Friday, September 14, 2007

My personal Mac buyer's guide for switchers


Now after having switched I read a lot of threads in many forums where future-to-be-switchers ask which Mac they should get. Now to assist in this decision I have tried to come up with a few aspects to consider before buying your Mac.

The whole lineup you can choose from is the following:

  • Mac mini
  • iMac
  • Mac Pro

  • Macbook
  • Macbook pro

Desktop or Laptop?

The first question you have to answer before buying would be whether to get a desktop solution or a mobile solution. In my honest opinion this question can be answered very easily. Since the performance of the laptops is close to the desktop counterparts thanks to the huge development in recent years the performance argument isn't that relevant anymore. The question you have to ask is: Where do I want to use my Mac? If you want to use your Mac exclusively at home you can get a desktop solution (Mac mini, iMac, Mac Pro). If your answer is that you want to use your Mac in multiple places you will have to get one of the laptops (Macbook, Macbook pro). It's that easy. Even if you want to use your Mac only at home you can opt to get a mobile laptop in combination with a TFT screen (if not already purchased).

Which model?

Once decided which solution you want you have to decide on which model to get in the two categories.

Laptop models
Let's start with the laptops. For the average consumer the Macbook should be more than enough unless you are a gamer (but then you probably shouldn't get a Mac in the first place). I always read the intel graphic chip in the Macbook is a downside of the Macbooks but to tell you the truth that chip is more than enough in most cases. Even older games can be played using Boot Camp. Rather than the graphics argument the screen size argument is more important. The Macbook only ships in one size which is 13,3”. This might be too small for some users. If this is the case for you, you'll have to get the Macbook pro-it's that easy. The Macbook pro hence, is just recommendable to users who want a bigger screen than 13,3” or to professionals who need the extra graphics power. The Macbook pro's performance is too over-dimensioned for a normal consumer. For professionals however (like graphic designers, movie editors, etc.) the Macbook pro is the way to go I guess because they use performance hungry applications like Photoshop, Final Cut, Aperture and so on.

Desktop models
Now regarding the desktop alternatives: Here you have three products to choose from: The Mac mini, the iMac and the Mac Pro. The Mac mini is close to the Macbooks regarding the performance aspects. However, I think the Mac mini is not suited for the majority of average consumers. You have to buy an extra screen, keyboard and mouse. If you consider the extra costs, you may want to buy the iMac instead since the iMac has an extra graphics card instead of an integrated one and also ships with a mouse and keyboard. So performance wise the iMac is a lot better than the Mac mini and it is an all-in-one solution compared to the Mac mini. The Mac Pro really is only for REAL professionals in my opinion. It is one high-end hell machine that no consumer needs-and the price tag is too high to just have it sitting around at home for surfing, iTunes and writing some letters in Word.

Final thoughts:

If you want a mobile Mac you should get the Macbook. It is more than enough power for the majority of users and it really isn't that expensive compared to similar PC notebooks. However, if you want a bigger screen you will have to buy the Macbook pro. Regarding the desktop solutions I'd recommend the iMac as an all-in-one solution for switchers. The Mac mini is only for people who already have a good external screen and don't want to spend a lot of money for the switch. But if you really know you want to switch forever you should get the iMac-you just get more for your money. The Pro-lineup (MBP and Mac Pro) really isn't something you should get. It's expensive and unless you have a lot of extra money or are in need of the horse power these just are not the right products to get (It's like buying a Ferrari even though you know you will be driving 50 mph max. and you know you have 3 kids you have to drive to the kindergarten every morning.).

When to buy?

As a final tip check out Macrumors Buyer's guide before your purchase. Their prognosis usually is pretty accurate. I hope I was a little help in some of the readers' decision process.

More links:
Intel graphics chip and gaming
Official Apple lineup
Get a Mac clips


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