Apple’s MacBook laptops are popular for a variety of reasons. Some love the build quality and design, others are die-hard macOS aficionados, and some just want to look stylish while working on their latest script at a local coffee shop.
Whatever your reason for craving one of these sleek clamshell computers, choosing the right one can be tricky. Apple updates its MacBooks infrequently, and two machines that look exactly the same at first glance can be very different under the hood.
Therefore, we will take a look at each current MacBook model and help you choose the right MacBook you should buy based on the strengths of each model.
What do you want your MacBook to do?
Before we actually browse through the catalog of MacBooks to buy, it’s worth taking a short break to talk about you . In the end, buying a MacBook is an important financial decision, and you need to be sure that you can handle it in 4-5 years, which will be necessary for the average user.
- You are a regular user. user? That is, do you use your computer to browse the web, do basic office work, and watch videos?
- Are you a mid-level user doing more ambitious things? Maybe you edit HD videos, write music, or enjoy playing video games from time to time?
- Or are you a professional user? Are you doing computationally complex or time-sensitive work? In other words, is time literally money for you?
Each of the MacBooks we are reviewing meets these different levels of user needs in varying degrees, so if you have a clear idea of ??what you want your MacBook to do, read on.
Current MacBook Models
The MacBooks we’re going to discuss in this section are the most recent models as of January 2020. We will update the article when new models are released, so be sure to check periodically to see if our findings have changed.
There are currently only three product lines in the MacBook lineup. These are the new MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar and 16-inch MacBook Pro.
We have divided the 13-inch model into two levels as they have significant differences and should not be confused with each other.
Entry-level users only: MacBook Air 2019
The MacBook Air is the cheapest MacBook you can buy, and the 2019 update brought the long-awaited $ 100 price cut to the MSRP. The Air’s case is different from the 13 â€MacBook Pro, with a wedge-shaped case that writers will probably appreciate.
It’s the only dual-core MacBook among the updated 2019 MacBooks, which means you should look elsewhere if you need to do much more than web browsing, word processing, spreadsheets and YouTube For most people, in most cases the new Air will be fine.
It has a fantastic 13.3-inch Retina display with TrueTone technology. What was previously only in “Pro” products. TrueTone adjusts the display according to lighting conditions to display a constant color temperature. You also get two Thunderbolt and TouchID ports with this model, which is a nice addition to a budget machine.
This is now the only new MacBook that still has physical function keys, as the new 13-inch MacBook Pro features a TouchBar.
The Air is the only MacBook in gold, if you like, and weighs about 200g less than the 13-inch MacBook Pro with TouchBar. So is this for you?
Who is the MacBook Air 2019 for?
The MacBook Air is a great laptop for anyone with very basic computer requirements. The base configuration includes 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. We do not recommend anyone pay for extra RAM or storage based on the use case.
In fact, since the base Air and the base 13-inch MacBook Pro with TouchBar are only $ 200 apart, we don’t recommend anyone buy the 2019 Air, unless you can stretch your budget completely.
Why? Because for that extra $ 200, you get two extra processor cores, a significantly brighter screen, better speakers, and a significantly better integrated GPU. However, if you think the Air is a sufficient computer for your needs, then it is a beautiful and well-made computer that still supports macOS.
Best Overall Choice: MacBook Pro 13″ with Touchbar (1.4GHz, 2019)
The entry-level MacBook Pro represents one of the most significant generation upgrades we’ve seen. These new MacBook Pros are equipped with a quad-core processor, twice the size of previous models. This makes the MacBook Pro 13 “a viable solution for more sophisticated photo editing, HD video editing (and some 4K) and faster desktop experience.
This model has two Thunderbolt ports, just like the Air. it also has a more boxy design, but will fit almost anywhere Air is found. The Air’s performance sacrifices are certainly not worth the slight extra portability you get. Pro by any standard ultrabook class.
This quad-core processor also means that using an eGPU (external graphics processing unit) over Thunderbolt 3 can turn this mainstream laptop into a real desktop. Whether it’s GPU-dependent games or applications, a quad-core processor paired with something like Breakaway Puck’s electronic GPU can really make it a practical option.
The screen is also significantly brighter and overall better than the Air, which is important for content creators looking for accurate colors for photos and videos. This is also the first time an entry-level Pro has come with a TouchBar and TouchID. Whether you like the TouchBar, though, is a matter of preference.
Who is the 13-inch MacBook Pro with TouchBar 2019 for?
This is the MacBook that the vast majority of buyers should buy. The screen is quite large, the processor is powerful enough to do anything, and it has a stunningly good screen.
Unless you know at all that you need one, we do not recommend paying the extra money for the 256GB storage option over the base 128GB. Since you can buy a very good USB-C SSD instead for less money and more capacity. Choosing the 16GB RAM option, however, is a good choice for lengthy video editing projects and serious multitasking. Since neither RAM nor internal solid state drive can be upgraded by users, this is a choice you must make from the start.
The ability to add an eGPU coupled with this new quad-core processor changes what is possible with a 13-inch MacBook Pro, and there’s simply no better option for the price in the entire current stable MacBook. You can also opt for the 1.7GHz model for an additional $ 300, but the performance difference is not tracked with such a sharp increase in price.
That being said, the hyper-threading feature of the Core i7 processor in this slightly better model could make a difference for tasks like rendering video encoding. If you are going to use software that justifies having eight threads, this is worth considering. However, most people should just stick with i5.
Not for everyone: 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar (2.4GHz, 2019)
The higher-end 13-inch MacBook Pro with TouchBar costs $ 500 more than the base model compared to the base entry-level device. So what do you get for this significant change?
The first notable difference here is the addition of two more Thunderbolt ports. This means you can charge your MacBook from both sides and you can connect many more peripherals to it without investing in a docking station. Now, to be honest, most people only need two ports and a good docking station. However, the luxury of having free ports cannot be denied.
Another big difference is the 2.4GHz quad-core processor and the larger base model SSD Sure, it’s nice to have 256GB versus the 128GB SSD in the entry-level 13 â€MacBook Pro, but again, external SSDs are much cheaper per gigabyte and are more than fast enough for just about everyone.
So is the extra performance worth of the i5’s overpriced price increase? On paper, this is true. However, this more expensive MacBook had the same chassis and temperature limits as the cheaper model. Both have the same overclocking clock speeds, and several independent tests have shown that the two processors perform roughly the same. Yes, this processor is slightly faster, but not enough to guarantee a high price.
Likewise, the improved integrated GPU in this model isn’t that far from the model you get in the entry-level MacBook Pro 13. Again. There’s an even faster Core i7 available for this model, but our advice remains the same. Unless you really need eight threads for your applications, it’s better to use the default CPU.
Who is the 13-inch MacBook Pro with TouchBar (2.4GHz, 2019) for?
Assuming you can only live with two Thunderbolt ports, it would be better to use this model’s $ 500 premium and rather add more RAM and storage to the base MacBook Pro model. Only users who are confident that a small difference in performance will be critical will only come here.
However, if you’re doing work where maximum processor performance is critical, you’d better take a look at the larger MacBook Pro offerings, assuming you’re not quite tied to the 13-inch form factor. If you find the Core i7 processor attractive, it’s especially important to take a close look at the MacBook Pro 16, as this option brings the price of this small laptop much closer to the base model of Apple’s flagship.
Best MacBook in History: MacBook Pro 16 â€(2019)
It’s been a long time since any MacBook has received the same general praise as the new 16-inch MacBook Pro. Apple seems to have flagged all user complaints about the old 15-inch model and every other MacBook, as this new computer is a tick on a long list of them.
First, the screen ate up a significant portion of the bezel, allowing Apple to fit a 16-inch LCD panel in the same space as the 15-inch model. Second, the keyboard now uses a completely different and much more durable keyboard switch design. This may appear in all future MacBooks, but as of now, other 2019 MacBooks use a butterfly switch design that has proven to be rather unreliable in the past. Not so for this MacBook.
Further, this MacBook has a TouchBar and TouchID, but it also has a physical “Escape” key that professional users talk about a lot.
The most important aspect of the 16-inch model is undoubtedly the technical specifications.
- Base models feature SIX processor cores with 12 threads thanks to the Core i7 “hyperthreading” feature. The higher-end model has EIGHT cores and a best-in-class Core i9 processor on board.
- Both laptops have 16GB of RAM as standard and 512GB and 1TB of SSD storage respectively.
- Both notebooks have discrete GPUs, with the AMD Radeon Pro 5300M and 5500M respectively showing off their capabilities. These two cards are roughly comparable to Nvidia’s GTX 1650 and GTX 1660 Ti. Which makes them good mid-range gaming cards and excellent mobile GPUs for GPU-accelerated professional tasks.
Who should buy a MacBook Pro 16 â€?
The first group of people who should seriously consider a 16-inch machine are those looking at the 2.4GHz MacBook Pro 13. True, the price difference is $ 600, but if you choose the model with 16GB of RAM and 512GB SSD, the difference in price is only $ 200.
What you get for that $ 200 is phenomenal. It includes a much larger screen, two additional processor cores, eight additional threads, and an exponentially more powerful GPU. Not to mention the excellent keyboard. If you don’t need a 13-inch computer, the base 16-inch MacBook Pro completely replaces the 13-inch 2.4GHz model.
The second group of people who need to seriously think about a 16-inch machine are those who do any professional job where time is money. This laptop will handle video, 3D, scientific research, or any other resource-intensive task much faster than all but one of the other MacBooks in this line. It has a ton of wheezing, and the $ 600 price difference between this and the next lower model is nothing before you benefit from its power advantage.
Plus, unlike other MacBook Pros, the Core i9 is worth the $ 400 premium it claims. The extra 512GB of memory, two more cores and four threads, plus a moderately faster GPU, is a relatively good deal.
We don’t recommend anyone with a use case that doesn’t use eight cores and 16 threads to buy the top model, but if your budget allows it, the upgrade is worth it and provides additional protection in the future.
Older MacBook Models
There are still plenty of good deals on older Macs, but the latest line of machines deals with thermal throttling, keyboard reliability, and performance issues that have plagued the MacBook line for the past five years or so.
Therefore, we do not recommend buying older, used models as they are not covered by Apple’s warranty programs. If you buy an old model directly from Apple, new or refurbished, we strongly recommend using Apple Care in addition to your standard warranty.