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November 18, 2022  |  Electronics

Which Macbook is the most affordable?

Apple products are notoriously expensive, even when they're discounted or a few years old. However, you usually get an impressive bang for your buck, even when you go with an older model. That said, affordability isn't just about finding the cheapest MacBook with a digital pulse. You also need to ensure the MacBook you get has the power and capability to get done what you need to get done. After all, you can never afford a cheap computer that crashes before you can save your work.

In this article: MacBook Pro 2022, MacBook Air 2022 and MacBook Pro 2021 16-inch.

Current MacBooks

There are five MacBooks currently in production, split between MacBook Airs and MacBook Pros.

  • There are two MacBook Airs in production: MacBook Air 2020 and MacBook Air 2022.
  • There are three MacBook Pros in production: two MacBook Pros from 2021 and one from 2022.

Memory and data storage

Two of the most important specifications on a MacBook, or any laptop for that matter, are its memory and data storage space.

  • Memory is essentially short-term data storage. A higher memory means your MacBook can have more tabs open on your browser or keep more applications running without issues. MacBooks use unified memory, which means any part of it can access the entire memory space. The smallest memory on MacBooks is 8 gigabytes, while the largest is 64GB.
  • Data storage space is essentially long-term data storage. This is where all your projects, pictures, games and movies are stored. The smallest storage space on MacBooks is 256GB, while the largest is 8 terabytes. You can always connect external data storage solutions if you need more.

Ports

Like all computers, MacBooks can connect to other pieces of technology. The most common way they do this is through Bluetooth, which is a wireless connection technology. But physical connections are typically more stable, so MacBooks also have a varying number of and types of ports.

  • The MacBook Pro 2022 and both MacBook Airs have two USB ports.
  • Both MacBook Pro 2021 models have three USB-C ports, an HDMI port and an SDXC card slot.

Pre-installed software

Among the many reasons one could want a MacBook is for creative work on a high level. In fact, Apple has proprietary software used by professionals in the entertainment industry: Final Cut for film and TV editing and Logic for music production.

When purchasing any MacBook directly from Apple, you can even choose to have the Pro versions of either or both pre-installed and ready for you out of the box. However, it does add to the cost ($300 for Final Cut Pro and $200 for Logic Pro).

Color

MacBooks of all kinds come in several colors. However, which ones you can choose from are determined by the model.

  • Space gray and silver are available on all current MacBooks.
  • Gold and its cousin color Starlight are available on all current MacBook Airs.
  • Midnight, or black, is available on the MacBook Air 2022.

Best MacBooks

MacBook Pro 2022

What you need to know: This is Apple's most recent MacBook Pro, but it's more of an update to the entry-level Pro than a brand-new powerhouse.

What you'll love: It has a 13.3-inch Retina display with Apple's M2 processor. It has up to 24GB of unified memory and up to 2TB of storage. Its battery can last for up to 20 hours in optimal conditions.

What you should consider: It starts at $1,300 with 8GB of memory and 256GB of storage. With maximum memory and storage, it costs $2,500.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

MacBook Pro 2021 16-inch

What you need to know: This is Apple's biggest and beefiest MacBook Pro, but it's also the most expensive.

What you'll love: It has a 16.2-inch Liquid Retina XDR display with Apple's M1 Pro or M1 Max processor. It has up to 64GB of unified memory and up to 8TB of storage. Its battery can last for up to 21 hours in optimal conditions.

What you should consider: It starts at $2,500 with 16GB of memory and 512GB of storage. With maximum memory and storage, it costs $6,100.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

MacBook Pro 2021 14-inch

What you need to know: This MacBook Pro takes most of what makes the 16-inch 2021 Pro great but dials down some notches to hit a lower price.

What you'll love: It has a 14.2-inch Liquid Retina XDR display with Apple's M1 Pro or M1 Max processor. It has up to 64GB of unified memory and up to 8TB of storage. Its battery can last for up to 17 hours in optimal conditions.

What you should consider: It starts at $2,000 with 16GB of memory and 512GB of storage. With maximum memory and storage, it costs $5,900.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

MacBook Air 2022

What you need to know: The MacBook Air is a much-beloved computer by college students for a reason. This is the latest and greatest model.

What you'll love: It has a 13.6-inch Liquid Retina display with Apple's M2 processor. It has up to 24GB of unified memory and up to 2TB of storage. Its battery can last for up to 18 hours in optimal conditions.

What you should consider: It starts at $1,200 with 8GB of memory and 256GB of storage. With maximum memory and storage, it costs $2,500.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

MacBook Air 2020

What you need to know: If you need to save as much money as possible on a new MacBook Air for your next school year, this is what you should be getting.

What you'll love: It has a 13.3-inch Retina display with Apple's M1 processor. It has up to 16GB of unified memory and up to 2TB of storage. Its battery can last for up to 18 hours in optimal conditions.

What you should consider: It starts at $1,000 with 8GB of memory and 256GB of storage. With maximum memory and storage, it costs $2,000.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

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Jordan C. Woika writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.