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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Have a 2012 MacBook Air? Apple has a firmware update and possible replacement drive for you!

Apple has been having problems with the solid state storage on 2012 MacBook Airs for a while now, so it's great to see they've released a firmware updated, and replacement program, to address them. Here are the details from Apple:

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Haswell MacBook Airs get Boot Camp firmware fix

Apple on Thursday posted EFI Firmware Update 2.7, an update aimed specifically at new MacBook Air models made since mid-2013 (that is, the ones equipped with "Haswell" processors).

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Never mind Retina Displays: Get ready for 4K on the new Mac Pro

Last year Apple introduced MacBook Pros with Retina Displays, and many folks watching the Mac market have assumed that it's only a matter of time before the rest of the line has them too. That may be true, but the newly redesigned Mac Pro is going to leapfrog that by offering something that so far, no other Mac can handle - 4K video. And not just 4K video, but 4K video on three screens.

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New firmware update fixes battery problems on MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and Retina Display MBP

Apple on Tuesday released new System Management Controller (SMC) updates for 2012-era MacBook Pros, 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pros with Retina Display, and MacBook Air mid-2012 and mid-2013 models. The updates are available through the Software Update system preference and through Apple's Support web site.

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New iMac teardowns reveal upgradable Flash storage, more

The folks at iFixit have gotten their hands on Apple's new iMacs in order to do a couple of teardowns to see what's inside. They conclude that the iMacs haven't changed radically inside, though there are some tweaks - some for the better, some worse. iFixit scored the 21.5-inch iMac lower than the 27-inch iMac for repairability. Let's look at why.

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Apple updates iMac with Haswell, 802.11ac, Nvidia 700 graphics

Apple on Tuesday announced updated iMac computers equipped with Intel's fourth-generation Core "Haswell" microprocessors and other improvements. They're available beginning today at the same prices as before: 21.5-inch iMacs start at $1,299, while 27-inch models start at $1,799.

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Want amazing new performance out of your old Mac Pro? Here's how

Turbocharging the Mac Pro with SSDs, here's how

Apple's new Mac Pro has some Mac users buzzing: the tiny machine appears to be crazy fast, and it's a total redesign of the system - replacing the giant aluminum box of yore with a tiny little black cylinder. But should you replace your Mac Pro with the new one? If you want to get as much bang for your buck, upgrade your aluminum Mac Pro with an Solid State Drive (SSD).

There are different options available for Mac Pro-compatible SSDs, and we're going to look at two of them here: a SATA-based SSD and a PCIe-based SSD. The bottom line is that you're going to see a huge increase in speed either way; it's just a question of what your budget will allow.

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Apple posts new Mac Pro cinema teaser, eyes melt, brains explode


Apple teases fall release for new Mac Pro with ad in movie theaters

Apple is now showing a teaser for the new Mac Pro in movie theaters. The video is apparently a slightly tweaked version of the one shown at WWDC this year, accoring to MacRumors.

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Apple offers graphics replacement program for some 2011-2012 iMacs

Apple is acknowledging that some "Sandy Bridge"-era iMacs have issues with their graphics subsystem and is offering to repair them, according to 9to5 Mac.

The iMacs in question were manufactured between May 2011 and October 2012, when Apple introduced the radically redesigned thin iMacs that eschew internal optical drives. Specifically, 27-inch versions of those iMacs equipped with AMD Radeon HD 6970M graphics chips are prone, under certain circumstances, to failure.

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