Summer 2020 is a really good time to buy a Mac, specifically a laptop. Across the line, the MacBook Air, small Pro and Big Pro are all machines with sleek designs, a performance that can scale, and the Magic Keyboard, which provides a much better experience than earlier generations.
There’s also more value being delivered with recent updates as of this spring. Both the Air and the 13-inch Pro provide more storage in the starting configurations.
Here’s how the laptop lineup currently stands:
You could likely find a model of any of the laptops that works for you, but some might have more power than you’ll ever really need. And it’s a good time to buy any of these — Apple updated its entire Mac portable lineup over the past several months and we’re confident it will be a few months before a refresh. Let’s dive into our top picks.
The MacBook Air feels like the ultimate entry-level laptop for the masses, as we said in our full review. Apple went back to its tried and tested ethos for the 2020 MacBook Air. It got cheaper, at $999, with double the base storage (from 128GB up to 256GB), and Apple threw in the latest 10th Gen Intel Processor and the Magic Keyboard.
The Magic Keyboard is really an all-star typing experience. With each keypress, there’s a recoil that bounces the key (and your finger) back up for an invigorating and exciting typing experience. The keyboard can make or break a story, so you need one that’s punchy, clicky and clacky. The Magic Keyboard meets this standard and then some, and it’s the same experience across all of Apple’s laptops, the 13-inch and 16-inch Macbook Pro included. There’s also more room between the individual keys and rows, so you’re less likely to hit accidental keystrokes.
Powering the MacBook Air is your choice of a 10th Gen Intel processor, ranging from a Core i3 to a Core i7. The base model still packs 8GB of RAM, but you can upgrade to 16GB. We tested the $1,299 model with an Intel Core i5 inside. It’s only $300 more than the base $999 model, with a faster processor and double the storage. This configuration would be perfect for people working from home or entering college this fall. It’s an all-around fast machine that can scale for creative tasks and stay cool during streaming. The only change we’d suggest is upgrading to 16GB of RAM if you’ll be dabbling with lots of applications at once, to give you a bit more of a runway for performance tasks.
The MacBook Air rounds out the experience with two USB-C ports, a spacious trackpad and a 13-inch Retina display. You’ll also be surprised by the speakers in this machine.
Planning on a creative major? Running a lot of spreadsheets? Or maybe you just like to leave a plethora of tabs open in a web browser? The 13-inch MacBook Pro is likely the best bet for you, and it’s still incredibly portable.
For 2020, Apple’s offering two breeds of the 13-inch: one with the 8th Gen Intel Processor and one with the 10th Gen. Both of these are still thoroughly Pro machines that outperform the MacBook Air. It’s also important to note that the Pros have a different thermal architecture inside for keeping the machines cool. With either of these, you can scale to render movies, batch edit photos, zip through an audit on a spreadsheet, and even game.
The $1,299 model is best for people who want more runway over the MacBook Air. With an 8th Gen Intel Core i5, you have more room for high-performance and processor-intense tasks. You’ll also notice creative renderings or exports will happen faster.
Those looking for a mini powerhouse of their own, minus a dedicated graphics card, will want to upgrade to the 10th Gen 13-inch, which starts at $1,799. You can handle some gaming, Final Cut Pro movie-making, photo editing in Photoshop, and even coding the next great app. This model also comes with 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage along with four USB-C ports. The Magic Keyboard is here and so is the TouchBar, with a physical ESC key and a Touch ID sensor for unlocking and authenticating.
- 13-inch MacBook Pro 8th Gen Core i5, 8GB of RAM and 512GB SSD ($1,399, originally $1,499; amazon.com)
- 13-inch MacBook Pro 10th Gen Core i5, 16GB of RAM and 512GB SSD ($1,699, originally $1,799; amazon.com)
- 13-inch MacBook Pro 10th Gen Core i5, 16GB of RAM and 1TB SSD ($1,899, originally $1,999; amazon.com)
The 16-inch MacBook pro kicked off this new generation of strong and value-priced Mac laptops late last year. It was a massive upgrade over the 15-inch MacBook Pro. The Retina display is larger and it boasts the Magic Keyboard, flanked by two speaker grilles, a Touch Bar up top, and the return of the physical ESC key.
Under the hood, it has a whole new thermal architecture that ensures the laptop doesn’t get too hot. The base $2,399 model features 512GB of storage, 16GB of RAM, a 9th Gen Intel Core i7 and a dedicated AMD Radeon Pro Graphics card. That all adds up to more than ample speed for the masses and a solid work station for pros. It’s also the only Mac laptop that you can get with a dedicated graphics card.
For the price you can upgrade the 16-inch with some crazy hardware — we’re talking 64GB of RAM and 8TB of storage. Those cost $800 and $2,200 respectively. Not for the everyday consumer, but creative pros might be able to make a case for it.
Apple’s 16-inch MacBook Pro represents the top of the line and is a flagship laptop in every way.
- 16-inch MacBook Pro Core i7, AMD Radeon Pro 5300M GPU, 16GB of RAM and 512GB SSD ($2,099.99, originally $2,399; amazon.com)
Note: The prices above reflect the retailers’ listed prices at the time of publication.