Apple’s laptops have long been held up as a gold standard for portable computers. Though quality has slipped of late (see: butterfly keyboards), MacBooks were the first to bring technologies like aluminum unibody construction, super-sharp IPS screens, backlit keyboards, and multitouch trackpads to the mainstream.
Which Mac portable should you spend your hard-earned money on? Given that you’ll likely pay more for a MacBook than a competing model from HP, Dell, or even Microsoft, it’s important to weigh your options.
Updated February 2020: We’ve updated our picks, pricing, and recommendations.
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Apple MacBook Air (13-inch)
The Best All-Arounder
The new Air is a lot like the MacBook Pro models, with a sharp 13-inch Retina display, a responsive trackpad, an improved butterfly keyboard (with a dust shield), surprisingly potent speakers, and two USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports for charging and hooking up peripherals. It also comes in gold, if that’s your jam.
On the inside is a 1.6 GHz dual-core eighth-generation Intel Core i5 processor and a 128-gigabyte solid state drive, along with up to 16 GB of RAM. Having only two USB-C ports can feel limiting. You’ll need to buy multiport adapters like this one to plug stuff in and stay charged at the same time.
There are a few things you might miss from higher-end MacBook Pros. Those pricier machines sport extra USB-C ports, as well as more robust capabilities.
Apple MacBook Pro (16-inch)
The Best for Power Users