Buying A Mac (Early 2021)
Mac or PC?
While this guide is aimed for a Mac laptop, you may be considering making the jump to PC. There are major differences between the devices and not all software is available(or the same) on both, and certain services (such as icloud) work much better on macs. Switching requires a decent learning curve and time to get used to the new system. If your work or home life is currently using one or the other, it’s best to stick to it unless you’ve given it some real though and already comfortable using both. If unsure, stick to what you know.
Should I get a Macbook Air, Macbook Pro, iMac or iMac Pro?
If your preference is portability and cost, a MacBook Air is the way to go. These are the cheapest option in the range of laptops and designed to provide the most portability. Be aware they often have limited storage and limited ports (for plugging in peripheral devices, such as keyboards monitors etc.). You can get external devices that will provide extra ports but it’s best to budget for it.
If you need a bit more processing power or plan to use your mac for work you should consider a MacBook Pro as these have better performance, more connectors and come in larger sizes for those that want a bigger screen. The MacBook Pro comes in a 13″ and 16″ size and which is best for you depends on your preference for portability vs screen size. The Macbook is heavier than the MacBook air so you are trading power for portability.
If you don’t need any portability and your mac will never move from a desk, and iMac All-in-One might be the way to go.
The iMac Pro and Mac Pro models are best left for those who need a mac for heavy graphic design work or specialist use cases.
Which Processor? How many Cores? How Much Memory? M1 or Intel?
If you’re not doing any specifically heavy processor work and only really user your mac for web browsing, YouTube, email and document editing, the more affordable option for the MacBook air or pro will be fine. If processing power is a big consideration generally steer clear of the MacBook Air. The standard 8GB will be more than enough RAM for most users but if you plan to run heavy applications like Adobe’s Creative Cloud, we recommend the 16GB option.
Finally, if given the option between an intel processor or an M1 processor (these are made by apple), we strongly recommend the M1. The M1 often outperforms the intel equivalent and provides a huge improvement in battery life. The only reason to opt for the intel is if you have very old software that is not compatible with the M1 chip (this is rare).
If you’re coming from a Mac a few years old, Even the entry level Mac is very likely going to be a lot faster than what you are used to, especially Mac’s with Apple’s M1 processor.
It’s best to find out how much you are currently using. This will give you the best indication of what you need. For most 256GB (or more) will be fine though and you can always use iCloud to extend the amount of space you have for storage.
Extras to Consider
You may wish to buy a USB-C port replicator to give you more ports for connectivity. By default the MacBooks Air only has 2 UBS-C ports and one is needed to charge the device, so a port replicator can add HDMI connectivity, and more standard USB ports if you need them.
If you are not already using iCloud it’s worth considering getting a subscription, especially if you currently use an iPhone. iCloud helps synchronize information between you phone and mac devices and can also be used to make to make moving data to your new mac from your old one easier.
There’s also AppleCare which unlike a normal warranty provides not only technical support but also drastically reduces the amount you need to pay for repairs. If you have any concerns about breaking your new device, AppleCare can provide peace of mind.