MacBooks have always been stellar products, but the past year has been monumental for Apple’s MacBook product lineup. After updating the MacBook Air and the 13-inch MacBook Pro in the Spring of 2020, the tech giant took its compact notebooks to a whole new level by equipping them with the groundbreaking M1 chip last fall.

Developed in-house by Apple, the industry-altering M1 chip took both 13-inch notebooks to a whole new level. Because of it, the MacBook Air and the 13-inch MacBook Pro are hands down the best products in their price range (and well beyond). They offer all-around performance and battery endurance that their PC and Chromebook rivals can’t match.

From the entry-level MacBook Air all the way to the range-topping MacBook Pro, all Apple notebooks today have an elegant design, exceptional craftsmanship, and stellar hardware specs. In addition to a powerful chip with speedy memory, they pack a top-tier display, an awesome Magic Keyboard with a Touch ID fingerprint sensor, and a best-in-class trackpad with Force Touch. Of course, every MacBook is also backed by an amazing selection of accessories.

Powered by macOS, every new MacBook offers an intuitive and secure platform with an abundant selection of apps and many years’ worth of free updates. In case you're wondering how many, I am happy to tell you that I recently updated my first-ever MacBook Pro from 2014 to macOS Big Sur — the platform’s latest, most feature-packed iteration. Rather impressively, this firmware is available for MacBooks that date back to 2013.

What to Consider

Screen size is the first thing to consider before picking your next MacBook. There are two options to contemplate — a 13-inch or a 16-inch display. Choosing the more portable alternative will allow you to pick between a MacBook Air or a MacBook Pro.

The bigger display panel, on the other hand, is better for multitasking and only available on the MacBook Pro. Regardless of your pick, you’ll get a sharp and vibrant Retina display with True Tone technology, which ensures accurate color reproduction regardless of the ambient lighting.

Once you pick a screen that fits your needs, you’ll need to focus your attention on other

hardware bits — like the processor and graphics chip, memory and storage, as well as wired and wireless connectivity options. As always, spending more on your next MacBook will get you faster performance, RAM memory for next-level multitasking, and more storage.

I recommend that you order a variant with ample RAM and storage. Unlike in countless PC laptops, these MacBook components are not upgradeable, so you’ll have to ensure that your pick can effortlessly meet your needs long after purchasing it. Thankfully, unless you are a heavy multitasker, you will find the 8GB of onboard RAM and 256GB of storage in the latest entry-level MacBook Air and Pro versions plenty sufficient.

When it comes to wireless connectivity, you should know that, for the time being, Wi-Fi 6 — today’s most futureproof standard — is only available on MacBooks with the M1 on board. Every MacBook iteration has a pair or a quartet of Thunderbolt-compatible USB-C ports, as well as up-to-date Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity. The last-mentioned feature guarantees a stable connection with the latest wireless earbuds, headphones, and speakers.

Learn more about the best MacBooks available today and find the one for you below.

MacBook Air (M1)

Best for Most Consumers

Apple MacBook Air with Apple M1 Chip

Key Specs

  • Apple M1 chip with a Neural Engine
  • Up to 16GB of RAM, 256GB to 2TB of SSD storage
  • 13.3-inch Retina display with True Tone
  • Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0, two Thunderbolt-compatible USB-C ports
  • Up to 18 hours of battery life
  • Weight: 2.8 pounds

    The latest MacBook Air with the Apple M1 chip is the best option for most buyers today. It has the same iconic wedge design that made the original MacBook Air a legend, a lightweight build, solid hardware specs, outstanding performance, and best-in-class battery life. Sporting a sub-$1,000 starting price tag, the MacBook Air is as also attainable as a new Apple laptop can be.

    Thanks to the M1 chip, the MacBook Air is vastly more powerful than its already excellent predecessor — its processor is up to 3.5 times faster, while the graphics chip is up to 5 times speedier. Its 18-hour maximum battery life is vastly longer than its predecessor’s. Best of all, the newcomer has no onboard cooling fans, meaning that unlike any other Apple notebook, it is completely silent.

    The entry-level MacBook Air packs 8GB of RAM and a robust 256GB of storage. Apple offers the notebook in gold, silver, or space gray.

    MacBook Pro (13-Inch)

    The Compact MacBook for Power Users

    Apple MacBook Pro (13-inch)

    Key Specs

    • Apple M1 chip with a Neural Engine; 10th-generation Intel Core i5/Core i7 (quad-core)
    • Up to 32GB of RAM, up to 4TB of SSD storage
    • 13.3-inch Retina display with True Tone
    • Wi-Fi 5/6, Bluetooth 5.0, 2/4 Thunderbolt-compatible USB-C ports
    • Up to 20 hours of battery life
    • Weight: 3.1 pounds

      The MacBook Pro with a 13-inch Retina display is the one to get if you need a compact Apple laptop for demanding tasks. In a manner befitting its Pro moniker, the notebook has more power and features than the MacBook Air while being almost as compact (it weighs about a fifth of a pound more). You can order it in silver or space gray.

      Unlike the MacBook Air, the 13-inch MacBook Pro is available with an Apple M1 or a 10th-generation Intel chip. The M1 is available on the starter version with a pair of USB-C ports, up to 16GB of RAM, and up to 2TB of storage. Intel-based iterations pack four USB-C ports, and you can spec them with up to 32GB of RAM and 4TB of storage.

      Unless you plan to constantly connect many peripherals and store gobs of data on your 13-inch MacBook Pro, I highly recommend that you opt for the M1-equipped version. It is effortlessly powerful yet capable of lasting up to 20 hours between battery charges — more than any MacBook, including the all-new Air. It also has Wi-Fi 6 connectivity, which is a generation ahead of its Intel sibling’s Wi-Fi 5.

      MacBook Pro (16-Inch)

      The Biggest, Most Powerful MacBook

      Apple MacBook Pro (16-inch)
      $2,099.99 (12% off)

      Key Specs

      • Ninth-generation Intel Core i7 (six-core), Core i9 (eight-core) processors
      • Intel UHD Graphics 630, AMD Radeon Pro 5300M/5500M GPU
      • 16GB to 64GB of RAM, 512GB to 8TB of SSD storage
      • 16-inch Retina display with True Tone
      • Four Thunderbolt 3-compatible USB-C ports
      • Up to 11 hours of battery life
      • Weight: 4.3 pounds

        The 16-inch MacBook Pro is Apple’s biggest, most powerful, most feature-packed laptop available today. It’s an excellent, elegant (look at its screen bezels!) desktop replacement, capable of effortlessly conquering any task you throw at it with ease.

        All 16-inch MacBook Pro variants, in addition to monstrously powerful Intel processors and abundant memory, pack an AMD Radeon Pro graphics card. The latter allows the big-screen notebook to process high-resolution images and video, just as you would expect from a top-tier iMac.

        Having a capable discrete graphics card also makes the notebook a solid gaming rig. I spent a few weeks with a 16-inch MacBook Pro and enjoyed playing Dirt 4 rally racing and Civilization VI quite a lot. The graphics-intensive games looked and sounded amazing on the big laptop's six-speaker setup. The product's overall audio performance is the best on any MacBook.

        However, as awesome as the 16-inch MacBook Pro is, you should be mindful that it hasn’t been refreshed since its debut in 2019. Some of its hardware bits are beginning to look a bit dated in 2021, so you might want to consider waiting for the arrival of its long-rumored, thoroughly redesigned replacement later this year. Until this happens, if you are looking for a big-screen MacBook, this is your best option.

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