Apple makes five different kinds of Mac, and within each of those categories there are sub categories and variations in the specs and features.

In this feature we will take you thorough each Mac that is currently available from Apple; which Mac is best suited to which use; the Macs that are the fastest, and the Macs that are the cheapest; and the Macs that are the best value for money.

We intend to help you decide which Mac is best for your needs, so read on to find out which Mac to buy. And if you are still stumped there is even a Which Mac is right for me quiz that you can take at the end.

Every Mac reviewed

We’ve tested almost every Mac available now and in the past, so you can always draw comparisons with this year and last year’s models – especially handy if you are considering buying an older Mac from Apple’s refurbished store, from a friend, or from eBay. From time to time we will refer to our Speedmark tests as well as other tests we have performed in our labs (the latest Speedmark tests are performed running Mavericks, we will soon begin updating them for Yosemite).

These test results should give you some idea of how much power you are getting, how this Mac compares to another Apple computer, and whether the Mac you are considering is capable of doing what you are hoping to do.

Well start of which a summary of each Mac available right now before we go into more detail about each model.

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Every Apple Mac

Apple’s range of Macs includes the following:

MacBook Air

This is Apple’s ultrathin and incredibly light laptop, sometimes referred to as an ultrabook. It comes in two screen sizes, 11-inch and 13-inch. The MacBook Air was first launched in 2008 and was Apple’s first laptop to feature a SSD (flash storage). Apple’s cheapest MacBook Air costs £749. The range was last updated in  April 2014. To jump straight to MacBook Air click here.

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MacBook Pro

There are actually two types of MacBook Pro available: a MacBook Pro with a high resolution Retina display and flash storage (introduced in 2012); and a simple MacBook Pro that is the only Mac to feature a CD/DVD drive (that latter model hasn’t been updated since 2012). The Pro part of the name suggests that this is a more powerful machine than the MacBook Air, however, the prices are a lot closer than they used to be, and the MacBook Pro with its old fashioned hard drive has been left for dust by the MacBook Air.  There are two screen sizes of MacBook Pro available: a 13-inch and 15-inch version. The cheapest MacBook Pro costs £999. The Retina MacBook range was last updated in July 2014.To jump straight to Retina MacBook Pro click here / To jump straight to the non-Retina MacBook Pro click here.

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Mac mini

The Mac mini is Apple’s compact desktop computer first introduced in 2005. It’s also Apple’s cheapest Mac, starting at £499. One of the best features of the Mac mini is its HDMI port, which helps to make this Mac an excellent option for a home media centre as you can plug it directly into your TV screen. There is also a Server version of the Mac mini, which is a great solution if you are looking for a low cost easy to maintain server for a group of people. The Mac mini was last updated in October 2012. To jump straight to the Mac mini section click here.

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iMac

Apple’s iMac is probably its most famous Mac. First introduced in 1998 and causing shockwaves in personal computing, over the years the iMac has lost its old bulky CRT monitor, and slimmed down. Now it is incredibly thin, but the whole computer is still concealed behind that gorgeous display (there is no tower to hide away under your desk).  There are two different sizes of iMac available: the 21.5-inch iMac and the 27-inch iMac. In June 2014 Apple added a new lower-cost iMac at the entry-level, but the other iMacs in the range haven’t been updated since September 2014. The cheapest iMac costs £899. To jump straight to the iMac section click here.

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Mac Pro

Apple’s Mac Pro gained a whole new revolutionary design back in 2013, although very few people were able to get their hands on one before the beginning of 2014. The Mac Pro is Apple’s professional Mac with a price tag to match, starting at £2,499. It’s a fully-fledged workstation aimed at those who need the ultimate in power, or the true Mac fanatic. To jump straight to the Mac Pro section click here.

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Everything you need to know about MacBook Air

MacBook Air Specifications

There are actually four standard MacBook Air models available, in two sizes. However, the only real differences between the different models are the size of the screen, the amount of storage available, and battery life.

All the MacBook Air units offer a 1.4GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB RAM, and Intel HD Graphics 5000 as standard. The 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Air both offer either 128GB or 256GB SSD options.

There are also various build-to-order options which allow you to add a faster Intel processor (the 1.7GHz dual-core i7, for £130), more storage (512GB SSD for £240) and 8GB RAM (for £80).

As we mention above, the other key distinction between the different MacBook Air models is the battery life.  The 11-inch MacBook Air offers 9 hours of battery life, compared to 12 hours on the 13-inch MacBook Air, which should be enough to last the length of a long haul flight, or a day’s work. The 13-inch Air features a better 54-watt hour battery compared to the smaller 38-watt hour battery in the 11-inch model.

The other difference is weight and dimensions, obviously the 13-inch MacBook Air is bigger than the 11-inch model.

The 11-inch MacBook Air weighs 1.08kg, and the dimensions are 30cm by 19.2cm.

The 13-inch MacBook Air weighs 1.35kg, and the dimensions are 32.5cm by 22.7cm.

Both models are just 3mm thin at the edge, tapering to 1.7cm.

Due to its smaller screen the 11-inch MacBook Air offers fewer pixels than the 13-inch model. Up to 1366x768 at 16:9 aspect ratio, compared to 1440x900 at 16:10 aspect ratio on the 13-inch. That display is incomparable to the 13-inch Retina model, which offers 2560x1600 Retina resolution at 227 pixels per inch.

Note that the aspect ratio is different on the two Airs, the 11-inch model is the only Apple Mac to offer a 16:9 aspect ratio – which is the same as a widescreen TV. Some people find the narrower screen more restrictive.

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MacBook Air Connections

The MacBook Air doesn’t have a great deal of ports, that’s the trade-off necessary for such a thin Mac. The MacBook Air doesn’t feature a Ethernet port, for example, so if you want to plug it into a wired network at work or on holiday you will need to purchase an adaptor. However, the MacBook Air does offer built-in 802.11ac Wi-Fi so it’s unlikely that in today’s wireless world you will need to plug it into a network.

The MacBook Air also lacks a optical drive, as we said above, the only Mac to still feature a CD/DVD drive is the MacBook Pro (non Retina). We don’t find we have much use for an optical drive these days, but if you really think you need one there is always the option of purchasing Apple’s USB SuperDrive for £65.

There are two USB 3 ports, but you can also connect accessories (including external storage and monitors) to your MacBook Air via the Thunderbolt port, Apple’s high-speed connector. Thunderbolt 1 is slightly slower than the Thunderbolt 2 ports you will find on the Retina MacBook Pro, but still faster than USB 3 (20Gbps for Thunderbolt 2, compared to 10Gbps for Thunderbolt 1, compared to 5Gbps for USB 2). You can purchase various adaptors that let you plug in FireWire 800 hardware, for example, into this port.

All the MacBook Air models feature the following ports and standards

  • Mini DisplayPort
  • Thunderbolt 1 port
  • 2 USB 3 ports
  • 802.11ac Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • Stereo speakers
  • Dual microphones
  • Headphone port (including support for the iPhone headset with remote and mic)
  • Full size backlit keyboard with ambient light sensor
  • Multi-Touch trackpad

In addition the 13-inch MacBook Air features

  • SDXD card slot

How fast is the MacBook Air?

It’s not Apple’s fastest Mac, in fact, the entry level MacBook Air is, in most of our tests, Apple’s slowest current Mac. However, whether that matters depends a lot on what you will be doing with it, and what your priorities are when looking for a new Mac.

If the majority of what you do on your Mac is everyday tasks, such as sending and receiving email, browsing the web, and using office applications, the MacBook Air is quite capable of meeting your needs. Even beyond that kind of use, you can happily use the MacBook Air for editing short videos, or for working with photos from your iPhone or point-and-shoot camera.

For most people the MacBook Air is plenty fast enough. This is partly thanks to its flash storage, which speeds things up considerably. When we ran tests on the MacBook Air and the standard non-Retina MacBook Pro (which features a hard drive) the MacBook Air outperformed its so-called Pro cousin. Flash memory is better because it is faster at reading data.  This makes a huge difference when running your Mac: opening documents, starting programs and even booting up all happen much faster.

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MacBook Air Speedmark results

  • 11-inch MacBook Air/1.4GHz (128GB, Mid 2014) 131
  • 11-inch MacBook Air/1.4GHz (256GB, Mid 2014) 139
  • 13-inch MacBook Air/1.4GHz (128GB) (not tested but expect around 131)
  • 13-inch MacBook Air/1.4GHz (256GB, Mid 2014) 138
  • 11-inch MacBook Air/1.3GHz (256GB, Mid 2013) 143
  • 13-inch MacBook Air/1.3GHz (128GB, Mid 2013) 142

You’ll notice that it looks like last year’s MacBook Air models were slightly faster than the new 2014 models. Note that we believe this is because there are variations of SSD being used inside the MacBooks, and some appear to be faster than others. In general during out application testing we found the 2014 models to be faster than those of 2013.

MacBook Air Price

As we said above there are four standard versions of the MacBook Air available and various build-to-order options that you can add on at point of purchase.

  • 11-inch MacBook Air/1.4GHz (128GB) £749
  • 11-inch MacBook Air/1.4GHz (256GB) £899
  • 13-inch MacBook Air/1.4GHz (128GB) £849
  • 13-inch MacBook Air/1.4GHz (256GB) £999

Build-to-order options:

  • 1.7GHz Dual-Core Intel i7 £130
  • 8GB RAM £80
  • 512GB Flash storage £240

We recommend that you purchase the extra RAM when you buy the MacBook Air as it cannot be upgraded later. If you feel you need more storage you could buy an external hard drive or a NAS drive to store content on and back things up when necessary.

Who is the MacBook Air best for?

The MacBook Air is perfect for anyone who frequently needs to carry their laptop with them, especially students, commuters, and hotdeskers. Both models are lighter than any other Mac, and the 11-inch is not only light, it’s small too.  

Because it’s so tiny it’s also a great option if you want a Mac to use at home or at work that doesn’t take up a whole lot of space. You can always plug it into a monitor on your desk, or even plug it into a TV screen (via an adaptor) if you feel you would benefit from a bigger display.

If you don’t wish to spend a few pounds more to buy a Retina MacBook Pro then you won’t be disappointed with the MacBook Air. If the Retina display interested you, there are rumours that Apple is going to introduce a MacBook Air with a Retina display at some point.

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Everything you need to know about the Retina MacBook Pro

Retina MacBook Pro Specifications

There are actually five standard Retina MacBook Pro models available, in two sizes. Unlike the MacBook Air these different models are substantially different, with the 15-inch models gaining quad-core i7 chips, 16GB RAM and more.

The key selling point with these Macs is the Retina display, so called because it hits the sweet spot where our eyes are unable to actually detect any more pixels, so it’s about as precise as you can get, ideal for creative work.

The 13-inch model offers 2560x1600 Retina resolution at 227 pixels per inch, while the 15-inch model offers 2880x1800 resolution at 220 pixels per inch.

13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display spec

The three 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro units offer a dual-core Intel Core i5 processors, 8GB RAM, and Intel Iris Graphics as standard. They all offer 9-hour battery life, according to Apple.

The differentiators are the processor clock speeds: 2.6GHz on two models, and 2.8GHz on the high-end version; and the flash storage available: 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB.

The various build-to-order options allow you to add a faster Intel processor (a 3.0GHz dual-core i7, for £150), more storage (1TB SSD for £400) and 16GB RAM (for £160).

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15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display spec

The two 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro units both offer quad-core Intel Core i7 processors, 16GB RAM, and Intel Iris Pro Graphics as standard. These Mac laptops offer 8-hour battery life, according to Apple.

The differentiators are the processor clock speeds: 2.2GHz and 2.5GHz, and the flash storage available: 256GB, or 512GB.

The various build-to-order options allow you to add a faster Intel processor (a 2.8GHz quad-core i7, for £150), and more storage (1TB SSD for £400). Note that the 2.8GHz clock speed doesn’t mean this is a slower processor than the 3.0GHz dual-core processor offered for the 13-inch MacBook Pro Retina model: it’s an i7 and it’s a quad-core.

The above build-to-order prices depend on which model you purchase as the base unit.

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The differences between MacBook Pro and MacBook Air

One of the key distinctions between the MacBook Air models and the MacBook Pro Retina models is battery life.  The 11-inch MacBook Air offers 9 hours of battery life and the 13-inch MacBook Air offers 12 hours. This compared to 9 hours for the 13-inch MacBook Pro Retina, and 8 hours for the 15-inch Retina model.

The other difference between Apple’s laptop ranges is weight and dimensions. The 13-inch Retina MacBook weighs 1.57kg, compared to the 13-inch MacBook Air, which weighs 1.35kg. However, dimensions of the 13-inch Retina MacBook are 31.4cm by 21.9cm compared to 32.5cm by 22.7cm on the MacBook Air – so the 13-inch Air is slightly larger. The 13-inch MacBook Pro isn’t a lot thicker than the MacBook Air either, measuring 1.8cm, while the Air is 1.7cm at its thickest point (though it slims to 3mm).

The 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display measures 35.89cm by 24.71cm and weighs 2.02kg. It’s the same thickness as the 13-inch model at 1.8cm.

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Retina MacBook Pro Connections

The MacBook Pro with Retina display has a few more ports on offer than the MacBook Air. However if you are looking for a Mac capable of playing a DVD or CD you may want to look at the MacBook Pro without Retina display, or purchase a £65 SuperDrive separately. The lack of optical drive is a necessary trade-off for such a thin Mac, plus we don’t find ourselves using CDs and DVDs as much as we used to.

Like the MacBook Air, the MacBook Pro Retina doesn’t feature a Ethernet port, but it does have built-in 802.11ac Wi-Fi and if you need to plug into a wired network you will be able to purchase an adaptor separately.

There are two USB 3 ports, but you can also connect accessories (including external storage and monitors) to your Retina MacBook Pro via the two Thunderbolt ports (that’s one more than on the MacBook Air). Thunderbolt is Apple’s high-speed connector, which is faster than USB 3 (20Gbps compared to 5Gbps). You can purchase various adaptors that let you plug in FireWire 800 hardware, for example, into this port.

You will also find a HDMI port (for plugging in to you TV) and a SDXC card slot (for your camera’s memory stick) on both Retina MacBook Pro models.

All the Retina MacBook Pro models feature the following ports and standards

  • Mini DisplayPort
  • 2 Thunderbolt 2 ports
  • 2 USB 3 ports
  • HDMI port
  • SDXD card slot
  • 802.11ac Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • Headphone port (including support for the iPhone headset with remote and mic, and support for audio line out)
  • Stereo speakers
  • Dual microphones
  • Full size backlit keyboard with ambient light sensor
  • Multi-Touch trackpad

How fast is the Retina MacBook Pro?

It’s not Apple’s fastest Mac, in fact, the entry level MacBook Air is, in most of our tests, Apple’s slowest current Mac. However, whether that matters depends a lot on what you will be doing with it, and what your priorities are when looking for a new Mac.

If the majority of what you do on your Mac is everyday tasks, such as sending and receiving email, browsing the web, and using office applications, the MacBook Air is quite capable of meeting your needs. Even beyond that kind of use, you can happily use the MacBook Air for editing short videos, or for working with photos from your iPhone or point-and-shoot camera.

For most people the MacBook Air is plenty fast enough. This is partly thanks to its flash storage, which speeds things up considerably. When we ran tests on the MacBook Air and the standard non-Retina MacBook Pro (which features a hard drive) the MacBook Air outperformed its so-called Pro cousin. Flash memory is better because it is faster at reading data.  This makes a huge difference when running your Mac: opening documents, starting programs and even booting up all happen much faster.

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Retina MacBook Pro Speedmark results

  • 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro/2.6GHz i5 (Mid 2014) 158
  • 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro/2.8GHz i5 (Mid 2014) 174
  • 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro/2.2GHz i7 (Mid 2014) 246
  • 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro/2.5GHz i7 (Mid 2014) 280
  • 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro/2.4GHz i5 (Late 2013) 155
  • 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro/2.6GHz i5 (Late 2013) 177
  • 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro/2.0GHz i7 (Late 2013) 241
  • 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro/2.3GHz i7 (Late 2013) 282

You’ll notice that it looks like some of last year’s Retina MacBook Pro models were slightly faster than the new 2014 models. Note that we believe this is because there are variations of SSD being used inside the MacBooks, and some appear to be faster than others. In general during out application testing we found the 2014 models to be faster than those of 2013. Only one of the 13-inch Retina MacBooks has been tested, it is unlikely that there will be a significant difference between the two models as they feature the same processor. As mentioned, it’s the SSD drive that may affect the speed.

Retina MacBook Pro Price

As we said above there are five standard versions of the Retina MacBook Pro available and various build-to-order options that you can add on at point of purchase. You can also purchase the MacBook Pro without Retina display, but we will deal with that unit separately.

  • 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro/2.6GHz i5 (128GB) £999
  • 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro/2.6GHz i5 (256GB) £1,199
  • 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro/2.8GHz i5 (512GB) £1,399
  • 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro/2.2GHz i7 (256GB) £1,599
  • 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro/2.5GHz i7 (512GB) £1,999

Build-to-order options:

13-inch Retina MacBook Pro

  • 3.0GHz Dual-Core Intel i7 £150
  • 16GB RAM £160
  • 1TB Flash storage £400

15-inch Retina MacBook Pro

  • 2.8GHz Quad-Core Intel i7 £150
  • 1TB Flash storage £400

If you think you might need the extra RAM in your 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro we recommend that you purchase the extra RAM when you buy the Mac as it cannot be upgraded later. If you feel you need more storage you could buy an external hard drive or a NAS drive to store content on and back things up when necessary.

Who is the Retina MacBook Pro best for?

The main selling points of the Retina MacBook Pro are its high res screen, the powerful processors, and the fact that you get all that in a compact and light case. Battery life might not be as good as the MacBook Air, but 8 or 9 hours will be more than enough for most people – how often are you away from a plug socket for that long? We think the MacBook Pro with Retina display is perfect for anyone who needs a powerful laptop that they can carry around without damaging their back.

As for whether you should buy the 13- or 15-inch model, this depends foremost on what you will be using it for, and secondly on how often you will be carrying the laptop around. If what matters most to you is having a laptop that is light enough to carry with you on your commute, but powerful enough to use for power hungry applications, then the 13-inch will suit you.

If your needs are a little more advanced, the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina will serve you well. With some of the best Speedmark scores of any Mac, and significantly higher than the 13-inch models, the 15-inch models are capable of pretty much anything. And if you are wondering whether an iMac might suit you better because it has a bigger screen, remember you can always plug into your 30-inch monitor and use that when you are at your desk. 

Everything you need to know about the MacBook Pro (non-Retina)

 

MacBook Pro Specifications

There is just one non-Retina MacBook Pro model, and in many ways we are surprised that it is still available, as Apple hasn’t updated that model since 2012. Despite the predictions that it would be discontinued as Apple moved away from optical drives and switched to solid state flash storage in its laptops, the MacBook Pro lives on, testament to the fact that there are people out there who want a Mac with a CD/DVD drive and a big hard drive.

The MacBook Pro has a 13-inch glossy screen that supports resolutions up to 1,280x800 at a 16:10 aspect ratio.  In comparison, the 13-inch MacBook Air offers 1440x900 pixel, while the 13-inch Retina MacBook offers 2560x1600 Retina resolution at 227 pixels per inch, that’s twice as many pixels.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro offers a 2.5GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor, but you should note that this is an older generation of processor than the Haswell processors currently in most of the Macs Apple sells (the Mac mini also features an older processor). You’ll also find 4GB RAM (configurable to 8GB), a 500GB hard drive as standard (with configuration options for a 1TB hard drive or various SSD options), and Intel Iris Graphics 4000 (the generation before the graphics card in the MacBook Air).

Apple claims you will get up to 7 hours use out of this MacBook Pro, one hour less than the 15-inch Retina model. If you want the maximum battery life available, the other Mac laptops offer more, up to 12-hours in the case of the 13-inch MacBook Air.

The various build-to-order options allow you to add a faster Intel processor (a 2.9GHz dual-core i7, for £120), more storage (1TB hard drive for £40, 128GB SSD for £120, 256GB SSD for £280, 512GB SSD for £520) and 8GB RAM (for £80).

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MacBook Pro Connections

The MacBook Pro has a few ports that aren’t on offer on the other MacBooks, including Gigabit Ethernet, FireWire 800, a SuperDrive for playing DVDs or CDs, and a Kensington lock slot.

There are two USB 3 ports, but you can also connect accessories (including external storage and monitors) to your MacBook Pro via the one Thunderbolt 1 ports. Thunderbolt 1 is slightly slower than the Thunderbolt 2 ports (20Gbps) you will find on the Retina MacBook Pro, but still faster than USB 3 (10Gbps compared to 5Gbps).

The MacBook Pro lacks the HDMI port that features on the Retina MacBooks, but it does feature the SDXC card slot for a camera’s memory stick. You’ll also find  802.11n WiFi rather than the 802.11ac WiFi that features in Apple’s newer Macs.

The MacBook Pro features the following ports and standards

  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • Firewire 800
  • Thunderbolt 1
  • 2 USB 3 ports
  • SDXD card slot
  • 802.11n Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • Headphone port (including support for the iPhone headset with remote and mic, and support for audio line out)
  • Stereo speakers with subwoofer
  • Omnidirectional microphone
  • Full size backlit keyboard with ambient light sensor
  • Multi-Touch trackpad

How fast is the MacBook Pro?

As you would expect from a Mac that is now a few generations old, this is not one of Apple’s fastest Macs. However, that may not matter to you if you only intend to watch DVDs, play CDs, and do tasks such as browsing the web and sending emails.  

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MacBook Pro Speedmark results

  • 13-inch MacBook Pro/2.5GHz i5 (Mid 2012) Untested

We don’t have speedmark results for this particular model, however, at the time that model launched a 2.3GHz quad-core i7 MacBook Pro was available which featured an Nvidia graphics card. That model has a Speedmark of 167, and would be significantly faster than the remaining model, which features a dual-core i5 chip and Intel graphics.  The slightly more comparable, 2.4GHz MacBook Pro from late 2011, with it’s dual-core i5, 500GB HD, 4GB RAM, and Intel HD 3000 graphics, scored 85 in the Speedmark tests.

MacBook Pro Price

As we said above, there is just the one non-Retina MacBook Pro available, with a few build-to-order options that you can add on at point of purchase.

  • 13-inch MacBook Pro/2.5GHz i5 (500GB) £899

Build-to-order options:

  • 2.9GHz Dual-Core Intel i7 £120
  • 8GB RAM £80
  • 1TB hard drive £40
  • 128GB SSD £120
  • 256GB SSD £280
  • 512GB SSD £520

If you think you might need the extra RAM we would normally recommend that you purchase the extra RAM when you buy the Mac, as in most modern Macs tha RAM cannot be upgraded later, however the good news with the MacBook Pro is that you can upgrade the RAM yourself. Although it is only configurable to 8GB. We would recommend the SSD drive option for the MacBook Pro as it will speed things up considerably, although if you are paying the extra for the SSD you might as well go the whole hog and get a MacBook Air or Retina MacBook Pro. If you really need that optical drive you can get a SuperDrive for £65, and if you want more storage, then an external storage device could do the trick for you.

Who is the MacBook Pro best for?

The main selling points of the MacBook Pro is its big 500GB hard drive and the fact that it is the only Mac to still feature a optical drive for CDs and DVDs. If you want the extra storage space and don’t care that a traditional hard drive is slower than more modern flash storage, then the MacBook Pro might suit you. But, as we said above, you could purchase a separate external hard drive and get even more storage for your money. Find yourself a NAS drive and you won’t even have to plug it in as the backups and file transfers will happen over the network.  

For those people who feel that they absolutely have to have a DVD/CD drive, perhaps they have a huge music or film collection, the MacBook Pro might be a good choice, but as we said above, you can purchase a SuperDrive for £65 and plug it in when you need to. We guarantee you won’t need to use it as much as you are anticipating though. These days music and films are available as downloads, or for streaming, and software is downloaded from the developer, or from the Mac App Store, which is available on every Mac.

We feel that £899 is quite a high price to pay for what is essentially a two year old Mac, you can pay just £100 more to get a Retina display model, or you can pay less and get a 13in MacBook Air, or even less, just £749 to get a 11in MacBook Air.

Do you really need that CD drive? We bet you could live without it.

Everything you need to know about Mac mini  

Mac mini Specifications

The Mac mini is another Apple Mac that is getting a bit long in the tooth. Like the MacBook Pro without Retina display the Mac mini hasn’t been updated since 2012. As with the MacBook Pro, there have been rumours that Apple will discontinue this diminutive desktop Mac. These rumours have some Mac mini lovers up in arms; this Mac is surprisingly popular in certain circles.

There are actually three standard Mac mini models available. The entry-level Mac mini features a dual-core 2.5GHz i5 processor and 500GB hard drive. Next up is a more powerful quad-core 2.3GHz i7 processor with a 1TB hard drive. There is also a Mac mini Server, which features a 2.3GHz quad-core i7 and two 1TB hard drives, for 2TB of storage. That model ships with Mac OS X server.

All the Mac mini units offer Intel HD Graphics 4000 as standard, as seen in the MacBook Pro.

There are also various build-to-order options which allow you to add up to 16GB RAM, a faster Intel processor (the 2.6GHz dual-core i7, for £80), flash storage (256GB SSD for £160), and the option of adding a Fusion Drive, which combines flash storage with a hard drive (for £160), and extra RAM (8GB for £80, 16GB for £240).

If you are comparing the Mac mini to Apple’s other desktop computers the key differences are clearly the compact dimensions and the lack of screen.

The Mac mini weights 1.22kg and the dimensions are 19.7cm by 19.7cm. It’s just 3.6cm tall.

When it comes to the amount of space the unit will take up on your desk, its footprint is smaller than the 11-inch MacBook Air, with dimensions of 30cm by 19.2cm.

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Mac mini Connections

The Mac mini offers a few ports that other Macs don’t.  Like the non-Retina MacBook Pro, it offers a FireWire 800 port, which will be important to those who have previously made big investments in FireWire peripherals, although you could purchase a Thunderbolt to FireWire adaptor and continue to use them (there is one Thunderbolt 1 port on the Mac mini which offers a throughput of 10Gbps).

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, the Mac mini offers an HDMI port, and perhaps for this reason it is a very popular Mac for those wishing to set up a Mac media centre in their living room.

You will also find four USB 3 ports, an SDXD card slot, and even an IR receiver.

The Mac mini features an Ethernet port, and built-in 802.11n Wi-Fi like the MacBook Pro (not the 802.11ac offered by the newer Macs).

The Mac mini also lacks an optical drive, as we said above, the only Mac to still feature a CD/DVD drive is the MacBook Pro (non Retina). We don’t find we have much use for an optical drive these days, but if you really think you need one there is always the option of purchasing Apple’s USB SuperDrive for £65.

All the Mac mini models feature the following ports and standards

  • Thunderbolt 1
  • FireWire 800
  • 4 USB 3 ports
  • HDMI port
  • SDXC card slot
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • Audio in/out
  • IR receiver
  • 802.11n Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 4.0

How fast is the Mac mini?

As you would expect from a Mac that is now a few generations old, this is not one of Apple’s fastest Macs, however, the quad-core i7 versions of the Mac mini are surprisingly speedy still. For this reason we would still recommend the £649 Mac mini with 2.3Ghz quad-core i7 as a pretty good deal.

Mac mini Speedmark results

  • Mac mini/2.3GHz (quad-core i7, 4GB RAM, 1TB HD, 1GB Intel HD 4000, Late 2012) 149
  • Mac mini/2.6GHz (quad-core i7, 16GB RAM, 1TB Fusion Drive, 1GB Intel HD 4000, Late 2012 BTO) 165

We don’t have Speedmark results for the entry level model, however, the £649 model scores a pretty decent 149, which is faster than the current range of MacBook Airs, despite their flash storage. We’ve also got test results for the build-to-order 2.6GHz Mac mini. £729 for a desktop Mac with a Speedmark of 165. That’s still cheaper than the entry level MacBook Air, although obviously you need to factor in the cost of a display.

Mac mini Price

As we said above, there are three Mac minis available, with a few build-to-order options that you can add on at point of purchase.

  • Mac mini/2.5GHz dual-core i5 (500GB) £499
  • Mac mini/2.3GHz quad-core i7 (1TB) £649
  • Mac mini/2.3GHz quad-core i7 (2TB) £829

Build-to-order options:

  • 2.6GHz Dual-Core Intel i7 £80
  • 8GB RAM £80
  • 16GB RAM £240
  • 1TB Fusion Drive £160
  • 256GB SSD £280
  • 512GB SSD £480

If you think you might need the extra RAM we recommend that you purchase the extra RAM when you buy the Mac mini, as while it is possible to upgrade the RAM in a Mac mini it’s a bit of a challenge to get into the case (and it will void your warranty if you do so). We would recommend the Fusion Drive option as the SSD part of the storage will speed things up considerably, while the extra capacity of the hard drive is likely to come in handy. If you are setting the Mac mini up as a home media centre you may miss the fact that it lacks an optical drive, but you can always purchase a SuperDrive for £65, and continue to play DVDs and CDs that way.

Who is the Mac mini best for?

As we’ve said, the Mac mini is a popular choice for those looking for a media centre for their living room, as it allows you to connect to the web and stream content in a way that you cannot currently do simply via the Apple TV. Read more about setting up a Mac mini as a media centre here.  

When Apple first introduced the Mac mini it was particularly popular with people switching from Windows for the first time, and it continues to be popular with this group, being as it is a low cost Mac. If you already own a monitor, keyboard and mouse there is no need to purchase a new set of peripherals, after all. 

Despite being two years old now, the Mac mini is a good deal for the money, although we would opt for the £649 model as the £150 price jump does bring you a significantly faster processor and a humungous 1TB hard drive.

If you are a gamer, this may not be the best Mac for you due to its older Intel graphics card.

The only thing that really stops us from recommending the Mac mini is the fact that we are sure that Apple will update it soon. Although, as we said earlier, the company could equally well discontinue the Mac mini.

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Everything you need to know about the iMac

iMac Specifications

You may be thinking that the iMac was recently updated, but all Apple did in June was introduce a new entry-level model and lower prices across the range.

The rest of the iMac range has not been updated since September 2013.

For that reason we expect that Apple will update the iMacs before the year is out, although rumours that they will include a Retina display on the iMac are yet to be proven.

For now, the iMac line up includes three 21.5-inch models and two 27-inch models. 

The entry-level iMac, which costs £899, features a 1.4GHz dual-core i5 processor, 8GB RAM, and a 500GB hard drive.

Next up is an iMac that for another £150 gives you a faster 2.7GHz i5 processor, 8GB RAM, and a 1TB hard drive. For another £150, the top-of-the-range 21-inch iMac offers a 2.9GHz i5 processor, 8GB RAM, and a 1TB hard drive.

The 27-inch iMacs also offer i5 processors (unlike the 15-inch MacBook Pros which introduce i7 processors at the high-end). However, the processors in the 27-inch iMacs are quad-core, so you can expect more power from them compared to the smaller iMacs. The entry-level 27-inch iMac features a 3.2GHz quad-core i5 processor, and the top of the range iMac offers a 3.4GHz quad-core i5 processor. Both models feature 8GB RAM and a 1TB hard drive.

You may be wondering why the iMacs don’t yet feature SSD flash drives. Knowing how much of a boost an SSD gives to a Mac we find it surprising that Apple continues to include hard drives as standard in the iMacs. Luckily there are various build-to-order options which allow you to add Fusion Drives and flash storage, as well as up to 16GB RAM, and faster Intel processors (3.1GHz dual-core i7, for £160 on the 21-inch; 3.5GHz dual-core i7, for £190 on the 27-inch). The flash storage options include: 256GB SSD for £160, 512GB SSD for £400 and the option of adding a Fusion Drive, which combines flash storage with a hard drive (for £160). We think that the Fusion Drive is a great solution, allowing you to benefit from more storage capacity and a faster experience.

Note that the only upgrade options on the entry-level £899 iMac are the Fusion Drive (£200) and other SSD options. Read why we recommend that you buy the Fusion Drive to go with the £899 iMac here.

The graphics cards are another differentiator between the different iMacs. The £899 model features the Intel HD 500 found in the MacBook Air, the next model up features the Intel Iris Pro, while the top of the range 21-inch iMac features the Nvidia GeForce GT 750M. The 27-inch models offer the Nvidia GeForce GT 755M and Nvidia GeForce GT 775M.

Where the £899 iMac features the exact same processor and graphics as the MacBook Air, the other iMac’s are more comparable to Apple’s Retina MacBook Pro. Obviously a big part of your decision if you are choosing between the two will be your need for portability. Remember that if you choose a laptop you can always plug it into your screen when you are at your desk.

Wondering how much space the iMac will take up on your desk? The 21.5-inch iMac dimensions are 52.8cm wide by 45cm high. The 27-inch iMac dimensions are 65cm wide and 51.6cm high. The screen is just 5mm thick (or should that be thin). The base at the bottom of the iMac measures 17.5cm on the 21-inch and 20.3cm on the 27in. The iMacs weigh 5.68kg or 9.54kg, so we don’t recommend carrying them around.

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iMac Connections

Like many Macs, the iMac offers an SDXC slot, USB slots, Thunderbolt 1 ports, 802.11ac WiFi, and Ethernet. It is yet to gain Thunderbolt 2, which currently is only available on the Retina MacBook Pro and the Mac Pro.

There is no FireWire port on the iMac, if you want a dedicated FireWire port you’re only options are the non-Retina MacBook Pro and the Mac mini – but you can of course plug an FireWire adaptor into one of the two Thunderbolt ports.

You will find four USB 3 ports, which is the same number available on the Mac mini and Mac Pro.

The iMac lacks an optical drive, Apple traded in the built in SuperDrive when it slimmed down the monitor to a super-thin 5mm. As we said above, the only Mac to still feature a CD/DVD drive is the non-Retina MacBook Pro. We don’t find we have much use for an optical drive these days, but if you really think you need one there is always the option of purchasing Apple’s USB SuperDrive for £65.

 

All the iMac models feature the following ports and standards

  • 2 Thunderbolt 1 ports
  • 4 USB 3 ports
  • SDXC card slot
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • Headphone port (with support for Apple iPhone headset with microphone)
  • 802.11ac Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 4.0

How fast is the iMac?

The top of the range iMac is one of Apple’s fastest Macs, although the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro scores higher, and so does the Mac Pro, as you would expect. However, it is likely that the hard drive is what is slowing down this generation of iMacs, indeed, if you look at our Speedtest results below, you will see that by adding a Fusion Drive you can see a huge boost.

iMac Speedmark results

  • 21.5in iMac/1.4GHz dual-core Core i5 (21.5-inch, Mid 2014) 116
  • 21.5in iMac/2.7GHz (quad-core i5, 8GB RAM, 1TB HD, 1GB Intel Iris, Late 2013) 179
  • 21.5in iMac/2.9GHz (quad-core i5, 8GB RAM, 1TB HD, 1GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 750M, Late 2013) 189
  • 27in iMac/3.2GHz (27-inch quad-core i5, 8GB RAM, 1TB HD, 1GB Nvidia GeForce GT 755M, Late 2013) 211
  • 27in iMac/3.4GHz (quad-core i5, 8GB RAM, 1TB HD, 2GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 775M, Late 2013) 235
  • 27in iMac/3.5GHz (quad-core i7, 8GB RAM, 3TB Fusion Drive, 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 780M, Late 2013, BTO) 326

As you can see, there is quite a leap between the Speedmark results for the entry-level model and the next iMac up. The 116 Speedmark is even slower than the Speedmark of the MacBook Air (131), despite the fact that the machines use the same processor. This is due to the slow hard drive. As we explain in our iMac review, we advise those purchasing an iMac to upgrade it with a Fusion Drive that combines an SSD with a hard drive as this will make a much bigger impact than spending £150 to get the next 2.7GHz iMac.  

There is also quite a leap from the 21.5-inch iMac models to the 27-inch models when it comes to our Speedmark results. This isn’t surprising as the 27-inch iMacs are aimed at the power user, and have a price to match. 

We have also tested a build-to-order 27in iMac with the 3.5GHz processor and 3TB Fusion Drive and it scored an amazing 326. That set up would cost you £2,069 which might sound a lot, but when you compare it to the Mac Pro, which starts at £2,499 and scores 291, or the £3,299 Mac Pro that scores 323, you might want to save yourself the extra expense with the bonus of not needing to find a monitor either. 

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iMac Price

As we said above, there are five iMacs available, with a few build-to-order options that you can add on at point of purchase.

  • 21.5in iMac/1.4GHz (500GB) £899
  • 21.5in iMac/2.7GHz (1TB) £1,049
  • 21.5in iMac/2.9GHz (1TB) £1,199
  • 27in iMac/3.2GHz (1TB) £1,449
  • 27in iMac/3.4GHz (1TB) £1,599

Build-to-order options:

  • 3.1GHz Quad-core Intel Core i7 £160 (21-inch only)
  • 3.5GHz Quad-core Intel Core i7 £190 (27-inch only)
  • 16GB RAM £160
  • 32GB RAM £480 (27-inch only)
  • 3TB Hard Drive £120 (27-inch only)
  • 1TB Fusion Drive £160
  • 3TB Fusion Drive £280 (27-inch only)
  • 256GB SSD £160
  • 512GB SSD £400
  • 1TB SSD £800 (27-inch only)

Our one recommendation with the iMac is that you purchase a Fusion Drive, or an SSD as a build-to-order option. The iMacs are let down by the hard drives that come as standard. We expect that the next generation of iMacs are likely to use flash storage as the Mac Pro does. It’s also worth updating the 21-inch models to take 16GB RAM as it’s not possible to update the RAM at a later date.

The entry-level iMac has very few upgrade options, and there is no way to upgrade the RAM at point-of-purchase or after as the RAM is soldered on. As we said above, we would recommend the Fusion Drive option on this model as it will speed things up considerably.

Who is the iMac best for?

It’s a desktop Mac, so the iMac is obviously best for someone who doesn’t mind being tied to their desk. Perhaps you already own a laptop and need a decent work machine. The great thing about buying an Apple computer is that because everything is tied to your iCloud account all your Safari bookmarks, iCloud documents, and applications will be available to you on all of your Macs.

The type of person for whom the 21-inch iMac is ideal will be different to the type who would require a 27-inch iMac.

The 21-inch iMacs are great options for most general use. If you are a gamer we would steer you away from the £899 iMac as the graphics card doesn’t support many popular modern games. The other 21-inch iMacs, particularly the £1,199 model, which has an Nvidia graphics card, will do a better job.

For professionals who need a powerful Mac the 27-inch models are excellent options.  It is likely that for this category of user the choice will be between the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro, iMac, and Mac Pro. With Speedmarks of 211 and 235, the iMacs are slightly slower than the new 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro, which scored 246 and 280. The Mac Pro is obviously even faster but it’s also a lot more expensive, and as we note above, you can upgrade your iMac and spend less and get a machine gives the Mac Pro a run for its money.

The difference is the fact that you get a 27-inch screen with the iMac, but many professional Mac users will already own a 30-inch display that they can plug into a MacBook Pro. (You will still hear complaints about the older iMacs and their super glossy screens, luckily Apple listened to the complaints and for the past couple of generations, those using the iMac haven’t had to spend their days gazing at their own reflections.)

As for the rumour that Apple may soon introduce a Retina iMac, we can only wait and see. If and when Apple does, we expect that the company will introduce SSD storage as standard and you can expect to see a big speed increase.

Read:

Everything you need to know about the Mac Pro

 

Mac Pro Specifications

Having neglected the Mac Pro for a few years, Apple in 2013 updated the Mac Pro. For many this 2013 Mac Pro didn’t ship until spring 2014 though. There are two standard Mac Pro models, a quad-core 3.7GHz Intel Xeon E5 (£2,499) and a 6-core 3.5GHz Intel Xeon E5 (£3,299). As well as sporting more cores and a different processor, the top-of-the range Mac Pro also features 16GB RAM (rather than 12GB RAM), and faster graphics cards, the Dual AMD FirePro D500 with 3GB GDDR5 VRAM each (rather than the Dual AMD FirePro D300?with 2GB GDDR5 VRAM each). Note that those are dual graphics cards, one of the selling points of the Mac Pro.  Apple have engineered a powerful GPU architecture for the Mac Pro. Apple claims that with the additional power, users will be able to “seamlessly edit full-resolution 4K video while simultaneously rendering effects in the background - and still have enough power to connect up to three high-resolution 4K displays.”

Both standard units also feature 256GB flash storage, with build-to-order options for 512GB or 1TB of flash storage. 

We’ve heard that Intel is shipping new Xeon E5 chips so we expect that Apple will be updating the Mac Pro soon. Read more about the 2014 Mac Pro here.

Most people buying the Mac Pro will be choosing from the various build-to-order options, of which there are many. Choices include a 12-core 2.7GHz processor, 64GB RAM, a 1TB flash drive, and the Dual AMD FirePro D700 GPUs with 6GB of GDDR5 VRAM. If you were to build the ultimate Mac Pro it would cost you £7,299.

Wondering how much space the Mac Pro will take up on your desk? The Mac Pro has a diameter of 16.7cm and is 25.1cm tall. It weighs 5kg, a fraction less than the 21-inch iMac. The old aluminium Mac Pro is a giant in comparison.

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Mac Pro Connections

The Mac Pro offers six Thunderbolt 2 ports – that’s enough to drive three 4K displays or six Thunderbolt displays, if you wanted to. You’ll also find Dual Gigabit Ethernet – two Ethernet controllers, each connected to it’s own lane, ensuring that there is enough bandwidth to operate at full speed. As you would expect the Mac Pro also offers 802.11ac WiFi.

There is no FireWire port on the Mac Pro, but as we’ve already mentioned above, you can get a Thunderbolt to FireWire adaptor. There are four USB 3 ports, the same number as you will find on the Mac mini and iMac.

The Mac Pro lacks an optical drive. We don’t find we have much use for an optical drive these days, but if you really think you need one there is always the option of purchasing Apple’s USB SuperDrive for £65.

Read:

 

All the Mac Pro models feature the following ports and standards

  • 6 Thunderbolt 2 ports
  • 4 USB 3 ports
  • Dual Gigabit Ethernet
  • HDMI 1.4 UltraHD
  • Headphone port
  • Microphone port
  • 802.11ac Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 4.0

How fast is the Mac Pro?  

As you would expect from Apple’s flagship Mac, the Mac Pro is fast. The surprising fact is that the year-old 27-inch iMac (235) and the top-of-the-range 15-inch MacBook Pro (280) aren’t that far behind the entry-level model (291). And if you bump up your iMac when you buy it with build to order options you can get a pretty speedy Mac for your money (326) that rivals even the six-core Mac Pro model (323).

However, there is more to the Mac Pro than the speed and many users will be attracted to many of the advanced technologies that come with it, such as the dual GPUs, the powerful multicore processors, the Thunderbolt 2 ports, and the super-fast flash storage. For many the build-to-order options will allow them to build a professional and powerful workstation that will be able to do things an iMac user could only dream of. 

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Mac Pro Speedmark results

  • Mac Pro/3.7GHz (quad-core, Late 2013) 291
  • Mac Pro/3.5GHz (six-core, Late 2013) 323
  • Mac Pro/3.0GHz (8-core Xeon E5, 32GB RAM, 512GB flash storage, dual 6GB AMD FirePro D700, Late 2013, BTO) 350

We tested one build-to-order model with the 8-core set up and the ultimate graphics card (it would have cost £5,219). For now that is the fastest Mac we have ever tested, scoring 350. But if we manage to get our hands on the 12-core version we expect to be astounded.

Mac Pro Price

As we said above, there are five iMacs available, with a few build-to-order options that you can add on at point of purchase.

  • Mac Pro/3.7GHz (quad-core) £2,499
  • Mac Pro/3.5GHz (six-core) £3,299

Build-to-order options:

  • 3.5GHz 6-core with 12MB of L3 cache £400 (quad-core only)
  • 3.0GHz 8-core with 25MB of L3 cache £1,600 / £1,200
  • 2.7GHz 12-core with 30MB of L3 cache £2,800 / £2,400
  • 16GB RAM £80 (quad-core only)
  • 32GB RAM £400 / £320
  • 64GB RAM £1,040 / £960
  • 512GB SSD £240
  • 1TB SSD £640
  • Dual AMD FirePro D500 GPUs with 3GB GDDR5 VRAM £320 (quad-core only)
  • Dual AMD FirePro D700 GPUs with 6GB GDDR5 VRAM £800 / £480

Configuring the ultimate Mac Pro will cost you a cool £7,779. If you have any cash to spare then you could add a Sharp 32-inch 4K monitor to that for £2,999. Or why not go the whole hog and add three Sharp 4K monitors, to the tune of £16,776. That would be quite a Mac set up.

We would tend to recommendation that, if you have the cash, you opt for the six-core Mac Pro over the quad-core, but even better, add as many build-to-order options as you can afford.

Who is the Mac Pro best for?

The Mac Pro is the Mac for professionals who need extreme processing capability. For example, someone who wants a “video editing powerhouse” as Apple says, or those who use 3D applications.

If you are a power used the Mac Pro might intrigue you, but you will likely find that the iMac or Retina MacBook Pro are sufficient for your needs. 

Everything else you need to know about Apple’s Macs

What is the fastest Mac?

Here is a list of the fastest Macs, according to our Speedmark results. Note that the two Macs at the top of this list are both build-to-order options.

  • Mac Pro/3.0GHz (8-core Xeon E5, 32GB RAM, 512GB flash storage, dual 6GB AMD FirePro D700, Late 2013, BTO) 350
  • 27in iMac/3.5GHz (quad-core i7, 8GB RAM, 3TB Fusion Drive, 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 780M, Late 2013, BTO) 326
  • Mac Pro/3.5GHz (six-core, Late 2013) 323
  • Mac Pro/3.7GHz (quad-core, Late 2013) 291
  • 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro/2.5GHz i7 (Mid 2014) 280
  • 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro/2.2GHz i7 (Mid 2014) 246
  • 27in iMac/3.4GHz (quad-core i5, 8GB RAM, 1TB HD, 2GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 775M, Late 2013) 235
  • 27in iMac/3.2GHz (27-inch quad-core i5, 8GB RAM, 1TB HD, 1GB Nvidia GeForce GT 755M, Late 2013) 211

Upgradability – essential upgrade options for Macs

Unfortunately over the years Macs have become nigh on impossible to upgrade, as in its efforts to slim down the units Apple has glued components in place.  Apple is also notorious for using its own proprietary standards, so if you were to try and add a new SSD drive at a later date, for example, expect to be stumped.  The best advice is to build the Mac you need for the future when you purchase it from Apple. Our first recommendation would be to always upgrade the RAM to as much as you can afford. And where available opt for an SSD or a Fusion Drive. You can always plug in an external hard drive or use a wireless NAS drive. 

Macs also support the following standards, but you will need to purchase an adaptor to use them:

  • DVI output using Mini DisplayPort to DVI Adapter (sold separately)
  • VGA output using Mini DisplayPort to VGA Adapter (sold separately)
  • Dual-link DVI output using Mini DisplayPort to Dual-Link DVI Adapter (sold separately)
  • HDMI audio and video output using third-party Mini DisplayPort to HDMI Adapter (sold separately)
  • Apple Thunderbolt to FireWire Adapter (sold separately)
  • Apple Thunderbolt to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter (sold separately)

Summary: take our which Mac is right for me quiz

Q: How much money are you prepared to pay for a new Mac?

1. As little as possible

2. No more than £900

3. About £1,000

4. No more than £1,500

5. Money is no object

Q: What do you do on your Mac

1. Surf the web, read emails, photos

2. All the above, plus some work stuff

3. All the above, plus games

4. I mainly use it for my work, which can be intense at times

5. I do intense graphics work and I need a Mac to match

Q: Do you need to carry your Mac with you?

1. I don’t really mind, it just needs to be cheap

2.  Yes, and I would like it to be as light as possible

3. Yes, but if I get a laptop it needs to be powerful

4. This Mac will be sat on my desk at work

5. I have a lot of equipment that lives on my desk

Q: What Mac would you be replacing?

1. A PC

2. MacBook

3. MacBook Pro

4. iMac

5. Mac Pro

Results…. Count up your choices

Mostly 1. The Mac mini might be perfect for you, but we recommend hanging on because Apple may soon update it. Alternatively, you could look on the Apple Refurbished & Clearance Store to see if you can pick up a bargain there.

Mostly 2. We recommend the MacBook Air. It’s a great option for general use. If you can afford to pay a bit more then the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina is a great option.

Mostly 3. If you chose mostly 3s, then the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro is probably for you. It’s an amazingly powerful machine, and has the added bonus of being portable and having a gorgeous display.

Mostly 4. The 27-inch iMac is a great option for anyone who needs a powerful Mac for pretty intense work. Although it’s worth considering a 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro as these are currently more powerful Macs (but expect Apple to update the iMac soon).

Mostly 5. The Mac Pro is probably the obvious choice here, but it’s still worth considering the 15-inch MacBook Pro or an iMac with a Fusion Drive.