Best MacBook in 2024 — our top picks

Picking the best MacBooks can be challenging, simply because there are more options than ever before. While your biggest choice will likely boil down to whether you opt for a MacBook Air or a MacBook Pro, once you’ve decided between portability and power, there are still other considerations to ponder.  

Based on our hours of testing, the best MacBook Air for most people is the 13-inch MacBook Air M3, which offers a great combination of performance and long battery life in a sleek design with a vivid display. But those looking for more power for video editing, gaming and other intensive tasks — and more ports — will want to opt for a 14-inch or 16-inch MacBook Pro. And if you don't need more power but you prefer a larger screen, the 15-inch Air is a great choice.

Here's our picks for the best MacBooks you can buy right now, based on our lab testing and hands-on reviews. If you care to learn more about a particular laptop, just click through to our full review for a complete breakdown of how it feels, looks and performs!

The quick list

Written by
Alex Wawro
Written by
Alex Wawro

Alex Wawro is a lifelong journalist who's spent over a decade covering tech, games and entertainment. He oversees the computing department at Tom's Guide, which includes managing laptop coverage and reviewing many himself every year.

The best MacBooks you can buy today

Why you can trust Tom's Guide Our writers and editors spend hours analyzing and reviewing products, services, and apps to help find what's best for you. Find out more about how we test, analyze, and rate.

The best MacBook overall

The best laptop for the money

Specifications

Display: 13.6 inches; 2560x1664
CPU: Apple M3
GPU: 8-core or 10-core GPU
RAM: 8GB-24GB
Storage: 256GB-2TB SSD
Weight: 2.7 pounds

Reasons to buy

+
Powerful M3 performance
+
Bright and colorful display
+
Ultraportable design
+
Exceptional battery life
+
Dual monitor support

Reasons to avoid

-
Marginally better performance over M2

The MacBook Air 13-inch M3 shares most of the same features that made its predecessor so great — a vivid 13.6-inch display, a svelte modern design and four color options. That, along with the powerful M3 chip, which delivers strong performance for work, gaming and AI tasks, makes this notebook a winner.

The only true negative point here is that, if you own the MacBook Air 13-inch M2 (which previously topped this list), then you don't need to upgrade. Sure, the M3 chip delivers stronger performance over M2, but unless you're crunching videos or playing demanding games, you likely won't notice a difference with everyday work.

Even if the MacBook Air M2 now starts at $999, you’re still getting excellent value from the new Air M3 for what it offers. As things stand, it's the most affordable M3 MacBook you can buy.

Read our full MacBook Air 13-inch M3 review.

The best MacBook Pro overall

The best MacBook Pro overall

Specifications

Display: 14.2-inch Liquid Retina XDR display (3024x1964 pixels, 254ppi)
Processor: M3 (as reviewed)/M3 Pro/M3 Max (up to 16 cores)
Graphics: Integrated GPU (up to 40 cores)
Memory: 16GB to 128GB
Storage: 512GB to 8TB
Weight: 3.4 pounds (M3) - 3.5 pounds (M3 Pro) - 3.6 pounds (M3 Max)

Reasons to buy

+
Strong performance from M3 chip
+
Brighter display
+
Impressive graphics boost
+
Very long battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
M3 has less ports than M3 Pro/M3 max
-
M3 supports just one external monitor
-
Space Black costs extra

The MacBook Pro 14-inch is one of the most powerful portable laptops money can buy, and that’s because of the new M3, M3 Pro and M3 Max chips from Apple, which delivers even faster performance and power efficiency than M2 and M1. Whether you’re editing photos, transcoding videos or multitasking with a dozen apps, the new MacBook Pro can handle any workload with ease.

The M3 model specifically is a stellar replacement for the 13-inch MacBook Pro, which makes that extra $300 investment all the more worth it. This laptop packs a bigger and more colorful display, a sharper webcam, more ports and a big performance boost. 

Plus, the FHD camera gets a welcome improvement, thanks to the new Image Signal Processor. Not only that, but the HDMI port now supports up to 8K panels, and that SD card slot is still a super helpful addition for photographers and videographers alike.

The M3 Pro version of the laptop lasted a whopping 17 hours in our Tom’s Guide Battery Test, which beats most Windows laptops. The M2 13-inch version lasted 18:20, which is still very good endurance, but it doesn't have that larger display and more performant chip to power either.

Top it all off with Wi-Fi 6E, and you've got a laptop that's (almost) perfect for creative pros. If you're reading this, Apple, maybe think about adding a touchscreen display, and Face ID into that notch.

Read our full MacBook Pro (M3, 14-inch) review.

The best big-screen MacBook

The best big-screen MacBook

Specifications

Display: 15.3 inches (2880 x 1864)
CPU: Apple M2
GPU: Integrated 10-core GPU
RAM: 8GB - 24GB
Storage: 256GB - 2TB
Weight: 3.3 pounds

Reasons to buy

+
Bright and vivid 15-inch display
+
Sleek, elegant design
+
Extremely portable
+
Blazing-fast performance
+
Better speakers than 13-inch

Reasons to avoid

-
Skimpy port selection
-
Supports just one external monitor

The MacBook Air 15-inch M2 might be a bigger version of the 13-inch MacBook Air M2 released last year but it’s arguably the best 15-inch laptop for the money.

Like its smaller sibling, the MacBook Air 15-inch packs the powerful Apple M2 chip, a gorgeous Liquid Retina display and the sleek design introduced with the MacBook Pro line in 2021. With M2, it may not be as powerful as the Pro laptops on this list, but the 15-inch MacBook Air packs plenty of punch. 

Plus, even though it's one of the larger laptops on this list, it's still easily one of the thinnest and lightest laptops out there — combined with jaw-droppingly great battery life.

Put simply, the MacBook Air 15-inch M2 offers a near-perfect mix of performance, display quality, portability and battery life.

Read our full MacBook Air 15-inch M2 review.

The best MacBook for power users

The best MacBook for power users

Specifications

Display: 16.2 inches; 3456x2244 pixels
CPU: M3 Pro/M3 Max (up to 16 cores)
GPU: Up to 40-core GPU
RAM: 18GB to 128GB
Storage: 512GB - 8TB
Weight: 4.7 pounds (M3 Pro) | 4.8 pounds (M3 Max)

Reasons to buy

+
Blazing-fast performance
+
Bright and colorful display
+
Sleek, durable design
+
Incredible battery life
+
Alluring Space Black color option

Reasons to avoid

-
Steep asking price

Want it all? Apple has done it again with the MacBook Pro 16-inch (M3 Max). While it retains the same fetching design and gorgeous mini-LED display as the previous M2 Max model, this premium laptop’s performance is currently second to none. The steep $3,499 starting price stings, but professional creatives and even gamers will get their money’s worth.

On top of all that, you get all the same ports you know and love — but with some beefed up specs like 8K-enabled HDMI. That's not just the safety-focused MagSafe 3 charging port, but HDMI-out for connecting to displays and an SD memory reader for connecting memory cards for real-deal cameras. 

Oh, and there's the gaming potential too, as the GPU cores of the M3 Max are capable of running AAA games in excess of 60FPS! Plus, you've got a 1080p webcam, a trio of improved microphones and a stellar six-point speaker system.

Read our full MacBook Pro (16-inch) 2023 review.

The best budget MacBook

The best budget MacBook

Specifications

Display: 13.3 inches; 2,560 x 1,600
CPU: Apple M1
GPU: Integrated 8-core GPU
RAM: 8GB-16GB
Storage: 256GB-2TB SSD
Weight: 2.8 pounds

Reasons to buy

+
Super-fast performance
+
Incredibly long battery life
+
Comfortable keyboard

Reasons to avoid

-
Still has thick bezels
-
Light on ports

The MacBook Air was always the best MacBook for most people, but now it's better for even more people than ever before.  This laptop's 14 hours and 41 minutes of battery life in the Tom's Guide battery test is more than enough to get you through a day at the office, and the M1 still delivers solid performance.

The MacBook Air's webcam also benefits from the M1 chip providing signal processing tricks to improve clarity and color accuracy. And, of course, the Magic Keyboard is still here, which provides a comfy typing experience. Dolby Atmos audio support means that some movies and TV shows will sound even better than before. If you can afford a newer MacBook it will last you longer, but if you're on a budget even a refurbished MacBook Air M1 should serve you well.

Read our full MacBook Air with M1 review

The best mid-range MacBook Pro

The best mid-range MacBook Pro

Specifications

Display: 14.2 inches; 3,024 x 1,964
CPU: Apple M3 Pro
GPU: Integrated 14-core GPU
RAM: 18GB-36GB
Storage: 256GB-2TB SSD
Weight: 2.8 pounds

Reasons to buy

+
Brighter display with great color accuracy
+
Impressive M3 Pro power
+
Dramatically better graphics
+
Impressive battery life
+
Still the best speakers in a laptop

Reasons to avoid

-
Configuration prices are steep
-
Anti-fingerprint coating not very effective

Looking for more performance than the standard M3 MacBook Pro, but don't need the outlandish power of the M3 Max? The M3 Pro model is calling your name, and while we did call it the "awkward middle child" in our review, the other side of that point is just as valid — packing all the good stuff of its more expensive sibling in a cheaper, smaller package.

That list of accolades includes the 20% brighter screen with impressive color accuracy, speakers that stand head and shoulders above any other laptop on the market, and (thanks to that slightly reduced power consumption of M3 Pro compared to M3 Max) a bonkers 17:25 battery life.

Plus, with an up to 12-core CPU, 18-core GPU and a 16-core Neural Engine, it had no trouble whatsoever crushing all of my prosumer tasks like editing multiple streams of 4K video, and super high levels of multitasking demands.

Read our full MacBook Pro with M3 Pro review

Battery life chart

Swipe to scroll horizontally
LaptopBattery life (web surfing hh:mm)
MacBook Pro 16-inch (M3 Max)17:11
MacBook Pro 14-inch (M3 Pro)17:22
MacBook Pro 14-inch (M3)17:25
MacBook Air 15-inch (M2)14:48
MacBook Air 13-inch (M2)14:06
MacBook Air (M1)13:19

How to choose the best MacBook for you

Performance: The transition to Apple Silicon breathed new life into the MacBook lineup — pairing seriously impressive performance with peak power efficiency and downright bafflingly low operating temperatures (even under max load). Of course, the question of how much of that face-melting speed you need comes down to individual use cases. Not really doing much beyond casual productivity? The M1 MacBook Air is perfect. Need a little more? Bump up to the M2 Air. If you're a power user with creative tasks, the M3 MacBook Pros are the way to go.

Graphics and gaming: If you want to work by day and play by night on your MacBook, anything with an M3 chip is the way to go. This 3nm chipset packs what Apple calls a "next generation GPU," which enables huge graphical capabilities such as hardware-accelerated ray tracing. Plus, this additional power means you can breeze through graphically-intense productivity tasks too.

Size and weight: If portability is important to you, the MacBook Airs are a must-buy from this selection. From a weight of just 2.7 pounds for the 13-inch version (and a mere 3.3 pounds for the 15-inch), these are so easy to carry around. If portability isn't the biggest concern, you could go all the way up to 4.3 pounds for the 16-inch MacBook Pro. But as far as dimensions go, all of these models are seriously sleek and carry-able.

Battery life: The 14-inch M3 MacBook Pro is the longest-lasting MacBook there is, posting a Tom's Guide battery test time of 17:25. But the whole M3 lineup hangs around that 17-hour mark if longevity is your primary concern.

How we test the best MacBooks

To find the best MacBook, we run each through our gauntlet of benchmarks and real-world tests, and then use them as our main computer for as well. Only then are we comfortable recommending them (or not) for your purchase.

We use a Klein K-10A colorimeter to test each MacBook's screen to find its average brightness and color quality (so we don't just assume Apple's ratings are correct). When it comes to general performance, we use the Geekbench 5 (CPU performance) benchmark, and time how long the Macs will take to transcode a 4K video to 1080p.

We also run the BlackMagic storage speeds test to see how fast these MacBooks' SSDs are (spoiler alert: they're all pretty fast). Then, we run our custom battery test to see how long each MacBook (at 150 nits of brightness) can last browsing the web over Wi-Fi until it runs out of juice.

We've also tested various computer games on MacBooks, with Civilization VI: Gathering Storm being one of our current favorites to run because it runs well on both macOS and Windows, giving us a good point of comparison.