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Best MacBook 2022: Which Apple laptop should you buy?

Introduction

If you’re committed to the Apple brand but aren’t sure which is the best MacBook laptop for your needs, then you’re in the right place.

Our team of experts makes sure to review all of the latest MacBooks on offer from Apple, whether it’s the MacBook Air or MacBook Pro. And so we’ve decided to highlight the very best options to help with your buying decision.

Every MacBook on this list has been tested extensively, as we’ve determined the speed of the performance, quality of design and longevity of the battery life. We’ve also factored in the price, and highlighted which kind of workloads are best suited to which laptop. After all, nobody needs a MacBook Pro for just reading emails.

If you can’t see a MacBook that you like right now, then we recommend bookmarking this page and returning later in the year. We’re still planning to review the 13-inch MacBook Pro 2022, while also gearing up for the possibility of even more MacBooks being announced before the end of 2022.

Or if you’re tempted to switch over to a Windows or ChromeOS, then you can also check out our Best Laptop and Best Chromebook articles.

How we test

Learn more about how we test laptops

Every laptop we review goes through a series of uniform checks designed to gauge key things including build quality, performance, screen quality and battery life. 

These include formal synthetic benchmarks and scripted tests, plus a series of real world checks, such as how well it runs the most frequently used apps. 

We also make sure to use every laptop we review as our primary device for at least a week to ensure our review is as accurate as possible.

MacBook Air (M1)

Best value MacBook
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Pros

  • It’s so fast thanks to M1
  • Exceptional battery life
  • Strong app support
  • Great keyboard

Cons

  • Poor webcam
  • Same design as before
  • Poorly positioned (and only two) USB ports

Apple may have released a newer iteration of the MacBook Air, but the 2020 model with the M1 chip is still available to buy from its store, and arguably represents the best value, especially if you want to stick to basic tasks.

During testing, we found it to be small and light enough to easily carry around. We did note that the screen bezel looks a little too chunky compared to modern Windows laptops, but it’s a small grievance when you consider it offers the classic Apple quality. 

It’s the performance where this laptop truly excels, as our benchmark tests showed it to one of the fastest laptop at its price point due to the power of the M1 chip. We even found it to be capable of entry-level content creation thanks to the firepower that its GPU provides.

We were highly impressed with the 13-inch screen, which has a 2560 x 1600 resolution to ensure images look detailed and sharp. Our tests show it’s not quite as vivid as the OLED panel on the Dell XPS 13 OLED, but it’s still nevertheless an excellent display. 

The MacBook Air is one of the best ultra-portable laptops that we’ve ever reviewed. So if you want an ultra-portable machine with a relatively affordable price, this is a superb option.

Reviewer: Max Parker
Full review: MacBook Air M1 review

MacBook Pro 16-inch (2021)

Best for content creation
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Pros

  • Stunning display
  • Amazing performance
  • The ports and MagSafe are back

Cons

  • RAM upgrades are expensive

The MacBook Pro 2021 is designed specifically for those who need additional graphics power for complex tasks such as 8K video editing and 3D animation. Our benchmark tests show it’s one of the most powerful laptops that you can buy, making it overkill for the average office worker, especially when you consider the high price. 

We were in awe with the performance when testing both the M1 Pro and M1 Max configurations. Both of these chips have more CPU and GPU cores than the standard M1 to boost the performance: the M1 Pro packs up to 10 CPU cores and 16 GPU cores, while the M1 Max sports the same 10 CPU cores, but with a whopping 32 GPU cores. 

No matter which task we threw at it, from browsing the web with multiple tabs to editing 4K video, the MacBook Pro kept speeding through with no delay. It even excelled in our SSD benchmark tests, making it very quick at loading and saving data stored on the hard drive. 

Whether you opt for the 14-inch or 16-inch model, the Mini LED screen is very impressive too. Compared to your standard LED screens, the Mini LED panel here is able to pack in far more LED diodes in the backlight, resulting in a more vivid and vibrant display than almost any other laptop we’ve tested including the cheaper MacBook Air. We also found the 120Hz ProMotion feature to make quick scrolling appear smoother, although we do admit this is more beneficial on touchscreen devices such as Apple’s iPad and iPhone. 

While we’ve tested plenty of other laptops that are great for content creation, such as the Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio and Gigabyte Aero 15 OLED (2021), they don’t offer the same high quality for both performance and design as the MacBook Pro 2021. If you want an ultra-powerful laptop for creation with lots of ports for added versatility, the MacBook Pro 2021 is our top recommendation.

Reviewer: Max Parker
Full review: MacBook Pro 16-inch review

Apple MacBook Air M2 (2022)

Best mid-range MacBook
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Pros

  • Fantastic performance
  • Sleek, updated design
  • Excellent keyboard and trackpad
  • Long battery life

Cons

  • Expensive starting price and upgrades
  • More colours would have been nice
  • The M1 version remains an excellent buy for less

If the MacBook Pro 14 and 16 is overkill for your needs yet you still need some graphics firepower, we recommend you go for the MacBook Air M2. This is Apple’s best mid-range laptop, inheriting a lot of the features from the flagship machine just in a thinner, lighter and cheaper body.

This model is the only MacBook on this list to be powered by the new M2 chip. Don’t think this means it’ll offer more power either in CPU or GPU than the M1 Max or M1 Pro – but it does bump up performance slightly when compared to MacBook Air M1. In our tests, the M2 impresses across the board and remains one of the fastest, most capable laptops of this size.

Memory starts at 8GB and can be configured to 24GB, while storage option ranges from 256GB to 2TB. We tested the 512GB model with 8GB memory and we think this is the best choice for most people – 256GB just isn’t enough storage for most.

Like the updated 14-inch and 16-inch Pro, this MacBook Air M2 (2022) has a boxy look with a notch dipping into the display. The 13.6-inch screen is really nice, colourful and bright – though it lacks the Mini LED tech of its pricier siblings so you won’t get true HDR support.

MagSafe makes a return – you won’t find the magnetic charging tech on the MacBook Air M1 – and the webcam and speakers are notably better than the older model. So if you’re looking for a laptop that’s both portable and can handle GPU-intensive workloads, this is the MacBook to go for.

Reviewer: Max Parker
Full review: Apple MacBook Air M2 (2022) review

MacBook Air 2020

Best budget MacBook
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Pros

  • New keyboard is a huge improvement
  • The most affordable Mac
  • Design still holds up
  • Great speakers and fast Touch ID

Cons

  • Performance not as good as Windows rivals
  • Little improvement to battery life
  • Terrible webcam
  • Port layout is a bit annoying

Apple no longer sells the MacBook Air 2020 since it uses the older Intel chip rather than the revolutionary M1 processor. But if you’re on a strict budget, you can find this laptop at a very good price if you’re happy to purchase it refurbished or second hand from third-party retailers. 

Our benchmark tests show it’s not as fast as many affordable Windows laptops, including the superb Surface Laptop Go, but we still found it to outperform a number of Chromebooks. We would recommend you only use this laptop for very basic tasks though, as testing showed it to struggle with the likes of photo editing. 

The design holds up well, with essentially the same shell as the new and improved M1 model. We found it to be very easy to lug to and from the office, and is durable enough to last you multiple years, with Apple also promising to support the Intel processor for the foreseeable future. 

Of course, the MacBook Air M1 is comfortably the better laptop, while the Surface Laptop Go 2 offers better value if you’re happy to switch to Windows. But if you can bag the MacBook Air 2020 at a discounted price, this is still a great option for those on a budget.

Reviewer: Max Parker
Full review: MacBook Air 2022 review

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FAQs

Which is the cheapest MacBook?

The MacBook Air is currently the cheapest MacBook that Apple has to offer.

What’s better a MacBook Pro or MacBook Air?

Neither is better, as they cater to different audiences. The MacBook Pro is very powerful and aimed towards professional creators, while the MacBook Air is more portable and optimised for the likes of office and university work.

Which Mac is best for students?

The MacBook Air is the best option for students, unless they need to work with 8K video or 3D animation on their course.

Specs compared

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Trusted Reviews test data

Brightness
CrystalMarkDisk Write Speed
CrystalDiskMark Read speed
Geekbench 5 multi core
Geekbench 5 single core
Cinebench R23
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Founded in 2004, Trusted Reviews exists to give our readers thorough, unbiased and independent advice on what to buy.

Today, we have millions of users a month from around the world, and assess more than 1,000 products a year.

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