Which MacBook Should I Buy? The 5 Best MacBooks of 2018

See which Apple laptop is right for you

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Widely hailed as some of the best laptops available today, Apple's emphasis on power and portability has broken their laptop lineup into three separate categories: MacBook, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. And each category has different perks. The MacBook Air's thin, lightweight build makes it ideal for portability, while the MacBook Pro is perfectly suited for creative types. Still not sure which MacBook is best for your needs? Take a look at Apple’s current laptop lineup.

Arguably the first notebook to truly be labeled as an “Ultrabook,” Apple has done away with the earlier 11-inch model and now offers just one with a 13-inch screen. When the Air was last updated in early 2017, the biggest change was a bump up in standard RAM to 8GB right out of the box. The latest model also has a 1.8GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor and a choice of 128GB or 256GB SSD storage. It also has an impressive battery life of up to 12 hours and two different kinds of ports: two USB-3s and a Thunderbolt 2, as well as an SDXC card slot. But it is missing the Retina display that has become the gold standard for Apple computers, and this makes the laptop feel a little older than others.

The 0.68-inch unibody aluminum design weighs just under three pounds and feels as durable as ever. It still delivers top-notch (albeit older) processor performance, and can handle light video and photo editing without shifting the computer into overdrive. If you value portability, a top-notch keyboard and trackpad, and you can overlook the older display, the Air remains a superb unit and is currently Apple’s least expensive model.

The 12-inch MacBook has changed relatively little since it was relaunched in 2015. But the current version has improved on its most troublesome feature: the keyboard. Previous models lacked tactile feedback and users said it just never felt right. So, in 2017, the new MacBooks were released with the same "butterfly" keyboard mechanism that's present in the Pro line, bringing these up to par with the rest of the MacBook laptop family.

This MacBook doesn't quite have the processing chops of the Pro, but it does have a few different CPUs to choose from depending on your needs. The default is still the low-powered Intel Core m3 (suitable for everyday internet usage and media streaming), but if you're someone who runs more complex programs, you now have the option to upgrade to low-voltage Core i5 and Core i7 Intel CPUs for an additional cost.

The MacBook sports Apple's hi-res Retina display and four different color choices for the body (gold, silver, space gray and rose gold). It's also Apple's lightest laptop at only 2.03 pounds, making it exceptionally portable. Unfortunately, that lightness comes with limited port options: you’re stuck with just a single USB-C port on the laptop body. But if you do everything wirelessly anyway, then this probably isn't a deal-breaker. 

If you want a laptop that's super light with a stunning Retina display and plenty of processing power for everyday use — and if you're okay with a smaller screen and only one port — then the MacBook may the right choice for you.

There are currently two different models of 13-inch MacBook Pro on the market: This is the model from 2017, which is very similar to the new model minus the most recent spec upgrades. (Those changes primarily affected processing power — this has a dual-core processor, while the newer versions are quad-core). This version of the Pro also does not have the new Touch Bar feature or Touch ID, nor does it have True Tone technology built into the Retina display.

The 2017 Pro is like a more high-powered version of the MacBook. The display is an inch bigger, and it packs quite a bit more processing power with a choice between a 2.3GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 and 2.5GHz dual-core Intel i7 processor. It also has more storage options that go all the way up to 1TB, and two Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports. The whole thing weighs about three pounds, a whole pound more than the ultra-slim MacBook. 

If you need more processing power than the MacBook or Air can offer, but you don't want to invest in the most recent (and more expensive) upgraded version of the MacBook Pro, this 2017 model is a great compromise. 

13-inch MacBook Pro (2018)

Complete with Apple's latest Touch Bar and Touch ID technology and a gorgeous Retina display with True Tone, the latest MacBook Pro packs an upgraded set of specs that make this laptop as powerful as it is pretty. There aren't any radical changes between this Pro model and the last — the most significant upgrades are internal. But these changes will make your life easier if you're a media or creative professional (or just someone who wants a reliable machine).

The biggest upgrade is the processor: it’s still a 2.3 GHz unit, but Apple has updated it to the 8th-generation Intel Core i5 and made it a quad-core — something that was noticeably absent from the last round of MacBook Pros. That processor also offers turbo speeds up to 3.8 GHz, making it fast enough to handle complex programs and multitasking, plus an upgraded Intel Iris Plus Graphics 655 card for additional processing power. Choose between 256GB and 512GB SSD storage options. 

The 2018 Pro model also includes four Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports and Apple's Touch Bar feature, which replaces the top row of function keys with a touch-sensitive panel that integrates app controls into your keyboard and allows you to unlock your laptop with Touch ID. This model also improves on the already-stunning Retina display with new True Tone technology, which gives the computer the ability to read the light temperature of your surroundings and optimize your screen colors for that tone.

15-Inch MacBook Pro (2018)

The 15-inch MacBook Pro has always been Apple's most "premium" laptop – and with the most recent set of spec upgrades, it continues to hold that title. If you run a lot of heavy-duty programs like photo editors, video editors, animation software or DAWs, the MacBook Pro has the power you need to keep your work running smoothly. 

Apple has supercharged the 2018 model's performance with new processors, namely a 2.2 GHz six-core, 8th-generation Intel i5 processor that can Turbo Boost up to a blistering 4.1 GHz. They've also stepped up the graphics card with a Radeon Pro 555X that has its own 4GB of dedicated RAM. Pair that with the already-ample 16GB of standard RAM (upgradeable to 32GB) and this laptop has a powerhouse of data overhead for the most taxing of tasks. The 15-inch Pro also has four ultra-high bandwidth Thunderbolt 3 ports, and you can also choose between 256GB and 512GB SSD storage options. 

This laptop also has the fun upgrades of the 13-inch MacBook Pro: the intuitive Touch Bar feature, Touch ID, and a Retina display with True Tone that adjusts your screen color to accommodate the ambient light around you. Combined with all that powerful internal hardware, this MacBook Pro is a truly professional machine.