Update: Being the newest Apple computer we’ve reviewed, the 2017 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar now occupies the top spot on our best Macs list. Despite not being in line with our usual , the ages of the products on this list outweigh their scores and award hierarchies.
With WWDC 2017 behind us, we’re now at a point where 25% of Windows PC owners have admitted that they plan on making the switch to Mac in the next six months. The consistent Mac refreshes we’ve seen lately – including now Kaby Lake processors across all MacBooks and even a handful of new iMacs – are less surprising in light of that.
With all of Apple’s computers up to date and Microsoft’s most competitive notebook beginning to fall behind, it’s not hard to see why the best Macs are experiencing growth in popularity. Along with the introduction of macOS High Sierra, Mac hardware is keeping up as well. Let’s just hope that carries over to the upcoming iMac Pro, where things aren’t as promising right now.
Even with the MacBook Air and Mac mini all but defunct, there are still a ton of options to choose from when it comes to purchasing one of the top Macs. Sexy yet functional, sleek yet reliable, we’ve ranked the best Macs from best to acceptable, starting with the gorgeous 5K iMac.
1. 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar (2017)
More of the same in the best way
CPU: Dual-core Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640 – 650 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.3-inch, (2,560 x 1,600) IPS | Storage: 256GB – 1TB PCIe 3.0 SSD | Dimensions (H x W x D): 30.41 x 21.24 x 1.49cm
If you were expecting the 13-inch MacBook Pro of this year to rectify our complaints of late 2016, you ought to be prepared for disappointment with the latest iteration of Apple’s professional-grade laptop. However, if what you craved were updated internal specs and the same all-aluminum unibody design of yesteryear, the mid-2017 MacBook Pro will absolutely please you. Complete with the same controversial Touch Bar and some pretty beefy specs, the MacBook Pro is a marvel to behold, even if it’s still limited to Thunderbolt 3 ports alone.
2. 27-inch iMac with 5K Retina display (2015)
Apple's biggest iMac puts everything on display
CPU: Quad-core Intel Core i5 – Core i7 | Graphics: AMD Radeon R9 M380 – R9 M395 (2GB) | RAM: 8GB – 32GB | Screen: 27-inch Retina 5K (5,120 x 2,880) IPS | Storage: 25GB – 1TB PCIe Flash; 2TB – 3TB Fusion Drive | Dimensions (H x W x D): 51.6cm x 65cm x 20.3cm
If you want the big screen of an iMac with the precision of a Retina display then there's only one iMac for you: the iMac with 5K Retina display. It comes with a choice between two Intel Core i5 chips as well as 1TB of HDD or Fusion Drive storage and it’s so pretty we want to marry it. For designers and video creators looking to make the move to pixel-heavy content, the 5K iMac pairs an illustrious display with a heaping deal of screen real estate to boot. It may not have the expandability of a Mac Pro, but at least you don't have to worry about buying a monitor.
Read the full review: 27-inch iMac with 5K Retina display (2015)
3. 21.5-inch iMac with 4K Retina display (2015)
A gorgeous 4K display on a compact all-in-one
CPU: Quad-core Intel Core i5; i7 | Graphics: Intel Iris Pro Graphics 6200 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 21.5-inch UHD (4,096 x 2,304) IPS | Storage: 256GB – 512GB PCIe Flash; 1TB HDD; 1TB – 2TB Fusion Drive | Dimensions (H x W x D): 45cm x 52.8cm x 17.5cm
If 27 inches is too much for you, Apple's 21.5-inch 4K iMac is much smaller but bears an equally sharp display. It goes toe-to-toe with the 27-inch 5K iMac when it comes to pixel density, and it similarly supports the DCI-P3 colour gamut allowing for accurate, vibrant color. If those words mean nothing to you, then long story short, Apple's smaller iMac is a capable machine and features one of the best 4K screens around. And, if you don't need an 4K display, there's a as well.
Read the full review: 21.5-inch iMac with 4K Retina display (2015)
4. 12-inch MacBook (2016)
Small, but perfectly formed
CPU: Dual-core Intel Core m3 – Core m7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 515 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 12-inch Retina (2,304 x 1,440) IPS | Storage: 256GB – 512GB PCIe Flash | Dimensions (W x D x H): 28.05cm x 19.65cm x 1.31cm
Apple's 2015 MacBook refresh wasn't for everyone and, despite being rosier and "goldier" than ever, that contention didn’t change in 2016. Most notably, Apple’s replacement of our favorite ports with the brand-new USB-C remains controversial.There's also the keyboard, wherein Apple has re-engineered every key to be thinner and far less springy to the touch. Even though its Intel Core M processor has nowhere near the power of the Pro or even the Air, the laptop is more than capable of running iMovie, Photos, and even Photoshop with ease.
Read the full review: 12-inch MacBook (2016)
5. 15-inch MacBook Pro (2016)
Still the most capable MacBook there is
CPU: Quad-core Intel Core i7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 530; AMD Radeon Pro 450 – 455 | RAM: 16GB | Screen: 15.4-inch Retina (2,880 x 1,800) IPS | Storage: 256GB – 2TB PCIe Flash | Dimensions (H x W x D): 1.49cm x 30.41cm x 21.24cm
After some much-needed patience, we finally have the MacBook Pro overhaul we deserve. Complete with a thinner, lighter design, a Space Gray color option and an OLED Touch Bar in lieu of the function keys, this MacBook Pro introduces the big changes we’ve been waiting for. Although you may be turned off by the lack of conventional ports, there’s a lot to love about the 15-inch MacBook Pro, including lots of RAM, fast storage and a massive trackpad. Sure, you'll be shelling out an extra wad of cash, but it's the best MacBook Pro money can buy.
Read our full review: 15-inch MacBook Pro (2016)
6. 13-inch MacBook Air (2015)
The Ultrabook before Ultrabooks
CPU: Dual-core Intel Core i5 – Core i7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 6000 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 13.3-inch HD (1,440 x 900) | Storage: 128GB – 512GB PCIe Flash | Dimensions (W x D x H): 19.7cm x 19.7cm x 3.6cm
The MacBook Air is in an interesting spot. While it's still one of the most popular and well-known notebooks around, the iPad Pro and 12-inch MacBook have stolen much of its thunder. That is, unless you need the legacy USB 3, Thunderbolt 2 and SDXC card connectivity. Even without a Retina display or Force Touch trackpad, the 13-inch MacBook Air is a very capable machine, even if the 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage leave a lot to be desired. Plus it still has the beloved MagSafe 2 charger onboard as well as an impeccable battery life.
Read the full review: 13-inch MacBook Air (2015)
7. Mac mini (2014)
Apple's most affordable Mac
CPU: Dual-core Intel Core i5 – Core i7 | Graphics: Intel Iris Graphics | RAM: 4GB – 16GB | Storage: 500GB HDD; 256GB – 1TB PCIe Flash; 1TB – 2TB Fusion Drive | Dimensions (W x D x H): 19.7cm x 19.7cm x 3.6cm
The Mac Mini is Apple's cheapest computer and has, for a long time, been its least powerful. Fortunately, Intel's processor technology allows the desktop to be used for heavier tasks and Apple has brought the low-end model up to a decent specification. Available in three different variants – from a $499 (£399, AU$699) version with a 1.4GHz Intel Core i5 processor and 4GB of RAM to a $999 (£949, AU$1,499) model with a 2.8GHz CPU and 8GB of memory – Apple’s smallest Mac is also one of its most resilient.
Read the full review: Mac mini (2014)
Gabe Carey has also contributed to this article