Best Mac 2023: Which MacBook, Mac mini, iMac, and more is the best?

Best Mac computer
(Image credit: iMore)

Since the launch of Apple silicon in 2020, Apple has made a number of impressive additions to the Mac lineup. Now, every Mac on our list is equipped with one of Apple's own groundbreaking processors that changed the game for fast, efficient computing. With new desktops, displays, and laptops that have all been released within the past year, Apple has a state-of-the-art machine for every kind of Mac user.

Apple's Mac products fall into two broad categories. The best MacBook lineup consists of the M2 MacBook Air and 13-inch M2 MacBook Pro, while desktop models include the iMac, Mac mini, and Mac Studio. We've made recommendations based on several factors, which you can read more about below. However, our general advice is to select the newest model that fits your needs (laptop or desktop) and price range. Then check out the best Mac accessories to complete your setup.

What are the best Macs you can buy right now?

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Macbook Air Hands On

(Image credit: Source: Gerald Lynch / iMore)
The best Mac for most users

Specifications

Display: 13.6-inch (diagonal) Liquid Retina display
Processor: Apple M2 chip
RAM: 8GB, 16GB, or 24GB
Storage: Up to 2TB
Camera: 1080p FaceTime HD camera
Battery: Built-in 52.6-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery
Battery life: Up to 15 hours wireless web, up to 18 hours Apple TV app movie playback
Dimensions: 0.44 cm x 30.41 cm x 21.5 cm
Weight: 1.24 kg (2.7 pounds)

Reasons to buy

+
Great price
+
Long battery life
+
Five color choices

Reasons to avoid

-
Can get expensive very quickly with add-ons

Bottom line: With the 2022 release of the M2 MacBook Air, this slim, lightweight, and lightning fast model continues to be the best choice for most users.

The 2022 MacBook Air is also our favorite Macbook. It's a fantastic beast that's lightweight and built with the newest Apple M2 SoC inside. The Apple M2 is also found on the 13-inch MacBook Pro (M2, 2022). The Apple M2 on the MacBook Air offers an 8-core CPU, up to 10-core GPU, and up to 24GB of unified memory.

It used to be that there were very few differences between the MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro. That's no longer the case, as the MacBook Air was significantly updated this time around, while the MacBook Pro was not. It offers a 13.6-inch Liquid Retina display and a 1080p FaceTime HD camera for the first time. Plus, it comes with a MagSafe charging port — just like the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models before it. The MacBook Air (M2, 2022) also comes in four colors: Space Gray, silver, Starlight, and Midnight.

When configuring your MacBook Air, you can select from 8GB, 16GB, and 24GB of unified memory; 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, or 2TB of storage; and either 8-core or 10-core of GPU. CPU is 8-core, regardless of your confirmation. 

Rear of a blue 2021 iMac

(Image credit: iMore/ Luke Filipowicz)
The best all-in-one desktop with M1

Specifications

Display: 24-inch (diagonal) Retina 4.5K display
Processor: 8-core Apple M1 chip
RAM: Configurable up to 16GB unified memory
Storage: Configurable up to 2TB SSD
Cameras: 1080p FaceTime HD camera with M1 ISP
Dimensions: 46.1 cm x 54.7 cm x 14.7 cm
Weight: 4.46 kg (9.83 pounds) for the base model or 4.48 kg (9.88 pounds) for a higher-end model

Reasons to buy

+
24-inch 4.5K Retina display with Wide Color and True Tone
+
8-core Apple M1 chip
+
Up to 16GB unified memory and 2TB SSD storage
+
Comes in up to seven new colors
+
Includes color-matching Magic Mouse and Magic Keyboard with Touch ID

Reasons to avoid

-
Reasonable price, but configurations add up
-
Only has two Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports (the high-end version has another two USB 3 ports)

Bottom line: The latest iMac boasts a gorgeous 24-inch 4.5K Retina display, packs in an 8-core M1 chip with up to 16GB unified memory, and can go up to 2TB in storage. It's also the thinnest iMac yet, boasts a 1080p FaceTime HD camera, Magic Keyboard with Touch ID, and comes in seven fun colors.

The iMac (2021) sports a beautiful 24-inch 4.5K Retina display, which is a big step up from the 21.5-inch before it. You now get 4480-by-2520 resolution at 218 pixels per inch with support for one billion colors, and it has up to 500 nits brightness, Wide Color, and True Tone support. It's also incredibly thin at only 11.5mm, so it vanishes from the sides. The overall volume of Apple's new iMac is 50% less than its predecessors. The power cable now attaches magnetically to the back of the display with a highly durable and braided 2-meter cable. Ethernet cables directly plug into the power adapter since there is no ethernet port on the back (it's too thin).

Another considerable change with the latest iMac is its seven shiny dual-tone colors: Blue, Green, Pink, Silver, Yellow, Orange, and Purple. However, if you want the last three colors, you'll have to opt for the mid or high-end models.

The 24-inch iMac packs in power and performance with the M1 chip. It also comes in flashy new shades to give you a splash of color to your setup.

The front of the iMac and the base have a light pastel hue, while the edges and display back are darker (except for the silver option, which only has one shade). No matter which colorful iMac you choose, the splash of color will turn heads in the office or your home. These new iMacs are equipped with a color-matching Magic Keyboard and Magic Mouse. There is also the option to upgrade to a Magic Keyboard with an integrated Touch ID, allowing you to finally use your fingerprint for biometrics and security on Apple's desktop computer. You might also want to check out our list of the best keyboards for Mac for other solutions. 

Apple has finally ditched Intel processors on its main desktop computer, replacing it with its M1 chip. This means you get 8-cores, four for performance and the other four for efficiency. The base model also starts with a 7-core GPU on the M1, while the mid and high levels are 8-core GPUs. Those who want the base model will also only be able to choose the 256GB SSD, which is configurable up to 512GB or 1TB. The mid and high-level models start with 256GB or 512GB SSDs and can be configured to 1TB or 2TB, though the price will increase significantly. And like the other M1 Macs, the iMac starts with 8GB of unified memory but can be configured up to 16GB. Since the memory is in the M1 chip, it cannot be configured beyond that.

It also seems that Apple is finally putting better FaceTime HD cameras into its computer lineup. The M1 iMac boasts a 1080p FaceTime HD camera with an M1 image signal processor (ISP). This means that it gives you high-quality video and images, even in low-light situations. Additionally, the M1 ISP offers more noise reduction, greater dynamic range, and improved auto exposure and white balance. No more grainy videos for you in those precious work meetings. The iMac has a studio-quality three-microphone setup for clearer calls and voice recordings. This new microphone array is also positioned to reduce feedback and background noise. But of course, it's still probably best to get one of the best USB microphones if you want serious audio quality.

Regarding ports, the base level iMac comes equipped with two Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports, but you can get two more USB 3 ports with the mid and high-tier versions. The Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports support DisplayPort, Thunderbolt 3 up to 40Gb/s, USB 4 up to 40Gb/s, and USB 3.1 Gen 2 up to 10Gb/s. You will need adapters, sold separately, for Thunderbolt 2, HDMI, DVI, and VGA. The base model is configurable with Gigabit Ethernet, but the mid and high-level models come standard with Gigabit Ethernet.

Flashy colors, super thin, M1, 24-inch 4.5K Retina display, and a new magnetic power cable — this iMac has it all.

A MacBook Pro 16-inch

(Image credit: iMore)
The best MacBook Pro models you can buy

Specifications

Display: 14.2-inch (diagonal) mini-LED backlit display16.2-inch (diagonal) mini-LED backlit display
Processor: Apple M1 Pro or Apple M1 Max
RAM: Up to 64GB
Storage: Up to 8TB
Cameras: 1080p FaceTime HD camera
Battery: Integrated 70-watt-hour lithium-polymer batteryIntegrated 100-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery
Battery life: Up to 11 hours wireless web, up to 17 hours Apple TV app movie playbackUp to 14 hours wireless web, up to 21 hours Apple TV app movie playback
Dimensions: 1.55 cm x 31.26 cm x 22.12 cm1.68 cm x 35.57 cm x 24.81 cm
Weight: 1.6 kg (3.5 pounds)2.1 kg (4.7 pounds)

Reasons to buy

+
Liquid Retina XDR display
+
1080p FaceTime HD camera
+
Ports, ports, and more ports
+
Lots of choices across the board

Reasons to avoid

-
Price can rise quickly with add-ons
-
No Touch Bar

Bottom line: The first Apple silicon MacBook Pros pack a fantastic punch that should remind long-time users of iconic past models. And yet, make no mistake, these are the most advanced Apple laptops ever.

For months, we heard Apple was about to introduce its first Apple silicon version of the MacBook Pro. When it arrived in October 2021, we got two models, an all-new 14-inch version and a second-generation 16-inch version. Sans the size of their displays, these laptops are identical.

Each model offers a blazing-fast Apple M1 Pro or Apple M1 Max chip with up to a 10-core CPU and 32-core GPU. You can select unified memory up to 54GB and SSD storage up to 8TB. The 2021 MacBook Pros finally offer a 1080p FaceTime HD camera.

On the outside, you'll find a fresh new design with slimmer bezels and the first camera notch on an Apple laptop. Thankfully, the ports are back in this model, including three Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C) ports, which you can use for charging, a DisplayPort, and Thunderbolt 4 (up to 40Gb/s). There's also an HDMI port and SDXC card slot. Best of all, the laptops have a MagSafe 3 port for charging purposes. For most professionals, these ports are vital to everyday workflow and convenience. As noted in our MacBook Pro (2021) review, with these. models, the professional MacBook is back!

The professional MacBook is back.

Turning to the keyboard, you'll no longer see the often criticized Touch Bar. Instead, the OLED strip has been replaced by full-size physical function keys that include must-have keyboard shortcuts for Spotlight, Dictation, Do Not Disturb, and other features. Most users prefer this setup over the Touch Bar.

The latest MacBook Pro offers three studio-quality mics that pick up more sounds from an audio perspective. The three-mic array uses directional beamforming, making your voice clearer and louder. It also includes a six-speaker sound system. The speakers provide 80% more bass, featuring force-canceling woofers, while the high-performance tweeters offer more precise, fuller vocals. The impressive sounds are most noticeable when using spatial audio, something Apple's been pushing hard across many devices and headphones.

A few negatives are associated with both the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros. First, they are costly and even more so when adding more memory and storage. They also come in only two colors, which will bother many looking to move beyond some shade of gray and silver. Finally, we'll mention it again: these are expensive devices!

These are Apple's two most potent MacBooks; each offers two types of SoC, an Apple M1 Pro or Apple M1 Max. While they are more costly than the svelte MacBook Air, they do pack in a lot of power for the price. There is some speculation that a newer M2 version of the MacBook Pro will be released in early 2023, so you may want to wait a bit if you can for an even faster MacBook Pro.

Apple M1 Chip Mac Mini Lg Display Gaming Screen

(Image credit: Apple)

Mac mini (2020)

The best for networking

Specifications

Processor: Apple M1 chip
RAM: 8GB or 16GB
Storage: Up to 2TB
Dimensions: 3.6 cm x 19.7 cm x 19.7 cm
Weight: 1.2 kg (2.6 pounds)

Reasons to buy

+
Least expensive solution among desktops
+
Works great with all types of monitors

Reasons to avoid

-
Remember, no monitor or accessories
-
Can get expensive quickly
-
2022 refresh is possible
-
We don't recommend the Intel-based version

Bottom line: The desktop you can bring along manages to deliver a lot of power into a small footprint, and it matches nicely with your existing monitor, keyboard, and mouse.

The latest Mac mini was the first Apple desktop to feature Apple silicon. It launched in late 2020 alongside Apple silicon versions of the MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro. A more expensive Mac mini featuring an Intel-based processor remains on the market for those looking to add more memory or storage than the M1 version currently provides. However, we're not recommending that model since it could get replaced soon.

The Apple M1 Mac mini version comes with an Apple M1 chip with an 8-core CPU, 8-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine, 8GB unified memory, 256GB SSD storage, and Gigabit Ethernet. Memory (up to 16GB) and storage (up to 2TB) are upgradeable. The Mac mini supports one display of up to 6K and one display of up to 4K; both are sold separately.

Ports include a 3.5 mm headphone jack, HDMI 2.0 port that supports multichannel audio output, two Thunderbolt / USB 4 ports, two USB-A ports, and Gigabit Ethernet.

If you're looking at a Mac mini, you already know that you need to add a monitor, keyboard, and mouse. Also, remember that an early 2023 refresh is possible, undoubtedly offering better specs. The next model is expected to include a more powerful M1 Pro or M1 Max chip, so you may want to hold out if it's additional power you need.

Mac minis are a great solution if you already have a terrific monitor and other accessories. Otherwise, stick with the iMac if you're looking for a desktop Mac.

A lady using a Mac studio at a desk

(Image credit: Apple)
Major refresh to Mac desktops

Specifications

Processor: Apple M1 Max chip or Apple M1 Ultra chip
RAM: Configure up to 128GB unified memory
Storage: Configure up to 8TB of SSD
Dimensions: 9.5 cm x 19.7 cm x 19.7 cm
Weight: Up to 3.6 kg (7.9 pounds)

Reasons to buy

+
Spec-wise, the best Mac right now
+
Only Mac to offer M1 Ultra
+
Lots of customization options

Reasons to avoid

-
Still requires a monitor, keyboard, and mouse
-
Gets expensive quickly
-
It's not designed like the Mac Pro

Bottom line: Currently the best Mac you can buy, the Mac Studio is for creatives and professionals alike. Expect to pay a lot of cash, however.

The Mac Studio (2022) is the best professional-grade computer Apple has ever created — at least until the modular Mac Pro gets an Apple silicon update. Looking every bit like two stacked Mac mini units, the Mac Studio is packed full of features that make it an excellent product starting with your choice of a powerful M1 Max or even more powerful M1 Ultra chipset. From there, you can choose up to 128GB of unified memory, up to 20-core CPU, and up to 64-core GPU.

For the complete package, we recommend buying the all-new Apple Studio Display. Available with standard or nano-texture glass, this 27-inch 5K Retina display features a 12MP Ultra-Wide camera with Center Stage, studio-quality mics, and a six-speaker sound system with Spatial Audio.

If you're looking for the best and money is no object, say hello to Mac Studio. Especially when combined with the Mac Studio Display, this is a powerhouse machine that's built to take on big jobs. It's certainly a creator's dream come true, but this choice is not for the faint of budget. 

Get this Mac if you want all the features and have the resources to build the best machine to suit your needs. Otherwise, stick with the iMac as your desktop Mac.

M2 Macbook Pro 13 Inch Closed With Apple Logo Displayed

(Image credit: Gerald Lynch / iMore)
Still a great choice

Specifications

Display: 13.3-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit display with IPS technology
Processor: Apple M2 chip
RAM: 8GB, 16GB, or 24GB
Storage: Up to 2TB
Cameras: 720p FaceTime HD camera
Battery: Built-in 58.2-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery
Battery life: Up to 17 hours wireless web, up to 20 hours Apple TV app movie playback
Dimensions: 1.56 cm x 30.41 cm x 21.24 cm
Weight: 1.4 kg (3 pounds)

Reasons to buy

+
Has Apple M2 SoC
+
Touch Bar with Touch ID
+
20-hour battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
Older style case
-
Maxes out at 24GB RAM
-
No MagSafe
-
Only a 720p FaceTime HD camera

Bottom line: If you're looking for a Touch Bar, this is the only new Apple laptop to offer it. It's not an all-new model, but it's super fast and portable. 

Apple probably should have canceled this MacBook Pro model this year. Instead, it added an all-new M2 chip to match the one found on the MacBook Air (M2, 2022). Beyond this, however, the 2022 version is almost identical to the 2020 version it has now replaced.

The MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022) comes with a 13.3-inch Retina display, 8GB CPU, 10GB GPU, and up to 24GB of unified memory. It's also the only MacBook that remains with Touch Bar. This model remains on our best Mac list because of its battery life. It offers 20 hours between charges versus 18 hours on the Air; it's the best battery offered on a MacBook Pro, except for the much more expensive 16-inch MacBook Pro.

On the plus side, in terms of audio, the 13-inch MacBook Pro comes with stereo speakers with a high dynamic range, support for Dolby Atmos playback, and a studio-quality three-mic array with a high signal-to-noise ratio and directional beamforming. It's also not too heavy, weighing in at 1.4 kilograms (3 pounds) versus the Air's 1.29 kilograms (2.8 pounds). But when looking at the negatives, it's hard to see why one would choose this laptop over the feature-heavy M2 Air. The MacBook Pro (M2, 2022) doesn't have MagSafe, comes with a less powerful FaceTime camera, and features an older style.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro with M2 offers excellent battery life and renewed specs with the Apple M2 chip. Unfortunately, its design is dated. However, if you really love that Touch Bar, this is the only way you're going to get it. 


How much are Macs?

There's no denying Macs are among the most expensive computers on the market. But, of course, this has been in Apple's DNA since the first Macintosh was introduced in 1984. And yet, the range in price points is extensive, with the cheapest option available for less than $700 and the most expensive for more than $10,000, depending on the extras. Luckily, the wide price range extends to both the MacBook and Mac desktop lineup.

Apple silicon or Intel?

In mid-2020, Apple announced plans to move away from Intel-based processors and produce Macs with in-house silicon. As of March 2022, only two active Mac models offer Intel (Mac Pro, Intel-only Mac mini), and neither comes recommended. We at iMore are forward thinkers, so we're only suggesting Apple silicon-based options moving forward. Though Apple has promised to support Intel-based models for years to come (and it will), we know Intel isn't in the company's future, a point no one can deny.

How to pick the best Mac for you

We've selected the MacBook Air (M2, 2022) as the best Mac of the year so far. It's packed with the features most users need yet omits the ones they do not. Better still, it's priced right and is easy to carry across the room or back and forth on campus. However, the MacBook Air (M2, 2022) isn't the most powerful Mac, nor does it offer the broadest customization options.

Our best Mac lineup offers a generous range of laptop and desktop models to fit a variety of uses. Although every user will have their own preferences, we certainly have our favorites. The best choice for most users will be the MacBook Air (M2, 2022), but other top picks include the 24-inch iMac (2021), and the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro (2021). When something more powerful is needed, both the Mac mini (2020) and Mac Studio (2022) are great desktop choices. Finally, the 13-inch MacBook Pro (M2, 2022) is also a solid pick for those that love the Touch Bar. 

If you're looking to purchase a new Mac right now, any of these options will be excellent for the average user. If you have time, it might be wise to wait, especially if you have your eye on a Mac mini, MacBook Pro, or Mac Pro. Any of these models could be updated or refreshed early next year. When changes get made to the Mac lineup, circle back to this post to see our updated recommendations. In the meantime, happy shopping!

Bryan M Wolfe
Staff Writer

Bryan M. Wolfe has written about technology for over a decade on various websites, including TechRadar, AppAdvice, and many more. Before this, he worked in the technology field across different industries, including healthcare and education. He’s currently iMore’s lead on all things Mac and macOS, although he also loves covering iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. Bryan enjoys watching his favorite sports teams, traveling, and driving around his teenage daughter to her latest stage show, audition, or school event in his spare time. He also keeps busy walking his black and white cocker spaniel, Izzy, and trying new coffees and liquid grapes.

With contributions from