Which Apple laptop should you buy?

If you’re looking for a MacBook, whether you’re going back to school or you want an Apple laptop for work or personal use, you’ve come to the right place. This guide will help you decide which is best for your needs, because like iPhone, there are several options to choose from. When choosing your next Apple laptop, the first thing to decide is which of the two MacBook lines you want to go down; the professional-focused MacBook Pro or entry-level MacBook Air. From there, you can then start looking at the different configurations and prices. We’ve rounded up everything from the MacBook Air (M1) to the 16-inch MacBook Pro (M2), to help you work out what each model offers, how much they cost, how they can be configured and what their pros and cons are.


In short, it’s an interesting and exciting time to buy a MacBook. Apple made the transition to its own processors – Apple Silicon – and away from Intel in 2020, and the devices running the M chips are seriously powerful. The company has also corrected many of the widely acknowledged mistakes it’s brought to the line over the last half-decade, such as the re-introduction of ports and there’s a new 15-inch Air model in town too. Read on to find out which Apple laptop is the one for you and the best MacBook to buy in our opinion.

Apple MacBookAir 15-inch (M2, 2023)

Best MacBook - MacBook Air 15-inch

Apple MacBook Air 15 (M2, 2023)

1. Best MacBook overall

The MacBook Air 15-inch is a truly superb everyday laptop, with a solid and premium build quality, a stunning big display, excellent performance and a great battery life. There’s nothing not to love here. It’s the everyday laptop dreams were made of.

Storage
512GB, 1TB, 2TB

CPU
Apple M2 chip

Memory
8GB, 16GB, 24GB

Ports
2x Thunderbolt, 3.5mm

Display (Size, Resolution)
15.3in LED, 2880 x 1864, 224ppi, 500 nits

Pros

  • Solid and premium design
  • Excellent large display
  • Superb performance
Cons

  • No Face ID
  • Battery life not as good as 13-inch Air

Sitting at the top of our best MacBook list is the latest MacBook Air 15-inch (M2, 2023). Newest doesn’t always mean best but in this case, this laptop is superb, so it’s the one we are recommending for the majority of users, including students. There’s plenty of power under the hood thanks to the M2 chipset, the battery life is great and the design is lovely and portable. Despite its large 15-inch display, it measures 215 x 304.1 x 11.5mm and only weighs 1.51kg, which is lighter than the 14-inch MacBook Pro and only slightly heavier than the MacBook Air 13-inch.

The MacBook Air 15-inch (M2, 2023) doesn’t offer the same power that you’ll find in the 14-inch or 16-inch MacBook Pro models, both of which are also superb, but it does deliver great performance, a solid battery life and a portable design for a decent price. It’s a fantastic MacBook and our top pick for the best MacBook overall.

Apple MacBook Pro, 14-inch (M2 Pro/Max, 2023)

Best MacBook - MacBook Pro M2 Pro

Apple MacBook Pro 14in (M2, 2023)

2. Best MacBook for professionals

$1799 $1999 Save $200

The 14-inch MacBook Pro leaves little – if anything – to be desired. It’s an incredible laptop with more power and performance than most will ever need or utilise, a fantastic build quality, an incredible display and a great battery life – though not quite as great as the MacBook Air models.

Storage
512GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TB, 8TB

CPU
Apple M2 Pro or M2 Max chip

Memory
16GB, 32GB, 64GB, 92GB

Ports
HDMI, SD card, 3 x Thunderbolt, 3.5mm

Display (Size, Resolution)
14.2in mini-LED, 3024 x 1964, 254ppi, 500 nits, peak 1,600 nits

Pros

  • Excellent performance
  • Great battery life
  • Solid design

The 14-inch MacBook Pro (M2 Pro/Max, 2023) is one of the latest models in the Pro lineup, delivering exceptional performance, a great design and a brilliant battery in our experience. If you’re a heavy duty user and you want the best MacBook Apple has to offer, the MacBook Pro (M2 Pro/Max) is exactly that for you.

The 155 x 312.6 x 221.1mm body weighs 1.6kg and features a stunning 14.2-inch XDR display with a brightness up to 1600nits and ProMotion, so it’s great for red-eye flights or using outside. It’s also brighter than the MacBook Air M2 models. It can be configured with the M2 Pro chip or the M2 Max chip, with both offering so much power, most people will struggle to put to use the full capabilities of the MacBook Pro (M2 Pro/Max, 2023). It’s an absolute powerhouse of a machine.

Apple MacBook Air (M2, 2022)

Best MacBook - MacBook Air 13-inch M2

Apple MacBook Air (M2, 2022)

3. Best MacBook for value

$999 $1099 Save $100

The Apple MacBook Air (M2, 2022) is a superb machine with a fabulous lightweight design, excellent and fluid performance and very, very little (basically nothing) to complain about. If you are after an all-rounder laptop with a smaller display than the one above, you are looking right at it.

Storage
256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB

CPU
Apple M2 chip

Memory
8GB, 16GB, 24GB

Ports
2x Thunderbolt, 3.5mm

Display (Size, Resolution)
13.6in LED, 2560 x 1664, 224ppi, 500 nits

Pros

  • Super slim and light
  • Excellent performance
  • Superb battery life
Cons

  • Speaker performance not amazing
  • No Face ID
  • More expensive than previous models

The Apple MacBook Air (M2, 2022) was top of our best MacBook list until recently, when it’s bigger brother stole the top spot. This model is still brilliant though, with a slightly smaller but great 13.6-inch Liquid Retina display within its 304.1 x 113 x 21.5mm body. It weighs just 1.24kg, making it lovely and portable – even more so than the 15-inch model due to its size, whilst under the hood, you’ll find the very powerful M2 chip. The MacBook Air has a design very similar to the MacBook Pro, though with a couple less ports, offering MagSafe charging, along with two Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C) ports and a 3.5mm audio jack.

This model promises a battery life of up to 18 hours, though we’ve managed plenty more hours than that performing various tasks during our day-to-day use. To put that into real-world usage terms, we’ve worked on it for an entire 11 hour flight with Wi-Fi on and come off with 43 per cent, which was a little more than a similar test with the 15-inch model. Its battery life is superb and while the speakers aren’t as powerful as the MacBook Pro models or the latest 15-inch model, the MacBook Air (M2, 2022) is a truly fantastic machine overall.

Apple MacBook Pro, 16-inch (M2 Pro/Max, 2023)

Best MacBook - MacBook Pro 2023 M2 16-inch

Apple / Pocket-lint

Apple MacBook Pro 16in (M2, 2023)

4. Best MacBook for display

$2499 $2699 Save $200

Like the smaller 14-inch model, the 16-inch MacBook Pro is a phenomenal machine with a huge amount of power, an excellent design and very little to be desired. You pay the extra for the larger display and the larger battery, but if you have the cash, this laptop will not disappoint. Amazon currently has $200 off the 1TB model.

Storage
512GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TB, 8TB

CPU
Apple M2 Pro or M2 Max chip

Memory
16GB, 32GB, 64GB, 96GB

Ports
HDMI, SD Card, 3 x Thunderbolt, 3.5mm

Display (Size, Resolution)
16.2in Mini-LED, 3456 x 2234, 254ppi, 1600nits

Pros

  • Excellent performance
  • Lovely display
  • Solid design

The 16-inch MacBook Pro (M2 Pro/Max) is pretty much identical to its smaller 14-inch sibling above, though it of course offers a larger chassis, larger screen and a larger battery with faster charging capabilities. The 168 x 355.7 x 248.1mm body weighs 2.1kg, so it is quite a bit heavier than the MacBook Air 15-inch. There’s a huge – and excellent – 16.2-inch Liquid Retina XDR display on board though, with a notch at the top offering a 1080p camera and there’s a maximum 1600nits brightness too, which is brighter than the MacBook Air 15-inch and useful for working outside or when on a night flight for example.

Under the hood, like the 14-inch model, there’s the option of the M2 Pro and M2 Max processors – both of which deliver an insane amount of power. The M2 Max chip is configurable up to 12-core CPU and up to 38-core GPU, along with up to 96GB RAM and 8TB SSD. You’ll of course pay the price for the upgrades, and you’ll pay a premium for the larger screen too, but this is the best MacBook for display and power and it won’t disappoint, even if your wallet won’t thank you.

Apple MacBook Air (M1, 2020)

Best MacBook - Apple MacBook Air M1 late-2020

Apple MacBook Air (M1, 2020)

5. Best MacBook for budget

$869 $999 Save $130

If you’re looking for an excuse to upgrade and you can’t quite justify the extra cost for the newer Air models with their new design and M2 chip, the M1 MacBook Air still offers excellent performance and a great battery life for a good price.

Storage
256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB

CPU
Apple M1 chip

Memory
8GB, 16GB

Ports
2 x Thunderbolt, 3.5mm

Display (Size, Resolution)
13.3in IPS, 2560 x 1600, 227ppi, 400nits

Pros

  • Not a bank-breaker
  • Great performance
  • Excellent keyboard
Cons

  • Maximum memory of 16GB
  • Large bezels a little dated

The Apple MacBook Air (M1, 2020) is the cheapest way to get your hands on a MacBook, and while it offers an older design compared to the 2022 MacBook Air model and the newer 15-inch model, it’s still a great design (if you ignore the large bezels around the display). Speaking of displays, there’s a 13.3-inch screen within its 304 x 212 x 41-161mm body and the M1 MacBook Air weighs just 1.29kg, which although makes it heavier than the 2022 equivalent, it’s still very light and portable.

There are two Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C) ports (one of which you’ll need for charging as there’s no MagSafe here) and a 3.5mm audio jack, while the battery promise is 15 hours, and it’s solid in its performance in our experience. The M1 chip brings plenty of power too, with 8GB of RAM in the base model, configurable up to 16GB, and 256GB SSD, configurable up to 512GB, 1TB or 2TB. Students, teachers and professionals who don’t have task-heavy apps and platforms to work on will be very well catered for with this model. It’s the best MacBook for those on a budget and a great option.

Apple MacBook Pro, 14-inch (M1 Pro/Max, 2021)

14-inch MacBook Pro open on wooded table beside cup

Apple MacBook Pro 14in (M1, 2021)

6. Best MacBook for power and price

$1599 $1999 Save $400

It’s no longer the latest model but this MacBook Pro still has plenty to give. It isn’t a device that’s merely there to enjoy surfing the web or writing the odd document though, this is a machine that wants to be pushed to the limit – and can handle the limit too.

Storage
512GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TB, 8TB

CPU
Apple M1 Pro or M1 Max Chip

Memory
16GB, 32GB, 64GB

Ports
HDMI. SD Card, 3 x Thunderbolt

Display (Size, Resolution)
14in Mini-LED, 3024 x 1964, 254ppi, 1600nits

Pros

  • M1 Pro/Max processor power are immense
  • Ports are back – including SD card slot and HDMI
  • Lovely display
Cons

  • Heavy
  • Expensive when you start upgrading RAM and SSD

The MacBook Pro 14-inch (M1 Pro/Max, 2021) model might be a couple of years old and succeeded by the MacBook Pro 14-inch (M2 Pro/Max, 2023) models but it’s still well worthy of consideration if you’re looking for the best MacBook for performance on a budget. The M1 Pro and M1 Max chips offering a maximum 10-core CPU and 32-core GPU are very powerful and deliver sterling performance, even two years on, while you get a very similar design to the 2023 models, which means ports! There’s an SDXC slot, HDMI port, MagSafe charging and three USB-C ports.

The 155 x 312.6 x 221.2mm body weighs 1.5kg and it features a 14.2-inch Liquid Retina XDR display with ProMotion. There’s a lovely super slim bezel around the screen with a notch at the top, housing an upgraded 1080p FaceTime HD camera. The M1 Max chip can be configured with a maximum of 64GB RAM, with storage ranging between 512GB to a whopping 8TB, but, as you would expect, the price tag very quickly starts to rise with these upgrades.

Apple MacBook Pro, 16-inch (M1 Pro/Max, 2021)

Best MacBook - MacBook Pro 2021 M1 16-inch

Apple / Pocket-lint

Apple MacBook Pro 16in (M1, 2021)

7. Best MacBook for display and power on budget

$1999 $2499 Save $500

Like its 14-inch sibling, this is a MacBook Pro for heavy professional users that can’t justify the cost of the 2023’s M2 Pro and M2 Max models but still want an exceptionally capable machine, and in this case, one with a bigger display and battery.

Storage
512GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TB, 8TB

CPU
Apple M1 Pro or M1 Max chip

Memory
16GB, 32GB, 64GB

Ports
HDMI, SD Card, 3 x Thunderbolt

Display (Size, Resolution)
16.2in Mini-LED, 3456 x 2234, 254ppi, 1600nits

Pros

  • M1 Pro/Max processor power are immense
  • Ports are back – including SD card slot and HDMI
  • 16.2-inch screen with ProMotion 120Hz looks great
Cons

  • Very heavy
  • Expensive when you start upgrading RAM and SSD

You’re getting pretty much an identical package to the 14-inch MacBook Pro model detailed above here in the MacBook Pro 16-inch (M2 Pro/Max, 2021), except for an improved battery life and a larger display, with a 16.2-inch screen on board here. The body is larger too at 168 x 355.7 x 248.1mm – and heavier at 2.1kg – but you get the same design and ports as the smaller model.

Both the M1 Pro chip and M1 Max chip deliver excellent performance, despite no longer being the latest, and like the 14-inch model, there’s the same choice of 16GB, 32GB or 64GB (only with M1 Max) RAM, as well as the choice to go all the way from a 512GB SSD to an 8TB option. You’ll of course pay more for the larger display and battery compared to the 14-inch model, but if want plenty of power and a big screen but the 2023 models are just too much, this is an excellent option and the best MacBook for display and power but a cheaper price.

Apple MacBook Pro, 13.3-inch (M2, 2022)

Best MacBook - Apple MacBook Pro M2 2022

Apple MacBook Pro 13in (M2, 2022)

8. Best MacBook for Touch Bar

The MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022) is still a very good laptop, but it’s not the best value in Apple’s portfolio. It’s of course very powerful, but we’d recommend considering the MacBook Air (M2, 2022) instead, or the MacBook Pro 14-inch (M1 Pro, 2021) so you get some extra ports and features.

Storage
256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB

CPU
Apple M2 Chip

Memory
8GB, 16GB, 24GB

Ports
2 x Thunderbolt, 3.5mm

Display (Size, Resolution)
13.3in IPS, 2560 x 1600, 227ppi, 500nits

Pros

  • Great performance
  • Excellent battery life
  • Functional design
Cons

  • Older design
  • Minimal ports

The MacBook Pro (M2, 2022) launched alongside the redesigned MacBook Air (M2, 2022) and while it didn’t get a face lift – featuring the same design as the 2020 MacBook Pro model with Touch Bar and minimal ports – it did get a performance boost to the M2 chip, which is excellent in use. RAM is configurable from 8GB to 24GB, with SSD options from 256GB to 2TB. The 156 x 304.1 x 212.4mm body weighs 1.4kg and features a 13.3-inch display with 500nits max brightness – quite a bit less than the latest MacBook Pro models. There’s also no ProMotion on board, and the FaceTime HD camera is 720p compared to the 1080p sensor on the 2021 MacBook Pro models, whilst also offering less ports. Consider this model if your budget absolutely doesn’t allow for the MacBook Pro (M2 Pro, 2021), you really want the Touch Bar or you really need a fan so the MacBook Air (M2, 2022) isn’t an option. It’s one of the cheapest MacBook Pro models offered by Apple, though it’s not the best value.

How did we choose the best MacBook?

We have reviewed or seen all of the MacBook options within our best MacBook list above and we have ordered then based on what we felt offered the best value and performance for most people. It will depend on what you are planning to do with your MacBook as to which model is right for you, but all the models on our list offer great performance, great designs and a decent battery life. If you are an everyday user or a student heading back to school, it is likely you won’t need the power offered by the MacBook Pro models and a MacBook Air will be more than sufficient. That said, if you are a content creator or a photographer perhaps, you will find benefit in opting for one of the MacBook Pro models. While we have endeavoured to create a best MacBook list that takes as much into consideration as possible, you should consider your individual needs when choosing the right model for you.

FAQ

Q: What else should you consider when choosing a MacBook?

There are a number of things to consider when deciding on the best MacBook for you, one of which is ports. There was a brief period where Apple ditched ports on its MacBook models, resulting in users needing to buy a USB-C hub in order to gain access to things like a HDMI port, SDXC port or even extra USB-C port. While ports were re-introduced on the 2021 MacBook Pro models, it’s worth considering what ports you use regularly and whether you should consider a hub or built-in ports. The MacBook Air models have less built-in ports than the MacBook Pro models so keep that in mind when you are choosing the best MacBook for you and your needs.

Q: It is a good idea to buy an older MacBook?

While Apple typically discontinues older models of its MacBooks when the newer devices come out, you can typically still find them through other retailers. We would recommend buying Apple Silicon if you are planning to buy an older MacBook, so make sure it is running Apple’s M1 chips, whether that is the M1, M1 Pro or M1 Max. Buying an older model normally means you save a bit of cash, but it is worth keeping in mind that the Apple M3 chip is already being rumoured and while devices running it may not appear until later in 2023 or early 2024, if you’re budget can stretch, we would say the M2 chips are the better option for future-proofing your MacBook.

Q: Should you choose a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro?

The answer to whether you should buy a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro very much depends on what you are planning to use your MacBook for, as we mentioned above. There are now a number of options in each of the categories, with the MacBook Air (M1) being the cheapest MacBook available, and a great pick for most everyday users. It’s not the most powerful model available but it is compact and highly portable. There’s also the MacBook Air (M2) and MacBook Air 15-inch (M2) though, which have a different design and more power. Both are fantastic devices with exceptional battery performance, though they are also more expensive than the M1 model, naturally.

The MacBook Pro range is a more substantial MacBook compared to the MacBook Air and will suit those that require more performance, such as content creators and video editors. There are several models available, including the MacBook Pro 13-inch with the M2 chip that is very similar to the MacBook Air (M2) in terms of price, performance and specs, as well as the more recent – and more powerful – MacBook Pro 14-inch and MacBook Pro 16-inch, both of which run the M2 Pro or M2 Max chips. There’s also the M1 2020 MacBook Pro (13-in), which is still available and marks the entry point for the MacBook Pro models with Apple Silicon.

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