It’s an age-old question: Windows, or macOS? Over the years, both operating systems have been developed and refined. But there’s one thing that still puts macOS over Windows for many people: Deep integration with the Apple ecosystem. And, that begs the question — what are the best Apple computers in 2021?
There are a number of things to consider before buying a computer. Perhaps the first is to think about whether you want a desktop computer, or a laptop computer. If you want to take your computer on-the-go, that decision is easy — you want a MacBook. If, however, you really only plan on using your computer on a desk at home, a desktop might be better for you.
There are other considerations to make too. For example, you’ll want to think about what kinds of ports you want, and how many you need. In recent years, port selection has been dwindling — so you might want to consider a dock or dongles along with your new computer.
With Apple computers, recently, you’ve had to make another decision — whether or not you want a computer with Apple Silicon. Our advice? Buy one with Apple Silicon, especially if you get a laptop. M1-based Macs are more than powerful enough for most, offer excellent battery life, and will boast better Apple software support going forward.
Without further ado, here are the best Apple computers in 2021.
Best Apple computer overall: Apple MacBook Air
Pros: Powerful, highly portable, stunning design
Cons: Still a bit pricey, might soon get a refresh
The MacBook Air has gone through several refreshes, but the most recent model has to be one of the best. The laptop offers that classic Apple metal unibody design, plus it features Apple’s ultra-powerful M1 chip, a great keyboard, and more.
The keyboard may be a bit of a sore point for anyone who has bought an Apple laptop over the past three or four years. But that on the most recent MacBook Air is actually great. Apple has done away with the butterfly keyboard from the last-generation MacBook Air, in favor of a design with more travel and a more tactile feel.
Of course, perhaps more important than the keyboard is the performance. The MacBook Air comes with Apple’s M1 chip, which has shown to be an incredibly high-performing chip that can handle pretty much anything you’ll throw at it in day-to-day use. The base model comes with 8GB of RAM, but you can upgrade it to offer 16GB if you want to. That M1 chip also means that the laptop offers incredible battery life, and it should easily get you through a full day of even relatively heavy use. Around the edges, you’ll get two USB 4 ports and a headphone jack.
So what are the downsides to the MacBook Air? Well, the port selection may be a little limiting for some, and another USB 4 port or two would have been nice. Also, while we never really expected it to come with a touch display, a touch screen still would have been nice. Lastly, if you can afford to wait a little, it may be worth it considering rumors indicate a refresh is coming. Despite those things, this model of the MacBook Air is an incredible computer that the vast majority of users will love.
Best Apple desktop: Apple iMac
Pros: Fun design, excellent performance, great display
The iMac recently got a major redesign, and it looks and performs excellently. The new iMac comes in a range of fun and colorful colors, plus it also offers Apple’s powerful M1 chip that should make it among the best Apple computers for most users.
The iMac’s design really looks like a big iPad Pro on a stand, thanks to how thin it is. This also helps ensure that it should look great in any kitchen, whether it’s in your home office, in the living room, or anywhere else. On the back, you’ll get four USB 4 ports, and if you upgrade models, you can get an extra two USB-C ports.
The display on the computer is pretty stunning too. You’ll get a 24-inch display with a 4.5K resolution, and it’s very sharp and detailed. Sure, it’s not quite as large as the 27-inch iMac’s display, but at this point, you’re better off either dealing with the smaller display or waiting until the 27-inch model gets an update.
So what are the downsides to consider? Well, the computer is a little expensive, coming in at $1,299 for the base model. Also, you’re pretty much stuck with the model you buy — you can’t really upgrade the computer after the fact. Despite those things, however, the iMac is the all-in-one for most Apple fans.
Best budget Mac: Apple Mac Mini
Pros: Powerful, inexpensive, classic design
Cons: Due for an update
The Mac Mini has long been a great way to get Apple’s macOS operating system at an affordable price. The most recent model offers the company’s M1 chip, with the aluminum unibody design you know and love. Oh, and it’s pretty inexpensive, coming in at only $699.
The base model of the Mac Mini comes with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, but it can be upgraded to offer 16GB of RAM and up to 2TB of storage. Safe to say, the computer should be more than powerful enough for all but the most powerful users.
On the back, the port selection can be limiting, but it’s not terrible. You’ll get two USB 4 ports, two USB 3 ports, an ethernet port, an HDMI port, and a headphone jack.
It’s important to note that the Mac Mini is rumored for an update in the near future, which may give it a new design and an even more powerful chip. We’ll have to wait and see if that happens, but if you can wait, it may be worth doing so. Still, the current-generation model offers a lot for the money, making it a great choice for those who need a desktop computer now. Note, you’ll need to buy a monitor, keyboard, and mouse separately.
Best high-performance MacBook: Apple MacBook Pro 16-Inch
Pros: Great design, excellent display, high performance
Cons: Expensive, due for a refresh
While the 13-inch MacBook Pro has gotten the M1 treatment, if you want a super-powerful laptop, it’s still worth opting for the 16-Inch model. The larger MacBook Pro laptop offers a bice big screen, up to an Intel Core i9 processor, and more, making it one of the best Apple computers for those that want a portable machine.
Let’s start with the internals. The base 16-inch MacBook Pro comes with a 6-core Intel Core i7 processor, with 16GB of RAM, and 512GB of storage. But, the computer can be upgraded to boast an 8-core Intel Core i9 chip, with up to 16GB of RAM, up to 8TB of storage, and up to an AMD Radeon Pro 5600M graphics card.
Around the edges of the MacBook Pro, you’ll get four Thunderbolt 3 ports, and a headphone jack. It’s probably enough ports for most, but a larger variety of ports might have been nice. The laptop offers an aluminum unibody design, and love or hate it, it has a Touch Bar.
The 16-inch MacBook Pro is a great computer, but it’s not perfect. It’s a little expensive, coming in at $2,399 for the base model. Also, the computer is set to get a refresh at some point in the near future, so if you can wait, it may be worth doing so.
Best high-performance Apple computer: Apple Mac Pro
Pros: Extremely powerful, great design, upgradeable
Cons: Unobtainably expensive
If you’re looking for the highest-performing computer from Apple, the Mac Pro is still the way to go. Sure, it doesn’t yet come with Apple’s own processors, but you will get Intel’s incredible Xeon chips, coupled with anywhere from 32GB to 1.5TB of RAM, and up to 8TB of storage. This computer is also compatible with AMD’s Radeon graphics cards, with up to two Radion Pro W6800X Duo chips on offer.
The computer has other things going for it too. It’s got a modular, upgradeable design in a classic stainless steel body. In other words, if you’re buying a machine for a professional creative environment, and want to be able to upgrade the computer down the line, this is the way to go.
Ok, so this is probably not one of the best Apple computers for the vast majority of people. Why? Well, it starts at $6,000. No, I didn’t add an extra zero. That’s perhaps the biggest downside to this computer, besides the fact that it hasn’t yet gotten that Apple Silicon magic just yet. When it does, we assume Apple won’t just add an M1 to it though. It’ll get a highly specialized chip or chips.