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Best MacBook and Macs: top Apple desktops and laptops

It’s no wonder the best MacBook and Macs have become such status symbols. Apple has been pushing the limits of what to expect out of comput...

It’s no wonder the best MacBook and Macs have become such status symbols. Apple has been pushing the limits of what to expect out of computers and laptops for a long time now, coming up with smaller and lighter designs that still manage to pack a punch. And, with the addition of the M1 chip and macOS 11 Big Sur, not to mention their newest OS 12 Monterey that was just released, these machines have never been more powerful.

Now might be the perfect time to consider upgrading to an Apple machine, with everything announced at Apple’s last big event hitting stores including the long-awaited 14-inch and 16-inch M1-equipped MacBook Pros. However, if you’re not ready to spend on one of the newest additions, you might see a drop in price for some excellent older models making this a great time for budget-minded shoppers as well. 

There’s more to the top MacBook and Macs than that perfect design and fantastic performance. The hardware and software are integrated for a much more streamlined experience than on Windows laptops. Though Apple products are typically pricier than the competition, they are worth the cost of entry. Plus, with Black Friday and Cyber Monday just around the corner, you should see some of these models drop in price.

So, if you’re interested in one of the best Apple computers 2021 has to offer, take a look at our top picks below, alongside our price comparison tool so you can score the best MacBook Pro Black Friday deals.

MacBook Air (M1, 2020) against a white background

(Image credit: Apple)

1. MacBook Air (M1, 2020)

The best Apple laptop

CPU: Apple M1 chip with 8‑core CPU | Graphics: Integrated 7-core – 8-core GPU | RAM: 8GB – 16GB unified memory | Screen: 13.3-inch 2560 x 1600 Retina display | Storage: 256GB – 2TB SSD

macOS Big Sur is fast and responsive
Battery life is great
Silent in use
Fanless design could impact performance

Apple topped last year off with a bang, rolling out their much-talked about M1 silicon chip that’s so far been a real game-changer. And, the first laptop to receive it is the company’s thinnest and lightest, putting it on the list of the most exciting Apple laptops of recent years. With this new chip, the MacBook Air is better than ever, touting excellent performance alongside its brilliant battery life – without raising the price to keep it (fairly) affordable still. This is the best MacBook for pretty much everyone.

Read the full review: MacBook Air (M1, 2020)

MacBook Pro 14-inch (2021) against a white background

(Image credit: Apple)

2. MacBook Pro 14-inch (2021)

Mightily impressive

CPU: Apple M1 Pro 8-core – M1 Max 10-core | Graphics: Integrated 14-core – 32-core GPU | RAM: Up to 64GB | Screen: 14-inch Liquid Retina XDR display | Storage: Up to 8TB

Brilliant performance
Best screen on a laptop
Screen may be a bit small for some

The MacBook Pro is now its truest self with the launch of the MacBook Pro 14-inch (2021) and its 16-inch counterpart. Armed with the new M1 Pro and M1 Max, MacBook impresses with breathtaking power and equally breathtaking battery life – just what every professional needs and deserves. Apple then rounds it all out with its XDR display with 1600 nits of peak brightness and a wide color gamut. There’s also an SD card slot, an HDMI port, and three Thunderbolt 4 ports (all of which can stay available thanks to MagSafe charging being back.) It’s among the most expensive MacBook Pros ever launched, but it’s also certainly among the best.

Read the full review: MacBook Pro 14-inch (2021)

iMac (24-inch, 2021) against a white background

(Image credit: Apple)

3. iMac (24-inch, 2021)

The iMac gets a welcome redesign

CPU: Apple M1 chip with 8‑core CPU | Graphics: Integrated 7-core – 8-core GPU | RAM: 8GB – 16GB unified memory | Screen: 24-inch 4.5K Retina display | Storage: up to 2TB

Excellent screen
Striking new design
Fantastic webcam
Lack of ports remains
Mac mini may offer better value for some

If you think that the new iMacs couldn’t possibly be as good as they look, you’d be wrong. They are not just an improvement over their 21.5-inch predecessor externally, touting a fresh new face that comes in several different colors. They also come with fresh new specs, rocking Apple’s new M1 chip that makes it much more powerful than the previous Intel iMacs. In fact, we’d go as far as to say that the new iMac (24-inch, 2021) is the best all-in-one PC we’ve ever tested, and has certainly earned its place in our best Macs list. You’ll also be happy to know that you’re getting great value here, as you’re getting the Magic Keyboard and Magic Mouse included – in matching colors, we might add.

Read the full review: iMac (24-inch, 2021)

MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019) from above against a white background

(Image credit: Apple)

4. MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019)

Best MacBook for creatives

CPU: 9th-generation Intel Core i7 – i9 | Graphics: AMD Radeon Pro 5300M – Radeon Pro 5500M | RAM: 16GB – 64GB | Screen: 16-inch Retina display with True Tone | Storage: 512GB – 8TB SSD

Stunning 16-inch screen
New and improved keyboard
Expensive
Limited to four Thunderbolt 3 ports

While we are sad that Apple has retired the 15-inch MacBook Pro, we’re more than happy to see the MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019) hit the shelves. As thin, light and sleek as ever, this doesn’t feel like a 16-inch behemoth. If you’re worried that this was going to be bulky and awkward to use, don’t be. Yet, despite its svelte frame, you’re still getting that extra real estate on that stunning display, as well as the latest and greatest components behind it. Apple then rounds those out with amazing (and loud) speakers and a much, much better keyboard. This is truly the best MacBook for content creators, designers and other creative professionals.

Read the full review: MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019)

MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) against a white background

(Image credit: Apple)

5. MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020)

Apple’s little MacBook Pro gets a big refresh

CPU: Apple M1 chip with 8‑core CPU | Graphics: Integrated 8-core GPU | RAM: 8GB – 16GB unified memory | Screen: 13.3-inch 2560 x 1600 LED-backlit Retina display | Storage: 256GB – 2TB SSD | Dimensions (H x W x D): 30.41 x 21.24 x 1.56 cm

Huge battery life
Great performance
Can run iOS apps
Still lacks ports

The MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) may not have gotten a massive design overhaul, but what it lacks in that department, it makes up for big time in performance and battery life. Thanks to Apple’s groundbreaking M1 chip, the new MacBook Pro 13-inch delivers excellent performance and exceptional battery life. Its performance is so impressive, in fact, that it can easily handle 4K - and even 8K - videos. If you’re looking for a powerful laptop that keeps things small and lightweight, this is the best MacBook money can buy.

Read the full review: MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020)

Mac mini (M1, 2020) against a white background

(Image credit: Apple)

6. Mac mini (M1, 2020)

Small, but with big ambitions

CPU: Apple M1 chip with 8-core CPU | Graphics: Integrated 8-core GPU | RAM: 8GB – 64GB unified memory | Storage: 256GB – 2TB SSD | Dimensions (W x D x H): 19.7 x 19.7 x 3.6 cm

Same lovely design
Very good performance
New M1 hardware has potential
Can't use eGPUs

One of Apple’s biggest surprises of the year is the update to its smallest Mac. The brand-new Mac mini now touts Apple’s M1 chip, while keeping things the same in its much-loved design. It’s more powerful than ever – with more than decent video editing performance, even at 8K, and can now run iOS apps and games, thanks to this new chip, but it still keeps its title as the cheapest Mac ever – terrific news for budget-minded Apple fans. 

Read the full review: Mac mini (M1, 2020)

iMac (27-inch, 2020) against a white background

(Image credit: Apple)

7. iMac (27-inch, 2020)

A formidable upgrade

CPU: 10th-generation Intel Core i5 – i9 | Graphics: AMD Radeon Pro 5300 - Radeon Pro 5700 XT | RAM: 8GB – 128GB 2666MHz DDR4 | Screen: 27-inch (diagonal) 5120 x 2880 Retina 5K display | Storage: 256GB – 8TB SSD

Improved internals
Can be configured to be very powerful
Design is getting old
Just two Thunderbolt ports

Even though the iMac 27-inch’s last update was only last year, Apple couldn’t help but step up in the upgrades department with its 2020 follow-up. Specs-wise, this model sports some massive improvements while also upgrading its webcam and microphones for a felicitous update. More people are working from home these days, and this seems like the best all-in-one PC to invest in without being forced to make some considerable space in your existing area. Sure, its overall design hasn’t seen so much as a tweak, making it look a bit tired, but if power is at the top of your list, this one’s the best Mac for you.

Read the full review: iMac (27-inch, 2020)

Apple Mac mini (2020) against a white background

(Image credit: Apple)

8. Apple Mac mini (Intel, 2020)

Same size, more storage space

CPU: 8th-generation Intel Core i3 – Core i7 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 630 | RAM: 8GB – 64GB 2666MHz DDR4 | Storage: 256GB – 2TB SSD | Dimensions (W x D x H): 19.7 x 19.7 x 3.6cm

More storage
More RAM options
Aging processor
Older integrated graphics

Apple is changing up a bit, giving its updated Macs more storage than their predecessors as well as the option for even more RAM. It’s the case with the newly-updated Mac mini (2020). Sadly, this isn't quite the generational upgrade we were hoping for. It’s the same Mac mini with the same processor and integrated graphics that are both, unfortunately, aging at this point. Though, both are still pretty potent for the Mac mini’s target audience. Combined with more storage space, this is certainly an appealing option for many Apple fans.

What to look for in the best Macs and MacBooks

Whether it’s the new 16-inch MacBook Pro that just came out or the Mac Pro 2019 that’s also just released, it’s not hard to see why the best Mac and MacBooks are the weapons of choice of creative professionals.

And, even if you don’t go for the newest releases, there’s already a few excellent options to choose from, especially with Apple recently giving its MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro and 15-inch MacBook Pro that much-needed update.

The best part is that the best Mac and MacBooks come in different shapes, sizes and price so that whether you want the cheapest MacBook you could find, a professional workhorse that breezes through all your extensive workloads like a pro, or an all-in-one that saves you space, there’s a Mac on the market for you.



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