Apple has finally refreshed its MacBook lineup, with two new models that deliver serious power. The new 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar and 15-inch MacBook Pro offer speedy 8th-generation Core processors, the fastest SSDs we’ve ever tested and souped-up graphics. You also get a True Tone display for more natural-looking colors and Hey, Siri support.
But Apple’s older MacBooks are worth considering if you don’t have at least $1,799 to spend on your next laptop. For instance, the 12-inch MacBook is still a very good ultraportable at $1,299, so long as you can live with its lone USB-C port. If you need a bigger screen, the regular $1,299 13-inch MacBook Pro without Touch Bar is a fine option and offers more battery life than the 12-inch MacBook.
The aging MacBook Air is much harder to recommend now than it was a couple of years ago, because you get a low-res display and an older 5th-generation Core i5 processor. But the Air is relatively affordable at $999, and it does have a snappier keyboard and more ports than the newer models.
Here are the best MacBooks for your money.
Best Overall: 13-inch MacBook Pro
The regular 13-inch MacBook Pro from 2017 is still the best all-around laptop in Apple’s lineup right. That’s because you get a fairly fast 7th-generation Core i5 processor, a bright and colorful 13-inch display and two Thunderbolt 3 ports for a reasonable price of $1,299. You’ll miss out on the Touch Bar and quieter keyboard of the newer model, but this system lasted a very good 9 hours and 50 minutes on our battery test. The speedier new 13-inch Touch Bar MacBook Pro lasted only 8.5 hours on our test.
Quick Specs: CPU: 2.3-GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 | RAM: 8GB | Display: 13 inches (2560 x 1600 pixels) | SSD: 128GB | Ports: Two Thunderbolt 3 | Weight: 3.02 pounds
Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch Review »
Speed to Go: 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar (2018)
Thanks to its 8th generation quad-core Core i5 processor, the new 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar is an absolute beast. In fact, its SSD is the fastest we’ve ever tested in a laptop. We tested the configuration with a Core i7 CPU, 16GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD, but you should get plenty of pep from the starting $1,799 configuration. Other highlights include four Thunderbolt 4 ports, a new True Tone display and Hey Siri support for calling up Apple’s assistant without lifting a finger.
Quick Specs: CPU: 2.3-GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 | RAM: 8GB | Display: 13 inches (2560 x 1600 pixels) | SSD: 256GB | Ports: Four Thunderbolt 3 | Weight: 3.02 pounds
13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar Review »
For Serious Pros: 15-inch MacBook Pro (2018)
Whether you’re a video editor, a programmer, a photo editor or some other pro with a demanding workload, the new 15-inch MacBook Pro should be able to handle it with ease. You can opt for up to a 6-core Core i9 processor that plowed through our benchmarks, including our demanding 4K video editing test. The 15-inch MacBook Pro also packs a graphics punch, with up to a AMD Radeon 560X GPU. Last but not least, the 15-inch Pro can last nearly all day on a charge, as the system turned in a great battery life test result of 10 hours and 20 minutes.
Quick Specs: CPU: 2.2-GHz six-core Intel Core i7 | RAM: 16GB | Display: 15 inches (2880 x 1800 pixels) | SSD: 256GB | Ports: Four Thunderbolt 3 | Weight: 4.02 pounds
15-inch MacBook Pro (2018) Review »
For Frequent Travelers: 12-inch MacBook
At 2.03 pounds and just 0.52 inches thick, the 12-inch MacBook is so slight and thin that you’ll barely notice that it’s in your bag, But this is a design that you’ll want to show off. Apple offers this ultraportable in four colors, including Rose Gold, Space Gray, Gold and Silver. The starting configuration offers decent performance with its Core m3 processor, but if possible we’d step to to the Core i5 CPU. You’ll also get 8GB of RAM and a 256GB standard along with a sharp Retina Display, but there’s only one USB-C port and it doesn’t support Thunderbolt 3 for the fastest speeds.
Quick Specs: CPU: 1.2-GHz Intel Core m3| RAM: 8GB | Display: 12 inches (2304 x 1440 pixels) | SSD: 256GB | Ports: 1 USB-C | Weight: 2.03 pounds
12-inch MacBook Review »
Most Affordable: MacBook Air
It might seem silly for Apple to keep the old MacBook Air around at this point, but it does have some advantages over its newer brethren. For starters, it offers a keyboard with more travel, and you get full-size USBs ports and an SD Card slot. The MacBook Air also boasts epic battery life, as it lasted 10 hours and 26 minutes on our battery test. You just have to be prepared to make some sacrifices to get a MacBook this cheap. The Air packs an older 5th-generation Intel Core processor and a low-res display.
Quick Specs: CPU: 1.8-GHz Intel Core i5| RAM: 8GB | Display: 13 inches (1440 x 900 pixels) | SSD: 128GB | Ports: Two USB 3, Thunderbolt 2, SD Card | Weight: 2.96 pounds
Apple MacBook Air (2017) Review »