Best MacBook in 2021: Which Apple laptop is best?


MacBook Air

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Apple released a new MacBook Air and MacBook Pro with a custom ARM-based M1 chip at the end of last year, the company’s first in-house SoC (processor/graphics combo). The processor improved the performance and battery life of Apple’s most affordable laptops, putting them ahead of their more expensive MacBook Pro counterparts and even some top-tier laptops. We now recommend every MacBook in Apple’s lineup; however, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution.

Windows 10 rivals. 

So, how about the MacBook Pro, which has four Thunderbolt 3 ports and a premium design? 16-inch MacBook ProWhat are your thoughts on this? Apple is expected to release a new product. They’ll have to wait until Apple releases a suitable Apple Silicon chip (rumors suggest an M1X 12-core chip is in the works). 14-inch MacBook Pro and 16-inch MacBook ProThe MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro with M1 are excellent options if you don’t require the most high-end laptop. models with in-house M1X (or M2) chips before the end of the year If at all possible, we recommend waiting for those instead of buying the current Intel-powered models.

Our MacBook Air vs MacBook Pro face-off can also assist you in determining which system is best for you, and our Apple Warranty CheckWhen your AppleCare+ plan expires, follow the instructions. You should also take a look at our macOS guide. Big Sur review to see if a Mac is the right computer for you in the first place.

What is the best MacBook? 

It takes a classic design and boosts it to new heights with record-breaking performance and all-day battery life. The new M1 chip not only improves speed and endurance, but it also brings iOS and iPadOS apps to Mac for the first time. The new MacBook Air with M1 is the best Mac for most people, going from underpowered to one of the fastest ultrathin laptops on the market. There’s no reason to forego the MacBook Air when you have M1.

The MacBook Pro has a traditional cooling system, unlike the MacBook Air, so you can run demanding programs for hours without worrying about overheating. The Air will suffice for most people, but power users should consider upgrading to the Pro. If you need more consistent performance, the MacBook Pro with two Thunderbolt 3 ports might be the way to go. The MacBook Pro, like the MacBook Air, has a lightning-fast SSD and runs Apple’s new Big Sur OS.

What about Intel-based MacBooks that haven’t yet been updated to M1? Apple has only updated the MacBook Pro with two Thunderbolt 3 ports so far. They aren’t completely irrelevant, though. The company still sells the top-tier model with four Thunderbolt 3 connections if you need an extra pair of inputs. It’s powered by aging Intel chips that can’t match the M1’s performance or endurance.

It has the best 16-inch display, the best speakers, and the most contemporary design of the bunch. Then there’s the MacBook Pro 16-inch. That isn’t to say it isn’t a capable laptop. And, despite being Intel-based, the battery life is excellent. This beast, which was once the most powerful of the bunch, doesn’t appear to be as powerful now that the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro have received such a speed boost.

What is our recommendation? Give Apple a few months to release new versions of the iPhone if you can wait and need more power or ports. If you need a laptop right now, the MacBook Air or MacBook Pro with M1 are the best options. 16-inch MacBook Pro and potentially a new 14-inch MacBook Pro with Apple Silicon and additional Thunderbolt ports. 

The MacBook Air with M1 is less expensive than the MacBook Pro, but it offers similar performance and battery life.
(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

1. MacBook Air (M1, Late 2020)

The most affordable MacBook

Specifications

CPU:

M1

GPU:

M1 (integrated)
RAM:
8GB/16GB
Storage:
256GB/512GB/1TB/2TB
Display:
13.3 inches, 2560 x 1600 pixels
Size:
12 x 8.4 x 0.6 inches
Weight:
2.8 pounds

Reasons to buy

+Breathtaking performance


+Outstanding battery life


+Slim unibody aluminum chassis


+Great speakers and Magic keyboard

Reasons to avoid

Few ports

For most people, the new MacBook Air is the best MacBook. This latest model demonstrates the capabilities of Apple’s M1 chip, which transforms the Air from a low-powered entry-level laptop to one of the fastest laptops available, period. It’s a huge improvement for a laptop that was barely scraping by each year.

Best of all, the MacBook Air is still only $999, and you get unrivaled performance as well as a battery life of 14 hours and 41 minutes. Only the best Windows 10 laptops have this combination, and even they can’t compete in a head-to-head comparison.

Of course, Apple’s cheapest 13.3-inch model is also the most portable, measuring only 0.6 inches thick and weighing 2.8 pounds. So, why should you buy a MacBook Air instead of a MacBook Pro? While the MacBook Pro has better sustained performance, the MacBook Air is less expensive and is completely silent due to its lack of a fan.

The MacBook Air, on the other hand, is now closer to parity with the MacBook Pro than it has ever been. It has the same speeds and battery life as the MacBook Air, as well as the same 720p webcam, a comfortable Magic keyboard, and two USB-C ports. In addition, the M1 model’s 13.3-inch, 2560 x 1600-pixel Retina display was enhanced with P3 color coverage, making it more vibrant than the previous panel.

See our full

MacBook Air with M1 (2020) review

Because of its fast performance, low price, and good keyboard, Apple’s new 13-inch MacBook Pro is the best MacBook for most people.
(Image credit: Future)

2. MacBook Pro (13-inch, M1, Late 2020)

The best Apple laptop for most users

Specifications
CPU:
Apple M1
GPU:
Apple M1 (integrated)
RAM:
8GB/16GB
Storage:
256GB/512GB/1TB/2TB
Display:
13.3 inches, 2560 x 1600 pixels
Size:
12 x 8.4 x 0.6 inches
Weight:
3.1 pounds

Reasons to buy

+Stellar overall and gaming performance


+Excellent battery life


+Lightning-fast SSD


+Great webcam

Reasons to avoid

Not enough ports

It’s all thanks to Apple’s new M1 chip, which is the company’s first custom SoC for laptops. The M1 brings the MacBook Pro’s speeds and battery life to the next level with the best power-per-watt performance of any processor. This is the huge step forward we’ve been looking forward to.

Despite packing so much power into such a small and sleek chassis, the Pro lasted an impressive 16 hours and 32 minutes in our battery test, which mimics real-world usage. The MacBook Pro, in particular, outperforms nearly every PC on the market, including some workstations.

The webcam (sadly, still 720p) has an image processing unit, and because it runs on Apple’s ARM-based architecture, iPad and iPhone apps are now available on Mac. But hold on a second. Yes, you can now use your laptop to run all of your favorite iOS games and apps. More than just speed and endurance are improved by the M1.

Big Sur, the latest version of macOS, completes the list of improvements found in the new MacBook Pro. Big Sur is the most significant update to OS X since its launch a decade ago, and it’s a stunning redesign of the desktop OS.

The Magic Keyboard has the same elegant design that Apple has used for years, and it’s a joy to type on (and dependable, too!). The MacBook Pro’s other features should be familiar to you.

The MacBook Pro, despite earning our rare 5-star rating, has a few flaws. Only two Thunderbolt 3 ports are available, and the display bezels are thicker than on competing models. You’re also limited to 16GB of RAM, despite the fact that our benchmark tests show that this limitation has little effect on the performance of this beast.

See our full 

Apple MacBook Pro (13-inch, M1, 2020) review

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Apple’s newest product, the 16-inch MacBook Pro, is the best MacBook this year, but it’s only for power users on a budget.
(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

3. MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019)

The best MacBook for serious pros

Specifications
CPU:
9th Gen Intel Core i7/Core i9
GPU:
AMD Radeon Pro 5300M/5500M
RAM:
16GB/32GB/64GB
Storage:
512GB/1TB/2TB/4TB/8GB
Display:
16-inch, 3072 x 1920-resolution
Size:
The dimensions are 14.1 x 9.7 x 0.6 inches.
Weight:
4.3 pounds

Reasons to buy

+Radically improved Magic Keyboard


+Immersive 16-inch display with slimmer bezels


+Powerful 6-speaker audio


+Up to an 8-core Core i9 processor and 64GB of RAM are available.

Reasons to avoid

No full-size USB port or SD card

The new 16-inch MacBook Pro — the newest member of the MacBook family — improves on the now-discontinued 15-inch model in every way that matters, with an improved keyboard, powerful speakers, and a larger, more immersive display. Yes, it’s larger and heavier, but once you see the MacBook Pro’s gorgeous 16-inch, 3072 x 1920-resolution display flanked by thin bezels, you’ll forget about the trade-off in portability.

The 16-inch MacBook Pro is the most powerful of Apple’s laptops, thanks to its 9th Gen Core i7 or Core i9 CPUs, up to 64GB of RAM, up to 8TB of storage (no, seriously), and AMD Radeon Pro 5500M graphics, which carry on the tradition of its predecessor.

We now recommend waiting for Apple to release new versions of the 16-inch MacBook Pro with Apple Silicon since the launch of the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro with M1.

See our full

16-inch MacBook Pro review

How to choose the best MacBooks for you?

A separate guide on how to make a decision can be found here. which MacBook is right for you.. In a nutshell, think about how much power you’ll need and how much you’re willing to spend.

The MacBook Air is a no-brainer for us. It costs $999, but thanks to its M1 processor, it has similar performance and endurance to the MacBook Pro. It’s also the lightest of the bunch, with a 13.3-inch display that’s ideal for watching TV shows or movies.

Get the 13-inch MacBook Pro with M1 if you want a little more endurance and better performance over longer periods of time. It has a battery life of 16 hours and 32 minutes and outperforms the competition in terms of performance.

In the coming weeks, Apple is expected to release new versions with Apple Silicon, so we recommend waiting until then. We find it difficult to recommend Apple’s other products. The 13-inch MacBook Pro with four Thunderbolt 3 ports and the 16-inch MacBook Pro are limited to Intel chips that are less powerful than the M1 and do not support iOS or iPadOS apps.

How we test MacBook laptops

From speed and battery life to display brightness, speaker volume, and system heat, we test everything. Before our reviewers get their hands on a MacBook, we put it through extensive benchmark testing, both synthetic and real-world.

The brightness and sRGB color gamut of a laptop’s display are measured using a Klein K10 colorimeter. We put the laptop through a slew of tests, including Geekbench 4.3 and 5.0 and 3DMark professional graphics tests, to see how well it performs.

The Dirt 3 benchmark with medium settings and 1080p resolution is our real-world graphics test. We put the laptop through its paces by converting a 4K video to 1080p resolution and duplicating a 4.97GB multimedia file.

Anything above the category average (8 hours and 36 minutes) is considered a good result. These tests are, of course, supplemented by our reviewers’ hands-on testing. We also perform heat tests by playing a 15-minute full-screen video, and our battery test involves continuous web browsing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness.

He covered everything from social media trends to cybersecurity while there, writing reviews for a variety of gadgets. Prior to that, he covered 5G and IoT for RCR Wireless News. Phillip Tracy works as an assistant managing editor at Laptop Mag, where he reviews laptops, phones, and other gadgets as well as reporting on industry news. Phillip can be found playing video games, reading, traveling, or watching soccer when he’s not tinkering with gadgets. Phillip joined the Daily Dot as a tech reporter after graduating from the University of Texas at Austin with a journalism degree.