What color MacBook should you get: Silver, gold, rose gold, or space gray?

Macbook (Image credit: iMore)

The 12-inch MacBook is the first modern MacBook to come in multiple metallic colors. That means iPhone and iPad aren't the only devices that get to be fun anymore. But with great choice comes the great requirement to make a choice! So, how do you choose between silver, gold, rose gold, and space gray?

Distraction dangers

Best Hubs for the 12-inch MacBook

Best Hubs for the 12-inch MacBook (Image credit: iMore)

Unlike iPhone and iPad, MacBooks all have black faceplates, regardless of the finish. So, silver, gold, rose gold, and space gray are all black, all around the screen.

That means that when the display is off, dark, or filled with full-screen content like videos or games, the border fades away and you can immerse yourself in what you're doing. TV sets almost always have black bezels for a reason. It makes the frame easy to ignore.

That doesn't mean they're all equal, though. Also unlike iPhone and iPad, MacBook is a clamshell with a keyboard attached at the bottom, and the keyboard color is always visible.

I've used both the space gray MacBook and the rose gold MacBook for extended periods of time. Space gray was obviously the least distracting but rose gold never really bothered me either. Because of screen stands up from the keyboard, it becomes the focal point and the rest fades away.

  • If you watch a lot of videos or play a lot of games, the (matte) space gray might make things more immersive for you.

Discoloration doubts

Best display adapters for 12-inch MacBook

Best display adapters for 12-inch MacBook

One thing that shouldn't worry anyone is the idea that any of the MacBook finishes will get stained or otherwise discolored. Apple has been making anodized aluminum for years and have it down to a science. Because, science.

Silver might make some people the most nervous, but Apple has been making bead-blasted aluminum finishes the longest — ever since the original unibody MacBook — and those have all aged exceptionally well.

All my MacBooks all still look great, even years and years after I bought them. Likewise my 2013 iPhone 5s in gold and 2015 iPhone 6s in rose gold.

  • If you're worried about a MacBook staining or discoloring, or the metallic finishes fading, don't. It'll be fine.

Withstanding wear

Apple's anodization system is tougher than many standard types, and isn't gloppy looking like some of the ultra-tough treatments. They are metal, though, and so can be scratched.

On the silver MacBooks, small scratches don't contrast as much and so don't show up unless you tilt them and look at them in the light just so. Gold and rose gold MacBooks are somewhere in the middle. Scratches aren't super-obvious, but you can see them if you try. Space gray MacBook has the most contrast, so scratches are the most noticeable.

Some people won't care. To them, aging is part of what makes great objects great, like an old leather bag, favorite t-shirt, or the Millennium Falcon. Others don't ever want to see any wear.

  • If you hate the look of scratches, silver MacBooks are for you.
  • If you like one of the other colors more, you can look into getting a protective case.

Cases closed

If the first thing you do after buying a new MacBook is to seal it up inside a shell, you might not think color matters much. In most cases, though, you'll still be able to see some of the finish through or around the case.

It's better to think of shells as a way to change up the look and still make sure you're happy with the base look. In other words, choose the finish you love most, then add a shell to complement it.

  • If you want your shell to "pop", a black or silver MacBook will let the accessory be the star.
  • If you want your case to complement or fade away, a gold or rose gold iPhone will share the stage.

Coolness concerns


MacBooks (Image credit: iMore)

Silver is the classic MacBook Look. It doesn't go completely unnoticed, but it's close. Space gray is much the same. It's not so dark that it'll draw attention but it's dark enough that it still looks cool.

Gold is an eye-catcher, though. It's a champagne gold, not a bright yellow gold, so it's still classy. But gold is gold. Rose gold is similar, but draws even more attention. Again, it's more of a pink than deep reddish gold, but it absolutely stands out.

  • If you want a classic, stick with silver or space gray.
  • If you want some extra flair, go with gold or rose gold.

Who should get the silver MacBook?

If you want the classic MacBook look, something that's sleek and shiny but doesn't call too much attention to itself, and that doesn't show every scratch, then you want the silver MacBook.

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Who should get the gold MacBook?

If bling is your thing, you like attracting attention, and the brighter it is, the better it is for you, then get it and flaunt it — the gold MacBook.

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Who should get the rose gold MacBook?

If champagne gold simply isn't flashy enough and you want to take your attention getting to the next, and possibly highest level, you want the rose gold MacBook.

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Who should get the space gray MacBook?

If silver isn't enough but gold or rose gold are too much, if you want a classic color and the "little black computer" entices you, then you want the space gray MacBook.

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Still undecided?

If you're still not sure about which color you should get, jump into our MacBook forums and the best community on the web will happily help you out.

At the end of the day, the only real answer is this — get the color you like best. Nothing else matters. Just close your eyes, picture the MacBook on your desk, imagine its color, and then get that color.

Once you've decided, tell me — which one are you getting?

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.