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Back To Basics- Apple

Back To Basics- Apple

The best Mac laptop for most people is the 13-inch MacBook Air with Apple’s M1 processor. It’s more than fast enough for the things most people use a computer for—web browsing, working on documents, and light photo and video editing—but the M1 even handles professional work like 3D rendering or compiling code pretty quickly. Plus, it has a great keyboard and trackpad, a colorful high-resolution screen, and outstanding battery life

Apple’s new M1 processor is much faster than the low-power Intel processors in previous MacBook Airs, and its battery life is so good that you should almost never need to charge it during the day if you don’t want to. And unlike previous MacBook Air models, the M1 version doesn’t require a cooling fan, which keeps it dead silent even when you’re maxing out the processor by exporting a video or playing a game. Like its predecessor, the M1 version of the Air includes a much-improved keyboard with a deeper, more satisfying feel and improved reliability compared with MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models released between 2016 and 2019. The only downside is that some Mac apps that run well on Intel Macs haven’t yet been optimized for the Apple M1 chip, and you might notice some performance lag until those apps are updated.

The Air includes only two USB-C ports (which support Thunderbolt 3) plus a headphone jack—but Thunderbolt 3 docks and USB-C hubs and adapters are common enough and inexpensive enough that this isn’t as big of a problem as it used to be. The Air also omits the MacBook Pro’s (situationally useful but largely unnecessary) Touch Bar in favor of a row of physical function keys and a standalone Touch ID fingerprint sensor.

The 16-inch MacBook Pro costs more than twice as much as the Air, and it’s worth that investment only if you’re editing huge photos and videos, connecting to multiple high-resolution 4K or 5K monitors, or working with 3D drafting software. But it hasn’t been updated with an Apple processor yet, so it’s a more complicated recommendation than it used to be. This laptop is still a good choice if you need an expansive 16-inch screen; if you need to run Windows apps on your Mac and need the fastest Intel processors you can get in a MacBook; or if you need a laptop that can be used with as many as four external 4K monitors (M1 MacBooks can only work with a single external monitor). If you need more power, you can get an eight-core processor, faster graphics, and as much as 64 GB of memory in this model—four times as much as the Air or the M1 version of the 13-inch Pro.

If you can wait for a version of the 16-inch MacBook Pro with an Apple processor, you should; it will almost certainly perform better and get improved battery life, and it’s likely to be released at some point in 2021. But if you need a laptop right now, the Intel version will get the job done: Its processor is still fast enough to run heavy apps like Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom, or Premiere, Apple’s Xcode development environment, and many others. And Apple has committed to software updates for Intel Macs for “years to come,” so you shouldn’t miss out on new macOS versions for at least a few years.

If you’re not wedded to Apple’s ecosystem and its operating system, macOS, we have a separate guide dedicated to helping you find the right laptop.