Buying The Right Mac – #1 Noob2Pro 8

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Buying The Right Mac – #1 Noob2Pro

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For any new user to the Apple Macintosh platform, picking the right Mac is a must. If you end up buying the wrong type of hardware for you needs, you could end up with an underpowered machine, or worse and over powered machine which you don’t really need and is effectively a waste of money. This post is going to assess the pro’s and con’s of each Mac, and  tell you who it is for, so you can make an informed decision. Everyone has a wide variety of needs and I can’t accurately tell you which machine you should get from a simple post, however I hope you get a good enough understanding so you can make your own decision. I have done a similar post about this in the past, however this is updated with the latest hardware.

iMac

iamcThe iMac is the main desktop for the Mac operating system, it is the first port of call for anyone consider buying a Mac. If you remember the bubble gum coloured Mac’s from years ago, this is the modern equivalent. It is an all in one system. All of the hardware is located behind the screen, this means that the entire unit takes up hardly any desk space. The major advantage of this is that everything is included in the box. You don’t have to think about buying a mouse or keyboard. You simply purchase the unit from an Apple Store, take it out of the box, plug it in and you are off. There is no worrying thinking about putting the desktop unit on your desk. Very simple.

The speed of each unit varies from 2.66Ghz to 3.06Ghz and screen sizes from 20-24 inches. Like most Mac’s available from Apple there is a lot of variation in what you can buy. You need to think what you need to buy and how to customise it. It goes without saying the most expensive machine, doesn’t necessarily mean its the best.

The iMac is best for pretty much everyone. Consider it the main model if you are looking for a Mac. It is suitable for the family, the grandparents even the student. It is powerful enough to run the latest programs, the more expensive models also have a dedicated graphics card enabling you to run the latest games and high end graphics programs. The only problem with this unit is that you can’t upgrade it easily. You are effectively stuck with the specifications you have bought. You do have, however, access to memory and hard drive so you can always upgrade later.

Pros

Lovely design that will fit well in any home or office, all in one unit with no messing about. The large screen and relative power make it an excellent choice for nearly any use. Can vary from web surfing to use of high end programs.

Cons

You are stuck with this specification of hardware unless you really want to take your iMac to bits. Not that portable, but it is designed as a desktop.

Mac Pro

macproThe Mac Pro is a step up from the iMac, a very big step. It pulls out all of the stops when it comes to power and speed. The minimum priced unit is the same price as the high level iMac. At time of writing it comes in two models, the 4 core and 8 core models. The only real difference between the two units is the memory and processor. The advantage of the Mac Pro is that you can customise pretty much every part of the system. You can insert up to 32Gb of memory, 4 graphics cards, 4 1Tb hard drives (which is a lot of space), plus lots of extra features.

The Mac Pro is designed for the high end graphic designer or similar. It is expensive. For a top level model it can set you back the price of a car, but you do end up with a lot of speed. You do get a lot of bang for you buck and it will last you years. I mentioned in the iMac section that it wasn’t very customizable, the Mac Pro is the complete opposite. You can add or remove memory, hard drives, graphics card, cd burners and if you get the right stuff the CPU’s. I would love this Mac if I could afford it.

Pros

Power, you get lots of it. If you really need 8 cores for video rendering this app is what you need. It goes and goes and goes. You can also, easily, customise and upgrade it later if you need to with ease.

Cons

Price, it is very expensive, if you need to upgrade the memory for example you need to buy expensive powerful stuff. It also doesn’t come with a monitor, which can be an extra cost.

Mac Mini

macminiOn the opposite end of the spectrum is the Mac Mini. This is for the to-be Mac user who doesn’t have a lot to spend. Nearly all of the specifications are low, you get a slow (relatively) CPU, fixed hard drive space and a slow graphics card which uses the small amount of main memory. If you are on a budget this Mac may be suitable, however you can’t do anything which needs a lot of power. Games is a no-go as well as anything such as video or graphics rendering. It designed as a Mac for web surfing or office work.

To be perfectly honest, if you were to buy this Mac for yourself I would wait and save up. The amount of power you actually get out of the system is relatively poor. As well as this you also don’t get a mouse, keyboard or monitor. It is a great system if you want to move an office from PC to Mac, for a cheap price. But for a home system you are better off waiting and getting an iMac. This unit is good, however if you want to build and run a small mini home server, as it can easily serve a limited amount of files. It would be good as a media server behind a TV.

Pro

Cheaper than the other Mac’s, good for upgrading an office of PC’s.

Cons

Poor speed for the price, little ability for upgrading.

MacBook

macbookA wonderful little machine if I don’t say so myself. The MacBook is designed to be used for practically anyone. Since it is so small (13 inches) you can pop it in your bag and take it with you. It also works quite well as normal desktop computer. This type of Mac is perfect for anyone who wants a cheap laptop, whether it be a student or some one at home.

Laptop’s are perfect for being more mobile. Unlike a desktop you can take it anywhere with you, for example I am writing this outside in the summer sun. This does increase the risk of it being stole (or lost) however if you are careful it is the ultimate computer. I can’t say this enough the MacBook and MacBook Pro, is perfect for pretty much any body.

Pros

Small, light, quite cheap and a perfect computer for practically anybody.

Cons

The only problem with this Mac is a little slow and doesn’t have a dedicated graphics card, so high end graphics and games don’t work. However for web surfing and office work it is great.

MacBook Pro

macbookproIf you thought the MacBook was good, the MacBook Pro is even better. It is a step up from the MacBook. Ranging from size of 13 inches to 17 inches it is designed to be a desktop on the move. The major difference between this unit and the MacBook, is the more powerful graphics card and a higher end CPU. This type of Mac is designed for people who need a slightly higher Mac for day to day use. For example it will run games perfectly, high end program such as Photoshop or anything to do with video will work as well. You wont get the same speed as you would with a desktop, but for a laptop it is blindingly fast.

The MacBook Pro does come with a lot of speed. If you need this type of processing power it is perfect. If you do need a Mac for web surfing save some cash and down grade to a MacBook. MBP good for high end every day stuff, but you don’t need it don’t buy it. In essence the MBP is an iMac which you can move. I would also recommend going against buying the 17inch model as it is a little bulky and for the extra price increase you don’t get much back.

Pros

Lots of power in a laptop, good for practically anything

Cons

Can be expensive and a waste of money if you don’t use the power.

MacBook Air

macbookairThe MacBook Air is a very light and thin laptop from Apple. It looks uber cool against any bulk PC laptop. However this Mac is really not worth it. It is very expensive what what you do get. At the same price you could get a mid range MacBook Pro with far better specifications. Even though you do get a thin laptop, it is not much thinner than a normal laptop.

This type of laptop is simply for people who want something that does look cool (and it does look cool) but doesn’t want much bang for your buck. For every one I meet who asks about the MacBook Air, I will always tell them to look at the MacBook Pro or MacBook. They are far better machines and you get a lot more out of them. This machine is good for web browsing and working with office and living with the fear that it may blow away.

Pro

Very thin and light, it also looks very cool.

Cons

Not worth it. You are better getting a MacBook Pro, or MacBook.

Conclusion

Hopefully you understand the difference between each of the models and who they are for. To summarize: iMac = For any one who wants a general machine. Mac Pro = Someone who wants a really powerful machine. Mac Mini = People who want a cheap upgrade, although not worth it. Mac Book = People who want a general day to day laptop. MacBook Pro = A more powerful laptop, a desktop which you can take with you. MacBook Air = Not worth it, unless you really want one.

Before you do pick you laptop make sure you investigate each of your options. Read through the pages at Apple. Go into an Apple store an try out the Mac’s. People in the Apple shop will be more than happy to help you and spend all day with you. You can also get a one to one who will spend a lot of time with you to make sure you pick the right Mac.

Tommorows post will discuss on how to set up an account, the different types, and the saftey and problems which you can encounter. If you haven’t all ready please subscribe to keep you up to date with the latest news, either buy RSS or by email using the form below.

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8 Responses to “Buying The Right Mac – #1 Noob2Pro”

  1. 1

    There is much missing…
    You should explain the differences between white macbook and 13 macbook pro a little more.
    - These have the same GPU (13 mbp only has newer and better DDR3-SDRAM). Same for the memory.
    - The LED-screen of the 13 mbp is much much much better compared to the white mb.
    - Also 13 mbp has now FireWire 800 and SD card slot. White mb only hast Firewire 400 (booth have 2 usb ports of course;)).
    - 13 mbp has stupid Mini DisplayPort – you need one adapter for each type of signal (DVI, VGA, Composite Video). White mb has Mini-DVI, where you only need one expensive adapter from apple and you can plug some standard-cheap-non-apple adapter on it and save money.
    - 13 mbp has only combined audio in and out – could be a problem if you usin an headset. white mb has separate in and out.
    - 13 mbp also have new backlit keyboard and multitouch trackpad – White mb not.

    - And most important is the new integrated battery on the 13 mbp – more than 7 hours!!! If you don’t do much you can easily reach 8 hours and more. White mb has “only” 5 hours, which is good, too.

    It should be clear, that the white mb uses old and outdated hardware.
    The 200 bucks more are REALLY worth it.
    This specs should be inside the article, so people can really see what they’re got for their money depending on their needs.

    About the 17 mbp you should mention, beside that it is a little bulky, that you get 1920×1200 screen, which is huge and really good if you need that screen. I’ve tested it in the apple store and it is really good.

    Just my 2 cents or maybe some more :P
    Keep up the good work, greatings from germany
    Dominic

    Comment By Dominic on July 2nd, at 5:21 pm

  2. 2

    Thanks Dominic, I deliberately didn’t mention the specs because these can change quickly and be updated within a month, making the post nearly pointless. Thanks for your input however.

    Comment By admin on July 2nd, at 5:54 pm

  3. 3

    Sweet post! This is really useful for some people I know (my converts)

    Thanks!

    Comment By GG on July 2nd, at 8:52 pm

  4. 4

    Actually I was under the impression that the new White MacBook’s do have a dedicated Nvidia 9400 Graphics card.

    Comment By Alison on July 3rd, at 4:31 am

  5. 5

    Man…I want a Mac Pro…

    Nice post and nice guide!

    Comment By Pedro on July 3rd, at 2:35 pm

  6. 6

    @Alison, The NVIDIA GeForce 9400M is an integrated graphics card. It uses the same memory as the rest of the system.

    Comment By admin on July 3rd, at 6:58 pm

  7. 7

    Ah. Okay, thanks. I learned something. :)

    Comment By Alison on July 4th, at 7:17 am

  8. 8

    I think you were a little tough on the Mac Mini. I use a base model as a media hub, plugged into my TV, and it woks a treat. I also use some relatively intensive software and although it’s slower than my iMac it still gets the job done. Both memory and hard drive are upgradeable without voiding the warranty, which is as much as any other Mac with the exception of the Mac Pro.

    I’d recommend a Mac Mini to anyone who wants a solid home computer that they will use on a daily basis. If you’re a hard-core gamer, high end graphic designer or similar you should know what you need in terms of system spec and it’s probably not cheapest in the range.

    There is the option to configure it to a higher spec, but I would admit that in doing so you are probably robbing yourself of a 20″ iMac.

    Take it easy on the little fella!

    Comment By Mike on July 10th, at 5:05 pm