Update, 05/13/2022 We’ve reviewed our recommendations and are confident that these are still the best MacBooks you can buy.
What to look for in a 2022 MacBook
Apple has completed the transition from Intel to Apple Silicon for its entire MacBook line. All the modern MacBooks that Apple sells come with the Apple M1, M1 Pro or M1 Max chip. These Macs have a long battery life, run cool and quiet, and are still incredibly fast. They have great build quality, great support from Apple and are generally just great laptops.
MacBooks run Apple’s macOS instead of Windows. Many applications support Macs, including productive supports such as Microsoft Office and Adobe Photoshop. However, if you’re thinking of switching from PC to Mac, it’s worth checking to see if the software you need will work on your Mac before you get it. For example, most PC games run only on Windows and will not work on a Mac, even if you get a MacBook with powerful graphics hardware.
These Apple Silicon-based Macs can still run older software written for Intel Macs. However, they will work better when running software that is optimized for M1 Macs. By the end of 2021, many popular third-party applications have native support for Apple Silicon, including Adobe Photoshop, Microsoft Office, and Google Chrome. You can even install iPhone and iPad apps on your M1 Mac!
If you have an Intel Mac, it will still work well and continue to work for years to come, but we don’t recommend buying a processor architecture that’s coming out. You may still find some remaining Intel-based MacBooks for sale in some third-party stores, but we strongly recommend that you purchase a modern MacBook with Apple Silicon.
There are many benefits to the new Apple M1 chip architecture in addition to a large increase in performance in optimized software. These include significantly improved energy and heat efficiency for longer battery life and a cooler circuit, fast unified RAM and integrated GPU cores that surpass any Intel-based graphics solution.
However, it is worth noting that MacBooks based on Apple Silicone do not support Boot Camp. You cannot install Windows on an M1 MacBook. (However, you can’t install Windows 11 on an Intel MacBook without a workaround.) However, you can use Parallels for Mac or CodeWeavers Crossover to run Windows software on an M1 Mac.
Now let’s get to the best MacBooks you can buy on the market.
- ✓ The M1 Pro chipset means incredible performance
- ✓ A MagSafe connector could save your laptop
- ✓ Charging via Thunderbolt is still supported
- ✓ HDMI port and SDXC ports are useful for professionals
- ✗ More expensive than the 13-inch MacBook Pro
- ✗ Maximum 32 GB of memory compared to 64 GB on M1 Max chips
- ✗ Less portable than the M1 MacBook Air
The best Apple notebook in general is a 14-inch MacBook Pro with M1 Pro chipset. It’s more expensive than last year’s 13-inch MacBook Pro running the M1, but even if the processing power is left aside, it’s an upgrade in every way.
First, the ports. Apple has slowly restored its position only to Thunderbolt and restored the MagSafe power connectors to prevent your laptop from flying off the table when someone trips over the power cord.
The company has also added an HDMI port and an SD card slot for good measure. The much malicious TouchBar has been replaced with more standard function keys, but you still get a TouchID sensor.
Compared to the M1 8-core CPU / GPU in the 13-inch model, the M1 Pro chip in the 14-inch MacBook Pro has an 8-core CPU and a 14-core GPU. This model also starts with 16 GB of combined memory, which means that it is much more resistant to the future than a smaller MacBook.
The 14-inch MacBook Pro also benefits from the Liquid Retina XDR screen. Not only does this screen look fantastic, but it’s especially useful if you’re editing HDR video.
If you’re looking for a little more power, you can upgrade to a 10-core CPU, a 14-core GPU M1 Pro chip for $ 200 or a 10-core CPU, a 16-core GPU M1 Pro for $ 300. Storage starts at 512GB, but you can upgrade to as much as 8TB of SSD memory, but it will cost you.
- ✓ Fast, efficient performance thanks to the M1 chip
- ✓ The smallest, lightest Apple notebook
- ✓ Beautiful Retina display
- ✓ Excellent battery life of 18 hours
- ✗ The lack of cooling means that thermal damping happens faster than on the MacBook Pro
- ✗ Only two Thunderbolt / USB 4 ports
The 13-inch MacBook Air with M1 chip starts at $ 999 for the base model, so you can save on the best choice if you’re looking for a starter MacBook. The MacBook Air has retained its cult wedge shape, but is now completely silent because it has no fan in it.
The base M1 MacBook Air has the same 8 CPU cores found on higher models, but only 7 GPU cores. This is a great way to save money if you don’t think you’re going to use visually demanding apps like video editors or games. You can opt for the MacBook Air version with an 8-core GPU when shopping for an extra $ 250 if you don’t want to sacrifice graphics performance.
The lack of a fan means that the MacBook Air can’t run under load for as long as the MacBook Pro before the thermal damping is turned on. Of course, if you’re looking for a cheap laptop, you’re probably just looking for light productivity and web browsing, so this isn’t a big deal.
The MacBook Air still has great battery life, and Apple rated it 18 hours on a single charge. The 13.3-inch retina display covers the full P3’s wide range of colors, though it doesn’t get as bright as the MacBook Pro and doesn’t have a Touch Bar above the keyboard. Touch ID is present and allows you to log in or authorize changes and payments using your fingerprint. It’s not the most accurate, but for MacBooks it’s a nice addition.
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The best budget option
- ✓ The M1 chip is fast and efficient
- ✓ Perfect for most college-related tasks, such as word processing and web browsing
- ✓ All-day battery life
- ✓ Perfect weight and thickness to carry around campus
- ✗ The lack of cooling makes the MacBook Air M1 less suitable for demanding tasks
- ✗ MacBook Pro could be better for video editing, music creation, 3D applications
For most students who use their computers to write papers, research assignments and stay in touch with colleagues and teachers, the 13-inch MacBook Air with M1 chip is perfect.
It is smaller and lighter than the MacBook Pro of comparable size by 0.2 lb (which makes a bigger difference than you think), and still lasts all day battery life. The high pixel density screen is beautiful to watch, with sharp text and highlighted colors.
Not to mention it’s cheaper than the M1 MacBook Pro by $ 300! You can also take advantage of a higher education discount at the Apple Store for a higher discount.
On the other hand, if you think you’re going to use your computer for more advanced video or photo editing, you may find the MacBook Air a limitation. Instead, the M1 MacBook Pro will give you an extra GPU core and better cooling, so you can work longer under load without heat. Whether the Pro is worth upgrading depends on your main and extracurricular activities, but if you need a little more processing power, you’ll want to go for the Pro.
Every MacBook can be made more useful and productive with the right accessories. If you want more space to view multiple documents or web pages at once, a decent budget monitor can make a big difference. Something like the Dell S2721QS will provide 4K real estate for less than $ 300.
If you type a lot, you may want to invest in a mechanical keyboard as well. These peripherals have greater durability, are more comfortable to type and can make you a better typist.
Best for students
- ✓ The M1 Pro has plenty of power, even for most games
- ✓ Upgrading to the M1 Max is just another $ 200
- ✓ Incredible battery life
- ✓ Original games and applications are lightning fast
- ✗ macOS games are not as prevalent as Windows games
- ✗ There is no Boot Camp to run Windows games
- ✗ Much more expensive than Windows gaming laptops
It’s an interesting time to play games on Apple computers, and if you don’t want enough power and you’re all on Apple, a 16-inch MacBook Pro with an M1 Pro chip is the best option.
The announcement of the M1 Pro and M1 Max chipset for MacBook Pro models has caused a lot of waves. For every article claiming that the new laptops bring back the “Pro” in the name of the MacBook Pro, there was another that claimed that these models were not yet for gaming.
The fact is that Apple no longer sells new Mac laptops with Intel chipsets. The future, as far as Apple sees it, is in its own chips. On the one hand, that means you can’t buy a new Intel MacBook Pro and install Windows, but on the other hand, it could free developers to focus on games designed for Apple’s chipsets.
Developers have been making games for Apple Silicon in the form of games for iPhone and iPad for years. This means that even if your favorite big name developer doesn’t ship a Mac game this year, there’s a chance we’ll see more games that take advantage of Apple’s M1 Pro and M1 Max chips, making this a worthwhile upgrade.
In terms of specs, the 16-inch MacBook Pro running the M1 Pro will handle everything you can throw at it, with a 10-core CPU and 16-core GPU, plus 16GB of RAM. The 512GB SSD is included for $ 2,499, but you can upgrade to 1TB for $ 200. If you’re a creative professional too, or crave all the power you can get, you might want to upgrade to the M1 Max version for another $ 200.
The best MacBook for gaming
16-inch MacBook Pro (M1 Pro, 2021)
The 16-inch MacBook Pro with M1 Pro drive is one of the most powerful laptops you can buy right now, period. If you need an M1 Max chip, it is available as an upgrade option.