MacBook Family

If you've been in the market for a new laptop, now is the time to buy. Apple's latest and greatest MacBook family is bubbling over with all the latest and greatest features. Whether you're looking for 13-inches or 15-inches, Touch Bar or traditional function keys, silver or space gray, the MacBook family now sports the fastest laptops Apple has ever made. The question is, should you buy one?

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Are you upgrading from a 2013 or earlier MacBook family?

MacBook

Five years may not seem like a very long time, but in the tech world, it's a lot. Tech years are more like dog years. Your 5-year-old Mac laptop is like a 35-year-old. It's outdated, missing some very important technology for taking advantage of the latest macOS features, and at this point, it's probably starting to run a little slow because you've been filling it up with documents, pictures, and movies for the past four years. I know it still runs great and you love it, but it might be time for an upgrade.

A friend recently asked me why he can't just keep his phone/tablet/laptop for 10 years without worrying about his purchases becoming obsolete immediately. I said, "Why would you want to keep a 10-year-old device when technology is advancing so fast and new products are being developed so quickly?"

Yes, your years-old MacBook probably runs great, but why would you want to keep using something so outdated when you could be using an incredibly thin, light laptop with wide-color display, better speakers, advanced graphics and processors, and a whole lot more.

That being said, if you're running a newer model MacBook, MacBook Pro, or MacBook Air, the reasons to upgrade shrink somewhat. For example, the latest MacBook Pro does not have an SD card slot and all ports are USB-C. Additionally, the keyboard implements the butterfly mechanism instead of the scissor switch version that was used in previous MacBook Pro keyboards. If these changes are a turn-off, and your current Mac laptop is only a few years old, you may want to stick it out another year or two. Those USB ports probably won't revert back to USB-A on the MacBook Pro, but you will have a little more time to get used to the idea of being without the ports and familiar keyboard. Plus, your 3-year-old Mac laptop is not so old it is obsolete. It's just getting older.

Do you need a faster laptop within a year?

MacBook Pro

By the time a person starts thinking about replacing a laptop, it's usually because the current model has started to slow down and show its age. If you need your MacBook to pick up the pace, maybe it's time for an upgrade.

The 2017 MacBook Air received a minor upgrade with just a slightly faster 1.8GHz Broadwell processor (as opposed to 1.6GHz in the 2015 model). About a year ago, it received a RAM upgrade to 8GB, so it's definitely faster than it was two years ago but has not received any other major upgrades in years. That being said, the MacBook Air starts at only $999, so it's the best entry-level Mac laptop in the family for anyone switching from PC.

The 2017 MacBook has a seventh-generation Intel Core m3, i5, or i7 processor with a faster solid state drive and processor with up to 3.6GHz. The processor runs on low energy, which means it generates less heat, and the logic board is on an anisotropic graphite sheet. This is why Apple did not outfit it with a cooling fan. It's much faster without overheating at the same time.

The MacBook Pro received the biggest update of the family back in 2016. If you have the 2016 MacBook Pro or newer, you shouldn't even be reading this. If you're still holding onto an older model, though, the newest MacBook Pro is Apple's best laptop ever.

The 2018 MacBook Pro with Touch Bar has the most power of the entire notebook line. It is outfitted with the eighth-generation quad-core or 6-core Intel Core processor. It can also be upgraded to 32GB of RAM, making it the most memorable MacBook there is. It also has True Tone display and the third-generation dome and butterfly keyboard, which is more reliable than ever.

The MacBook Pro with Touch Bar and without Touch Bar come with 3.1 to 4.1GHZ Turbo Boost 2.2 to 3.2GB per second on SSD. The 15-inch model sports the Radeon Pro GPU configuration and up to 4GB of video memory. The 13-inch model has 128MB of embedded DRAM with accelerated graphics.

As you can tell, the MacBook family is fast. It's going to be a while before Apple makes the laptop line faster or more powerful than this. If you need to speed up your workflow soon, now is the time to invest in the MacBook family, especially the MacBook Pro. Otherwise, you'll likely be waiting at least another year (maybe more) to get something faster.

Do you really need a desktop but think a MacBook might do the trick?

5K Display

Well, you wouldn't be wrong to think that the MacBook Pro could run as a desktop, especially since it supports 5K external displays. If you've got the money (or already have a fancy display), you're not going to be disappointed with the power and productivity you'll get out of the matchup. Even better, your "desktop" setup can be broken down into a mobile computing device without skipping a beat. Just disconnect your MacBook Pro from your display and you're on the road.

The thing is, the latest and greatest MacBook family, though powerful enough for practically everything you could ever need, is still a MacBook. Other than a headphone jack, the entire family comes with USB-C ports and nothing else. No SD card reader, no USB-A ports. Not even an ethernet cable for directly connecting to your router. If you've got a lot of accessories, like external hard drives, microphones, cameras, or iPhone chargers that you want to connect to your desktop, you're not going to be able to plug them into your MacBook without an adapter. I should point out that most external displays do include a number of different types of ports, so you won't be totally lost.

If you think your daily driver needs to be a beast of a computer, and you don't think you'll need to take it on the go with you, you might as well take a look at the iMac Pro.

Do you have legacy USB peripherals?

MacBook Air

As I noted above, the entire MacBook family is only outfitted with USB-C ports (other than the 3.5mm headphone jack), so many of your accessories and gadgets, like external microphones, cameras, hard drives, and iPhone (yes, I see the irony) won't connect directly to the latest in the MacBook family. Instead, you'll need one or more USB-A to USB-C adapters. You can get a multiport hub for connecting multiple peripherals at the same time, thus requiring fewer dongles. At least for a while, however, you're probably going to need to dongle up to connect your favorite accessories to your MacBook. The good news is that USB-C is pretty future-proof and over the next couple of years, we'll be seeing more and more peripherals supporting the superior cable system.

So should you upgrade to the new MacBook family or not?

MacBook Family

Of course, the price is a major factor in why someone may or may not buy a new MacBook, MacBook Air, or MacBook Pro this year. But if we're not taking anyone's financial situation into account (which is impossible to do because everyone is different), the short answer is: if you've got a MacBook less than a year old, no. If you're replacing a 5-year-old or older MacBook, now is a good time to upgrade. The in-betweeners ... read my suggestions below.

Who should get a MacBook Air?

If you're switching from PC and buying a Mac for the first time, you don't have a lot of spare cash lying around or don't need a laptop for too much heavy computer lifting, the MacBook Air is the perfect low-cost (relatively), entry-level laptop.

If you're currently using a MacBook Air from 2015 or 2016, you will not even notice the minor spec upgrade, and therefore should not get the newest MacBook Air. Instead, you might consider the new MacBook or MacBook Pro.

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Who should get a MacBook?

The standard 12-inch MacBook launched two years ago and has received a minor update of major proportions. That is, it's much faster than its predecessor. It's outfitted with the Intel Kaby Lake m3, i5, and i7 processor and faster SSD storage. Even from just two years ago, it's a big improvement. But should you upgrade if your MacBook is less than three years old? Not really. Not unless something is faulty in your current MacBook (in which case you should probably get that fixed through AppleCare). It's faster but not enough to justify buying a new MacBook this soon. The mid-level Mac laptop didn't get any other upgrades than the processor and faster SSD. If your current MacBook is less than three years old and it's running like a bullet train, I recommend holding out until next year. It's possible Apple will update this model with some big features (like a larger trackpad or even Touch ID).

However, if your MacBook is more than four years old, or if you're looking for a Mac laptop that can be used on a daily basis for a lot of mobile-based work (but nothing too graphics heavy), then yes, you should consider the MacBook. It is a tried and true workhorse and will never let you down — almost to a fault at times. A lot of people I know with a MacBook aren't willing to trade up, no matter how old their current model is. It's the Goldilocks of laptops ... not too big, not too small. It's just right.

12-inch MacBook Review

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Who should get a MacBook Pro?

If you bought the late 2016 MacBook Pro and have less than zero interest in the Touch Bar, then you don't need to switch to the new model.

If you have any interest in the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, however, the spec bump from the 2017 model to the 2018 model is significant. It's got Coffee Lake inside, quad or 6-core processor, up to 32GB of RAM, True Tone Display, and the third-generation keyboard mechanism. The processor improvement alone makes the 2018 model a significant upgrade from the 2016 model.

With or without the Touch Bar, the spec and feature upgrade from the 2015 model to this year's model is significant. It's much faster, much lighter, and much more efficient. True, it only has USB-C ports, but this will be a moot point in a few years.

If you've been looking for a new work computer that you can take with you on the go and connect to a 5K display for optimum desktop usage, the new MacBook Pro is unquestionably the choice for you.

MacBook Pro with Touch Bar (2018) first look

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MacBook Pro

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