If you're wondering which Mac to buy, you've come to the right place. In our Mac buying guide for 2018, you'll find everything you need to know about Apple's range of Macs, including the MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, Mac mini, iMac, iMac Pro and Mac Pro, with expert buying advice to help you choose the machine 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 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

MacBook
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
Latest review: MacBook 2017 review
Best for: Students (if your budget can stretch), commuters, writers
Last updated: June 2017
When to buy: Not right now - updates expected
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
Pros: Cheapest Apple laptop, light and portable
Cons: Older tech and design, no Retina display
Latest review: MacBook Air 2017 review
Best for: Students
Last updated: June 2017 (but only a processor bump)
When to buy: Now (although it may soon be discontinued completely)
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 8th-gen Intel up to Core i9
Cons: More expensive than the Air, heaviest MacBook available, USB-C port may prove tricky with peripherals
Latest reviews: MacBook Pro 13in (2018) review, MacBook Pro 15in (2018) review
Best for: Anyone that needs power on the go
Last updated: July 2018
When to buy: Now
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 £479/$499
Pros: Cheapest Mac, small desktop option
Cons: No screen, no keyboard or mouse, hasn't been updated since 2014
Best for: Those who simply need a Mac on a budget
Latest review: Mac mini review
Last updated: October 2014
When to buy: Not right now unless you need the absolute cheapest
Where to buy: Apple (UK store or US store), Currys, KRCS
Find out more about the Mac mini

iMac
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
Latest reviews: 21.5in 2017 iMac review & 27in 2017 iMac review
Best for: Offices, designers, video editors
Last updated: June 2017
When to buy: A good purchase but updates could be coming
Where to buy: Apple (UK store or US store), Currys, KRCS
Find out more about the iMac

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: Now
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: Not now - wait until new model in 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, Space Grey and pink, just like your iPhone.

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, 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 current MacBook Air.

With a price tag as high as the MacBook's, we'd like to see a bit more speed to set the laptop further apart from its Air sibling, 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 traditional 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. See: Best USB Type-C accessories for the Retina 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?

We'd advise holding off on the MacBook now, as it's a year old and could well see an update soon.

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: WWDC 2017 in June
Price: From £949/$999
Latest review: MacBook Air 2017 review

The MacBook Air had always been the thinnest and lightest Mac laptop available until the MacBook came along. It is still the cheapest, though, and remains a popular choice.

The MacBook Air was last updated in June 2017, but only to gain a processor bump. Essentially, it has remained the same since March 2015 aside from that small speed bump and an increase in RAM.

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 hot-deskers.

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. But beware that the screen quality of the Air is no equal to the Retina display of the MacBook Pro, or for that matter the new MacBook.

MacBook Air specs

There are two standard MacBook Air models available. The only real differences between those models is the amount of storage available, either 128GB or 256GB SSD.

Aside from that, MacBook Air units offer a 1.8GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB RAM, and Intel HD Graphics 6000 as standard. There are also various build-to-order options if you want more speed or storage and your budget can stretch.

There are also various build-to-order options if you want more speed or storage and your budget can stretch.

The MacBook Air is not the fastest MacBook you can buy. 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.

The MacBook Air offers 1440 x 900 pixels at 16:10 aspect ratio, that's 128 pixels per inch (ppi). It's a shame because this is one of the Air's biggest downfalls. It doesn't compare well with the MacBook or MacBook Pro, which have significantly better Retina screens.

The MacBook Air doesn't have an Ethernet port, but it does have a lot more ports than the MacBook and now MacBook Pro have. It still has USB-A ports, too, 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.

The MacBook Air models feature the following ports and standards

  • Mini DisplayPort
  • Thunderbolt 2 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
  • SDXD card slot

Should you buy a MacBook Air now or wait?

It's hard to know with the MacBook Air, whose demise has been predicted for a while now. There's a fair chance that Apple is going to retire it soon, so if you really want to buy one you may not have the opportunity to do so later this year. However, it hasn't been significantly updated in some time, so our advice is to either wait for Apple to update it, or look for an alternative.

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.

If you like the MacBook Air but think it's a bit above budget, check our roundup of the best alternatives to the MacBook Air for some similar options.

MacBook Pro

Best Mac buying guide: MacBook Pro

Available from: Apple (UK store or US store)
Last updated: July 2018
Price: From £1,249/$1,299
Latest reviews: MacBook Pro 13in (2018) review, MacBook Pro 15in (2018) review

Apple updated the MacBook Pro in June 2017 and again July 2018. The new models are thinner, lighter, include USB-C, and those with the Touch Bar incorporate a fingerprint scanner into the power button.

The 2018 updates are only to the Touch Bar models, so the base £1,249 models without a Touch Bar are 2017 versions.

As the Pro part of the name suggests, this is a more powerful machine than the MacBook Air or MacBook, but that's not all. The MacBook Pro series benefited from a redesign in 2016, with the MacBook Pro not only thinner than its predecessor, but the 13in model is now thinner and smaller than the MacBook Air equivalent.

One of the key selling points of these Mac laptops is the Touch Bar, which 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.

The MacBook Pro range also has the Retina display (which the MacBook Air lacks), 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.

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 2018 MacBook Pro are the high-res screen, powerful processors, and the fact that you get all that in a pretty compact and light body.

Battery life is better than that of the MacBook Air, and 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.

And if you are 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 are at your desk.

MacBook Pro specs

There are actually seven MacBook Pro options available in two different sizes - four 13in versions and two 15in versions.

This means the 13in model is now the only one with a non-Touch Bar option, and the cheaper 15in model from 2015 is now discontinued. Apple has kept the two older 13in models without a Touch Bar on sale so the range still starts at £1,249.

There are two 13in models that do incorporate the Touch Bar, which have now been updated with Intel 8th-gen processors. They're quad-core i5 or i7 going up to 2.7GHz with Turbo Boost up to 4.5GHz. Apple says this offers up to 2x faster performance.

There's also up to 128MB of eDRAM, integrated Intel Iris Plus 655 graphics and up to 2TB of storage. 

Regarding displays, the 13in display offers 2560 x 1600 Retina resolution at 227ppi, while the 15in model offers 2880 x 1800 resolution at 220ppi.

All four new 2018 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.

Moving on to said 15in models and the new editions for 2018 have 6-core Intel 8th-gen processors. They come in Core i7 and i9 options with up to 2.9GHz and Turbo Boost up to 4.8GHz. The improvement is up to 70 percent, according to Apple.

There's up to 32GB of DDR4 RAM, Radeon Pro 555X or 560X discrete graphics with up to 4GB of video memory and up to 4TB of storage. That's more memory and storage than we've seen before on a MacBook Pro.

There are lots of build-to-order options available for all of the MacBook Pro models mentioned, including a processor boost, additional storage and better graphics. If you want the fastest Retina MacBook Pro you really need to look at the 15in models - and if you add all the extras, the bill comes to over £6,000.

The MacBook Pro doesn't offer USB-A or an SD card slot which is a shame, opting to replace the former with Thunderbolt 3 ports. The Thunderbolt 3 specification supports USB-C and thus, a single port can handle charging, data transfer, A/V and more but requires an adaptor to use legacy accessories.

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 new MacBook Pro 2018 models.

Should you buy a MacBook Pro now or wait?

Yes, now Apple has updated the range with new models (all with Touch Bar) there's no real need to hang on. Just bear in mind that the models without the bar still on sale are not brand-new.

Mac mini

Best Mac buying guide: Mac mini

Available from: Apple (UK store or US store), Currys, KRCS
Last updated October 2014
Price: From £479/$499
Latest review: Mac mini review

The Mac mini is Apple's compact desktop computer first introduced in 2005. It's also Apple's cheapest Mac, starting at just £479 or $499. That said, it's the least powerful, too. And it hasn't been updated for years.

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).

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 mini has an IR receiver so you can use it with Apple's remote (£19), that way you can controlled it from the sofa. You could also use an Apple Wireless Keyboard or a Magic Trackpad for more control. Alternatively download the Apple Remote app on your iPhone.

Mac mini specifications

There are three Mac minis available. The cheapest Mac mini has a 1.4GHz dual-core processor and Intel HD Graphics 5000.

The other two Mac minis offer Intel dual-core i5 2.6GHz and 2.8GHz processors with Intel Iris Graphics. These might sound like fast processors, in comparison to the processors in Apple's newer MacBook models, but inside these laptop Macs if faster flash storage and newer generation processors, which will give these models a boost.

The Mac mini offers only Intel i5 dual-core processor options as standard, there are i7 processors available at point of sale, but these are still only dual-core.

The Mac mini weighs 1.22kg 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 top of the range Mac mini has various build to order options, topping out at a 2TB Fusion Drive for an extra £90 when you buy the £949 model, you can also add 16GB RAM for an extra £180. Only the top of the range model has this option.

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.

All the Mac mini models feature the following ports and standards

  • 2 Thunderbolt 2 ports
  • 4 USB 3 ports
  • HDMI port
  • SDXC card slot
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • Audio in/out
  • IR receiver
  • 802.11n Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 4.0

Should you buy a Mac mini now or wait?

The Mac mini was last updated in October 2014, so there could be a new model soon - but that's been true since about 2016.

There were fears that Apple would discontinue the Mac mini, but in a recent discussion about the future of the Mac Pro, Apple's Phil Schiller did briefly refer to the Mac mini (in response to a question about it's future) saying that it was still important to Apple.

Read our roundup of the new Mac mini 2018 update rumours.

iMac

Best Mac buying guide: iMac

Available from: Apple (UK store or US store), Currys, KRCS
Last updated WWDC June 2017
Price: From £1,049/$1,099
Latest reviews: 21.5in 2017 iMac review & 27in 2017 iMac review

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).

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 are a gamer we would steer you away from the £1,049 iMac as the graphics card doesn't support many popular modern games.

For professionals who need a powerful Mac the 27in models are excellent options. It is likely that for this category of user the choice will be between the 15in Retina MacBook Pro, iMac, and Mac Pro.

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

The Mac Pro is even faster but it's also a lot more expensive, you can upgrade your iMac and spend less and get a machine gives the Mac Pro a run for its money. For more read: Mac 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 June 2017 with new Kaby Lake processors across the board that will speed the machines up significantly.

The entry-level iMac, which costs £1,049, features a 2.3GHz dual-core i5 processor, 8GB RAM, Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640, and a 1TB hard drive.

Next up is an iMac that for another £200 gives you a faster 3.0GHz i5 processor, 8GB RAM, Radeon Pro 555 graphics with 2GB video memory, a 1TB hard drive and even the 4K Retina display, at £1,249 (we'd highly recommend spending the extra £200 on this model if you can).

For another additional £200, the top-of-the-range 21in iMac offers a 3.4GHz i5 processor, 8GB RAM, Radeon Pro 560 graphics with 4GB video memory, a 1TB Fusion Drive (which is faster than the hard drives in the previous two models mentioned here) and the 4K display for £1,449.

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 quad-core, so you can expect more power from them compared to the smaller iMacs.

The entry-level 27in iMac features a 3.4GHz quad-core i5 processor, it also features 8GB RAM, Radeon Pro 570 graphics with 4GB video memory and a 1TB fusion drive. Plus, the bigger models also offer 5K displays with 5120 x 2880 pixels. This entry-level 27in iMac is £1,749. Read about why you should get a Fusion Drive with your iMac here.

For £200 more there is the mid-range, also with a 3.5GHz processor and RAM as standard, it offers a slightly better Radeon 575 graphics and a much faster 1TB Fusion Drive.

The top-of-the-range iMac, which costs £2,249, offers a 3.8GHz quad-core i5 processor, 8GB RAM as standard, Radeon Pro 580 graphics with 8GB vide memory, and a 2TB Fusion Drive.

There are various RAM configurations available for the 27in models. While they ship with 8GB RAM, you can upgrade this to 16GB or 32GB. The 21in models offer 8GB or 16GB RAM options.

It's a shame that the iMacs don't yet feature SSD flash drives as standard for extra speed. Luckily there are various build-to-order options which allow you to add Fusion Drives and flash storage. Read why we recommend that you buy the Fusion Drive to go with the iMac here.

The power of the iMacs is most comparable to the MacBook Pro models. Both Macs feature a Retina display, but the MacBook Pro has a more modern processor and flash storage which makes things quicker.

Like many Macs, the iMac offers an SDXC slot, USB slots, 802.11ac WiFi, and Ethernet. Now that all the models have been updated they all feature Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports.

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
  • 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?

As mentioned above, the iMac range was last updated in June 2017 so we're hoping it gets updated soon. However, that didn't happen at WWDC and only the MacBook Pro has been refreshed since.

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 (we're hopeful this will appear in 2018, but it could even be 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 128GB of RAM and up to 4TB of flash storage. You can upgrade the Vega 56 graphics card to a Vega 64, too. If you go all-in with every upgrade and extra it's possible to spend more than £13,000/$13,000.

Should you buy an iMac Pro now or wait?

Now! It's still pretty new and unlikely to see an update before the end of 2018, so this is a good time to buy - if you can get hold of one.

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.

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.

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.

Apple has said that it is working on a whole new Mac Pro but we shouldn't expect to see anything before 2019.

Mac Pro specifications

There are two models of Mac Pro available. The first as a 3.5GHz 6-core Intel Xeon E5 processor, 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 £6,059 - which is a lot, but before Apple dropped prices in 2017 all the build-to-order options added up to £7,299, so Apple's price drop saves you £1,240, enough to buy a MacBook too.

You'll need to invest in a separate screen, unlike the iMac which comes with its built-in 5K display. We have some 4K monitors that you could use with the Mac Pro here.

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

Apple sells a number of Macs at the same price point of £1,249, so we have a comparison of those models here: Best value Macs: £1,249 Macs compared

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.