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?

More coverage

Retina MacBook Air rumored for later this year

Something many of us crave, supply chain rumors claim that Apple will finally launch a MacBook Air with Retina Display later on this year. Treat it with caution, since the source, Digitimes, has a mixed record when it comes to accuracy. Nevertheless, here's what they have to say:

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12-inch Retina MacBook with no fan, new trackpad makes the rumor rounds

A forum post on Chinese language site Weiphone.com offers up tantalizing details on Apple's next round of MacBooks. The comments are attributed to an author with a credible track record of breaking leaks and photos for MacBook laptops in the past, according to MacRumors.com.

The poster reports that MacBook Air updates are coming soon, with MacBook Pro updates expected later this year. That's consistent with what happened last year: Apple updated the MacBook Air at WWDC, but waited until the fall to introduce updated MacBook Pros.

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We have a 4G iPhone, 4G iPad - where's the 4G MacBook?

The MacBook Air and MacBook Pro are both great devices to get work done while you're on the road, but in order to get anything done online you only have one choice: Wi-Fi. Why doesn't Apple offer 4G LTE as an option on those devices, too?

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How to give your MacBook stunning Wood Keys with RAWBKNY!

Ever wish you could have luxurious rosewood or beautiful bamboo keys on your MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, or Apple keyboard? Well, with the Wood Keyboard by RAWBKNY, you can! Hand cut and finished in Brooklyn, NY, they backed by 3M adhesive so they're easy-on, easy-off. And best of all, your backlight will still shine through!

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What's on Rene's Mac dock right now!

Escalation. Costner brings a knife, Connery brings a gun. Wayne dresses in a bat suit, a smiling psycho gets green hair and a purple suit. And I write an article about my iPad Home screen, so Peter goes and posts about his Mac dock. Well, two can play the escalation game. So, here's what's on my Retina MacBook Pro dock right now!

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MacBook Pro 13-inch (that's the non-Retina one) reportedly ending life in 2014

A report today suggests that Apple will be retiring the regular, non-Retina 13-inch MacBook Pro in the second half of 2014. The news comes via Digitimes, a somewhat hit-and-miss source that cites insiders in the supply chain, and claims that Apple will be taking the MacBook Pro line Retina only:

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Got a new Mac Pro? SMC update keeps Power Nap activities quiet

If you have a new Mac Pro, check Software Update for Mac Pro SMC Firmware Update 2.0, a change to the System Management Controller (SMC) firmware used in your shiny new computer.

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booq Boa squeeze bag hands-on!

The booq Boa squeeze packs five accessory pockets spread along the sides and the back, an iPhone compartment on top, and an iPad and MacBook Air or MacBook Pro pockets inside. And yet it still manages to look sleek and sexy! Thanks to a 1680 denier ballistic nylon exterior and ultra-soft nylex interior, it'll repel tears and water, and keep all your gear safe and secure as well!

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No, Mac Pro delivery dates aren't 'deteriorating'

Earlier today French Mac news site MacGeneration reported that international Apple store sites showed April as the estimated ship date of the new Mac Pro (that April time frame is now in the US Apple store). That's being reported elsewhere as a "deterioration" of the Mac Pro's delivery schedule. But before you panic, consider this: The backlog of Mac Pros really hasn't changed that much.

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How to set up a Mac mini-based media server part I: Physical connections

The Apple TV isn't the best solution for everyone. The number of apps it works with are limited, and you can access most of that content from the web. What's more, it locks you into using iTunes as your media delivery system, whether it's sharing a library on a local computer or syncing via iTunes in the Cloud.

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