For some people (including you, probably) there is no choice between PC and Mac. It’s more likely to be whether you buy a desktop Mac or a MacBook laptop.
There’s no doubt that if you buy a new Mac or MacBook it’s going to be state of the art and you’re going to love it. But it’s no secret that Macs are expensive items - even if you are buying something of quality to last you a long time.
Below we take a look at each Mac and MacBook Apple currently sells and assess whether or not now is a good time to buy them. Sometimes it’s fine to buy a Mac mid-update cycle but often we can make educated guesses as to when the next one will launch, and therefore why you might want to wait and get more for your money - provided Apple keeps its prices the same.
When do new Macs and MacBooks come out?
It depends on the product and Apple’s mood that year but you’ll usually get a MacBook Pro update once per year even if it’s just to the next generation of Intel processors. Beyond that, the company is less predictable.
Let’s take a look at each Mac and MacBook on the market and assess if you should consider buying it. Check the date at the top of the article to see when we last updated this information.
Note that the star ratings associated with each product are the original rating we gave it when it was first launched.
Apple Mac mini (2018)
Apple finally updated the Mac mini in October 2018 a full four years after the last iteration. This was long overdue and while the new mini is more expensive than before, it’s a whole lot better.
In our glowing review we praised the performance and comparable savings on a full desktop Mac. This is a good time to buy a Mac mini, we don't expect Apple to update it in 2019, although a slight boost is possible in October 2019.
Read our full Apple Mac mini (2018) review
21.5in iMac (2019)
The iMac was updated in March 2019, almost two years after the last upgrade.
We haven't reviewed the new models yet, but we have high hopes for them thanks to their new processors that take the range up to 6- and even 8-cores.
The iMac remains a go-to choice Mac for many professional creatives and businesses while also being an excellent home computer in its own right.
The (relative) affordability of the 21.5in iMac, paired with more than capable specs for most people, puts it at a slight advantage to the still-excellent 27in version. However, we'd advise customers to avoid the entry-level 21.5in model as that hasn't been updated since 2017.
We don't expect any updates to the iMac now until 2020 so now is a good time to buy - just make sure it's the 2019 model you are purchasing. We have details of the 2019 iMac here, plus the low down on how the 21.5in model compares to the 27in model.
The iMac Pro went on sale in December 2017 and is an absolute beast. Never mind if it’s a good time to buy it, the first question you should be asking yourself is if you should be buying one at all.
With an astronomical starting price it’s only a Mac to consider if you professionally need to edit, process and render very large image and video files. These are machines that should bank a production studio, not a home office.
Apple made a few tweaks to the build-to-order iMac Pro options in March 2019, after updating the iMacs. There is now a 256GB RAM option and a new Radeon Pro Vega 64X graphics chip.
The March 2019 changes to the iMac range mean that the top-of-the-range 27in iMac is closer than ever to the iMac Pro in terms of specs while being significantly less expensive, read how the iMac and iMac Pro compare here.
If you need the power though, then you might want to hold off to see if Apple updates the internals again, or brings down the price. But it may not update the iMac Pro at all in 2019 given the already immense power of the current model and the fact that Apple is likely to be focusing its creative pro attention on the Mac Pro - more on that below.
And the fact it comes in Space Grey is dope.
Read our full iMac Pro review
Mac Pro (2013)
Speaking of which, don’t buy the Mac Pro! Apple launched it in December 2013 and hasn’t touched it since, but did put the price. Apple took the extreme measure (in 2017) of admitting to journalists that it messed up with the Mac Pro, and we are now expecting a new one in 2019.
The ‘trashcan’ design is expected to make way for a more forward thinking and, hopefully, upgradable machine. The Mac Pro is to the iMac Pro what the Mac mini is to the iMac - a computer that you need to attach peripherals too.
Unlike the Mac mini, the Mac Pro is very expensive. If it’s what you need, wait for the new one as it’ll be along soon and completely up to date. We're anticipating hearing more at WWDC in June.
Read our full Mac Pro (2013) review
12-inch MacBook (2017)
Since the release of the very similar, cheaper (just) MacBook Air it’s been tougher to recommend the 12in MacBook. It’s still the slimmest, lightest MacBook but it’s underpowered compared to the others.
It’s also not been updated since June 2017 so we expect an internal refresh in 2019. For this reason it might be best to wait, as although the 2017 version is much better than the first 2015 model, this little computer needs all the boosts it can get considering it is fanless - a reason you might want it over the others.
But wait. And in the meantime, read about what we expect from the new MacBook here.
Read our full 12-inch MacBook (2017) review
MacBook Air (2018)
Rejoice for the MacBook Air finally got an update in October 2018. The redesigned MacBook Air is excellent, and it’s a great time to buy one considering it launched in October 2018.
It looks a lot like the 12in MacBook but is more powerful with a Core i5 processor and a larger display. It also costs less. For most people it’s the MacBook to go for and won’t be updated in any meaningful way for a while.
Go for it.
Read our full MacBook Air (2018) review
MacBook Pro 13-inch (2018)
The MacBook Pro gets updated most often in Apple’s line up such is its popularity and brand importance. Last updated in July 2018, when a new generation of processors bought quad-cores to the 13in models, and 6-cores to the 15in models, whether or not you wait depends on your needs.
If you need one right now then go for it but you might like to see if Apple updates the design or internals in 2019 - read what we expect to see in the new MacBook Pro here. Bear in mind too that the latest Touch Bar models have 8th-gen Intel processors but the cheaper non-Touch Bar model is on the 7th-gen still. So if you want the cheaper model, definitely wait.
Read our full MacBook Pro 13-inch (2018) review