A MacBook is the most portable laptop your entire workstation is ever going to get.
Sure, a phone is smaller - but it's also less powerful and will never be able to run all your programs or offer a comfortable viewing screen.
All laptops are vulnerable to one main requirement though, and that's battery power. Whether you didn't remember to charge before you left for your day or will simply be using it more than can be reasonably expected on a single charge, battery life determines whether or not your MacBook is functional when you need it most.
But since you can't expect to find power outlets wherever you go, how can you make sure your computer makes all the way through the day with you?
Just like a portable charger for your phone, you can get a portable charger for your MacBook Pro that is designed to hold at least one whole addition charge. Keep in mind you'll need a Mac with the latest USB-C tech unless you want to purchase a MagSafe adapter as well, but in this article, we'll take you through some of the best power banks to keep you on the go.
The RAVPower 26800mAh Power Bank is a solid choice if you need a reliable full charge on the regular. It's fairly light, charges your Mac quickly via USB-C, and looks sleek doing so. The LED indicator helps you check how much charge you have left to run on.
If you prefer to stick with a well-known brand, the Anker PowerCore Speed 20100mAh has slightly less capacity but should still bring your MacBook close to 100%. It comes with a wall adapter that can speed up your normal charging process as well.
For those using a Mac with MagSafe, you can plug your AC adapter directly into the Jackery Power Bar / Explorer 20800mAh for a quick and effective power up. The power bank also includes USB-C and USB-A if you have other devices to use it with, but is truly one of a kind in regards to the AC support.
Who Should (& Should Not) Get This?
A power bank is a great choice for MacBook users utilizing the latest machines and taking them out beyond the range of a power outlet on a regular basis. It will provide a layer of security in case you get a dreaded "power low" notification and keep your Mac running strong all day long.
However, if your Mac has just one or two homes (such as the office and a home workspace), you're probably fine without purchasing a power bank, since you'll be near a power outlet almost all the time. Additionally, older MacBook Pro users will need to consider carefully since using any power bank will require a MagSafe adapter or specialty power bank and these can run fairly expensive.
Buying a Power Bank for Mac: What to Look For?
The capacity of the power bank is what determines how much charge it can hold, and is measured in milliamp hours (mAh). You'll want at least 20,000 mAh to get a full charge, and around 12,000 mAh for about half a charge. Numbers aren't precise or scaleable due to energy loss during transfer. The rate at which your computer charges is determined both by the connection and by the output rate, which should be published (though often takes some digging to find) in any product's description.
Size & Weight
Power banks imply portability, but this isn't always the case. You'll notice that the larger the capacity gets, the bulkier and heavier the power bank becomes, which means you'll need to strike a balance between the two. If you know you're already carrying a lot, you may be more inclined to a slimmer model, but if you aren't afraid of weighing your backpack down, it may be worth it to go for a little extra battery life.
Best Power Bank for MacBook: Our Picks
Please note that all the power bank items listed below are chosen based on our personal takes and preferences. They are not intended to be ranked in this order.
Taking only 5 hours to be fully charged and ready to go, the RAVPower battery pack is prepared to deliver on the daily. The USB-C input/output lets you charge your Mac quickly and efficiently in the field and use special technology to determine the fastest current it can do so. It weighs 13.3 ounces.
- Pros: Holds a whole charge for your MacBook Pro and includes an LED power indicator so you know how much charge is left for use. Comes with the USB-C to USB-C cable needed for proper charging.
- Cons: There's not much to dislike here. This power bank is an all-around winner in terms of both capacity and design.
Weighing in at 12.7 ounces and about the size of your palm, the Anker PowerCore is ready to put up a fight. You can charge more than one device at the same time (so both your MacBook and iPhone can be revived with no time in between). With a sleek finish and stylish design, this power bank will definitely be able to put in the necessary work to keep you going.
- Pros: Small size and weight make it easy to transport and a truly portable source of power. Holds about one full charge for your MacBook and comes with the necessary cables and even a wall adapter for faster charging.
- Cons: Only two outputs, so don't plan on charging multiple devices at once.
Don't have a USB-C on your MacBook Pro yet? That's alright because the Jackery Power Bar doesn't need it. Instead, you can plug your normal wall adapter straight into it and charge just like you were at home or in the office. There are USB-C and USB-A ports in addition if your other devices that could utilize them.
- Pros: One of the few portable chargers to offer an AC output, it's a great option for MacBooks that are using the MagSafe adapter to charge. However, this power bank also sticks with the times by including both USB-C and USB-A, making it perfectly well rounded.
- Cons: A little hefty at one and a half pounds, but still fairly portable.
Additional Tips & Resources
Besides purchasing a power bank, there are a few things you can do to keep your Mac from draining the battery any faster than necessary. Here's a few to get you started:
- Keep the brightness down (it's good for your eyes too!)
- Turn off Bluetooth when you aren't using it. After all, there's no point scanning for nonexistent devices.
- Turn off wifi and location services if you don't need them or are working off the grid.
- Constantly searching for signal is a huge power drain.
- Make sure to close programs you don't need rather than leaving them running in the background.
For guidance on how to do these tricks and a few other methods for extending battery life, check out this article from LaptopMag. Also, don't forget to take a look at this article we have if you feel your MacBook battery has certain problems: 6 Common MacBook Pro Battery Issues and How to Fix Them
If you want the convenience of a power bank but the portability and sturdiness of a carrying case for your Macbook, you might be better served by a battery backpack. These backpacks securely store your Mac but are designed to make charging easy with special ports, pockets, and sleeves to keep everything in order. The Oobag Slim Laptop Backpack is a great place to begin looking into these devices.
Maybe one day we'll have MacBooks that can draw power from the air around them, but until then power users are going to need power banks to keep them going on a day to day basis. Whether you need at least one whole addition charge or just a little something extra to make sure your files get saved before the screen goes black, there are a variety of power banks that can help you make sure that happens. We'd also love to hear what power banks you prefer for day to day use, so drop an email and let us know!
Published Feb 2, 2018.