The best MacBooks you can buy

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  • Apple’s MacBook series offers its amazingly-designed macOS software combined with top-of-the-line hardware.

  • Of all the MacBooks, there’s no better choice than the 2018 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar.


If you’re in the market for a new laptop, it’s likely that you already have a pretty good idea of what you want. There are a ton of great options out there, but those used to a particular operating system – like Windows or macOS – will generally stick to what they like.

What you might not know, however, is which laptop you want. If you’re looking for a Mac, there are quite a few options out there. For example, you could go for a high-powered MacBook Pro, or you could save some cash and go for a much cheaper MacBook Air.

Perhaps the main thing you’ll want to consider when shopping for a new MacBook is what you’re going to use it for. If you’re a media creator, and will likely use your computer for things like video or audio editing, or a photographer who needs Photoshop to run without a hitch, the higher-powered MacBook Pro models are probably the right ones for you.

If, however, you’ll mainly use your computer for things like social media, emails, and web browsing, then you don’t need to spend all that cash on a MacBook Pro. You’ll be just fine with the Air or the 12-inch MacBook.

If you’re still deciding between the different MacBook models, thankfully we’ve done the research so you don’t have to.

Here are the best MacBooks you can buy:

Updated on 11/14/2018 by Christian de Looper: Added the new 2018 MacBook Air. Updated prices, formatting, and links.

Read on in the slides below to check out our top picks.


The best MacBook overall

Apple

Why you’ll love it: The 13-inch MacBook Pro with its Touch Bar is the perfect mix of high performance and a compact footprint, plus, it’s a decent price.

The MacBook Pro is a classic computer. Long has it been the laptop of choice for those who want a high-powered, long-lasting laptop, and the latest range of MacBook Pros is no exception to that rule.

We’ve chosen the 13-inch MacBook Pro as our best MacBook choice because it’s super high-powered, but not as expensive as the larger 15-inch MacBook Pro. The 13-inch model with Touch Bar starts at $US1,799 and boasts an 8th-gen Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM. and a 256GB solid-state drive. Specs range up from there, though obviously, you’ll have to pay more for better specs.

In 2017, Apple replaced the row of function keys with an adaptable, customisable touchscreen called the Touch Bar, and it’s present on this year’s updated version, too. It’s a touch display that’s found right above the computer’s keyboard that allows you to control different aspects of some apps.

The Touch Bar also has a Touch ID fingerprint sensor, meaning you can secure your computer to your specific fingerprint. You can also use it to buy things online with Apple Pay. You will pay extra for the Touch Bar, though.

Not everything about the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar is perfect. Some don’t like the new Touch Bar, and the fact that the computer only has USB-C ports, and having no USB-A ports is frustrating for those who have older peripherals. Still, many argue that USB-C is the future, and as more peripherals start sporting USB-C connectors, it should become less of an issue. The faulty keyboard has been fixed, though.

Pros: Elegant, high-powered, touch bar can be useful

Cons: Expensive, only USB-C ports

Buy the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar at Best Buy for $US1,799.99 and up

Shop the 2018 MacBook Pro at Apple


The best MacBook for portability

Apple

Why you’ll love it: The 12-inch MacBook is still high-powered, but it’s also super compact, making it a great choice for anyone on the go.

The MacBook Pro is a great machine, but not everyone needs its high performance and equally high price tag. For most, the standard MacBook, with its lightweight design and minimalistic feel, will be much more appropriate.

The MacBook is somewhat basic, but that’s all most people need. The base model comes with an Intel Core m3 processor, along with 256GB of storage and 8GB of RAM. Of course, all of those specs can be updated, including to an Intel Core i5 processor, if need be.

The laptop costs $US1,199, which is much less than the price of the MacBook Pro.

Of course, there are a few things to consider here. For starters, the MacBook only has one USB-C port so for wired peripherals, you will need to invest in some dongles and adapters. On top of that, while cheaper than the MacBook Pro, $US1,199 is still a lot of money.

Still, most reviewers argue that it’s a pretty solid machine. The laptop got 9/10 from TechRadar.

Pros: Compact, sleek, sharp screen, still powerful

Cons: Still a little expensive

Buy the MacBook on Amazon for $US1,199 and up – Some colours out of stock

Buy the MacBook at Apple for $US1,299 and up


The best MacBook on a budget

Apple

Why you’ll love it: The 2018 MacBook Air may not be a budget laptop in the grand scheme of things, but compared to the rest of Apple’s lineup it is, plus, it has tons of great tech under the hood.

Apple has finally updated the MacBook Air, giving it a range of great new features, an updated and modern design, and the latest tech. Safe to say, if you want to find the cheapest MacBook you can, then the new MacBook Air is the way to go.

Now, don’t get me wrong – the 2018 MacBook Air isn’t cheap. It’s just cheaper than other MacBooks. Unfortunately, along with updating the computer’s specs, Apple also gave it a $US200 price bump, so for a new 2018 MacBook Air, you’ll pay at least $US1,199. Still, that’s cheaper than any other new MacBook out there, and it still has a lot to offer.

For starters, the design of the new computer is beautiful. The laptop features three new colour choices, including the much-loved Space Grey, and has Apple’s new Butterfly Keyboard in it. Now, some people aren’t fans of the new keyboard, given the fact that it doesn’t really offer much travel. Having used it for a bit over a week now, however, we can say that while it’s not the best-feeling keyboard out there, you will get used to it.

On the side, you’ll get two USB-C ports and a headphone jack, while on the top right-hand side of the keyboard, there’s a Touch ID sensor for Apple Pay and log-in functions.

Under the hood, the computer is fairly powerful. There’s a new 8th-gen Intel Core i5 processor, coupled with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage in the base model. That’s not a ton of storage, but we find that those good at using cloud services like Apple Music and iCloud can save space, if they know they will be constantly connected to the web.

Keep in mind that if you want you can upgrade the amount of RAM, storage, and even the processor used, you can, but it will cost you.

If you’re looking for a portable MacBook that still offers an i-series processor instead of the m-series chip in the MacBook, then the MacBook Air is the way to go.

Pros: Slim and stylish, very portable, modern features like Touch ID, decent specs

Cons: More expensive than previous-gen Air, could use more storage

Buy the 2018 MacBook Air on Amazon for $US1,199

Buy the 2018 MacBook Air at Apple for $US1,199 and up


The best MacBook for a big screen

Apple

Why you’ll love it: The 15-inch MacBook Pro isn’t cheap, but if you have the cash, this is the most powerful MacBook out there.

Looking for the best of the best MacBooks out there? Then the 15-inch MacBook Pro with the Touch Bar is the choice for you. Not only does it offer a beautiful large display, but it’s also customisable to offer more power than the 13-inch variant.

The 15-inch model with Touch Bar starts at $US2,399, and comes with an 8th-gen Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, though specs range up to an Intel Core i9 processor.

Like the 13-inch MacBook Pro, Apple has chosen to embrace the future with the computer’s four USB-C ports. What that means is that those with older peripherals may need to get used to using adapters, which can get a little annoying for some. Still, as we move into an increasingly USB-C world, that should become less of an issue.

Another way that Apple has embraced the future is through the Touch Bar, which, as mentioned, is a touch display at the top of the keyboard that changes to suit the different apps that you’re using. That can be pretty handy, and while not everyone likes the change, once you get used to it, it could seriously boost your productivity.

The computer may not be cheap, but reviewers love it. No matter how you look at it, the 15-inch MacBook Pro is a powerhouse and should last you for years to come.

Pros: Highly powerful, Touch Bar, beautiful big display

Cons: Very expensive

Buy the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar at Best Buy for $US2,399.99 and up

Shop the 2018 MacBook Pro at Apple


The best high-power MacBook on a budget

Apple

Why you’ll love it: The standard 13-inch MacBook Pro is still a very powerful option, and you’ll save $US400 without the Touch Bar.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro with the Touch Bar is at the top of this list for offering some super powerful features and a future-facing design. If, however, you don’t mind getting rid of that Touch Bar, you could save quite a bit of cash.

The standard 13-inch MacBook Pro is still available without a Touch Bar, and it has a lot to offer. The base model of the computer comes in at a very respectable $US1,299 and offers an Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 128GB hard drive. That hard drive may not be big enough for some, but you can customise it to get larger if you so choose.

The lack of Touch Bar is really the only difference between this computer and the Touch Bar model. Otherwise, it still offers a few USB-C ports (though only two instead of four), and you still get a headphone jack. In place of the Touch Bar, at the top of the keyboard, you’ll simply find a row of function keys. That’s not bad for a computer that’s $US400 cheaper.

Of course, there are a few downsides to consider. There are two USB-C ports, but often you’ll use one of them for charging, so only one will be available for regular use. The laptop is also still a little expensive compared to other laptops out there.

Pros: Cheaper than Touch Bar model, powerful

Cons: Still expensive

Buy the 13-inch MacBook Pro without a Touch Bar on Amazon for $US1,279 and up

Buy the 13-inch MacBook Pro without a Touch Bar at Apple for $US1,299 and up


Check out our guide to the best USB-C hubs you’ll need for your Mac

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If you have just bought a MacBook with only one or two USB-C ports, you need a USB-C hub with lots of ports to expand your connectivity options.

Here are the best USB-C hubs you can buy:

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