A new MacBook Air with the M2 chip is on display during Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose, California June 6, 2022.
Peter Dasilva | Reuters
Apple has five MacBook computers to choose from, which might be a little daunting if you’re looking for a new laptop when we hit back-to-school season. There’s the new MacBook Air, for example, but Apple also sells its older 2020 MacBook Air. Then there are three different MacBook Pro computers to choose from.
Your choice depends on what you use your laptop for and your budget. Here’s what you need to know about every MacBook available and how to choose the best one for you.
2020 MacBook Air with M1, $999
Apple MacBook Air
The MacBook Air 2020 is the cheapest MacBook sold by Apple. It runs on an M1 chip and costs $999. But it’s still a great computer. It’s powerful enough to do the things most people need, but is slower for tasks like video editing.
The MacBook Air 2020 has a similar 18-hour battery life as the MacBook Air 2022.
With this year’s upgrade, you’re missing out on a few features that we’ll talk about next. But this should be your go-to if you “just need a computer”.
2022 MacBook Air with M2, $1,199
This is the best MacBook for most people.
Apple’s latest $1,199 MacBook Air uses the latest M2 chip, has been completely redesigned, and is thinner than ever.
The latest MacBook Air features MagSafe charging. That’s the little magnetic charging cable that pops up on the side and pops back out easily. So if you trip over the cable, the whole MacBook won’t fall off your desk. You can also charge the laptop using one of two Thunderbolt USB-C ports. You can quickly charge it up to 50% in 30 minutes if you buy Apple’s $59 67-watt charger.
This MacBook is the most portable model, weighing only 2.7 pounds. The 2020 Air weighs 2.8 pounds. The screen display is slightly larger at 13.6 inches. However, the latest MacBook Air has a fan, so it might not be as quiet as the earlier model once you start editing video or really load it.
The sound quality has also been upgraded. The M2 MacBook Air has two additional speakers, for a total of four, which make movies and music sound fuller. And the slightly larger 13.6-inch webcam has been upgraded from 720p to full 1080p HD.
Spend an extra $200 on the latest MacBook Air and you get faster charging, a better webcam, better speakers, and a newer design. This model also has more than enough processing speed for the average user.
MacBook Pro 13-inch with M2, $1,299
Apple 13 inch MacBook Pro with M2
The new MacBook Pro is a little confusing. It’s an evolution of the MacBook Air. But it has the latest M2 processor, which isn’t as powerful as the older M1 Pro or M1 Max processors found in the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros are.
The 2022 version runs on the M2 chip, has 20 hours of battery life, and is the only MacBook with a Touch Bar, the small strip that runs across the keyboard that lets you scroll through photos, skip media, pause/play, and more . The Pro also has better speakers and a high-end display than what you’ll find on the MacBook Airs.
It uses MagSafe charging like the 2022 MacBook Air, but has a feature called Active Cooling, which uses a pair of fans, actively drawing in cool air and pushing out the hot air, which is an improvement over air. This helps it handle heavier tasks like more advanced video editing.
The Pro is slightly heavier at 3 pounds and its screen is slightly smaller at 13.3 inches. When using a powerful function like video editing or photo editing, the processor and graphics performance on the MacBook Pro 2022 is noticeably different overall.
2020 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro with M1 Pro or M1 Max, $1999
Apple MacBook Pro
Get these if you need the most performance possible in a MacBook.
Apple launched the 14-inch and $2499 16-inch MacBook Pro models for $1,999 last year and finally brought features like an SD card reader, a full HDMI port to add another displays and more.
They have the best screens available in a MacBook, with high refresh rates so everything looks smooth when you’re scrolling through a website, for example. They support up to two additional monitors instead of just one like the MacBook Air. And, most importantly, they can be configured with M1 Pro or M1 Max chips, which are more powerful than the M2 chip in Apple’s other computers. At least until we hear about Apple’s M2 Pro or Max plans.
So if you do heavy video editing or just love high-end screens and lots of ports, then these are for you. Just expect to pay more.