MacBook Air 2018

Best MacBook iMore 2019

You'd be hard pressed to find any website that does as much deep dive research into everything about Apple's Mac notebook lineup than iMore. We run every model, ever version through their paces (and then some) to determine which is the best MacBook for the average person and which one is perfect for the pros.

Best Overall: MacBook Air

With a major update in 2018, the MacBook Air now has a faster processor, Touch ID, a Retina display, and is still thin enough to fit into a manila envelope.

The Retina display specs are 2560 x 1600 at 227ppi with an sRBG color gamut and the bezels are slim, providing as much screen landscape as possible on a 13-inch Mac laptop.

Though you don't get the much-loved MagSafe charging port, you do get, in its place, two USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports along with the 3.5mm headphone jack. That means 40Gbps high-speed data transfer so you can move photos, videos, and huge documents between hard drives or other computers lickety-split.

The MacBook Air also now supports Touch ID for biometric security. Not only do you use it to unlock your MacBook Air, but also to pay for things online that use Apple Pay (it's such a time saver).

Pros:

  • Retina display
  • High-speed data transfer
  • Touch ID
  • Affordable
  • 12-hour battery life

Cons:

  • Only has USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports
  • previous-generation processor (8th-gen)

Best Overall

MacBook Air

The perfect Mac laptop for most people at the right price.

The MacBook Air has the perfect balance of features and affordability. As the lowest-price Retina display Mac in the laptop lineup, you're getting a hard-working computer without paying the premium price of the rest of the MacBook lineup.

Best value: 13-inch MacBook Pro (without Touch Bar)

The 13-inch MacBook Pro (without Touch Bar) is feature-rich without being too much computer for the average person's needs. It's got the highest-quality Retina display with 3DPI wide-color gamut, highs-speed Thunderbolt 3 ports for 40Gbps data transfer, and an ultra-fast processor chip. If you don't need support for heavy graphics or daily lengthy video rendering, the smaller MacBook Pro has the best feature-to-price ratio, making it the best value of the MacBook lineup. The lowest-price base model MacBook Pro is the same price as the base model MacBook.

Pros:

  • Portable
  • Ultra-fast storage
  • High-speed data transfer
  • Retina Display

Cons:

  • Only has USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports
  • No Touch ID

Best value

13-inch MacBook Pro (without Touch Bar)

With the perfect ratio of features and price, you'll get the biggest bang for your buck.

When it comes to portability, the 13-inch MacBook Pro is just right. It's got the power of a top-of-the-line computer in a lightweight body you can take anywhere.

Most portable: MacBook

The MacBook Air is no longer the thinnest in the Mac laptop lineup. Instead, Apple's MacBook holds that honor, weighing in at just a tick above two pounds (2.03 pounds, to be exact), it's the thinnest, lightest, and smallest of the bunch. It may be small, but it packs a mighty punch.

Pros:

  • Retina Display
  • High-speed data transfer
  • Fast storage
  • Lightest and smallest Mac laptop

Cons:

  • Only has USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports
  • No Touch ID

Most portable

MacBook

At just over two pounds, it's the thinnest, lightest Mac laptop you can buy.

If portability is your main concern, the MacBook is practically like an iPad running macOS. It's perfect for people that spend most of their time on a desktop, but need to work on-the-go sometimes.

Best for pros: 15-inch MacBook Pro

For the pro on the go, there's the 15-inch MacBook Pro. This workhorse of a laptop can support up to 8 cores of Intel's latest Coffee Lake refresh processor chip with turbo boosts of up to 5.0GHz and SSD read speeds of up to 3.2Gbps. It's got four Thunderbolt 3 ports, the most in the entire Mac laptop line, and can be spec'd out to as much as 32GB of memory and a 4TB SSD hard drive with Radeon Pro Vega 20 graphics with 4GB of HBM2 memory. It's fast. It's powerful. It'll sing for you while it renders your videos (not literally).

Pros:

  • Latest Intel processor (9th-gen)
  • Improved keyboard
  • Advanced GPU
  • Up to 8 cores
  • Touch ID
  • Retina display
  • True Tone

Cons:

  • Most expensive model
  • Still a butterfly keyboard design if you hate it
  • Heaviest (4 lbs)

Best for pros

15-inch MacBook Pro

A pro laptop for the pro user that needs portability.

If you need the most power and the best performance with the option of mobility and are willing to pay the premium price, the 2019 15-inch MacBook Pro is your pick.

Best on a budget: Non-Retina MacBook Air

If you really want to join the MacBook ranks, but just can't bring yourself to spend more than $1,000, you can still buy the non-Retina MacBook Air from Apple, brand new. It may have an older graphics card, but it's also got the older legacy ports, which include two USB-A 3.0 ports, a Thunderbolt 2 port (with 20 Gbps data transfer speeds), a MagSafe 2 charging port, and an SD card slot. It's not nearly as speedy nor does it have the quality display of the latest MacBook Air, but it's still a great low-cost, entry-level Mac laptop.

Pros:

  • Cheapest price
  • Legacy ports
  • Up to 12-hour battery life
  • MagSafe charging port
  • Scissor keyboard design

Cons:

  • No Retina display
  • No Touch ID
  • Oldest Intel processor chip in the lineup

Best on a budget

Non-Retina MacBook Air

The only Mac laptop under $1,000.

If you absolutely must have a Mac laptop, but absolutely won't (or can't) spend more than $1,000, the non-Retina MacBook Air is a solid investment that you can still get brand-new from Apple.

Bottom line

Because the MacBook Air has everything most people need for daily computer use tied up nicely in a small package, and because it supports Touch ID for biometric security and Apple Pay, it's our pick for the best MacBook in 2019. The fact that it's also the least-expensive Retina Display MacBook is just icing on the cake.

Of course, if you're looking for something with more power, but don't need the fastest, most powerful processor and graphics, the 13-inch MacBook Pro without Touch Bar has the most specs for its price, making it our pick for the best value.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Lory Gil is iMore's managing editor and has extensive knowledge of the MacBook lineup. Though she doesn't own every single MacBook ever, she's got a pretty decent-sized pile building up.

Rene Ritchie is iMore's resident Apple analyst and has studied every aspect of every MacBook. He puts his MacBooks through their paces and knows exactly what each one's limits are.