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    Best Apple Laptops in 2021 (January Reviews)

    Written by:Gadget Review Last Updated: 06 Oct 2020

    To help you find the best Apple laptop for your day-to-day life, whether you are a professional or a student, we have tried out all of the top models, testing them for speed, efficiency and general build quality, taking care to populate the below list with a nice mix of products available at different price points. Generally speaking, we preferred newer models with high quality Intel processors and plenty of bells and whistles, including tons of onboard RAM, solid state drives and touch bars, among other features.

    The best product we tried was easily the 13” Apple MacBook Pro, which offers some stellar specs at a price point just several hundred dollars above the MacBook Air line of laptops, with a speedy 2.4 GHz 8th-Generation quad-core Intel Core i5 processor and an ultra-fast SSD, available in sizes up to 512GB. We also liked the gorgeous 13” Retina display, the long-lasting battery, which offers more than 10 hours of use on a single charge, and a backlit Magic keyboard. Keep reading to learn more about the 13” Apple MacBook Pro and the other items on this list.

    Top 5 Best Apple Laptop

     #1  Apple MacBook Pro 13” Apple Laptop

    Award: TOP PICK

    WHY WE LIKE IT: The 13-inch Macbook Pro is a great pick for those who want a bit more power than what is available with the MacBook Air line, but don’t want to splurge on the updated 16” model (16-inch Macbook Pro), with a beefy Intel processor, a Retina display and a blazing fast SSD drive, up to 2TB.

    Read Full Review: Apple MacBook Pro 13 Review

    Pros
    • Best combination of size & power
    • Speedy Intel processor
    • SSD drive, up to 2TB
    • Intel Iris Plus Graphics Card
    Cons
    • Reasonably portable, 3 lb, but still heavier than Air line
    • Touch Bar is not for everyone
    • Can get overheated with many applications running

    This Apple 13-inch MacBook Pro features a 13” Retina display, which is upgradeable to 15”, and a speedy 2.4 GHz 8th-Generation quad-core Intel Core i5 processor, upgradeable to 2.8 GHz, which we found to be plenty capable of running multiple intensive applications at once. It boasts a fantastic SSD drive, upgradeable to 2TB, and a long-lasting battery that will get you more than ten hours of use on a single charge, which is enough for all-day use. We also found the audio on this Macbook Pro 13-inch to be loud and crisp, particularly for a laptop.

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    Though the weight, at three pounds, is still relatively light for the amount of power on offer, this laptop is still heavier than the MacBook Air. Additionally, it lacks the updated thermal architecture found with the updated 16” model, so unlike the Macbook Pro 16-inch it can overheat with many applications running at once.

     #2  Apple MacBook Air 13” Apple Laptop

    Award: HONORABLE MENTION

    WHY WE LIKE IT: Fantastic all-around laptop that is perfect for students, thanks to a relatively budget-friendly price point, a long-lasting battery, 12 hours on a single charge, and integrated SSD storage, up to 512GB.

    Read Full Review: Apple Macbook Air 13″ (2011) 1.8GHz Review

    Pros
    • Best for students
    • SSD storage up to 512GB
    • 12 hours of battery life
    Cons
    • Not for power users
    • Only 2 Thunderbolt 3 ports
    • Not that much lighter than top pick, though cheaper

    The recently released and updated Apple MacBook Air is a powerful and compact laptop, with plenty of bells and whistles, and is the best MacBook for students, thanks to its relatively budget-friendly price and long-lasting battery, 12 hours on a single charge. It boasts a gorgeous 13.3” Retina display and built-in SSD storage, which is upgradeable to 512GB. Apple has also incorporated Touch ID into the keyboard, as well as Apple’s state of the ar T2 security chip. We also found the camera and the speakers to be of an extremely high quality, making the computer excel with streaming content and Facetiming friends.

    Though the Intel Core i3 processor is perfect for handling basic computing tasks, this computer is not for power users, such as professionals who use their laptops to edit video. Also, there are only two Thunderbolt 3 ports on offer, meaning you’ll likely have to purchase an adapter.

     #3  Apple MacBook Pro 16” Apple Laptop

    Award: BEST FOR POWER USERS

    WHY WE LIKE IT: This is a stunning laptop that is perfect for power users, thanks to a best-in-class Intel processor, thermal dispersion technology that helps keep things cool and a newly designed keyboard with an ESC key and plenty of space for multi-touch gestures.

    Read Full Review: Apple MacBook Pro 16 Review

    Pros
    • Most powerful
    • Thermal dispersion tech helps keep processor cool
    • Newly designed keyboard
    Cons
    • Battery depletes quickly when running intensive apps
    • Nearly 4.5 pounds, depending on upgrades
    • SSD upgradeable to 8TB, but extremely expensive

    The newly updated Apple MacBook Pro 16” model is a beast, with a best-in-class Intel core processor, available in 6 or 8 cores, and four Thunderbolt 3 ports, making this the perfect choice for power users, such as professional video editors. The Retina display is gorgeous and the newly designed keyboard boasts plenty of room for multi-touch gestures and, thankfully, features a physical ESC key. We also loved the newly designed thermal dispersion technology, which helps to keep applications running smoothly even when the computer is running hot.

    Though the battery can get up to 11 hours of use on a single charge in a best case scenario, we found that it actually averaged around six or seven hours, as we tended to use this computer for intensive applications. Additionally, this is a heavy laptop, at around 4.5 pounds.

     #4  Apple MacBook Pro 2017 Apple Laptop

    Award: BEST BUDGET

    WHY WE LIKE IT: Budget-friendly refurbished product, backed with an Amazon guarantee, that includes a 2.3GHz dual-core i5 Intel Core processor that can be overclocked to 3.6GHz and an extremely bright 13.3” Retina display, with SSD storage built-in.

    Read Full Review: Apple MacBook Pro 2017 Review

    Pros
    • Very Portable and affordable
    • Extremely bright Retina display
    • SSD included, up to 256GB
    Cons
    • Refurbished products not for everyone
    • No Touch Bar, though that may be a positive to some
    • On the heavy side, at over 4 lb

    This Apple MacBook Pro is a renewed product, backed by Amazon’s guarantee, making it extremely budget-friendly, while still providing plenty of high end features, including a speedy 2.3GHz dual-core i5 Intel Core processor that can be turbo boosted to 3.6GHz and a bright and gorgeous 13.3” Retina display. We also loved that this 2017/2018 model still has SSD storage built-in, up to 256GB, and includes 8GB of RAM right out of the box.

    This is a refurbished product, which may not suit the needs of every consumer, though it is backed by an Amazon guarantee. Also, this is a much heavier MacBook Pro than the 2019 variant, weighing over 4 pounds.

     #5  Apple MacBook Pro 15” Model Apple Laptop

    Award: BEST PREVIOUS YEAR’S

    WHY WE LIKE IT: Stellar product, originally manufactured in late 2018, though still new, featuring an extremely efficient Intel processor, a gorgeous 15.4” Retina display and built-in SSD storage.

    Read Full Review: Apple MacBook Pro 15 Review

    Pros
    • Very Portable and affordable
    • Extremely bright Retina display
    • SSD storage, up to 512GB
    • Intel core i7 Processor
    Cons
    • Touch Bar not for everyone
    • Around 4 lb
    • Can upgrade to 32GB of RAM, but it is costly

    This Apple MacBook Pro 15” is the 2018 model, meaning it still has plenty of power, making it a great choice for college students. It features an extremely speedy Intel processor, which can be overclocked to 4.8GHz and configured from core i7 to core i9. It also has a stunning 15.4” Retina display and plenty of built-in SSD storage, upgradeable to 512GB.

    This model does include the somewhat controversial Touch Bar, though we found it to be useful in certain scenarios, thanks to recent software updates. Additionally, this is on the heavier side, clocking in at over four pounds.

    How We Decided

    To help narrow down to the above list and discover the Best Macbooks available, we first tested out all of the recently released 2020 MacBook models, ensuring they continued the company’s adherence to quality and high standards. Once we were certain each of the latest models were up to snuff, we began forming the list with various types of consumers in mind. We picked models for power users, college students and all-around average consumers that are already tied into the Apple ecosystem.

    We also made sure to include a couple of products that include the somewhat controversial Touch Bar and some that do not, to suit the tastes of a variety of Apple fans. Each and every product on our list also features a gorgeous Retina display, at varying sizes, and built-in SSD storage, up to 8TB in the case of our number three pick.

    We preferred light and compact laptops, though we also knew that maximum power does come with a trade off in the weight department. We also liked long-lasting batteries, as long as 13 hours of continuous use on a single charge, and plenty of RAM, with a minimum of 8GB and upgradeable to 64GB in most instances. Finally, we liked laptops with plenty of ports, be they Thunderbolt 3, USB 3.0 or HDMI.

    Best Apple Laptop Buyer’s Guide

    The Most Important Features to Consider

    1. Processor and RAM
      Modern Apple laptops, particularly the MacBook Pro line, feature extremely capable Intel processors that are nearly in line with their desktop counterparts. This means they can easily handle intensive applications, such as video editing software and digital audio workstations, such as Logic Pro X. This efficiency is increased by having plenty of onboard RAM. The above computers start with 8GB of RAM but are usually upgradeable to 64GB.
    2. Retina Display
      The infamous Retina display is indeed gorgeous, offering more pixels than the human eye can actually perceive, and available in a wide variety of sizes, up to 16 inches. They are perfect for watching streaming content, such as found on Netflix, and using photo editing software, such as Photoshop. This functionality is further increased by snazzy cameras, allowing for the creation of HD video on the fly.
    3. Touch Bar
      The Apple Touch Bar has been somewhat controversial since it first launched on the MacBook Pro line a couple of years back, though much of that controversy is unearned. Modern Apple laptops have increased the Touch Bar’s functionality significantly, thanks to an updated design and an operating system that truly makes the most out of the feature. If you are truly turned off by the Touch Bar, we made sure to include a couple of options that do not have one.
    4. Additional Features
      These are Apple laptops and, as such, come packed in with plenty of additional bells and whistles, including built-in SSD storage, up to 8TB, and plenty of Thunderbolt 3 ports, as many as four. They also typically feature rich, detailed speakers, with plenty of bass response, and microphones that are perfect for video chatting. Other perks include long-lasting batteries and full access to Apple’s suite of operating software.

    For the best Windows laptop, we have you covered there too.

    Apple Laptop FAQs

    What is the best Apple Laptop to buy?

    We think our top picks cover a lot of ground. If you are looking for something with a bit of oomph, while still remaining somewhat light and budget-friendly, go for our top pick, the MacBook Pro. If you are just looking to browse the web or stream video, go for the MacBook Air. If you are an extreme power user, we’d recommend our number three pick.

    Is MacBook Air or Pro better?

    This depends on what you are using it for. The benefits of the MacBook Air are its form factor, as it is typically lighter than the MacBook Pro, and the relatively low price point. Downsides? MacBook Air laptops are not as upgradeable and underpowered, compared to the MacBook Pro line. Simply put, if you are a student or remote worker who moves around a lot, go with the MacBook Air. If you are a power user, go with the MacBook Pro.

    How long will a MacBook Pro last?

    We have found that the average length of a MacBook Pro is around eight years. This means that purchasing a refurbished model from last year, or the year before, is still extremely worthwhile, in the long run.

    Should I buy a MacBook Pro or a Windows laptop?

    Well, that depends. Apple laptops, including the MacBook pro, are often of an extremely high quality, with full access to the Apple ecosystem, including software such as Logic Pro X and Final Draft Pro. Windows laptops are often more customizable and, typically, much cheaper.

    Why are MacBooks so expensive?

    Apple products have become known for their high prices and the MacBook line of laptops are no exception. They are made from high quality components and are generally considered to be among the highest tier of laptops available for consumer purchase. More than that, however, is simple supply and demand. People will pay the price advertised for them, so they sell for that price.

    What is AMD Radeon Pro?

    Radeon Pro is AMD’s brand of professionally oriented GPUs (graphics processing unit). A GPU is a specialized electronic circuit that rapidly manipulates and alters memory to accelerate the creation of images on a display. The AMD Radeon Pro product line directly competes with Nvidia’s Quadro line.

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    What Else Should You Know About Apple Laptops

    If you’re an Apple aficionado, then bookmark Gadget Review because we cover all that is worth covering with our Apple Laptop reviews. Get news, opinions, and in-depth reviews on the best Apple laptops; don’t miss out on even the smallest update on Apple notebooks. We cover the best Apple watches, can tell you about the best iPhone and we even clue you in about the best laptops for college students.

    Apple’s innovations make news and Gadget Review promises to deliver it to you so that you may enjoy the satisfaction of knowing that Apple’s competitors have still some way to go before they can pose any serious challenge to the Macbook Pro and Macbook Air. Stay abreast of the latest innovations that our Apple laptop reviews explore; such as the Force Touch trackpad, lightning fast flash storage, OS X Yosemite, and the much-vaunted Retina display.

    Read our detailed comparisons of the latest Mac models; if you’re planning on buying a Mac, then we’ve got the tips, technical specifications, and views that will help you make the right purchase decision.

    Also, check out the best gaming laptops and the best laptop bags.