Best MacBook: Which one should you buy?

Ro­man Loy­ola re­veals ev­ery­thing you need to know

Macworld - - CONTENTS -

You’re plan­ning on buy­ing a new Mac lap­top. So you head over to your lo­cal Ap­ple store, or you pe­ruse the pages of Ap­ple’s web­site, and you find your­self with money to spend but no idea on which MacBook to buy.

Don’t worry. That’s why we’re here. 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 back in 2008 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.

Line-up

Two stan­dard con­fig­u­ra­tion Airs are cur­rently avail­able. The dif­fer­ence be­tween them comes down to the amount of file stor­age you get. Oth­er­wise, both ver­sions are iden­ti­cal.

Price

The £949 model (avail­able from fave.co/2t2PZtf) has 128GB of flash stor­age, while the £1,099 op­tion (avail­able from fave.co/2sOU67Z) has 256GB. Oth­er­wise, they are iden­ti­cal.

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, such as 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 tag. You’ll make a sev­eral com­pro­mises, but it’s still a ca­pa­ble lap­top for your ev­ery­day work. Plus, it won’t take up a lot of room in your bag.

It’s worth not­ing that a re­cent Bloomberg re­port says that Ap­ple is plan­ning to re­lease a low-cost MacBook that could re­place the MacBook Air. If you’re in no rush, you may want to wait a few weeks and see what (if any­thing) is re­leased.

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 ul­tra­portable, able to fit in most back­packs, brief­cases, satchels, and bags.

Line-up

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, ev­ery model is avail­able in Sil­ver, Space Grey, Gold, or Rose Gold.

Price

As stated, Ap­ple sells two MacBook mod­els. The £1,249 op­tion (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 lap­top (avail­able from fave.co/2tJhLs4)

has a 1.3GHz dual-core In­tel Core i5 (Kaby Lake) pro­ces­sor, and 512GB of flash stor­age.

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 quicker than the 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 a road war­rior mak­ing pre­sen­ta­tions to clients and groups, or work­ing at re­mote lo­ca­tions, the MacBook is eas­ily ca­pa­ble of han­dling your work­load. And you’ll barely no­tice it in your bag – your back will thank you. As we’ve al­ready men­tioned, Ap­ple is ex­pected to re­veal a new low-cost lap­top in the com­ing weeks, so it may be worth hold­ing on to see what is an­nounced.

The choice for heavy-duty work­loads: MacBook Pro

The MacBook Pro is Ap­ple’s top-of-the-line lap­top.

If you want some­thing that can han­dle any task you throw at it – and you don’t have any bud­get con­straints – this is the lap­top for you.

Line-up

Ap­ple of­fers six con­fig­u­ra­tions of the MacBook Pro: four 13in mod­els, and two 15in ver­sions.

Each model is avail­able is Sil­ver or Space Grey.

Price

The 13in mod­els cost £1,249, £1,449, £1,749, and £1,949. The 15in mod­els are £2,349 and £2,699.

Spec­i­fi­ca­tions

13in MacBook Pro with­out Touch Bar

There are two 13in MacBook Pro mod­els that do

not have the Touch Bar. The dif­fer­ence be­tween

these is the solid-state drive. These lap­tops were

orig­i­nally re­leased in 2017, and were not up­dated

when Ap­ple in­tro­duced new 2018 MacBook Pros

with Touch Bar.

• £1,249 (from fave.co/2t3gPS7) model: 2.3GHz dual-core In­tel Core i5 (Kaby Lake) pro­ces­sor, 128GB of flash stor­age, In­tel Iris Graph­ics 640 in­te­grated graph­ics, and no Touch Bar

• £1,449 (from fave.co/2t3eUNg) op­tion: 2.3GHz dual-core In­tel Core i5 (Kaby Lake) pro­ces­sor, 256GB of flash stor­age, and no Touch Bar

Both have the fol­low­ing spec­i­fi­ca­tions:

• 13.3in (2,560x1,600) LED-back­lit dis­play

• In­tel Iris Plus Graph­ics 640

• 8GB of 2,133MHz LPDDR3 on-board mem­ory

• 2x Thun­der­bolt USB-C ports

• 1x Dis­playPort

• 3.5mm head­phone jack

• 720p Face­Time HD cam­era

• 54.5Wh lithium-poly­mer bat­tery

• 802.11ac Wi-Fi

• Blue­tooth 4.2

• 304.1x212.4x14.9mm

• 1.37kg

13in MacBook Pro with Touch Bar

Be­sides hav­ing a Touch Bar, Ap­ple of­fers two 13in MacBook Pro mod­els that have a few dif­fer­ent fea­tures. These have more pow­er­ful pro­ces­sors, faster graph­ics, and four Thun­der­bolt 3 ports.

• £1,749 (from fave.co/2wYC1ss) lap­top: 2.3GHz quad-core 8th-gen­er­a­tion In­tel Core i5 pro­ces­sor, 256GB of flash stor­age, and Touch Bar

• £1,949 (from fave.co/2Nyg4K0) sys­tem: 2.3GHz quad-core 8th-gen­er­a­tion In­tel Core i5 pro­ces­sor, 512GB of flash stor­age, and Touch Bar

Both of the 13in MacBook Pro with Touch Bar lap­tops have the fol­low­ing:

• 13.3in (2,560x1,600) LED-back­lit dis­play

• In­tel Iris Plus Graph­ics 655

• 8GB of 2,133MHz LPDDR3 on-board mem­ory

• 4x Thun­der­bolt USB-C ports

• 1x Dis­playPort

• 3.5mm head­phone jack

• 720p Face­Time HD cam­era

• 58Wh lithium-poly­mer bat­tery

• 802.11ac Wi-Fi

• Blue­tooth 5.0

• 304.1x212.4x14.9mm

• 1.37kg

15in MacBook Pro with Touch Bar

Ap­ple sells two stan­dard con­fig­u­ra­tion mod­els of the 15in MacBook Pro. Here are the dif­fer­ences be­tween the two.

• £2,349 (from fave.co/2wZo7Gg) lap­top: 2.2GHz

6-core 8th-gen­er­a­tion In­tel Core i7 pro­ces­sor,

256GB of flash stor­age, and Touch Bar

• £2,699 (from fave.co/2x0IQsN) model: 2.6GHz

6-core 8th-gen­er­a­tion In­tel Core i7 pro­ces­sor,

512GB of flash stor­age, and Touch Bar

All of the 15in MacBook Pro mod­els in­clude:

• 15.4in (2,880x1,800) LED-back­lit dis­play

• In­tel UHD Graph­ics 630

• 16GB of 2,400MHz LPDDR3 on-board mem­ory

• 4x Thun­der­bolt 3 USB-C ports

• 1x Dis­playPort

• 3.5mm head­phone jack

• 720p Face­Time HD cam­era

• 83.6Wh lithium-poly­mer bat­tery

• 802.11ac Wi-Fi

• Blue­tooth 5.0

• 349.3x240.7x15.5mm

• 1.83kg

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. It

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, though.

Un­sur­pris­ingly, this is Ap­ple’s most ex­pen­sive

lap­top. It’s also its heav­i­est, with the 15in mod­els

push­ing past 1.5kg. That may not sound like a lot,

but imag­ine your­self on the road, meet­ing with

peo­ple, work­ing re­motely. The weight will wear

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, then 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 £1,449 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 £1,449 model, which has a 256GB SSD. While the Touch Bar is neat, we wouldn’t con­sider it a musthave fea­ture – your mileage with it may vary.

Be­cause the new MacBook Pros rely on Thun­der­bolt 3, you’re go­ing to need to stock up on adap­tors to con­nect items such as an ex­ter­nal dis­play or hard drive.

The Air can eas­ily han­dle tasks such as pro­duc­ing spread­sheets and pre­sen­ta­tions

The Air is Ap­ple’s most af­ford­able ul­tra­portable

The MacBook is avail­able in Sil­ver, Space Grey, Gold, or Rose Gold

The MacBook is per­fect for the road war­rior

The MacBook Pro is avail­able in two sizes: 13- and 15 inches

The Touch Bar mod­els have faster pro­ces­sors than their non-Touch Bar sib­lings

The lat­est MacBook Pros can eas­ily han­dle heavy work­loads

Six ver­sions of the MacBook Pro are avail­able

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