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Best MacBook for students 2022

MacBook Air 2022
(Image credit: Gerald Lynch / iMore)

There's something for everyone in Apple's current MacBook lineup, whether for middle school, high school, college, or university. Whether the powerful MacBook Pro or hyper-portable MacBook Air, Apple's laptops will power you through any task, you'll meet. The MacBook Air (M2, 2022) is the best MacBook for students. It has enough power to face almost any academic challenge. There are other MacBooks to consider depending on your situation, as you can see below.

These are the best MacBooks for students of all ages and budgets

MacBook Air 2022

(Image credit: Gerald Lynch / iMore)
Best MacBook overall for students

Reasons to buy

+
Same screen size as 13-inch MacBook Pro
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Up to 18 hours of wireless web battery between charges
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Relatively low price
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Apple M2!

Reasons to avoid

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Only two Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports
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Lower display brightness than other models

In mid-2020, Cupertino announced Apple silicon, starting with an impressive M1 processor. The 2022 MacBook Air, which we gave five stars, is the first to house the second-gen M2 processor. The 2022 MacBook Air is the best MacBook for students, along with our favorite Mac for all users, because 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.

At 2.7 pounds, the MacBook Air is the lightest Mac on the market despite having the same screen size as the smallest MacBook Pro model. Besides being less weighty, the MacBook Air also contains the same essential internals, including Apple's all-new M2 SoC. The laptop also features a backlit Magic Keyboard and a Touch ID sensor.

No doubt, the MacBook Air is appealing. However, it has drawbacks, including fewer Thunderbolt 3 ports, less display brightness, and more inferior speakers than most MacBook Pro models. It also offers two hours less battery life between charges than the 13-inch MacBook Pro (M2, 2022). None of the disadvantages should stop you from buying it, however.

MacBook Pro (2021)

(Image credit: Apple)
Best MacBook for power users

Reasons to buy

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Configurable up to 8TB of storage
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Myriad of expansion options
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Big, juicy display

Reasons to avoid

-
More expensive
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May be overkill for most

The 16-inch MacBook Pro is the computer to get if you need the most power possible. You can configure it with several options, whether you need that M1 Max processor, 64GB Unified Memory, or 8TB of storage. This model comes in both 14-inch and 16-inch configurations, and our team reviewed the 14-inch MacBook Pro in 2021, finding it to be the best MacBook on the market at the time... if you want to spend a ton of money, that is.

Even at its base configuration, a ten-core M1 Max with 32GB of RAM, 1TB of storage, and a 32-core GPU, the 16-inch model will handle any task a student throws at it. So if you want a no-doubt-about-it machine, get this MacBook Pro.

On the negative side, both this and the 14-inch MacBook Pro come with a camera notch, which some simply won't like. It's also only available in space gray and silver, unlike the 2022 MacBook Air, which is available in four color choices. 

13-inch MacBook Pro (2022)

(Image credit: Gerald Lynch / iMore)
Best alternative

Reasons to buy

+
Comes with potential extras
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Great battery life
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Touch Bar included
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Slightly better display than MacBook Air

Reasons to avoid

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Dated design
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Touch Bar might not be for you
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Price can rise quickly as you add components

The 13-inch MacBook Pro (M2, 2022) is a great middle-ground. It packs an M2 processor, excellent graphics, more ports, and a long battery life. In some ways, it's not quite as impressive as its big brothers, the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models that came out in 2021, but it does pack the newer M2 processor.

When comparing the 13-inch MacBook Pro (M2, 2022) with the MacBook Air (M2, 2022), three factors stand out. First, the Pro model offers a Touch Bar while the Air only has Touch ID. Second, the former offers up to two more battery life hours. The Pro model also offers more screen brightness and better speakers. For these extras, you'll pay at least $200 extra, but it may be worth it depending on your needs, as we note in our review of the device.

MacBook Air (M1, 2020)

(Image credit: Android Central)
Best budget option

Reasons to buy

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Incredible performance-per-watt
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Huge battery improvement over Intel-based MacBook Air
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Classic design with new scissor-switch keyboard

Reasons to avoid

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Not that much cheaper than 2022 model
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Older design
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Poor webcam

One of the first Apple silicon Macs, the MacBook Air (M1, 2020), still packs a punch, even though there's a newer model now that's a better choice for most students. The No. 1 reason to get the 2020 model? Price — assuming you can find one with a huge discount. 

The MacBook Air (M1, 2020) still contains plenty of power for anyone on a smaller budget, starting with its battery life. When we reviewed this device two years ago we were impressed with its up to 18 hours of battery life between charges, depending on what you're doing. At 2.8 pounds, this model is one of the lightest laptops on the market. Besides an M1 chip, it offers a backlit Magic Keyboard and a Touch ID sensor.

MacBook Pro (2021) 14-inch

(Image credit: Bryan M. Wolfe / iMore)
The 16-inch MBP only smaller

Reasons to buy

+
Same great features as the 16-inch model, but with a smaller display
+
1090p FaceTime camera
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Lots of RAM and storage options
+
M1 Pro or M1 Max options

Reasons to avoid

-
Still very expensive 
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It's got the notch

The current 16-inch and 14-inch MacBook Pro are identical inside and offer the same options regarding chip, RAM, and storage. Therefore, the well-received 14-inch MacBook Pro is an excellent choice if you're looking for the most potent MacBook current available but need a slightly smaller display. That's a 14.2-inch Liquid Retina XDR display with 3024-by- 1964 pixels.

There are a few noticeable negatives to consider regarding this MacBook, including the price (it's still super expensive), weak color choices (just two), and the divisive notch that some might not like. 

Still, if you want the best MacBook with a smaller screen. 

A few choices

Whether you need a computer for high school or college, the most recent MacBook Air is the best MacBook for students this year. So whether you're writing papers, putting together a Powerpoint, or even editing some images for a photography class, the MacBook Air (M2, 2022) will be a reliable performer in your academic pursuits.

The current MacBook Air has a lot going for it, including the all-new M2 chip, a beautiful new design, amazing color choices, and more. 

If budget is your top concern, though, another great choice is the MacBook Air (2020). It still includes a blazing fast M1 chip, a backlit Magic Keyboard, and a Touch ID sensor. Plus, it can be found at great discounts depending where and when you look. Although it's not the newest Air on the market, it's still powerful and will receive several macOS updates for years to come, including the new macOS 13 Ventura, set to debut this fall.