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10 Favorite MacBooks Under $1,000

Posted by Mac of All Trades Tech Team on May 4th 2023

MacBooks might have a reputation for being expensive, but you don't need to break the bank to get one. If you buy refurbished, you can get any number of high-powered MacBooks without the high price tags. Refurbished MacBooks are a budget-friendly choice that give you all the specs you need without going overboard. 

There is a lot to choose from, and finding the right MacBook takes some digging. We've compiled a list of our top picks for MacBooks under $1K, so you can spend less and get back to doing what you do best.

Our Top MacBook Picks in 2023

Let's kick things off with our top three MacBooks in 2023. If you don't have specific hardware requirements and just want a good computer, you can't go wrong with one of these. They offer well-rounded performance to accommodate a wide range of uses, from light web browsing to intense video and photo editing. They have speedy processors and aren't too old, so you can expect a long life span from these MacBooks.

1. MacBook Pro 13-inch 2.0GHz Core i5 With Retina Display

This 13-inch mid-2020 model is an all-around solid MacBook Pro with a quad-core Intel i5 processor. It can handle intense computing demands without being bogged down. If you need to edit photos and videos, use many applications at once or run high-resolution graphics, this Pro can handle it. The base model starts at 16GB, which is plenty of RAM for many users, but you can also upgrade to 32GB if you need more power. The built-in solid-state drive (SSD) also starts on the higher end at 512GB but can reach 2TB. 

This mid-2020 Pro also offers four Thunderbolt 3/USB-C ports, so you can avoid the need for a USB hub. It uses the Touch Bar with a separated Touch ID sensor, both of which sit snugly beneath an LED-backlit Retina display. A refurbished model starts at $799, offering hundreds off the retail price.

2. MacBook Air 13-inch 1.6GHz Core i5 With Retina Display

If your typical usage doesn't involve intense applications, an Air is a great pick. You can save some money and get a laptop that's a little lighter. This late 2018 13-inch MacBook Air offers a speedy 1.6Ghz Core i5 processor and 8GB of RAM, all for under $500. It's a quick laptop with a modern Retina display and two Thunderbolt 3 ports.

3. MacBook Pro 15-inch 2.4GHz i9 With Retina Display

Another great Pro option is this 15-inch 2.4GHz model from mid-2019. The high-powered i9 processor can also support more intense usage, and you'll get a big, beautiful Retina screen to work with. It starts with 16GB of RAM for plenty of power. You'll find the Touch Bar here, too, with an integrated Touch ID sensor.

Buy a Refurbished MacBook Under Retail Price

If you're trying to stay under $1,000, options for a full-priced MacBook are pretty limited. If you go for a refurbished laptop, the world is your oyster, and Apple products do particularly well on the used market. A refurbished laptop offers the same exceptional quality as a new laptop at much lower prices.

The refurbishing process includes thorough testing, cleaning and replacing or repairing any parts that need it. If you buy from a qualified refurbisher, they'll inspect systems like:

  • Electrical and mechanical systems
  • Storage
  • Battery life
  • Video graphics
  • Network interfaces
  • Components and sensors

Apple products are especially good candidates for refurbishing because they hold their value well, thanks to premium components that stand the test of time. Apple also supports MacBooks for a long time after they're made, so don't hesitate due to the age of the device. You can typically expect around 10 years of support from Apple, meaning the company will keep offering software updates and parts.

As long as you purchase your laptop from a trusted refurbisher, you can expect a long-lasting, secure product that lasts until your next upgrade. Legitimate refurbishers won't use stolen devices, and reviews — like those from the Better Business Bureau — can tell you more about how reliable a refurbisher is. Here at Mac Of All Trades, we have a long track record of selling dependable MacBooks with quality customer service.

We wipe data from previous users and run the computer through our rigorous testing process and professional cleaning procedures. We refurbish MacBooks with specialized tools and frequently include charging adapters. In many cases, our laptops are barely used. The original owners often return the computers within a 30-day return policy, so they've seen minimal use. 

In short, buying refurbished is an incredibly reliable way to buy, especially when you tack on our included one-year warranty. The savings also get you more bang for your buck, so you can upgrade to better specs without paying a premium.

Top 5 MacBook Pro Options Under $1,000

Now that you know you're not limited to retail pricing, your selection of budget-friendly MacBooks is much larger. We'll start with the MacBook Pros, which offer powerful hardware for more demanding applications, such as photo and video editing or extensive multitasking. They also tend to offer higher maximum capabilities for RAM and storage, so you can outfit your laptop with the specs you need. Of course, that's much easier in a low-cost, refurbished laptop.

The Pro lineups used to be heavier than their Air counterparts, but nowadays, the difference is minimal. You don't need to worry about a Pro being too bulky or heavy to carry around easily. After all, they're still laptops meant for taking on the go. They usually have exceptional battery life, too.

With all of those features in mind, here are our top five MacBook Pros under $1,000:

1. MacBook Pro 13-inch 2.0GHz Core i5 With Retina Display

The first MacBook Pro on our list is one we already mentioned. This mid-2020 Core i5 MacBook Pro model is perfect for anyone who needs a laptop with some beefy internal specs. Starting at 16GB of RAM and 512GB of solid-state memory, this MacBook Pro can take on demanding work. You can expect longer battery life and enough wiggle room for storing plenty of files.

The quad-core processor supports Turbo Boost up to 3.8GHz. You'll get snappy graphics thanks to the Intel Iris Plus Graphics 645 module, and you can use more accessories with four Thunderbolt 3 ports. Starting at just $749 for a refurbished model, this 13-inch laptop is an excellent all-around performer.

2. MacBook Pro 13-inch 2.4GHz Core i5 With Retina Display

Going back a year, this 13-inch mid-2019 MacBook Pro offers similar specs at a lower price. If you don't need quite as much power or storage, you can snag one with 8GB of RAM or 256GB of storage space. They start at $649 with these specs, but the quad-core processor is a little better than the 2020 version we mentioned. It offers 2.4GHz, with Turbo Boost up to 4.1GHz for speedy performance.

On the graphics front, this model sports the Intel Iris Plus Graphics 655 card. It offers a hefty four Thunderbolt 3 ports and includes a 61W power adapter and cable.

3. MacBook Pro 15-inch 3.1GHz i7 With Retina Display

If you want a larger screen, you can snag a refurbished 15-inch MacBook Pro starting at $549. At that price, you can get 16GB of memory and 256GB of storage, but you can also find higher-powered configurations up to 32GB and 2TB. Either way, the 3.1GHz quad-core processor offers Turbo Boost up to 4.1Ghz to support pro-level operations.

The graphics are powered by AMD Radeon Pro 555 or 560 and Intel HD Graphics 630. Again, you get four Thunderbolt 3 ports that support USB 3.1 Gen. 2 and the Touch Bar with an integrated Touch ID sensor. With this model, you get slightly faster charging with the included 87W adapter and cable.

4. MacBook Pro 15-inch 2.4GHz i9 With Retina Display

Here's another big-screened option, but this one sports the powerful octa-core i9 processor for some of the most intense applications. If you're an editor or you need to multitask like a pro, the mid-2019 15-inch Pro is an excellent choice. It starts at 16GB of memory and 256GB of storage, with configurations up to 32GB RAM and 2TB SSDs. The processor can Turbo Boost up to 5.0GHz in the right situations.

It sports powerful AMD Radeon Pro 555X graphics and Intel UHD Graphics 630. Like the other MacBooks in this list, it offers 4 Thunderbolt 3 ports and a Touch Bar. This model has an integrated Touch ID sensor and a sizable 87W power adapter and cable.

5. MacBook Pro 13-inch 1.4GHz Core i5 With Retina Display

Rounding out our list of Pros is the mid-2019 13-inch model with an i5 processor. It offers a solid quad-core processor and can support Turbo Boost up to 3.9GHz. This laptop comes in configurations with 8GB-32GB of RAM and 128GB-2TB of built-in SSD storage to suit your needs and budget. Refurbished models start at just $474, so even a maxed-out version won't exceed a $1,000 budget. It's one of the best MacBook Pros for a budget buyer.

Intel Iris Plus Graphics 645 powers the visuals on this laptop, offering efficient performance even in demanding scenarios. The biggest trade-off with this model is the lack of ports. It only has two Thunderbolt 3 ports, so you may need a hub if you have a lot of accessories to connect. You still get the Touch Bar with the integrated Touch ID sensor and a 61W charger.

Top 5 MacBook Air Options Under $1,000

If you're on the go or on a budget, consider a MacBook Air. Nowadays, some of the Air laptops can go toe-to-toe with the Pros. Where computing power isn't a major concern, an Air is a great way to get a speedy laptop without spending a fortune. They're also a little lighter and have exceptional battery life, so you can take them on the go and do your work from anywhere. MacBook Airs are especially popular among students, casual users and professionals who travel a lot.

Some of the biggest differences between the Airs and the Pros we've discussed include the number of ports and the display. Most Airs only have two or three ports, and not all of them have Retina displays, which offer higher pixel densities and sharper images.

1. MacBook Air 13-inch 1.6GHz Core i5 With Retina Display

All of the MacBook Airs on our list have 13-inch displays. This 13-inch mid-2019 model is on the more recent side and offers a dual-core i5 processor at 1.6GHz speeds. It can Turbo Boost up to 3.6GHz, but remember, an Air is best for lighter use. If you need to run more CPU-intensive apps, consider a Pro.

The graphics in this laptop come from UHD Graphics 617, which uses up to 1.5GB of RAM shared with the main memory. This mid-2019 model has a Retina display and two Thunderbolt ports. It includes a 30W power adapter and cable to keep you going, and a refurbished model starts at just over $500.

2. MacBook Air 13-inch 2.2GHz Core i7

If you want faster specs at a lower price, try moving back a few years. This 2017 13-inch MacBook Air has a 2.2GHz i7 processor with dual cores and Turbo Boost up to 3.2GHz. It offers considerable power, all starting at $349 for refurbished models. Configurations include 8GB-16GB built-in RAM and 128GB-1TB flash storage.

While it doesn't offer a Retina display, this model does use thin-film transistor (TFT) technology in the screen. It's backed by the capabilities of Intel Graphics 6000. If you use a lot of USB-A connectors, you're in luck. This MacBook Air has two USB ports and one Thunderbolt port. It comes with a MagSafe 2 power adapter for easy, magnet-assisted charging.

3. MacBook Air 13-inch 1.1GHz Core i5 With Retina Display

The mid-2020 13-inch MacBook Air might not have the fastest processor around, but it is a relatively recent model, and it comes in a stylish gold shade. The newer model gives you a Retina display, Bluetooth 5.0 tech and some all-around upgrades. With this laptop, you'll find a 1.1GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 processor that can use Turbo Boost to hit 3.5GHz.

The base model starts at $629.99, offering 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. As usual, you can bump these to 16GB of RAM or up to 1TB of flash storage. This Air has two Thunderbolt ports and comes with a 30W power adapter and cable.

4. MacBook Air 13-inch 1.6GHz Core i5

On the other end of the spectrum is this 2015 13-inch MacBook Air, which offers an exceptionally low price for a reliable Apple computer. A model with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage will only set you back $199. While you can upgrade the storage to 512GB, the memory maxes out at 8GB. Still, you get a nice dual-core processor that can use Turbo Boost up to 2.7GHz.

Intel HD Graphics 6000 helps the LED-backlist TFT display to give you a crisp, colorful image. This model is another good choice for USB fanatics, as it has two USB ports and a Thunderbolt port. You'll also get a handy MagSafe 2 adapter for charging.

5. MacBook Air 13-inch 1.6GHz Core i5 With Retina Display

This last model is a 13-inch MacBook Air from late 2018. It offers a dual-core 1.6GHz i5 processor that supports Turbo Boost up to 3.6GHz. It's a great middle-of-the-road choice for anyone on a budget since the refurbished price starts at only $469. You can configure this Air for 8GB-16GB of memory and 128GB-1TB of flash storage.

This model sports a slick Retina display and uses UHD Graphics 617 for a gorgeous experience. You get two Thunderbolt ports and a 30W power adapter and cable.

3 Budget-Conscious MacBooks

If you're looking for the most affordable refurbished MacBook, try one of these picks from our list:

  • MacBook Pro 13-inch 1.4GHz Core i5 with Retina Display: This 13-inch i5 MacBook Pro is fairly recent, so it should last you a long time. The Retina display gives you a high-quality image, and it comes with the Touch Bar. It's a bit limited on ports, but it's a great budget option, especially if you need the power of a Pro. Pricing starts at $474.99 for 8GB of memory and 128GB of storage space.
  • MacBook Air 13-inch 2.2GHz Core i7: Although this MacBook Air is a little older, it has a nice 2.2GHz i7 processor that helps it keep up. It's a great choice for budget buyers who don't need to do anything too CPU-intense. Plus, it offers several helpful USB ports for easy connections. Refurbished models start at $349.99.
  • MacBook Air 13-inch 1.6GHz Core i5: This 13-inch Core i5 model from early 2015 is one of the best MacBook Airs for budget buyers, running just $199 for a laptop with 8GB of RAM. While it probably won't last you another decade, and it lacks a Retina display, it can accommodate light usage with a stellar price tag.

When looking for a MacBook on a budget, be careful not to buy too little RAM. You typically can't upgrade MacBook RAM later, so make sure you get enough from the start. External hard drives and cloud storage can also limit the need for high built-in storage. You might be able to save by buying a refurbished MacBook with less storage.

Whatever specs you need, buying refurbished is an excellent way to get more out of your purchase. You could pay retail price for something brand new, or you could pay less and get a laptop that better meets your needs.

Buy Your Next MacBook From Mac Of All Trades

When it's time to buy your next MacBook, look no further than Mac Of All Trades. We expertly refurbish all of our MacBooks with cleaning, testing and repairs. With our proven track record of success, you can rely on our refurbished Apple laptops. All of our Certified Refurbished devices come with a free hardware warranty and go through rigorous cleaning and inspections.

The experienced team at Mac Of All Trades is the go-to provider for refurbished Apple products, and we're here to help budget buyers of all types. Students, professionals, editors and casual users alike can save money and stress with refurbished devices. Browse our refurbished MacBooks online to see what's available!