Best MacBook for college students in January 2024

If you’re a student, these are the top Apple laptops to buy.

Now is a fantastic opportunity to get a college student a MacBook since many will be starting a new semester in 2024. Several factors should be taken into account while selecting the ideal MacBook for college students, including the student’s major, the amount of time the laptop will be used on campus, and the required battery life. On top of everything else, MacBooks may be quite pricey, so value is another important consideration.

As we begin 2024, there is no bad option among the current MacBook lineup thanks to Apple’s fantastic lineup. The M1, M2, or M3 chipsets from Apple provide an excellent balance between performance and battery life. No matter what you’re majoring in, we’re here to help you select the ideal MacBook as your dean of laptops. The majority of students can get by just fine on any of Apple’s laptops, but those majoring in fields like computer science, film, engineering, or design will really appreciate the superior performance that the MacBook Pro models offer.

At the beginning of the year, you can discover some great deals on MacBooks if you are looking to get a new laptop from Apple.

Now that we’ve covered every possible academic major, let’s examine the top Macbooks for college students in more detail so that you can pick the one that’s right for you.

THE ABSTRACT

Excited to discover the ideal laptop for you? Rest assured, we have compiled a comprehensive list of all the laptops on the market today and included links to our in-depth reviews of each one.

Apple MacBook Air 2020

1. MacBook Air (M1, Late 2020)

The best MacBook for most college students

SPECIFICATIONS

  • CPU: M1
  • GPU: M1 (integrated)
  • RAM: 8GB/16GB
  • Storage: 256GB/512GB/1TB/2TB
  • Display: 13.3 inches, 2560 x 1600 pixels
  • Size: 12 x 8.4 x 0.6 inches
  • Weight: 2.8 pounds

ATTRIBUTES

  • Stunning performance
  • Impressive battery life
  • Ultra-thin unibody metal chassis
  • Top-notch speakers
  • Magic keyboard

CAUSES FOR DEPARTURE

  • Lack of ports

When it comes to MacBooks, the majority of college students still recommend the MacBook Air M1. While the Air M2 has some nice features, most students won’t need them, and the M1 still starts at less than $1,000 (with frequent MacBook sales bringing it down to $899 or less).

Our tests showed a battery life of fourteen hours and forty-one minutes, and the performance is still better than other thin-and-light Windows laptops priced similarly. The MacBook Air M1 is a formidable opponent for any standard computer work and has a longer battery life than its competitors.

So, what makes the MacBook Air better than the Pro? Although the Pro offers superior long-term performance, the MacBook Air is more budget-friendly and incredibly silent due to its lack of a fan. With dimensions of just 0.6 inches thick and 2.8 pounds, the 13.3-inch model—Apple’s most affordable—is also the most portable.

If you’re looking for a new MacBook for college and don’t mind the outdated design, the MacBook Air M1 is still one of the best values, even when it’s not on sale. It’s definitely worth considering.

MacBook Air (M2, 2022)

2. MacBook Air (M2, 2022)

The best MacBook for college students that want the latest design.

SPECIFICATIONS

  • CPU: M2
  • GPU: M2 (Integrated)
  • RAM: 8GB/16GB/24GB
  • Storage: 256GB/512GB/1TB/2TB
  • Display: 13.6-inches, 2560 x 1600 pixels
  • Size: 11.97 x 8.46 x 0.44 inches
  • Weight: 2.7 pounds

PROS INCLUDE:

  • a beautiful overhaul, solid performance, a vivid, bright screen, a comfortable keyboard, and long battery life.

NOT TO USE

  • SSD is a little sluggish compared to M1 Air.

The MacBook Air M1 is sure to satisfy the majority of students, but the Air M2’s improved design and processor make it hard to resist. While the display notch may take some time to adjust to, the other updates are great, especially the addition of MagSafe charging that let you to use the two Thunderbolt 4 connections for other things.

In our battery life test, the M2 still managed to last for 14 hours and 6 minutes, which is comparable to the M1 Pro, and it offers a decent performance boost. It still astounds me that it manages all this without making a sound or using fans.

Additional enhancements include a new 1080p webcam, a quad-speaker array, and a brighter screen. Those students who use the Air M2 in dimly lit classes, cafes, or library nooks will appreciate that first feature the most.

The Air M2’s price, especially if you want to upgrade significantly from the $1,199 base model, is the main factor to consider. You are paying more for the M2 model because, as I indicated before, the Air M1 is Apple’s ploy to maintain the $999 price point. If your configuration costs more than $1,499, you might want to look at the 14-inch MacBook Pro base model, which is usually available for $1,799.

MacBook Air 15

3. MacBook Air 15

Best affordable big-screen MacBook for college students

SPECIFICATIONS

  • CPU: Apple M2
  • GPU: Apple M2
  • RAM: 8GB/16GB/24GB
  • Storage: 256GB/512GB/1TB/2TB
  • Display: 13.6-inches, 2560 x 1600 pixels
  • Size: 13.4 x 9.35 x 0.45 inches
  • Weight: 3.3 pounds

Pros:

  • Slim design
  • Beautiful liquid retina display
  • Long battery life
  • Good performance

Affordability Cons:

  • Restricted port options

Who said being a bigger MacBook Air M2 was a negative thing? It might just be that. A bigger screen and an additional hour of runtime? Count me in.

Apple also spared you a hefty price increase, which is good news. With a starting price of $1,299, the MacBook Air 15 improves upon the 13 M2 in every way while adding a 1.7-inch bigger screen and nearly an extra hour of battery life.

When you consider that a MacBook with a 15-inch display has normally cost $2,500 or more, you can see that it’s a good deal. At last, there is a reasonably priced big-screen MacBook that meets the needs of the typical user for school, business, or everyday tasks.

MacBook Pro (14-inch, M3)

4. MacBook Pro (14-inch, M3)

The best MacBook for power user college students on the go

SPECIFICATIONS

  • CPU: Apple M3/M3 Pro/M3 Max
  • GPU: Apple M3/M3 Pro/M3 Max
  • RAM: 16GB/32GB/64GB/96GB/128GB
  • Storage: 512GB/1TB/2TB/4TB/8TB
  • Display: 14.2-inch Liquid Retina XDR display (3024×1964 pixels)
  • Size: 12.3 x 8.7 x 0.6 inches
  • Weight: 3.4

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE BUYING This product:

  • Outstanding performance
  • Long battery life (more than 17 hours)
  • A wide variety of ports
  • A stunning, colorful screen with fine details
  • Great sound quality

NOT TO BUY:

  • Distracting notch; lack of Face ID

Despite widespread speculation that the M3 MacBooks wouldn’t arrive until 2024, Apple sprung a surprise with a new lineup of MacBook Pros by the end of 2023. Our new 14-inch MacBook Pro with an M3 chip is priced at $1,599, making it the most affordable option for college students.

We tested the lowest model of the M3, and it still has an amazing battery life of 17 hours and 16 minutes, so it should be more than enough for most college students. Power users may be enticed by the M3 Pro or M3 Max variants, but before you jump on the bandwagon, give the base model a good look. A performance gain from the higher-end CPUs is undeniable, but only if you’re looking to save a significant amount of time on tasks.

We have long voiced our disapproval of the 14-inch MacBook Pro’s notch and the fact that it wastes so much screen space without providing Face ID. Nevertheless, these are small complaints about a fantastic laptop that is now more reasonably priced.

MacBook Pro (16-inch, M3 Max)

5. MacBook Pro (16-inch, M3 Max)

The best MacBook for college students with maxed out needs.

SPECIFICATIONS

  • CPU: Apple M3 Pro/Apple M3 Max
  • GPU: Apple M3 Pro/M3 Max
  • RAM: 16GB/32GB/64GB/96GB/128GB
  • Storage: 512GB/1TB/2TB/4TB/8GB
  • Display: 16.2-inch Liquid Retina XDR display (3024 x 1964 pixels)
  • Size: 14 x 9.8 x 0.7 inches
  • Weight: 4.8 pounds

ATTRIBUTES

  • Impressive battery life
  • Top-notch audio
  • Eye-catching screen
  • Robust performance
  • A MUST-HAVE

DETERMINANT FACTORS

  • A starting price of $2,499

If the “new king of MacBooks” reference to the 16-inch MacBook Pro with M3 Max seems like too much technology for the average college student, you would be accurate.

The 16-inch MacBook Pro isn’t affordable for everyone, starting at $2,499 for the M3 Pro model and $3,499 for the M2 Max variant. On the other hand, this could be a good investment if you’re a college student with a really demanding major or are about to enter the workforce.

For the time being, I don’t mind that the design of the notebook is almost indistinguishable from that of the 2021 and early 2023 versions. This implies that the new model’s long-awaited full HDMI and SDXC card reader is still there. Incredible battery life (just over 18 hours in our test) for such a powerful laptop, not to mention the jaw-dropping Super Retina XDR mini-LED screen, the incredibly ergonomic keyboard, and the top-notch audio system.

As one of the greatest laptops now available, the 16-inch MacBook Pro may be the way to go if your demands are high and the cost won’t put a damper on your ability to pay for college.

Test Procedures for MacBook Computers
Reasons to have faith in Laptop for Work In order to help you find the finest product or service, our professional reviewers spend a lot of time using and comparing many options. Visit our testing page to learn more.

Before any MacBook makes it into our reviewers’ hands, we subject them to rigorous synthetic and real-world benchmark testing. We check the machine’s temperature, battery life, display brightness, and speaker volume, among other metrics.

To measure the luminance and DCI-P3 color space of a laptop screen, we employ a Klein K10 colorimeter. We put the laptop through its paces using a battery of benchmarks, such as Geekbench 5.4 and 3DMark’s professional graphics tests, to gauge its performance.

In order to gauge how well the laptop performs in actual use, we put it through its paces by duplicating a 25GB multimedia file and converting a 4K film to 1080p resolution. For our real-world graphics testing, we use games with 1080p or greater resolution, such as Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Far Cry New Dawn, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, and Sid Meier’s Civilization VI: Gathering Storm.

Our battery test involves continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness, while our heat test involves playing a 15-minute full-screen video. As a whole, we’re pleased with the results after about 10 hours. Our reviewers also conduct practical testing in addition to these exams.

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