M1 MacBook Air vs MacBook Pro (Late 2013) comparison

It’s no surprise that the latest MacBook Air with an M1 chip is faster than over seven years old MacBook Pro. But the question is, how much faster? I did some tests to find out. 

I recently switched from MacBook Pro 13” (Late 2013) to MacBook Air (Late 2020) with an M1 chip and wrote about first impressions with a new machine. Now I am going to provide some performance comparisons between the two laptops. Both devices have 8 GB of RAM, while Pro has 256 GB SSD and Macbook Air 512 GB. 

Geekbench 5 score

The first test I did was in the popular benchmarking tool – Geekbench 5. The results are not surprising, Air with M1 chip scored much higher and even its single-core performance is better than the multi-core performance of the old Macbook Pro 2013. When we compare multi-core performances, it’s 5:1 ratio in favor of Macbook Air. The full scores can be seen in the table below:

Single-core scoreMulti-core score
MacBook Pro 20136751453
MacBook Air with M1 chip17277597

Real-world performance

But in reality, Geekbench scores are just numbers and don’t tell a whole story about performance. So I did two more tests, which show how much faster the new M1 Air is in a real-life scenario. 

I opened a photo in Pixelmator Pro (1024 x 768, 98 kB) and used a feature called ML Super Resolution. This feature is using machine learning to increase the resolution of an image. The MacBook Air with M1 chip was able to do this task in 2,22 seconds, while it took my old Pro 34,94 seconds to finish the task. When I tried to increase the resolution of an even bigger image, the MacBook Pro took minutes instead of seconds and the fan was spinning at full speed.

Another test I did was exporting a Full HD video in iMovie. It was nothing special, just a three-minute video with some transitions and captions. MacBook Air was done with the exporting in 53,65 seconds and MacBook Pro was much slower, finishing the job in 2 minutes and 56 seconds.

Disk Speed Test

In the end, I compared SSD speeds. MacBook Air was known in recent years for lower SSD speeds than its sibling MacBook Pro, but not this time. Both, write and read speeds are attacking the 3 000 MB/s thresholds. Again, it’s no surprise that a seven-year-old laptop is scoring worse, with over 400 MB/s write speed and over 500 MB/s read speed in the case of Macbook Pro.

Macbook Air vs Macbook Pro disk speeds comparison
Macbook Air (left) vs Macbook Pro 2013 (right)

No matter the task, an M1 chip is flying through it. I am still surprised how much faster the new Air is than my MacBook Pro from 2013. If you are thinking about upgrading to the latest MacBooks with an M1 chip, it’s totally worth it, even more, if your Mac is older than five years old.