2018’s Best Apple Laptops [In-Depth Review]

TOP PICK
Apple Macbook Pro MJLT2LL/A 15-inch Laptop (2.5 GHz Intel Core i7 Processor, 16GB RAM, 512 GB Hard Drive, Mac OS X) (2015 version)
BEST GAMING
Apple 15" MacBook Pro, Retina, Touch Bar, 2.9GHz Intel Core i7 Quad Core, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, Space Gray, MPTT2LL/A
Apple MacBook Air 13.3-Inch Laptop (Intel Core i5 1.6Ghz, 8GB RAM, 128GB SSD)
BEST PORTABLE
Apple MacBook Air MJVM2LL/A 11.6-Inch laptop(1.6 GHz Intel i5, 128 GB SSD, Integrated Intel HD Graphics 6000, Mac OS)
BEST BUDGET
Apple MacBook Pro MC118LL/A 15.4-Inch Laptop
BLW's Score
95
94
83
84
75
MSRP
from $1,799.00
$1,850.00
$889.95
$789.85
$239.99
Processor
Intel Core i7 2.5 GHz
Intel Core i7 2.9 GHz
Intel Core i5 1.6 GHz
Intel Core i5 1.6 GHz
Intel Core 2 Duo 2.53 GHz
RAM
16GB DDR3L
16GB DDR3L
8GB DDR3L
4GB DDR3L
4GB DDR3L
Hard Disk
512GB SSD
512GB SSD
128GB SSD
128GB SSD
250GB HDD
Display
15.4" Retina (2880 x 1800 )
15.4” Retina (2880x1800)
13.3" HD+ (1440 x 900)
11.6" HD (1366 x 768)
15.4" HD+ (1440 x 900)
Graphics
AMD Radeon R9 M370X
Radeon Pro 560
Intel HD Graphics 6000
Intel HD Graphics 6000
NVIDIA GeForce 9400M
OS
macOS
macOS
macOS
macOS
macOS
Weight
4.49 pounds
6.4 pounds
2.96 pounds
2.38 pounds
5.49 pounds
TOP PICK
Apple Macbook Pro MJLT2LL/A 15-inch Laptop (2.5 GHz Intel Core i7 Processor, 16GB RAM, 512 GB Hard Drive, Mac OS X) (2015 version)
BLW's Score
95
MSRP
from $1,799.00
More Information
Processor
Intel Core i7 2.5 GHz
RAM
16GB DDR3L
Hard Disk
512GB SSD
Display
15.4" Retina (2880 x 1800 )
Graphics
AMD Radeon R9 M370X
OS
macOS
Weight
4.49 pounds
BEST GAMING
Apple 15" MacBook Pro, Retina, Touch Bar, 2.9GHz Intel Core i7 Quad Core, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, Space Gray, MPTT2LL/A
BLW's Score
94
MSRP
$1,850.00
More Information
Processor
Intel Core i7 2.9 GHz
RAM
16GB DDR3L
Hard Disk
512GB SSD
Display
15.4” Retina (2880x1800)
Graphics
Radeon Pro 560
OS
macOS
Weight
6.4 pounds
Apple MacBook Air 13.3-Inch Laptop (Intel Core i5 1.6Ghz, 8GB RAM, 128GB SSD)
BLW's Score
83
MSRP
$889.95
More Information
Processor
Intel Core i5 1.6 GHz
RAM
8GB DDR3L
Hard Disk
128GB SSD
Display
13.3" HD+ (1440 x 900)
Graphics
Intel HD Graphics 6000
OS
macOS
Weight
2.96 pounds
BEST PORTABLE
Apple MacBook Air MJVM2LL/A 11.6-Inch laptop(1.6 GHz Intel i5, 128 GB SSD, Integrated Intel HD Graphics 6000, Mac OS)
BLW's Score
84
MSRP
$789.85
More Information
Processor
Intel Core i5 1.6 GHz
RAM
4GB DDR3L
Hard Disk
128GB SSD
Display
11.6" HD (1366 x 768)
Graphics
Intel HD Graphics 6000
OS
macOS
Weight
2.38 pounds
BEST BUDGET
Apple MacBook Pro MC118LL/A 15.4-Inch Laptop
BLW's Score
75
MSRP
$239.99
More Information
Processor
Intel Core 2 Duo 2.53 GHz
RAM
4GB DDR3L
Hard Disk
250GB HDD
Display
15.4" HD+ (1440 x 900)
Graphics
NVIDIA GeForce 9400M
OS
macOS
Weight
5.49 pounds

Apple revolutionized the laptop world with their introduction of the MacBook Air in 2008.

Today, many people still consider them to be the most influential manufacturers in the market. This article will bring some of the best to you.

Back in 1975, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak had dropped out of college. Both were members of the Homebrew Computer Club, who would meet bi-weekly to discuss emerging computer technology. While there, Steve Wozniak discovered the Altair 8800 which inspired him to build his own home computer.

Wozniak displayed his new machine at the computer club, and Jobs saw the marketing potential behind it. After selling their first computer, the Apple 1, to a local computer store, they were joined by Ronald Wayne. Together they formed Apple on 1st April 1976.

42 years later, and Apple are now a multinational company worth $1 trillion.

In this article, we have selected the best Apple laptops available, to suit different requirements and budgets.

5 Best ​Apple Laptops By Category

Overall Pick
​Apple 15 Inch MacBook Pro Retina Display MJLQ2LL/A

​Apple 15 Inch MacBook Pro Retina Display MJLQ2LLA Review

​​The Apple MacBook Pro has always been the mainstay of the Apple line.

Now, the Apple 15 Inch MacBook Pro MJLQ2LL/A returns with serious improvements over its predecessors.

​Specs

  • ​Display Size: 15.4”
  • ​Resolution: 2880 x 1800 pixels
  • ​Battery Capacity: 9 hours
  • ​RAM: 16GB DDR3L
  • ​Processor: 2.2 GHz Intel Core i7
  • ​Storage: 256GB Flash Memory Solid State Drive
  • ​GPU: ​AMD Radeon R9 M370X
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    I/O: 2 x USB 2.0, 2 x USB 3.0, 1 x audio out, SDXC card reader, 1x HDMI, 2 x Thunderbolt 2, dual microphones
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    Weight: 4.49 pounds
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    PriceCheck latest price on Amazon.com

​​​​​​​​​Benefits

Firstly, this model includes Apple’s inventive Force Touch (4” x 3”) touchpad. The sensitivity of clicking on the pad itself is customizable. This results in varying pressures allowing for different functions.

What’s more, the Force Touch means that vibration feedback is given through the fingers. There is no clicking, giving a satisfying user experience. There is even the ability to zoom into images, or fast forward through videos, by increasing pressure.

Apple’s top-end laptops have continually been designed with an aluminum casing and black border, and the MacBook Pro MJLQ2LL/A reassuringly carries on that tradition.

Absence of seams, sleek thin design and inconspicuous keyboard speakers gives that all-important professional feel.

The ‘Retina display’ in the full name of this laptop is there for good reason. The 2880 x 1800 pixel display shouts out color on the 15.4” screen. Crystal clear is an overused cliche, but in this circumstance it’s perfectly apt.

The usual chiclet-style keyboard remains, with a pleasing 1.35 mm travel. Fast, responsive and light to the touch.

With a 512GB flash SSD and 2.5 GHz Intel core i7, the Apple MacBook Pro MJLQ2LL/A boots quickly and opens large files with ease. Even hard-hitting multitasking does not apparently slow this machine down at all.

This laptop is designed to provide nine hours of battery power. Our experience, and other customer testimonials, indicate that it’s not a number picked out of the air. This machine can happily exceed the nine-hour mark with continuous web use.

Data transfer is swift. This MacBook Pro includes 2 x USB 3.0 and 2 x Thunderbolt ports enabling a transfer rate of up to 10 Gbps, or 20 Gbps when running concurrently.

Drawbacks

Although the Apple MacBook Pro MJLQ2LL/A has an impressive Retina display, it does lack some brightness capability. Especially when used in natural daylight. In addition, the speed of this machine can enable it to be a second or casual gaming machine.

The issue is that the Intel Iris Pro graphics card disappoints and it could have been better if Apple had used one such as the Radeon R9.

Extra Features

  • Force Touch haptic response touchpad
  • PCIe-based flash storage for fast booting and quick application opening
  • 2 x Thunderbolt ports

Buying Advice

This laptop, priced at around $1900, looks professional and sleek, and it’s not a design that hides inside flaws. 

Fast performance, a Retina display that screams colors and the impressive tracking pad with Force Touch make for an all-round serious machine.

Runner Up:
​Apple MacBook Air 13.3-Inch Laptop

​Apple MacBook Air 13.3-Inch Laptop Review

​​When Steve Jobs introduced the MacBook Air back in 2008, it was groundbreaking. At that time it was the thinnest laptop on the market, and redefined how other manufactures approached their products.

Since then, the MacBook Air has continued to have a serious following, and with the Apple MacBook Air 13.3-Inch priced at around $840.00, it’s easy to see why.

​Specs

  • ​Display Size: 13.3 inches
  • Resolution: 1440 x 900
  • ​Battery Capacity: 12 hours
  • ​RAM: 8GB at 1600 MHz LPDDR3 SDRAM
  • ​Processor: 1.6 GHz Dual Core Intel i5
  • ​Storage: 128GB Flash Memory SSD
  • ​GPU: Intel HD Graphics 6000
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    I/O: 1 x SDXC card reader, 1 x USB 3.0, 1 x Thunderbolt 2, 1 x USB 2.0, 1 x audio out, Bluetooth
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    Weight: 2.96 pounds
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    PriceCheck latest price on Amazon.com

​​​​​​​​​Benefits

The aesthetic design is exactly the same as its predecessor. In fact, this has not changed since 2010 (except the inclusion of additional ports). But as it was an attractive machine back then, there is no need to change.

Portability with the Apple MacBook Air 13.3-Inch is a pleasure. Weighing in at 2.96 pounds it’s a good machine to have on the move, although it is a little heavier than the Lenovo Yoga Pro.

The portability aspect is further reinforced by its very impressive (actual) battery life of over 12 hours for continuous web browsing.

The main improvements over its predecessor is the inclusion of a powerful 1.6 GHz dual-core Intel i5 processor and a memory upgrade of 128GB SSD. Data transfer is improved on the earlier model too, with the inclusion of a Thunderbolt port for seriously fast speeds.

The keyboard is the usual chiclet-style, with the sleek beveled edges as a surround. Response is fast and comfortable. It is perfectly suited for those people who complete extensive keyboard input throughout the day.

Drawbacks

The Apple MacBook Air 13.3-inch is a great laptop, but there are just a few issues that could have pushed it into the top spot. First, the other laptops in the Apple line have been upgraded to the Retina display. With a 1440 x 900 pixel screen, This model would seriously benefit from this inclusion.

Having already enjoyed the function of the Force Touch tracking pad on the MacBook Pro, going back to the standard pad is a little disappointing. It’s a shame it was not included in this model.

The only other issue is more down to particular taste. The keyboard has travel of 1 mm, where most of the other Apple machines are about 1.5 mm.

Extra Features

  • Improved processor and memory from the earlier model
  • Lightweight design

Buying Advice

The Apple MacBook Air 13.3-inch has always been a good laptop, and this incarnation is no different. Sleek, fast, compact and lightweight, it delivers excellent performance for less than $850.

It just loses out on the best overall for a slightly disappointing display and lack of Touch Force.

Best Portable: 
Apple MacBook Air MJVM2LL/A 11.6 Inch

Apple MacBook Air MJVM2LLA Review

​​Despite what people say, size is everything. It’s especially applicable where laptops are concerned.

Depending on requirements, either a ridiculously large or a small compact machine could be ideal. The excellent Apple MacBook Air MJVM2LL/A falls into this latter category.

​Specs

  • ​​Display Size: 11.6 inches
  • ​Resolution: 1366 x 768 pixels
  • ​Battery Capacity: 5 hours
  • ​Processor: 1.6 GHz Dual Core Intel i5
  • ​Storage: 128GB Flash Memory SSD
  • ​I/O: 2 x USB 3.0, 1 x audio out, 1 x Thunderbolt 2.0, 1 x HDMI
  • ​Weight: 2.38 pounds
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    PriceCheck latest price on Amazon.com

​​​​​​​​Benefits

As one of Apple’s cheaper products in their lines (if there is such a thing), it’s a tempting machine.

Especially if portability is going to be its “raison d'être”. Measuring just 7.56 x 11.8 x 0.68 inches and weighing 2.38 pounds, this is not a laptop that is going to put any stress on your backpack.

It has more ports than the MacBook 12-inch, having two USB 3.0 and one Thunderbolt. If you are going to be using this laptop on the move, it’s rare that this number will be insufficient. In addition there is also a 3.5 mm headphone port.

The display is fine, with 1366 x 768 pixels. No-one is expecting Ultra HD on an 11-inch screen. However, the brightness is very impressive, being able to work in the strongest of sunlight.

The Apple MacBook Air MJVM2LL/A has a 1.6 GHz Intel core i5 processor and 4GB of RAM at 1600 MHz providing enough speed for swift opening and multitasking. The Intel HD graphics 6000 is perfect for a laptop of this size, being able to power demanding games at around 35 fps.

The keyboard is responsive and the touchpad is the typically generous Apple size. Like the MacBook Air 13.3-inch, there is no Touch Force, but we would not be expecting it on a portable machine of this size.

Drawbacks

The lack of an SD card slot, we believe, is the main failing behind the computer. Yes, it is a small machine, but competitor models can manage to adequately fit them in. The battery life is also disappointing at just five hours.

To be really harsh, the screen resolution is low, but we found it perfectly adequate for use on the move. Although, if crystal clear imaging rocks your boat, it may cause issues.

Extra Features

  • FaceTime HD Camera

Buying Advice

Any computer can be reduced in size and weight to be portable, but then performance often fails.

The Apple MacBook Air MJVM2LL/A is a lightweight, compact laptop, with fast processing and a perfectly good display for a decent price.

Best Budget:
Apple MacBook Pro MC118LL

Macbook Pro MC118LL/A

Ask any PC owner what the problem is with Apple computers, and most likely their first response will be the price. The fact is, that they are expensive.

But the good news is, they don’t have to be.

​Specs

  • ​Display Size: 15.4 inches
  • ​Battery Capacity: 7 hours
  • ​RAM: 4GB DDR3
  • ​Processor: 2.53 GHz Intel Core i5
  • ​Storage: 250GB SATA
  • Weight — 3.62 pounds
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    GPU: NVIDIA GeForce 9400M
  • ​I/O: 2 x USB 2.0, Bluetooth 2.1, 1 x ethernet, 1 x SD card reader, 1 x audio in, 1 x audio out, DVDRW, Bluetooth
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    Weight: 5.49 pounds
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​​​​​​​​Benefits

As long as you are happy at not having the latest model, there are some bargains to be had. The best example of this is the Apple MacBook Pro MC118LL. Ok, it will not have some of the benefits of the newer Apple laptops, but if you want a machine that is still powerful and reliable, there are worse new PCs on the market.

Despite being a few years old, the Apple MacBook Pro MC118LL still has the capability of running OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard. This system offers improved efficiency, greater performance and reduced overall memory usage compared to the earlier Tiger and Leopard systems.

One of the pleasing aspects of Apple laptops is that the design has not varied over the years. All the familiar aspects are here in the recessed keyboard, upward facing dual speakers and generous touchpad. For the Apple-uninitiated, they will most likely not know the year of your laptop.

A large 15.4” screen, together with 1440 x 900 pixels is more than adequate for everyday use. Performance is excellent with the proven 2.53 GHz Intel Core i5 Duo processor and memory is a massive 250GB. Ok, it is not SSD, but for $350 it’s not worth complaining about.

Four USB 2.0 ports means adding peripherals or data transfer is easy. It is Bluetooth enabled and has a DVDRW.

Drawbacks

As this is an earlier model, the more modern features such as Thunderbolt ports and solid state drives simply were not a feature when this model was made. So, it is a little unfair to compare.

However, thinking back to when it was first released, at the time I was disappointed. Mainly, that it was not made in more colors and wished the graphics card was better for rendering games. But that’s just a personal recollection.

Extra Features

  • Four USB ports
  • OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard

Buying Advice

The Apple MacBook Pro MC118LL is a laptop that still stands up today for performance. You are never going to run modern games on it, but chances are you would not be buying it for that reason.

For someone who wants to venture for the first time into Apple machines, or wants a reliable backup to their current laptop - the MacBook Pro is a good choice.

For about $350 it still offers excellent value.

Best For Gaming:
Apple 15" MacBook Pro MPTT2LL/A

​Apple 15 Inch MacBook Pro Retina Display MJLQ2LLA Review

​​Apple laptops are not the first computers that spring to mind when looking for a gaming machine.

However the Apple 15" MacBook Pro MPTT2LL/A is a machine that can run even the most demanding of games sufficiently well. It is an ideal laptop for Apple adherents who do not want a separate computer for their ‘downtime’. 

​Specs

  • ​Display Size: 15.4”
  • ​Resolution: 2880 x 1800 pixels
  • ​Battery Capacity: 10 hours
  • ​RAM: 16GB 2133MHz LPDDR3
  • ​Processor: 2.9 GHz Quad Core Intel i7
  • ​Storage: 512GB Flash Memory SSD
  • ​GPU: Radeon Pro 560
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    I/O: 4 x Thunderbolt 3, 1 x audio out
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    Weight: 6.4 pounds
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    PriceCheck latest price on Amazon.com

​​​​​​​​Benefits

From the outside, this machine looks the same as the previous model. But as that machine looked beautiful anyway there is no problem with that. The touchpad has increased to a pleasing 7 inches, with the user-friendly Touch Force.

For gaming, the display is ideal. A 15.4” Retina display combined with 2880 x 1800 resolution gives clear and crisp imaging with some impressive brightness control. Equally, if photography is your business, you would struggle to find better true color rendition.

The 2.9 GHz quad core Intel i7 processor, along with 16GB of RAM, means this is a fast machine. The graphics card, Radeon Pro 560, is the most suitable for gaming you are going to find in an Apple laptop. Ok, it’s not the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050, but it works well for most gaming needs.

Battery power is excellent, with genuine internet browsing lasting over 15 hours. This makes it perfect for being on the move, although, with a weight of 6.4 pounds, it will stress the backpack slightly.

Drawbacks

The only criticism we have is the ports. Firstly, there is no SD card port. But that is not the major issue. Apple has discarded all the standard ports on this model, leaving behind only Thunderbolt 3. Hence for older peripherals, you will require an adapter.

Extra Features

  • 10-bit HEVC hardware acceleration.
  • Radeon Pro 560 graphics card.
  • Innovative Touch Bar
  • Four Thunderbolt 3 ports

Buying Advice

For gaming, you need three main things, a powerful graphics card, fast processor and generous memory. Out of all the Apple laptops on the market, the MacBook Pro MPTT2LL/A fulfills these requirements the best.

The price is a bit steep but the quality is guaranteed.

It cannot compete with laptops purely designed for gaming, there’s no overclocking in this machine. But, if you need a laptop for home or business use, while still utilizing it as a gaming machine, the MacBook Pro MPTT2LL/A is the best choice. 

Final Thoughts

At times, Apple laptops have come under some criticism:

  • ​They are much more expensive than equally powerful PCs.
  • ​Price reductions - they frequently drop price within a few months of a product’s release.
  • ​Planned obsolescence - making previous models appear out of date very quickly.
  • Apple
    Inability to self-upgrade or repair.
  • Apple
    Abandonment useful ports such as USB

​​​​​To be fair, these criticisms do have worth. It’s also worth remembering though, that in many cases, Apple do have a lot of positives too:

  • ​Design - aesthetically they are groundbreaking, with many PC manufacturers copying their designs.
  • Customer Service - not only offering telephone support, each Apple store has a ‘Genius Bar’. This is where customers can sort out their issues with a real (trained) person.
  • ​MacOS - with fewer viruses, developed in line with the hardware, better multitasking capabilities than Windows and includes office software.

​​​Overall, the decision whether to go down the PC or Apple route is one of personal choice.

However, as we have shown in this article, there are some great value Apple machines that are able to cope with virtually any computer-based requirement.

This post was last updated on August 16th, 2018 at 08:28 am

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