One of the original pioneers of mainstream home PCs, Apple continues to produce high-quality products with focuses on user experience and satisfaction. Their streamlined hardware and software ecosystem is engineered to make installing and using new programs a breeze, with a number of programs and mobile apps uniquely tailored to Apple machines.
The best MacBook right now is the Apple MacBook Pro M1, which is outfitted with the company’s first in-house-developed chipset, the M1. It offers above-average battery life and impressive performance, especially for its size.
If you’ve used Apple products for a while, then you’re already in the know when it comes to their premium user experience. Apple prides itself on design, from the physical construction of their products to the look and feel of their software.
Unlike other operating systems like Microsoft Windows, macOS and its mobile relative, iOS, don’t make you jump through hoops or navigate endless menus to find the settings needed to get your device running exactly how you want it. This is due partly to its user-friendly design and partly due to the relatively locked down software ecosystem in general. Because there are only a few possible hardware configurations across each generation of MacBooks, quite a few apps are optimized to Apple’s operating systems.
In fact, Apple as a whole is pretty familiar with booting untrustworthy programs from the App Store. This leads to a high level of efficiency and a long effective lifespan for MacBooks in addition to greatly increased security compared to more open-ended operating systems.
One deliberate choice Apple made with the most recent MacBooks was the removal of all physical connectors aside from USB-C ports and a headphone jack. Some users aren’t thrilled about this. Luckily, there’s no shortage of USB hubs that can mitigate the problem and add more than enough connectors for most uses.
One thing that stands out about Apple’s products is how good the screens look. In particular, the Retina display new MacBooks offer looks better than many other laptop screens on the market. The resolution is so high it’s basically impossible to pick out individual pixels, and the color volume is almost unmatched among laptops, making MacBooks ideal for watching movies and editing photos.
The MacBook Pro line has always showcased Apple’s top-of-the-line mobile computing hardware. In generations past, this included a powerful discrete graphics card, options to include huge amounts of RAM, and a multi-core Intel CPU capable of tackling the most demanding tasks with ease. The MacBook Air, on the other hand, has always prioritized portability and a sleek form factor over raw processing power. This is still the case in 2021, although the latest lineup of MacBooks with Apple’s M1 chipset saw the performance difference decrease somewhat.
The lack of physical connection ports on the MacBook extends farther than just USB-A connectors. Following in the footsteps of the iPhone, Apple’s 2020 MacBook releases also lack an integrated SD card reader. For that reason, make sure you select a model that has enough storage space for your needs, as your only other option for expanding the storage of the current releases is carrying an external drive.
The mid-range MacBook Air is the cheapest option, starting at roughly $1,000. For a high-powered MacBook Pro, you’re looking at up to about $4,000 for highest-performing configuration.
A. Rumor has it that Apple will announce a new lineup of MacBooks in October 2021. They’ll be powered by a new edition of the M1 chipset called either the M1X or M2. In addition to increased power and efficiency, the return of the SD card slot and HDMI connector are also highly anticipated. There’s even a good chance they’ll introduce a 14-inch model, going up against some of today’s top 14-inch Windows laptops.
A. All MacBooks can handle low-intensity games like “Stardew Valley” without difficulty. Older MacBook Pros with powerful, discrete Radeon GPUs can play a handful of AAA games that have explicit macOS compatibility built-in. The Apple M1 chipset also boasts impressive integrated GPU performance, and although it’s not on the level of a discrete graphics card, there’s a decent selection of fun games available in the App Store.
However, don’t look for a MacBook with the expectation of playing resource-intensive titles released in the last few years. MacBooks are more commonly used for productivity tasks like remote work, music and video production, browsing the web and making video calls.
What you need to know: This premium model showcases one of Apple’s most streamlined, efficient designs yet.
What you’ll love: The new MacBook Pro M1’s process and GPU combo is one of the most efficient APUs that’s likely ever been released. The combination of its impressive efficiency and Apple’s locked-down software ecosystem mean that even demanding software like video editing suites runs relatively smoothly. This top-of-the-line model also offers impressive advanced features, like a studio-quality microphone array and surprisingly good speakers with Dolby Atmos support.
What you should consider: It’s not cheap, and the lack of an HDMI port and SD card reader frustrates some users, especially photographers.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
What you need to know: This 13-inch, ultraportable laptop is about as sleek and lightweight as anything else you’ll find.
What you’ll love: While you can save money by opting for the Air instead of the Pro, you’ll also get relatively comparable performance. The latest MacBook Air M1 actually shares quite a bit in common with its slightly more expensive relative, including an identical CPU, very similar GPU and a screen that’s every bit as good.
What you should consider: Without active cooling, like what’s found in the Pro model, the Air can’t sustain peak speeds for as long without experiencing thermal throttling.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
What you need to know: The last of Apple’s Intel-based releases, this is the one to choose if you’re crunching massive amounts of data on a day-to-day basis.
What you’ll love: You can outfit the 16-inch MacBook Pro with some seriously impressive hardware, including one of the fastest laptop SSDs in history. There are two levels of processor to choose from, and the premium Intel Core i9 does an amazing job with extremely resource-intensive jobs like encoding video.
What you should consider: By all accounts, this is an extremely expensive laptop.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Chris Thomas writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.