Apple MacBooks have always had a place in classrooms thanks to their overall power and durability. If you're a teacher looking for a new laptop, we recommend the MacBook Air (2020). There are other noteworthy models we've gathered to help you choose the one that fits your needs best.
- Best Overall: MacBook Air (2020)
- Best Alternative: 13-inch MacBook Pro (2019)
- Best Large Display: 16-inch MacBook Pro (2019) i7 processor
- Best for Creatives: 16-inch MacBook Pro (2019) i9 processor
Best Overall: 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 Storage, Touch ID Touch ID, Force Touch trackpad, and two Thunderbolt 3 ports. It also includes the all-new Magic Keyboard that first arrived on the 16-inch MacBook Pro. For this, you're paying $100 less than last year's model!
The lower price found on the MacBook Air versus a 13-inch MacBook Pro comes with some drawbacks, starting with having a slower processor and less robust graphics card, and two fewer Thunderbolt 3 ports. On a positive note, the MacBook Air offers up to one more hour of use between charges than the similar-sized MacBook Pro.
Despite these limitations, we recommend this model above all others for teachers, unless you're a creative who plans on using your laptop for intense video and photo work. It's a great laptop at a terrific price.
- Fresh Magic Keyboard
- Up to 11 hours of wireless web between charges
- Lower price vs. the 2019 model
- 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.
Best Alternative: 13-inch MacBook Pro (2019)
When it comes to the 13-inch MacBook Pro, $500 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?
A step up
There's much to love about this model, which offers better internals than the MacBook Air.
Best Large Display: 16-inch MacBook Pro (2019) i7 processor
The least expensive 16-inch MacBook Pro model 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 an expensive laptop. Plus, you'll need to recharge this laptop more often than the MacBook Air. 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 Large Display
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 for Creatives: 16-inch MacBook Pro (2019) i9 processor
You can elect to go with the 16-inch MacBook Pro 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, an even better graphics card, and more storage. In doing so, the cost of this model can quickly exceed nearly $6,000. Also, keep in mind this is the first 16-inch MacBook Pro released. Don't be surprised if a significantly refreshed model arrives in 2020.
However, if you're a teacher 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, new Magic Keyboard
- Up to 64GB of memory available
- Most expensive MacBook Pro on the market
- First-generation 16-inch model.
Best for Creatives
The best of the best
If you're okay with the price, no doubt this is the MacBook to get.
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 teachers. Our favorite, the 13-inch MacBook Air (2020), is the best choice for most educators. This great device offers a 1.1GHz dual-core 10th-generation Intel Core i3 processor with Turbo Boost up to 3.2GHz, 8GB 3733MHz LPDDR4X memory, 256GB Storage, Touch ID 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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