To find the best Macbooks for college, you’ll need to determine the features that are right for you and your setup, no matter what kind of studying you plan to do. We recommend that you favor Macbook laptops with high-grade processors and enough RAM to ensure you can have multiple applications running at the same time. Make sure to also consider the form factor, as a light and thin laptop will be better for portability and transport. When buying a Macbook for college students, always look for a powerful processor, a good amount of RAM, and a long-lasting battery.

After analyzing hundreds of reviews amongst a multitude of products with varying price points and features, we’ve determined that the 13” Apple MacBook Pro is the best Macbook for college on the market today. Keep reading about this and our other top picks to learn more.

Top 10 Best Macbooks for College

 #1  Apple MacBook Pro 13” for College

Award: TOP PICK

WHY WE LIKE IT: The Apple Macbook Pro is iconic for a reason, it boasts enough power for scholarly pursuits and is also a great option for video editors, music producers, and other creative types.

Pros
  • Intel quad-core processor
  • 8GB of RAM
  • 256GB SSD
Cons
  • Touch Bar may not be for everyone
  • Specs must be upgraded at point of purchase

The Apple Macbook Pro is the best Macbook for college students, thanks to a suite of robust features that include a powerful eighth-generation Intel quad-core processor, 8GB of dedicated DDR4 RAM, and a large and speedy 256GB solid-state drive. We also appreciated the gorgeous 13-inch Retina display and the backlit keyboard, the latter making this laptop a great choice for use in lowly lit rooms.

This is the model with the touch bar, however, and its functionality may not be for everyone. Additionally, if you want more RAM or storage, you’ll have to perform the upgrade upon purchase, as you cannot perform upgrades once it has arrived.

 #2  Apple Macbook Air 13” for College

Award: HONORABLE MENTION

WHY WE LIKE IT: Extremely light and compact form factor, weighing just over 2.5lb, with a feature set that includes 8GB of dedicated RAM and a large and speedy 256GB solid-state drive.

Pros
  • Extremely light and compact
  • 8GB of RAM and 256GB SSD
  • 256GB SSD
Cons
  • Processor not as powerful as Pro models
  • Upgrades must be performed at point of purchase

The Apple Macbook Air is incredibly thin and light, weighing just over 2.5 pounds, making it a great choice for carrying around a college campus all day. The specs here are great, thanks to 8GB of RAM, an Intel Core processor, and a large and speedy 256GB solid-state drive. We also appreciated the fantastic stereo speakers that ship with the Air, which provides plenty of bass boost and audio boost functionalities.

Though the Intel Core processor here is certainly powerful to handle most college-related tasks, it is not quite as powerful as the processors found with Macbook Pros. Also, any upgrades you want to make to RAM or storage must be done at the point of purchase, as post-purchase upgrades cannot be performed due to the nature of the components.

 #3  Apple Macbook Pro M1 13” for College

Award: BEST QUALITY

WHY WE LIKE IT: Features the incredibly powerful Apple-manufactured 8-core M1 processor chip and a host of other advanced features, including 8GB of dedicated RAM and a speedy 256GB solid-state drive.

Pros
  • Battery can last for up to 20 hours
  • Powerful eight-core M1 processor
  • 8GB of RAM and 256GB SSD
Cons
  • 13” display on smaller side
  • Must be upgraded at point of purchase

The Apple Macbook Pro M1 is of exceptional quality and perfect for students looking for the perfect marriage between power and form factor. The proprietary quad-core M1 processor chip is incredibly efficient and works to prolong the battery life, as the built-in lithium-ion battery can get nearly 20 hours of use per charge. We also appreciated the other specs here, including the 8GB of dedicated RAM and the 256GB solid-state drive.

Though there is also an 8-core GPU, for increased graphics, the 13-inch display is on the smaller side, which could impact streaming movies and the like. Additionally, all upgrades, be they RAM or storage, must be made upon purchase.

 #4  Apple Macbook Air M1 13” for College

Award: BEST QUIET DESIGN

WHY WE LIKE IT: Extremely quiet design, thanks to a fanless design, with powerful specs that include the company’s proprietary M1 processor, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of solid-state storage.

Pros
  • Battery lasts up to 18 hours
  • Powerful M1 CPU chipset
  • 8GB of RAM and 256GB SSD
Cons
  • 13” display on smaller side
  • Weighs over 4lb

The Apple Macbook Air M1 is the quietest laptop that the company has ever made, as it does not feature a cooling fan of any kind. This is made possible by the inclusion of the company’s proprietary M1 processor chip, which increases efficiency and, as such, decreases internal heat. The specs here are absolutely on point, with the aforementioned M1 processor, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of solid-state storage. The battery is also incredibly long-lasting, going for up to 18 hours before needing a recharge.

Though the 13-inch display on this 2020 Macbook Air is gorgeous, it is on the smaller side, which is something to consider before making a purchase. These Macbook Airs are a bit heavier than previous models, however, at nearly 4.5 pounds.

 #5  Apple Macbook Pro 16” for College

Award: BEST DISPLAY

WHY WE LIKE IT: Comes with a large and gorgeous 16” Retina display with True Tone technology, in addition to offering a powerful Intel processor, an AMD Radeon graphics card and 16GB of RAM.

Pros
  • AMD Radeon Pro 5300M graphics card
  • 16GB of RAM
  • 6 stereo speakers for a fantastic audio
Cons
  • Touch Bar may not be for everyone
  • On the expensive side
  • Heavy, at around 8lb

This Macbook Pro boasts an incredibly large 16-inch Retina display, which is assisted by the company’s proprietary True Tone technology to deliver bright and vivid visuals. The specs here are fantastic, thanks to a powerful Intel processor, the AMD Radeon Pro 5300M graphics card, 16GB of dedicated RAM, and a 512GB solid-state drive. We also appreciated the 6-speaker sound system, which provides for a truly immersive audio experience.

This is an expensive 16-inch Macbook Pro, however, likely due to the advanced feature set. Additionally, this is a heavier-than-average Macbook, clocking in at around eight pounds.

 #6  Apple Macbook Air i5 13” for College

Award: BEST PORTABLE DESIGN

WHY WE LIKE IT: Extremely portable and compact design, weighing just over 2lb, with high-end features such as 8GB of RAM, 128GB of SSD storage, and a dual-core Intel Core i5 processor.

Pros
  • Powerful Intel processor
  • 8GB of RAM
  • 128GB of solid-state storage
Cons
  • No Retina display
  • Screen on smaller side at 13”

This Apple Macbook Air is built for portability and ease-of-transport, as it features a slim and thin form factor and a low weight, clocking in at just over two pounds. The specs here are decent, thanks to a powerful Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of dedicated RAM, and 128GB of solid-state storage. We also appreciated the fantastic lithium battery, which can go for more than ten hours without needing a recharge.

Though the display is FHD and gorgeous, it is not technically a Retina display, which may be off-putting for some consumers. Also, this display is on the smaller side, coming in at just 13-inches wide.

 #7  Apple Macbook i9 16” for College

Award: BEST SSD

WHY WE LIKE IT: Ships with a large and speedy 1TB solid-state drive, in addition to offering incredible features such as an Intel Core i9 processor and 16GB of dedicated RAM.

Pros
  • Large Retina display
  • 16GB of RAM
  • Powerful Intel Core i9 processor
Cons
  • Extremely expensive
  • Weighs around 8lb

This Macbook Pro comes with a stunning amount of solid-state storage, 1TB, in addition to featuring an ultra-powerful tenth-generation Intel Core i9 processor. Other impressive specs include 16GB of dedicated RAM and an excellent battery that can go around nine hours before needing a recharge. We also appreciated the large and gorgeous Retina display, which clocks in at 16-inches wide.

This is an extremely expensive Macbook, however, like due to the advanced specs on offer. It is also a heavy laptop, weighing around eight pounds, which could impact portability.

 #8  Apple Macbook Pro i7 15” for College

Award: BEST CONNECTION OPTIONS

WHY WE LIKE IT: Ships with a nice array of ports and connection options, including 4 Thunderbolt 3 ports, with a powerful 9th gen Intel Core i7 processor and 16GB of RAM.

Pros
  • Powerful Intel Core i7 processor
  • 16GB of RAM
  • 256GB SSD
Cons
  • Weighs nearly 7lb
  • Battery life takes a hit when running advanced apps

This Macbook Pro is a great choice for those who like to plug in accessories as part of their workflow, as it ships with four Thunderbolt 3 ports and integrates nicely with modern Bluetooth standards. The specs here are on point, with a powerful Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of dedicated RAM, and a speedy 256GB solid-state drive. We also appreciated the large and gorgeous Retina display, which comes in at 15-inches wide.

This is a fairly heavy laptop, however, as it weighs around seven pounds, which could impede ease-of-transport. Also, the battery life here is decent while surfing the web, nearly ten hours, but that metric decreases considerably once you start using advanced software, such as Logic Pro X or Final Cut Pro.

 #9  Macbook Pro i5 13” for College

Award: BEST VALUE

WHY WE LIKE IT: Value-conscious Macbook with a suite of powerful features, such as an Intel Dual-Core i5 processor, 8GB of dedicated RAM, and 256GB of solid-state storage.

Pros
  • 2.7 GHz dual-core processor
  • 8GB of RAM
  • 256GB SSD
Cons
  • Retina display is gorgeous, but only 13.3”
  • Upgrades must be conducted at point of purchase

This Macbook Pro ships at a value-friendly price while offering a robust feature set in line with more expensive competitors, including a powerful 10th gen 2.7 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor that can turbo boost up to 3.1 GHz. The related specs are also decent, thanks to 8GB of dedicated RAM, 256GB of solid-state storage, and a lithium battery that can last up to ten hours on a single charge.

Though the Retina display on this 13-inch Macbook Pro is gorgeous, it is on the smaller side, at only 13.3-inches wide. Additionally, any upgrades you want to perform to the RAM or storage must be done at the point of purchase, due to the fused nature of the design.

 #10  Macbook Air i5 13” for College

Award: BEST ON A BUDGET

WHY WE LIKE IT: Budget-friendly laptop that still packs a wallop, with 8GB of RAM, an Intel Core i5 processor, 128GB of solid-state storage, and a fantastic battery that can go nearly 12 hours without needing a recharge.

Pros
  • Battery lasts nearly 12 hours
  • 128GB SSD and 8GB of RAM
  • Efficient Intel Core i5 processor
Cons
  • Speakers on the weaker side
  • Over 4lb

This Macbook Air comes in at a budget-conscious price while still offering features in line with some of the newer and more expensive models, including a powerful Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of dedicated RAM, and 128GB of solid-state storage. We also appreciated the excellent lithium battery, which can last up to twelve hours before needing to hit a power outlet for a recharge.

Due to the fact that this is an older budget Macbook Air, the speakers have not been updated and, as such, are on the weaker side. Also, this is a fairly heavy Macbook, clocking in at nearly 4.5 pounds.

How We Decided

To help narrow down to the above list, we thoroughly researched a number of Macbooks to ensure that they were perfect for college students and students of all stripes. To that end, we liked Macbooks with long-lasting lithium batteries that can easily last an entire day before needing a recharge.

We also liked relatively light and thin Macbooks that don’t take up a lot of space, as these are generally better for stuffing into a backpack and going about your day on campus. Specs were an important consideration and we made sure to choose computers with powerful processors, plenty of dedicated RAM for multitasking with options to upgrade up to 64GB of RAM, and large and efficient solid-state storage drives.

These are Macbooks, so we also liked large and gorgeous Retina displays that offered plenty of screen real estate at extremely high resolutions. We also liked laptops with plenty of ports and connectivity options and those with HD webcams, for video chatting friends and family, and loud and booming stereo speakers. Fantastic keyboards were also welcome, as these Magic Keyboards offer quiet and reliable typing.

Best Macbooks for College Buyer’s Guide

The Most Important Features to Consider

  1. Weight and Battery
    If you are to be using a Macbook on a college campus, you will want to ensure that it is light enough to make short work out of lugging it around from class to class and to the cafeteria. Generally speaking, newer Macbooks tend to be lighter, as the company has gotten more efficient at cutting weight without cutting specs. Additionally, you’ll want a long-lasting battery that can go all day without needing a recharge, and a thin form factor that doesn’t take up a lot of space.
  2. Specs
    Advanced specs are important when it comes to choosing a Macbook. Typically, the Macbook Air line is slightly less powerful than the Macbook Pro line, though results vary from model to model. In short, just look for a powerful processor manufactured by either Intel or Apple and plenty of dedicated RAM for the purposes of multitasking. You’ll also want to make sure that the storage is fast, so we’d opt for a computer that features a solid-state drive.
  3. Additional Features
    Modern Macbooks are filled with additional features that are great for education, such as gorgeous Retina displays, loud and crisp stereo speakers, and HD webcams, for video chatting with friends and family. Other additional features include Touch Bars and Touch Pads, offering some light touch-based interactivity, and plenty of Thunderbolt ports and other connection types. Make sure the laptop comes with a high-grade keyboard as well, which should be an Apple-manufactured Magic Keyboard.

Macbooks for College FAQs

What is the best Macbook for college?

The best Macbook for education depends on the student and what they are looking for. No matter your preferences, however, you can’t go wrong with a powerful processor, plenty of RAM, and a large SSD, offering 256GB of storage or more. You’ll also want to make sure the laptop is as light as possible, for the purposes of transport. Make sure the Macbook you choose features a Magic Keyboard and Touch ID, in addition to offering the ability to run the latest Mac operating system.

Is a Macbook good for college students?

Absolutely. Macbooks are fantastic for college students, no matter if your preferences lay with the Air line or the Pro line. Modern Apple laptops are powerful, relatively light, and come with fantastic batteries that can go all day without needing a recharge, even when considering a base model. They are great for studying, video editing, and music-making, among other tasks. The price of these laptops can be higher than Windows laptops.

Which is better, the Macbook Air or the Macbook Pro?

In recent years the line between these two Macbook models have blurred significantly. Typically, Macbook Pro laptops offer slightly more power but are somewhat heavier than Macbook Air laptops. At the end of the day, it depends on personal preference as to which is the best Mac for students. Most modern Macbooks feature gorgeous screens that are perfect for school attendees.

Do Macbook laptops have good battery life?

Yes, they do. Modern Macbook laptops, be they Macbook Pros or Macbook Airs, boast excellent lithium batteries that can last at least nine or ten hours without needing a recharge. This long battery life makes them great for college students, as do their gorgeous Retina screens. If you go to school, a Macbook is a fine choice as they can run Apple’s entire line of software.

Lawrence Bonk

Lawrence Bonk is a copywriter with a decade of experience in the tech space, with columns appearing in Engadget, Huffington Post and CBS, among others. He has a cat named Cinnamon.

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