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We added the 2022 M2 MacBook Air as our upgrade pick, but we still think most people will be happy with the M1 version.
Which Macbook Is Good For College Students
For many, the best Mac laptop is the 13-inch MacBook Air with the Apple M1 processor. It's not the new MacBook Air, but it's cheaper than the latest model and fast enough for what most people use a computer for -- browsing the web, working with documents, coding, and simple photo and video editing. For a better screen, an extra charging port, a better webcam, and a slightly faster processor, we recommend the new MacBook Air with the M2 processor as our upgrade pick.
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The M1 MacBook Air has a comfortable keyboard, great performance, and reasonable storage space—all not found on previous MacBook Airs.
We recommend the basic $1,000 MacBook Air, which has enough speed, memory, and storage for most everyday computing tasks. Apple's new M1 processor is significantly faster than previous low-power Intel processors, and it has such a long battery life that you'll never need to charge it if you don't want to charge it during the day. Unlike previous MacBook Air models, the M1 version doesn't require a cooling fan, and the processor stays quiet even when you're exporting videos or playing games. Like previous versions of the M1 Air, it includes a much-improved keyboard with a deeper, more satisfying feel and improved reliability compared to MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models released from 2016 to 2019.
The Air only includes two USB-C ports (with Thunderbolt 3 support) and a headphone jack - but Thunderbolt docking stations and USB-C hubs and adapters are common enough and cheap enough that the problem isn't as big of a problem as it once was. Air throws away The MacBook Pro's (useful but largely unnecessary) Touch Bar is replaced by a series of physical function keys and a separate Touch ID fingerprint sensor.
The 2022 M2 MacBook Air features an updated design, a brighter screen, a better webcam, and brings back the fan-favorite MagSafe port.
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If you're paying $200 more for a laptop, the M2 MacBook Air has some great updates that we hope will make the device feel better to use than the younger M1 model. The 2022 M2 MacBook Air has a bright display that lets you see it clearly outdoors on a sunny day, and a high-resolution webcam that lets you see better during video calls. Apple added a MagSafe port that allows the magnetic charging cable to attach securely to the MacBook Air, and it can be safely removed if a passerby grabs it with their feet in a coffee shop.
However, this laptop isn't for people who work with photos, videos, or large media files. In our tests, the laptop proved uncomfortable to use, even after about a minute of exporting videos or batch editing photos. But for everyday work, browsing the web, watching movies and playing App Store games, the M2 MacBook Air offers many nice improvements over the previous generation.
Dave Gershgorn has been commenting on technology since 2015 in publications like Popular Science, Quartz, Medium, and now Wirecutter. Since 2006, he has been building, repairing, and mostly avoiding his own computer.
Andrew Cunningham wrote an earlier version of this guide. He has been testing, reviewing and writing about PC, Mac and other gadgets for Anadtech, Ars Technica and Wirecutter since 2011.
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The best reason to buy a MacBook is because you want or prefer a Mac, not Windows or the physical design of an Apple laptop. The operating system is stable and easy to use, but more importantly, it integrates perfectly with the iPhone and iPad - iMessage and SMS messages sent from the Mac, for example, appear on the iPhone and vice versa, and features like AirDrop and iCloud can Transfer notes, pictures, videos, reminders, contacts, easily share passwords, bookmarks and other data between your devices.
A Mac is also a good choice if you need great support. Apple's technical support is generally rated as high as most other PC and phone manufacturers, and Apple Stores and Apple Authorized Service Providers offer in-person technical support and repairs in many locations.
Apple has switched from Intel CPUs to its own MacBook (or "Apple Silicon") processors, and the result is better performance than most Windows laptops in some key ways. Apple processors have better performance and faster integrated graphics, and you get great battery life. When using power-hungry apps like Zoom or Google Chrome, their batteries are also less likely to drain quickly.
If you're spending less than $1,000 on a laptop, want to run high-end games, or want to be able to upgrade or repair it yourself, a Mac isn't a good choice. Windows Ultrabooks offer great performance and a variety of ports at or below what Apple charges for the MacBook Air. Budget Chrome OS and Windows laptops are better options for $500, while business laptops make it easier to tweak and upgrade components over time. Windows gaming laptops and professional laptops, while generally larger and heavier, often have newer, faster dedicated graphics processors than Apple laptops (you can buy some of these for less than half the price of a 16-inch MacBook Pro item ).
Macbook For Students: Which One You Should Get?
If you want a new laptop today, you should get one instead of waiting for Apple to release a new one -- it's hard to predict when and how often the company will release new hardware. After your Mac has been on the shelves for a few months, you can save a lot by buying it from Apple's refurbished store. Apple refurbished products can work and work like new and come with the same warranty, including optional AppleCare service, so buying one is a great way to save a few hundred dollars. If you want to purchase a specific configuration, the third-party Refurb Tracker website can alert you when certain models are available.
As of this writing, Apple offers three different configurations of the laptop. When deciding which criteria to recommend, we considered the following criteria.
For many, the best Mac laptop is the 13-inch MacBook Air with the Apple M1 processor. It's fast enough for browsing, working with documents, and simple photo and video editing, and it comes with a great HD screen, a great trackpad, a completely silent fanless design, and an affordable price. Battery life is excellent, enough to get you through a full day at work or in class and then move on for some more. The newer MacBook Air with the Apple M2 processor isn't much of a hit on any everyday tasks, so we think you can save $200 on the older (but still great) version.
The Air's lightweight, sturdy construction and industry-leading support make it a great laptop, especially if you own an iPhone or other Apple device. The biggest downside is the mediocre webcam -- if that's a priority, we recommend upgrading to the new M2 MacBook Air for $200 for a high-quality webcam and other upgrades.
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We recommend the $1,000 model, which includes the Apple M1 seven-core GPU, 256GB SSD, and 8GB of memory. If you frequently open dozens of browser tabs or edit large images or videos, consider upgrading to 16 GB for an extra $200. If you need more storage space, we recommend adding an external hard drive or removable SSD rather than paying Apple's upgrade price. Don't overpay for the M1 version of the octa-core GPU; most people don't notice the difference.
The MacBook Air has a bright and colorful 13-inch 2560x1600 IPS screen—a display with a higher resolution than most PC laptops' 1080p screens, so text and images look crisp and detailed. The Air monitor supports both the sRGB color gamut and the wider DCI-P3 color gamut, which can display more of certain colors, although this feature isn't very important unless you're doing high-quality film or photography work. The Air Screen supports the True Tone feature, which automatically changes the color temperature of the screen to match the ambient light in the room.
The left side of the MacBook Air has two USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports. You will need an adapter or dongle to plug in other types of accessories. Photo: Andrew Cunningham
The Air has a headphone jack on the right and two Thunderbolt 3/USB-C ports on the left for connection and charging, so you'll need an adapter or new cable to connect other devices. Each port supports charging,
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