Mac buyers guide

Everything you need to know before choosing the perfect Mac Pro, iMac, Mac mini, MacBook Pro, or MacBook Air!

Everything you need to know before choosing the perfect Mac Pro, iMac, Mac mini, MacBook Pro, or MacBook Air!

Apple has a fairly simple product grid when it comes to their personal computer line-up, the Mac. You can get a laptop or desktop. If you want a laptop, you can choose between the ultra-portable MacBook Air and the ultra-powerful MacBook Pro. But you can also choose between a couple of different screen sizes each, along with optional increases for RAM, CPU, storage, and more. If you want a desktop, you can choose between the entry-level Mac Mini, the all-in-one iMac, or the workstation-like Mac Pro. But again, the their are options for just about everything. Which one should you get, and which options with it?

Enter iMore's 2014 Mac buyers guide. If you need help deciding what to buy, we've got your back. And if you've already decided, just bookmark, email, Facebook, or Tweet this so we can help your friends and family and you can get on with enjoying your new Mac!

iPad Air vs. MacBook Air: Which Apple ultra-portable should you get?

iPad Air vs. MacBook Air: Which Apple ultra-portable should you get?

Apple now has two products designated as "Air", the MacBook Air, updated last June with the latest generation Intel Haswell processors, and the brand new iPad Air, introduced in October with a custom Apple A7 chipset. Both are ultra light, super thin, and incredibly long lasting, but one has a keyboard and runs OS X and the other a multitouch and iOS 7. Both can be absolutely killer on a plane, in an office, or around the house. But which one is better for you?

MacBook Air vs. MacBook Pro: Which laptop should you get?

MacBook Air vs. MacBook Pro: Which laptop should you get?

You've decided that it's time to replace your aging Mac with one of Apple's new laptops. Or maybe you're jumping onto the Mac platform for the first time. MacBook Airs, MacBook Pros, MacBook Pros with Retina displays - there are a lot of options. They run the gamut of prices, too. What do you get for your money? And which model is best suited for you?

MacBook Air 11-inch vs. 13-inch: Which ultralight laptop should you get?

MacBook Air 11-inch vs. 13-inch: Which ultralight laptop should you get?

We've already compared MacBook Airs and MacBook Pros, and you've decided that the svelte MacBook Air is right for you. Now you have to decide which MacBook Air is right for you - the smaller 11-inch model or the larger 13-inch version? Also, what configure to order options make the most sense? Let's have a look.

MacBook Pro with Retina display 13-inch vs. 15-inch: Which powerful Mac laptop should you get?

MacBook Pro with Retina display 13-inch vs. 15-inch: Which powerful Mac laptop is right for you?

You're going to buy a new Mac, and you've narrowed your choice to one of Apple's new sleek, speedy MacBook Pros with Retina display. Seems like an easy choice, doesn't it? Just decide which screen size is right for you: 13-inch or 15-inch, then pull the trigger. Not so fast. There are other considerations you should make, as well. Because screen size isn't the only different between the two machines. This guide should help you iron out some of them.

Mac mini vs. iMac vs. Mac Pro: Which Apple desktop should you get?

Mac mini vs. iMac vs. Mac Pro: Which Apple desktop should you get?

Not everyone needs or wants the portability a Mac laptop has to offer. For everyone else, Apple makes desktop models, ranging in price from Apple's cheapest system to its most expensive. They run a wide gamut of performance and ability, so let's take a look and see what might be best for you.

Mac mini: Which entry-level options should you get?

Mac mini: Which entry-level options should you get?

At $599, the Mac mini is the entry-level Mac computer. It's $400 less than the next least expensive system, the MacBook Air. It's also a step behind other Mac models because it hasn't yet been refreshed with the Haswell microprocessors or faster Wi-Fi that other Macs have gotten in 2013. But that low price tag and older processor don't make the Mac mini unworthy of consideration: It's still a powerful little computer that's very flexible for many different uses, from general-purpose desktop machine to media server to full fledged file server. Let's have a look at the different configurations to make sense of what Apple's offering.

21.5-inch iMac vs. 27-inch iMac: Which all-in-one desktop Mac should you get?

21.5-inch iMac vs. 27-inch iMac: Which all-in-one desktop Mac should you get?

iMac is an incredibly elegant flat panel all-in-one design that has gotten progressively thinner over the years as Apple has done everything it can to get the computer itself out of the way of the computing experience. Within the iMac product line, however, there are a lot of options to consider, so let's take a look at what Apple is offering.

The New Mac Pro: What options to Apple's high-end Mac should you get?

The New Mac Pro: What options to Apple's high-end Mac should you get?

First previewed in June at Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC), the new Mac Pro is a game changer. It's a complete reimagination of what a high-end workstation Mac looks like - no longer a giant monolithic tower system with gobs of internal expandability, the new Mac Pro takes up one-eighth the desktop space of its predecessor. It does so by working with a unified thermal core: looking at the Mac Pro without its cover on, you'll see three circuit boards assembled into a triangular wedge, ribbed internally with a shared heat sink; a fan draws in air to cool the components, and heat rises out through the top.

As impressive a piece of industrial design as the Mac Pro is, it's what's running inside that's truly amazing, though, so let's take a look and figure out how you can best configure your new Mac Pro.

CPU vs. RAM vs. SSD: Which Mac upgrades should you get?

CPU vs. RAM vs. SSD: Which Mac upgrades make the most sense?

You've decided what Mac to get, but firing up the Apple online store web site presents you with myriad customization options. You can often have a faster or more capable CPU installed, have more RAM put in, or upgrade storage capacity. Which upgrades make the most sense?

Need more help?

There's a lot to consider, and if you still have questions, if there are still details you want to work out, we have fantastic information pages that are always kept up-to-the-minute, and amazing community forums filled with experts for you to talk with. Bookmark them and check back often! And once you've decided, let us know in the comments - which Mac did you get and why?

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Tim Cook praises "American manufacturing expertise" in making Mac Pro

Apple CEO Tim Cook used his Twitter feed today to show himself touring the Mac Pro factory in Austin, Texas Thursday. The post was an effort to promote the company's decision to start bringing more electronic product manufacturing to the U.S.

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Intel's newly announced Core M processors will pave the way for thinner MacBooks

Intel today announced a new family of Core M "Broadwell" processors that will help make hardware even thinner. The MacBook Air is already pretty darn thin — the thinnest Mac available, in fact — but the design hasn't seen a substantial update since 2010. That's a long time, long enough for Apple's Windows-based competitors to develop so-called ultrabooks that are able to compete handily on specs, portability, and battery life. The MacBook Air has improved a lot since the 2010 redesign, yes, but we've been looking forward to the release of Broadwell, which has promised to cut down on unnecessary space taken up by cooling solutions without compromising on power and the next-gen Core M chips will further help manufacturers.

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This is what happens when you load a Mac Pro with explosive C4

I'm not really into blowing up expensive electronics with C4 or anything else for that matter but I'm perfectly fine when other people do it on the stuff they spent their own money on. Who am I to care what they do with it? It's their money. Plus, it provides me with some mindless entertainment when I end up on the weird part of YouTube late on a Friday night.

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Regarding ARM-based Macs

There's a story going around about Apple working on ARM-based Macs. In other words, Macs that, instead of Intel chipsets, use the same kind of Apple A7-style chipsets found in the iPhone and iPad. The story is nothing new. ARM-based Macs, touchscreen Macs, iOS Macs, Retina Macs... Apple prototypes pretty much anything and everything any reasonable person would expect them to. A thousand no's for every yes requires a very high prototype to product ratio, after all...

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Microsoft's Surface Pro 3 switches targets from iPad to MacBook

There's an old cliche that it takes Microsoft three tries to really nail a product. Like most cliches it's as true as it is untrue, but with the just announced Surface Pro 3 it really does look like Microsoft finally understands their product and its position in the mobile device spectrum. Because of that, it also looks like Microsoft is changing targets from the iPad to the MacBook Air. So what does that mean?

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Take your Mac Pro on the go with the WaterField Go Case

If traveling around with a traditional MacBook Pro isn't powerful enough for you, then you may want to check out the new Mac Pro Go Case from WaterField Designs, a sleeve that allows you to tote around your Mac Pro. The sleeve itself looks like an insulated container for a giant Thermos bottle and will snugly fit Apple's cylindrical desktop tower along with a few accessories, like an Ethernet cable, keyboard, and mouse.

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MacBook Air vs. (mythical) Retina MacBook Air: Should you buy now or wait?

The new, less expensive MacBook Air is tempting. But is Apple planning to release a Retina MacBook Air, and if so, should you wait?

Apple refreshed the MacBook Air this week, bumping processor speeds modestly and dropping the price $100. Meanwhile, rumors abound that Apple is working on a new laptop model, possibly a MacBook Air with Retina display. Is now the right time to buy a MacBook Air, or should you wait to see what shakes out of the Apple tree?

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MacBook Air vs. MacBook Pro: Which laptop should you get?

MacBook buyers guide: How to choose the best new MacBook - the thin, lightweight MacBook Air, or the robust and powerful MacBook Pro.

You've decided that it's time to replace your aging Mac with one of Apple's new laptops. Or maybe you're jumping onto the Mac platform for the first time. MacBook Air, MacBook Pro both old and with the new Retina display — there are a lot of options. They run the gamut of prices, too. What do you get for your money? And which model is best suited for you?

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The new MacBook Air is cheaper and faster, but is it worth buying?

Now faster and cheaper, the MacBook Air is Apple's best laptop value. But is it right for you?

On Tuesday Apple quietly released a new version of the MacBook Air with an upgraded processor and a lower price. Is the refreshed MacBook Air worth getting? Let's take a look.

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Apple tipped to update MacBook Air tomorrow with fresh new Haswell processors

It's been a while since we've seen a substantial refresh of the MacBook Air, and while there's one pegged to land tomorrow, it won't be a substantial one either. Instead we're looking at a slight update, with Apple swapping out the last-generation Intel Haswell processors for the current-generation Intel Haswell processors. Yes, it's a mammoth update.

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