Welcome to our guide on how to choose a Mac computer. Are you switching over to a mac (finally!) or do you just want to change your old Mac computer? Whatever it is, you’re in the right place! This is how I went about buying my MacBook Pro back in 2011 and now I want to help you buy your Mac computer.
Back then, I was looking for a guide to help me understand what I’m looking for. I wasn’t happy with the existing search results on the internet. So, what did I do? I made this guide to help me buy the right Mac computer. Did I want power or portability or battery life? There were so many questions that I came up with a set of questions that helped me narrow down the right choice for me.
I refined this guide over time and this has helped a lot of my friends choose the right Mac computer for themselves. So, allow me to share this with you. Read on my fellow Mac enthusiasts and I shalt guide thee onto the right path. So, let’s get right to it, shall we?
The Mac Computer Line Up
If you are buying a Mac computer for the first time, then you should know the Mac computer lineup. You’ll find everything on the Apple website. I’ve given a broad introduction to make you familiar with Apple computers, if you aren’t already.
If you are familiar with all this, then you might want to skip this part and go straight to How to Choose a Mac Computer.
Let’s begin with the Mac desktop computers.
Apple’s Mac Mini is the entry level desktop model and It is the slowest among the other Apple desktops. The Mac Mini doesn’t include any peripherals. If this is your first Mac, then the Mac Mini is a good choice because you can use your existing keyboard, mouse and the display from your old computer. It is also an excellent choice for a secondary computer for your home, if your budget isn’t too high. It is quite small and doesn’t take up much of your desk space.
There are three models available (however, this depends on the country you live in). The base model has a 1.4GHz dual-core Intel i5 processor with a 500GB 5400 rpm hard drive and 4GB of memory. The second model features a 2.6GHz dual-core i5 processor with a 5400 rpm 1TB (1024GB) hard drive and 8GB of memory. The top model has a 2.8GHz dual-core i5 processor with a 1TB Fusion drive (SSHD) and 8GB of memory. The price starts at US$499 for the base model, US$699 for the second model and US$999 for the top model. The pricing is reasonable considering it is quite fast for general usage. It is a good buy for the novice Mac user.
The iMac is a popular computer since it’s useful for both novices and advanced users alike. It comes in two screen sizes, the 21.5” and the 27” screen. The 21.5” iMac again has 3 variants: 2 of the are variants without a Retina display and one is with a Retina 4K display. The 27” iMac comes in 3 variants of different processor speeds but all 3 have a Retina 5K display.
If you want to change your entire computer setup, that is your CPU, display, keyboard and mouse, then the iMac is your best bet. Yet, the lowest model iMac will set you back by US$1099. It is a bit pricier than the top model Mac Mini, but you get a display, a keyboard and a mouse for that price. Actually, that is quite reasonable.
All the iMac models come with a standard 8GB of memory. You can configure the 21.5” iMac to include 16GB of memory and the 27” iMacs upto 32GB of memory. The iMac is among Apple’s most powerful computers.
The Mac Pro is Apple’s ultimate desktop computer for speed and performance. It is useful for people who use applications like image editing softwares, 3D programs and video editing softwares. Such programs use as many processing cores as are available.
This computer is for you, if you’re a professional, doing video editing on Final Cut Pro X, using 3D applications or handling 4K video editing.
There are two variants of this model: the base model which is US$ 2999 has a quad-core processor with a dual GPU. This also has a 12GB memory. The higher model costs US$3999 and this has a 6 core CPU with a dual GPU along with 16GB of memory. Both have a 256GB PCIe based flash storage as a stock option. There are several built-to-order options available.
This was about the Mac desktop computer lineup.
Now, let’s talk about the Mac laptop lineup. Just like the Mac desktop computers, there are 3 different Mac laptop models.
If portability is the most important factor for you, then the MacBook is the right computer for you. It is available in one screen size of 12” only, but, there are 4 color options to choose from.
The MacBook has two variants; the model with 1.1GHz dual-core Intel Core M processor with 256GB flash drive costs US$1299.
The top model has a 1.2GHz dual-core Intel Core M processor with a 512GB flash drive and this model costs US$1599. Both of these models come with an 8GB memory.
The specifications on these two variants are quite low, especially when you compare them to the other Mac computers. People who need mobility more than speed and performance go in for the MacBook.
The MacBook Air is among the lighter Mac laptops and is faster than the newer MacBook. This model is for people who travel a lot and want a computer that’s light in weight. It is also the more affordable option if a laptop is what you’re looking for.
It is fast enough to handle everyday tasks such as sending and receiving emails, using Microsoft Office suite, browsing the web, etc.
The price starts at US$999 for a 1.6GHz dual core i5 processor and with a 128GB SSD. The top model costs US$1,199 with the same processor, but a 256GB SSD instead. Both these models come with 8GB of onboard memory and have 13” Retina displays.
The MacBook Pro is the best Mac laptop for speed and performance. It comes in two screen sizes: 13” and 15” and both the models have a few variants.
If you want a Mac laptop for heavy usage like editing videos, or using professional softwares like Logic Pro, Final Cut Pro etc. This is the right computer for you if you want a mobile Mac computer, which has a good speed and performance.
Let’s talk about the pricing. The 13” model comes with a Retina display in both its variants. The US$1499 13” variant doesn’t have the new Touch Bar with integrated Touch ID sensor. It comes with a 2.0 GHz dual-core i5 with 8GB of memory and a 256GB SSD. You have the option of changing the default configuration to a higher specification.
The other two variants have the new Touch Bar with integrated Touch ID sensor. They have a 2.9GHz dual-core i5 (which you can upgrade to a faster i7), 8GB memory (again, upgradeable to 16GB) and a 256GB SSD (upgradeable to a 512Gb or a 1TB SSD). It costs US$1799.
The 15” Retina display model has two variants and both of them have the new Touch Bar with integrated Touch ID sensor. The lower variant costs US$2399 and it has a 2.6GHz quad-core i7 processor (upgrade options are available), 16GB memory and a 256GB SSD (upgradeable to 512GB, 1TB or 2TB SSD).
The top model has a 2.7GHz quad-core i7 processor (upgrade options are available for this model also) , 16GB memory and a 512GB SSD (you can upgrade it to a 1TB or a 2TB SSD). This will set you back by US$2799 for the default configuration. If you don’t know what the Touch Bar is for, you can click this link to learn more about it.
How to Choose a Mac Computer
That is the entire Mac computer lineup. Based on your priorities, budget and requirements, there’ll be a Mac computer to suit your needs. I’m going to tell you how to choose the right Mac computer to best suit your needs.
There are a few points you should keep in mind when you choose a Mac computer. These points will help you choose the right Mac computer for you, in terms of both budget and usefulness. These points are actually questions you need to ask yourself.
When I was buying my first Mac computer, I couldn’t make up my mind if I needed a MacBook Air or a MacBook Pro. I was sure I wanted a laptop but for the longest time I kept asking myself, “Which MacBook should I buy?”
After some thinking, I went at this problem from the ground-up. I came up with these 5 points that helped me choose the best Mac computer for me.
Point 1. Do you want mobility?
The first question you should ask yourself is whether this computer will be sitting in one place or will you be moving around with it?
If this computer will be on a table, then you’re better off buying a Mac desktop computer instead of a Mac laptop. The reason is that desktops are more ‘bang for buck’. They are cheaper than laptops and are more powerful for the same price.
If you move around a lot, you will need a good battery life too. That’s another point you need to consider under mobility.
If you need your Mac computer to be portable, like I do, then you should go in for a Mac laptop. Let’s face it, desktops aren’t really portable.
Point 2. Is it going to be your primary or secondary computer?
You’ve already decided what you need, whether you want a Mac laptop or a Mac desktop. Now, you need to decide whether this is your main computer or it is a secondary computer. That will help you decide how powerful you want your computer to be.
If this is going to be your only computer or your main computer, then it makes sense for it to have a good speed and performance.
If you’re buying this as a backup computer, then you might not need the top of the line specifications on your Mac computer.
Point 3. What are you going to use your Mac computer for?
Will you use your Mac computer for your school or university? Will you use it for your work? Are you a professional using Final Cut Pro, Photoshop or the likes? Or do you just want to watch movies?
To make sure you buy a computer that suits your needs, you need to be sure of what you will be using it for. The specifications for your Mac computer will be different according to what you need it for. If you want it for your school or university, then you can do without high-end specifications. If you plan on running professional softwares, then you need high-end specifications.
For example, a MacBook Air will be good enough if you want to work on Microsoft Excel or Microsoft Word and browse the internet for research.
If you want to edit videos or music or photos, then you’ll want a more powerful machine like the MacBook Pro.
Point 4. Budget
Well, this is a rather important point. How much money are you willing to spend on a new Mac computer? Mac computers are among the more expensive machines.
Before you decide which Mac to buy, you need to make a decision on what your budget is. Are you willing to stretch your budget to get your Mac computer? If you are, then by how much are you willing to stretch your budget?
If you have an answer for these questions beforehand, it will help you decide faster.
Point 5. Screen Size
When you buy a Mac, it is important to decide what screen size will suit you the best. If portability is your priority, then the smaller the screen, the better it will be for you. If you want to edit videos, then you might want a bigger screen size.
The screen size that will suit you best will depend on:
- Your budget
- Your need for a Mac computer
If you end up with a small size screen, it may make your Mac experience unpleasant and make you less productive. I’m sure that’s not what you want, when you are spending your hard earned money to buy an expensive computer.
Let’s continue with the example in Point 3. Let’s assume that you want to buy a Mac laptop to edit photos and videos on the go. In this case, a MacBook 15” will help you work efficiently, even though a MacBook Pro 13” might just do the trick.
This point is rather important. Everyone knows how fast technology changes. Each year we see a new model, which invariably is faster and has more features than the previous model. Is it practical to change your Mac computer every time they release a new model? I don’t think it is practical, or for many of us, even possible to do that.
So, this is what I did; I bought a MacBook Pro that was a higher configuration than what I required at the time. Though the technology is changing, my MacBook Pro works well since I bought the top model at the time.
My MacBook Pro is close to 5 years old now. I’m quite sure that I can squeeze out of it another 3 years of use.
Hope this article helped you choose a Mac computer
If you’ve read this far, you’re serious about buying a Mac computer and maybe you have a rough idea of what you are looking for. If you don’t know what you want, you are facing in the right direction, at the very least.
I’ve created a small questionnaire (at the end of this post) which will suggest the best suited Mac computer for you, based on your needs. It will also give you other viable options (if there are any) for your needs. Why don’t you give it a try?
If this article helped you, leave a comment below and let me know!
Questionnaire to help you Select the Right Mac Computer
Here is the questionnaire to help you choose the right Mac computer. This should definitely help you get an idea of what Mac computer to buy, if nothing else. Go ahead, give it a try! Do let me know what you think about it, in the comments below.