Looking for a MacBook? We look at your choices
Roman Loyola’s guide will help you find the right one
Apple offers a wide range of fantastic laptops, but finding the best one can be tricky. Don’t worry, though. Over the following pages, we’ll go over Apple’s current MacBook line-up, point out their differences and similarities, and provide you with the information you need to pick the right MacBook for you.
The affordable choice: MacBook Air
Longtime Mac users may remember when the Air made its debut nine years ago as Apple’s entry into the ultra-portable laptop market. But times have changed, and starting in 2015, the MacBook was repositioned as Apple’s affordable laptop.
How many models can I choose from? Apple offers two standard configuration MacBook Air models. The difference between the two comes down to the amount of file storage you get. The £949 model (available from fave.co/2t2PZtf) has 128GB of flash storage, while the £1,099 model (available from fave.co/2sOU67Z) has 256GB. Otherwise, the two models are identical.
What are the Air’s specifications?
13.3in (1440x900) LED-backlit glossy widescreen display 128GB/256GB PCIe-based SSD 1.8GHz dual-core Intel Core i5, Turbo Boost up to 2.9GHz, with 3MB shared L3 cache. Configurable to 2.2GHz dual-core Intel Core i7, Turbo Boost up to 3.2GHz, with 4MB shared L3 cache Intel HD Graphics 6000 8GB of 1,600MHz LPDDR3 on-board memory 45W MagSafe 2 Power Adaptor Two USB 3 ports Thunderbolt 2 port SDXC card slot 3.5mm headphone jack 720p FaceTime HD camera
54Wh lithium-polymer battery 802.11ac Wi-Fi Bluetooth 4.0 3-17x227x325mm 1.35kg
What is it good for? The MacBook Air doesn’t use Intel’s latest processor, but it’s powerful enough to handle typical tasks, like Internet access, writing, spreadsheets, presentations, and other productivity-related jobs.
It also has enough processing punch for using Apple Photos to edit and manage your pictures, or to create short YouTube videos in iMovie. The MacBook Air doesn’t have a high-resolution screen, though, so images on screen won’t look as sharp as they would on a MacBook or MacBook Pro.
Macworld’s buying advice: Budget-conscious buyers will like the MacBook Air’s £949 price. You’ll make a several compromises, but the MacBook Air is a capable laptop for your everyday work – and it won’t take up a lot of room in your bag.
The lightweight choice: MacBook
Apple’s MacBook is designed for the person who is always on-the-go and needs a laptop that won’t leave you with an aching back at the end of the day. It’s also Apple’s smallest laptop, able to fit in most backpacks, briefcases, satchels, and bags.
How many models can I choose from? Apple has two standard configurations of the MacBook. Pay more money, and you’ll get a slightly faster processor and more file storage space. Also, all MacBooks are available in Silver, Space Grey, Gold, or Rose Gold.
What are the prices for the MacBook? There are two models of the MacBook. The £1,249 model (available from fave.co/2sZW1Lc) has a 1.2GHz dual-core Intel Core m3 (Kaby Lake) processor and 256GB of flash storage. The £1,549 model (available from fave.co/2tJhLs4) has a 1.3GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 (Kaby Lake) processor and 512GB of flash storage.
What are the MacBook’s specifications?
12in (2304x1440) LED-backlit display 256GB/512GB PCIe-based SSD
Intel HD Graphics 615 8GB of 1,866MHz LPDDR3 on-board memory USB-C port 3.5mm headphone jack 480p FaceTime HD camera 41.4Wh lithium-polymer battery 802.11ac Wi-Fi Bluetooth 4.2 3.5-13.1x196.5x280.5mm 920g
What is it good for? Since the MacBook is designed with portability in mind, it doesn’t have a fast processor. Its performance is a bit faster than the MacBook Air, but it lags behind the 13in MacBook Pro.
That said, the MacBook has no problems handling everyday productivity tasks, as well as some basic video editing in iMovie, Keynote presentations, and image editing and photo management in the Photos app.
Macworld’s buying advice: If you’re road warrior making presentations to clients and groups, or working at remote locations, the MacBook is capable of handling your workload. And you’ll barely notice it in your bag – your back will thank you.
The best choice for heavy-duty workloads: MacBook Pro
The MacBook Pro is Apple’s top-of-the-line laptop. If you want a laptop that can handle any task you throw at it – and you don’t have a constraining budget – the MacBook Pro is the laptop you want.
How many models can I choose from? Apple offers seven standard configuration laptops: four 13in models, and three 15in versions. Each model (except for the £1,949 15in MacBook Pro) is available is Silver or Space Grey.
What are the MacBook Pro specifications? Here are the specifics on each model. We’ll start with the 13in laptops and then list the 15in ones. £1,249 model (from fave.co/2t3gPS7): 2.3GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 (Kaby Lake) processor, 8GB of memory, 128GB of flash storage, Intel
Iris Graphics 640 integrated graphics, and no Touch Bar. £1,449 model (from fave.co/2t3eUNg): 2.3GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 (Kaby Lake) processor, 8GB of memory, 246GB of flash storage, Intel Iris Graphics 640 integrated graphics, and no Touch Bar. Both have the following specifications: 13.3in (2560x1600) LED-backlit display Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640 8GB of 2,133MHz LPDDR3 on-board memory 2x Thunderbolt USB-C ports 3.5mm headphone jack 720p FaceTime HD camera 54.5Wh lithium-polymer battery 802.11ac Wi-Fi Bluetooth 4.2 14.9x212.4x304.1mm 1.37kg Besides having a Touch Bar, Apple offers two 13in MacBook Pro models that have a few different features than the models without a Touch Bar. These Touch Bar laptops have faster processors, faster graphics, and four Thunderbolt 3 ports.
The difference between the two 13in Touch Bar models themselves is the SSD. £1,749 model (from fave.co/2sPiYwE): 3.1GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 (Kaby Lake) processor ,
8GB of memory, 256GB of flash storage, Intel Iris Graphics 650 integrated graphics, and the Touch Bar. £1,949 model (from fave.co/2sOTLlQ): 3.1GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 (Kaby Lake) processor, 8GB of memory, 512GB of flash storage, Intel Iris Graphics 650 integrated graphics, and the Touch Bar. Both have the following specifications: 13.3in (2560x1600) LED-backlit display Intel Iris Plus Graphics 650 8GB of 2,133MHz LPDDR3 on-board memory 4x Thunderbolt USB-C ports 3.5mm headphone jack
720p FaceTime HD camera 49.2Wh lithium-polymer battery 802.11ac Wi-Fi Bluetooth 4.2 14.9x212.4x304.1mm 1.37kg
Apple sells two standard configuration models of the 15in MacBook Pro. Here are the differences between the two: £2,349 model (from fave.co/2tJybAw): 2.8GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 (Kaby Lake) processor, 16GB of memory, 256GB of flash storage, Intel HD Graphics 630 integrated graphics, 2GB Radeon Pro 555 discrete graphics, and the Touch Bar. £2,699 model (from fave.co/2tJWXjO): 2.9GHz quad-core Core i7 processor, 16GB of memory,
512GB flash storage, Intel HD Graphics 630 integrated graphics, 4GB Radeon Pro 560 discrete graphics, and the Touch Bar. Both have the following specifications: 15.4in (2880x1800) LED-backlit display Intel HD Graphics 630 16GB of 2,133MHz LPDDR3 on-board memory 4x Thunderbolt USB-C ports 3.5mm headphone jack 720p FaceTime HD camera 87Wh lithium-polymer battery 802.11ac Wi-Fi Bluetooth 4.2 15.5x240.7x349.3mm 1.83kg
Apple sells a laptop that’s fills the need for a more-affordable 15in MacBook Pro. However, this model isn’t new – it was initially released in 2015. It has older components, but it still has a good amount of processing power. Here’s what you get for £1,899 (from fave.co/2xyktoQ): 15.4in (2880x1800) LED-backlit display 2.2GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 Intel Iris Pro Graphics 16GB of 1,600MHz LPDDR3 on-board memory MagSafe 2 2x Thunderbolt 2 2x USB 3.0
HDMI 3.5mm headphone jack 720p FaceTime HD camera 85Wh lithium-polymer battery 802.11ac Wi-Fi Bluetooth 4.0 18x247.1x358.9mm 2.04kg
What is it good for? If you have a heavy workload, the MacBook Pro has the power to handle it, no sweat. Video production, graphics and animation, serious data crunching – you name it, the MacBook Pro is built for it. The MacBook Pro isn’t as powerful as a desktop computer, but it is strong enough to serve as your only computer.
All this processing prowess comes at a price – the MacBook Pro is Apple’s priciest laptop. And it’s also its heaviest, with the 15in models just under 2kg. That may not sound like a lot, but imagine yourself on the road, meeting with people, working remotely. The weight wears on you as the day goes on.
Macworld’s buying advice: Picking a MacBook Pro is a little complicated, not just because of the size differences, but the differences between the features offered within each size category.
If you want power on a budget, consider the £1,749 13in MacBook Pro with Touch Bar. It’s a good combination of speed and price. The 256GB SSD is the major compromise you’re making here.
If you plan to do a lot of creative work that results in large files, the SSD could fill up quickly.
The 15in £2,699 MacBook Pro with Touch Bar is the laptop with all the bells and whistles. It’s the one for the most demanding users, who will like the hefty discrete graphics card.
If you really need to keep the price down, consider the $1,499 13in MacBook Pro without the Touch Bar. The 128GB SSD in the £1,249 version is probably too small and most people will fill it up quickly, which is why you should think about the $1,499 model, which has a 256GB SSD. Plus, while the Touch Bar is neat, we wouldn’t consider it a must-have feature. Your milage with it may vary.
The £1,899 15in MacBook Pro may seem like an odd choice. And while it has a slower processor, it has other features that aren’t found in the other MacBook Pro models: USB 3 ports, and HDMI port, and an SDXC card slot.