Best MacBooks (2023): Which Model Should You Buy?

The M2-powered Air is an ideal option for most people who need a reliable laptop for everyday tasks and a little bit more. If your workloads are graphics-intensive, then I suggest snagging one of the 14- or 16-inch MacBook Pro models below.

If You Want a Bigger Screen

The 15-inch MacBook Air (8/10, WIRED Recommends) is the first large-screen option within the Air lineup. Seriously, you don’t need to splurge on a 14- or 16-inch MacBook Pro just to get a big display now. It packs all the same features as its smaller sibling (see above) including a redesigned chassis and a 1080p webcam. Even with the larger design, it remains thin and lightweight. At 3.3 pounds, it’s a little over a half-pound heavier than the 13-inch model and slightly lighter than the 14-inch MacBook Pro.

It’s powered by the same M2 chip too, complete with an 8-core CPU and 10-core GPU. (Unlike the smaller MacBook Air, the base model comes with a 10-core GPU instead of eight.) If it’s within your budget, I highly recommend upgrading to at least 16 GB of unified memory. Having used the M2-powered 13-inch MacBook Air with 8 GB of memory over the past year, I’d often see the rainbow wheel whenever I’d have several tabs and windows open. This time, I tested the 15-inch MacBook Air with 16 GB of memory, and it handled 40 Chrome tabs, three separate windows, and multiple apps, without any hiccups.

I’m also a fan of the improved speaker system. Instead of using the same quad-speaker setup on the 13-inch model, this MacBook comes with a six-speaker system that includes two tweeters and two sets of force-canceling woofers. The difference is noticeable. It delivers better sound clarity, and I don’t have to crank it to max volume whenever I watch a movie. Another noticeable change? Battery life. Even though Apple claims both the 13-inch and 15-inch have up to 15 hours of wireless web browsing, I experienced better results with the larger model. I’d have to plug in the 13-inch MacBook after seven or eight hours of use, while the 15-incher hit 18 percent after about 10 hours of use.

I never once felt the need to connect the 15-inch MacBook Air to an external monitor, which is something I regularly did with the 13-inch model. If you spend all day working off a laptop and don’t mind toting a slightly larger machine—that’s still fairly lightweight—then it’s worth it. 

Best Budget MacBook

If you don’t want to spend too much, then stick with the MacBook Air (9/10, WIRED Recommends) that runs on the M1 chip from 2020. It remains one of the most powerful laptops you can get for the price, and mine is still going strong. It’s not the snazziest Apple laptop, but it lasts more than a full workday, with the battery hitting 22 percent after I ran it almost nonstop from 9 am to 7 pm using Safari and work apps like Slack. (I had to plug in the previous Intel model by 4 pm.) 

Unlike older MacBooks using Intel chips, this one can instantly wake up from sleep whenever you tap the keyboard or trackpad or lift the screen, just like when you tap your iPhone or iPad to wake it up. There’s no fan here, so it remains whisper-quiet even under the heaviest loads. There is a thermal heat spreader to dissipate heat, but it also never gets too warm.

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