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.
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
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.
Related: Check out our best Mackbook for college students.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
For the best Windows laptop, we have you covered there too.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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Also, check out the best gaming laptops and the best laptop bags.
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