The 4 best MacBooks for 2024: Which should you choose?

Any time you shop for a new laptop, a lot of people are going to tell you the same thing: Just get a MacBook.

And you know what? We don’t blame them. The best MacBooks are fantastic laptops, and while they don’t afford you the freedom of customization that other brands offer, that’s not something everyone will care about. At the end of the day, most of us just want a high-quality laptop that’ll get us through work, school, and play with minimal fuss.

Although MacBooks can get a bit pricey — with some reaching into truly frightening territory — they justify the price with Apple’s signature design, user-friendly OS, and the zippy M-series processors. Plus, you can often find MacBook Air and Pro models on sale (with the cheapest ones priced around $850 to $999). And with Prime Day 2024 on the horizon, you can expect more MacBook deals to land soon.

After testing out Apple’s lineup of laptops, we’re here to help you narrow down the choices and take home the Apple machine of your dreams. So, let’s start shopping.

Your first big decision: MacBook Pro vs Air

When it comes to today’s current lineup of MacBooks, you really only have two options: The MacBook Pro or the MacBook Air. So, which is right for you?

If you’re a creative who is regularly pushing their laptops to the limit with demanding applications for video and photo editing, you’ll want to aim for the Pro. The name of the game with the Pro line is processing power, and the latest iteration is the speediest and most performance-driven yet.

the m1 macbook air opened to home screen

Testing the M1 MacBook Air after its 2020 release.
Credit: Zlata Ivleva / Mashable

the m3 macbook pro opened to home screen

Testing the super-powered M3 MacBook Pro.
Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

Now, if convenience and portability are your top priorities, then the Air is going to be most suited to you. It’s thin and light, and it even comes in a 13-inch option if you’re going to be lugging it around with you wherever you go. Plus, ever since the debut of Apple’s M Series chips, the MacBook Air has become a pint-sized powerhouse. The most current model utilizes the M3 chip, so you won’t be sacrificing all that much in terms of power.

Next up: Which generation?

This is going to come down to what you’re willing to give up in performance, and in some cases, quality. But, whatever you do deem worthy of sacrificing, you’ll be paid back in savings. For example, the 2022 model M2 MacBook Air won’t come with the latest chip, but you’ll still be scoring an impressive laptop that frequently goes on sale for just $849.99. That’s compared to the $1,249 price tag of the most recent Air, and the $1,599 asking price of the latest Pro.

close-up of m1 macbook air keyboard and ports

A photo from Mashable’s test of the M1 MacBook Air.
Credit: Zlata Ivleva / Mashable

the m2 macbook air open to home screen

Testing the M2 MacBook Air.
Credit: Molly Flores / Mashable

So, if you’ve got a lighter budget, don’t fret — you can still get a MacBook at an affordable price. Yes, you’ll have to get an older model, but staying current is overrated. Older MacBooks are still very much worthy of your consideration, and they won’t cost you nearly as much.

When is the best time to buy a new MacBook?

The good news is that there’s never really a bad time to buy a MacBook, especially if you’re shopping for a previous-generation model with the M2 or M1 chip. Those tend to go on sale consistently at retailers like Amazon, Best Buy, and Walmart for at least $150 off, if not more. Newer MacBook models aren’t much harder to find at a discount at the very same retailers depending on the configuration you choose.

But to us, the best time to buy a MacBook is definitely during a big sale event like Amazon Prime Day or Black Friday. That’s where you’ll get the real bargains on coveted Apple laptops, as well as other Apple devices. Finally, you can often find discounts any time a new model is introduced — it almost always comes with a price cut to the previous-gen model, which we just saw with the M2 MacBook Air and Pro.

So, what are the best MacBooks?

After testing out the latest Apple laptops, we think there are four MacBooks worth buying in 2024. Check out our top picks below, their pros and cons, as well as who we think would like each model best.

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