With the powerful Apple tree MacBook Pro, now available in three screen sizes—and the slim, efficient, and one-size MacBook Air—there are two Mac laptop families to chose between. With like specs and exterior styling across both the Air and the Pro, deciding which 1 is all-time for you largely comes downwards to which size screen you need and how much processing power your typical computing tasks require.
The 13-inch MacBook Pro and $999 MacBook Air use Apple’s original M1 processor, which promises speedy performance on everyday tasks. Meanwhile, the 14-inch and xvi-inch MacBook Pro laptops come with your pick of M1 Pro or M1 Max chips for serious content creation needs. Finally, the latest MacBook Air (2022) comes with the newest M2 processor.
Below are our choices for the all-time MacBooks for each type of use, from the generalist to the ability-hungry creative professional person. Each laptop has gone through the total PCMag testing process, and following our picks is a detailed buyer’south guide answering common questions.
Apple MacBook Air (2022, M2)
Best Mac Laptop Overall
The 2022 version of Apple’due south MacBook Air gets a fresh await and the more powerful M2 processor, making information technology Apple tree’s best ultraportable laptop yet.
- Stunning, slim design
- Larger, more than vibrant thirteen.vi-inch display
- Multiple color options
- M2 chip delivers excellent operation
Shorter battery life than 2020 M1 MacBook Air
Camera notch encroaches on display panel
Limited to two USB-C/Thunderbolt 4 ports (though mitigated, in part, by MagSafe connector)
Read Our Apple MacBook Air (2022, M2) Review
Apple MacBook Air (M1, Late 2020)
Best Upkeep Mac Laptop
The M1-equipped MacBook Air now packs far better performance than its predecessors, rivaling at times the M1-based MacBook Pro. At $999, information technology’south the best value among macOS laptops.
- Good value, particularly for a MacBook
- Much-improved performance, thanks to Apple’s new M1 processor
- Exceptional battery life
- Sleek, portable metal design
- High-quality keyboard, touchpad, and display
- Multiple color options
Port selection limited to two USB Type-C connections
Withal no touch-screen pick
Read Our Apple MacBook Air (M1, Late 2020) Review
Apple MacBook Pro 14-Inch
Best Mac Laptop for Content Creators
The 14-inch Apple MacBook Pro occupies a new sweet spot among pro content-creator laptops: far more than capable than consumer-class alternatives, yet much less expensive than its 16-inch sibling and bulkier Windows workstations.
- Seriously powerful M1 Pro CPU
- HDMI output and SD bill of fare reader
- Impressive sound functioning
- High-quality 1080p webcam
- Heart-catching HDR display
- Marathon battery life
- Luxurious keyboard and touchpad
Camera notch may be obtrusive for some users or applications
Read Our Apple MacBook Pro 14-Inch Review
Apple MacBook Pro xiii-inch (2022, M2)
All-time Mac Laptop for Extreme Battery Life
The 2022 reboot of Apple’s 13-inch MacBook Pro gets points for its peppy new M2 processor, which delivers a raw-performance uptick, and remains an iconic design. Simply nosotros’d have liked to encounter more daring innovation on the remainder of the laptop.
- Functioning tops M1 predecessor and Intel competitors
- Tried-and-true design
- Fantastic 22-hour battery life
Dated physical design
Lackluster 720p webcam and 2,560-past-1,600-pixel display
Supports only ane external display
Touch Bar has its proponents, but feels like a design throwback
Read Our Apple tree MacBook Pro xiii-inch (2022, M2) Review
Apple MacBook Pro 16-Inch (2021)
Best Mac Laptop for Professional person Creative Piece of work
The new ultimate Mac laptop, the 2021 Apple tree MacBook Pro 16-Inch is a finely engineered, high-octane workstation that will thrill content creators. The pumped-up M1 Max silicon in our tester, though, is across mere bragging rights—it’s reserved for creative pros with specialized needs.
- Seriously powerful components
- Infrequent battery life
- Impressive audio performance
- HDMI output and SD carte du jour reader
- Loftier-quality 1080p webcam
- Gorgeous Mini-LED brandish
- High-quality keyboard, huge touchpad
M1 Max CPU selection, as tested, represents poor value for most workloads
Configuration upticks are expensive
Obtrusive camera notch
Weighs nearly 5 pounds
Read Our Apple tree MacBook Pro sixteen-Inch (2021) Review
Buying Guide: The All-time Apple tree MacBook Air and MacBook Pro Laptops for 2022
How to Buy Each MacBook: The MacBook Air
Apple’s smallest laptop is the MacBook Air, newly redesigned for 2022. It’due south a slim, sleek motorcar that measures just 0.44 inch across and weighs simply 2.7 pounds. The latest MacBook Air heavily adopts the newest MacBook Pro design, with uniform thinness, an improved Magic Keyboard, a larger 16:ten screen (thanks to the display notch), MagSafe charging, and more.
The MacBook Air line is also Apple’south cheapest, starting with the 2020 model (M1 processor) at $899 for students and teachers or $999 for the general public. The lowest-cost and about portable entry point into the macOS ecosystem apparently has enormous entreatment. Read our fully-tested MacBook Air (M1, 2020) review for more data.
(Credit: Molly Flores)
Apple’s 2022 MacBook Air takes every advancement in the 2020 model that much further—for an additional $200 to start at checkout. That actress $200 gets you the latest Apple silicon for computers, the M2 processor, which measurably improves performance over the M1 model while maintaining its storied, long bombardment life. It too brings with it many of the features found in the latest MacBook Pro design revision, including the aforementioned 16:x display, improved keyboard, MagSafe charging, and an improved FaceTime webcam.
(Credit: Molly Flores)
The MacBook Air is an ideal travel companion, and given its sleek styling and Apple’s cachet, a flake of a status symbol to kicking. It’s the Mac laptop we recommend for most people. But since you’ll spend at least $999 on it, yous’ll want to make certain to look at the other, larger Apple portables that offer more connectivity and—in some cases—more computing power.
The MacBook Air vs. the 13-inch MacBook Pro
The closest Apple alternative to the MacBook Air is the entry-level thirteen-inch MacBook Pro, which is just equally light as the MacBook Air. In return for a slightly college starting cost ($1,299), the entry-level MacBook Pro has a slightly more powerful version of the M2 fleck in the 2022 MacBook Air at the start. (Yous can become the same course of M2 processor in the Air for some other
The functioning advantage is minor, though, as the primary difference is an additional two graphics cores, for a total of 10—along with 2 more hours of bombardment life. And then, most MacBook buyers volition probably be better off with the Air than the 13-inch Pro.
(Credit: Zlata Ivleva)
The xiii-inch MacBook Pro comes with an agile cooling fan, which is something the MacBook Air lacks. The MacBook Air instead uses passive cooling, which works just fine for basic tasks, like browsing the web, just might hamper performance of more intensive tasks like video encoding. The retentivity and storage options of the 13-inch MacBook Pro are the same as those of the MacBook Air.
We don’t recommend the 13-inch MacBook Pro for most people, since consumers volition be better off with the MacBook Air, and professionals can accept advantage of the computing power in the larger Pro models mentioned below.
Simply the thirteen-inch MacBook Pro does have that extreme battery life. Although all Mac laptops concluding for a long time away from an outlet, the 13-inch Pro lasts for most 22 hours in our video rundown test. That qualifies it as the longest-lasting MacBook Pro, though the 2020 MacBook Air has it beat out at 29 hours.
fourteen-Inch and 16-Inch MacBook Pro: For Pros in the Know
If yous are a video editor, photographer, or software programmer who might do good from more calculating power, you should skip the xiii-inch MacBook Pro and MacBook Air and instead consider either the 14-inch or the 16-inch MacBook Pro. The factors to consider here are more than than just the extra screen inches and boosted weight. You as well need to decide whether you need the extra horsepower that the M1 Pro and M1 Max can provide over the M1. There is a large performance gulf between the M1 and the M1 Pro, and virtually pros who are doing any type of CPU- or GPU-intensive job volition be able to have reward of the latter fleck.
That’due south not necessarily the case for the M1 Max, as the difference between it and the already-formidable M1 Pro is limited to specialized macOS workflows such as rendering video using Apple’southward ProRes codec. At that place are 2 versions of each chip, and all four are available in both the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros. The base of operations M1 Pro comes with eight CPU cores—vi of which are suited to resources-intensive tasks such every bit rendering or compiling code, while ii handle lite-duty tasks such as video playback or web browsing. You also go 14 graphics cores for image output and GPU-accelerated tasks. The scrap is paired with 16GB of retentivity and a 512GB SSD.
(Credit: Tom Brant)
The upgraded configuration adds 2 more high-operation CPU cores and two boosted graphics cores (for a total of 16). This is what we recommend for most people. Meanwhile, the but noteworthy differences betwixt the superlative-end M1 Max and the top-end M1 Pro are a heap of extra graphics cores (a maximum of 32) and a doubling of the retention bandwidth to 400GBps.
The 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Po models lack any form of touch on input, post-obit Apple’s determination on electric current models to discontinue the thin, touch-enabled screen frontward of the keyboard known as the Touch Bar. The xiii-inch model still comes with a Touch Bar, withal.
While the Affect Bar can exist useful in special cases like scrubbing through a video timeline, or switching tool selections, it’s non a substitute for touch support on the device’s primary display. An Apple iPad or a Windows laptop is your best culling for using a digital stylus or other tasks best suited to touch screens. Fortunately, the trackpads on all Apple laptops are first-class, with oversize glass surfaces and virtual “haptic” feedback instead of a concrete click mechanism.
I Cool Thing: Apple’s 2021 MacBook Pros Are Hither!
The 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro laptops are as well obvious choices for professionals who plan to connect peripherals like external monitors or transfer information using SD cards. Both include a full-size HDMI port and an SD card reader, setting them autonomously from the USB-C/Thunderbolt-only MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro.
Apple often releases new Mac laptop models and updates old ones. Several new models could hit before the cease of 2022, so if y’all’re fine waiting for the latest and greatest, it might be worth delaying your buy until the typical fall announcements happen. And if you’re not sure if a MacBook Air or Pro is your thing, also take a look at our roundup of the best laptops overall.