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The 3 Best Apple Laptops of 2023 Reviews

Updated
Best Apple Laptops

Founded in 1976, Apple is one of the world's largest manufacturers of consumer electronics, with instantly recognizable products like the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and MacBook. Apple has a small laptop lineup compared to other brands like Dell, HP, Lenovo, and ASUS, as they only make premium productivity-focused laptops. However, MacBooks are consistently among the most well-built and premium laptops you can find. Since Apple started making laptops with their in-house SoC, the M1, MacBooks are among the best for performance and battery life.

Updates

Best Apple Laptops


  1. Best Apple Laptop

    The best Apple laptop we've tested is the Apple MacBook Pro 14 (2021), the smaller of the two 'Pro' laptops with Apple's new design and an M1 Pro or M1 Max SoC. It sports a sharp Mini LED display that produces deep blacks, gets incredibly bright, and covers the entire DCI P3 color space, making it suitable for viewing and producing HDR content. Its factory calibration is superb, so you likely won't need to calibrate before doing any color work, and it supports ProMotion, meaning it can dynamically adjust the refresh rate up to 120Hz to make motion smoother or lower it to extend battery life.

    Port selection is outstanding; you get three USB-C/Thunderbolt 4 ports, an HDMI (2.0, sadly), a full-size SD card reader, and a high-output headphone jack for difficult-to-drive cans. Performance-wise, Apple's M1 Pro and M1 Max SoCs have more than enough processing power to handle demanding tasks like video editing and 3D animation. You can get up to 64GB of memory and 8TB of storage; however, they aren't user-replaceable, so it's best to get enough for your needs upfront. The battery lasts around 12 to 13 hours of light use, although it's much shorter if you perform intensive tasks.

    If screen space is more important than portability, the Apple MacBook Pro 16 (2021) is the obvious choice. It's almost identical to its 14-inch sibling but with better-sounding speakers and longer battery life. You still get a great keyboard, an even larger touchpad, and the same excellent 1080p webcam. The only downside is that it's more expensive. Lastly, Apple has released the new MacBook Pro 14 and 16 with their M2 Pro and M2 Max chips, which are reportedly around 20% faster. Although we don't have many details about these new models, they seem to be only an internal upgrade.

    See our review

  2. Best Mid-Range Apple Laptop

    If you only perform light tasks like text processing, web browsing, and video playback, get the Apple MacBook Air 13 (2022) instead, the successor to the very popular Apple MacBook Air 13 (M1, 2020). This new model sports a new design with thinner bezels, a better 1080p webcam (up from 720p), and a faster M2 SoC with media engines to handle more demanding tasks like video editing. The display is incredibly sharp, and it gets brighter this time around, enough for use outdoors in broad daylight. You get a spacious keyboard with full-size function keys and, believe it or not, an even larger touchpad than its predecessor.

    As mentioned, the M2 SoC has media engines to help with tasks like video editing. However, it doesn't perform as well as the MacBook Pro 14 and 16's M1 Pro and M1 Max. It can get the job done, but due to the M2 SoC's limited GPU compute performance and the fact that the MacBook Air is a fanless device, you'll likely experience stutters when editing complex, high-resolution videos, as well as long export times.

    What about the Apple MacBook Pro 13 (2022)? The latest model was released at the same time as the M2 MacBook Air. However, aside from an SoC upgrade to the M2, it didn't get a redesign, meaning it has the same design as the M1 MacBook Pro with thicker bezels and the controversial Touch Bar. Despite having 'Pro' in its name, this model is more of a MacBook Air with active cooling (fans) than a true 'Pro' device, as it lacks the processing power and the high-end features of the MacBook Pro 14 and 16, like Apple's Mini LED ProMotion display. It's a good option if you want slightly more processing power for the occasional intensive workload; otherwise, get the M2 MacBook Air.

    See our review

  3. Best Budget Apple Laptop

    If you're a little put off by the Apple MacBook Air 13 (2022)'s price, there's good news: you can still buy the older Apple MacBook Air 13 (M1, 2020). Its base price is lower, and it's often on sale, especially around Black Friday. To be clear, although this is our budget pick, it's only considered 'budget' in Apple's laptop lineup because it's the most affordable. There's nothing budget about this laptop. It feels just as premium as the picks above, so you're still getting an exceptionally well-built device that provides a great user experience. Compared to the newer M2 MacBook Air, most of the tradeoffs are pretty minor, like the design, webcam, and SoC, so unless there's a feature that you want on the newer model, this is a great alternative that'll save you a good chunk of cash.

    See our review

Compared to other brands


  • Exceptional build quality. Apple laptops usually feel exceptionally well-built, even entry-level devices like the MacBook Air.
  • High-quality speakers. Apple MacBooks usually have high-quality speakers that sound well-balanced and full.
  • Large haptic touchpad. Apple MacBooks have arguably the best touchpads on the market. They're usually large and smooth and use haptic feedback to simulate clicks, meaning you can click anywhere on the touchpad.
  • Distinct lineup. Apple usually has a small but distinct lineup, making it less confusing for consumers.
  • Bright, colorful, and well-calibrated displays. Apple MacBooks usually have a high-resolution 'Retina' display with outstanding factory calibration.
  • Integration with Apple ecosystem. MacBooks have deep integration with other Apple products, like the iPhone and iPad, adding various features like the ability to send and receive phone messages on your laptop and use your iPad as a second display.
  • MacBooks are usually expensive. MacBooks tend to be expensive as Apple doesn't make any budget models.
  • Not ideal for gaming. Apple MacBooks aren't ideal for gaming as there aren't many games optimized for macOS running on Apple silicon.
  • No 2-in-1 or touchscreen option. Apple doesn't make any 2-in-1 convertibles or laptops with a touchscreen.
  • Poor serviceability. Apple laptops usually have soldered memory and storage, making it impossible to upgrade later on.

Apple vs Dell

Dell and Apple are very different in their approach to laptops, as Dell makes a significantly larger number of models for various uses and price segments, whereas Apple only makes premium productivity laptops. Dell's high-end productivity laptops are often compared to Apple laptops in build quality and user experience, but unlike Apple, which uses their in-house ARM-based SoC, Dell still uses x86 chips from Intel in their laptops.

Apple vs Microsoft

Microsoft and Apple are very similar in some ways but also very different. Both companies only make productivity laptops and are in control of the hardware and software, as they also created the operating system. However, Microsoft tends to have more budget models and experiments with other form factors like 2-in-1 tablets, while Apple only makes clamshell laptops with no touch input. Both companies are among the best when it comes to build quality.

Apple is one of the best laptop makers in the world. MacBooks usually feel premium and exceptionally well-built, and they have among the best performance and battery life. As Apple also makes the operating system, MacBooks also have a level of integration with other Apple products that's hard to find on devices from other manufacturers. However, MacBooks are generally expensive and aren't as ideal for gaming.

Lineup

In 2022, Apple has five laptops in its lineup:

  • Apple MacBook Air 13 (M1, 2020)
  • Apple MacBook Air (M2, 2022)
  • Apple MacBook Pro 13 (M2, 2022)
  • Apple MacBook Pro 14 (M1 Pro/Max, 2021)
  • Apple MacBook Pro 16 (M1 Pro/Max, 2021)

Recent Updates

  1. Jan 17, 2023: Minor text changes to improve clarity and provide more information about the differences between the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air.

  2. Nov 22, 2022: Minor structure change. Added the Apple MacBook Air 13 (2020) as the 'Best Mid-Range' pick.

Conclusion

If you're looking for a productivity laptop, Apple MacBooks are among the best available options, whether you're already in the Apple ecosystem or not. They feel incredibly well-built, have long battery life, and provide a premium user experience. However, if you want more versatility, like a 2-in-1 convertible or a laptop with wider game compatibility, you're better off with a Chromebook or a Windows device.

Test results

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