Need to upgrade your PC? Now’s the right time to do so. Several of the best laptops including Apple’s MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro and Dell’s XPS 13 are up for grabs at Amazon, Best Buy, and Dell with discounts of as much as $530. Hurry because time’s a-ticking and these amazing deals definitely won’t last long.
— $950, was $1000
The MacBook Air is now thinner and lighter than ever, yet still possesses the same power and solid build quality typical of Apple devices. Today, though, there are other MacBooks and laptops out there that are thinner and lighter. Even if it’s not the featherweight champion anymore, the MacBook Air still has an excellent build quality, thanks to its eco-friendly aluminum chassis. This is one sleek-looking laptop, with the same clean aesthetic as the rest of its MacBook kin. The latest version of the MacBook Air normally retails for $1,000, but right now you can purchase it on Best Buy for $950 — a cool $50 off.
The MacBook Air looks almost exactly like the previous one, with a few significant hardware and software upgrades. The older version is outfitted with a single Thunderbolt 2 port and two USB 3 ports; the latest one has two Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports instead. Although both models have a 13-inch LED-backlit screen, the newer MacBook Air’s display is further improved by Apple’s True Tone technology. The screen now has the power to adapt to your environment’s ambient light to make images appear more natural, with accurate colors that aren’t oversaturated. It’s not the best screen we’ve encountered on a MacBook, though (that honor goes to the MacBook Pro), since it doesn’t go as bright as we hoped for, but it still looks fantastic.
Working alongside an Intel i3 processor, this MacBook Air has 8GB of RAM and 256GB of internal memory. It proved speedy and performed well when tasked with normal daily workflow, like streaming videos, working in Photoshop, word processing, and web browsing. We did, however, notice a bit of a slowdown when we had multiple browsers, apps, and programs open simultaneously, but not enough to raise concern.
The MacBook Air can last up to eight hours with light web browsing. While not exactly a bad number, that falls well short of Huawei’s MateBook X Pro, which managed 9.5 hours in our test.
If you’re determined to buy a MacBook but don’t want to shell out too much money, then the MacBook Air is for you. It’s a well-rounded portable laptop that boasts a solid performance and premium build quality. Get the latest version of the MacBook Air for $950.
— $1230, was $1300
The 13-inch MacBook Pro is a thing of beauty and remains the most luxurious laptop out there. It’s sturdy as a rock and features an all-aluminum unibody that lacks any visible seams aside from those on the bottom. However, there are quite a few things that stop us from fully recommending it. Although it does boast a fantastic display and top-tier processor and hard drive performance, its frustrating lack of ports and lackluster keyboard need to be fixed. Right now, the 13-inch MacBook Pro with 7th-gen Intel Core i5 processor is available on Amazon for an $70 below its usual price. Get it for $1,230 instead of $1300.
Let’s start with the good stuff. The MacBook Pro’s Retina display is terrific. Boasting a pixel resolution of 2,560 × 1,600, the screen is not only super high definition but also ridiculously bright, colorful, and rich in contrast. With a maximum brightness of 548 lux, it doesn’t matter if you’re going to use this in the brightest room on the planet — you’re bound to see everything. Images look extremely realistic and colors are fantastic thanks to True Tone technology. Finally, the contrast ratio is excellent. The MacBook Pro can deliver perfect blacks next to the whitest of whites without trouble.
We also don’t have any major complaints when it comes to performance. In our processor and hard drive tests, the MacBook Pro was able to give outstanding numbers that are among the best we’ve ever encountered. However, this laptop isn’t for gaming. Graphically demanding games like Civilization VI ran poorly with lots of glitches. We blame the Intel integrated graphics chip and Apple’s OpenGL support, which hasn’t been updated significantly for years.
Even though we’re super happy to see that the MacBook Pro still has a headphone jack, Apple decided that USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 is the future and has ditched every other port. Yes, USB-C is all you get, two on each side for a total of four. Although the simplicity of the port selection does have some benefits (every port is a charging port, so you can plug the wall adapter into whichever is more convenient), you’re going to need lots of adapters for any other peripheral you’re planning to attach. Want to use an external display? You need an adapter. External hard drive? Adapter. Wired input of any sort? Adapter. Ethernet? Adapter. SD card? Adapter. The biggest crime of all? You can’t even plug an iPhone into it without purchasing an adapter.
The keyboard is also not very good. While it’s definitely an improvement over the older MacBook Pros thanks to improved key travel, it continues to suffer a stiff, abrupt bottoming action that can make long typing sessions tiresome.
This MacBook Pro includes the Touch Bar (units that don’t have this feature tend to be cheaper) but it’s honestly not very useful. It’s great to look at, and that’s about it. Yes, it provides a quick way to scroll through lists and can also be useful if you’d like to scroll through a video, but it is limited by its size. The miniature content previews it displays are helpful but are so small that it’s often hard to tell tabs apart, even with just three or four open. Opening even more tabs renders each of them impossible to tap. Sadly, it’s just not very integral to the MacBook experience.
Despite its flaws, its hard to discredit the 13-inch MacBook Pro’s incredible build quality, lightning-fast performance, and stunning display. Get it for $1,230 on Amazon today.
– $1300, was $1830
The XPS 13 is one attractive Ultrabook. Its anodized aluminum chassis comes in Alpine White, Rose Gold, or Platinum Silver (all stunning), with a faint pearlescent sheen to it. The Dell logo sits solitary yet triumphant in the center of the lid. Although it has long been derided as the “nosecam” because of its unfortunate placement at the bottom of the screen, the webcam has now migrated to its rightful place at the top center. It also happens to be the tiniest webcam we’ve ever seen, although it can still take a decent picture. What’s more, the webcam is compatible with Windows Hello so you can log in with just your face. Outlining the screen is what Dell calls the InfinityEdge bezel, and it is beautifully scant and modern. With dimensions of 11.9 x 7.8 x 0.5 inches, this 2.7-pound laptop is super portable and would be the perfect partner of mobile professionals.
This laptop’s 13-inch 4K Ultra HD InfinityEdge touch display is packed with 3,840 x 2,160 pixels and bursts with sumptuous colors, deep contrasts, and an incredible amount of detail. It also gets astonishingly bright, averaging 375 nits. Just like the display, the side-firing speakers are excellent. They can easily fill a medium-sized room with clear and rich sound, although the bass lacks punch, a clear compromise resulting from its slimness.
Another fine feature of the XPS 13 is its backlit keyboard. It remains one of its greatest strengths, with a firm and tactile bottoming action. Finicky typists should be warned that the layout is still on the small side but with a typing experience this comfortable, who cares? Keeping up is the wonderfully responsive touchpad that boasts full Windows Precision Touchpad support.
Armed with an 8th-gen Intel Core i7 processor and 8GB of RAM, this laptop provides incredibly smooth and lightning-fast performance without any hint of lag. And with its 512GB M.2 PCIe NVMe Solid state drive, transferring files is far from sluggish. However, its Intel UHD 620 Graphics GPU isn’t equipped to process graphically taxing games such as Battlefield V and Destiny 2. It will perform much better with older titles with less demanding graphics. Finally, in our continuous web surfing test, this laptop was able to last over 12 hours.
The Dell XPS 13 is thin, fast, and long-lasting, making it our favorite ultraportable thus far. And now that the nosecam, the one thing that marred the previous model, has finally met its demise, it’s practically perfect. Get it for $1,300 – $530 less than its normal retail price of $1,830 – on Dell’s official website.
Digital Trends may earn commission on products purchased through our links, which supports the work we do for our readers.
- These are the best cheap MacBook deals for January 2021
- Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch M1 review: The iPhone of laptops
- Apple’s redesigned MacBook Air could be lighter than current Air
- Apple Macbook Pro 16, Dell XPS 17 prices slashed for the holidays
- Apple MacBook Air (2018) vs. Huawei MateBook 13 (2019)