Best MacBooks for 2021
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, and should I pick the M1 processor?
It may not be as attention grabbing as a brushed aluminium case or a stunning screen, but a laptop’s processor plays a vital role in how fast and efficient it is.
The best load webpages in a flash and power through demanding tasks, such as video editing, whereas a cheap processor could make anything more taxing than online shopping slow your laptop to a crawl.
Apple’s new SoC (‘system on a chip’) M1 processor concentrates everything onto a single chip, unlike the Intel Core i5 and i7 processors in older Macs, which use multiple chips to manage different tasks. SoCs are common in smartphones and tablets, but less so in laptops.
On paper, the M1 is slower than the Core i5 and i7, which both have higher maximum ‘clock speeds’. Despite this, Apple makes some bold speed claims – for example, that the new MacBook Air should be three times faster when exporting videos from iMovie.
Table updated May 2021.
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.
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.
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 Big Sur, which launched in Autumn 2020. This updated added a lot of new features including easier to access notifications, quick access to settings, updated app designs, privacy enhancements and more. You can read the full list of changes on .
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.