When comparing MacBook vs Macbook Air 13", the Slant community recommends Macbook Air 13" for most people. In the question“What are the best laptops for programmers who travel/digital nomads?” Macbook Air 13" is ranked 11th while MacBook is ranked 17th. The most important reason people chose Macbook Air 13" is:
OSX is based on XNU (Darwin) kernel, it's [certified Unix](http://www.opengroup.org/openbrand/certificates/1190p.pdf) and arguably a lot more developer friendly than Windows. Development for Unix is native on OS X. There's a large selection of great development tools available for OSX. The operating system itself comes bundled with a powerful terminal emulator, called Terminal. Additionally, Apple provides tools, like Xcode, an IDE that contains a comprehensive collection of tools for developing OSX and iOS software, for free.
Ranked in these QuestionsQuestion Ranking
Pro macOS is developer-friendly
macOS is based on XNU (Darwin) kernel, it's a certified Unix and arguably a lot more developer friendly than Windows. Development for Unix is native on macOS.
There's a large selection of great development tools available for macOS. The operating system itself comes bundled with a powerful terminal emulator, called Terminal. Additionally, Apple provides tools, like Xcode, an IDE that contains a comprehensive collection of tools for developing macOS and iOS software, for free.
You can also install Homebrew, an extremely useful package manager.
Pro Amazing display
Everything about the display is very good - from its high resolution (2304x1440) to the brightness (325 nitts), uniform brightness distribution (90%), and high contrast ratio (1000:1) with over 95% of the sRGB spectrum. Overall, a great display which will come in handy for people who work with visual arts.
Pro Decent battery life
The battery lasts around 7h30m of continuous web browsing which is about average for this class of laptops. Where this laptop's battery truly shines though is under heavy stress where it manages to last an impressive 2h35m under a total stress test (maxed out brightness and processor usage - circumstances that you are likely never going to encounter in the real world).
Pro Extremely portable
The laptop weighs just 2 pounds and is 13.1 mm thin. It's one of the thinnest and lightest laptops on the market and it's extremely portable and easy to carry around.
Pro Decent keyboard
Pro Excellent trackpad
The MacBook has a large 4.4 x 2.7-inch Force Touch trackpad with a Taptic Engine that delivers haptic feedback whenever the user taps on it to give them the impression that they are actually clicking on it. It also supports gestures and multi-finger swiping.
The accuracy is almost perfect and there's virtually no lag or stutter when using the trackpad.
Pro Available in 4 colors
The laptop is available in space gray, gold, silver and rose gold (pink) finishes.
Pro Very good speakers
The speakers, found above the keyboard produce loud and clear sound with minimal to no distortion whatsoever. They can be used for both listening to music and watching movies with no problem at all.
Pro Completely silent operation
Thanks to the Core M processor (which doesn't require a fan) and the SSD storage, there are no moving parts the in MacBook. It will operate in complete silence.
Pro OSX is developer-friendly
OSX is based on XNU (Darwin) kernel, it's certified Unix and arguably a lot more developer friendly than Windows. Development for Unix is native on OS X.
There's a large selection of great development tools available for OSX. The operating system itself comes bundled with a powerful terminal emulator, called Terminal. Additionally, Apple provides tools, like Xcode, an IDE that contains a comprehensive collection of tools for developing OSX and iOS software, for free.
Pro Light and portable
At 1.7cm thick and 3lbs, it's very portable and great for working anywhere.
Pro Solid build quality and elegant design
Macbook Air has a high quality all-aluminum body that looks great and is sturdy enough that worries of accidentally damaging are mostly alleviated. It has a robust lid, well-spaced back-lit keyboard and an excellent button-less trackpad.
Pro Up to 12 hours of battery life
Great for programming on the go as you don't have to worry about the battery dying.
Pro Great trackpad
MBA has an excellent button-less muti-touch trackpad that's highly accurate and comfortable to use.
Pro Great keyboard
The MBA has a well-spaced, back-lit keyboard with convex keys and placed in way that the resting arms on the sides of the trackpad is comfortable.
Con Connecting more than one thing requires a hub
The laptop comes with a single USB-C port that's used for charging as well as any other peripherals or external storage devices. Connecting more than one thing at a time requires using a USB hub.
Con Not very powerful
With an Intel Core M processor, the Macbook isn't a serious development laptop. While it will get the job done for lighter tasks, it will struggle with heavier jobs.
Con Non-free software
Apple doesn't release the source code for most of their software & firmware. This makes it significantly more difficult to customize, automate tasks, and verify security.
Con It's a bit hard to get used to the keyboard
The keys are pretty shallow, with a travel length of just 0.5mm. They still provide good feedback and the writing experience itself is not bad, but it's just a bit hard getting used to, especially if you are coming from a laptop that's not a MacBook.
For a laptop with relatively low specs, the price is quite high.
Con Not designed for upgrades and very hard to fix
To open the case requires a special Apple pentalobe screwdriver and a Torx T5 screwdriver is needed to remove parts. The RAM is soldered on the motherboard so it can't be replaced. Replacing the PCIe M.2 SSD requires buying a special adapter. The battery in the Broadwell Macbook Air (2015) is not glued to the case, so it is easier to replace than in other MacBooks, but it will probably be glued in future models.
Con Requires the use of proprietary firmware
The source code of the firmware isn't available for users to audit or modify.
Con TN LCD Panel means poorer color and a narrower viewing angle
Being a cheaper variant of MacBooks, it uses TN lcd panel instead of IPS. That means it has worse color accuracy and significantly narrower view angles. The panel only musters 60% of the colours in the sRGB gamut, and falls particularly short in the blue regions. As a result, the MacBook Air's struggles to reproduce a huge swathe of blue shades
Con Low resolution screen
The 1440 x 900 screen is behind the expected 1080p screens of most modern ultrabooks.