The best MacBook for each person will differ, but there's a great option for virtually anyone in Apple's laptop lineup in 2023. Apple's ARM-based M1 chip kicked off a new era for MacBooks in 2020 and it hasn't taken its foot off the accelerator. Apple's in-house SoC brought massive performance and battery life improvements to the entire MacBook range.
Now joined by the M1 Pro, M1 Max, M2, M2 Pro, and M2 Max, Apple has you covered regardless of your needs. The M2 MacBook Air and Pro are among the best laptops available today and the latest 16-inch and 14-inch MacBook Pro models are once again setting a high bar for creator laptops early in 2023.
One category that Apple won't be competing in any time soon is our laptops under $500, so prepare to spend at least $800 for even the most affordable MacBook, but if you can make your peace with that pricing these are all outstanding laptops.
The MacBook Air M1 remains the best MacBook for most people. What about the MacBook Air M2 It's a fantastic laptop that we'll cover next on this list, but the reality is that for the majority of users the upgrades aren't necessary and Apple is keeping it around in order to maintain that sub-$1,000 starting price. Best of all you can often find it for $899 or less.
The performance still outclasses every comparably priced thin-and-light Windows laptop and it manages to deliver 14 hours and 41 minutes of battery life in our testing. For any typical computing tasks, the MacBook Air M1 is more than equal to the challenge and will outlast most competitors too.
As long as you don't mind the older design, the MacBook Air M1 remains one of the best laptop deals even when it's not discounted and should draw strong consideration from anyone considering a new MacBook.
And despite cramming so much power into such a slim and sleek chassis, the Pro lasted for an almost unbelievable 18 hours and 20 minutes on our battery test, which simulates real-world testing. That was enough to land it atop our list of laptops with the best battery life.
The M2 does more than improve speeds and endurance. With a yet again improved image processing unit, the webcam (sadly, still 720p) is better than before and since it runs on Apple's ARM-based architecture, iPad and iPhone apps are available on Mac. Yep, you can run all your favorite iOS games and apps on your laptop.
Starting at $2,499 for the M2 Pro model and $3,099 for the M2 Max model, the 16-inch MacBook Pro isn't for everyone. However, if you are a creative professional or someone that just wants the biggest and best without concern over cost this absolutely belongs on your short list.
While I still would recommend a gaming laptop with a discrete GPU for those that want the best overall gaming experience, but 16-inch MacBook Pro is finally at least competing in this realm enough that casual gamers will be happy.
We use a Klein K10 colorimeter to detect the brightness and DCI-P3 color gamut of a laptop's display. For performance benchmarking, we run the laptop through a gauntlet of benchmarks, including Geekbench 5.4 and 3DMark professional graphics tests.
To determine real-world performance, we task the laptop to convert a 4K video to 1080p resolution and to duplicate a 25GB multimedia file. Our real-world graphics tests include Assasin's Creed Valhalla, Far Cry New Dawn, Sid Meier's Civilization VI: Gathering Storm and Shadow of the Tomb Raider with 1080p or higher resolution when the display supports it.
Dave Gershgorn has reviewed and covered technology since 2015 at publications such as Popular Science, Quartz, Medium, and now Wirecutter. He has also built, repaired, and largely avoided frying his own computers since 2006. At Wirecutter, he tests laptops, monitors, and tablets.
Andrew Cunningham is a former senior staff writer on Wirecutter's tech team. He has been writing about laptops, phones, routers, and other tech since 2011. Before that he spent five years in IT fixing computers and helping people buy the best tech for their needs. He also co-hosts the book podcast Overdue and the TV podcast Appointment Television.
To choose between the best Apple MacBook laptops, we started with extensive personal experience: All the computers here have been road-tested and reviewed in some way. Then, we added in-depth research by cross-referencing third-party reviews with specs sheets, first-party benchmarks and user experiences. Rest assured, we know the ins and outs of all these machines, so you can choose the perfect one for you.
The newest MacBook Air with its dazzling new design is rarely reduced in price. After all, the new, bigger display, improved keyboard, better connectivity and super-fast Apple M2 chip are enough to mean this laptop is regularly selling out.
All MacBook Air and Pro models have two Thunderbolt USB-C ports. Additionally, the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro have a third Thunderbolt port. Those two laptops also include an HDMI port and an SD card slot. These connectivity options had been absent from Apple laptops for some years, but returned to great fanfare.
The best MacBook for you is a tricky thing to figure out. Not only does Apple still offer 2021's MacBook Pros sporting the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips, but it also has new MacBooks packing the latest Apple M2 chips. On top of that, MacBooks with the M1 chip are still viable machines.
Once you take a closer look at the best MacBooks, you can see that one size doesn't fit all. There are specific reasons why you should opt for the M2-powered MacBook Air and entry-level MacBook Pro M2, or spend more on the 14- and 16-inch systems, where you have a choice between the remarkably powerful M2 Pro and M2 Max chips.
The MacBook Air M2 is simply the best laptop for the money based on our testing. You get stellar performance, a vibrant display and superb battery life all wrapped up in a design that is delightfully portable. Yes, $1,119 is a steep price, but we would easily recommend this system over the $999 MacBook Air M1 staying in the lineup because of its better performance and display, along with sharper webcam and MagSafe charging.
The MacBook Air was always the best MacBook for most people, but now it's better for even more people than ever before. Apple's decision to replace its Intel processors with its own Apple Silicon, starting with the M1 chip in the MacBook Air, is reaping serious rewards. This laptop's 14 hours and 41 minutes of battery life n the Tom's Guide battery test is the best for a MacBook Air ever. Plus, the M1 delivers crazy-fast performance, so much so that it can run serious games smoothly.
The MacBook Air's webcam has also been upgraded, as the M1 chip provides signal processing tricks to improve clarity and color accuracy. And, of course, the Magic Keyboard is still here, which provides a comfy typing experience. Dolby Atmos audio support means that some movies and TV shows will sound even better than before. The MacBook Air is now not just the best MacBook for your average Apple user, but it's closer to the title of the king of the laptops than it's been in years.
The 13-inch MacBook Pro 2022 (from $1,299) is the first M2-powered Apple laptop to hit the market. While the design hasn't changed, Apple promises a big leap in performance, whether you're editing photos or videos or running multiple applications at once.
And based on our tests, the M2 chip delivers, offering performance that destroys competing Windows laptops. The M2 also beats the M1 chip by a significant margin in various benchmarks. Plus, the new MacBook Pro 2022 delivers among the longest battery life we've seen from a modern laptop, surpassing 18 hours of runtime.
This laptop turned in class-leading results on multiple tests, including Geekbench, Photoshop, Premiere Pro and video transcoding. If you want even more performance, the optional M2 Max chip offers a big graphics boost with up to a 38-core GPU. Based on our testing, you can even play demanding games like Resident Evil Village with pristine graphics and smooth frame rates.
Performance: If you know you don't push your laptops to their limits, get the MacBook Air and get the entry-level model. Its 8-core M1 chip and 8GB of RAM are going to surprise you with their speed. Upgrade that RAM to 16GB if you keep a lot of applications open at once. Those who work with more demanding applications will either want to get the M1 MacBook Pro (check with your favorite applications to see if they're updated for Apple silicon) with 16GB of RAM, or consider getting an Intel-based MacBook with 32GB of RAM. Storage is fast up and down the lineup. The new M2-powered MacBooks provide somewhat of a middle-ground between the original M1 MacBooks and the M1 Pro and M1 Max laptops.
To find the best MacBook, we run each through our gauntlet of benchmarks and real-world tests, and then use them as our main computer for as well. Only then are we comfortable recommending them (or not) for your purchase.
Apple is still offering education deals on MacBooks: Normally, the Apple Store is (ironically) not the best place to buy an Apple laptop (really, almost any Apple product) because sales are all but nonexistent. The big exception to the rule is Apple's education sales, which usually include MacBook deals. If you're a student or teacher, that can mean $100 off a MacBook Air and a free pair of AirPods, plus a 20% discount on the AppleCare Plus extended warranty (which I have mixed feelings about). On the other hand, we've also found Apple laptop deals through Best Buy's Student Deals page.
The key question is how to make sure you're not buying too little MacBook -- or too much. What is the best MacBook for your needs For most people, the 13-inch Air remains the default choice and rightly so. The new 14-inch and 16-inch Pro models are more powerful, but in a way that only people who need heavy GPU support will appreciate. Yes, you get a better display, new camera and more ports with those, but if you're buying a new Pro just for that, be aware that you're essentially making a vanity purchase. 59ce067264