The best MacBook for students tick off a few important considerations. It must be extremely light and portable, so it doesn’t feel like a burden as you’re sprinting across the campus to make it to your next lecture. At the same time, it should also have the power to see you through all your coursework as well as enough battery life to last you all school day on a single charge.
A MacBook for students should also be affordable. MacBooks aren’t exactly the cheapest laptops out there. However, students and parents can find great deals out there to take one home. There are also quite a few refurbished units that are cheaper as well. And, with new MacBooks potentially being shown off at WWDC 2020, there might be even more affordable refurbs hitting the market in the near future.
We picked out the best MacBooks for students out there, the ones that balance portability and power with a reasonable price tag. These are the best MacBooks for students 2020 has to offer.
1. MacBook Air (2020)
New and improved for 2020
CPU: Intel Core i3 – i7 | Graphics: Intel Iris Plus Graphics | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Storage: 256GB – 2TB PCIe-based SSD | Dimensions: 30.41 x 21.24 x 1.61 cm
Lower price of entry
New 10th generation processors
Screen colors a little muted
Battery life only OK
Webcam still just 720p
Apple’s thinnest and lightest MacBook is back in 2020 with a vengeance. Not only has it fixed a lot of the complaints with its predecessors – namely, that problematic keyboard is now gone, replaced by a drastically improved keyboard. But it also comes with new and more powerful internal components, even more storage space options, and a lower price of entry. There are a couple of things we’d do better, like the muted screen and the average battery life, but this model of the MacBook Air is better than anything we’ve seen from the line so far. And, it’s definitely among the best MacBooks to date.
Read the full review: MacBook Air (2020)
2. MacBook Pro 13-inch (2019)
The same, but stronger
CPU: 8th-generation Intel Core i5 – 9th-generation Intel Core i5 | Graphics: Intel Iris Plus Graphics 645 – 655 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.3-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit display with IPS technology; 2,560 x 1,600 | Storage: 128GB – 2TB SSD | Dimensions (H x W x D): 30.41 x 21.24 x 1.49cm
Much more powerful
Keyboard learning curve
If you want more power than the MacBook Air, but don’t want to pay more for the bigger MacBook Pro 15-inch to lug around school, then the MacBook Pro 13-inch (2019) is the best MacBook for you. The MacBook Pro 13-inch (2019) boasts newer internal components, making it more powerful than ever. And, though it still has the controversial Butterfly keyboard, this model also improves on it so that it’s quieter and more reliable. It’s not hard to recommend the MacBook Pro 13-inch (2019) to students for its portability and power.
Read the full review: MacBook Pro 13-inch (2019)
3. MacBook Pro 15-inch (2019)
Apple’s productivity machine gets the latest Intel tech
CPU: 9th-generation Intel Core i7 – i9 | Graphics: AMD Radeon Pro 555X – 560X, Intel UHD Graphics 630 | RAM: 16GB – 32GB | Screen: 15.4-inch, 2,880 x 1,800 Retina display | Storage: 512GB – 4TB SSD | Dimensions (H x W x D): 34.93 x 24.07 x 1.55cm
Decent configuration options
Screen remains gorgeous
Lack of ports
If you’re looking for more power, then check out the MacBook Pro 15-inch (2019). It’s a more capable machine for almost everything you want to do, with more expensive models offering an ever-increasing amount of power for tasks like photo and video editing, app development, scientific programs, illustration, and music production. Now refreshed with hexa-core 9th-generation processors and up to 32GB of RAM, you won’t be held back by anything you throw at it – especially now that you can get Radeon Pro Vega 20 graphics. With that kind of performance, it’s no doubt that the MacBook Pro deserves a spot on our best MacBooks for students list without breaking a sweat.
Read the full review: MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2019)
4. MacBook Air (2019)
A solid entry with an excellent new screen
CPU: 1.6GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 617 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.3-inch (diagonal) 2,560 x 1,600 LED-backlit display with IPS technology | Storage: 128GB – 1TB SSD | Dimensions: 11.97 x 8.36 x 0.61 inches (30.41 x 21.24 x 1.56cm; W x D x H)
Screen is great
Fantastic battery life
New lower price
Lack of storage space
Apple takes the MacBook Air (2018) and refreshes it with True Tone technology on its display and an even more reliable keyboard. Unfortunately, the specs haven’t been updated, which actually leads us to think that there might be a bigger update by early 2020. However, this improved version is just a bit better, hardware-wise, and is definitely powerful enough for most schoolwork. Those two reasons already make it deserving of a spot on this list. Even better for students, this refresh is cheaper than its predecessor, so you’re definitely getting more value for less.
Read the full review: MacBook Air (2019)
5. MacBook (2017)
Small and stylish
CPU: Dual-core Intel Core m3 – Core i5 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 615 | : | Screen: 12-inch Retina (2,304 x 1,440) IPS | Storage: 256GB – 512GB PCIe SSD | Dimensions (W x D x H): 11.04 x 7.74 x 0.14~0.52in
Long battery life
While Apple has officially taken the MacBook out of its lineup, many third parties are still carrying it and selling it at a much cheaper price. And because the 12-inch MacBook has found its niche as an ultraportable and lightweight laptop, it’s still deserving of a spot on our best MacBooks for students list. It’s low on ports, but that’s hardly a surprise in a laptop this thin. It can support basically everything under the sun with its Thunderbolt 3 port, anyway. If you’re looking for a MacBook that’s easy to take with you wherever you go, look no further.
Read the full review: MacBook (2017)