With so many different models to choose from, finding the best MacBooks for students in 2022 can be difficult. Apple recently revamped its most popular laptop, the MacBook Air, but is the M2 more powerful than the M1 chip? Need the M1 Pro or M1 Max?
These are all questions to ask when looking for the best MacBooks for students, but while it may seem confusing, we have good news – there are no bad choices. Apple’s design and software fit together more than any other laptop maker, and that means you can get a lot, and we mean it a lot ofUse from a laptop.
Why Apple Silicon? Beginning with the M1, Apple began phasing out processors from Intel. Apple’s own silicon has taken its place, and at the time of writing, every Apple computer save the Mac Pro has made the jump. The benefits are improved performance, but also incredible battery life, making the MacBook one of the best laptops for students in classrooms or lecture halls. Apple Silicon laptops can even run some iPad and iPhone apps.
There are also some crossovers with the best laptops for coding because of the performance on offer, but whether you’re looking for something slim and light to use for research, writing, or even audio and video editing, there’s a MacBook for you . We’ll update this list as more news emerges, especially as there are rumors of a redesigned MacBook coming in 2022 and beyond.
The best MacBooks for students
Apple has long touted its MacBook Air as its most popular laptop, but the tech giant has finally gambled its money with a stunning refresh of its lineup. For the price, users get Apple’s latest M2 chip, the return of the popular MagSafe charging option, and a gorgeous Liquid Retina display.
It’s obviously inspired by the 2021 MacBook Pro and includes a much-improved 1080p webcam to boot. All of this in a package that weighs just 2.7 pounds and now comes in four colors – including the long-awaited Midnight.
We’d still recommend upgrading the storage as 256GB feels a bit puny in 2022. If you want to take on more demanding tasks, you should perhaps expand the base of 8 GB of RAM. Even without these upgrades, Apple says it’s 1.4x faster than the M1 version and a whopping 15x faster than the Intel MacBook Air.
The MacBook Pro 13-inch M2 may be brand new, but it already feels more than a little dated. That’s largely due to its exterior, which retains the 13-inch display of the M1 version while still including a 720p webcam and a limited number of ports. It’s also now the only MacBook with the controversial touch bar.
And yet, at the time of writing, it offers the best battery life of any MacBook, trumping the fanless MacBook Air M2 when it comes to sustained performance. While it’s not the most exciting MacBook, there’s no denying that it will offer a solid computing experience – even if it lacks oomph.
If you’re married to this design, the M1 version of the 13-inch MacBook Pro is likely to be available at a discount, and while it’s not quite as fast, the jump from M1 to M2 is much more gradual than Apple’s explosive Silicon vs intel.
Although the revamped MacBook Air M2 is getting all the attention, the M1 edition of Apple’s most popular laptop remains an attractive proposition for its portability alone. The M1 MacBook Air is slim and retains the line’s impressive tapered design (meaning the laptop is thinnest at the front).
It’s also the cheapest MacBook you can buy using Apple silicon, although there’s a catch – you’ll probably still want to shell out a few hundred dollars more to double the storage to 512GB.
There’s also still only a 720p webcam, meaning you might want to consider a different MacBook if you spend a lot of time on calls or FaceTime. Still, for the price, it’s the best way to experience what macOS has to offer, and if you already have an iPhone or iPad you’ll probably feel right at home.
In many ways, the 2021 MacBook Pro models feel like a return to what made previous models so popular with power users — there are more ports, function keys are back, and MagSafe has made a comeback.
Additionally, the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips are still Apple’s most powerful laptop processors (although we can reasonably expect M2 Pro and Max versions in the coming months), while still boasting over 11 hours of battery life Offer.
Then there’s the revised design. This laptop now includes an incredible new display with the controversial “notch” that holds the camera in place, as well as a black keyboard tray that looks great while still providing excellent key travel.
You can apply everything we said about the 14-inch MacBook Pro to the 16-inch version as well. Apple’s largest MacBook doesn’t offer any drastic improvements over its smaller brother, but it comes standard with a fast charger.
Then there’s the display, which increases a few more inches to make it ideal for watching movies. Battery life has also increased – Apple says you can watch over 20 hours of video on a single charge.
Factor in the incredible performance and power efficiency of both the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips, and the 16-inch MacBook essentially becomes a powerful, desktop-class workstation that you can take anywhere. Still, it’s not cheap, and for many students it will be overkill.
MacBook student discount
Apple has long offered educational discounts for students who want to invest in the company’s products, and that means you can now save big on a Mac and iPad.
If you’re a student or faculty member, your student ID card can save you money on everything from the iMac to the Pro Display XDR in Apple’s education business (opens in new tab).
Apple also runs regular “Back to School” promotions, ranging from additional gift cards that can be redeemed for hardware, software, or services like Apple Music. The company also offers occasional discounts on its AppleCare+ insurance and helps with repairs for things like out-of-warranty screen cracks or water spills. This can be especially helpful when transporting your shiny new laptop from a dorm to a classroom and back, giving you peace of mind.
Are MacBooks Best for College Students?
While Windows laptops have traditionally been cheaper, Apple’s MacBooks tend to last significantly longer, with more regular updates throughout the product’s lifecycle.
If you’re worried about access to all your usual programs, fear not because Apple laptops can run Microsoft Office apps like Outlook, Word, and Excel. Apple also offers its own productivity suite. Pages, the company’s word processor, and Numbers, the spreadsheet app, can also read all sorts of file formats, so you won’t be left in the dark when you receive notes.
There’s also the App Store for Mac, which offers a huge number of apps for work, play, and creativity. From task managers to note-taking and research apps to games and more, there’s a lot to find in the App Store. Tired of Apple’s stock apps? Well, you’ll be glad to hear that macOS is more customizable than iOS and iPadOS.
If you work in audio or video editing workflows, Apple offers its own powerful tools. GarageBand is included free with every Mac purchase and is ideal for recording audio, while Logic Pro X is the tech giant’s premium option. Final Cut Pro is also an excellent video editing suite.
Much of macOS will look familiar if you’re used to using an iPhone or iPad – and many of your apps may already be running on Apple silicon. If you’re already using AirPods or Beats headphones, you can seamlessly enjoy them on Mac too.
One area where Windows beats the Mac is in gaming. While macOS can run Steam and Battle.net, among others, and offers its own library of games and Apple Arcade titles, the selection in third-party stores pales in comparison to Windows. However, if you’re gaming, you can at least connect controllers via Bluetooth.