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)
- Best Alternative: 13-inch MacBook Pro (M1, 2020)
- Best Large Screen: 16-inch MacBook Pro (2019)
- Best Power Alternative: 13-inch MacBook Pro (2020)
Best Overall: MacBook Air (M1, 2020)
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.
- Same screen size as 13-inch MBP
- Up to 18 hours of wireless web between charges
- Apple M1!
- Only two Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports
- Maximum storage is 2TB
Best Alternative: 13-inch MacBook Pro (M1, 2020)
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.
- Better options than MacBook Air version
- Touch Bar included
- Slightly better display
- Do you need the extras?
- Price can rise quickly as you add components
Best Large Screen: 16-inch MacBook Pro (2019)
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.
- Latest Intel processors
- Configurable up to 8TB of storage
- Myriad of expansion options
- Bigger display
- Could get replaced this year
- More expensive
- May be overkill for most
Best Power Alternative: 13-inch MacBook Pro (2020)
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.
- More options than the M1 versions
- It's much cheaper than the 16-inch MBP model
- Could be replaced later in 2021 by an M1-based model
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
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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