What Mac should I buy?

11 May 2020, 13:53

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Here’s the quickest and simplest Mac buyer’s guide you’ll find anywhere. These are just suggestions, though. You should use this is a starting point for your own research.

What Mac should I buy: Buying tips
For example, depending on when you’re reading this, you might find some of the Mac models haven’t been updated for a long time, so rely upon older and less effective hardware. Always do a general Google search for the current year, plus the type of Mac you want, to see if there’s been a recent update. The Macrumors Buyer’s Guides should also be consulted.

If buying a laptop Mac (Air, Macbook Pro etc), ensure the model you get does NOT have a “butterfly” keyboard. As of 2020, all the latest models do not feature this derided keyboard mechanism that proved incredibly faulty for many users – but some older models might still be on sale that do, and are still on sale. The new, better keyboard design is referred to as a scissor mechanism.

What Mac should I buy: Common questions
Here are the answers to some of the most common Mac buying questions.

  • “I want a cheap, decent Mac for carrying around with me”
    Consider the MacBook Air. This is Apple’s biggest selling model by far, and for good reason – for most people who simply want the Mac experience (especially college students), it’s a good-value choice.
  • “I want a Mac for education”
    If you want a non-portable computer to use on a desk or table, get an iMac. If you want a portable lightweight Mac you can carry around with you, consider the MacBook Air. Don’t forget to make use of Apple’s education discount.
  • “I want a cheap, decent Mac for my desktop”
    Consider the Mac Mini, and then use your own keyboard, mouse and screen.
  • “I just want a no-fuss Mac for my desktop”
    Get an iMac. This is arguably the best choice for a family Mac to be put somewhere like a kitchen counter surface, or in the living room, for all family members to use.
  • “I want a Mac for my office to use apps like Microsoft Office 365”
    If you want a non-portable computer to use on a desk or table, get an iMac. If you want a portable lightweight Mac you can carry around with you, consider the MacBook Air. For ultra-portability and working in the cloud, consider an iPad or an iPad Pro.
  • “I know nothing about computers but somebody told me that a Mac therefore is a good idea”
    If you want a non-portable computer to use on a desk or table, get an iMac. If you want a portable lightweight Mac you can carry around with you, consider the MacBook Air.
  • “I’m a creative, into photography and/or making music and/or podcasts”
    Consider the MacBook Pro 13, 15 or 16in model. Get the most storage you you afford, then get the most RAM you can afford. Finally, if you can spare more cash, get the best CPU you can afford – ideally, one with 4 or 6 cores. For use on the desktop, buy an external monitor or two, and connect them via Thunderbolt 3.
  • “I’m a software developer/programmer”
    Get a MacBook Pro 13, 15 or 16in, again coupled to one or two external monitors via Thunderbolt 3. If you have to compile massive apps on a regular basis, and can’t stand waiting around, consider models with an i7 or even i9 CPU. If you’re a full-time dev working in an office 24/7 then an iMac or iMac Pro might be an alternative choice.
  • “I make videos”
    If you can live with leaving your Mac overnight to render movie files, get the most powerful MacBook Pro 15 or 16in model you can afford. But for a video editing experience that doesn’t suck, you really need to stick to desktop models – either an iMac Pro, or a Mac Pro.
  • “I want a Mac to run Windows on”
    Honestly, this is a really sub-par experience. Macs just aren’t made to run Windows. Get yourself a decent Windows laptop like the Dell Inspiron 13 or 15. If you get a Mac you’re just paying a few hundred dollars/euros/pounds more for no reward (other than perhaps having an Apple logo…?)
  • “I want a Mac for gaming”
    See the answer above. The Mac is not great for the kind of PC games that you might play under Windows, and dual-booting into Windows via BootCamp isn’t a great experience all round. If you’re into gaming then a Windows laptop or PC is simply a better choice. (Note that Apple currently doesn’t even support Nvidia graphics drivers – only AMD GPUs are natively supported.)
  • “I want a touchscreen Mac”
    It doesn’t exist. There are no Macs of any kind with a touch-sensitive screen. Your best hope is to get an iPad. Note that the Apple Pencil does not work on any Mac either!

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