Best Mac desktop iMore 2022
If you aren't sold on Apple laptops, they aren't the only game in town when it comes to Mac. There are also excellent desktop models. Our favorite desktop solution is the 24-inch iMac (2021). The colorful all-in-one offers an Apple M1 system-on-a-chip (SoC) and is packed with outstanding features. But there are other desktop Macs worth considering depending on your needs.
- Best overall: 24-inch iMac (2021)
- Best for creatives: Mac Studio (2022)
- Best for hobbyists: Mac mini (2020)
- Most niche: Mac Pro (2019) - Desktop Apple computer
Best overall: 24-inch iMac (2021)
In 2022, Apple officially retired the 27-inch iMac, replacing it with the Mac Studio (see below). As such, the 24-inch iMac (2021) is the only iMac that remains.
The iMac offers a terrific 24-inch 4.5K Retina display and comes standard with an 8-core Apple M1 chip and up to 16GB of unified memory and 2TB of storage. The thinnest iMac ever, the 24-inch iMac also includes a 1080p FaceTime HD camera and Magic Keyboard with Touch ID. And then there are the colors. There are seven shiny dual-tone colors available: blue, green, pink, silver, yellow, orange, and purple.
Beyond colors, it's essential to get your internals right before choosing this model. Although EVERY model ships with the same M1 chip and an 8-core CPU (four for performance and four for efficiency), beyond this, there are significant differences to understand.
The base model, for example, starts with (only) a 7-core GPU, while the mid and high levels are 8-core GPUs. Those who choose the base model will only get 256GB SSD, which is configurable up to 512GB or 1TB. The mid and high-level models start with either 256GB or 512GB SSDs and can be configured to 1TB or 2TB, though the price will increase significantly. And like the other M1 Macs, the iMac starts with 8GB of unified memory but can be configured up to 16GB. Take your time and carefully choose since you can't update the internals on this model after purchase.
It's unlikely the 24-inch iMac will get a replacement in 2022. Therefore, you should select the configuration you can afford and be happy knowing Apple isn't like to make changes to it anytime soon.
- Beautiful, bright colors
- Amazing display
- First iMac with Apple silicon
- Limited choices internally
- M1 could soon feel dated
Best for creatives: Mac Studio (2022)
Apple surprised everyone when it announced the Mac Studio (2022). A professional-grade computer, the Mac Studio offers an M1 Max or M1 Ultra system-on-a-chip and looks like two stacked Mac mini units. It's currently the best Mac you can buy in terms of computer power. You can choose up to 128GB of unified memory, up to 20-core CPU, and 64-core GPU.
We highly recommend buying the all-new Apple Studio Display for the complete package. Available with standard or nano-texture glass, this 27-inch 5K Retina display features a 12MP Ultra-Wide camera with Center Stage, studio-quality mics, and a six-speaker sound system with Spatial Audio.
- Only Mac with M1 Ultra SoC
- Lots of customization options
- Still requires a monitor, keyboard, and mouse
Best for hobbyists: Mac mini (2020)
The latest Mac mini is the first Apple desktop to feature Apple silicon. It launched in late 2020 alongside Apple silicon versions of the MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro. A more expensive Mac mini featuring an Intel-based processor remains on the market for those looking to add more memory or storage than the M1 version currently provides.
With the Apple M1 Mac mini version, you receive an Apple M1 chip with an 8-core CPU, 8-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine, 8GB unified memory, 256GB SSD storage, and Gigabit Ethernet. Memory (up to 16GB) and storage (up to 2TB) are upgradeable.
The Intel version arrived in March 2020 with the least expensive model shipping with a 3.0GHz 6-core 8th-generation Intel Core i5 processor with Intel UHD Graphics 630, Turbo Boost up to 4.1GHz, 8GB memory, and 512GB PCIe-based SSD storage. You can upgrade the processor, memory (to 64GB), and storage (to 2TB) by paying extra.
If you're looking at a Mac mini, you are already aware that you need to add a monitor, keyboard, and mouse. In that situation, we recommend upgrading the memory beyond the minimum. Ideally, you should start with the more expensive version, if only because you'll get more storage too.
- Least expensive solution among desktops
- Works great with all types of monitors
- Remember, no monitor or accessories
- Can get expensive quickly
Most niche: Mac Pro (2019)
Made in the United States, the Mac Pro has been designed for maximum performance and expansion. It features Intel Xeon processors, an Earth-shattering high-performance memory system, eight PCIe expansion slots, and an Apple Afterburner accelerator card that lets you playback as many as three streams of 8K ProRes RAW video simultaneously.
Apple's transition from Intel to Apple silicon is nearly complete. Besides one Mac mini model, the Mac Pro is the only Mac that still has Intel inside. If you need Intel, this is good news. However, also understand the current Mac Pro's days are numbered. Look for an Apple silicon version to arrive later this year or in 2023.
- Workstation-class Xeon processors up to 28 cores
- High-performance memory system with a massive 1.5TB capacity
- Apple Afterburner accelerator card
- Recommended Pro Display XDR monitor adds to the price
- Overkill for most folks
- Could soon get replaced
Best Mac desktop of 2022
We recommend the 24-inch iMac (2021) as our favorite if you're looking for a desktop. The model includes lots of great features for everyone. It consists of a mind-blowing 4.5K Retina display and comes standard with an 8-core Apple M1 chip. In addition, unique dual-tone color choices include blue, green, pink, silver, yellow, orange, and purple.
Choose your storage and unified memory carefully since there's no way to update the machine later. Our advice: Get the configuration you can afford and wait by the door for your new iMac to arrive!
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Bryan M. Wolfe is a dad who loves technology, especially anything new from Apple. Penn State (go Nittany Lions) graduate here, also a huge fan of the New England Patriots. Thanks for reading. @bryanmwolfe
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