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Best MacBooks and Macs: top Apple desktops and laptops

best MacBook and Macs
Let us show you our picks for the best MacBook and Macs money can buy. (Image credit: Future)

The best MacBook and Mac devices occupy a space of their own in the computing world, and none are as influential and game-changing. Since their debuts, these Apple PCs have long been imitated, though not quite duplicated, by a slew of Windows laptops and desktop computers And, this isn’t surprising considering their svelte design, portability and robust build.

Their svelte yet surprisingly tough chassis is only the beginning, of course. The best MacBooks and Macs boast a modern minimalist design and pretty powerful specs under the hood, which when combined make quite a potent concoction. That’s without mentioning the macOS environment – the latest of which is macOS 11 Big Sur – which delivers such a seamless experience to which no Windows 10 or Chrome OS laptop can quite measure. 

So, even though every single one comes with a price tag that’s noticeably higher than their rivals, the best MacBooks and Macs are an undeniably appealing option. Ready to jump on the Mac bandwagon? From the latest MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019) to Apple’s impressive workstations like the Mac Pro 2019, these are our top picks.

MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019)

The MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019) is truly the best MacBook for content creators, designers and other creative professionals. (Image credit: Apple)

1. MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019)

The best Apple laptop

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 (15-inch, 2019)

MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2019) is refreshed with hexa-core 9th-generation processors. (Image credit: Apple)

2. MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2019)

Apple’s productivity machine gets the latest Intel tech

CPU: 9th-generation Intel Core i7 – i9 | Graphics: AMD Radeon Pro 555X – 560X, Intel UHD Graphics 630 | RAM: 16GB – 32GB | Screen: 15.4-inch, 2,880 x 1,800 Retina display | Storage: 512GB – 4TB SSD | Dimensions (H x W x D): 34.93 x 24.07 x 1.55cm

Powerful
Decent configuration options
Screen remains gorgeous
Expensive
Lack of ports
Keyboard concerns remain

If you want the most performance you can get in a MacBook without needing to pull off a heist, you’ll want to look into the MacBook Pro 15-inch. Now refreshed with hexa-core 9th-generation processors and up to 32GB of RAM, you won’t be held back by anything you throw at it – especially now that you can get Radeon Pro Vega 20 graphics. With that kind of performance, the MacBook Pro takes a lofty spot on our best Mac and MacBooks list without breaking a sweat.

Read the full review: MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2019)

iMac (27-inch, 2019)

If you’re looking for an all-in-one Mac, the new 27-inch iMac might just be the best Mac for you. (Image credit: Apple)

3. Apple iMac (27-inch, 2019)

Apple’s most affordable all-in-one

CPU: up to 3.6GHz 8-core Intel Core i9 | Graphics: AMD Radeon Pro 570X – Radeon Pro Vega 48 | RAM: 8GB – 64GB | Screen: 27-inch (diagonal) Retina 5K display 5120 x 2880 | Storage: 1TB Fusion Drive – 2TB SSD | Dimensions (H x W x D): 51.6 x 65.0 x 20.3 cm

Stunning 5K display
Quiet under load
SSD upgrades are expensive

The iMac has long been one of the cheaper ways to get into the macOS ecosystem, and we’re glad that hasn’t changed. Though what has changed, we also appreciate. The new iMac is packing with 8th- and 9th-generation desktop-class processors, letting this stylish all-in-one reach that fabled 8-core performance. If you’re looking for an all-in-one Mac, the new 27-inch iMac might just be the best Mac for you, at least if you’re on a budget.

Read the full review: iMac (27-inch, 2019)

MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2020)

(Image credit: Apple)

4. MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2020)

Worth the upgrade at the highest configuration

CPU: 8th-generation Intel Core i5 – 10th-generation Intel Core i7 | Graphics: Intel Iris Plus Graphics 645 | RAM: up to 32GB | Screen: 13-inch Retina display with True Tone | Storage: 256GB – 4TB SSD

Improved specs (on some models)
Larger capacity SSD for starting model
New keyboard is great
Entry-level model still has 8th gen Intel CPU
You still only get Thunderbolt 3 ports

The MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2020)’s entry-level model may miss out on some of the lineup’s new toys. However, going for the higher-end configurations will get you new (and powerful) Intel processors and improved RAM speeds for better performance, all packed in the 13-inch incredibly svelte body. Apple rounds it all out with that incredible Magic Keyboard from the new 16-inch, finally getting rid of that problematic keyboard. Even if you don’t go for the 10th-generation Intel Core configurations, you might still appreciate the fact that all models come with more storage capacity for the same price as their predecessors.

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

MacBook Air (2020)

Apple’s thinnest and lightest MacBook is back in 2020 with a vengeance. (Image credit: Apple)

5. MacBook Air (2020)

New and improved for 2020

CPU: Intel Core i3 – i7 | Graphics: Intel Iris Plus Graphics | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Storage: 256GB – 2TB PCIe-based SSD | Dimensions: 30.41 x 21.24 x 1.61 cm

Lower price of entry
New 10th generation processors
Improved keyboard
Screen colors a little muted
Battery life only OK
Webcam still just 720p

Apple’s thinnest and lightest MacBook is back in 2020 with a vengeance. Not only has it fixed a lot of the complaints with its predecessors – namely, that problematic keyboard is now gone, replaced by a drastically improved keyboard. But it also comes with new and more powerful internal components, even more storage space options, and a lower price of entry. There are a couple of things we’d do better, like the muted screen and the average battery life, but this model of the MacBook Air is better than anything we’ve seen from the line to date.

Read the full review: MacBook Air (2020) 

iMac Pro

iMac Pro can handle any workload you can possibly throw at it. (Image credit: Apple)

6. iMac Pro

Raw power

CPU: 8 to 18-core Intel Xeon W | Graphics: Radeon Pro Vega 56 - Radeon Pro Vega 64 | RAM: 32GB – 256GB DDR4 ECC | Screen: 27-inch 5K (5,120 x 2,880) Retina display (P3 wide color) | Storage: 1TB – 4TB PCIe 3.0 SSD | Dimensions (H x W x D): 65 x 20.3 x 51.6cm

Most powerful Mac you can buy 
Gorgeous, color-accurate display 
Very expensive 

Professionals and creatives need something that can handle any workload they can possibly throw at it. If you’re one such user, the iMac Pro isn’t just one of the best Macs for you; it’s the only Mac to consider. Not only does it have a vibrant 27-inch 5K display with a P3 wide color gamut, but it also boasts the most powerful hardware Apple could get its hands on. It’s extremely expensive though, so it’s really only meant for folks who have deep pockets and need that unbridled power to get through their daily workloads. 

Read the full review: iMac Pro 

MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2020)

(Image credit: Apple)

7. MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2020)

Worth the upgrade at the highest configuration

CPU: 8th-generation Intel Core i5 – 10th-generation Intel Core i7 | Graphics: Intel Iris Plus Graphics 645 | RAM: up to 32GB | Screen: 13-inch Retina display with True Tone | Storage: 256GB – 4TB SSD | Dimensions (W x D x H): 11.97 x 8.36 x 0.61 inches

Improved specs (on some models)
Larger capacity SSD for starting model
New keyboard is great
Entry-level model still has 8th gen Intel CPU
You still only get Thunderbolt 3 ports

The MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2020)’s entry-level model may miss out on some of the lineup’s new toys. However, going for the higher-end configurations will get you new (and powerful) Intel processors and improved RAM speeds for better performance, all packed into the 13-inch incredibly svelte body. Apple rounds it all out with that incredible Magic Keyboard from the new 16-inch, finally getting rid of that problematic keyboard. Even if you don’t go for the 10th-generation Intel Core configurations, you might still appreciate the fact that all models come with more storage capacity for the same price as their predecessors.

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

MacBook (2017)

If you’re looking for a MacBook that’s easy to take with you wherever you go, you will love the MacBook (2017). (Image credit: Apple)

8. MacBook (2017)

Small and stylish

CPU: Dual-core Intel Core m3 – Core i5 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 615 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 12-inch Retina (2,304 x 1,440) IPS | Storage: 256GB – 512GB PCIe SSD | Dimensions (W x D x H): 11.04 x 7.74 x 0.14~0.52in

Incredibly portable 
Long battery life 
Too expensive 

While Apple has officially taken the MacBook out of its MacBook lineup, many third parties are still carry it. And because the 12-inch MacBook has found its niche as an ultraportable and lightweight laptop, it’s still deserving of a spot on our best Macs list… that is, until stock runs out. It’s low on ports, but that’s hardly a surprise in a laptop this thin. It can support basically everything under the sun with its Thunderbolt 3 port, anyway. It’s not as powerful as the MacBook Pro, but if you’re looking for a MacBook that’s easy to take with you wherever you go, look no further.

Read the full review: Apple MacBook (2017)

Apple Mac mini (2020)

(Image credit: Apple)

9. Apple Mac mini (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

For 2020, 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.

Bill Thomas and Gabe Carey have also contributed to this article.

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.