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  1. #1


    Member Since
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    What Mac Should I Buy?
    As requested. I figure since I sold computers for a long time, I'm probably a fairly decent candidate for pairing people to computers. Feel free to expand upon this or offer suggestions.

    This is a general overview of Apple's current (as of December 1, 2010) computer line up, attempting to fit each computer to each segment of the consumer market.

    The Desktops
    Mac Mini - The Mac Mini is a great computer for family if you will have relatively few users (only upgradeable to 4GB of RAM) who will be mostly using the computer for web browsing, email, word processing, light 3D gaming, photo organization and light editing. It also makes a very nice home theatre PC with the addition of an HDMI port, or a desktop for a single user for those previously stated purposes. The mini is also more than capable of handling some light audio and video editing with programs like garage band, iMovie, or even adobe CS5.

    iMac - Compared to the Mini, you pay more to get the iMac. You also get a whole lot more with the iMac. The medium to high end dedicated video cards in the iMac paired with the new hyperthreading intel core processors combine to give you a whole lot of power starting at $1200. If you're looking for a very powerful home desktop computer, the iMac is a great choice. Expandable to 16GB of RAM no matter which version you get, you know that the iMac is set for the future. If you plan on having a powerful computer but don't plan on using any professional audio or video software, the quad core i5 and i7 models may be overkill for your needs, but if you're tempted by the power, you will by no means be let down.

    Mac Pro - This is some serious computer. This is what the professionals use for rendering audio and video. If you are not a professional customer and are just a consumer looking at this computer, it is probably because you have a lot of extra money to spend and you want to get the absolute best computer money can currently buy you. This computer is complete overkill for 99.99999% of all consumers. Expandable to 32GB of RAM, available with up to two 6-core Xeon processors at 2.93GHz pre-turbo boost with hyperthreading enabled, these computers will pretty much obliterate any task you set them with. The lower end models may appeal to potential iMac customers who want further ability to expand their machine in the future and/or more ports. To borrow a line from Ferris Bueller, "If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up."



    The Portables
    MacBook - A good student/home use portable. The battery life is excellent, the processor plenty powerful enough. This is basically a portable Mac mini paired with a screen. To recap, this is meant for people who will be using the computer for web browsing, email, word processing, light 3D gaming, photo organization and light audio/video editing. Some people will be turned off by the lack of a hyperthreading capable chip (the Core 2 Duo is merely a 64 bit chip, no hyperthreading like the newer i3), but the inclusion of the OpenCL ready nvidia 320m graphics chip (the reason for sticking with the core 2 over the i3 is a feud between intel and nvidia over licensing the bus to use an integrated graphics chip on the newer i3) more than makes up for this loss. The 320m provides another 48 pipelines ready to computer information via the OpenCL API that developers will take advantage of more and more. You can bet your butt that Apple will be coding much of Lion to take advantage of OpenCL!

    MacBook Pro - If you are a student of audio/video editing, this is the computer for you. It's a portable machine and capable of most tasks. The higher end intel core i5 and i7 CPUs are hyperthreading capable and you will notice the difference while using professional software like Final Cut, Premiere, or Protools/Logic. If you need a slightly more powerful portable, pick up the 13 inch pro. The aluminum enclosure alone is worth the extra cash over the regular MacBook in this user's opinion.

    Also a good pick up if you've got a main computer for your professional production, but want to pick up a portable unit as well.

    13 inch is a good size and capable of most high end computing tasks, 15 inch is a lot more powerful and gives you faster cpu options, 17 inch is just ridiculously big and gives you the same cpu options as the 15 inch.

    MacBook Air - great computer if you're looking mainly for something for internet access and some light word processing/spreadsheet type stuff, but need it to be ultraportable. Great second computer or primary computer if you're an extremely light user.

    the iPad - A great pickup as a satellite computer geared mainly at media consumption rather than creation. This tablet is super handy and fast for looking things up on the web, running other great mobile apps, and a plethora of things, but it should not be considered as a main computer. Ever. At least not until things really get an overhaul in terms of media creation. This would be a great replacement for a netbook if you intend not to try and use a netbook as a cheap main computer (as much of the netbook consumer segment does) but as a supplementary device meant to deliver a light weight ultraportable internet browsing experience. Another perk of the iPad is the number of sweet games readily available. It's fairly expensive as far as a portable gaming device goes, but it's a nice benefit. Try gaming on a netbook, even with nvidia ion graphics!

  2. #2

    CrimsonRequiem's Avatar
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    No mention of the iPad?
    死神はリンゴしか食べない。

  3. #3


    Member Since
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    It's not a mac, I suppose I could add iOS devices...

  4. #4


    Member Since
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    Apart from the fact you did not mention that the Mac Pro is overkill for 99% of home users I think it's a nice post. And yeah the ipad or MB/MBA question does come up a lot in various places too. Also price wise Mac Mini + screen can equal an imac. So that's a consideration too. Not everyone has a spare screen lying around.

  5. #5


    Member Since
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    Back to my old 2.2GHz C2D MB after selling my MBP and wondering what my next Mac will be :)
    Great post, and I think an overall summary here would be really good.

    Other than that, short term resale value could contribute to the purchase decision.
    For instance:
    An i series intel processor will hold it's resale value a little longer than a C2D intel processor will, when the next generation of processors pops up and makes the C2D another PPC.
    This will apply for all the advances in technology.

    I'm certain that this can be worded a little better, but you get the gist of it

  6. #6


    Member Since
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    Well, the C2D won't be the next "power pc," and if it is, then the core i series also will be. They're all based on the X86-64 architecture. When you change instruction set, then worry about that... for now it's just the hyperthreading vs not.

  7. #7

    harryb2448's Avatar
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    Imac 27" Retina 5K, 512GB flash memory, 3.3GHz, 16GB memory, macOS Sierra beta.
    And as for the Mac Pro being overkill, all other models come with laptop type optical drives which do seem to have a much, much higher failure rate than 'real' desktops, not including the glossy beefed up iMac which is really only a step up from the Mini and Macbook.

    For me a machine where you can crack it open, replace the drives, memory and graphics card in the twinkle of an eye with limited expertise is the way to go and surely is not an overkill.

    Rather the others are underkill!

  8. #8


    Member Since
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    13 inch alMacBook 2GHz C2D 4G DDR3, 1.25GHz G4 eMac
    Haha, say what you want, harry... the Mac Pro is far beyond what almost all consumers need.

  9. #9


    Member Since
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    13 inch alMacBook 2GHz C2D 4G DDR3, 1.25GHz G4 eMac
    Is this going to be stickied or did I waste a bunch of time helping to sell computers to people I've never met?

  10. #10


    Member Since
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    Back to my old 2.2GHz C2D MB after selling my MBP and wondering what my next Mac will be :)
    Based on reactions to the thread that I started http://www.mac-forums.com/forums/any...y-threads.html I doubt it will, however, I will be directing people to this thread when the question comes up!

  11. #11

    pigoo3's Avatar
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    Yes...a REALLY great post! Lots & lots of details...and good differentiating rational between the models.

    We do get a lot of newer members posting questions about "Which Mac Should I Buy?" (just like this threads title). I would sure think that this would be a great place for them to start if they're unfamiliar with the Mac model lineup.

    - Nick
    - Too many "beachballs", read this: Beachballs
    - Computer seems slower than it used to? Read this for some slow computer tips: Speedup
    - Almost full hard drive? Some solutions. Out of Space
    - Apple Battery Info. Battery

  12. #12

    MacDude121's Avatar
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    This is a great post to redirect people to, especially with all that detail. Although I think adding starting prices to each of the computers wouldn't be a bad idea.

  13. #13

    mac_giver_1's Avatar
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    Good thread, thanks. It could help a few friends of mine.

  14. #14


    Member Since
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    I agree, MacDude, starting prices would have been good... Unfortunately, it won't let me edit it now. Doh!

  15. #15

    MacDude121's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DarkestRitual View Post
    I agree, MacDude, starting prices would have been good... Unfortunately, it won't let me edit it now. Doh!
    Hmm, that's odd. I wonder why it won't let you edit.

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