Best MacBook for Battery Life

Apple currently offers three kinds of laptops. There's the entry-level MacBook Air, the ultra-light MacBook, and the powerful MacBook Pro. If you don't care about maximum portability or maximum power, though, but really want the one with the best battery life, which should you choose?

Also read: How to fix MacBook battery life problems

Best for battery life: 13-inch MacBook Air

According to Apple's own estimates, and my experience using one for several years, the 13-inch MacBook Air gets the best battery life. It's rated for 12-hours, which is two hours longer than all of Apple's other, modern laptops.

That extra battery life will cost you in other ways, though. Most prominently, the MacBook Air doesn't have a Retina display. That means you can still see the pixels when you look at it. Less pixels to push means there's less power required to push them but it also means there's less for you to look at.

The MacBook Air also isn't as powerful as a Pro. It has a "real" Intel Core i5 or Core i7 processor, but it maxes out at 2.2 GHz.

If all you want is the most battery life possible, though, you want the MacBook Air.

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Powerful and efficient: 13-inch MacBook Pro

While the 2016 MacBooks Pro are all rated for 10-hours of battery life, they all have different internals. That means some of them are more likely to make those 10 hours than others. For example, the 15-inch MacBook Pro has AMD Polaris graphics in addition to the built-in Intel Irish graphics. When that chip lights up, it consumers more power than the built-in chips alone.

The core i5 version, while not as fast, is more energy efficient than the core i7 version as well.

So, if you really want a MacBook Pro but also want the most potential battery life possible, going for the 13-inch MacBook Pro with core i5 and Intel Iris graphics will give you a better shot at it than the 15-inch MacBook Pro with core i7 and AMD Polaris graphics.

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Retina and ready to go: 12-inch MacBook

Apple's ultra-light 12-inch MacBook is listed at the same 10-hours of battery life as the MacBooks Pro. That's two hours less than the 13-inch MacBook Air, but the MacBook has a Retina display which consumes more power.

The downside? Instead of an Intel core i5 or i7 processor, the MacBook uses core m3, m5, or m7. They're great for fan-less designs but not so great for high performance computing. In terms of brute power, I have a hard time recommending a Intel core M over Apple's A-series chips in the iPads Pro these days.

If you want a laptop, though, and you simply must have one with a Retina display, then... I'd still recommend the 13-inch MacBook Pro instead. Unless you absolutely have to have an ultra-light. Then the MacBook will last you most of your waking day and look great doing it.

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Your best battery life bet?

If you have any questions on getting the best battery life from your Mac or any tips you'd love to share, drop them in the comments below!

MacBook Pro


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