1 – Apple MacBook Air M1
from R19,000 | incredible.co.za
The MacBook Air is the cheapest MacBook you can buy that features M1 silicon. Soon, it’ll be the cheapest MacBook you can buy with an M2 chip, but we’re not there yet. This is fine, for now. And that’s because Apple’s M1 Airs are faster than ever, verging on Pro-level speed at a portion of the price. It’s not just speed, though. The battery is better than ever, it’s as silent as a very silent thing, and overall performance is almost impossible to beat.
Yes, there are a few downsides. It’s not going to work for gaming. It’s not as powerful as a Pro. But gaming is overrated and this thing does more or less what Intel-powered Pros were capable of, making it one heck of an all-rounder. Better yet, it’s an all-rounder that will last a full day away from a power socket. Since South Africa is living in interesting (and dark) times at the moment, that’s one heck of a selling point. Our major gripe? The webcam’s really not up to snuff. Eh.
2 – Apple MacBook Pro 14in M1
from R38,500 | incredible.co.za
Yes, yes, Apple’s M2 chip exists. But this thing’s packing an M1 Pro processor, as well as all the ports you might need if you’re using your Apple MacBook like a professional and not just like someone who doesn’t like to do computer maintenance. Yeah, the 14in Pro is for… well, pros and the price reflects that.
So do its skills, come to that. Apple’s fitted this machine with enough power to eat video streams and spit out content and has turfed the Touch Bar for a row of physical keys. Turns out, that was only really good for running Doom on (and context-sensitive tweaks, but folks mostly used it to jump around in media). Apple has listened to its pro users, upping the number of ports in this machine. It’s still not as well-padded as we’d like, but it’ll more than do until something else comes along.
3 – Microsoft Surface Laptop 4
from R19,000 | incredible.co.za
One of the best Windows machines on the planet, if you’re using them to work like a normal person, is made by Microsoft. We saw that with the Surface Laptop 3, and the Surface Laptop 4 continues to impress. This is especially the case because there are far more varieties available.
You can start with the 13.3in Ryzen 5 with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, at R19,000. It’s an excellent machine. But you can also scale up to the 11th-gen Core i7, 16GB RAM, and 512GB SSD combination (for R32,000), with a few stops in between. No matter where you stop, you can expect a premium, Windows 11-supporting experience throughout.
4 – Apple MacBook Pro 13in
from R24,000 | incredible.co.za
Rumour says that there’s an M2 Apple Silicon MacBook Pro in this form factor, waiting in the wings at Cupertino somewhere. Which is great and all, but it’s not here now. What is here, is a price drop. Apple’s 13in MacBook Pro was a speedy little beast when it launched and it’s an even better proposition now that there’s a bit of a discount going on.
You might question why the more powerful Pro is sitting this far down the list. And it’s a fair question. It’s Apple’s fault. See, the launch of Apple Silicon has narrowed the gap between Apple’s product lines so much that the lighter, livelier Air is officially Stuff‘s go-to. This is more of a specialist machine.
5 – Dell XPS 13 (2020)
R22,000 | takealot.com
Dell’s XPS machines are a strange breed. They’re not the most visually exciting computers you’ll ever encounter. That’s reserved for the brand’s Alienware lineup. But you’re not buying this one for its looks — which, in fairness, are still decent.
No, you’re splashing out cash on the Dell XPS 13 before it is premium. From the top of its sleek and solid build to the very last transistor inside its 11th-generation Intel processor, you’re getting a computer that’ll get the job done. There’s little to no lid flex, and the Core i5 and 8GB of RAM play extremely well with the 256GB SSD running Windows 10 as fast as only a solid-state drive can. If you’re looking for an entertainment/productivity crossover and aren’t bothered about gaming skills, Dell’s machine is your port of call.