If you're wondering which Mac to buy, you've come to the right place. In our 2019 buying guide you'll find everything you need to know about the MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, Mac mini, iMac, iMac Pro and Mac Pro, with expert buying advice to help you choose the machine (and configuration) that's right for you.

Apple makes seven different types of Mac, and within each of those categories there are variations in the specs and features, so things can get pretty complicated. That's where this complete guide comes in, helping you make the right decision. If you're simply looking for a great offer, visit our MacBook deals and iMac and Mac mini deals pages.

The current Mac range, in brief

Let's first take you through each Mac that is currently available from Apple, to give you an overview of what's on offer and what you've got to choose from.

Apple makes three types of laptop and four types of desktop Mac.

Mac laptops

12in screen
From £1,249/$1,299
Pros: Very light, gorgeous design, Retina display
Cons: Not much power, quite expensive for its tech specs, single USB-C port may prove tricky with peripherals, some concerns about the keyboard
Latest review: MacBook 2017 review
Best for: Students (if your budget can stretch), commuters, writers, home users
Last updated: June 2017
When to buy: Wait if you can - we're expecting an update in first half of 2019
Where to buy: Apple (UK store or US store), KRCS, Currys, John Lewis
Find out more about the MacBook

MacBook Air
13in screen
From £949/$999 (for older model), £1,199/$1,199 (for new model)
Pros: Cheapest Apple laptop, lightest 13in model, 2018 models include TouchID
Cons: Older model has no Retina display, 2018 models are more expensive, both heavier than regular MacBook
Latest review: MacBook Air 2018 review
Best for: Students, home users
Last updated: October 2018
When to buy: Now
Where to buy: Apple (UK store or US store), KRCS, Currys, John Lewis
Find out more about the MacBook Air

MacBook Pro
13in or 15in screen
From £1,249/$1,299
Pros: Most powerful Apple laptop, Touch Bar model available (which also includes Touch ID fingerprint sensor), bigger screen option, Retina display with True Tone, now with up to 9th-gen Intel Core i9
Cons: More expensive than the Air, heaviest MacBook available, USB-C ports may prove tricky with peripherals
Latest reviews: MacBook Pro 13in (2018) review and MacBook Pro 15in (2018) review cover last year's models, but we'll review the 2019 models as soon as we get samples
Best for: Anyone that needs power on the go
Last updated: May 2019 (but older non-Touch Bar 13in MacBook Pro is still on sale)
When to buy: Now, but make sure you're getting the 2019 models
Where to buy: Apple (UK store or US store), Currys, John Lewis, KRCS
Find out more about the MacBook Pro

Mac desktop computers

Mac mini
No screen
From £799/$799
Pros: Cheapest Mac, small desktop option
Cons: No screen, no keyboard or mouse, no option for discrete graphics
Best for: Those who simply need a Mac on a budget, developers
Latest review: 2018 Mac mini review.
Last updated: October 2018
When to buy: Now
Where to buy: Apple (UK store or US store), Currys, KRCS
Find out more about the Mac mini

21.5in or 27in screen
From £1,049/$1,099
Pros: Powerful, big screen, all-in-one
Cons: Not portable, can get very expensive if you choose to upgrade
Best for: Offices, designers, video editors
Latest review: 27in iMac & 21.5in iMac
Last updated: Mar 2019
When to buy: Now
Where to buy: Apple (UK store or US store), Currys, KRCS
Find out more about the iMac
Also, read about what we expect from the 2020 iMac here.

iMac Pro
27in screen
From £4,899/$4,999
Pros: Stunning Space Grey design, incredible power (the most powerful Mac Apple has ever made), future-proof, 5K display (same as on 27in iMac)
Cons: Very expensive
Best for: Professional designers, video editors and others requiring huge amounts of rendering/processing power from their Mac
Latest review: iMac Pro review
Last updated: Unveiled in June 2017, launched on 14 December 2017
When to buy: We're expecting an update in the first half of 2019
Where to buy: Apple (UK store or US store), KRCS
Find out more about the iMac Pro

Mac Pro
No screen
From £2,999/$2,999
Pros: Extremely powerful, lots of ports
Cons: No screen, keyboard or mouse; last updated in 2013; very expensive
Best for: Professional designers, video editors and others requiring huge amounts of power from their Mac.
Latest review: Mac Pro (2013) review
Last updated: 2013, update confirmed for 2019
When to buy: We're expecting an update in the first half of 2019
Where to buy: Apple (UK store or US store), Currys, KRCS
Find out more about the Mac Pro

MacBook (aka 12in MacBook)

Best Mac buying guide: MacBook

Available from: Apple (UK store or US store), Currys, John Lewis, KRCS
Last updated: WWDC 2017 last June
Price: From £1,249/$1,299
Latest review: MacBook 2017 review

Apple's MacBook is a stylish and portable machine for those who aren't as concerned about some of the practicalities and power. It has only one port and a basic processor. But it does have a Retina display, and comes in Gold, Silver, and Space Grey, just like the iPhone - and also the MacBook Air...

Who is the MacBook best for?

There are many Mac users for whom the MacBook will not be ideal. It is not as powerful as the MacBook Pro or the MacBook Air, for example.

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 should be quite capable of meeting your needs. If you're wanting to edit movies using Final Cut Pro, this Mac won't cut the mustard.

MacBook specs

There are two standard MacBook models available, both with a 12in screen (measured diagonally). Both are the same size and weight, which means they're both brilliantly slim and light.

The key difference between the two models is the amount of storage available, and the speed of the processor. Find out which is Apple's fastest Mac here.

The entry-level model as the less speedy 1.2GHz dual-core Intel Core m3 processor with 256GB of flash storage. The higher-priced MacBook offers a slightly faster 1.3GHz dual-core Intel Core m5 processor, and 512GB flash storage. Both models offer 8GB RAM and Intel HD Graphics 615.

What does this mean in practical terms? The MacBook is certainly not Apple's fastest Mac, but having flash storage rather than a hard drive does speed things up significantly. In our Geekbench tests, the MacBook was slightly faster than the older version of the MacBook Air - but far behind the newer 2018 MacBook Air.

With a price tag as high as the MacBook's, we'd like to see a bit more speed, but it's the price you pay for the gorgeous, sleek and stylish design. You can upgrade the processor further at checkout using the build-to-order options, too, but this of course will add to the price.

It's thanks to the less powerful chips that the MacBook is so slim and light. The Core M chip doesn't require fans, and by slimming down the logic board Apple has been able to utilise every last corner for battery.

Even the Retina display on the MacBook is the thinnest screen ever on a Mac. It offers a 16:10 aspect ratio and a resolution of 2304 x 1440. It also uses less energy than Retina displays on other Macs so is both crisp and efficient.

The MacBook sports a Force Touch trackpad as well as a new keyboard with a second-generation butterfly mechanism for more natural and comfortable typing.

Apple admits that the MacBook is designed for the wireless world, and it has to be: there is only one port. This USB-C port supports power in and out, so you can charge your MacBook from it, as well as plug in a hard drive or other peripherals. Keep in mind that this means you'll need an adapter for any devices that require the older USB-A port.

Provision of just one port is the trade-off required for Apple to create such a thin Mac. The port on the MacBook offers charging and DisplayPort 1.2 connectivity, but you will need an adaptor for the latter. If you want to plug more than one thing in at a time you will need a USB C hub. For advice on that see our pick of the best USB-C accessories for MacBook.

The MacBook offers 802.11ac Wi-Fi, but like the MacBook Air, the MacBook doesn't feature an Ethernet port, so if you want to plug it into a wired network you will need to purchase an adaptor.

Should you buy a 12in MacBook now or wait?

The MacBook is over a year old and is due an update, we think it is likely to get one in the first half of 2019. So if you don't mind waiting that long, then hold off.

One reason to avoid the current MacBook is reports that the MacBook keyboard suffers from an issue where it can stop working and be expensive to fix if dust gets trapped under the keys.

If you're still not sure, check out our comparison review of the MacBook Air and MacBook, to find out which is the best lightweight laptop.

MacBook Air

Best Mac buying guide: MacBook Air

Available from: Apple (UK store or US store), Currys, John Lewis, KRCS
Last updated: October 2018
Price: From £949/$999 for old model, £1,199/$1,199 for new model
Latest review: MacBook Air 2018 review

The MacBook Air was the thinnest and lightest Mac laptop until the 12in MacBook came along. It is still the cheapest, though, and remains a popular choice.

The MacBook Air was updated in October 2018: the first major change it's undergone since 2015, introducing colour options (gold, silver and Space Grey), smaller bezels and a slimmer body, and more powerful components. One of the 2015 models is still on sale, however - that's the one that costs £949/$999 - with the more recent 2018 models starting from £1,199/$1,199. That's still cheaper than the regular MacBook, but only just.

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.

Because it's so slim 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.

MacBook Air specs

There are three standard MacBook Air models available: two 2018 models and one older 2015 version (given a slight spec bump in 2017). These have different physical designs as well as internal specs.

The 2018 models offer a 1.6GHz 8th-gen dual-core Intel Core i5 processor with Turbo Boost up to 3.6GHz, along with 8GB RAM and Intel UHD Graphics 617 as standard. The £1,199/$1,199 model includes 128GB SSD storage, while there's also a £1,399/$1,399 model with a 256GB SSD. There are also various build-to-order options if you want more speed or storage and your budget can stretch.

The latest models also finally include a Retina display with a 2K resolution, along with a third-generation backlit Butterfly keyboard and a 20 percent larger Force Touch trackpad. Finally, Touch ID has been built into one key on the keyboard, so you can use your fingerprint to sign in and verify purchases.

The older model is a notable step down. The 1.8GHz dual-core processor may sound faster on paper, but it's an older chip that won't keep up with the new models - and the integrated graphics processor in that model is ancient too. The 8GB RAM and 128GB SSD will provide closer performance, but you're still stuck with a lower resolution display and an older design, with big bezels instead of the slimmed down screen of the newer version.

The MacBook Air is not the fastest Mac laptop you can buy - although it is faster than the MacBook. 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.

The MacBook Air offers 12 hours battery life, which should be enough to last the length of a long haul flight, or a day's work.

Neither MacBook Air has an Ethernet port, and the newer models are limited to two Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports and a headphone jack. By contrast the older model has the benefit of USB-A ports, but lacks the new USB-C standard. This could cause problems in the future when USB-C becomes more widespread.

Like all Macs, the MacBook Air lacks an optical drive. We don't 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.

Should you buy a MacBook Air now or wait?

The MacBook Air was given a major revamp in October 2018, so it's as good a time as any to buy one if you like the look of the new models. Read our review of the 2018 MacBook Air.

As for the older model that's still on sale, we'd hesitate to recommend it thanks to the older specs and design. If your budget really can't stretch any further then go for it, but if you can save up a little longer for one of the 2018 models it would likely be worth it in the long run. That said, you might be able to get a really good deal on the older MacBook Air as long as you don't buy from Apple, check out our MacBook Air deals story.

If you're still not sure, check out our comparison review of the MacBook Air and MacBook, to find out which is the best lightweight laptop. We also have a comparison of the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro.

If you like the MacBook Air but think it's a bit above budget, read our article about how to get a cheap Mac and take a look on the Apple refurbished store to see if Apple has any cut priced Macs.

MacBook Pro

Best Mac buying guide: MacBook Pro

Available from: Apple (UK store or US store)
Last updated: May 2019
Price: From £1,749/$1,799 for latest models; non-Touch Bar 2017 models still available for £1,249/$1,299
Latest reviews: MacBook Pro 13in (2018) review, MacBook Pro 15in (2018) review - we'll review the 2019 models as soon as we have samples to test

Apple last updated the MacBook Pro in May 2019. Note, however, that the base £1,249 models without a Touch Bar, still on sale at time of writing, are the 2017 versions with older, slower processors.

Entry-level 2017 models aside, as the Pro part of the name suggests, this is a more powerful machine than the MacBook Air or MacBook. It's also chunkier and heavier than those laptops, although still reasonably svelte - the Pro series benefited from a slimming-down redesign in 2016. The MacBook Pro features USB-C ports, and those with the Touch Bar incorporate a fingerprint scanner into the power button.

Oh yes, the Touch Bar. This feature, a unique selling point of the Pro line, provides users with contextual controls depending on the app they're using at the time - for example, using Final Cut Pro X will offer shortcuts for different functions, while in Safari it'll offer shortcuts to your favourite websites. We tend to think the Touch Bar is more of a fun gimmick than a useful addition (it's not even particularly intuitive to use - we often find ourselves reaching to touch the screen instead) but it's worth trying it out in an Apple Store to see if you like it.

Just like Apple's other laptops (bar the older MacBook Air) the MacBook Pro has a Retina display, so called because it hits the sweet spot where our eyes are unable to actually detect any more pixels. It's ideal for creative work, although there are calls for Apple to offer a 4K display on the 15in MacBook Pro - maybe that's one for 2020.

Who is the MacBook Pro best for?

The MacBook Pro is a great choice for creative pros and Mac users looking for more power from a laptop.

The main selling points of the 2019 MacBook Pro are the high-res screen and powerful processors, and the fact that you get all that in a relatively compact and light body.

Battery life should suffice for daily use. We think the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar is perfect for anyone who needs a powerful laptop that they can carry around without damaging their back, with a special focus on creatives.

As to whether you should buy the 13- or 15in 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 13in will suit you.

If your needs are a little more advanced, the 15in MacBook Pro will serve you well. With some of the best Speedmark scores of any Mac, and significantly higher than the 13in models, the 15in models are capable of pretty much anything. Not that the newest 13in models are a slouch either.

And if you're wondering whether an iMac might suit you better because it has a bigger screen, remember you can always plug the MacBook Pro into a large monitor and use that when you're at your desk.

If you've already got a Mac and are looking to sell, read: Which Mac do I have? and How to check your Mac's tech specs.

MacBook Pro specs

There are actually six MacBook Pro starting configurations available in two different sizes: four 13in versions and two 15in versions. You can then add further build-to-order (BTO) options and upgrades if you're willing to spend more.

The 13in model is the only size that still offers a non-Touch Bar option. Apple has kept the two older (2017) 13in models without a Touch Bar on sale so the range starts at £1,249/$1,299.

There are two 13in models that do incorporate the Touch Bar, which have Intel 8th-gen processors. (Note that 9th-gen chips are available, but you have to buy the 15in model to get those.) They're quad-core i5 or i7 going up to 2.8GHz with Turbo Boost up to 4.7GHz. There's also up to 16GB of RAM, integrated Intel Iris Plus 655 graphics and up to 2TB of SSD storage.

The 13in display offers 2560 x 1600 Retina resolution at 227ppi, while the 15in model offers 2880 x 1800 resolution at 220ppi. All four 2019 Touch Bar models come with Apple's True Tone technology and Apple's T2 processor found in the iMac Pro, a sort of sub-processor that handles various things to make things run smoothly.

The new 15in models for 2019 have 6- or 8-core Intel 9th-gen processors. They come in Core i7 and i9 options with up to 2.6GHz (6-core) or 2.4GHz (8-core) and Turbo Boost up to 5GHz.

There's up to 32GB of DDR4 RAM, Radeon Pro 555X or 560X discrete graphics with 4GB of video memory and up to 4TB of SSD storage.

The MacBook Pro doesn't offer USB-A or an SD card slot, which is a shame. It has four Thunderbolt 3 ports, which also support USB-C; thus, a single port can handle charging, data transfer, A/V and more but requires an adapter to use legacy accessories. Now only the older MacBook Air that's still on sale offers USB-A.

Like the MacBook Air and the MacBook, the MacBook Pro 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.

Read more about the MacBook Pro 2019 models.

Should you buy a MacBook Pro now or wait?

You should be fine to buy now if you're considering a 2019 Touch Bar model. Bear in mind that the non-Touch Bar MacBook Pro models are from 2017, and these could be updated soon - or discontinued entirely.

Mac mini

Best Mac buying guide: Mac mini

Available from: Apple (UK store or US store)
Last updated October 2018
Price: From £799/$799
Latest review: Mac mini 2014 review

The Mac mini is Apple's compact desktop computer first introduced in 2005. It's also Apple's cheapest Mac, starting at just £799 or $799 (although it did used to be cheaper than that - when the 2014 model launched it cost just £399/$499). The mini used to be Apple's least powerful Mac, but the latest iteration (now in Space Grey) has a lot more oomph than previously, and can be upgraded to some fairly meaty specs.

Who is the Mac mini best for?

For anyone who uses their Mac for browsing the web and writing emails, and doing general office work the Mac mini could suffice. It's powerful enough to do a good job with photo and home video editing. If you are looking for a Mac that will just sit on your desk, or in the study, the Mac mini is a cheap option.

The Mac mini is also a popular choice for a living room Mac. A lot of people plug it into their TV screen via an HDMI cable (the Mac mini retains its HDMI port). And, apparently one reason why Apple, after waiting four years, finally updated the Mac mini was its popularity with developers and server farms.

When the Mac mini stopped featuring a optical drive back in 2011 there was a bit of an outcry from those who though it was an ideal home entertainment centre, but DVDs are far less popular than they were back then thanks to the rise of streaming services.

The Mac mini is a popular choice for developers - probably because it's cheap and they can just plug it into an existing monitor and keyboard. It's likely to become more popular for that now, and may even begin to appeal to creatives with more demanding needs, thanks to higher spec build-to-order options - though the lack of a discrete GPU is still a serious limitation. Read about the best Mac for developers here.

Mac mini specifications

There are two Mac minis available. The cheapest Mac mini has a 3.6GHz quad-core Intel Core i3 processor and Intel UHD Graphics 630, along with 8GB DDR4 RAM and 128GB SSD storage. The other model upgrades to a 3.0GHz 6-core Intel Core i5 (with Turbo Boost up to 4.1GHz) and 256GB SSD, though the graphics and RAM remain the same.

The top of the range Mac mini has various build-to-order options, including a 3.2GHz 6-core Intel i7 processor, 2TB SSD, 64GB RAM, and a 10 Gigabit ethernet port. Opting for the top-of-the-line options across the board jumps the price up to a very meaty £3,859/$4,099 though, so watch out.

The Mac mini weighs 1.3kg and the dimensions are 19.7cm by 19.7cm. It's just 3.6cm tall, so it really is mini as the name suggests. The shape and weight haven't changed from the previous model.

All the Mac mini models feature the following ports and standards

  • 4 Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports
  • 2 USB-A 3 ports
  • HDMI 2.0 port
  • Gigabit Ethernet (upgradeable to 10Gb)
  • Audio in/out
  • 802.11ac Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 5.0

Should you buy a Mac mini now or wait?

The Mac mini was updated in October 2018, so don't expect a further update any time soon - if you're interested in buying one then now's the time.


Best Mac buying guide: iMac (2019)

Available from: Apple (UK store or US store), Currys, KRCS
Last updated: Mar 2019
Price: From £1,049/$1,099

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).

Despite the fact that the iMac turned 20 in 2018 Apple didn't update it, instead waiting until Mar 2019. We haven't got our hands on the new 2019 models yet but will review them as soon as possible.

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. Or 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 21in iMac is ideal will be different to the type who would require a 27in iMac.

The 21in iMacs are great options for most general use. If you're a gamer we would steer you away from the cheaper models as the graphics card may not support many popular modern games.

For professionals who need a powerful Mac, the choice will probably be between the 27in iMac models, the 15in Retina MacBook Pro and the Mac Pro, and the Mar 2019 update puts the iMac right back in the mix. It's an excellent option.

Overall, the iMac is ideal for graphic design, or those who work with video and images, it's also great for gaming.

The iMac Pro is even faster but it's also a lot more expensive. For more information read: iMac Pro vs iMac.

iMac specifications

There are two different sizes of iMac available: the 21.5in iMac and the 27in iMac. The full iMac range was last updated in Mar 2019 with new processors going up to Intel's 8th and 9th generations.

The old entry-level iMac (which doesn't have a Retina display) is still available. This costs £1,049/$1,099, and features a (7th-gen) 2.3GHz dual-core i5 processor, 8GB RAM, Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640 and a 1TB hard drive.

But then we move up to the new models. For another £200/$200 you can a faster 8th-gen 3.6GHz quad-core i5, 8GB RAM, Radeon Pro 555X graphics with 2GB video memory, a 1TB hard drive and even the 4K Retina display. Well worth £1,249/$1,299, in our opinion.

For a further £200/$200 you can go up to six cores. The top-of-the-range 21in iMac offers an 8th-gen 3.0GHz 6-core i5 processor, 8GB RAM, Radeon Pro 560X graphics with 4GB video memory, a 1TB Fusion Drive (which is faster than the hard drives in the previous two models mentioned) and the 4K display. That's £1,449/$1,499.

Browse the 21.5in iMacs on Apple's store.

The 27in iMacs also offer i5 processors (unlike the 15in MacBook Pros which introduce i7 processors at the high end). However, the processors in the 27in iMacs are all 6-core, so you can expect plenty of power.

The entry-level 27in iMac features an 8th-gen 3.0GHz 6-core i5, 8GB RAM, Radeon Pro 570X graphics with 4GB video memory and a 1TB fusion drive. And like all the bigger models it comes with a 5K display with a resolution of 5120 x 2880. This entry-level 27in iMac is £1,749/$1,799. Read about why you should get a Fusion Drive with your iMac here.

For £200/$200 more there is the mid-range, with an 8th-gen 3.1GHz 6-core i5, 8GB RAM, the slightly better Radeon 575X graphics and the 1TB Fusion Drive. Total price: £1,949/$1,999.

The top-of-the-range iMac, which costs £2,249/$2,299, goes all the way up to Intel's 9th generation of processors. It offers a 9th-gen 3.7GHz 6-core i5, 8GB RAM as standard, Radeon Pro 580X graphics with 8GB video memory, and a 2TB Fusion Drive.

Browse the 27in iMacs on Apple's store.

Like many Macs, the iMac offers an SDXC slot, USB slots, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and Ethernet. Now that all the models have been updated they all feature Thunderbolt 3/USB-C ports. There are also four USB 3 ports - which will work with the older USB A standard if you have old peripherals.

The iMac lacks an optical drive; Apple traded in the built-in SuperDrive when it slimmed down the monitor to a super-thin 5mm. 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. You can buy a SuperDrive here.

All the iMac models feature the following ports and standards

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

Should you buy an iMac now or wait?

The iMac range was updated in Mar 2019 so now is a great time to buy.

iMac Pro

Best Mac buying guide: iMac Pro

Available from: Apple (UK store or US store), KRCS
Launched on: 14 Dec 2017
Price: From £4,899/$4,999
Latest review: iMac Pro review

Apple issued a big mea culpa to creative professionals in 2017, acknowledging that the 2013 Mac Pro didn't cut the mustard: problems with the thermal design, apparently, meant it was very difficult to upgrade. The company assured these users that a new Mac Pro was on the way (although it won't be here until 2019) but it announced a new product called the iMac Pro in the meantime.

The iMac Pro features a thoroughly redesigned thermal system, and ran without slowdowns or significant fan noise when we stressed the GPU to 91 degrees Celsius. This should allow Apple to upgrade the system in future without hitting the same problems it saw with the trashcan Mac Pro; but we'll have to wait and see how things pan out.

It's also immensely powerful - the most powerful Mac so far, and one that smashed every speed and graphics benchmark we put it through - and rather beautiful to look at: it's the same elegant design as the 27in iMac, but (for the first time on a Mac desktop) it's Space Grey. The new Space Grey peripherals look great too.

Who is the iMac Pro best for?

The iMac Pro is for creatives and other people who need a super-powerful Mac: video and photo editors, 3D modellers, VR devs, music producers.

For the past few years those users have been migrating to the iMac instead of the Mac Pro, so (until the redesigned Mac Pro is ready) Apple felt it should just go with it, and give the iMac a pro-targeted revamp.

If your requirements are even higher than could be satisfied by this beast, you'll need to wait for the new Mac Pro - and if you don't fancy waiting that long, you'll need to get a high-end PC.

iMac Pro specifications

This is the starting configuration, which costs £4,899/$4,999:

  • 3.2GHz 8-core Intel Xeon W processor, Turbo Boost up to 4.2GHz
  • 32GB 2666MHz DDR4 ECC memory
  • 1TB SSD
  • Radeon Pro Vega 56 with 8GB of HBM2 memory
  • Built-in 27in 'Retina' 5K display, 5120 x 2880 resolution, 500 nits brightness, Wide colour (P3)
  • 1080p FaceTime HD camera
  • Stereo speakers, four microphones
  • Ports: 4x USB 3, 4 x Thunderbolt 3/USB-C, SDXC, ethernet, 3.5mm headphone jack
  • 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2
  • 65cm x 51.6cm x 20.3cm (depth includes stand); 9.7kg

You can customise this extensively, however. Processors up to 18 cores are available, and you can get up to 256GB of RAM and up to 4TB of flash storage. You can upgrade the Vega 56 graphics card to a Vega 64X, too. If you go all-in with every upgrade and extra it's possible to spend more than £15,000/$15,000.

Should you buy an iMac Pro now or wait?

You're safe to buy now. The iMac Pro got a tiny update in Mar 2019, adding new configuration options for RAM and graphics, and it's unlikely that Apple will make any further changes until 2020.

Mac Pro

Mac Pro

Available from: Apple (UK store or US store), Currys, KRCS
Update coming in 2019; last updated in 2013
Price: From £2,999/$2,999
Latest review: Mac Pro (2013) review

The Mac Pro is Apple's professional Mac with a price tag to match, starting at £2,999/$2,999, up from its original £2,499 price tag. It's a fully fledged workstation aimed at those who need the ultimate in power, or the true Mac fanatic. Except that Apple has rather given up on the currently available Mac Pro, admitted defeat and revealed its plan to go back to the drawing board in terms of a redesign.

Who is the Mac Pro best for?

The Mac Pro is supposed to be for the Mac for professionals who need extreme processing capability, except that unfortunately it doesn't really meet the needs of these people because it is impossible to upgrade, both for Apple and for the users.

If you are a power used the Mac Pro might intrigue you, but you will likely find that the iMac Pro, iMac, or 15in MacBook Pro are sufficient for your needs.

Apple has said that it is working on a whole new Mac Pro and expects to have something to show off in 2019.

Mac Pro specifications

There are two models of Mac Pro currently available. The first has a 3.5GHz 6-core Intel Xeon E5 processor, while the second has a 3.0GHz 8-core Xeon E5 processor.

Both Mac Pro models features 16GB RAM (the discontinued quad-core model offered just 12GB RAM).

The £3,899 model offers a faster graphics card, the Dual AMD FirePro D700 with 6GB GDDR5 VRAM each, rather than the Dual AMD FirePro D500 with 3GB. Note that those are dual graphics cards, one of the selling points of 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 (£180 extra) or 1TB of flash storage (£540 extra).

Other build-to-order options include 32GB RAM for £360, or 64GB RAM for £1,080. There is a 12-core model available for an extra £1,800.

Most people buying the Mac Pro will be choosing from the various build-to-order options, of which there are many. If you were to build the ultimate Mac Pro it would cost you £6,599.

You'll need to invest in a separate screen, unlike the iMac which comes with a built-in 5K display.

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

Should you buy a Mac Pro now or wait?

We strongly suggest waiting until Apple updates the Mac Pro in 2019 before purchasing one.