Best MacBooks for 2020
By Tom Morgan
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Which MacBook is right for you? What's the difference between a MacBook Air and a MacBook Pro? Our expert Apple laptop guide can help.
Apple laptops aren't cheap, so it's important that you consider your MacBook options carefully before parting with your cash.
We take a look at the key differences between the MacBook, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro ranges, so you can be confident that you're buying the right Mac for you.
Which MacBook should I buy?
Apple 13-inch MacBook Pro (2019)
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If you've got a big budget, you might have your eyes on a MacBook Pro. These are the most expensive Apple laptops around, and the latest model has a unique Touch Bar. This feature lives right above the keyboard, and it's a mini touchscreen that will display changing information, depending on what you're doing. If you're editing home videos in Final Cut, for example, the Touch Bar will turn into a mini timeline that lets you quickly navigate through your clips. If you're interested in the top-of-the-range model, see our review of the Apple MacBook Pro 2018 with Touch Bar.
Apple 13-inch MacBook Pro without touch bar (2017)
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This is the cheapest MacBook Pro, with fewer ports and a slightly less powerful set of specification options. Still, it has some advantages; the controversial Touch Bar is removed in favour of old-fashioned buttons, which many people will prefer. It won't be around for long, though, as every model in the 2019 MacBook Pro range has a Touch Bar
Apple Macbook Air 2020
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This is the latest version of Apple's popular 13-inch laptop, which starts at under £1,000 for a model with an Intel Core i3 processor. We've testded the mid-range Core i5 model. It has a high resolution screen and a very attractive design, although keep in mind that the processor is a slower form of Core i5 than the one you'll find in the MacBook Pro.
Apple 15-inch MacBook Pro
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This Apple is at the very top of the tree in terms of power, size and price. Putting the Pro moniker to good use, this six-core laptop is designed for the most power-hungry tasks such as video editing and computer-aided design. It will surely be overkill for anybody who doesn't do those tasks on a daily basis, though.
Last updated: April 2020
See our full collection of MacBook reviews to see how else these models differ.
Mac vs Windows vs Chromebooks
MacOS, Windows 10 and ChromeOS all have their own strengths and weaknesses. MacOS is buttery smooth and is the go-to operating system for many creative industries, but it also requires you to shell out a huge amount of money on a premium Apple device.
MacBooks run smoothly and can keep viruses at bay, but they aren't cheap.
Windows, meanwhile is available on a huge range of devices from ultra-budget to super-premium and, for many, is still the operating system they know best. But it's not without its downsides: Windows 10 updates are still a major sticking point for many people, and the fact that Windows 10 doesn't run particularly smoothly on very cheap laptops.
That's where ChromeOS comes in. This operating system is little more than a fancy web browser, with web apps that work best when connected to the internet. There's a range of budget devices available, and a few premium options as well. There's no faffing with huge updates and since everything is in a browser, there shouldn't be any problems with programs crashing either.
See how MacOS stacks up against its rivals in our Mac vs Windows and Chromebook advice guide.
What do I need to know about MacOS?
MacOS (formerly known as Mac OSX) is extra useful for people who own iPads and iPhones, with a host of clever features that lets you share and work on files seamlessly on all your devices. You can also make and receive calls on your computer; no need to reach for the phone any more. There's also the Siri voice assistant that'll let you ask questions, set reminders and issue other commands with just your voice.
The latest version of MacOS is called Catalina, which launched in Autumn 2019. This update added a host of new features, including the ability to run iPad apps on your MacBook, which will be handy for when you start a task on your tablet and then move over to your laptop. It also heavily redesigned several key Mac apps including iTunes, which has been split up into three separate programs for music, films and TV, and podcasts. Reminders, Notes and Photos have been overhauled, and you can now also use your iPad as a second screen for your MacBook. And, as ever, MacOS is arguably the best operating system to choose if you already own an iPhone; things sync and work together more seamlessly than other combinations of phones and laptops.