Best Mac 2018: the best Macs to buy this year

Best Mac guide

Fresh off of the launch of the MacBook Pro 2018, the best Macs continue to get better and better. And, if you’re thinking about going out and buying one of the best Macs, you should keep in mind that specs, performance and design are far more important in how they interact with macOS itself than any of them separately. That’s why it doesn’t make much sense to pit the best Macs and Windows 10 PCs against each other. Thanks to macOS High Sierra – soon to be macOS Mojave – we can confidently stand behind our benchmarks.

These days, the best Macs can come in every shape and size. We may not know what future Macs are going to look like quite yet, but there’s still plenty of life in the best Macs. You’ve got high-end workhorse laptops like the MacBook Pro, with its OLED Touch Bar where the function keys used to be. And, you have Macs like the iMac Pro, which is bar none the most powerful Mac on the planet with its unbelievable Intel Xeon processor. 

So, what’s the best Mac for you?

Well, you’ll be happy to learn that we went ahead and created an organized list that includes the most up-to-date MacBooks, iMacs and Mac Minis that you’ll find on the market today. The only Macs you won’t find here are the ones we’ve yet to review, or those that honestly weren’t good enough to make it here. So, without further delay: on your mark, get set, and go take a look at the best Macs 2018 has to offer..

1. MacBook Pro (15-inch, Mid-2018)

The most powerful MacBook ever made

CPU: 6-core Intel Core i7 - i9 | Graphics: AMD Radeon Pro 540X - 560X, Intel UHD Graphics 630 | RAM: 16 - 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

 Extremely powerful 
 More RAM 
 Very expensive 

If you want the MacBook with the most performance possible, and money is no object, look no further than the 15-inch, 2018 MacBook Pro. With its hexa-core 8th-generation Coffee Lake processor and up to 32GB of RAM there is not a single thing you can throw at this laptop that it can’t handle. With performance like this, it’s easy to see why it’s one of the best MacBooks not only this year, but of all time. Just as long as you have the cash to bankroll it.

Read the full review: MacBook Pro (15-inch, Mid-2018) 

21.5-inch iMac with 4K Retina display - Best Mac 2016

2. 21.5-inch iMac (2017)

Modest strides in an economical package

CPU: Dual-core Intel Core i5 – quad-core i7 | Graphics: Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640 – AMD Radeon Pro 560 (4GB) | RAM: 8GB – 32GB | Screen: 21.5-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080; sRGB) – 4K UHD (4,096 x 2,304; P3 wide color) Retina IPS display | Storage: 1TB HDD – 1TB Fusion Drive SSD | Dimensions (H x W x D): 20.8 x 6.9 x 17.7 inches (52.8 x 17.5 x 45cm; W x D x H)

Excellent value
Powerful, even at entry level
Poor audio performance
Baffling mouse charging method

You know you’re getting an unusually good value from an Apple product when, even at the entry-level, you can expect high performance, lots of storage and more ports than you know what to do with. The latest in Apple’s all-in-one desktop lineup, that’s the 2017, 21.5-inch iMac in a nutshell. There’s still no touchscreen, but at a fraction of the cost of Microsoft’s Surface Studio, you might be thankful that there isn’t. Instead, you’re getting a 7th-generation Intel processor and your choice of an IPS display carefully wrapped in an all-metal chassis. 

Read the full review: Apple iMac (2017) 

3. MacBook Pro with Touch Bar (13-inch, mid-2018)

The same, but stronger

CPU: Quad-core Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel Iris Plus Graphics 655 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Storage: 256GB – 2TB PCIe 3.0 SSD | Dimensions (H x W x D): 30.41 x 21.24 x 1.49cm

 Much more powerful 
 More storage 
 Keyboard learning curve 

For much of 2018, the main complaint with the MacBook Pro was that it was still using Kaby Lake processors, even though its competition has moved ahead. Thankfully, those days are over and the 2018 MacBook Pro is more powerful than ever before and holds its own against recent Windows laptops. It still has the controversial Butterfly mechanism keyboard, but Apple has improved it, bringing reduced noise and improved reliability. Combined with the beefier performance, it’s easy to call it the best Mac you can buy today.

Read the full review: MacBook Pro with Touch Bar (13-inch, mid-2018) 

4. iMac Pro

Raw power

CPU: 8 to 16-core Intel Xeon W | Graphics: Radeon Pro Vega 56 - Radeon Pro Vega 64 | RAM: 32 – 128GB DDR4 ECC | Screen: 27-inch 5K (5,120 x 2,880) Retina display (P3 wide color) | Storage: 1TB – 4TB PCIe 3.0 SSD | Dimensions (H x W x D): 65 x 20.3 x 51.6cm

Most powerful Mac you can buy 
Gorgeous, color-accurate display 
Very expensive 

If you’re a professional or a creative, and you need a machine that can take care of any workload thrown at it as quickly as possible, you’ll find a lot to love with the iMac Pro. Not only does it have a 27-inch 5K display with a P3 wide color gamut, but it’s also packed with the most powerful hardware Apple could get its hands on. It’s extremely expensive, and probably out of reach for most everyday consumers. But if you just need raw horsepower, look no further.

Read the full review: iMac Pro 

5. MacBook (2017)

Small and stylish

CPU: Dual-core Intel Core m3 – Core m7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 615 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | 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

Incredibly portable 
Long battery life 
Too expensive 

When Apple refreshed the MacBook back in 2016, it didn’t please anyone, despite being more attractive than ever before. And, while the controversy hasn’t disappeared entirely, the 12-inch MacBook has found its niche as an ultraportable and lightweight laptop. It’s low on ports, but in a laptop this thin, that’s to be expected, and it can support basically everything under the sun with its Thunderbolt 3 port, anyway. It’s not as powerful as the MacBook Pro, but if you’re looking for a MacBook that’s easy to take with you wherever you go, look no further.

Read the full review: Apple MacBook (2017)

13-inch MacBook Air - Best Mac 2016

6. 13-inch MacBook Air (2015)

The Ultrabook before Ultrabooks

CPU: Dual-core Intel Core i5 – Core i7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 6000 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 13.3-inch HD (1,440 x 900) | Storage: 128GB – 512GB PCIe Flash | Dimensions (W x D x H): 19.7cm x 19.7cm x 3.6cm

Battery life
Nippy storage
Dated design
Display

The MacBook Air is in an interesting place. While it’s still one of the most popular and well-known laptops around, the iPad Pro and 12-inch MacBook have stolen much of its thunder. That is, unless you need the legacy USB 3, Thunderbolt 2 and SDXC card connectivity. Even without a Retina display or Force Touch trackpad, the 13-inch Macbook Air is still a great little machine, even if the 8GB of RAM and base 128GB of storage leave a lot to be desired. Plus, it still has the beloved MagSafe 2 charger onboard, as well as fantastic battery life.

Read the full review: 13-inch MacBook Air (2015)

Mac mini - Best Mac 2016

7. Mac mini (2014)

Apple's most affordable Mac

CPU: Dual-core Intel Core i5 – Core i7 | Graphics: Intel Iris Graphics | RAM: 4GB – 16GB | Storage: 500GB HDD; 256GB – 1TB PCIe Flash; 1TB – 2TB Fusion Drive | Dimensions (W x D x H): 19.7cm x 19.7cm x 3.6cm

Design
Ports
Impossible to upgrade
No monitor

While we desperately wait for Apple to announce the Mac Mini 2018, the 2014 Mac Mini is still Apple’s cheapest computer by a long shot. Luckily the Intel processor found within allows it to be used for heavier tasks and Apple has brought the low-end model up to a decent spec. Available in three different variants – from a $499 (£399, AU$699) model with a 1.4GHz Intel Core i5 CPU and 4GB of RAM to a $999 (£949, AU$1,499) version with a 2.8GHz CPU and 8GB of memory – Apple’s smallest Mac is still competent. We just wish we could get one with more modern hardware.  

Read the full review: Mac mini (2014)

Gabe Carey has also contributed to this article