These cases marry function and form
MacBooks are delicate things, and it's a pity that we don't always look after them as best we should. One lapse in concentration and months of work are shattered into shards of unrepeatable swear words.
This is where a good, quality case comes in.
We've got the best in MacBook protection ranging from lightweight neoprene to sturdy watertight casing. We also cover cases that are designed for workers on the move and MacBook owners on a strict budget. And, protection doesn't just have to be functional, it can also be stylish, displaying your own artistic tastes.
So, on we go with ten of the best cases to keep MacBooks and their owners happy.
[Editor's Note: all prices are derived from Amazon, and all options are available for all MacBook models unless otherwise noted.]
This article is part of TechRadar's Mac Week. This year marks not only the 10th anniversary of Apple's MacBook, but the triumphant return of macOS. So, TechRadar looks to celebrate with a week's worth of original features delving back into the Mac's past, predicting the Mac's future and exploring the Mac as it is today.
Image Credit: Etsy; HeebieJeebieMonsters
Price: $99 or about £65
Ever felt that the word "book" in MacBook should be taken to its literal conclusion? Well, step forward the BookBook. Made by Twelve South, a husband-and-wife company based in South Carolina who specialize in high quality Apple products, the case is available for MacBook Air, Pro and 12-inch models.
Weighing just under 390g or 14 ounces, this leather case is based on an antique hardback book complete with a cushioned spine, reinforced corners and a cozy interior for your machine to nestle in. There are dual zips with leather tags that resemble old fashioned bookmarks. The spine even sports gold decal lettering.
So real is the replication of an old tome that this case should deter would-be laptop thieves into thinking you're brushing up on some Keats, not uploading videos to the cloud. Quill not included.
Brenthaven Collins Backpack
Price: $149 or £115
Laptop backpacks don't have to be bulky and ugly. Brenthaven's Collins Backpack has managed to retain the the practicality of the format while remaining fashionable. They've achieved this by keeping the form factor thin and reducing the amount of external zips.
This is not to say that it's lost any of the storage capacity that a normal laptop backpack enjoys, far from it. Check out the two pockets on the outside flap, useful for storing books, accessories, chargers, tablets etc.
In the main laptop chamber, Brenthaven use their own patent-pending HDF Protection System. It's a cradle that keeps the MacBook suspended, therefore preventing damage from drops. Admittedly, it's a little on the pricey side, but there is a lifetime guarantee – so, in theory, you'll never need to buy another laptop bag again.
Price: about $26 or £22
If you're looking for something a bit different, then Caseable may be the one for you. For a mere little more than a night at the movies, you can turn your MacBook into a portable work of art. The Berlin- and Brooklyn-based company has a team of artists each with their own collection to choose from.
Check out Hipstory AKA Amit Shimoni's take on celebrity. There's JF Kennedy with a Hoxton style quiff, Che Geuvara in a beanie and Hillary Clinton with dip-dyed blue hair. The cases themselves are made of 5mm neoprene with classic YKK zips. And you can add a shoulder strap, too, as each case is made to order.
Speck SeeThru hardshell case
Price: $50 or about £35
Hardshell cases are designed to stay on a MacBook permanently to absorb any bumps and scuffs. These cases are suitable for people who need to constantly access their machine in often precarious places.
However, there are so many of these cases on offer, it's difficult to know which one is best. Top sellers are Speck's SeeThru range, and it's easy to see why. Firstly, they come in a rainbow of colors, and secondly, they're a doddle to clip on as many cheaper cases split when attached.
Plus, it's the little things that make this stand out among the crowd, rubberized feet stop slippage and the external casing is scratch and smudge resistant. Oh, and one more thing, contrary to most companies' policies, Speck actively encourage customization. Check its website for images of Etsy sellers who've added attractive paint splatters to their cases.
AmazonBasics laptop sleeve
Price: about $8 or £8.49
AmazonBasics's range covers everything from guitar stands, gym mats, pet beds, batteries, cables and handily for this feature, laptop sleeves. With this budget sheath, Amazon has taken the Henry Ford approach to color choice: black, and that's it.
But, what it lacks in style it more than makes up for in value. For under a tenner, you'll receive a slim, neoprene shell with a neat protective lip that stops the zip from scratching the MacBook. There's also a version with a strap for a few extra bucks.
SubTech Sports Pro DryCase
Price: $149 or about £110
For some, protection against the general bumps and bruises of the daily commute isn't enough. for those that demand ultimate protection, enter the SubTech Sports Pro DryCase.
The clue's in the name, it's primarily designed to keep a laptop dry while – as in the case of its video ad – being strapped to a continually submerging canoe. SubTech claims that the insides will stay dry for one hour at a depth of 5 meters. It's lined with silicon memory foam for shock protection. And, because it's going to be thrown around more than usual, the external coating is made of self-healing silicon.
Mission Leather Co. case
Price: starting at $69 or about £53
Elegant, hard-wearing and won't break the bank, Mission Leather Company cases are handmade from 3mm of tough leather. Coating the inside is a layer of 100% Merino felt which prevents scratches and feels really pleasing to touch.
There are three styles to choose from: a simple slip case, one with a small clipping strap and a landscape format that looks more like a traditional school satchel. Adding to the academic look are the fastenings, which are large metal poppers that seal together with a satisfying click.
Out of the four colors, our personal favorite is the slightly battered dark brown that looks like something Harry Potter would keep spell books in.
Inateck Felt Case and mouse bag
Price: $14 or £17
This chic but understated felt slipcase is both functional and beautifully soft to the touch. Each edge is stitched around half a centimeter in, which creates a buffer that absorbs corner and edge knocks.
Upon opening the strong velcro, you'll find a neat pocket for a notepad and tablet. Further inside, the pocket for the laptop itself is lined with mold-resistant microfiber. It also comes bundled with a matching felt pouch for a mouse. All this for less than 20 bucks, you say? Sold!
Etsy for days
Price: From about $10 (£10) to over about $3,600 (£2,800) (for a 'bling' case)
One of our favorite shops is OhKoey, which features creations from Corri and Vicki who reside in Ocala, Florida. Their sunny location is reflected in their bright and bold fabric choices.
They produce well-made cases that are superbly lined and can be monogrammed with the owner's initials. Starting at just about $21 (about £16), they're a perfect present.
Rickshaw Bagworks Commuter Laptop Bag
Price: $200 or about £150
This traditional, if a little pricey, satchel belies a technically advanced shoulder bag that's been created with cyclists in mind. On the front, in between the two sturdy clips, there's a strip of webbing to attach a bike light to.
Need to grab your phone quickly? Pop it in the rear zipped pocket, as it's divided into sections for a phone and stationery items. Inside, the top folds out like a bicycle pannier and works in just the same way.
So, you can increase either water protection by folding it down or storage capacity by unfolding it upwards. The main cavity of the Commuter Laptop Bag can store a notebook, accessories, chargers, books – you name it. Again, it's divided into several sections and includes a removable laptop sleeve for added protection. Considering the combination of function and form, not a bad deal.