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Best MacBook and Macs: top Apple desktops and laptops

A MacBook Pro on an office table
Let us show you our picks for the best MacBook and Macs money can buy. (Image credit: Future)
PRICE
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID

With all the leaps that Apple has made to its products, especially in the last year, now’s the best time to invest in the best MacBook and Macs. These Apple computers and laptops have long showcased their cutting edge tech with simple yet striking design in the kind of durable build that will ensure years of use. But, lately, they’ve also shown-off the kind of performance prowess they’re capable of, thanks to Apple’s M1 chip that many of them are now powered with.

It’s not just that top-notch performance and impeccable design that make the best MacBooks and Macs what they are. The software and hardware are integrated much more tightly than in other machines, particularly now that macOS 11 Big Sur is out (and macOS 12 Monterey is coming soon). It’s no wonder that users have much higher expectations of Apple devices than they do of Windows ones. So, while they still come with a premium price tag compared to other computers out there, they’re worth it with the value they offer.

Although a strong case can be made for the best Windows PCs, Windows laptops, and Chromebooks, there’s nothing on par with using an Apple device. Take a look at the ones we tested, vetted, and approved of below, alongside our price comparison tool so you can score the best deals. And, if you can hold out for a little longer, we may even see new Macs and Macbooks in October for better and more powerful options.

MacBook Air (M1, 2020) against a white background

(Image credit: Apple)

1. MacBook Air (M1, 2020)

The best Apple laptop

Specifications
CPU: Apple M1 chip with 8‑core CPU
Graphics: Integrated 7-core – 8-core GPU
RAM: 8GB – 16GB unified memory
Screen: 13.3-inch 2560 x 1600 Retina display
Storage: 256GB – 2TB SSD
Reasons to buy
+macOS Big Sur is fast and responsive+Battery life is great+Silent in use
Reasons to avoid
-Fanless design could impact performance

Apple topped last year off with a bang, rolling out their much-talked about M1 silicon chip that’s so far been a real game-changer. And, the first laptop to receive it is the company’s thinnest and lightest, putting it on the list of the most exciting Apple laptops of recent years. With this new chip, the MacBook Air is better than ever, touting excellent performance alongside its brilliant battery life – without raising the price to keep it (fairly) affordable still. This is the best MacBook for pretty much everyone.

Read the full review: MacBook Air (M1, 2020)

iMac (24-inch, 2021) in blue against a white background

(Image credit: Apple)

2. iMac (24-inch, 2021)

The iMac gets a welcome redesign

Specifications
CPU: Apple M1 chip with 8‑core CPU
Graphics: Integrated 7-core – 8-core GPU
RAM: 8GB – 16GB unified memory
Screen: 24-inch 4.5K Retina display
Storage: up to 2TB
Reasons to buy
+Excellent screen+Striking new design+Fantastic webcam
Reasons to avoid
-Lack of ports remains-Mac mini may offer better value for some

If you think that the new iMacs couldn’t possibly be as good as they look, you’d be wrong. They are not just an improvement over their 21.5-inch predecessor externally, touting a fresh new face that comes in several different colors. They also come with fresh new specs, rocking Apple’s new M1 chip that makes it much more powerful than the previous Intel iMacs. In fact, we’d go as far as to say that the new iMac (24-inch, 2021) is the best all-in-one PC we’ve ever tested, and has certainly earned its place in our best Macs list. You’ll also be happy to know that you’re getting great value here, as you’re getting the Magic Keyboard and Magic Mouse included – in matching colors, we might add.

Read the full review: iMac (24-inch, 2021)

MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019) from above against a white background

(Image credit: Apple)

3. MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019)

Best MacBook for creatives

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. This is truly the best MacBook for content creators, designers and other creative professionals.

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

MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) against a white background

(Image credit: Apple)

4. MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020)

Apple’s little MacBook Pro gets a big refresh

Specifications
CPU: Apple M1 chip with 8‑core CPU
Graphics: Integrated 8-core GPU
RAM: 8GB – 16GB unified memory
Screen: 13.3-inch 2560 x 1600 LED-backlit Retina display
Storage: 256GB – 2TB SSD
Dimensions (H x W x D): 30.41 x 21.24 x 1.56 cm
Reasons to buy
+Huge battery life+Great performance+Can run iOS apps
Reasons to avoid
-Still lacks ports

The MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) may not have gotten a massive design overhaul, but what it lacks in that department, it makes up for big time in performance and battery life. Thanks to Apple’s groundbreaking M1 chip, the new MacBook Pro 13-inch delivers excellent performance and exceptional battery life. Its performance is so impressive, in fact, that it can easily handle 4K - and even 8K - videos. If you’re looking for a powerful laptop that keeps things small and lightweight, this is the best MacBook money can buy.

Read the full review: MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020)

Mac mini (M1, 2020) against a white background

(Image credit: Apple)

5. Mac mini (M1, 2020)

Small, but with big ambitions

Specifications
CPU: Apple M1 chip with 8-core CPU
Graphics: Integrated 8-core GPU
RAM: 8GB – 64GB unified memory
Storage: 256GB – 2TB SSD
Dimensions (W x D x H): 19.7 x 19.7 x 3.6 cm
Reasons to buy
+Same lovely design+Very good performance+New M1 hardware has potential
Reasons to avoid
-Can't use eGPUs

One of Apple’s biggest surprises of the year is the update to its smallest Mac. The brand-new Mac mini now touts Apple’s M1 chip, while keeping things the same in its much-loved design. It’s more powerful than ever – with more than decent video editing performance, even at 8K, and can now run iOS apps and games, thanks to this new chip, but it still keeps its title as the cheapest Mac ever – terrific news for budget-minded Apple fans. 

Read the full review: Mac mini (M1, 2020)

iMac (27-inch, 2020) against a white background

(Image credit: Apple)

6. iMac (27-inch, 2020)

A formidable upgrade

Specifications
CPU: 10th-generation Intel Core i5 – i9
Graphics: AMD Radeon Pro 5300 - Radeon Pro 5700 XT
RAM: 8GB – 128GB 2666MHz DDR4
Screen: 27-inch (diagonal) 5120 x 2880 Retina 5K display
Storage: 256GB – 8TB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Improved internals+Can be configured to be very powerful
Reasons to avoid
-Design is getting old-Just two Thunderbolt ports

Even though the iMac 27-inch’s last update was only last year, Apple couldn’t help but step up in the upgrades department with its 2020 follow-up. Specs-wise, this model sports some massive improvements while also upgrading its webcam and microphones for a felicitous update. More people are working from home these days, and this seems like the best all-in-one PC to invest in without being forced to make some considerable space in your existing area. Sure, its overall design hasn’t seen so much as a tweak, making it look a bit tired, but if power is at the top of your list, this one’s the best Mac for you.

Read the full review: iMac (27-inch, 2020)

iMac Pro against a white background

(Image credit: Apple)

7. iMac Pro

Raw power

Specifications
CPU: 8 to 18-core Intel Xeon W
Graphics: Radeon Pro Vega 56 - Radeon Pro Vega 64
RAM: 32GB – 256GB DDR4 ECC
Screen: 27-inch 5K (5,120 x 2,880) Retina display (P3 wide color)
Storage: 1TB – 4TB PCIe 3.0 SSD
Dimensions (H x W x D): 65 x 20.3 x 51.6cm
Reasons to buy
+Most powerful Mac you can buy +Gorgeous, color-accurate display 
Reasons to avoid
-Very expensive 

Professionals and creatives need something that can handle any workload they can possibly throw at it. If you’re one such user, the iMac Pro isn’t just one of the best Macs for you; it’s the only Mac to consider. Not only does it have a vibrant 27-inch 5K display with a P3 wide color gamut, but it also boasts the most powerful hardware Apple could get its hands on. It’s extremely expensive though, so it’s really only meant for folks who have deep pockets and need that unbridled power to get through their daily workloads. 

Read the full review: iMac Pro 

MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2020) against a gray background

(Image credit: Apple)

8. MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2020)

Worth the upgrade at the highest configuration

Specifications
CPU: 8th-generation Intel Core i5 – 10th-generation Intel Core i7
Graphics: Intel Iris Plus Graphics 645
RAM: up to 32GB
Screen: 13-inch Retina display with True Tone
Storage: 256GB – 4TB SSD
Dimensions (W x D x H): 11.97 x 8.36 x 0.61 inches
Reasons to buy
+Improved specs (on some models)+Larger capacity SSD for starting model+New keyboard is great
Reasons to avoid
-Entry-level model still has 8th gen Intel CPU-You still only get Thunderbolt 3 ports

The MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2020)’s entry-level model may miss out on some of the lineup’s new toys. However, going for the higher-end configurations will get you new (and powerful) Intel processors and improved RAM speeds for better performance, all packed into the 13-inch incredibly svelte body. Apple rounds it all out with that incredible Magic Keyboard from the new 16-inch, finally getting rid of that problematic keyboard. Even if you don’t go for the 10th-generation Intel Core configurations, you might still appreciate the fact that all models come with more storage capacity for the same price as their predecessors.

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

Apple Mac mini (2020) against a white background

(Image credit: Apple)

9. Apple Mac mini (Intel, 2020)

Same size, more storage space

Specifications
CPU: 8th-generation Intel Core i3 – Core i7
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 630
RAM: 8GB – 64GB 2666MHz DDR4
Storage: 256GB – 2TB SSD
Dimensions (W x D x H): 19.7 x 19.7 x 3.6cm
Reasons to buy
+More storage+More RAM options
Reasons to avoid
-Aging processor-Older integrated graphics

Apple is changing up a bit, giving its updated Macs more storage than their predecessors as well as the option for even more RAM. It’s the case with the newly-updated Mac mini (2020). Sadly, this isn't quite the generational upgrade we were hoping for. It’s the same Mac mini with the same processor and integrated graphics that are both, unfortunately, aging at this point. Though, both are still pretty potent for the Mac mini’s target audience. Combined with more storage space, this is certainly an appealing option for many Apple fans.

MacBook (2017) against a white background

(Image credit: Apple)

10. MacBook (2017)

Small and stylish

Specifications
CPU: Dual-core Intel Core m3 – Core i5
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 615
RAM: 8GB – 16GB
Screen: 12-inch Retina (2,304 x 1,440) IPS
Storage: 256GB – 512GB PCIe SSD
Dimensions (W x D x H): 11.04 x 7.74 x 0.14~0.52in
Reasons to buy
+Incredibly portable +Long battery life 
Reasons to avoid
-Too expensive 

While Apple has officially taken the MacBook out of its MacBook lineup, many third parties are still carry it. And because the 12-inch MacBook has found its niche as an ultraportable and lightweight laptop, it’s still deserving of a spot on our best Macs list… that is, until stock runs out. It’s low on ports, but that’s hardly a surprise in a laptop this thin. It can support basically everything under the sun with its Thunderbolt 3 port, anyway. It’s not as powerful as the MacBook Pro, but if you’re looking for a MacBook that’s easy to take with you wherever you go, look no further.

Read the full review: Apple MacBook (2017)

What to look for in the best Macs and MacBooks

Whether it’s the new 16-inch MacBook Pro that just came out or the Mac Pro 2019 that’s also just released, it’s not hard to see why the best Mac and MacBooks are the weapons of choice of creative professionals.

And, even if you don’t go for the newest releases, there’s already a few excellent options to choose from, especially with Apple recently giving its MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro and 15-inch MacBook Pro that much-needed update.

The best part is that the best Mac and MacBooks come in different shapes, sizes and price so that whether you want the cheapest MacBook you could find, a professional workhorse that breezes through all your extensive workloads like a pro, or an all-in-one that saves you space, there’s a Mac on the market for you.