Confused about which MacBook to buy? Fear not – we have all the information you need here.
In November, after many months of speculation, Apple finally released the MacBook Pro 16, exhibiting the MacBook Pro 15. With the MacBook Pro 13 recently updated and the MacBook Air completely redesigned, it is harder than ever to know which MacBook is right for you. The laptop market is now swimming in solid competition. This guide is designed to help you search the sea of similar looking Macs to find the gems.
Interested in other laptops? We also have a guide to the best laptops (including our favorite MacBook).
Here are the three MacBook models currently available, with different screen sizes counted as different models.
- – $ 1,000 from Best Buy
- – $ 1,299 from Apple
- – $ 2,140 from Amazon
This is a pretty concise choice compared to productive brands like Dell or HP. Let's shut them down one at a time.
The MacBook Air
Are you wondering about the 12 inch MacBook? You're out of luck as Apple turned it off in 2019. While it was super portable, Apple seems just too similar to the redesigned MacBook Air, which is now taking its place as Apple's most portable laptop. While there are rumors that Apple may be reviving the 12-inch MacBook, there isn't any solid information yet.
Apple updated thatLineup in 2020 with the introduction of the Magic Keyboard for the 13-inch laptop, which we now consider a strong candidate for a first-time Mac buyer. At 2.8 pounds and 0.16 to 0.63 inches thick, the latest MacBook Air has a familiar thin and lightweight design that comes in gold, silver, and space gray colors. It also features the same Magic keyboard, Thunderbolt 3 ports, and the same larger trackpad as the MacBook Pro 13.
Gone are the thick, silver bezels of the old MacBook Air that have been replaced with a bezel-less retina display that modernizes it a bit. It's still not as thin and light as the earlier 12-inch MacBook, but a bit slimmer than the MacBook Pro. The integrated Retina display retains the same resolution as the MacBook Pro at 2560 x 1600. In our tests, however, it only achieved a brightness of up to 389 nits – more than the 291 of the 2018 MacBook Air, but less than that of the MacBook Pro 500 nits. The Air's display, while not very bright, still produces accurate colors, making it a good choice for photographers and graphic designers.
Inside, the new 2020 MacBook Air gets a slight upgrade from the 2018 overhaul. This includes a jump to tenth generation Intel processors, which isn't quite the jump as you get when switching from 5th to 8th generation in 2018 sees. However, the latest update introduces quad-core chips for the MacBook Air range: the Core i5-1030G4 and the Core i7-1060G7. The entry-level model has the Intel dual-core i3-1000G4 chip.
The 2020 update will double the entry-level storage of 256 GB from the original 128 GB. It also has a new starting price of $ 999 (or $ 899 for students), compared to $ 1,099 in 2019 and $ 1,199 in 2018. The latest model also features Apple's butterfly keyboard switches and opts for the more traditional scissor-based design. After several generations, Apple simply couldn't solve its butterfly problems.
What if you are thinking of turning a pro?
Theis the best choice when you need serious performance. In 2019, Apple updated the 13-inch MacBook Pro, giving each model a Touch Bar and an eighth-generation Intel processor. In May 2020, the MacBook Pro 13 was updated to 10th generation Intel processors and faster RAM, while doubling the base memory in each model. However, the newer chips and faster memory were only made available to the more expensive models, which means the entry-level versions of the MacBook Pro 13 are still stuck on 8th generation Intel processors. However, if you're willing to spend more, you can step up to an Intel i9 processor and 64GB of RAM (in the MacBook Pro 16).
Which MacBook Pro Model Should You Choose? There are two main options: 13 inches and 16 inches. Let's start with the entry-level 13-inch touch bar that received a notable upgrade that was quite disappointing in some ways.
Intel was struggling to meet Apple's deadlines for the MacBook Pro, which resulted in earlier MacBooks being stuck on old processors when newer ones were available. The MacBook Pro 13 was left behind on 8th generation chips for some time while its competitors upgraded to 10th generation parts. However, this was finally fixed in early May 2020. As we indicated earlier, you can only get this upgrade if you spend at least $ 1,799. That's a lot of money to get new parts.
It's also very difficult to justify spending $ 1,299 on the entry-level MacBook Pro 13 knowing you're going to get old 8th generation components. As mentioned in our MacBook Pro 13 Buying Guide, you can get the $ 1,799 model if you can afford it. Not only do you get a newer processor, but you also get 16 GB of 3,733 MHz RAM and a 512 GB SSD, which should be enough for most people.
In our tests, we found that the MacBook Pro 13 encoded a 4K video in Handbrake to H.265 in just over 3 minutes. That makes it the fastest 13-inch laptop we've seen in this particular review. The company did well in the Cinebench R20 and Geekbench 5 benchmarking suites, outperforming all of its competitors except for the Dell XPS 13. The problem, however, is that you have to pay at least $ 1,799 to get this performance.
With that much cash to spend, you are getting closer to the MacBook Pro 16 territory, especially considering that the price is now at $ 2,000. What will be offered if you choose to do this?There are two options here, and both come standard with the Touch Bar, four Thunderbolt 3 ports, and 16 GB of storage.
The main differences are in the processors, memory and graphics chips. While the entry-level 16-inch MacBook Pro is equipped with a 6-core Intel Core i7 processor of the 9th generation with 2.6 GHz, an SSD with 512 GB and an AMD Radeon Pro 5300M GPU, the high has -End model with an 8-core 9-core with 2.3 GHz Intel Core i9 processor of the generation, a 1 TB SSD and an AMD Radeon Pro 5500M GPU with 4 GB video RAM.
The 16-inch model also has a few design changes, including a more conventional keyboard, smaller bezels, and a new thermal system. Before you buy, you can get both models with a 9th generation Intel Core i9 processor with 8 cores and 2.4 GHz, 64 GB of storage, a whopping 8 TB SSD and an AMD Radeon Pro 5500M GPU with 8 GB of video Configure RAM.
Starting at $ 2,399 and $ 2,799, respectively, these MacBook Pro models are undoubtedly expensive, but they are perfect when you need real performance.
And the winner is…
Ironically, if you look at the lower end of the spectrum, the high-quality 13-inch MacBook Air is very attractive. It costs the same as the entry-level MacBook Pro ($ 1,299) but has a much newer processor and faster RAM. You do not get a touch bar, but a Touch ID button for quick and secure registration and purchase confirmation. We think this is the best option for most people.
For more professional Mac fans, we recommend the 16-inch MacBook Pro. This is the only option that has enough power to handle heavier applications and heavier workloads. Stay away from the others unless there is a very specific feature that catches your attention.
Are you looking to buy a new Apple laptop this year? Check out our Price Predictions for Prime Day MacBook Deals and Laptop Sales for Prime Day 2020.