Best MacBook for Gaming iMore 2021
Apple MacBooks have never been designed to perform solely as gaming laptops. Despite this, some models are better than others for this type of use. The best gaming MacBook is currently the 16-inch MacBook Pro (2019) i7 processor, which includes numerous features that make it a terrific device for casual gamers. It's also one of the best MacBooks on the market overall. There are other noteworthy models we've gathered to help you choose the one that best fits your needs.
- Best Overall: 16-inch MacBook Pro (2019) i7 processor
- Best Alternative: 13-inch MacBook Pro (2020)
- Best Value: MacBook Air (M1, 2020)
- Best Premium: 16-inch MacBook Pro (2019) i9 processor
Best Overall: 16-inch MacBook Pro (2019) i7 processor
We're recommending the least expensive of the two 16-inch models for gamers, which includes a 9th-generation Intel Core i7 processor with Turbo Boost up to 4.5GHz. We're picking this one because it offers a nice mix of features at a price that's far more affordable than the premium offering we highlight below.
The base 16-inch MacBook Pro comes with 16GB 2666MHz DDR4 memory, 512GB SSD storage, and four Thunderbolt 3 ports. The model comes standard with an AMD Radeon Pro 5300M with 4GB of a GDDR6 graphics processor that you can upgrade to an AMD Radeon Pro 5500M with 4GB GDDR6 or an AMD Radeon Pro 5500M with 8 GB of GDDR6 for better performance. Go from here to add more memory, storage, and other features.
On the obvious downside, this is still an expensive laptop. Plus, Apple's likely to update this model sometime in 2021 to make way for the first Apple Silicon-based 16-inch MacBook Pro model. Therefore, if you can hold off, do so.
- The least expensive 16-inch model
- Pay extra for a graphics boost
- Biggest MacBook Pro display to date
- It's costly
- Likely to be replaced soon
- Only Up to 11 hours of wireless web
Best Alternative: 13-inch MacBook Pro (2020)
As 2021 begins, there are currently two 13-inch MacBook Pros on the market. There's this one, which features an Intel-processor inside, and another that offers an Apple M1 SoC. This is the one we recommend for gamers.
Intel-based models provide more storage availability and memory opportunities (at least for now), so we continue to recommend this model for casual gamers. However, this recommendation comes with the understanding that better Apple silicon-based models are almost certainly coming before the end of the year. Therefore, if you can hold off, wait a few months before making a purchase.
If you must buy now and can't afford the 16-inch MacBook Pro, get the 13-inch MacBook Pro with 2.0GHz quad-core 10th-generation Intel Core i5 processor with Intel Iris Plus Graphics and a Turbo Boost up to 3.8GHz. Maximize storage to 4TB and memory to 32GB.
- Lots of storage available
- Great mobility
- It's cheaper than the 16-inch model
- Might be wise to wait
- Price can rise quickly as you add components
- Is 13-inches enough?
Best Value: MacBook Air (M1, 2020)
One of the first Apple silicon Mac products, the MacBook Air (M1, 2020), is currently the best MacBook on the market for most people. It packs a punch for anyone on a smaller budget, starting with its battery life — up to 18 hours between charges, depending on what you're doing. This is thanks to the all-new Apple M1 SoC. The 2.8-pound laptop also includes a backlit Magic Keyboard and a Touch ID sensor.
No doubt, the MacBook Air is appealing. However, it comes with drawbacks, including fewer Thunderbolt 3 ports, less display brightness, and more inferior speakers than most MacBook Pro models. Memory and storage limits should also be weighed, especially if you're a gamer. Nonetheless, there's no denying, the battery life here is fantastic.
- Same screen size as 13-inch MBP
- Up to 18 hours of wireless web between charges
- Only two Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports
- Maximum storage is 2TB
Best Premium: 16-inch MacBook Pro (2019) i9 processor
If you're a hard-core Mac gamer or want to be, the 16-inch MacBook Pro with an 8‑core 9th‑generation Intel Core i9 processor and Turbo Boost up to 4.8GHz is the one for you. Compared to the entry-level model, you'll get a graphics card boost and 1TB of storage. If this isn't enough, add more memory, an even better graphics card, and more storage. In doing so, the cost of this model can quickly exceed nearly $6,000, however.
And remember, Apple's likely to replace this model very soon.
- Apple's best MacBook Pro to date
- Graphics boost, upgrades
- Up to 64GB of memory available
- Very expensive, of course
- Set for retirement
The best gaming MacBook as the year begins is the 16-inch MacBook Pro (2019) i7 processor, which should give you enough power to play your favorite casual computer games. Still, it will cost you, especially if you add extras. It's also an expensive laptop, which no doubt is something also to consider.
The base model includes a 9th-generation Intel Core i7 processor with Turbo Boost up to 4.5GHz with 16GB 2666MHz DDR4 memory, 512GB SSD storage four Thunderbolt 3 ports. The model comes standard with an AMD Radeon Pro 5300M with 4GB of GDDR6 graphics processor and can be upgraded to an AMD Radeon Pro 5500M with 4GB GDDR6 or an AMD Radeon Pro 5300M with 8 GB of GDDR6 for better performance.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Bryan M. Wolfe is a dad who loves technology, especially anything new from Apple. Penn State (go Nittany Lions) graduate here, also a huge fan of the New England Patriots. Thanks for reading. @bryanmwolfe
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