Macbook Air M1Source: Daniel Bader / Android Central

Best MacBook for Teachers iMore 2021

Apple MacBooks have always had a place in classrooms thanks to their overall power and durability. The best MacBook for teachers is the MacBook Air (M1, 2020), which is also our best MacBook) overall. There are other noteworthy models we've gathered to help you choose the one that fits your needs best.

Best Overall: MacBook Air (M1, 2020)

Macbook Air M1Source: Daniel Bader / Android Central

In 2020, Cupertino introduced the first Apple silicon products, starting with the MacBook Air (M1, 2020). The best MacBook for teachers (and students this year, the latest MacBook Air 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 2.8 pounds, the MacBook Air is Apple's lightest tablet despite having the same screen size as the smallest MacBook Pro model. Along with being less weighty, the MacBook Air contains the same essential internals as the more expensive model — Apple's all-new M1 SoC. The 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. It also offers two hours less battery life between charges than the 13-inch MacBook Pro (M1, 2020). None of the disadvantages should stop you from buying it, however.

Pros:

  • Same screen size as 13-inch MBP
  • Up to 18 hours of wireless web between charges
  • Price
  • Apple M1!

Cons:

  • Only two Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports
  • Maximum storage is 2TB

Best Overall

MacBook Air M1 2020 Space Gray

MacBook Air (M1, 2020)

Great price, super internals

The MacBook Air is a great looking device and the practical choice for most of today's teachers. Plus, there's no denying the sweet price.

Best Alternative: 13-inch MacBook Pro (M1, 2020)

Macbook Pro With M1 Chip with a fish tank video playing on the screenSource: iMore

The 13-inch MacBook Pro is in a transition period thanks to the arrival of Apple Silicon. As things stand, there are entry-level Apple M1 13-inch MacBook Pro models and those that still offer Intel-based processors. This split can be confusing, especially when you throw in the 13-inch MacBook Air.

When comparing the 13-inch MacBook Pro (M1, 2020) with the MacBook Air (M1, 2020), three factors stand out. First, the Pro model offers Touch Bar versus only Touch ID on the Air. Second, the former offers up to two more battery life hours. The Pro model also offers slightly more screen brightest and better speakers. For these extras, you'll pay at least $300 extra.

Pros:

  • Better options than MacBook Air version
  • Touch Bar included
  • Slightly better display

Cons:

  • Do you need the extras?
  • Price can rise quickly as you add components

Best Alternative

Macbook Pro Late 2020 13in Model

13-inch MacBook Pro (M1, 2020)

A step up

There's much to love about this model, which offers ever-so-slightly better internals than the MacBook Air.

Best Large Screen: 16-inch MacBook Pro (2019)

2019 16-inch MacBook ProSource: iMore

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 eight-core processor, 64GB of RAM, or 8TB of storage.

But even at its base configuration, a six-core Intel Core i7 with 16GB of RAM, 512GB of storage, and an AMD Radeon Pro 5300M GPU, it'll still handle any task a student can set to it besides the most computationally intense workflows. If you want a no-doubt-about-it machine, get this MacBook Pro. Keep in mind, however, Apple's likely to update this machine before the end of 2021.

Pros:

  • Latest Intel processors
  • Configurable up to 8TB of storage
  • Myriad of expansion options
  • Bigger display

Cons:

  • Could get replaced this year
  • More expensive
  • May be overkill for most

Best Large Screen

16-inch MacBook Pro

16-inch MacBook Pro (2019)

The most bang for your buck

The 16-inch MacBook Pro will perform great at any task. This is almost certainly the last 16-inch Intel-based MacBook Pro on the market.

Best Power Alternative: 13-inch MacBook Pro (2020)

Macbook Pro With M1 ChipSource: iMore

The remaining Intel-based 13-inch MacBook Pro models were also released in 2020. Here, you can upgrade to 4TB of storage and 32GB of memory. You'll also find four Thunderbolt 3 ports versus the two found on the less expensive model and MacBook Air.

One reason to skip all 13-inch MacBook Pro models right now is that the Intel-based versions will probably get replaced later this year as Cupertino transitions the entire MBP lineup to Apple silicone.

Pros:

  • More options than the M1 versions
  • It's much cheaper than the 16-inch MBP model

Cons:

  • Could be replaced later in 2021 by an M1-based model

Best Power Alternative

MacBook Pro 2020

13-inch MacBook Pro (2020)

Add more storage and memory

If you still want Intel but don't want a 16-inch screen, this is the (only) Mac for you.

Teacher's pet

For 2021, our best MacBook for teachers is the 13-inch MacBook Air (M1, 2020). It's the best choice for most educators. This great device offers Apple's all-new M1 SoC processor and includes Touch ID, Magic Keyboard, Force Touch trackpad, and two Thunderbolt 3 ports.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Author:

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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