Mac Buyer's Guide

13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar close up
13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar close up (Image credit: iMore)

Apple's computer lineup falls into two categories: laptop and desktop. However, within each of those categories, you'll discover many choices that make it possible for you to find exactly what you need for your life. But with so many options, it can also lead to some confusion. Is the iPad Pro a better computing device than the MacBook Air, for example? What's the difference between the iMac and the iMac Pro? And what about storage and memory upgrade options?

Let's get right to it; here's the Mac Buyer's Guide!

iPad Pro vs. MacBook: Which should you buy?

Source: iMore

Source: iMore (Image credit: Source: iMore)

Apple offers an iPad that's close to a Mac ... and a Mac that's close to an iPad: iPad Pro and the MacBook Air. iPad Pro comes in two sizes, 11-inch and 12.9-inch. MacBook Air comes in one size, 13-inches. Both are powerful in their own right, with the latest chipset and best GPU ever for their respective models. They are ideal for everything from planes to coffee shops, classrooms to boardrooms to living rooms. But which one is ideal for you?

iPad Pro vs. MacBook Air: Which should you buy?

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

MacBook lineup

MacBook lineup (Image credit: iMore)

Apple currently has two laptops in their product lineup — the ultralight MacBook Air and the powerful MacBook Pro, available in 13-inch or 16-inch varieties. Together, they cover a wide range of portability, performance, and, yes, price points. So, which Apple laptop is perfect for you?

Which Mac laptop should you get?

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

Mac mini setup with audio system

Mac mini setup with audio system (Image credit: iMore)

Apple has four different Mac desktops in its lineup; the iMac, the iMac Pro, the Mac Pro, and the Mac mini.

The company's 27-inch iMac features a Retina 5K display that's nothing short of stunning and was last updated in 2020. The 21.5-inch 4K model (2009) is a powerhouse all it's own. The iMac Pro is higher-end than the iMac, but not overly juiced up like the Mac Pro.

The Mac Pro is the granddaddy of them all. Apple rebuilt it in 2019 to be completely customizable. You can also add your own aftermarket graphics and processor cards to fit your needs.

The Mac mini is not so much a powerhouse in itself, but this little DIY Mac is the best for the price when daisy-chained with multiple Mac minis. It doesn't come with any peripherals, no display, no keyboard, and no mouse, but it's built specifically for the home computer customizer. You can make it into whatever you want. But keep in mind that the new M1 Mac mini is not as customizable on the inside as previous generations, since you cannot upgrade the RAM due to the fact that it is now on the M1 system-on-a-chip (SoC).

With this many choices, you may be wondering which Mac desktop suites your needs. We've got the answer for you.

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

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

27-inch iMac 2020

27-inch iMac 2020 (Image credit: iMore)

iMac is an exquisite 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. However, within the iMac product line, there are many options to consider, so let's take a look at what Apple is offering.

Which all-in-one desktop Mac should you get?

Mac Pro: What options for Apple's high-end Mac should you get?

2019 Mac Pro

2019 Mac Pro (Image credit: Rene Ritchie / iMore)

The new Mac Pro is a game-changer. It has a wide swath of customizable configurations that can be added when you buy or later down the road as you need it.

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

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

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? Again, it depends on what you plan on doing with your computer.

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

Apple silcon vs. Intel

In late 2020, Apple introduced the first Apple silicon-based Macs. These include select 13-inch MacBook Pro and Mac mini models and the entire MacBook Air lineup. Each features an Apple M1 chip. Eventually, Apple will replace all Intel-based Macs with those featuring in-house chips.

Whether to purchase a new Mac with Intel or Apple silicon is a choice based on several factors, including compatibility, price, and overall needs. Be sure to read more about the differences before making your purchase.

Apple M1 chip: Everything you need to know

Current recommendations

As Apple adds new Macs to its lineup, iMore adjusts our yearly recommendations. Be sure to check out our latest recommendations before making a decision.

Mac Buyer's Guide: 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?

Mac: Help and discussion forums

Bryan M Wolfe
Staff Writer

Bryan M. Wolfe has written about technology for over a decade on various websites, including TechRadar, AppAdvice, and many more. Before this, he worked in the technology field across different industries, including healthcare and education. He’s currently iMore’s lead on all things Mac and macOS, although he also loves covering iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. Bryan enjoys watching his favorite sports teams, traveling, and driving around his teenage daughter to her latest stage show, audition, or school event in his spare time. He also keeps busy walking his black and white cocker spaniel, Izzy, and trying new coffees and liquid grapes.