Apple’s MacBooks are some of the most desirable laptops in the world so it’s understandable you are looking to buy the best MacBook for you.
This is down to a combination of Apple’s solid hardware, ever-dependable macOS, and peerless retail and repair experience. The sheer cachet that comes with the Apple brand doesn’t hurt either.
It can be a little tricky navigating the modern MacBook range, however. Apple currently offers six distinct models, and it has just injected some of those with fresh CPU options.
We thought now would be a good time to run through the entire line and identify the best MacBooks for your particular requirements. Note that while we’ve highlighted each of the basic MacBook models, there are additional internal specification options to consider for each.
Apple has two kinds of laptops on offer: the MacBook Air and the MacBook Pro. Within those two categories there are two version of the MacBook Air, four 13in MacBook Pro models, and two 16in MacBook Pro. There are also a number of build-to-order options that you can add such as extra RAM, more storage, or a faster processor.
You could pay anything between £999/$999 to £2,799/$2,799 for a standard Mac laptop (before you add on any build-to-order options).
While generally the Air is considered a machine that is great for home users and students, and the Pro more suited to working environments, there is a lot of crossover – there is even a MacBook Air and a MacBook Pro that share the same price (£1,299/$1,299).
If you’re thinking about buying a new MacBook – MacBook Pro or MacBook Air – there are a lot of factors to consider. One factor is how recently Apple updated the Mac laptop and whether it is likely to be updating it again soon. Another is how the various components compare. And you may have other things that are important like portability and power.
We can answer that first question quickly:
- Apple updated the MacBook Air in March 2020.
- The two 2.0GHz 13in MacBook Pro models were updated in May 2020.
- The other two 13in MacBook Pro models were last updated in July 2019.
- The 16in MacBook Pro was introduced in December 2019.
We anticipate that before the end of 2020 Apple will also update the entry-level 13in MacBook Pros and the 16in MacBook Pro. We may even see a new 14in MacBook Pro.
Best MacBook laptop
1. MacBook Pro
£1279View now at Amazon
If you don’t find Apple’s Touch Bar feature particularly useful or appealing, and you don’t need cutting edge performance, then you can save a lot of money by going for the plain MacBook Pro model.
It has a 13-inch display, 7th generation Intel Core processors with integrated graphics, and just the two Thunderbolt 3 ports versus the Touch Bar model’s four. The clincher is that this entry-level Pro will save you £500 compared to the equivalent MacBook Pro 13-inch with Touch Bar.116
2. MacBook Pro 13-Inch With Touch Bar
£1564View now at Amazon
The 13-inch model of Apple’s flagship MacBook Pro might come in a more compact form than its big brother, but it still packs in the features. They includes the company’s innovative Touch Bar, which replaces the function keys along the top of the machine with something much more versatile.
Touch ID is also part of the package, granting you quick access and authentication with a touch of the finger. Elsewhere you get integrated Intel Iris graphics and 8th generation Intel Core processors as standard.96
3. MacBook Air (2018)
£1069View now at Amazon
The MacBook Air range is legendary, but it remained largely unchanged for a full decade before this fresh model showed up in 2018. It’s an impressively complete laptop, with a super-sharp 13-inch Retina display, punchy sound, exemplary battery life, an 8th-generation Intel Core processor and a neat wedge-shaped form factor.
It’s the MacBook most people should probably go for, thanks to a mixture of portability and decent (if not earth-shattering) performance at a lower price than the Pro.64
4. MacBook Air (2017)
£765View now at Amazon
Apple still sells this older version of the MacBook Air, which was the last to subscribe to the original design blueprint. It looks a little dated now, and its 13-inch screen doesn’t pack in the pixels like the newer Retina display models.
It also uses an older 5th generation Intel Core processor, which is far from cutting edge. But in its defence, the MacBook Air (2017) is a tried and tested machine with stellar battery life, and it’s the only MacBook with an RRP that dips below the £1,000 mark.42
5. MacBook Pro 15-Inch With Touch Bar
£2049View now at Amazon
The current top dog in the MacBook line-up is the MacBook Pro 15-inch with Touch Bar. It now features super-fast 9th generation Intel Core processors with up to 8 cores, as well as discrete Radeon Pro GPUs, speedy SSDs and that titular Touch Bar.
The latter is the big distinguishing feature here. It offers a contextual touch-operated command bar right above the keyboard. Apple has also brought its Touch ID system across from its iOS devices, while a new T2 chip makes the laptop much more secure.34
£1120View now at Amazon
If extreme portability is your priority, the plainly named MacBook could be for you. Its 12-inch screen might be the smallest in the range, but it still reaches Retina levels of sharpness.
Meanwhile it weighs less than a kilogram and will slide into a small bag. When it comes to performance, a 7th-generation Intel Core m3 processor won’t help much with advanced tasks. But it’s perfectly competent at lighter fare like web browsing and word processing, and it’ll last a full work day without running out of juice.