It’s been a busy time for the Mac lineup in recent years, thanks to the introduction of Apple silicon. Our list of the best Macs doesn’t include an Intel-based device for the first time. This decision follows the recent launch of the Mac Studio and the retirement of the 27-inch iMac, bringing the number of Intel-based Macs sold by Apple down to two. Those options, both the 2019 Mac Pro and 2020 Intel-only Mac mini, are not recommended because of their age and the likelihood that they will get replaced or retired soon. Instead, our recommendations include other choices, including the best MacBooks of the year and specific desktop models.
What are the best Macs you can buy right now?
Apple’s Mac products fall into two broad categories. The MacBook lineup consists of the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, while desktop models include the iMac, Mac mini, and Mac Studio. We’ve made recommendations based on several factors, which you can read more about below. However, our general advice is to select the newest model that fits your needs (laptop or desktop) and price range. Then check out the best Mac accessories to complete your setup.
1. MacBook Air (M2, 2022)
The best Mac for most users
Bottom line: The top-selling Mac continues improving with each new release. So naturally, the 2022 edition is the best MacBook Air ever!
|Specs||MacBook Air (M2, 2022)|
|Display||13.6-inch (diagonal) Liquid Retina display|
|Processor||Apple M2 chip|
|RAM||8GB, 16GB, or 24GB|
|Storage||Up to 2TB|
|Camera||1080p FaceTime HD camera|
|Battery||Built-in 52.6-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery|
|Battery life||Up to 15 hours wireless web, up to 18 hours Apple TV app movie playback|
|Dimensions||0.44 cm x 30.41 cm x 21.5 cm|
|Weight||1.24 kg (2.7 pounds)|
- Great price
- Long battery life
- Five color choices
- Can get expensive very quickly with add-ons
The 2022 MacBook Air is also our favorite Macbook. It’s a fantastic beast that’s lightweight and built with the newest Apple M2 SoC inside. The Apple M2 is also found on the 13-inch MacBook Pro (M2, 2022). The Apple M2 on the MacBook Air offers an 8-core CPU, up to 10-core GPU, and up to 24GB of unified memory.
It used to be that there were very few differences between the MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro. That’s no longer the case, as the MacBook Air was significantly updated this time around, while the MacBook Pro was not. It offers a 13.6-inch Liquid Retina display and a 1080p FaceTime HD camera for the first time. Plus, it comes with a MagSafe charging port — just like the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models before it. The MacBook Air (M2, 2022) also comes in four colors: Space Gray, silver, Starlight, and Midnight.
When configuring your MacBook Air, you can select from 8GB, 16GB, and 24GB of unified memory; 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, or 2TB of storage; and either 8GB or 10GB of GPU. CPU is 8GB, regardless of your confirmation.
The MacBook Air (M2, 2022) won’t officially get released until July but when it does, we’ll be offering a full review. Once we do, this article will be updated.
Source: Luke Filipowicz / iMore
2. 24-inch M1 iMac (2021)
The best all-in-one desktop with M1
Bottom line: The latest iMac boasts a gorgeous 24-inch 4.5K Retina display, packs in an 8-core M1 chip with up to 16GB unified memory, and can go up to 2TB in storage. It’s also the thinnest iMac yet, boasts a 1080p FaceTime HD camera, Magic Keyboard with Touch ID, and comes in seven fun colors.
|Category||24-inch M1 iMac (2021)|
|Display||24-inch (diagonal) Retina 4.5K display|
|Processor||8-core Apple M1 chip|
|RAM||Configurable up to 16GB unified memory|
|Storage||Configurable up to 2TB SSD|
|Cameras||1080p FaceTime HD camera with M1 ISP|
|Dimensions||46.1 cm x 54.7 cm x 14.7 cm|
|Weight||4.46 kg (9.83 pounds) for the base model or 4.48 kg (9.88 pounds) for a higher-end model|
- 24-inch 4.5K Retina display with Wide Color and True Tone
- 8-core Apple M1 chip
- Up to 16GB unified memory and 2TB SSD storage
- Comes in up to seven new colors
- Includes color-matching Magic Mouse and Magic Keyboard with Touch ID
- Reasonable price, but configurations add up
- Only has two Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports (the high-end version has another two USB 3 ports)
The iMac (2021) sports a beautiful 24-inch 4.5K Retina display, which is a big step up from the 21.5-inch before it. You now get 4480-by-2520 resolution at 218 pixels per inch with support for one billion colors, and it has up to 500 nits brightness, Wide Color, and True Tone support. It’s also incredibly thin at only 11.5mm, so it vanishes from the sides. The overall volume of Apple’s new iMac is 50% less than its predecessors. The power cable now attaches magnetically to the back of the display with a highly durable and braided 2-meter cable. Ethernet cables directly plug into the power adapter since there is no ethernet port on the back (it’s too thin).
Another considerable change with the latest iMac is its seven shiny dual-tone colors: Blue, Green, Pink, Silver, Yellow, Orange, and Purple. However, if you want the last three colors, you’ll have to opt for the mid or high-end models.
The 24-inch iMac packs in power and performance with the M1 chip. It also comes in flashy new shades to give you a splash of color to your setup.
The front of the iMac and the base have a light pastel hue, while the edges and display back are darker (except for the silver option, which only has one shade). No matter which colorful iMac you choose, the splash of color will turn heads in the office or your home. These new iMacs are equipped with a color-matching Magic Keyboard and Magic Mouse. There is also the option to upgrade to a Magic Keyboard with an integrated Touch ID, allowing you to finally use your fingerprint for biometrics and security on Apple’s desktop computer.
Apple has finally ditched Intel processors on its main desktop computer, replacing it with its M1 chip. This means you get 8-cores, four for performance and the other four for efficiency. The base model also starts with a 7-core GPU on the M1, while the mid and high levels are 8-core GPUs. Those who want the base model will also only be able to choose the 256GB SSD, which is configurable up to 512GB or 1TB. The mid and high-level models start with 256GB or 512GB SSDs and can be configured to 1TB or 2TB, though the price will increase significantly. And like the other M1 Macs, the iMac starts with 8GB of unified memory but can be configured up to 16GB. Since the memory is in the M1 chip, it cannot be configured beyond that.
It also seems that Apple is finally putting better FaceTime HD cameras into its computer lineup. The M1 iMac boasts a 1080p FaceTime HD camera with an M1 image signal processor (ISP). This means that it gives you high-quality video and images, even in low-light situations. Additionally, the M1 ISP offers more noise reduction, greater dynamic range, and improved auto exposure and white balance. No more grainy videos for you in those precious work meetings. The iMac has a studio-quality three-microphone setup for clearer calls and voice recordings. This new microphone array is also positioned to reduce feedback and background noise. But of course, it’s still probably best to get one of the best USB microphones if you want serious audio quality.
Regarding ports, the base level iMac comes equipped with two Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports, but you can get two more USB 3 ports with the mid and high-tier versions. The Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports support DisplayPort, Thunderbolt 3 up to 40Gb/s, USB 4 up to 40Gb/s, and USB 3.1 Gen 2 up to 10Gb/s. You will need adapters, sold separately, for Thunderbolt 2, HDMI, DVI, and VGA. The base model is configurable with Gigabit Ethernet, but the mid and high-level models come standard with Gigabit Ethernet.
Source: Bryan M. Wolfe / iMore
3. 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro (2021)
The best MacBook Pro models you can buy
Bottom line: The first Apple silicon MacBook Pros pack a fantastic punch that should remind long-time users of iconic past models. And yet, make no mistake, these are the most advanced Apple laptops ever.
|Category||14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro (2021)|
|Display||14.2-inch (diagonal) mini-LED backlit display
16.2-inch (diagonal) mini-LED backlit display
|Processor||Apple M1 Pro or Apple M1 Max|
|RAM||Up to 64GB|
|Storage||Up to 8TB|
|Cameras||1080p FaceTime HD camera|
|Battery||Integrated 70-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery
Integrated 100-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery
|Battery life||Up to 11 hours wireless web, up to 17 hours Apple TV app movie playback
Up to 14 hours wireless web, up to 21 hours Apple TV app movie playback
|Dimensions||1.55 cm x 31.26 cm x 22.12 cm
1.68 cm x 35.57 cm x 24.81 cm
|Weight||1.6 kg (3.5 pounds)
2.1 kg (4.7 pounds)
- Liquid Retina XDR display
- 1080p FaceTime HD camera
- Ports, ports, and more ports
- Lots of choices across the board
- Price can rise quickly with add-ons
- No Touch Bar
For months, we heard Apple was about to introduce its first Apple silicon version of the MacBook Pro. When it arrived in October 2021, we got two models, an all-new 14-inch version and a second-generation 16-inch version. Sans the size of their displays, these laptops are identical.
Each model offers a blazing-fast Apple M1 Pro or Apple M1 Max chip with up to a 10-core CPU and 32-core GPU. You can select unified memory up to 54GB and SSD storage up to 8TB. The 2021 MacBook Pros finally offer a 1080p FaceTime HD camera.
On the outside, you’ll find a fresh new design with slimmer bezels and the first camera notch on an Apple laptop. The sides feature numerous ports unless more recent models, including three Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C) ports, which you can use for charging, a DisplayPort, and Thunderbolt 4 (up to 40Gb/s). There’s also an HDMI port and SDXC card slot. Best of all, the laptops have a MagSafe 3 port for charging purposes. Additionally, Apple has kept the 3.5mm headphone jack; it’s on the laptop’s left side this time. Put together, as noted in our MacBook Pro (2021) review, with these. models, the professional MacBook is back!
The professional MacBook is back.
Turning to the keyboard, you’ll no longer see the often criticized Touch Bar. Instead, the OLED strip has been replaced by full-size physical function keys that include must-have keyboard shortcuts for Spotlight, Dictation, Do Not Disturb, and other features.
The latest MacBook Pro offers three studio-quality mics that pick up more sounds from an audio perspective. The three-mic array uses directional beamforming, making your voice clearer and louder. It also includes a six-speaker sound system. The speakers provide 80% more bass, featuring force-canceling woofers, while the high-performance tweeters offer more precise, fuller vocals. The impressive sounds are most noticeable when using spatial audio, something Apple’s been pushing hard across many devices and headphones.
A few negatives are associated with both the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros. First, they are costly and even more so when adding more memory and storage. They also come in only two colors, which will bother many looking to move beyond some shade of gray and silver. Finally, we’ll mention it again: these are expensive devices!
4. Mac mini (2020)
The best for networking
Bottom line: The compact Mac mini packs a lot inside and nicely matches your existing monitor, keyboard, and mouse.
|Category||Mac mini (2020)|
|Processor||Apple M1 chip|
|RAM||8GB or 16GB|
|Storage||Up to 2TB|
|Dimensions||3.6 cm x 19.7 cm x 19.7 cm|
|Weight||1.2 kg (2.6 pounds)|
- Least expensive solution among desktops
- Works great with all types of monitors
- Remember, no monitor or accessories
- Can get expensive quickly
- 2022 refresh is possible
- We don’t recommend the Intel-based version
The latest Mac mini was the first Apple desktop to feature Apple silicon. It launched in late 2020 alongside Apple silicon versions of the MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro. A more expensive Mac mini featuring an Intel-based processor remains on the market for those looking to add more memory or storage than the M1 version currently provides. However, we’re not recommending that model since it could get replaced soon.
The Apple M1 Mac mini version comes with an Apple M1 chip with an 8-core CPU, 8-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine, 8GB unified memory, 256GB SSD storage, and Gigabit Ethernet. Memory (up to 16GB) and storage (up to 2TB) are upgradeable. The Mac mini supports one display of up to 6K and one display of up to 4K; both are sold separately.
Ports include a 3.5 mm headphone jack, HDMI 2.0 port that supports multichannel audio output, two Thunderbolt / USB 4 ports, two USB-A ports, and Gigabit Ethernet.
If you’re looking at a Mac mini, you already know that you need to add a monitor, keyboard, and mouse. Also, remember that a 2022 refresh is possible, undoubtedly offering better specs.
5. Mac Studio (2022)
Major refresh to Mac desktops
Bottom line: Currently the best Mac you can buy, the Mac Studio is for creatives and professionals alike. Expect to pay a lot of cash, however.
|Category||Mac Studio (2022)|
|Processor||Apple M1 Max chip or Apple M1 Ultra chip|
|RAM||Configure up to 128GB unified memory|
|Storage||Configure up to 8TB of SSD|
|Dimensions||9.5 cm x 19.7 cm x 19.7 cm|
|Weight||Up to 3.6 kg (7.9 pounds)|
- Spec-wise, the best Mac right now
- Only Mac to offer M1 Ultra
- Lots of customization options
- Still requires a monitor, keyboard, and mouse
- Gets expensive quickly
- It’s not designed like the Mac Pro
The Mac Studio (2022) is the best professional-grade computer Apple has ever created — at least until the modular Mac Pro gets an Apple silicon update. Looking every bit like two stacked Mac mini units, the Mac Studio is packed full of features that make it an excellent product starting with your choice of a powerful M1 Max or even more powerful M1 Ultra chipset. From there, you can choose up to 128GB of unified memory, up to 20-core CPU, and up to 64-core GPU.
For the complete package, we recommend buying the all-new Apple Studio Display. Available with standard or nano-texture glass, this 27-inch 5K Retina display features a 12MP Ultra-Wide camera with Center Stage, studio-quality mics, and a six-speaker sound system with Spatial Audio.
If you’re looking for the best and money is no object, say hello to Mac Studio.
6. 13-inch MacBook Pro (M2, 2022)
Still a great choice
Bottom line: If you’re looking for a Touch Bar, this is the only new Apple laptop to offer it.
|Category||13-inch MacBook Pro (M2, 2022)|
|Display||13.3-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit display with IPS technology|
|Processor||Apple M2 chip|
|RAM||8GB, 16GB, or 24GB|
|Storage||Up to 2TB|
|Cameras||720p FaceTime HD camera|
|Battery||Built-in 58.2-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery|
|Battery life||Up to 17 hours wireless web, up to 20 hours Apple TV app movie playback|
|Dimensions||1.56 cm x 30.41 cm x 21.24 cm|
|Weight||1.4 kg (3 pounds)|
- Has Apple M2 SoC
- Touch Bar with Touch ID
- 20-hour battery life
- Older style case
- Maxes out at 24GB RAM
- No MagSafe
- Only a 720p FaceTime HD camera
Apple probably should have canceled this MacBook Pro model this year. Instead, it added an all-new M2 chip to match the one found on the MacBook Air (M2, 2022). Beyond this, however, the 2022 version is almost identical to the 2020 version it has now replaced.
The MacBook Pro (M2, 2022) comes with a 13.3-inch Retina display, 8GB CPU, 10GB GPU, and up to 24GB of unified memory. It’s also the only MacBook that remains with Touch Bar. This model remains on our best Mac list because of its battery life. It offers 20 hours between charges versus 18 hours on the Air; it’s the best battery offered on a MacBook Pro, except for the much more expensive 16-inch MacBook Pro.
On the plus side, in terms of audio, the 13-inch MacBook Pro comes with stereo speakers with a high dynamic range, support for Dolby Atmos playback, and a studio-quality three-mic array with a high signal-to-noise ratio and directional beamforming. It’s also not too heavy, weighing in at 1.4 kilograms (3 pounds) versus the Air’s 1.29 kilograms (2.8 pounds). But when looking at the negatives, it’s hard to see why one would choose this laptop over the feature-heavy M2 Air. The MacBook Pro (M2, 2022) doesn’t have MagSafe, comes with a less powerful FaceTime camera, and features an older style.
How to pick the best Mac for you
We’ve selected the MacBook Air (M2, 2022) as the best Mac of the year. It’s packed with the features most users need yet omits the ones they do not. Better still, it’s priced right and is easy to carry across the room or back and forth on campus. However, the MacBook Air (M2, 2022) isn’t the most powerful Mac, nor does it offer the broadest customization options.
There’s no denying Macs are among the most expensive computers on the market. But, of course, this has been in Apple’s DNA since the first Macintosh was introduced in 1984. And yet, the range in price points is extensive, with the cheapest option available for less than $700 and the most expensive for more than $10,000, depending on the extras. Luckily, the wide price range extends to both the MacBook and Mac desktop lineup.
2. Apple silicon or Intel?
In mid-2020, Apple announced plans to move away from Intel-based processors and produce Macs with in-house silicon. As of March 2022, only two active Mac models offer Intel (Mac Pro, Intel-only Mac mini), and neither comes recommended. We at iMore are forward thinkers, so we’re only suggesting Apple silicon-based options moving forward. Though Apple has promised to support Intel-based models for years to come (and it will), we know Intel isn’t in the company’s future, a point no one can deny.
The Mac lineup features a diverse series of laptop and desktop computers. Our top choices are the MacBook Air (M2, 2022), 24-inch iMac (2021), and the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro (2021). In addition, the Mac mini (2020), Mac Studio (2022), and 13-inch MacBook Pro (M2, 2022) are also superb choices that target different users.
If you’re in the market now for a new computer, stick with one of our choices. Otherwise, wait a few months to see what changes Apple brings to the lineup. New products should include an updated Mac mini and possibly a Mac Pro.
When changes get made to the Mac lineup, circle back to this post to see our updated recommendations. In the meantime, happy shopping.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Bryan M. Wolfe is a dad who loves technology, especially anything new from Apple. He now uses a 14-inch MacBook Pro and loves it! You can find him on Twitter @bryanmwolfe.
Christine Romero-Chan has been using Macs for over a decade after ditching Windows. She knows a thing or two about how Macs work and who they’re made for.
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