Apple’s laptops have long been held up as a gold standard for portable computers. MacBooks were the first to bring technologies like aluminum unibody construction, super-sharp IPS screens, backlit keyboards, and multitouch trackpads to the mainstream. The problem with Apple’s current lineup is that the company has a variety of models with different capabilities, making it difficult to find the one that’s best for you.
Which Mac portable should you spend your hard-earned money on? Given that you’ll likely pay more for a MacBook than a competing model from HP, Dell, or even Microsoft, it’s important to weigh your options.
Updated October 2019: Apple released macOS Catalina with some new features like Sidecar, which turns a compatible iPad into a second monitor, so we’ve updated our picks, pricing, and recommendations.
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Apple MacBook Air (13-inch)
The Best All-Arounder
The MacBook Air remains the Mac to get. Apple upgraded the MacBook Air earlier this year, adding the company’s True Tone tech to the Retina display and dropping the price to $1,099.
The new Air is a lot like the new MacBook Pro models, with a sharp 13-inch Retina display, a responsive trackpad, an improved butterfly keyboard (with a dust shield), surprisingly potent speakers, and two USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports for charging and hooking up peripherals. It also comes in gold, if that’s your jam.
On the inside is a 1.6 GHz dual-core eighth-generation Intel Core i5 processor and a 128-gigabyte solid state drive, along with up to 16 GB of RAM. Having only two USB-C ports can feel limiting. You’ll need to buy multiport adapters like this one to plug stuff in and stay charged at the same time.
There are a few things you might miss from higher-end MacBook Pros. Those pricier machines sport extra USB-C ports, as well as more robust capabilities.
Apple MacBook Pro (15-inch)
The Best For Power Users