is larger. No palm-rest problems when typing at all.

12. Heat – retina does get warmer. When running full screen Youtube video 1080p. Pro is warmer on top and bottom, Not uncomfortably warm.

13. Size and weight of A/C power cords. Pro’s is larger, heavier.

14. A/C plug magnets much stronger on Pro, annoyingly loose on the Air – but not much effect real-world.

15. Sharpness of palm rest area. raised up height at end of palm rest – some say on the Pro it is a problem.

16. The Angled Keyboard of the Air Feels Nicer.

17. The Shallower Height on the Air Feels Nicer for typing.

18. Air Charges Significantly Faster. That is one thing I definitely noticed. don’t have data on it. Probably takes another hour.

19. Speed between the two on regular program things – no big difference. Browser speeds are very close. Everything is very close, except photo and video editing.

20. Sound Quality – Significant difference. Pro is so much better, especially the deeper tones. Update: I blew my MacBook Pro speakers and had to replace both. Cost: $15 to do myself.

21. Sound Volume – 10 to 15 decibels more on the pro (my guess) through speakers and again, another 10 or more using headphones.

22. Seeing the Bottom of my Writing – the last line – is blocked on Pro Just when typing at desk and I’m slouching like I sometimes do.

23. The SD Card Slot is Nice. All the extra ports are nice on the Pro.

24. Using the Air on your Lap – it’s too damn light and slippery. Using the Pro – it sits on there better.

25. It Feels Like I’m jarring the Pro every time I set it down on something solid. It just feels – sounds – less solid. Wife pushed my MacBook Air off shelf from 5-6 feet and it was fine. The Pro – I’m sure it would be quite a bit more damaged. Air is more solid feeling.

Freebie #1 – the Pro screen opens up 2-3 degrees more than the air. I notice this when I put the MacBook on the floor and sit on the floor with it.

Freebie #2 – DON’T get the TUCANO grey/silver neoprene macbook second-skin sleeve – looks like been through war because it picks up all the dirt. DO get the black one with the charge-up slot, they’re quite durable and thick – offering great protection.

Hope that helps you decide which MacBook computer might be better for you as a writer, or whatever you do.

If you want a great “Big Decision Making Tool” – click here to see my video on how I make all my big decisions about anything. I use it when I decide which computer to buy, phone to buy, or choose between places to move in the world. I wrote a post about this on my AimforAwesome.com site one time and it got 600,000+ readers.

Best Notebook Computers for Writers in 2017? (HERE’S our top 6!)

Here is a video I made about why to buy the MacBook Air 11 or 13-inch. This has even MORE points about these notebooks that you might find interesting.

Writers! Need a new notebook computer? The fine-points of selecting a new notebook with an AWESOME keyboard. Keyboards for Writers.
Best Notebook Computers for Writers in 2017? (HERE'S our top 6!)