It's been a busy time for the Mac lineup in recent years, thanks to the introduction of Apple silicon. Our list of the best Macs doesn't include an Intel-based device for the first time. This decision follows the recent launch of the Mac Studio and the retirement of the 27-inch iMac, bringing the number of Intel-based Macs being sold by Apple down to two. Those options, both the 2019 Mac Pro and 2020 Intel-only Mac mini, are not being recommended because of their age and the likelihood that they will get replaced or retired soon. Instead, our recommendations include other choices, including the best MacBooks of the year and specific desktop models.

What are the best Macs you can buy right now?

Apple's Mac products fall into two broad categories. The MacBook lineup consists of the MacBook Air and 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 best fits your needs (laptop or desktop) and price range. Then check out the best Mac accessories to complete your setup.

Macbook Air M1Source: Android Central

1. MacBook Air (M1, 2020)

The best Mac for most users

Bottom line: Economically (for Apple) priced, the current MacBook Air includes those features necessary to most users in an easy-to-carry case.

Specs MacBook Air (M1, 2020)
Display 13.3-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit display with IPS technology
Processor Apple M1 chip
RAM 8GB or 16GB
Storage Up to 2TB
Camera 720p FaceTime HD camera
Battery Built-in 49.9 watt-hour lithium‑polymer battery
Battery life Up to 15 hours wireless web, up to 18 hours Apple TV app movie playback
Dimensions 0.41–1.61 cm x 30.41 cm x 21.24 cm
Weight 1.29 kg (2.8 pounds)

Pros:

  • Great price
  • Long battery life
  • Three color choices

Cons:

  • Limited configurations
  • Is 13-inches enough?
  • Refresh is coming

The well-reviewed MacBook Air with M1 is also our favorite Macbook. It's an amazing beast that's lightweight and built with the Apple M1 SoC inside. The Apple M1, which is also found on the 13-inch MacBook Pro (M1, 2020) and Mac mini (2020) (see below), is a variant of the A14 Bionic chip. The difference here is the inclusion of two additional high-performance "Firestorm" cores that work with the four existing "Icestorm" cores found on the iPad Air (2020) and iPhone 12 series.

As we explained in our MacBook Air (M1, 2020) review, the M1 can burst to 3.2Ghz in single-core and 3Ghz in multi-core environments. Moreover, it retains the same unified architecture that lowers latency compared to discrete components inside most laptops. The Air also offers faster LPDDR4 RAM and SSD 5-10% faster than previous models. The combination means the RAM can perform better with less of a performance hit.

Perhaps the current MacBook Air's biggest surprise is that it doesn't come with a fan. Without one, this is probably the quietest MacBook to date. Combined with its impressive battery life, which is a little less than the 13-inch MacBook Pro (M1, 2020), the MacBook Air lets you work all day comfortably and into the night without requiring a charge.

The MacBook Air (M1, 2020) is the best Mac of the year. However, not because it's the most feature-packed Mac on the market.

With the same 13-inch display found on the smaller MacBook Pro and the same internals, you might wonder why this is the one we recommend the most. One word: price. The least expensive MacBook Air is $200 cheaper than the entry-level MacBook Pro. The savings means Touch ID over Touch Bar and slightly less battery life. And yet, the MacBook Air is lighter and, again, has the same parts inside as the Pro model. It's also the only Mac that comes in gold (and space gray and silver).

Like the similar-sized Pro model, the Air doesn't offer many choices when it comes to configuration. You get 8GB or 16GB of unified memory, and 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB of storage. Those are the only choices you can make. Another negative: both 2020 M1 MacBook models have only two Thunderbolt / USB 4 ports. Because of this, a dock is one of the must-have accessories for new Mac owners.

The MacBook Air (M1, 2020) is the best Mac of the year. However, not because it's the most feature-packed Mac on the market. Instead, it's because it offers the features most important to most would-be buyers without the extras many might find unnecessary. For this, you'll spend less money.

There's one word of caution, however. Apple's almost certainly about to replace the 2020 MacBook Air with a new model. If the rumor mill is correct, it should be a significant update featuring a redesign, new colors, and more. Because of this, we suggest holding off on making your MacBook Air purchase until the refresh.

The best Mac for most people overall

MacBook Air M1 2020 Space Gray

MacBook Air (M1, 2020)

Apple's latest MacBook Air is silent but deadly, a potent combination of class design and a new, ultra-fast M1 system-on-chip.

Blue iMac (2021) heroSource: Luke Filipowicz / iMore

2. 24-inch M1 iMac (2021)

The best all-in-one desktop with M1

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.

Category 24-inch M1 iMac (2021)
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

Pros:

  • 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

Cons:

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

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 silver, which is just one shade). No matter which colorful iMac you choose, it will be sure to add a splash of color to your setup and turn heads in the office. 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.

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 either 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 itself, 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. Thanks to the M1 ISP, the image quality is improved with better 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 also 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.

As far as 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.

Best M1 all-in-one

Imac 2021

24-inch M1 iMac (2021)

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

2021 Macbook Pro BackSource: Bryan M. Wolfe / iMore

3. 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro (2021)

The best MacBook Pro models you can buy

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.

Category 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro (2021)
Display 14.2-inch (diagonal) mini-LED backlit display
16.2-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 battery
Integrated 100-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery
Battery life Up to 11 hours wireless web, up to 17 hours Apple TV app movie playback
Up 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 cm
1.68 cm x 35.57 cm x 24.81 cm
Weight 1.6 kg (3.5 pounds)
2.1 kg (4.7 pounds)

Pros:

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

Cons:

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

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 either 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. The sides feature numerous ports unless more recent models, 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. Additionally, Apple has kept the 3.5mm headphone jack; it's on the laptop's left side this time around. Put together, 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.

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. Featuring force-canceling woofers, the speakers provide 80% more bass, with the high-performance tweeters offering clearer, 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!

Apple's newest laptop

14 Inch Macbook Pro

14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro (2021)

Apple finally brought an Apple silicon MacBook Pro to the market. It offers two types of SoC, an Apple M1 Pro or Apple M1 Max.

Apple M1 Chip Mac Mini Lg Display Gaming ScreenSource: Apple

4. Mac mini (2020)

The best for networking

Bottom line: The compact Mac mini packs a lot inside and nicely matches your existing monitor, keyboard, and mouse.

Category Mac mini (2020)
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)

Pros:

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

Cons:

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

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 up to 6K and one display 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 are already aware that you need to add a monitor, keyboard, and mouse. Also, keep in mind that a 2022 refresh is possible, undoubtedly offering better specs.

Best for networking

Mac Mini 2020 M1 Top

Mac mini (2020)

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

Apple Mac StudioSource: Apple

5. Mac Studio (2022)

Major refresh to Mac desktops

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.

Category Mac Studio (2022)
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)

Pros:

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

Cons:

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

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 highly recommend also 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.

Best for professionals

Mac Studio

Mac Studio (2022)

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 iMac as your desktop Mac.

Macbook Pro With M1 ChipSource: iMore

6. 13-inch MacBook Pro (M1, 2020)

Still a great choice

Bottom line: When you want a Touch Bar and more battery life, this is the (only) Apple laptop to get.

Category 13-inch MacBook Pro (M1, 2020)
Display 13.3-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit display with IPS technology
Processor Apple M1 chip
RAM 8GB or 16GB
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 21.34 cm
Weight 1.4 kg (3 pounds)

Pros:

  • Has Apple M1 SoC
  • Touch Bar with Touch ID
  • 20-hour battery life

Cons:

  • Not much different from MacBook Air
  • Maxes out at 16GB RAM
  • Only has two Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports
  • A 2022 refresh is likely

This is the first MacBook Pro that features an 8-core Apple M1 chip. Like the MacBook Air (M1, 2020), you get a 2560-by-1600 resolution Retina display, up to 16GB of RAM, and 2TB of storage.

If you don't care about the Touch Bar and can live with two hours less battery life, it's probably wise to save some money and go with our top choice instead.

There are few differences between the 13-inch Pro and Air, but just enough that could sway your decision. With the more expensive model, you'll receive a Touch Bar with Touch ID and better battery life (around 20 hours versus 18 hours for the Air). In addition, though both models have a similar display, the Pro provides 500 nits brightness instead of the Air's 400 nits brightness.
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. Finally, the Pro weighs 1.4 kilograms (3 pounds) versus the Air's 1.29 kilograms (2.8 pounds).

If you don't care about the Touch Bar and can live with two hours less battery life, it's probably wise to save some money and go with our top choice instead.

For more information, check out our 13-inch MacBook Pro (M1, 2020) review.

Least expensive MacBook Pro

13 Inch Macbook Pro M1

13-inch MacBook Pro (M1, 2020)

The 13-inch MacBook Pro with M1 is just like the Air, except it has a Touch Bar with Touch ID and better battery life.

How to pick the best Mac for you

We've selected the MacBook Air (M1, 2020) as the overall best Mac of the year. 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 (M1, 2020) isn't the most powerful Mac, nor does it offer the broadest customization options.

1. Price

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.

2. Apple silicon or Intel?

In mid-2020, Apple announced plans to move away from Intel-based processors and produce Macs with its own 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, and that's why we're only recommending 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, and this is a point no one can deny.


The Mac lineup features a diverse series of laptop and desktop computers. Our top choices are the MacBook Air (M1, 2020), 24-inch iMac (2021), and the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro (2021). In addition, the Mac mini (2020), Mac Studio (2022), and 13-inch MacBook Pro (2020) are also superb choices that target different users.

If you're in the market now for a new computer, stick with one of our choices. Otherwise, wait a few months to see what changes Apple brings to the lineup. New products should include a new MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro, Mac mini, and possibly a Mac Pro.

When changes get made to the Mac lineup, circle back to this post to see our updated recommendations. In the meantime, happy shopping.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Author: Bryan

Bryan M. Wolfe is a dad who loves technology, especially anything new from Apple. He now uses a 14-inch MacBook Pro and loves it! You can find him on Twitter @bryanmwolfe.

Author: Christine Romero-Chan

Christine Romero-Chan has been using Macs for over a decade after ditching Windows. She knows a thing or two about how Macs work and who they're made for.

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