The best MacBooks for 2021
The best Mac laptop for most people is the 13-inch MacBook Air with Apple’s M1 processor. It’s more than fast enough for browsing, working on documents, and making light edits to photos and videos, and it has an excellent high-resolution display, great trackpad, totally silent fanless design, and reasonably priced. Its battery life is excellent, long enough to survive a full day of work or school and more. Light weight, solid construction and tip support make it a great laptop, especially if you also own a iPhone or other Apple devices. The biggest downside is its mediocre webcam.
We recommend the $ 1,000 model, which includes an Apple M1 with a seven-core GPU, 256GB SSD, and 8GB of memory. If you regularly work with ten browser tabs open or edit large image files or videos, consider upgrading to 16GB of memory for an extra $ 200. If you need more storage, we recommend adding a external hard drive or Portable SSD rather than paying Apple’s upgrade prices. Don’t spend more for the M1 version with the eight-core GPU; most people won’t notice the difference. We’ll talk more about M1 performance later in this guide.
The MacBook Air features a bright and colorful 13-inch 2560 × 1600 IPS display – this screen has a higher resolution than the 1080p displays on most PC laptops we recommend, and the text and images are crisp and detailed. . Air display supports both sRGB and wider color gamut DCI-P3 color gamut, which can show more shades of certain colors, although this feature isn’t overwhelmingly important unless you’re working on high-end films or photographs. The Air screen also supports the True Tone feature, which subtly changes the color temperature of the screen to match the ambient lighting in the room.
The Air has a headphone jack on its right side and two Thunderbolt 3 / USB-C ports on its left side for connectivity and charging, so you need adapters or new cables to connect your other devices. . Each port supports charging, 40 gigabits per second data transfers, external displays (resolution up to 6016 × 3384 or 6K, although you can only connect one external monitor at a time) and Basic USB devices such as flash drives, printers, and mice. The more expensive versions ($ 1,800 and up) of the 13-inch MacBook Pro include four Thunderbolt 3 ports, just like the 16-inch Pro, but even with these models, you’ll still need a dongle, hub, or phone. a docking station to connect most accessories.
The Air uses Apple’s Magic Keyboard, which it introduced to replace the stiff, shallow keyboard prone heist butterfly switch keypad supplied with most MacBook Airs and Pros released between 2016 and 2019. The Magic Keyboard still isn’t as dynamic as the pre-2016 MacBook keyboards (or Lenovo’s excellent ThinkPad keyboards), but it’s a huge improvement. The keyboard is now a scissor switch design, which retains most of the firmness of the old butterfly switch keyboard, but adds another 0.5mm of key travel (for a total of 1mm). If you have a 2015 or older MacBook Air or Pro and have been waiting for the upgrade because you didn’t like the keyboard from 2016 and newer models, this keyboard is good enough that you stop postponing the upgrade. ‘purchase. The MacBook Air skips the Touch Bar in favor of a row of physical function keys and a stand-alone Touch ID fingerprint sensor, but most people don’t need the Touch Bar, so we don’t consider not really that as a negative.
All of our picks include the same Force Touch trackpad, which remains the best trackpad we’ve used on a laptop due to its large size and precision. It doesn’t have a hinge, so it will recognize presses anywhere on the surface, but it also offers haptic feedback that makes it feel like it’s “clicking” even if it’s not moving. The Air’s trackpad isn’t as big as the Pro’s, but the difference isn’t noticeable if you don’t compare the two side-by-side.
The 2020 MacBook Air weighs 2.8 pounds and is almost imperceptibly thicker than the 2018 and 2019 models, entirely due to the space needed for the extra key travel. It’s 0.2 pounds lighter than the 13-inch MacBook Pro, and roughly the same amount heavier than Dell’s XPS 13 (9310). The Air isn’t an exceptionally thin or light laptop, but it’s as thin as it needs to be and it’s comfortable to carry in a backpack or shoulder bag.
The M1 MacBook Air largely beats its predecessors in terms of battery life. The early 2020 version of the MacBook Air with a Core i5 processor lasted around eight hours in our Google Chrome-based battery test, which is decent but not exceptional. The M1 version of the MacBook Air lasted over 14 hours in the same test. We also found that the M1 MacBook Air’s battery didn’t drain as quickly when using video chat apps like Zoom, which are usually quite hard on a laptop’s battery.