Apple makes lots of different Macs, with models to suit different needs. While some are incredibly powerful, others aren’t quite as beefy, but have other points in their favour (lighter, cheaper, newer). In this article we will look at the fastest Macs that Apple makes as well as the features you should look out for if you want to get the most powerful Mac for your money.

You may be trying to decide between two Mac models, wondering which would be fastest. It’s not always the case that the more expensive model is the most powerful, and it’s not always the case that a desktop will be faster than a laptop.

One thing is for sure though, if you want the absolute fastest Mac in a particular category you need to look at the build-to-order options. You’ll want to max out the RAM, and you’ll want a SSD. (Or, if you are a bit of an upgrade expert, you could look into adding your own RAM and other components after you have bought the Mac from Apple, you could save yourself a lot of money, we have this article on How to upgrade a Mac.

If you can, get a quad-core processor (remember that there are four processors, so don’t look at the processor speed and think a lower number means it’s slower than a processor in a dual core model). Choose an i7 over an i5 processor - and make sure that they are the most recent generation (currently Kaby Lake). Unless you are looking for the ultimate workstation, in which case you want to hang on for the iMac Pro or one of the new Mac Pro models when they launch in 2018 (the current Mac Pro is a little long in the tooth so we don’t really recommend buying one at the moment).

Below are our tips for buying the fastest Mac.

How to get a fast Mac

If you want the fastest Mac we advise you do the following:

  • Look at the build-to-order options when you are buying your Mac.
  • Get as much RAM you can afford and pay attention to the type of RAM (not all RAM is created equal).
  • Choose a quad-core i7 Kaby Lake processor (until the next generation launches) Read our Mac processor buying advice here.
  • …Or a Xeon processor (once the iMac Pro launches).
  • Opt for discrete graphics if available (not Intel integrated graphics).
  • Choose a SSD, not a Fusion Drive and definitely not a Hard Drive.
  • Make sure you are running the latest version of MacOS.
  • Use up-to-date software (as long as it is compatible).
  • Use the fastest Mac Web browser (currently Safari).

What is the fastest Mac laptop?

There are three types of Mac laptop, the MacBook, MacBook Pro and the MacBook Air.

If you want to buy the fastest and most powerful Mac laptop you would need to consider the 15-inch MacBook Pro. However, there are reasons to consider the other Mac laptops, which may not bring as much speed, but have other benefits.

What is the fastest MacBook?

The fastest MacBook you can buy right now is a build-to-order model with the following specs:

1.4GHz dual-core Kaby Lake Intel Core i7 processor
Turbo Boost up to 3.6GHz
16GB RAM (1866MHz LPDDR3 memory)
512GB SSD
Intel HD Graphics 615
£1,864

The MacBook has the advantage of being the smallest and lightest Mac Apple sells. It also looks really nice.

Click here to view the MacBook on the Apple Store

What is the fastest MacBook Air?

The MacBook Air may not be around for much longer, with predictions that Apple will retire the lineup in 2018.

Right now, the fastest MacBook Air is this build to order model:

2.2GHz dual-core Broadwell Intel Core i7 processor (from 2015)
Turbo Boost up to 3.2GHz
8GB RAM (1600MHz LPDDR3 memory)
256GB SSD
Intel HD Graphics 6000
£1,099

The MacBook Air has the advantage of being the cheapest Mac laptop Apple sells. However, we’d advise against buying it because the model hasn’t been significantly updated since 2015.

Click here to view the MacBook Air on the Apple Store

What is the fastest MacBook Pro?

The fastest 13-inch MacBook Pro you can buy right now is a build-to-order model with the following specs:

3.5GHz dual-core Kaby Lake Intel Core i7 processor
Turbo Boost up to 4.0GHz
16GB RAM (2133MHz LPDDR3 memory)
256GB SSD
Intel Iris Plus Graphics 650
£2,199

The 13-inch MacBook Pro has the advantage of being smaller and lighter than its 15-inch sibling. We’d recommend it over the MacBook and the MacBook Air if you were looking for a smaller laptop.

The fastest 15-inch MacBook Pro you can buy right now is a build-to-order model with the following specs:

3.1GHz quad-core Kaby Lake Intel Core i7 processor
Turbo Boost up to 4.1GHz
16GB RAM (2133MHz LPDDR3 memory)
512GB SSD
Radeon Pro 560 with 4GB memory
£2,889

The 15-inch MacBook Pro is a very powerful machine and even gives the iMac a run for it’s money. Thanks to its i7 quad-core processor, discreet graphics and 16GB RAM as standard this is a great choice. Some complain that there isn’t a 32GB RAM option though.

Click here to view the MacBook Pro on the Apple Store

What is the fastest Mac desktop?

It use to be the case that if you wanted a fast Mac then you could ignore the laptops in favour of the desktops. This stands true to a certain extent, but the MacBook Pro models are certainly giving the iMac a run for its money these days, and are leaving the Mac mini for dust.

However, the current generation of iMacs, especially the 27-inch models, are very impressive. And their 5K Retina displays can’t be beat.

What is the fastest Mac mini?

Like the MacBook Air, the Mac mini hasn’t had a significant update in a few years. It’s still using Broadwell processors from 2015, and some models are using the old style hard drive - definitely steer clear of hard drives if you want a fast Mac.

Right now the fastest Mac mini you can buy is this build to order option:

3.0GHz dual-core Broadwell Intel Core i7 processor
Turbo Boost up to 3.5GHz
16GB RAM (1600MHz LPDDR3 SDRAM)
256GB SSD
Intel Iris Graphics
£1,309

The Mac mini was always a popular choice because it was generally the cheapest way you could get a powerful Mac. Unfortunately the Mac mini has been neglected by Apple, with no update in over three years. We hope that a new model will launch soon, in which case you can expect it to be worthy of consideration, but for now we’d suggest you ignore it like Apple has been.

Click here to view the Mac mini on the Apple Store

What is the fastest iMac?

Like the MacBook Pro there are two (soon to be three) models of iMac. However, with the exception of the entry-level 21.5-inch model, there isn’t such a world of difference between the different sizes, although as you will see, there are more build-to-order options on the 27-inch and it’s a lot more expensive.

The fastest 21.5-inch iMac you can buy right now is a build-to-order model with the following specs:

3.6GHz quad-core Kaby Lake Intel Core i7 processor
Turbo Boost up to 4.2GHz
16GB RAM (2400MHz DDR4)
256GB SSD
Radeon Pro 560 with 4GB video memory
£1,899

The 21.5-inch iMac is a great option if you want a fast Mac for less than £2,000. We think it’s the best deal you can get for your money.

The fastest 27-inch iMac you can buy right now is a build-to-order model with the following specs:

4.2GHz quad-core Kaby Lake Intel Core i7 processor
Turbo Boost up to 4.5GHz
16GB RAM (2400MHz DDR4)
512GB SSD
Intel Iris Plus Graphics 650
£2,789

You aren’t limited to 16GB of RAM on the 27-inch iMac. You also have these options:

32GB RAM, bringing the price to £3,149
64GB RAM, bringing the price to £3,869

The 27-inch iMac is currently Apple’s fastest Mac. Soon that will be the iMac Pro which Apple has promised it will launch in December 2017. Our advice right now would be to hang on for the new iMac Pro before spending money on the 27-inch iMac.

Click here to view the iMac on the Apple Store

The fastest iMac Pro...

Apple has announced plans to launch an iMac Pro in December 2017. We don’t know a lot about the new iMac for professional creatives, but here’s what we do know about the ultimate iMac Pro:

18-core Xeon processor with up to 42MB cache
Turbo Boost up to 4.5GHz
128GB RAM (DDR4 ECC)
4TBGB SSD
AMD Radeon Pro Vega GPU
From £4,949

That’s what we know for sure about the iMac Pro. We also have an article about the new iMac Pro that rounds up all the latest rumours here.

Click here to view the iMac Pro on the Apple Store

What is the fastest Mac Pro?

The Mac Pro was Apple’s fastest Mac, and the company made a big deal about just how fast it was back when it lunched in 2013. A long time has passed and the Mac Pro hasn’t changed, beyond some improved pricing and build to order options. However, there is a new Mac Pro in the works at Apple, and hopefully we’ll find out more about that model in the next few months.

For now, the fastest Mac Pro you can buy is:

2.7GHz 12-core Intel Xeon E5 (Ivy Bridge) processor with 30MB of L3 cache
16GB RAM (1866MHz DDR3 ECC)
256GB SSD
Dual AMD FirePro D700 GPUs with 6GB of GDDR5 VRAM each
£4,979

32GB RAM, bringing the price to £5,339
64GB RAM, bringing the price to £6,059

We know very little about the new Mac Pro coming in 2018. But you can read what we do know about the new Mac Pro here.

Click here to view the Mac Pro on the Apple Store