Menu
 

BestReviews is reader-supported and may earn an affiliate commission. Details

Best MacBook Laptops

Updated February 2024
Bottom line
Pros
Cons
Best of the Best
Apple MacBook Air 15" with M2 Chip
Apple
2023 MacBook Air 15" with M2 Chip
Check Price
New & Improved
Bottom Line

Lightweight, powerful, and equipped with a beautiful display, this newest offering from Apple really impressed us during trials.

Pros

The 15-inch screen includes a retina display which provides beautiful coloration that really shows when watching videos or editing photos. We love how its versatile design makes it a great choice for students, people working from home, and everyone in between. The keyboard feels great to type on for extended periods.

Cons

Only has two ports, which is extremely limiting, and the MagSafe charging could be a bit faster.

Best Bang for the Buck
Apple 2022 MacBook Air with M2 Chip
Apple
2022 MacBook Air with M2 Chip
Check Price
Best Value
Bottom Line

This updated version of the previous Apple Macbook Pro boasts faster speeds and enhanced battery life

Pros

The keyboard is quieter than the one on the previous MacBook Pro. It also doesn’t run hot. The oversized trackpad is incredibly responsive. Our testing revealed text to be sharper and colors more vibrant than the older model.

Cons

Given the high price point, we felt Apple could have upgraded the webcam.

Apple 2022 MacBook Pro with M2 Chip (13-inch)
Apple
2022 MacBook Pro with M2 Chip (13-inch)
Check Price
Best for Professionals
Bottom Line

Our tests showed that the tried-and-true design of this model combines power and user familiarity with second-generation CPU design at a great price.

Pros

Powered by an M2 processor for improved computing power and efficiency over the already-excellent M1. The fan-based cooling system allows for higher and more sustained performance compared to consumer models. Ports feature pro-speed Thunderbolt standard. Twenty-hour battery life.

Cons

The older design looks a little dated. Only has two ports. The touch bar has detractors.

Apple 2020 MacBook Air with M1 Chip 13-inch, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD Storage
Apple
2020 MacBook Air with M1 Chip
Check Price
Simple Yet Solid
Bottom Line

With impressive battery life, high-end performance, and slick design, this MacBook Air is the thinnest and lightest Apple laptop.

Pros

Reengineered using Apple's proprietary M1 chip, the quiet, fanless MacBook Air is surprisingly powerful for its size and specs. Bright 400-nit screen and Dolby Atmos-capable speakers bring music and movies to life. Up to 18 hours of battery life. Suitable for casual and professional use.

Cons

Two USB-C ports and a headphone jack are all you get.

Apple 2023 MacBook Pro With M2 Pro Chip
Apple
2023 MacBook Pro With M2 Max Chip
Check Price
Best for Experts
Bottom Line

The latest MacBook Pro is perfect for professionals of all types, but especially for creatives.

Pros

The M2 Max chip gives this MacBook the power to handle intense programs such as the entire Adobe suite. It also has a battery life of up to 18 hours and a studio-quality three-mic array. It has several ports, including once each HDMI and SDXC.

Cons

Its screen is only 14.2 inches, which can be small for those used to larger options.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. About BestReviews  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. About BestReviews  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.About BestReviews 
HOW WE TESTED

We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

40
Models
Considered
169
Consumers
Consulted
30
Hours
Researched
Category cover

Buying guide for Best MacBook laptops

Apple’s MacBook line of laptops is the Gold Standard of portable computing — they seamlessly blend power, versatility, and elegant designs to deliver some of the most impressive (and priciest) hardware available. Nowadays, when Apple launches a new feature or design element, you can expect other manufacturers to copy it within six months.

In Apple’s early days, their laptops were often a tough sell, because many Windows-only programs didn’t have functional equivalents for the Mac operating system. But now that most software is web-based, and most developers have Mac-friendly versions of their applications, MacBooks are for everyone.

Whether you’re new to Mac and looking for the perfect introductory MacBook, or you’re a veteran user looking for a good deal on Apple’s latest laptops, you’ve come to the right place. Read on for everything you need to know to find your perfect MacBook.

Person sitting outside with their laptop on table
When Apple’s MacBook line was first introduced, it replaced their popular iBook laptops.

Apple’s product ecosystem

One of the pinnacles of Apple’s success as a company lies in how Apple products seamlessly integrate with one another.

Individually, almost all Apple products are best-in-class devices that set design and usability standards for the rest of the technology industry. But when used together, these products create a user experience that’s more than the sum of its parts.

As you’re deciding which MacBook to buy – or if you’re not sure about buying a Mac at all – consider the benefits of Apple’s connected experience. A MacBook can answer phone calls if connected to an iPhone; it can cast video to or remotely control an Apple TV; and day-to-day tasks like transferring files back and forth between Apple devices are a snap.

The bottom line: If you already own one or more Apple devices, a MacBook can unlock functionality that you wouldn’t get with a Windows, Chrome, or Linux laptop.

Pro or Air?

There are two different kinds of MacBooks: MacBook Pro and MacBook Air.

MacBook Pro

The MacBook Pro line of laptops is exactly what it sounds like: a series of powerful machines designed for professionals. MacBook Pros are where you’ll find the fastest processors, best upgrade options, and larger screens.

If you need a machine that’s dependable enough to count on for your job and fast enough to never make you wait, the MacBook Pro is your best option.

Apple MacBook laptop on table next to coffee cup and sunglasses
Expert TIp
AppleCare+ is worth the cost. Apple’s laptops are well made and generally not prone to breaking down, but accidents happen--and AppleCare+ is one of the few insurance programs that’s worth it for laptops.
BestReviews Electronics Expert

MacBook Air

Apple’s most portable laptop is the MacBook Air, a laptop that sacrifices a few bells and whistles (and is feather-light as a result).

MacBook Airs are great for anyone who travels a lot; the ultra-thin profile fits easily in just about any bag or purse.

MacBook screen sizes

One of the key differentiators between the different available MacBooks is how big their screens are – and MacBook screens can range between 11 and 15.6 inches.

With laptops, the screen size defines the entire machine’s footprint, so as you’re thinking about which MacBook is right for you, consider that you’re also deciding how large of a computer you’re willing to buy.

  • MacBooks with screens between 13- and 16-inches feel almost impossibly thin and small, and that means that while they’re easy to carry around, their keyboards can feel tiny and cramped.

  • Macbooks with 13.3-inch screens are the most popular, most likely because they offer both a larger display and a standard-size keyboard.

MacBooks with 16-inch screens feature Apple’s largest, highest-resolution laptop screens, and they’re ideal for anyone who needs a lot of desktop space and ample room for their wrists to rest. If you plan on using your laptop for using Photoshop, watching Netflix, or any task in which detailed visuals matter, you’ll likely want to get a 16-inch model.

Person browsing internet on MacBook laptop
Expert Tip
MacBooks need antivirus software just like any computer, so be sure to research and install your favorite antivirus app and keep it running consistently.
BestReviews Electronics Expert

MacBook upgrades

When purchasing a MacBook, you’ll have the opportunity to pay more for certain upgrades. Because most MacBooks can’t be upgraded after purchase, it’s important to pick the best upgrades upfront. There are two typical upgrades worth investing in if you can afford to do so: RAM and SSD.

RAM

Random Access Memory, better known as RAM, is the memory that controls how many tasks can run at the same time. Upgrade the RAM as much as you can afford to; laptops with more RAM generally feel much faster. Typically, 8GB of RAM is the minimum amount you should consider.

SSD

Some MacBooks use traditional, platter-based hard disk drives (HDDs), which have moving parts that eventually wear out; higher-end MacBooks are built with solid-state hard drives (SSDs), which use flash-based memory that is much faster and more durable. Buying a MacBook with an SSD will help it last longer and provide a noticeable performance upgrade.

Closed MacBook
Testing Macbook laptops
We researched 12 different Macbook laptops before picking our top 5. We then purchased our favorite model and tested it in our lab.
STAFF
BestReviews

Essential accessories

Half the fun of owning Apple products is getting to pick out the accessories to go with them. Here are our must-have peripherals for MacBook laptops.  

Dock: Hiearcool MacBook Pro Docking Station

It’s no secret that newer MacBooks don’t have a ton of ports; instead, they rely on you to bring your own adapters to connect other gadgets. We prefer to use docks: stations that act as a stand and offer a variety of ports for everything from multiple 4K monitors to an external hard drive or two. The Hiearcool MacBook Pro Docking Station is one of our favorites because it offers every port you could need (including a gigabit network port and an SD card slot), and it’s more affordable than any other comparable model. If you want to set up your MacBook as a workstation, but you still need to be able to grab it and go, this is the dock to get.

Mouse: Apple Magic Mouse

Apple’s own mouse hardware has always been a cut above, and the Magic Mouse definitely earns its place as one of the best models available. It’s got support for gestures, so you can swipe or scroll with ease (but you’ll never have a clunky mouse wheel to wear out). It’s gorgeous, of course, but what we like best is the battery life: it’s rechargeable, and depending on how much you use it, it can last weeks between charges.  

Backpack: Tzowla Travel Laptop Backpack

When it comes to MacBooks, you need to protect your investment, and that’s where the Tzowla Travel Laptop Backpack comes in. It’s got a ton of padding, built-in organization for your laptop gear, and it’s even got a strap for attaching to roller suitcases—which is to say, it’s the perfect traveling companion. If you need a backpack that’s functional, affordable, but still looks good enough to belong with your Mac gear, grab this one.

Bluetooth mouse for MacBook
Expert Tip
MacBooks work with all standard Bluetooth peripherals, so if you’re looking for an external mouse, for example, any Bluetooth mouse will work.
BestReviews Electronics Expert

MacBook prices

When compared to the rest of the laptop market, MacBooks are among the priciest options available. However, it’s important to remember that MacBooks typically last significantly longer than other laptops, and perhaps just as importantly, they hold their resale value quite well.

Consider the following price ranges when budgeting for a new MacBook.

$1,000 to $1,500

In the $1,000 to $1,500 range, you’ll find entry-level and mid-range MacBooks in their base configurations. Keep in mind that crucial upgrades can drive prices up quickly, so when you’re window-shopping, be sure to mentally tack on the cost of upgrades like additional RAM.

$1,500 to $3,000

In the $1,500 to $3,000 range, you’ll find Apple’s most powerful MacBooks that are more than competent, even at their base configurations. And while it may be hard to imagine spending $3,000 on a laptop, a fully loaded MacBook will be one of the fastest laptops available and should remain technically relevant for at least three to five years.

Person using MacBook trackpad
Expert Tip
You can customize your MacBook’s trackpad based on your preferences. For example, by default, “right-clicking” is a two-finger tap on the trackpad, but you can update it so that clicking the lower-left corner “right-clicks” instead
BestReviews Electronics Expert

Tips

Before purchasing a MacBook, consider these tips.

  • If you plan to use your MacBook with peripherals like a mouse or speakers, invest in a dock. Because space is limited on a laptop, every MacBook makes some sacrifices when it comes to the quantity and type of ports it offers. Many users purchase third-party docks, which connect to one port on the laptop and then provide additional ports for networking, storage, additional monitors, and SD cards.

  • When you run your MacBook for the first time, update the operating system before you do anything else. Apple updates their macOS operating system regularly to keep it optimized and secure. When you first power on your MacBook, you’ll be asked a few account setup questions. Once you’re done with that, you can check the App Store for any available macOS updates.

  • If you plan on traveling a lot with your MacBook, buy the right adapters. Many people who travel for work never know when they’re going to need to connect a MacBook to a projector, an iPad, or a power outlet in a foreign country, so buying the right adapters ahead of time is key.

  • Some MacBooks are made with monitor panels that support higher resolutions for an even more gorgeous screen – a feature Apple has dubbed “retina display.” MacBooks with retina displays are more expensive, but the added pixels make them much easier to work with.

  • Apple’s online store has a refurbished section. You can often find deeply discounted Apple products there that have been professionally restored. Apple typically offers the same warranty for refurbished products as it does for retail products.

  • If your MacBook has a spare USB port, you can expand the available storage by using a USB flash drive. Most newer MacBooks feature USB-C ports, which are capable of transferring both data and power.

  • Apple’s “Find my iPhone” service is also available for their MacBook laptops. When properly configured, you can track down your MacBook’s location if it’s ever lost or stolen.

MacBook with red protective case
MacBooks are durable but not indestructible. If you expect to travel frequently with your MacBook, consider getting a case for it to protect it from damage along the way.

FAQ

Q. Can I run Windows applications on a MacBook?

A. Many applications have separate versions for both Windows and Mac, but to run Windows-only applications, you’ll need to download or purchase a virtual machine application for macOS such as VirtualBox or Parallels. Note that in order to run a virtual Windows machine using a third-party application, you’ll still need a valid Windows license key, which can be purchased from many online retailers.

Q. Do all MacBooks have headphone jacks?

A. Most, but not all, MacBooks have built-in headphone jacks for connecting your favorite pair of earbuds. However, recently Apple has begun phasing out headphone jacks on their products, requiring users to purchase and use wireless Bluetooth headphones.

Q. How can I determine how much hard drive storage I need?

A. Everyone’s storage needs are different, but a good place to start is by looking at your current computer and how much space you’re using. Also, consider what you’ll be using the MacBook for. If you need it to store all of your photos, movies, TV shows, and music files, buy the biggest hard drive you can afford. If you mostly store your digital content online in the cloud, you may be able to save money by buying a model with a smaller capacity.

Our Top Picks

BestReviews wants to be better. Please take our 3-minute survey,
and give us feedback about your visit today.

Take Survey