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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Why the heck would anyone buy the non-Retina MacBook Pro? Well...

With the "standard" 13-inch MacBook Pro and its Retina display-equipped counterpart only $100 apart, you might think that few people would be interested in the older MacBook Pro. It's thicker, heavier, has a lower resolution screen, is less power-efficient and isn't as speedy. You'd be wrong. Turns out the "standard" MacBook Pro is still selling briskly.

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

Apple's iMac rewrote the company's fortunes at a time when Apple desperately needed a hit. The year was 1998. Steve Jobs had returned to take the helm of the ailing company, but Apple had spent years churning out poorly-differentiated beige boxes. Out comes a translucent blue all-in-one computer unlike anything else on the market. It sold like wildfire and set off a design renaissance in personal computing: within a couple of years, everyone was churning out colorful, cheerful PCs that mimicked Apple's hit system. Fast forward to the modern day: the iMac has undergone some radical changes. Gone is the translucent case; gone is the bulky CRT display. In their place 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.

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MagSafe 2: My love hate relationship with Apple's current power connector

Anyone who owns, or has owned a recent MacBook will be familiar with the Magsafe. Apple's take at the laptop charger, and something in my experience that comes with a very distinct love and hate relationship. The latest incarnation, Magsafe 2, one would anticipate being an improvement on the originals, the development of an idea.

But, instead, it's a product that drives many of us to frustration and despair. The reviews section of the Apple Store website is living proof of that. So how can something so good be so bad at the same time?

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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.

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

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.

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Apple gift guide: How to pick the perfect iPod, iPhone, iPad, and Mac!

We're entering what is, for many, the biggest shopping and gift-giving season of the year, and by virtue of their quality, cachet, and overall coolness, Apple gifts are always high on everyone's lists. Whether you're looking for that perfect present for that special someone, or just want to take advantage of the once-a-year sales for yourself, it can be a challenge to figure out exactly which Apple devices to get. When does a Retina iPad mini make more sense than a full-sized iPad Air? When does a MacBook Air? iPhone 5s or iPhone 5c? MacBook Pro or iMac? What about an iPod? Figuring out which iPod, iPhone, iPad, or Mac is your best buy this year is the questions we get asked the most often, and with Black Friday and the Holidays upon us, here are our answers!

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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.

More →

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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.

More →

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Waterfield Designs Staad Backpack review

For nigh on a decade I've carried my laptop in backpacks, which work out great - they're comfortable to use over both shoulders and can hold a lot of stuff. Finding one that doesn't look like I'm heading to class or getting ready for a wilderness adventure can be a bit tough, though. Enter the Staad Backpack from Waterfield Designs. It's a more upscale and elegant design that's still eminently practical and capable of holding a lot of stuff.

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Losing Audio in OS X Mavericks? Here's what you can do about it!

OS X Mavericks is experiencing a bug where audio goes dead system-wide. For many it seems to occur when trying to play a Flash (like YouTube) video in Chrome. For others, it just seems to occur. So what's happening and what can you do about it?

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