Best MacBook for College – 3 Picks That Balance Power and Portability

Best MacBook for College

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Depending on needs and major, the best MacBook for college will differ from one student to another. But there’s no denying that Apple has something from everybody. From long-lasting battery life to a total powerhouse, you’ll definitely find a laptop that’s a perfect match for you.

However, a couple of things need to be considered when looking for the best MacBooks for college. To start with, consider the performance. The latest MacBooks come with M2 chipsets. And in the M2 range, there’s the regular M2,  the high-class M2 Pro, and the M2 Max.

As you might have guessed, the performance of the chipsets isn’t the same. There’s a noticeable jump from the lower tier to the upper level. The same applies to the last-gen M1 chipset family. You need to find one that can handle your college load.

On that note, because Apple has fully moved to in-house silicone, it’s no longer a good idea to consider old Intel models. Even if they are still great when it comes to performance, the support for those models will end faster than the recent releases. The newer M-series chipsets are exceptionally efficient too.

Moving on, you should check the battery life of the MacBook. Make sure that it’s enough to let you work throughout the time you are at college. Then, you should consider the storage. Work with a lot of large-sized files? You’d need at least 1TB! Anything lower than that’ll require you to clean your storage pretty frequently.

Another critical factor is RAM. Apple silicones are quite efficient in this regard. But if you handle resource-intensive tasks, such as video editing, you’d want to pick something that offers at least 8GB of RAM.

Consider the display too. It must be large enough to give you enough screen real estate for completing tasks. In addition, it needs to excel in terms of brightness, color accuracy, and resolution. Otherwise, you’ll not have an enjoyable viewing experience on the laptop.

Last but not least, keep the weight of the MacBook in your mind. After all, you’ll be carrying the laptop in your backpack. So, make sure that it’s not so heavy that you end up with shoulder fatigue at the end of the day.

Now, the real question is, which of the MacBook models passes all of the above-mentioned factors? Well, you don’t need to go through the entire catalog of Apple to find that out. There’re curated picks below!

Best MacBook for College – Top 3 Picks

Editor’s Pick

MacBook Air 13 M2 2022

Price Range: $$$
Brand: Apple
Best MacBook for College


Yes, the Apple M1 is more than enough for most college students. However, you can’t forget that the Apple M2 is more advanced and efficient. It can basically offer better overall performance than the M1 series. Also, Apple M2 is the latest CPU lineup for MacBooks, making the new laptops a good pick for futureproofing.

But if you want to pick the best MacBook for college with an M2 chipset, the Apple Air 2022 model is a no-brainer choice. To start with, the laptop can offer up to 20 hours of battery life, which is plenty for a college student. You can basically expect to use it throughout college time and have some charge left for using it at home.

The performance of the Apple MacBook Air M2 2022 is great too. You get the latest 8-core CPU with up to 24GB of unified memory. This combination makes the laptop perfect for everyday tasks and resource-intensive workloads. You’ll not find yourself asking for more if you don’t want to do too advanced tasks on it.

Most importantly, Apple has designed the laptop to offer sustained performance. It comes with an active cooling system. This cooling system makes sure that the thermals are within the right range. As a result, you’ll not notice any performance throttling while you are clearing your college tasks.

In addition, the Apple MacBook Air M2 has a bright 13.3-inch display. It’s a Retina panel that can offer up to 500 nits of brightness. Apple has tuned it for P3 wide color gamut, allowing you to get vibrant and lively images on the screen. Also, the laptop has versatile connectivity options and features studio-quality mics and a camera. Online classes will be a breeze for these.

The Specs

  • CPU:  Apple M2
  • GPU:  Integrated Apple M2 GPU
  • Storage:  256GB / 512GB/ 1TB / 2TB
  • RAM:  8GB / 16GB / 24GB
  • Display Size:  13.6 inches
  • Display Resolution:  2560 x 1600 pixels
  • Weight:  2.7 pounds

What’s in the Box?

  • USB-C Power Adapter
  • USB-C to MagSafe 3 Cable

Stuff I like

  • Great overall performance
  • Bright and colorful screen
  • Great battery life
  • Elegant and lightweight design
  • Comfortable keyboard

Stuff I like less

  • The SSD is a bit slower than the M1 Air models
Budget Pick

MacBook Air 13 M1 2020

Price Range: $$$
Brand: Apple
Best MacBook for College


The Apple M2 chipset is a safer pick for MacBook. However, if you want the best MacBook for college but don’t want to spend too much on it, the MacBook Air 13 with M1 chipset should be in your consideration. It’s the top pick for those wanting to get the most value out of their laptop.

As mentioned earlier, the Apple M1 is basically more than enough for most college students. It still has what it takes to take on most of your college workloads. In addition, the chipset is packed with some advanced features that’ll let you take on advanced tasks.

The M1 has eight cores and up to 16GB of unified memory. This configuration is excellent for most resource-intensive apps. You also get a highly capable GPU, which has eight cores. This GPU can handle video editing, rendering, and heavy GPU-related tasks without any hiccups.

Moreover, you get the option to choose up to 2TB of storage. In other words, the laptop can be configured in such a way that it handles all your large files smoothly. And for those who don’t need too much storage, Apple offers the option to configure the laptop with a 256GB SSD.

The battery life is great too. The MacBook Air 13 2020 can deliver up to 18 hours of runtime with a full charge. Even though it’s lower than the M2 models, the runtime is excellent for college students. In fact, you might even find yourself easily going through two days if you don’t put a lot of stress on the laptop.

Lastly, the screen size is just perfect for college tasks and moderate workloads. It’s also capable of outputting crisp, detailed, and color-accurate images. So you’ll have a great viewing experience. Also, the speakers are great, and the laptop is slim and reasonably light in weight.

The Specs

  • CPU:  Apple M1
  • GPU:  Integrated Apple M1 GPU
  • Storage:  256GB / 512GB/ 1TB / 2TB
  • RAM:  8GB / 16GB
  • Display Size:  13.3 inches
  • Display Resolution:  2560 x 1600 pixels
  • Weight:  2.8 pounds

What’s in the Box?

  • 30W USB-C Power Adapter
  • USB-C Charge Cable

Stuff I like

  • Solid performance
  • Premium and lightweight build quality
  • Slim body and highly portable
  • Outstanding battery life
  • Great speakers and superb display

Stuff I like less

  • Only has two USB ports

MacBook Pro 14 2023

Price Range: $$$$
Brand: Apple
Best MacBook for College


If budget isn’t an issue and you want the very best MacBook for college, the MacBook Pro 14 is right for you! In short, it’s an evolution over its revolutionary predecessor. And even though it comes packed with high-end hardware, the laptop is still extremely portable and great for carrying.

One of the main highlights of the MacBook Pro 14 2023 is its performance. it comes with M2 Pro or M2 Max. And no matter which one you pick, you’ll be signing up to get the best that Apple offers. As a matter of fact, the performance is so good that it might even be overkill for many college students.

But if you’re majoring in computer science and want to do advanced machine language or AI-based projects, you’ll love everything the M2 Pro and M2 Max offer. Both processors can handle anything you throw at it, whether it’s training your model or deploying it on a large scale.

Even though the MacBook Pro 14 is sleek and lightweight, it doesn’t compromise in terms of connectivity. You get full HDMI and SDXC ports. These will make it easier for you to expand the laptop. And for the lightweight nature of the laptop, you can easily go from one class to another with it on your back.

Also, the MacBook Pro 14 2023 comes with up to 96GB of RAM And 8 TB of storage. Again, these might seem a bit overkill. But those who handle heavy workloads will definitely love these specs. And the great part is that the laptop can offer up to 18 hours of runtime, which is pretty impressive given its high-end specs.

The Specs

  • CPU:  Apple M2 Pro or M2 Max
  • GPU:  Integrated Apple M2 Pro or M2 Max GPU
  • Storage:  512GB/ 1TB / 2TB / 4 TB / 8 TB
  • RAM:  16GB / 32 GB / 64 GB / 96 GB
  • Display Size:  14.2 inches
  • Display Resolution:  3024 x 1964 pixels
  • Weight:  3.5 pounds

What’s in the Box?

  • USB-C Power Adapter
  • USB-C to MagSafe 3 Cable

Stuff I like

  • Outstanding performance
  • More than enough battery life
  • Great selection of ports
  • Beautiful and vibrant display
  • Excellent audio

Stuff I like less

  • A bit too expensive for most college students

Getting the Best MacBook for College

The MacBook Air 13 M2 2022, MacBook Air 13 M1 2020, and MacBook Pro 14 2023 are the current best picks for college students. But among them, the MacBook Pro 14 is for power users, while the Macbook Air 13 M2 2022 is the best overall laptop for college students.

Slava is a man of mystery and no-one seems to know exactly where he is at any point in time. When he isn't enjoying writing about all things audio and technical he can be found researching his next project of interest. The man never rests.

This post was last updated on 2023-12-02 / Some images from Amazon Product API & some links may be affiliate links which may earn us a commission from purchases.

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