Published: Wednesday, 11 August 2021 00:41
The MacBook line offers three distinct choices: the 13-inch Air, 13-inch Pro and 16-inch Pro. Here's how to pick the right one for you. Dan Ackerman/CNET
For many years, this was everyone's favorite laptop. It was reasonably priced, thin, light and built like a tank. It could last for years and take lots of falls and bumps. For any college student or coffee shop creative type, $999 would get you sorted.
Then time passed the Air by. Its low-res display and the thick bezel around the screen fell behind average Windows laptops. The components were rarely updated. Fortunately, the Air got a huge refresh and now looks and feels very much like a MacBook Pro. Most importantly, it's back down to that magical $999 starting price.
The M1-powered Air doesn't have any vents, which means there are no fans and no fan noise -- perfect for classrooms and conferences. You only get two Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports and there's no Touch Bar, but for most people neither are really a big deal.
If you're a college student, a would-be entrepreneur, a writer or just looking for an all-around laptop on the high end of casual, it's tough to go wrong with the MacBook Air. It'll rightly be the default starting point for a lot of people.
Read our review of the Apple MacBook Air M1.
$900 at Best Buy
MacBook Pro 13-inchAndy Hoyle/CNET
When Apple updated the Air with its M1 chip, it also updated the 13-inch MacBook Pro. Unlike the Air, though, the Pro has fan vents, which help keep it cool when processing your raw photo edits or cranking through your video exports.
More importantly, the switch to M1 means getting the best performance from your software requires the programs to be rewritten to take advantage of the new hardware. Fortunately, Apple's Rosetta 2 software allows Intel-native versions of applications to run normally with the M1 chip. In our testing, the performance difference was negligible if at all.
All Pros now have the Apple Touch Bar, which isn't as useful as Apple would have you believe but not as useless as everyone else thinks. I use it all the time for screen brightness, volume control and a few other contextual buttons, like when using the calculator app.
Since they're close in price, you might be tempted to get the less expensive Air over the Pro -- after all, they look and feel similar and share a lot of the same features. And for many people, that's the right call. But if you're working with more power-hungry apps such as Photoshop or Premiere, you'll want the Pro's performance boost.
Read our hands-on testing of the MacBook Pro M1.
$1,299 at Apple
MacBook Pro 16-inchSarah Tew/CNET
The sole remaining MacBook with only Intel processors. The 16-inch Pro is sort of a resurrection of the late, great 17-inch MacBook Pro, which was discontinued back in 2012. It's huge, at least compared with the 13-inch MacBooks.
The main selling point is all that screen real estate, which is what you need if you're a designer or a number cruncher and need to keep a lot of things in front of you. Like the old 15-inch Pro, the 16-inch MacBook is ridiculously expensive, starting at $2,399 and going up from there. But if that's your all-day, every-day, work-from-home screen, it could be worth it.
The other big selling point of the 16-inch Pro is that it includes discrete graphics, with a couple of AMD Radeon options. No, Macs are still not gaming machines, but if you're editing 4K video or doing 3D modeling, having a GPU is important. The other Macs include Intel Iris graphics, which is at least a step up from standard off-the-shelf laptop graphics.
The big cautionary statement here is that sometime in the next year, we expect this model to be updated with Apple's M1 chip to match the rest of the lineup. But if you need something right now, you can't go wrong with this (and used MacBooks typically fetch top dollar).
Read our Apple MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019) review.
$2,249 at Adorama $2,049 at eBay $2,199 at Amazon
Which MacBook should I buy?
My TL;DR advice is as follows.
- If you need a MacBook for everyday work, schoolwork, web surfing, movies and light creativity, go with the MacBook Air. For most people, this is all the MacBook they'll need.
- Need some more processing muscle or, for some reason, you really love the Touch Bar? Go with the 13-inch MacBook Pro, but keep in mind it may be a while before it can take full advantage of your software.
- The 16-inch MacBook Pro is basically a desktop replacement. If you're thinking of getting an iMac but want to carry it around sometimes, or if you definitely need a discrete GPU, then splurge on the 16-inch MacBook Pro. It's painfully expensive, but it's a real joy to use, and frankly, it's tough to go back to a 13-inch screen after using the 16-inch for a while.
Stay up-to-date on the latest news, reviews and advice on iPhones, iPads, Macs, services and software.See also
- Best laptop for 2021
- The best cheap laptops you don't have to wait a month for
- Best Chromebook for 2021
- These are the best 2-in-1s that are more than just a laptop or a tablet
Virgin Galactic postpones SpaceShipTwo flight, begins maintenance period
Волошина Екатерина Просмотров: 67
Orbit Fab signs technology sharing agreement with U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory
Волошина Екатерина Просмотров: 65
Maxar files protest over Space Development Agency’s satellite procurement
Волошина Екатерина Просмотров: 64
Space Force recruiters pitch military service to warriors and dreamers
Волошина Екатерина Просмотров: 58
Betting on flexibility: Intelsat’s post-bankruptcy growth strategy
Волошина Екатерина Просмотров: 34
A Chinese satellite is now active weeks after an anomaly during launch
Волошина Екатерина Просмотров: 32
Fledgling European space businesses still lacking the funds to fly
Волошина Екатерина Просмотров: 30
Investigations of U.S. Space Command’s basing decision to continue into 2022
Волошина Екатерина Просмотров: 30
Best 4K TV for 2021
Рустам Гулов Просмотров: 113
Best phones under $500 2021: iPhone SE, Galaxy A52 5G, Pixel and more
Рустам Гулов Просмотров: 93
The best 65-inch TV for 2021
Рустам Гулов Просмотров: 92
MDA highlights speedy tasking, broad coverage of Radarsat-2 follow-on
Волошина Екатерина Просмотров: 80
Has no connect to show!