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Best business Mac in 2021: best laptop, all-in-one, workstation, mobile workstation and laptop replacement

(Image credit: Future)
PRICE
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID

The best business Mac may be a bit harder to find. These days, Apple has been treading a fine line between pro and consumer, rolling out machines touting power ideal for business and a design ideal for regular consumers. The good news is that although Apple’s products have always found favour with creative professionals and prosumers, they boast the level of build and performance ideal for business use.

Any business kitting out its workforce with Apple products knows what to expect. The brand is synonymous with innovative design and simple operation, not to mention creativity and reliability. And, with Apple constantly refreshing its Mac and MacBook lineup without upping the price, there are better options on offer now as far as the best business Macs, complete with upgraded internals (and better keyboards) for the same price as the previous year's models.

From the best MacBooks to the best AIO computers, these are the best business Macs of 2021.

Best Mac laptop for business

(Image credit: Future)

1. 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar

The best MacBook for business gets a price cut

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core i5 1.4GHz – 3.9GHz
Graphics: Intel Iris Plus Graphics 645
RAM: 8GB 2133MHz LPDDR3
Storage: 128GB SSD
Dimensions (W x D x H): 11.97 x 8.36 x 0.59in
Reasons to buy
+Bright and color-accurate display+Four USB-C Thunderbolt ports+Good battery life
Reasons to avoid
-Divisive keyboard

Now is the best time to buy a Touch Bar-equipped 13-inch MacBook Pro following Apple’s recent price drop. In our view it’s the best all-round Mac laptop for business thanks to its high-resolution display which is not only color accurate, covering the DCI P3 color gamut, it also runs at a bright 500 nits which prevents eye strain and makes from working on anything from spreadsheets to hosting video meetings a pleasure. Another big plus goes to its four USB Type-C Thunderbolt ports, which allow multiple monitors to be hooked up along with USB-C accessories to take advantage of lightning-fast data speeds. 

Read the full review: MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2020)

MacBook Air (2020)

(Image credit: Apple)

2. MacBook Air (2020)

New and improved for 2020

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core i3 – i7
Graphics: Intel Iris Plus Graphics
RAM: 8GB – 16GB
Storage: 256GB – 2TB PCIe-based SSD
Dimensions: 30.41 x 21.24 x 1.61 cm
Reasons to buy
+Lower price of entry+New 10th generation processors+Improved keyboard
Reasons to avoid
-Screen colors a little muted-Battery life only OK-Webcam still just 720p

Apple’s 13-inch MacBook Air is the best Mac laptop for business if you don’t need all the features of the 13-inch MacBook Pro. It halves the number of USB-C ports which makes using multiple monitors problematic (unless you opt for one such as the LG UltraFine 5K that adds more Thunderbolt ports), and it has the subtly, yet noticeably dimmer and less color-accurate (yet still high-resolution) display out of the pair. On the other hand, the Air is marginally thinner and lighter than the Pro which makes a tangible difference when carrying it around.

Read the full review: MacBook Air (2020) 

(Image credit: Future)

3. 12-inch MacBook

A MacBook that's made for travel

Specifications
CPU: 1.2GHz Intel core m3 Dual-Core
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 615
RAM: 8GB LPDDR3
Storage: 25GB SSD
Dimensions (W x D x H): 11.04 x 7.74 x 0.14in
Reasons to buy
+Thin and light+Decent display
Reasons to avoid
-One Thunderbolt Type-C port-Divisive butterfly-switch keyboard

Apple’s 12-inch MacBook is hard to recommend over the 13-inch Pro or Air due to its lone Thunderbolt USB-C port, which seriously hampers its practicality. The only reason to choose this model is for its portability. As Apple’s most compact and light MacBook for business owners who are constantly on the move, it can’t be beaten for slipping into a suitcase or small backpack – and it has enough power inside for everyday computing tasks. Move quick though - Apple has officially stopped selling the machine, so when stocks run out it’s time to say goodbye for good to this miniature marvel.

Read the full review: Apple MacBook

Best all-in-one Mac for business

iMac (27-inch, 2019)

(Image credit: Apple)

4. Apple iMac (27-inch, 2019)

Apple’s most affordable all-in-one

Specifications
CPU: up to 3.6GHz 8-core Intel Core i9
Graphics: AMD Radeon Pro 570X – Radeon Pro Vega 48
RAM: 8GB – 64GB
Screen: 27-inch (diagonal) Retina 5K display 5120 x 2880
Storage: 1TB Fusion Drive – 2TB SSD
Dimensions (H x W x D): 51.6 x 65.0 x 20.3 cm
Reasons to buy
+Stunning 5K display+Quiet under load
Reasons to avoid
-SSD upgrades are expensive

The iMac has long been one of the cheaper ways to get into the macOS ecosystem, and we’re glad that hasn’t changed. Though what has changed, we also appreciate. The new iMac is packing with 8th- and 9th-generation desktop-class processors, letting this stylish all-in-one reach that fabled 8-core performance. If you’re looking for an all-in-one Mac, the new 27-inch iMac might just be the best Mac for you, at least if you’re on a budget.

Read the full review: iMac (27-inch, 2019)

Best Mac workstation for business

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5. iMac Pro

If money is no object…

Specifications
CPU: Intel Xeon W
Graphics: Radeon Pro Vega 56 with 8GB of HBM2 memory
RAM: 32GB 2666MHz DDR4 ECC
Storage: 1 TB SSD
Communications: Gigabit Ethernet
Dimensions (W x D x H): 65 x 20.3 x 51.6cm
Reasons to buy
+Unbelievable power+Convenient form factor
Reasons to avoid
-Limited upgradability-Eye-watering cost

Let’s be clear, here: the iMac specced above costs almost $5,000 on Apple’s website - and that's just for the base model, which can be extensively expanded. That’s clearly an expensive proposition for any business that’s not swimming in cash, but if you need the convenience of an all-in-one that packs incredible power, this is Apple’s best Mac workstation for business. Whether you would be better suited to the company’s newer Mac Pro is another question. If you do drop some serious cash on the iMac Pro, you may as well spec it to the hilt because it’s extremely difficult to repair – scoring a lowly three out of 10 for repairability from iFixit – so you would be stuck with its internals for some time to come.

Read the full review: iMac Pro

(Image credit: Future)

6. Mac mini 2018

Apple’s smallest workstation is now even better for business

Specifications
CPU: Core i5 2.6GHz
RAM: 8 GB
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 630
Storage: 1TB
Dimensions (W x D x H): 9 x 6 x 6in
Reasons to buy
+Four USB-C Thunderbolt ports+Space-saving design
Reasons to avoid
-Integrated graphics-Higher starting cost

Apple’s Mac mini has been a popular choice for business users for years due to its space-saving design and ability to be hooked up with an affordable monitor. Apple’s updated 2018 version is now aimed squarely at creatives and professional users. It features the same small design but ups the power – at least on the CPU side – its integrated graphics still aren’t powerful enough for video or photo editing at high resolutions. Still, you get four USB-C Thunderbolt 3 ports for hooking up multiple monitors, making it pretty good value overall.

Read the full review: Apple mac mini

(Image credit: Apple)

7. Mac Pro

A workstation with a unique design

Specifications
CPU: Intel Xeon E5 processor
Graphics: AMD FirePro D500 x 2 with 3GB of dedicated GDDR5
Storage: 256GB SSD
Dimensions (W x D x H): 11.97 x 8.36 x 0.59in
Reasons to buy
+Compact design+Can be repaired and upgraded
Reasons to avoid
-Outdated-Expensive

Apple’s newest Mac Pro (unofficially named the ‘cheesegrater’) has just been completely revamped. This is the older model (very unofficially named the trashcan) from six years ago, which Apple is no longer selling, but it still has something to offer business users if you can pick it refurbished or in the sale. Its cylindrical design feels a bit stale these days, but it’s second only to the mac Mini in terms of its compactness. And, while still powerful, its specs across the board are inevitably outdated today. That said, the machine was given a healthy 8 (out of 10) for repairability from iFixit – so you can upgrade the CPU and RAM, at the very least.

Read the full review: Apple Mac Pro

Best mobile workstation for business

MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019)

(Image credit: Apple)

8. MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019)

The best Apple laptop

Specifications
CPU: 9th-generation Intel Core i7 – i9
Graphics: AMD Radeon Pro 5300M – Radeon Pro 5500M
RAM: 16GB – 64GB
Screen: 16-inch Retina display with True Tone
Storage: 512GB – 8TB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Stunning 16-inch screen+New and improved keyboard
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive-Limited to four Thunderbolt 3 ports

While we are sad that Apple has retired the 15-inch MacBook Pro, we’re more than happy to see the MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019) hit the shelves. As thin, light and sleek as ever, this doesn’t feel like a 16-inch behemoth. If you’re worried that this was going to be bulky and awkward to use, don’t be. Yet, despite its svelte frame, you’re still getting that extra real estate on that stunning display, as well as the latest and greatest components behind it. Apple then rounds those out with amazing (and loud) speakers and a much, much better keyboard. If you're after the best workstation MacBook for your business, this is it.

Read the full review: MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019)

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9. 15-inch MacBook Pro

Apple’s powerful portable workstation

Specifications
CPU: 9th-ge Intel Core i7
Graphics: Radeon Pro 555X or 560X graphics with 4GB of video memory
RAM: 16GB memory
Storage: 256GB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Big dazzling display+Latest Intel 9th-gen processor
Reasons to avoid
-Butterfly keyboard is divisive-Still expensive

The 15-inch MacBook Pro was Apple’s portable powerhouse in previous years, and remains a strong choice for multimedia professionals and anyone who requires maximum screen real-estate for using productivity and other applications on the move. While it's since been replaced by the 16-inch version (included above), it's still a powerful portable machine with a great display and strong technical specifications when it comes to its processor, RAM, and storage, and of course graphics handling. Expect to still pay a lot for it, however, as the model is still available, but it should be found cheaper than the 16-inch replacement while stocks last.

Read the full review: MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2019)

Best Mac laptop replacement for business

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10. iPad Pro 12.9-inch

Apple’s laptop ‘replacement’ is a versatile business tool

Specifications
Display: 12.9-inch Liquid Retina display
Camera: 12MP camera with Smart HDR and 4K video
Processor: A12X Bionic chip with Neural Engine
Storage: From 64GB
Reasons to buy
+Massive display+Snappy iOS 12
Reasons to avoid
-Limited battery life-No headphone port or connector

Apple’s largest iPad is the closest yet to replicating the feeling of a laptop in a tablet, especially when paired with a full-sized keyboard dock. This model has a gorgeous huge display for manipulating spreadsheets, annotating PDFs, holding web conference call or doing most other things that you would usually do with a clamshell device. One consideration for business users is that it doesn’t have a headphone port, so you’d need to pair it with a pair of AirPods or other Bluetooth-equipped headphones for private calls.

Read the full review: iPad Pro 12.9 (2018)

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11. iPad with 10.2-inch Retina display

A bigger screen for business tasks

Specifications
Display: 10.2-inch Retina display
Processor: A10 Fusion chip
Camera: 8MP back camera
Reasons to buy
+Larger screen, smaller bezels+Apple Pencil support
Reasons to avoid
-Lacks FaceID-Accessories are expensive

Apple’s 10.2-inch iPad shares many of the 12.9-inch iPad’s best features, all for a much cheaper price. It will prove the most attractive for businesses who want to kit out their workers with an Apple tablet that boasts a large display and Apple Pencil support, while finding a good balance between great features and cost-effectiveness. This iPad also has a smart connector for hooking up Apple’s Smart Keyboard, which will allow for staff to be productive on the move.

Read the hands-on review: New iPad (2019)

Desire Athow

Managing Editor, TechRadar Pro

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology in a career spanning four decades. Following an eight-year stint at ITProPortal.com where he discovered the joys of global techfests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. He has an affinity for anything hardware and staunchly refuses to stop writing reviews of obscure products or cover niche B2B software-as-a-service providers.