With a starting price of $1,299, a 3-pound chassis and a brilliant Retina display, the MacBook Pro 13-inch offers the best balance between cost and functionality in Apple's lineup. Though it doesn't have the innovative Touch Bar, this laptop now offers solid Kaby Lake performance along with a speedy SSD and long battery life.
|Best Apple Laptops 2018|
|Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch||Best Overall||4 out of 5|
|15-inch MacBook Pro (no Touch Bar)||Best Keyboard and Ports||5 out of 5|
|Apple MacBook Air 13-inch||Most Affordable||4 out of 5|
|MacBook Pro 13-inch Touch Bar||Most Power for the Money||4 out of 5|
|Apple MacBook 12-inch||Most Portable||4 out of 5|
|MacBook Pro 15-inch||Best for Power Users||4.5 out of 5|
If you're not a fan of dongle life or the thin keyboards on the latest MacBook Pros, check out this 15-inch MacBook Pro that's still for sale. In addition to a keyboard with lots of travel, the 2015 MacBook Pro also includes two USB 3.0 ports, 2 Thunderbolt 2 ports and an HDMI port. It packs an older 4th-generation Core i7 processor, but this quad-core chip is plenty speedy.
The only MacBook with a starting price under $1,000, the Air weighs just under 3 pounds and lasts over 10 hours on a charge. It also has full-size USB ports and relatively deep key travel, both features the latest Apple laptops lack. You also get a SD Card slot. The latest update includes a slightly faster processor, which delivers good performance for a 5th-generation Intel Core chip, but the Air still suffers from a low-res display.
This laptop comes with Apple's Touch Bar, which replaces the keyboard's function row with a context-sensitive navigation screen that changes based on what app you're running. You'll see buttons for tabs in Safari or editing buttons in Photos. This 13-inch, 3-pound laptop features a snappy 7th Gen Core series CPU, fast PCIe storage, Intel Iris graphics, four Thunderbolt 3 ports and a brilliant 2560 x 1600 Retina display.
You'll barely notice this super-slim, 2-pound MacBook when you stick it in your bag, but you will appreciate its gorgeous Retina display, snazzy design and 9+ hours of battery life. The improved performance from the 7th-gen Core m processor is a plus, as is the better Butterfly keyboard. But the single USB-C port is still annoying.
Ideal for creative professionals who perform demanding tasks like video editing or animation, the MacBook Pro 15-inch packs a quad-core CPU, AMD Radeon Pro 560 graphics, 16GB of RAM and plenty of high-speed PCIe storage. It also provides a vibrant 2800 x 1800 display, the Touch Bar and four Thunderbolt 3 ports, plus nearly 11 hours of battery life.
Update Feb 16: Updated with info on rumored new MacBooks.
Apple's laptop lineup is much more streamlined than other notebook makers, but that doesn't mean it's an easy decision to make. The MacBook Air is still kicking and is worth a look for those who want the cheapest system that runs macOS, but it's the newer systems that really deserve your attention.
Just make sure you keep in mind that Apple's lineup is getting long in the tooth, and that there are rumors that new MacBooks, including a possible new 13-inch model, could be on the way this Spring. Apple has also yet to upgrade any of its portables to run Intel's latest 8th-gen processors, so we wouldn't be surprised to see some updates sooner than later.
The 12-inch MacBook Pro is a very good ultraportable, so long as you can live with its lone USB-C port. We highly recommend that you get a USB-C hub with it so you can plug in more peripherals. The latest version is faster than its predecssor with a slightly better keyboard, all while providing the same crisp and colorful display and long battery life.
As you step up in size, you have a tougher decision to make between the 13-inch MacBook Pro and the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar. The base model is very good at $1,299, but we would step up to the $1,499 model to get a 256GB SSD.
Is the Touch Bar model worth it at $1,799? Not for the bar alone; it makes it a bit easier to interact with certain apps and change settings on the fly, but it's no replacement for real touchscreen. A good reason to get the Touch Bar model is that it has four USB-C ports, compared to just two for the non Touch Bar MacBook Pro. You'll also get slightly faster Intel Iris 650 graphics.
If you're into photo editing, video editing or other content creation pursuits, the 15-inch MacBook Pro is the laptop for you. It starts at a steep $2,399, but you get AMD Radeo Pro 555 graphics, a speedy quad-core Core i7 processor, 256GB of storage and the Touch Bar standard.
However, the "classic" MacBook Pro from 2015 ($1,999) is still being sold and is worth considering if you prefer to have a system with more ports and a very comfy keyboard.