What is the best MacBook?
Apple makes some of the very best laptops in the industry, and with the excellent macOS proving to be more streamlined alternative to Microsoft’s Windows 10, it’s understandable if you’re committed to buying a MacBook. Question is, what’s the best MacBook for you?
Apple currently has three different MacBook families on sale: the Air, Pro (13-inch) and Pro (16-inch). Each branch of the family excels in different areas, therefore making them useful to different audiences. For example, the Air is rather useless to a professional video editor, while the 16-inch Pro will become a great pain in the back if you’re regularly porting it between university lecture halls.
We’ve offered comprehensive guides on each MacBook below, with links directing you to the correlating full-length review. However, before you do hit ‘checkout’ it’s worth knowing that Apple will soon be launching new laptop models featuring the Arm-based Apple Silicon. The rumoured 12-inch MacBook Arm could launch before the end of a year, while a major refresh to the 13-inch Pro could drop next year.
With that in mind, it’s arguably worth waiting for the newer MacBooks. But if you simply can’t wait longer for a new laptop, check out the best MacBook options below:
- Best for content creation: MacBook Pro 16-inch (2019)
- Best for students: MacBook Air (2020)
- Best for on-the-go creators: MacBook Pro 13-inch (2020)
Related: Best Laptops 2020
1. MacBook Pro 16-inch (2019)
The powerhouse Apple laptop
- Incredibly powerful
- Bigger display still looks stunning
- Scissor keyboard a huge improvement
- More stylish smaller bezel
- Very expensive
- Stingy port offering
- Lack of Wi-Fi 6
The 16-inch MacBook Pro is the most powerful Apple laptop available, and the only one to come with discrete GPU options. This means the 16-inch Pro has the creative chops to blitz through the likes of video editing, animation and game design.
The 2019 model features plenty of top-class features, including the new scissor-switch style Magic Keyboard and a more modern display. Apple has managed to shave down the bezels and cram a stunning 16-inch display into its traditionally 15-inch form-factor.
This is a pretty hefty laptop though (around 2kg) and costs a fair whack of dollar. The cheapest option costs £2399, and that price can increase further if you want to upgrade the specs. But if you want an ultra-powerful laptop for content creation, there are few better options than the 16-inch MacBook Pro.
- Read our full MacBook Pro 16-inch (2019) review
2. MacBook Air (2020)
The best Apple laptop for students
- New keyboard is a huge improvement
- The most affordable Mac
- Design still holds up
- Great speakers and fast Touch ID
- Performance not as good as Windows rivals
- Little improvement to battery life
- Terrible webcam
- Port layout is a bit annoying
The MacBook Air 2020 is Apple’s latest lightweight laptop, which has been treated to several significant upgrades from previous iterations. Firstly, Apple has finally introduced the Magic Keyboard to the Air range, allowing the keys more travel for a substantially more comfortable tying experience.
Apple has also fitted the Air with Intel’s 10th Gen processors, giving it a more modern performance that’s capable of sailing through productivity tasks. This could well be the last Air to ever feature an Intel chip, with Apple Silicon poised to usurp it.
There are admittedly better ultrabook alternatives, including the Dell XPS 13 and Surface Laptop 3, but if you want to stick to Apple’s excellent macOS software then the Air 2020 is the best ultra-portable laptop you can buy.
- Read our full MacBook Air (2020) review
3. MacBook Pro 13-inch (2020)
Power teams up with portability
- Design still holds up
- Excellent keyboard
- Top-drawer display
- Loads of options for RAM, SSD
- Low-end models miss out on big internal upgrades
- Couldn’t we have some slimmer bezels?
- Still no SD card slot
The MacBook Pro 13-inch (2020) finds itself in an awkward spot in Apple’s laptop range. It isn’t quite as affordable as the Air, and lacks the GPU power provided by its 16-inch sibling. Apple pitches this 13-inch Pro as a compromise between the two, offering a pro performance while retaining the ultra-portable 13-inch design, but that’s only true if you buy one of the high-end configurations.
With no discrete GPU option, this Pro relies solely on the processor for its graphics power. However, the two entry-level models feature Intel’s outdated 8th-Gen chips, which aren’t known for their GPU prowess. Spend at least £1799 though, and you’ll get Intel’s more recent 10th Gen chips equipped with the powerful Iris Plus Graphics. You’re still limited to entry-level content creation here, but you’ll be able to dabble with video editing and the like.
If you’re willing to spend money on the high-end configuration, then the Pro 13-inch (2020) offers a superb balance between performance portability. Although there are rumours that this laptop could be among the first to get the Apple Silicon treatment, so it may well be worth waiting for that instead.
- Read our full MacBook Pro 13-inch (2020)