The MacBook Air spent several years in Apple's doghouse and served as an inexpensive and obsolete entry-level entry into the company's line of notebooks. However, that has only recently changed with an updated version that moves to the latest CPU and migrates to some much better components.
The notebook industry hasn't stood still since the last MacBook Air update, however, and Microsoft's Surface Pro 6 detachable tablet is one of the best examples of how far it has come. Does the redesigned MacBook Air have what it takes to be the best 2-in-1 on the market?
Dan Baker / Digital Trends
The case of the MacBook Air has undergone significant changes this year. It's still the same type of wedge shape that started the thin and light notebook market, but now it's even thinner at 0.16 to 0.63 inches and weighs 2.8 pounds. It's just as sturdy and well built as the rest of the Apple range and comes in three color options: gold, silver, and space gray.
The Air inherits the same third generation butterfly keyboard as the other MacBooks with all of its strengths and weaknesses. If you don't like the keyboard anywhere else, you won't like it here. The touchpad is the same very large Force Touch version, and that's a lot better, and arguably the best there is. Connectivity is another area where the air has "caught up" with its siblings. The USB-A, HDMI and microSD ports are gone, and Thunderbolt 3 only has two USB-C ports.
The Surface Pro 6, on the other hand, continues to display the now iconic aesthetic and craftsmanship of Microsoft's surface design with a silver-gray color of magnesium molded into a sliver of a tablet that's thin (0.33 inches) and light (1.73 pounds). and very robust. The Surface Pro 6 is a solid piece of metal and glass and in the 6th generation the most elegant and modern Windows tablet with the smoothest and most flexible stand. With only one USB-A 3.0 port, a Mini DisplayPort and a Surface Connect port, connectivity is even more limited than with Air. USB-C or Thunderbolt 3 you won't find here.
In terms of input, the Surface Pro 6 is well equipped. The Type Cover costs an additional $ 130, but the keyboard add-on offers a precise mechanism and even backlighting, a superior (if small) Microsoft Precision touchpad with support for all Windows 10 gestures, and a magnetic mount the board and the props at a convenient angle. The $ 100 Surface Pen offers 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity, tilt support, and the fastest response times of any Windows 10 tablet. Of course, the display is also easy to touch.
You can also get the Surface Pro 6 in a sleek black color. We think it offers a superior and more modern design than the MacBook Air. They're both well built, but Microsoft's tablet fits better in today's notebook market.
Riley Young / Digital Trends
The MacBook Air may have a 10th generation Intel CPU, but that's a bit of a mistake. It's a Y-series that is still dual-core and runs at lower power. Apple sourced a special version of the processor that's slightly faster than the Y-series you'll find in other similarly configured notebooks, but can't keep up with the full-performance offerings. However, the PCIe solid state drive (SSD) is ridiculously fast.
One such full-power option is the Surface Pro 6, which also received the 8th generation of Intel processors, just the U series. These are quad-core, eight-threaded CPUs that are both fast and efficient. Microsoft has packed a lot of performance into the tablet area of the Surface Pro 6 and is a fast performer regardless of its form factor. The SSD is also a fast PCIe version that keeps the system loaded with data.
The Air also received an upgrade for its 13.3-inch 16:10 display, which was specially upgraded to retina resolution (2,560 x 1,600 or 227 PPI). This is a welcome change. Unfortunately, the panel chosen by Apple does not meet the usual MacBook standards. At just 291 nits, it's not that bright (compared to more than 500 nits on the MacBook Pro 13), and the contrast and color gamut aren't that impressive.
The Surface Pro 6 has a 12.3-inch display that's incredibly sharp at 2736 x 1824 (267 PPI) and has a productivity-friendly aspect ratio of 3: 2. It also uses Microsoft's latest Pixelsense technology to make the control panel as thin as possible, create images that really pop, and make the press of the pen and fingertip as natural as possible. The display offers over 400 nits of brightness and the best contrast you'll find on a notebook display, though the colors aren't that impressive.
The Surface Pro 6 is faster and has a better display. Enough said.
Dan Baker / Digital Trends
As mentioned above, the MacBook Air is thinner and lighter than ever and a true member of the thin and light category. The Surface Pro 6 is even more portable even if you use the Type Cover, which makes the whole package as portable as the MacBook Air.
However, this is only one aspect of portability. The battery life also affects the usefulness of a notebook in traffic. In this regard, the Air does not meet Apple standards and offers good but not good battery life. The Surface Pro 6 has made some serious strides in its longevity.
In all of our tests, the Microsoft tablet was the device with the longer lifespan. For example, when surfing the Internet, the Surface Pro 6 lasted nine and a half hours to about eight hours in the air. Despite its more powerful processor, the Surface Pro 6 lasted a little longer in our most demanding Basemark web benchmark test.
None of these machines will weigh you down or take up too much space in your backpack. However, the Surface Pro 6 will last longer away from an electrical outlet and reduce the chances of having to carry around a bulky power adapter.
The Surface Pro 6 got the better update
Currently, Apple is unloading its MacBook Air with a Core i3 processor and 8GB of RAM for just $ 899. To sweeten the pot, you can also get a free pair of AirPods with your MacBook Air purchase. It is also possible to upgrade your device for more computing power. However, the base price goes up to $ 1,299 if you want one with a 10th generation quad-core Core i5 and a 512GB SSD. The MacBook Air is the cheapest MacBook you can buy (alongside the entry-level MacBook Pro), although the Y-series processor is under-challenged when compared to Windows 10 laptops in the same price range.
Surface Pro 6 prices start at $ 900 for a platinum-colored Core i5, 8GB of RAM, and a 128GB SSD. However, you have some additional expenses when you want to get the most out of your Surface Pro 6. You'll also need to spend an additional $ 130 on a Type Cover or $ 100 on a Surface Pen. Even if you think you can come by without the "accessories", you will definitely want both if you want to take full advantage of Microsoft's 2-in-1 system. In the upper price bracket, you can spend a maximum of $ 2,300 on a Core i7, 16GB of RAM, and a 1TB SSD, which makes this notebook a very expensive notebook indeed.
If you're a die-hard Apple fan, it probably doesn't make sense to switch to a Windows system, no matter how many features they offer. As an Apple user, you probably won't gain enough to make the transition worth it. However, when you're ready and able to make the transition, the sleek Surface Pro 6 actually offers better performance and flexibility.