The 11 Best Mac Computers of 2019

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The Rundown

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: 15-inch MacBook Pro

Apple MacBook Pro

Apple

If you’re looking for a Mac but are torn between a desktop or a laptop, Apple’s 15-inch MacBook Pro strikes the perfect balance. Max out the specs on this workstation-grade laptop and you can reach levels of performance that rival some of Apple's highest-end iMacs.

Expect a good combination of portability, versatility, and power, with an ultra-slim form factor and a 15-inch Retina Display featuring all of Apple’s most advanced color management features. True Tone, which matches the white balance of your screen to the ambient lighting in your surroundings, ensures that your blues look just as blue and your reds look just as red as they would on a printed page, no matter where you happen to be working.

The 15-inch MacBook starts with a 2.6GHz six-core 9th-gen Intel Core i7 CPU in its base configuration, along with 16GB of 2,400MHz DDR4 memory and a 256GB SSD. It also has four Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C ports, and an AMD Radeon Pro 555X with 4GB of GDDR5 memory. Replacing the ordinary row of function keys is a Touch Bar, as well as its T2 security chip and Touch ID sensor.

Best Starter System: Mac mini

For those dipping their toes into macOS for the first time, it’s hard to go wrong with Apple’s inexpensive and modular Mac mini for getting your feet wet. It comes in at an affordable price yet packs a considerable amount of power in a small footprint.

It’s the most no-frills system Apple makes, so you will need to supply your own monitor, keyboard, and mouse. However, if you're coming from a Windows PC, chances are you have all of these items already, so you can save a few bucks with this computer-only option. Plus, minimalism is all part of the Apple charm.

Under the hood, the specs are impressive for the price. The base model boasts a 3.6GHz quad-core 8th-gen Intel i3 CPU with 4GB of fast RAM and a 128GB SSD. Just keep in mind that while you can upgrade the RAM later, the SSD is soldered in. As such, videophiles, gamers, and local archivists should either buy an external Thunderbolt 3 drive or get a higher capacity model to begin with.

Best Laptop: 13-inch MacBook Pro (Midrange)

These days, Apple’s MacBook product family is as simple as it’s been in years and is available in two basic lineups: the MacBook Pro for professionals and power users and the MacBook Air for everyone else. 

Despite the streamlined catalog, figuring out the best option for your needs can still be tricky sometimes. That said, we think Apple’s midrange 13-inch MacBook Pro hits the sweet spot among laptops, as it provides more than enough performance for the average user without going over the top. 

This unit packs in a 2.4GHz quad-core 8th-gen Intel Core i5 CPU, with Turbo Boost up to 4.1GHz, in addition to 8GB of RAM and a 256 GB SSD. You’re also getting four Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C ports, Apple’s gorgeous Retina Display with a P3 wide color gamut and True Tone color accuracy, a Touch Bar for quick and dynamic access to commonly used functions in your apps, and Apple’s T2 security chip with Touch ID sensor.

It’s a well-rounded MacBook that will offer solid performance for years to come.

Best Desktop: 27-inch iMac

Apple pioneered the all-in-one desktop form factor back in the days when PCs were boxy monolithic towers, and the 27-inch iMac remains the pinnacle of this design. An ultra-slim edge-to-edge screen that looks as much like a museum piece as a computer, it packs an amazing amount of power into a profile that looks like nothing more than a standalone monitor. 

The entry-level 27-inch iMac features a 3GHz six-core 8th-gen Intel Core i5 CPU that can burst up to 4.1GHz, along with 8GB of RAM and Radeon Pro 570X graphics. You also get Apple’s revolutionary 1TB Fusion Drive, a hybrid storage solution leveraging all the benefits of a modern SSD while relegating static data to the traditional hard drive side. As a result, it offers high capacities at affordable prices. Of course, you can still upgrade to a full SSD too if necessary.

All 27-inch iMac models include Apple’s stunning 5K (5120 x 2880) Retina Display with support for one billion colors thanks to its P3 wide color gamut. The pair of Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports also let you drive up to two more displays — either a single external 5K display or two 4K UHD displays, all with support for a billion colors, and it’s bundled with Apple’s Magic Keyboard and Magic Mouse or Magic Trackpad, so everything you need to get going is right in the box. 

Best Budget Desktop: 21.5-inch iMac

Apple’s 27-inch iMac gets a lot of attention, so it’s easy to forget that the company also still offers a smaller, 21.5-inch model that shares the same cool aesthetic and many of the same capabilities. It’s a great Mac desktop that delivers solid performance without breaking the bank, and the best part is that both the memory and storage are easily upgradeable, so unlike many Macs, you can start with the basics and scale up later.

The base model will get you a not-too-shabby 2.3GHz dual-core 7th-gen Intel Core i5 that can boost up to 3.6 GHz, along with 8GB of memory, a 1TB traditional hard drive, and a full HD (1920 x 1080) display. If you've got a bit more to spend, however, we think the jump to the mid-tier model is seriously worth your consideration since it supports up to a 4K (4096 x 2304) P3 display and Radeon Pro 555X graphics, along with a 3.6GHz quad-core Intel Core i3 CPU. That's definitely more bang for your buck.

Keep in mind, though, that even this little 21.5-inch iMac can still drive the same external displays as its big brother, meaning you can plug in a single 5K external display or a pair of or 4K displays, and again, even the base model can be upgraded with more memory or a bigger hard drive later on thanks to the use of traditional hard drives rather than soldered-in SSDs.

Need help getting the most out of your Macbook? Check out our 10 favorite tips for Macbooks.

Best Budget Laptop: MacBook Air

Although it’s taken a while to get it all sorted out, Apple’s MacBook family is now divided along a single very clear line between two groups: The MacBook Pro is for those with high-end needs, while for everybody else there’s the MacBook Air, a slim and ultra-portable laptop that’s better and more powerful than it’s ever been, yet with features that are belied by its size, coming in at only 0.61 inches thick.

Picking a MacBook Air is really simple, too — there’s only a single model available, packing in an 8th-gen 1.6GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 CPU which Turbo Boost speeds of up to 3.6GHz, plus 8GB of RAM. You also get your choice of either 128GB or 256GB SSD storage in the standard configurations or can customize that to go to 16 GB of memory and up to 1 TB of SSD storage. We’d definitely recommend getting what you need out of the gate since you won’t be able to upgrade it later. With two Thunderbolt 3 ports, you'll always be able to plug in external storage, and it can even drive a single 5K display, a pair of 4K displays, or a Thunderbolt 3 eGPU if you need more power than the built-in Intel UHD 617 chipset offers.

You’re also getting Apple’s incredible Retina Display, which on the latest model even includes True Tone capabilities. That means that, in addition to the 2560 x 1600 native resolution, your colors will always look picturesque whether you’re using the MacBook Air at your lakeside cottage or pulling a late night at a coffee shop. Yet, despite all of its power and slim size, it can still run for 12 to 13 hours on a single charge, and as an added bonus, Apple’s T2 security chip and Touch ID bring the same security features as its more premium MacBook Pros. 

Best Value: 13-inch MacBook Pro (Base)

Apple recently refreshed its entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro, taking it from the place of underpowered sibling to full-fledged member of the MacBook Pro family. For a MacBook at this price point, it wields more than enough power to meet the demands of most typical users.

The 1.4GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 CPU is an 8th-gen chip with Turbo Boost up to a formidable 3.9GHz, so it has amazing performance when you need it, and it’s 83 percent faster than its predecessor. It also packs in 8GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD. You’ll probably want to bump up the storage, as you won’t be able to add more later without an external drive.

The entry-level MacBook Pro also features Apple’s Touch Bar, previously exclusive to higher-end models, along with Touch ID and Apple’s T2 chip for improved security. You’re also getting the same ultra-high-quality Retina Display with a P3 color gamut and True Tone color accuracy, all of which make it a "true" MacBook Pro in almost every way.

Best for Video Production: Mac mini, 6-core i7

We wouldn't blame you for writing off Apple’s Mac mini as a contender — after all, it languished for almost four years without an update while every other Mac ran circles around it. Then again, not only did Apple give its diminutive Mac some much-needed love in 2018, it went above and beyond to turn it into a seriously powerful little box for any blossoming video production studio.

The higher-end Mac mini — which should, in actuality, be called the "Mac mini Pro" — packs a 3GHz six-core, 8th-generation Intel Core i5 CPU that can boost up to 4.1GHz, along with 9MB of shared L3 cache. If that’s not enough, you can take it up to a 3.2GHz Core i7 with 12MB of shared L3 cache. It also comes standard with a 256GB SSD and 8GB of RAM, configurable to up to a 2TB SSD and 64GB, respectively. However, you probably won’t need to worry too much about a higher-capacity SSD, as the four Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports offer plenty of room to connect the external storage arrays most studios rely on for their raw video storage and rendering.

One of the big advantages of the Mac mini in a production environment is its small size. Because it takes up almost no space, it will fit unobtrusively into just about any setup, letting you plug it into whatever monitor arrangement you're already using. And with its HDMI 2.0 and Thunderbolt 3 ports, it can drive up to three 4K displays simultaneously.

Best for Graphic Design: 27-inch iMac

If you’re an aspiring graphic designer, chances are you’re already an Apple fan. For decades now, Jony Ive's product designs have inspired even the most struggling artists to pursue their passions. Suffice to say, in the world of graphic design, the 27-inch iMac leads the charge. With a bright and gorgeous high-resolution Retina 5K display and a P3 wide color gamut supporting a billion colors, your work will shine vibrantly on-screen, whether you're doing advertising print work, magazine layouts, or modern web design.

Furthermore, its museum-worthy aesthetic means the iMac is built to astonish design studio visitors, and its 3.7 GHz ninth-generation Intel Core i5 CPU and Radeon Pro 580X discrete GPU provide more than enough power for even the most sophisticated 3D design and rendering projects. It also packs in 8GB of RAM and a 2TB Fusion Drive, which delivers SSD performance where you need it. This is particularly ideal for graphic design, where most of your static assets can happily live on the traditional spinning hard disk side of the Fusion Drive. The memory and hard drive are also both upgradeable later, but there's also a pair of Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports for plugging in high-speed external storage.

Should your refined taste demand an even bigger canvas, those same Thunderbolt 3 ports can drive an additional full 5K display, though, alternatively, you can attach a pair of 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) displays with support for a billion of colors or two standard 4K (4096 x 2304) displays with a narrower color gamut. Ensuring you have everything you need to get started out of the box, Apple includes its Magic Keyboard and Magic Mouse as well.

Best Portable Powerhouse: 15-inch MacBook Pro, 8-Core Intel i9

Take Apple’s 15-inch MacBook Pro to its maximum specs, and you’ve got yourself one of the most powerful laptops money can buy right now — a veritable powerhouse, whose performance rivals all but Apple’s "Pro" grade desktops, stuffed inside an ultra-slim laptop form factor. 

In fact, Apple made an ambitious move this year, integrating the most powerful mobile chip Intel has ever made — an eight-core i9-9980HK with Turbo Boost speeds of up to 5GHz — while still managing to preserve the MacBook Pro’s classically slim design. All of this power comes in a machine that’s only 1.5cm thick and weighs just under four pounds. 

Better still, the power of this machine goes beyond just the CPU. Besides the 32GB of RAM and up to 4TB of SSD storage under the hood, a discrete Radeon Vega 20 GPU employs 4GB of HBM2 video memory. You’re also getting all of the other premium features of Apple’s MacBook Pro lineup: the Retina Display with a P3 wide color gamut and True Tone technology for super-accurate colors, the Touch Bar and Touch ID sensor, and an array of four Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports.

Best Splurge: iMac Pro

For those financially able and willing, Apple’s iMac Pro harbors performance beyond your wildest dreams. While it doesn’t come cheap, it's worth every penny if you need massive horsepower, or just want a machine that you know will still be near the top of the line years from now. 

In case there was ever any doubt, the iMac Pro has the most powerful graphics and processor available on any Apple computer currently on the market. The base model features a 3.2GHz eight-core Intel Xeon W CPU with a 19MB cache, 32 GB of ultra-fast ECC memory, Radeon Pro Vega 56 graphics, and a 1TB SSD. However, if your pockets run deep, you can step that up to an awe-inspiring 18-core 2.3GHz CPU, 256GB of RAM, Radeon Pro Vega 64 graphics with 16GB of VRAM, and a 4TB SSD. 

Along with this, you also get Apple’s 27-inch Retina 5K display, offering a 5120 x 2880 resolution with support for a billion colors and a P3 wide color gamut. Through its four Thunderbolt 3 / USB-C ports, you can simultaneously drive two 5K external monitors or four 4K UHD displays. Other ports include four USB 3.0 ports and a 10Gb Ethernet jack for ultra-fast network connectivity. Plus it comes in a cool Space Gray color not found on any other iMac, with a Magic Keyboard, Magic Mouse 2, and Magic Trackpad bundled to match. 

Still can't find what you're looking for? Check out our roundup of the best Macbook Pros.

Our Process 

Our writers spent 4 hours researching the most popular Mac computers on the market. Before making their final recommendations, they considered 7 different models overall, read over 15 user reviews (both positive and negative), and tested 6 of the Mac computers themselves. All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.