A MacBook can be a big investment, and the best MacBook for you isn’t necessarily the one with the highest price tag. MacBook laptops are known for their style, their power and their easy-to-use interface, and this makes them popular with creatives, students and those who have already bought into the Apple ecosystem. One of the great things about getting a MacBook if you’re already an Apple user, is you can expect a seamless experience across iOS, iPadOS and MacOS.
The MacBook range currently has five models to choose from, almost all of which are considered among the best laptops on the active market. Apple runs all their Macs on proprietary silicon chips, which integrate the CPU, GPU and unified memory (RAM) into one customisable chip. This makes all MacBooks fast, battery efficient and quiet, and who doesn’t want that in a laptop?
One thing to note is that you can’t upgrade the memory and storage on a Mac after purchase. Once you’ve found the right MacBook model, using our handy buying guide, it’s worth buying the biggest specification you can afford. More memory means a faster connection between the CPU, and more storage means you won’t get stuck with no space for apps, photos and documents.
Confused? Don’t worry. At Gear Nuke, we’re all about making tech simple to understand, so that you get the best bang for your buck. We don’t want you to end up with a rotten Apple (sorry).
Here are the best MacBooks available today:
- Best MacBook overall (M2 Air)
- Best MacBook for creatives (14 M2 Pro, external display, HDMI, airdrop)
- Best MacBook for video editing (16 inch M2 Max, power and portable)
- Best MacBook for remote work (best battery model, 13 M2 Pro)
- Best MacBook on a budget (M1 Air 2020, also check Apple Refurbished)
Currently the best MacBook for most buyers, the MacBook Air M2 is small but mighty. It’s sleek, it’s powerful, it’s everything you expect from an Apple product; the MacBook Air M2 is the perfect machine for everyday use. Not only is it the best MacBook overall, but also one of the best laptops on the market now, full stop. Expect to pay $1,199 (£1,249).
Here are the Apple MacBook Air M2 specs:
|Apple MacBook Air M2 specs|
|CPU||Apple M2 Chip|
|Screen||13.6-inch Liquid Retina Display, True Tone Technology|
|Battery||Up to 20 hours|
- Thin, lightweight and devilishly good-looking
- Breezes through tasks thanks to M2 chip
- Built to last
- Short on ports for connectivity (especially if you are used to a non-Apple laptop)
- No fan, so might get hot under real strain
- Battery life not as strong as Pro models
The Air weighs in at just 1.24kg and is 1.13cm thin, yet it still packs a dazzling 13.6-inch Liquid Retina display. The M2 chip is a feat of engineering, and boasts being up to 3x faster than the previous MacBook Air model with the M1 chip. Quad speakers, a 1080p webcam and an all-day battery life make every productivity a joy. It does work as a machine for creatives and gaming, and its fanless build means that it’s silent to use, but it might get warm under pressure. There are more suitable machines for these.
If you are shamelessly buying a MacBook for looks, this one is stunning too, and comes in a collection of colors; iconic MacBook silver, sleek space grey, warm starlight, and our pick, midnight black.
It’s a shame that the MacBook Air M2 is just over $1000, but this is real value for money for performance, portability and longevity. If you invest in one, and take care of it, expect it to live with you for 5+ years.
Read our Apple MacBook Air M2 review for more.
The smaller of the two ‘new’ MacBook Pros comes armed with the choice of an M2 Pro or M2 Max chip and crazy specs. The darling of the creative industries for years, the MacBook Pro is only getting better and better. Whether you’re editing video, code, audio or images, the M2 Pro chipset will multitask all day. Expect to pay $1,999 (£2,149).
Here are the Apple MacBook Pro 2023 specs:
|Apple MacBook Pro 2023 specs|
|CPU||10-Core M2 CPU|
|Screen||14.2-inch, Liquid Retina XDR, 3024 x 1964|
|Battery||Up to 20 hours|
- Incredible screen in any light
- HDMI and SD card alongside Thunderbolt/USB4
- M2 Pro chip is a real workhorse
- Overpowered for a lot of people
- Notch surrounds the 1080p webcam
With M2 Pro, you can opt for a 10 or 12-core CPU, and up to a 38-core GPU. 16GB of unified memory (RAM) is standard, too, but you can double that to 32GB. All this means smooth, fast processing and rendering in media production, whilst running programs like After Effects plus Premiere Pro simultaneously.
One of the best things about these new MacBook Pros are the screens. Color accuracy is key when it comes to content creation, and the Liquid Retina XDR screen has 1,600 peak nits brightness, and 1 billion colors. Whatever angle or light you use it in, you’ll get crystal-clear picture clarity. ProMotion gives refresh rates up to 120Hz, which makes scrolling and switching between tasks smooth on the eye. Need more real estate? You can use two external displays with the M2 Pro chip. This will be your new bare minimum in screen quality, trust us.
Apple’s reductionist ethos took a sideline as the reintroduction of ports other than Thunderbolt/USB 4, meaning current users can ditch annoying adapters for both HDMI screens and projectors, and SDXC for photos and videos. Any old USB-A accessories will still need an adapter.
If we’re being real, some people just like to buy the Pro MacBooks for the looks and because they are the best performers, so we won’t judge if you’re barely using more than Safari, Slack and Zoom on one of these. But to make the most of this 14-inch MacBook Pro, put it to work or even use it to game.
Read our review of the 14-inch MacBook Pro M2 for more.
The most powerful MacBook you can buy. It’s a whole production suite, but you can throw it in a (big) backpack. This 16-inch MacBook Pro is a real professional-grade tool, or a flex on the coffee shop table you’re working in. Expect to pay $3,449 (£3,749).
Here are the Apple MacBook Pro M2 Max specs:
|Apple MacBook Pro M2 Max specs|
|CPU||12-Core M2 Max CPU|
|Display||16.2″ Liquid Retina XDR, 3456 x 2234|
|Battery||Up to 22 hours|
- Unmatched power
- Customization up to 96GB of RAM and 8TB SSD storage
- Use up to four external displays
- Eye-wateringly expensive
You can buy the same performance internally with the 14-inch, but with the 16-inch model, you get a bigger screen and a bigger battery to go with it. CPU performance between M2 Pro and M2 Max is marginal; you should invest in the M2 Max chipset if you need more GPU grunt and RAM – you can upgrade to 96GB of that.
The M2 Max chip is unbelievable. It stands up to the most demanding of projects, such as movie rendering, 3D motion design, mass-editing photos and handling massive datasets. Exporting videos used to be the bane of all editors’ lives, and final edits used to require a desktop Mac to push out. Not anymore. All this processing, and it still runs cool and quiet unless under the biggest strain.
Function comes at a cost. Not only can you spend upwards of $6,000 on a top-end spec, but for a laptop, it’s a thick piece of kit and weighs 2.2kg.
The 13-inch MacBook Pro M2 stuffs new silicon into an older MacBook chassis, and it’s still a great performer with a big battery. This might look like an older MacBook Pro. but the internals are all-new, and this model is very similar in structure and performance to the M2 Air. Expect to pay $1,299 (£1,349).
Here are the MacBook Pro 13 M2 specs:
|Apple MacBook Pro 13 M2|
|CPU||8-Core M2 CPU|
|Display||13.3″ Retina, 2560 x 1600|
|Battery||Up to 20 hours|
- 20 hours of battery life
- Similar performance to M2 Air but has active cooling
- Still has a Touch Bar, which some users love
- Looks dated compared to the stockier 14-inch model
- Still has a Touch Bar, which some users hate
- Two Thunderbolt/USB-C ports
- Webcam is only 720p
Same ports, same 8-core CPU, a 10-core GPU comes as standard here rather than an upgrade. Where it trumps its lighter counterpart is with multitasking performance under higher pressure; this 2022 machine has a fan, which cools it down at the cost of a few decibels of noise and prevents overheating errors and task throttling.
The 20-hour battery life makes this a great MacBook for students, commuters and remote workers who go for a long time before finding a plug socket.
Personally, we loved the Touch Bar when it was introduced. A mini touch screen replaced the function keys and would change depending on your open window, like providing a visual slide switcher in PowerPoint, or emojis in iMessage. It was a divisive feature with buyers, and it seems to be getting its last goodbye with this MacBook.
The M2 MacBook Air is slightly cheaper, thinner and lighter than this one if you’re fussy about looks. It’s worth investing in for the battery and the Touch Bar if you want a Pro spec laptop but don’t want to stretch to the 14-inch 2023 model.
The MacBook Air M1 from 2020 is still available from Apple, and it’s an affordable and portable daily machine. This is the cheapest MacBook you can walk into an Apple Store and buy today but don’t underestimate the MacBook Air M1 from 2020. Expect to pay $999 (£999).
Here are the Apple MacBook Air M1 specs:
|Apple MacBook Air M1 specs|
|CPU||8-Core M1 CPU|
|Display||13.3″ Retina, 2560 x 1600|
|Battery||Up to 18 hours|
- The cheapest MacBook you can buy
- M1 is still perfectly capable of daily tasks
- First-gen Apple chip not as future proof
- Older design
- Same chip in an iPad Air, but cheaper
Don’t let the date fool you on this laptop, it’s still way more capable than other brands’ cheapest offering. Apple like to keep a budget option in their product lineups (see also: iPhone SE) that they can trust to do the job for consumers.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a laptop this good, at this price point, with this level of performance. You’ll also barely notice it in a bag or backpack at 1.29kg, making it perfect for students or remote workers for the price. Whilst the M1 chip isn’t as fast as M2, you’re still getting a machine that will handle daily productivity and multiple tabs open without breaking a sweat.
But if you’re just doing emails, creating documents and engaging in general light use, do you really need a budget MacBook? You can now find the M1 chip in Apple’s iPad Air. For casual use, browsing and office work, the iPad with the Smart Folio Keyboard comes in cheaper than the cheapest MacBook at $599 (£868), and it has a touchscreen. Apple’s famous ‘What’s a computer?’ ad is becoming more like real life. Or, for an extra $200 (£250), you can make the leap to the MacBook Air M2, which is one of the best laptops you can buy.
Read our Apple MacBook Air M1 2020 review for more.
If MacBooks aren’t quite your speed or you don’t believe you need to spend quite as much money on your next laptop, check out our list of the best Chromebooks you can buy today.