Look­ing for a MacBook? We look at your choices

Ro­man Loyola’s guide will help you find the right one

Macworld - - Buying Guide -

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.

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