Best MacBook for gaming 2022

MacBook Pro (2021)
MacBook Pro (2021) (Image credit: iMore)

Apple MacBooks have never been designed to perform solely as gaming laptops. And yet, in recent years, Apple has gone out of its way to make Mac gaming a reality. Hardware-wise, some models are better than others for this type of use. The best gaming MacBook is currently the 16-inch MacBook Pro (2021), which includes numerous features that make it a terrific device for casual gamers. There are other noteworthy models we've gathered to help you choose the one that best fits your needs. If you're a student looking to game, check out our look at the best MacBook for students to see what fits for you.

Best overall: 16-inch MacBook Pro (2021)

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Macbook Pro With M1 Chip with a fish tank video playing on the screen

Macbook Pro With M1 Chip with a fish tank video playing on the screen (Image credit: iMore)

For ultimate Mac gaming, there's nothing better than the second-generation 16-inch MacBook Pro (2021). Like the 14-inch MacBook Pro (mentioned below), this model offers an M1 Pro or M1 Max SoC with up to 64GB of unified memory and 8TB of SSD storage. In addition, you can get up to a 10-core CPU and 32-core GPU.

But there's much more. The latest 16-inch MacBook Pro comes with a Liquid Retina XDR display (3456 by 2234 pixels) with ProMotion technology for adaptive refresh rates up to 120Hz. It's also packed with up to 21 hours of battery life between charges and comes with an all-new 1080p FaceTime HD camera with an advanced image signal processor and computational video.

With macOS 13 Ventura, coming this fall, gaming is going to get even better on Mac — especially on high-powered MacBooks like the 14- and 16-inch models. Besides offering a new Game Center experience, macOS 13 Ventura will provide better visuals, accelerated performance, and quicker load time.

The 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook models (2021), some of the best MacBooks available, also see the return of MagSafe, HDMI port, and an SDXC card slot, besides its three Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C) ports. If you're looking for any negatives, understand this is the heaviest MacBook Pro in many years (4.7 pounds). It's also costly, even at the base level.

16-inch MacBook Pro (2021)

Game time

Reasons to buy

Latest and greatest
M1 Pro or M1 Max, you decide
16GB-64GB of unified memory
512GB-8TB of storage
A Liquid Retina XDR display

Reasons to avoid

Most expensive model
Heavy (4.7 pounds)

The latest 16-inch MacBook Pro gives you the most power and performance, though the price tag is high.

Best alternative: 14-inch MacBook Pro (2021)

2021 MacBook Pro

2021 MacBook Pro (Image credit: Bryan M. Wolfe / iMore)

This is the one to buy if you want everything on the 16-inch MacBook Pro but with a smaller display and similar internals for less. Nonetheless, it's still an expensive computer, which is something to keep in mind.

If you want to buy it for gaming, heed our advice: buy as much memory and storage as you can afford. And remember, you can't change these options after purchase since upgrades aren't possible. So with this in mind, consider getting an Apple M1 Pro with a 10-core CPU, 16-core GPU, and 16-core Neural Engine with 1TB of storage and at least 32GB of RAM.

14-inch MacBook Pro (2021)

Versatility at a lower price

Reasons to buy

Liquid Retina XDR display
Same great features as the 16-inch model

Reasons to avoid

Still expensive

The 14-inch MacBook Pro is nearly identical to the 16-inch model except for the smaller display and price.

Best budget: MacBook Air (2022)

Macbook Air M2 Hands On Keyboard Wwdc

Macbook Air M2 Hands On Keyboard Wwdc (Image credit: Gerald Lynch / iMore)

Our third pick, the 2022 MacBook Air, is also our favorite MacBook overall. It features an all-new M2 chip that offers an 8-core CPU, up to a 10-core GPU, up to 24GB of RAM, and up to 2TB of storage.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro (2022) also offers an M2 chip but we're not recommending it for gamers because of key differences between the two models. The MacBook Air has an all-new 13.3-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit display with IPS technology that provides 2560x1664 resolution. It also has a 1080p FaceTime HD camera and is lighter than the Pro model. On the negative side, you'll need to pay extra for more GPU. Additionally, Apple has priced this model at $1,299 versus $999 for the previous model. It's still cheaper than MacBook Pro models, but not nearly as much as before.

MacBook Air (2022)

New inside and out

Reasons to buy

Has Apple M2 SoC
18-hour battery life
Liquid Retina display
Better camera

Reasons to avoid

Must pay extra for more GPU
Only has two Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports

The 2022 MacBook Air is an excellent choice for any gamer on a budget, although this is still an expensive machine.

Game away

The 16-inch MacBook Pro is likely the best Mac for you if you're a gamer. It includes an Apple M1 Pro with 10-core CPU, 16-core GPU, and 16-core Neural Engine. Inside, you'll also find 512GB of storage and 16GB of RAM. You'll receive even more power when upgrading to the Apple M1 Max. With this SoC, memory jumps to at least 32GB, with 1TB of SSN storage. These specs would be ideally suited for the gaming advances Apple plans to bring to the table with macOS 13 Ventura this fall. These include advanced gaming features, SharePlay gameplay, a redesigned Game Center dashboard, and more.

However, if you think 16 inches is too big for the display, buy the 14-inch MacBook Pro. It offers the same specs with a smaller screen. And for those searching for a budget option, you can't go wrong with the brand new MacBook Air with M2, which comes with the fresh M2 chip and up to 2TB of storage. It also has an all-new 13.3-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit display with IPS technology that provides 2560x1664 resolution, which will allow you to game with clear and vivid graphics.

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.