Not sure whether you need a lightweight 12″ MacBook, the versatile MacBook Air or the power of the MacBook Pro (with or without its shiny new Touch Bar and Touch ID)? Here’s a run down of the key specs – and some user comments – to help you decide one way or the other.
If you have any questions left at the end, you can always get in touch with our team on 03332 409 306 for more advice, or enjoy a live chat with one of them over on our website.
Apple’s entry-level notebook is the 12″ MacBook. The smallest, lightest and goldest of the Apple notebook range, the MacBook was introduced in 2015 and was the first of the Apple line to feature a range of innovations, including the USB-C standard, the Force Touch touchpad, and a lighter ‘butterfly’ keyboard. The USB-C standard incorporates power, VGA, HDMI and DisplayPort standards into a single, versatile port (you will need to buy an additional adaptor to ensure all your non-USB-C devices can still connect to your MacBook).
This versatility makes the MacBook a great notebook for anyone who has to wear multiple hats, or who is moving between locations and needs to be able to slot in to whatever working environment they find. Its silent, fanless design and light touch keyboard are ideal for anyone who does most of their typing on the train and would to keep things to a polite volume.
As it is the smallest notebook in the range, MacBook doesn’t quite have the power to handle big data or creative tasks, but if you’re mostly going to be doing admin and general office work, you shouldn’t have a problem.
Ideal for: Office and admin work, mobile workers who need functionality beyond that of an iOS device.
Display: 12″ Retina display with 2304 x 1440 resolution.
Processors: 6th generation Intel Core m3, m5 and m7 processors.
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 515.
Storage: 512GB flash storage and 8GB RAM.
Battery life: Up to 10 hours.
Cost: From £1035 (£1242 inc VAT)
The MacBook Air has been with us since 2008 and, though it may no longer be the lightest in the lineup, it’s still got a lot to recommend it to your mobile workforce. With up to 12 hours’ battery life, it’s the most long-lived of all the Apple range, and with a 8GB RAM and Intel i7 processors, it meets the minimum requirements for most creative apps.
Granted, it might struggle to run more than one at once, or handle higher end work, but it’s ideal for managers or those who are more involved in the approvals process than actual creation, but may need to access and annotate native files.
But it’s not just for mobile workers – it’s more than a match for common office and productivity apps, and if you’re called into a meeting, you can just pick up your MacBook Air and head down, hooking up to the room’s display (either wirelessly over AirPlay and Apple TV, or through a wired Mini DisplayPort connection) to share with the group.
It’s worth noting that the MacBook Air is the last in the Apple notebook lineup to not feature any USB-C ports, so perhaps not the best if you want to futureproof your Mac estate. However, the Air’s reliability and lifespan make it a solid investment if having the latest ports isn’t a priority for you.
Ideal for: Anyone who needs to run applications on the move when a tablet just won’t cut it – so salespeople, client-facing consultants and other staff in the field, for example. Will also work for creatives in a pinch.
Display: 13″ widescreen display.
Processors: Fifth generation Intel Core i5 and i7 processors.
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5000.
Storage: Up to 512GB flash storage and 8GB RAM.
Battery life: Up to 12 hours.
Cost: From £785 (£942 inc VAT)
The most recently reinvigorated of all the Apple notebooks, the MacBook Pro now comes in three flavours: a 13″ MacBook Pro with no Touch Bar, and 13″ and 15″ models with Apple’s Touch Bar and Touch ID technology built in.
While each model has different internal specifications, there have been a few improvements made across the board. The latest generation of Retina display has a 67% higher contrast ratio and can hit up to 500 nits brightness. It uses the P3 colourspace, which means it can display 25% more colours than standard RGB, giving you access to far more greens and reds.
To complement this, the MacBook Pro range boasts between 103 and 130% faster graphics performance than the previous generation, depending on which model you choose. You’ll also experience up to 76% faster 4K rendering, up to 130% faster realtime 3D graphics performance, and 103% faster performance when you’re gaming – all of which are ideal for creative users.
The MacBook Pro’s speakers have also been given a polish, and have twice as much dynamic range, more than twice as much bass and 58% more volume, so they’ll fit right into any audio workflow.
All models use the new Thunderbolt 3-enabled USB-C standard, which boasts all the benefits of the USB-C standard found on the 12″ MacBook, but also incorporates the high speed (40Gbps) Thunderbolt 3 connection. This means that you can plug your MacBook Pro into any of your Thunderbolt peripherals, including up to two 5K displays, and transform it from a lightweight, portable notebook to the centre of a creative workstation.
However, the most obvious addition to the MacBook Pro is the Touch Bar, a Retina quality touch strip that replaces the function keys. As well as offering a touch alternative to your function keys, the Touch Bar offers contextual shortcuts to make everything from sending email to adjusting settings in Photoshop easier and quicker. You can now keep one hand on the trackpad and the other on the Touch Bar and edit your image without having to break off and use keyboard shortcuts or a tablet.
There’s also added security thanks to the addition of Touch ID, Apple’s biometric authentication system. You can now use two factor authentication, sign in using your fingerprint, or switch users by tapping Touch ID.
13″ MacBook Pro without Touch Bar
Ideal for: Anyone who’d like a MacBook Air but is worried that it’s not future-proof enough.
Display: 13″ Retina display.
Processors: Dual-core Intel Core i5 processors.
Graphics: Intel Iris graphics 540.
Storage: Up to 256GB flash storage and up to 8GB RAM.
Battery life: Up to 10 hours.
Cost: From £1199 (£1438.80 inc VAT).
13″ and 15″ MacBook Pro with Touch Bar and Touch ID
Ideal for: Creatives who don’t like to be tied down, heavy duty office and data work.
Width: 14.9mm (13″), 15.5mm (15″).
Weight: 3lb (13″), 4lb (15″).
Display: 13″ or 15″ Retina display with 2560 x 1600 resolution.
Processors: Dual-core or quad-core Intel i5 or i7 processors.
Graphics: Intel Iris 540 graphics (13″), Radeon Pro 450 with 2GB or memory (15″).
Storage: Up to 2TB flash storage and up to 16GB RAM.
Battery life: Up to 10 hours.
Cost: From £1947 (£2336.40 inc VAT).