Best MacBook for Photographers iMore 2020
Photographers have often turned to MacBooks to get the job done. Portable and powerful, these laptops are great for photo-editing for beginners and professionals alike. For most photographers, we recommend the 16-inch MacBook Pro with an i9 processor, which first arrived on the scene in 2019. There are other noteworthy models we've gathered to help you choose the one that fits your needs best.
- Best Overall: 16-inch MacBook Pro (2019) i9 processor
- Best Alternative: 13-inch MacBook Pro (2020)
- Best for Beginners: 16-inch MacBook Pro (2019) i7 processor
- Best Budget: MacBook Air (2020)
Best Overall: 16-inch MacBook Pro (2019) i9 processor
If you're a professional photographer and need the best that money can buy, we highly recommend this version, which comes with an 8‑core 9th‑generation Intel Core i9 processor and Turbo Boost up to 4.8GHz. For this, you'll receive a graphics card boost and 1TB of storage versus the 512GB of storage found on the base model. If this isn't enough, you can add more memory, a better graphics card, and more storage. In doing so, the cost of this model can quickly exceed nearly $6,000, which is something to keep in mind.
However, if you're a photographer looking to run video and photo apps, this is almost certainly the one you should buy. Just think carefully before adding extras.
- Apple's best MacBook Pro to date
- Graphics boost, upgrades
- Up to 64GB of memory available
- Most expensive MacBook Pro on the market
The best of the best
If you're okay with the price, no doubt this is the MacBook to get.
Best Alternative: 13-inch MacBook Pro (2020)
When it comes to the 13-inch MacBook Pro, $700 separates the base and most complete package. Add more memory, storage, and a better processor, and the price can jump even more. Despite this, the smaller of the two MacBook Pro models has a lot going for it.
At just over three pounds, the 13-inch MacBook Pro is only slightly heavier than the MacBook Air. For this, you receive a better processor and graphics card, more storage availability, and a Touch Bar. On the downsize, adding an even better graphics card or more storage suddenly pushes this model past the $2,000 mark, which might make you reconsider buying a 13-inch versus 16-inch model.
If you're comfortable with the 13-inch screen size and less concerned with price, you should buy this model over the MacBook Air.
- Better internals than MacBook Air
- Great mobility
- Much cheaper than the 16-inch model
- You can't upgrade the graphics card
- Price can rise quickly as you add components
- Is 13-inches enough?
There's much to love about this model, which offers better internals than the MacBook Air.
Best for Beginners: 16-inch MacBook Pro (2019) i7 processor
The least expensive 16-inch MacBook Pro model still packs a punch, offering a 9th-generation Intel Core i7 processor with Turbo Boost up to 4.5GHz. 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 GDDR6 memory graphics processor and can be upgraded to AMD Radeon Pro 5500M with 4GB of GDDR6 (for an extra $100) or AMD Radeon Pro 5500M with 8GB of GDDR6 ($200) for better performance.
On the obvious downside, this is still an expensive laptop. Plus, you'll need to recharge this laptop more often than you would with the non-16-inch offerings. And like all MacBooks, it isn't usually on sale at a discount.
- The least expensive 16-inch model
- Pay only $100 extra for a graphics boost
- Biggest MacBook Pro display to date
- Still very expensive
- Not the most powerful MBP you can buy
Best for Beginners
Largest display for less
The entry-level 16-inch MacBook Pro is an excellent choice when the size of the screen matters the most.
Best Budget: MacBook Air (2020)
The entry-level MacBook Air (2020) offers a 13-inch Retina display with True Tone, 1.1GHz dual-core 10th-generation Intel Core i3 processor with Turbo Boost up to 3.2GHz, 8GB 3733MHz LPDDR4X memory, 256GB SSD storage, Intel Iris Plus Graphics, and Touch ID. At 2.8 pounds, the 2019 MacBook Air is the lightest MacBook currently on the market. It's also the least expensive.
The lower price comes with drawbacks, starting with having an slower processor and less robust graphics card than the 13-inch MacBook Pro. It also contains fewer Thunderbolt 3 ports than most of the MacBook Pro models. On a positive note, the MacBook Air offers one more hour of use between charges than the similar-sized MacBook Pro.
- Same screen size as 13-inch MBP
- Up to 11 hours of wireless web between charges
- Only two Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports
- Not as powerful as MBP models
Fun, yet practical
The best all-around option for teachers, the MacBook Air is a great looking device that will provide you with years of service.
Time to snap
In 2019, the MacBook lineup shrunk after Apple discontinued the 12-inch MacBook. The change brings to four the number of Apple laptops we recommend for photographers. Our favorite, the 16-inch MacBook Pro with an i9 processor, is the best choice for professional photographers.
This great device offers an 8‑core 9th‑generation Intel Core i9 processor and Turbo Boost up to 4.8GHz. You'll receive a graphics card boost and 1TB of storage versus the 512GB of storage found on the base model.
Looking for even more? Add more storage, better memory, and an improved graphics card for even more splendor!
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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