The best MacBook and Macs 2024: top Apple desktops and laptops

PRICE
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
best MacBook and Macs
(Image credit: Future)

Even hardcore Windows fans can admit that the best MacBook and Macs are the cream of the crop in the laptop world. These portable machines are not just beautifully-designed but also extremely robust and are fitted with a stunning display, the best keyboard on a laptop, and more. 

On top of that, they deliver a smoother, more streamlined, and more stable experience than what Windows laptops can offer. Now powered by Apple's own SoCs (system on chip), these new Macs are brilliant performers that will see you through your creative workloads - especially those based on Apple's brand-new M3 series of chips.

Despite their best efforts, the best Windows laptops simply can't live up to the experience you get when you're photo or video editing on the best Mac or MacBook. So, which they may be more expensive than what most people would pay for, they’re worth your money if you want the best computer or the best laptop for work, school, or even play. 

We've tested and reviewed every single Mac and MacBook from Apple, and we're the experts to help you find the most ideal model for your specific needs and budget. The MacBook and Macs below are our top picks, and include the brand-new MacBook Pros and 24-inch iMac that Apple recently launched.

One thing to note is that with the launch of the new models, Apple has stopped selling the early 2023 models of the 14-inch and the 16-inch. However, other retailers still have them in stock and could even offer MacBook deals on the older models, so we've kept some of them on the list. 

The best MacBook and Macs 2024

best MacBook and Macs Apple MacBook Air (M2, 2022) on a white desk in a studio

(Image credit: Future)
The best MacBook overall

Specifications

CPU: Apple M2 chip with 8-core CPU
Graphics: Integrated 9-core – 10-core GPU
RAM: 8GB – 24GB unified memory
Screen: 13.6-inch (diagonal) 2560-by-1664 LED-backlit display with IPS technology
Storage: up to 2TB

Reasons to buy

+
Great new design
+
Very good performance
+
Long battery life

Reasons to avoid

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More expensive than the previous model
-
New colors are a bit tame

While the MacBook Pros have the sheer performance suitable for power users and content creators, for the rest of us, there’s the MacBook Air (M2, 2022). That isn’t to say that it’s not powerful in its own right. On the contrary, we found its performance to be exceptional during testing, tackling 4K video editing and music production workflows fast and in silence (thanks to its fanless design). In some benchmark tests, its single-core performance is even on par with the MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022).

It isn’t just its specs that saw an upgrade over its predecessor. Its battery life got a 5-hour uptick, giving it 16 hours of use on a single charge, while its screen is bigger and its design is better. We may not have gotten those full colors that the iMac 24-inch is sporting, but you’re getting a far more modern design here. It’s even thinner and smaller while offering a bigger screen size.

Read our in-depth MacBook Air (M2, 2022) review

best MacBook and Macs MacBook Air (M1, 2020)

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The best budget MacBook

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

+
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. During testing, it felt fast and capable. It was able handle quite a few apps running all at once, keeping up brilliantly and with ease when we swapped between apps. We didn't notice any major incidents of throttling, despite the fact that it has a fanless design and is therefore more susceptible to overheating.

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 our in-depth MacBook Air (M1, 2020) review

best MacBook and Macs Mac mini (2023) in a studio

(Image credit: Future)
The best Mac you can buy in 2023 - seriously

Specifications

CPU: Apple M2 (8-core) -Apple M2 Pro (10-core)
Graphics: Integrated 10-core GPU - 16-core GPU
RAM: 8GB – 64GB unified memory
Storage: 256GB – 2TB SSD
Dimensions (W x D x H): 1.41 x 7.75 x 7.75-inches (3.58 x 19.70 x 19.70 cm)

Reasons to buy

+
Same lovely design
+
More powerful than ever
+
New lower price

Reasons to avoid

-
Not upgradable

The Mac mini got a surprise upgrade in 2023, and the compact PC now comes with a choice of the powerful M2 chip - or the even more powerful M2 Pro. We reviewed the M2 Pro model and were really impressed with its performance as we were with its sleek and compact design. 

Despite its small size, this is an extremely capable Mac that can run macOS Ventura and any app or game with ease. It also performed brilliantly when we ran similar tests as we did with the MacBook Pro 16-inch (2023), including editing 8K movie files, making projects in Ableton Live 11 using a MIDI keyboard, and synthetic benchmarks such as Cinebench.

The M2 model is also worth considering. It comes with the same M2 chip that the 2022 models of the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro 13-inch feature, and offers a similar level of performance but without the high price tag. Speaking of which, the Mac mini (2023) launched at a new, lower, asking price, making it even better value for money.

Read the in-depth Mac mini (M2, 2023) review

MacBook Pro 14 M3 Max (2023) REVIEW

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
The best MacBook Pro for most content creators

Specifications

CPU: Apple M3 (8-core) - Apple M3 Max (14-core)
Graphics: Integrated 10-core GPU - 30‑core GPU
RAM: 16GB – 128GB unified memory
Storage: 512GB – 8TB SSD
Dimensions (W x D x H): 0.61 x 12.31 x 8.71 inches (1.55 x 31.26 x 22.12 cm)

Reasons to buy

+
Familiar but still excellent design
+
Long battery life
+
Excellent performance

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive
-
Fans can get loud

Only nine months after releasing the M2 Pro and M2 Max-powered MacBook Pro 14-inch (2023), Apple has replaced it with a brand new model, coming with a choice of M3, M3 Pro and M3 Max chips. These new Apple silicon entries offer further performance gains over the M2 series, making the new 14-inch MacBook Pro the new best MacBook for creatives.

The MacBook Pro 14-inch (M3/M3 Pro/M3 Max) handled everything we threw at it during testing, whether we were editing videos in 8K, recording numerous instruments at the same time, or editing multi-track audio projects in Albeton Live 11. Of course, it fared well tackling a range of use cases for day-to-day workloads as well. And, its Liquid Retina XDR and mini-LED technology display with ProMotion adaptive refresh rates of up to 120Hz delivered vibrant colors and rich, deep contrast, making our creative experience incredibly immersive.

It keeps the same design as the 2021 and early 2023 models, but that's no bad thing given the brilliant screen and solid build quality. It is, as with many creative mobile workstations, eye-watering expensive, however. There is some good news, however, as Apple has introduced a more affordable base model of the MacBook Pro 14-inch with the standard M3 chip. While it lacks the sheer performance of the M3 Pro and M3 Max version, this is a great way for more people to enjoy an absolutely fantastic laptop.

Read our full in-depth Apple MacBook Pro 14-inch (M3 Max) review

Imac hero

(Image credit: Future)
The best all-in-one Mac for most users

Specifications

CPU: Apple M3 chip with 8‑core CPU
Graphics: Integrated 8-core – 10-core GPU
RAM: 8GB – 24GB unified memory
Screen: 24-inch 4.5K Retina display
Storage: up to 2TB

Reasons to buy

+
New M3 chip offers excellent performance
+
Still thin and light
+
Remains the best all-in-one computer

Reasons to avoid

-
Design remains the same – including peripherals
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256GB SSD in base model too small

If you think that the new iMac couldn’t possibly be as good as it looks, you’d be wrong. Featuring the same bold design introduced in 2021 with the M1 version, the latest iMac remains a stunning bit of it.

It also comes with fresh new specs, rocking Apple’s new M3 chip that makes it much more powerful than the previous Intel iMacs, and the two-year-old M1 model. Loading up Final Cut Pro to do some editing on an 8K video, it performed very well during testing, smoothly scrubbing through 8K content. If you're a pro, you may be best served by a more powerful Mac or MacBook Pro, but this one should more than suffice for hobbyists and streamers looking to edit their videos.

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 - though we wish Apple would give the Magic Mouse a redesign and get rid of the Lightning charging port at the bottom, which makes the mouse impossible to use when plugged in. And, while the port selection could be better, the upgraded 1080p FaceTime camera delivers better low-light performance and amazing image quality. The iMac 24-inch (M3) is the best all-in-one PC we’ve ever tested, and has certainly earned its place in our best Macs list.

Read our in-depth iMac 24-inch (M3) review

best MacBook and Macs Apple MacBook Air 15-inch laptop sitting on a wooden table

(Image credit: Future)
The best 15-inch MacBook hands-down

Specifications

CPU: Apple M2 chip with 8-core CPU
Graphics: Integrated 10-core GPU
RAM: From 8GB unified memory
Screen: 15.3-inch Liquid Retina display with True Tone
Storage: From 256GB SSD

Reasons to buy

+
Big screen
+
Slimline design
+
Surprisingly good price

Reasons to avoid

-
Same internal specs as a 13-inch model
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Less portable than 13-inch model

In its own right, the Apple MacBook Air 15-inch (2023) is a fantastic laptop with its impressively thin and light design, fantastic performance, and brilliant screen that gives you about two extra inches than the regular Air. Those hoping for a screen real estate upgrade in their notebook will be overjoyed, especially if you’ve got a slightly aging MacBook Air 13-inch (2021) or older.

This laptop performed really well on test, with macOS Ventura feeling fast and responsive, and apps such as Apple TV+, Chrome and Photoshop being snappy. And it does live up to Apple's promise of up to 18 hours of video playback, scoring 18 hours and 52 minutes in our looped 1080p video battery benchmark. It’s truly one of the best 15-inch laptops you’ll find in 2023.

And honestly, this would have ranked higher on this list, had it not been for the fact that this is essentially a 13-inch Air M2 with a bigger screen – complete with the same specs and everything. In fact, our benchmark results show that it offers the same level of performance as the 13-inch, which means that if you’ve got that, there’s really no reason to spend a whole lot of money on this. Just invest in a monitor if you need the extra screen real estate.

Read our full Apple MacBook Air 15-inch (2023) review

MacBook Pro 16-inch with screen open in an office

(Image credit: Future)
The best MacBook for those who want a lot of power

Specifications

CPU: Apple M3 Pro (12-core) - Apple M3 Max (16-core)
Graphics: Integrated 18-core – 48-core GPU
RAM: Up to 128GB
Screen: 16.2-inch Liquid Retina XDR display
Storage: Up to 8TB

Reasons to buy

+
New M3 Pro and M3 Max chips
+
Over 24 hours battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive
-
Only nine months since last version

The MacBook Pro 16-inch (M3 Pro/M3 Max) is hands-down the best laptop for creative professionals we’ve ever tested – even though it comes just nine months after the last model (the MacBook Pro 16-inch (2023), which used to be in this list). It's powered by a choice of the new M3 Pro and M3 Max chips, Apple's latest and most powerful hardware. 

There wasn’t a task the new 16-inch MacBook Pro couldn’t handle during our review, even when editing 4K footage with multiple 4K and 8K video files, and it also did an impressive job of running the latest games. That’s right: with the new 16-inch MacBook Pro (and the new MacBook Pro 14-inch model), Apple might have just come out with the first gaming MacBook

In our own independent benchmark tests, we saw a good leap in performance between the M3 Max and M1 Max MacBook Pro 16-inches, with a 35% increase in Geekbench 6 in single core CPU performance, and a huge 69% increase in multi-core performance.

Read our in-depth MacBook Pro 16-inch (M3 Pro/M3 Max) review

best MacBook and Macs MacBook Pro 14-inch (2023) in a studio with screen showing website

(Image credit: Future)
Older but still great for professionals, especially if you find a good deal

Specifications

CPU: Apple M2 Pro (10-core) - Apple M2 Max (12-core)
Graphics: Integrated 16-core GPU - 38‑core GPU
RAM: 16GB – 96GB unified memory
Storage: 512GB – 8TB SSD
Dimensions (W x D x H): 0.61 x 12.31 x 8.71 inches (1.55 x 31.26 x 22.12 cm)

Reasons to buy

+
M2 Pro and M2 Max chips
+
Almost 20-hour battery life
+
Best screen on a laptop

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive
-
No longer latest model

It seems that every year, Apple is making the MacBook Pro 14-inch a lot more power than you'd expect. Its 2021 predecessor may have been an almost perfect laptop, but this one blows it out of the water in terms of power, cementing the line's status as a mobile workstation that's reserved for users who can maximize its sheer performance.

However, even though it launched in January 2023, the MacBook Pro 14-inch (2023) is no longer the latest model - it's just been superseded by the MacBook Pro 14-inch (M3/M3 Pro/M3 Max), which can be found higher up on this list. That might be annoying for people who just bought the M2-era model, but it's still a great laptop, and with the new M3 models out, you may be able to find the M2 models for cheaper - though not from Apple, which has now stopped selling those (slightly) older 14-inch MacBook Pros. 

Read our full in-depth Apple MacBook Pro 14-inch (2023) review

best MacBook and Macs Mac Studio on wooden desk

(Image credit: Future)
A compact Mac for creative professionals

Specifications

CPU: Apple 10-core M1 Max or 20-core M1 Ultra
Graphics: Integrated 24-core - 32-core (M1 Max) or 48-core - 64-core (M1 Ultra) GPU
RAM: 32GB – 128GB unified memory
Storage: 512GB – 8TB SSD
Dimensions (H x W x D): 9.5 x 19.7 x 19.7 cm

Reasons to buy

+
Compact
+
Powerful

Reasons to avoid

-
Pricey
-
Non-upgradable

The Mac Studio is like a super-charged Mac mini for creative professionals. Apple's newest Mac, this is an impressively compact computer