The best MacBook for you can be tricky to figure out because there are now so many different MacBooks to choose from. You're still mostly picking between MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, but now there are too many options for each.
Not only does Apple still offer an aging MacBook powered by the original (and still decent) M1 and M2 chips, but it also has new MacBooks packing the latest M3 chips. On top of that, you can get select MacBooks with more powerful Pro and Max versions of Apple silicon, which are ideal for folks doing heavy-duty coding and video editing.
While every MacBook on this list is a great laptop, there are specific reasons why you should opt for one over the other. MacBook Airs are still some of the lightest laptops around, but if you care about power or screen size you might want to splurge for a bigger, beefier MacBook Pro (with 14-inch or 16-inch display) and a more powerful M3 Pro or M3 Max chip. But if you just need a solid MacBook to browse the web and answer email, the classic MacBook Air with either M1 or M2 chip should serve you well. There's even a 15-inch model if you need a bigger display.
Read on to see the best MacBooks you can get today, but if you're thinking about making a purchase you might want to consider waiting a few weeks until the Black Friday MacBook deals are in full effect!
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 quick list
In a hurry? Here's a brief overview of the laptops on this list, along with quick links that let you jump down the page directly to a review of whichever laptop catches your eye.
Best of the best
The best MacBook for most people
The MacBook Air M2 is the best laptop for the money. You get fantastic performance from the new M2 chip, a brighter and bigger display and more than 14 hours of battery life, according to our testing.
Best of the best
The best MacBook for pros on the go
The 14-inch MacBook Pro 2023 hits the best balance between power and portability a MacBook can offer, and its M3/M3 Pro/M3 Max chips are great for getting demanding work done.
The best 15-inch MacBook
The MacBook Air 15-inch M2 is a bigger, more expensive version of the best MacBook on the market, and if you need a bigger screen it offers a great blend performance, display quality, portability and battery life.
The most powerful MacBook
If you want the biggest screen and the most power possible, you want the 16-inch MacBook Pro. The M3 Pro/M3 Max chips you can configure it with make it a beast for video work and other demanding tasks.
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 MacBook Air M2 feels truly worthy of the Air name. And we're not saying that the previous MacBook Air M1 isn’t good — it helped introduce the world to the power of Apple silicon. It’s just that cramming revolutionary performance in the same old chassis didn’t feel (or look) like a leap forward.
The new MacBook Air is a breath of fresh you-know-what, and that’s because Apple paired an even faster M2 chip with a design that’s markedly thinner and lighter. Carrying this 2.7-pound notebook around and using it is a breeze. You get stellar performance, a vibrant display and superb battery life all wrapped up in a design that is delightfully portable.
Yes, $1,119 is a steep price, but we would easily recommend this system over the $999 MacBook Air M1 staying in the lineup because of its better performance and display, along with sharper webcam and MagSafe charging. If you're on a budget and just need a lightweight laptop to browse the web on the older M1 Air will serve you well, but if you want the latest and greatest, this is the best MacBook for the money.
Read our full MacBook Air M2 (2022) review.
The best MacBook for pros on the go
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. Yes, it costs $300 more, but think about all the upgrades you get. This laptop packs a bigger and more colorful display, a sharper webcam, more ports and a big performance boost.
Plus, the 1080p camera is a bit better thanks to a new ISP. The HDMI port now supports up to 8K displays, and you still get an SD card slot.
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.
Add in faster Wi-Fi 6E and you have a near-perfect laptop for creative pros, though we’d like to see a touchscreen option and the addition of Face ID.
Read our full MacBook Pro (M3, 14-inch) review.
The best 15-inch MacBook
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. Though it’s not as powerful as those Pro laptops, the 15-inch MacBook Air packs enough punch for most people. Despite its larger size, this is still one of the lightest and thinnest laptops out there. It also has excellent battery life, a hallmark of Apple silicon.
The MacBook Air 15-inch M2 offers a near-perfect mix of performance, display quality, portability and battery life.
The best MacBook for power users
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 that, you get the return of the ports that pros demand. 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 value
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.
Battery life chart
|Laptop||Battery life (tested)|
|M2 MacBook Air||14:06|
|MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022)||18:20|
|MacBook Air 15-inch M2||14:59|
|M1 MacBook Air||14:41|
|MacBook Pro 2023 (14-inch)||14:09|
|MacBook Pro 2023 (16-inch)||15:31|
How to choose the best MacBook for you
Performance: If you know you don't push your laptops to their limits, get the MacBook Air and get the entry-level model. Its 8-core M1 chip and 8GB of RAM are going to surprise you with their speed. Upgrade that RAM to 16GB if you keep a lot of applications open at once. Those who work with more demanding applications will either want to get the M1 MacBook Pro (check with your favorite applications to see if they're updated for Apple silicon) with 16GB of RAM, or consider getting an Intel-based MacBook with 32GB of RAM. Storage is fast up and down the lineup. The new M2-powered MacBooks provide somewhat of a middle-ground between the original M1 MacBooks and the M1 Pro and M1 Max laptops.
Graphics and gaming: For M1-based MacBooks, you either get a 7-core or 8-core integrated GPU, and we've seen amazing results on the 8-core version. The M2-powered MacBook Pro comes with 10 GPU cores as standard. So upgrade if you want to game on your Mac. Yes, you can play serious video games on the Mac now. It's impressive.
Size and weight: The 13-inch MacBook Air and Pro are only distinguished by the Air's wedge shape and slightly lighter weight. The MacBook Pro (3.0 pounds for M1, 3.1 pounds for Intel) is 0.2 – 0.3 pounds heavier than the 2.8-pound MacBook Air. Unsurprisingly, the 16-inch MacBook Pro — which is a heavier 4.3 pounds — is best for those who either don't mind the heft in their bag or don't move around as often.
Battery life: The 13-inch M2 MacBook Pro is the longest-lasting MacBook there is, posting a Tom's Guide battery test time of 18:20. This beats the M1 Air (14:41) and the 16-inch MacBook Pro 2021 (15:31) by a solid margin.
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.