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The Apple Macintosh Buyer's Guide

Updated on May 30, 2011

Apple Buyer's Guide

The Apple Buyer's Guide is designed to help those looking to buy new or used Apple products. From the iPod to the iPhone, from laptop to desktop, from hardware to software, Apple offers the right product for you. The difficulty is in finding objective information that enables you to zero in on the proper product for you.

That is the goal of this lens: to help you find the right Apple-related product for you. Hope this helps.

As you can see in my bio, I have spent the last eight years working with virtually every Mac Apple has produced, maintaining and updating each. I am intimately familiar with all Apple's products.

Which Mac is Right for Me?

Making the right choice

Below, I have listed my recommendations. The models chosen are not necessarily the least expensive models at each level, but rather the ones I feel offer you the best value.

While I know price is a factor for many, my experience has shown me that just because you pay less you are not necessarily getting a better deal.

The models we recommend below are models we believe offer you the most value for your dollar.

The consumer models listed in the section below are the models typically chosen by the average home user. They are all good machines for the market each serves. There are three options: two desktops and a laptop.

1) The Mac Mini: a great little machine! I have two of them in my labs and they are rock solid. This is a great option for the buyer who already has a mouse, keyboard and monitor, and is looking to spend as little as possible.

2) The iMac: In my opinion, a better value than the Mac Mini, though it costs a little more. I have eight of them: 6 in my labs and two at home. While the mini, allows you to spend less, the iMac is really not that much more and includes a monitor and all peripherals. It receives my highest recommendation for those looking for a desktop machine. If I were buying desktop for an average home user, this would be the one.

3) The Macbook: Take everything I just wrote about the iMac and put it here, substituting laptop for desktop. If I were buying laptop for an average home user, this would be the one. (Note: they also come in a beautiful matte black for an extra $150.)

Now on to the Pro models. These models are for "power users": people who need the power these machines provide. These are also the machines you want if you simply want the most powerful Apple machines available. If you intend to spend most of your computing time editing photos or video, these are the models for you.

4) The Macbook Pro: This is a very powerful laptop. It is the computer I am typing this on and the one I use for hours most days. I love it. Whether I need to run Windows for certain school-related tasks, composite photos for the yearbook, edit a video project, or author a professional quality DVD, this is the machine I am likely using.

5) The Mac Pro: The ultimate Mac. It can do anything you want. This is the machine sitting on my desk at work. Orders of magnitude better than every other Mac. If you want the most powerful computer you can buy this is the model for you.

Finally, the Macbook Air. In my opinion, this is a niche product. It is an incredible design: very thin and elegant. However to achieve this feat, Apple chose to leave out a built in CD/DVD player and Firewire ports, and includes only one USB port. In a sense, it is a crippled machine with these omissions, however, what is acheived is a very light, very thin machine. Here is my recommendation:

6) MacBook Air: It is a machine I only recommend to a certain subset of users: the traveler. If you are someone who lives on the road a would like the option of an ultralight laptop (3 lbs) and are willing to give up a few standard (but important) features (firewire and built-in optical drive to start), then this is for you. Otherwise, look to the Macbook or MBPro.

See Our Specific Recommendations

See the specific models we recommend at the link below.

Above you've read our recommendations, now it is time to find the model that's right for you.

Apple Computers

Get the Best Deal on a New Mac

Refurbished products from the Apple Store

While you can buy your Mac elsewhere, of the nearly 30 Macs I have purchased in the last eight years, all but one of them was purchased directly from the Apple Store (online).

In my experience, the Apple Store is the best choice for purchasing Apple products and it receives our highest recommendation.

However, there is a section of the Apple Store where you will find your best deal on a new Mac on the web. Apple's refurbished machines are a great choice for those looking to save money (A LOT in many cases).

I have personally purchased refurbished products from the Apple Store and only have great things to say about them. These products in every way appear to be brand new; they are top quality and come with the full warranty.

By the way, I recommend you always purchase AppleCare with your Mac, especially the laptops. Not because your Mac (refurbished or new) is likely to have problems, but because, in my experience, it is worth every penny it costs if something does go wrong.

NOTE: Always make sure you get at least 2 Gigabytes of RAM; get 4 Gigabytes if you can afford it.

Click the link below to see Apple's refurbished offerings:

Refurbished Mac

Can you make a better pick? - Which Mac do you recommend?

I have made my recommendations, now you can make yours. Did I get it right, or would you make a different suggestion? Let the readers know which Mac you prefer and why.

Best Time to Buy your new Mac?

Time your purchase properly

One of the worst feelings a new Mac owner can feel comes when he purchases his new Mac only to find out a new machine is being released. The new machine you just bought is now the old version! Yikes!

The best advice I can give you is this: buy your new Mac when you WANT or NEED to buy it.

Something new will always be coming around the corner, if not today then in the near future. Don't let that get in your way. However, if you can wait, and the wait will not be longer than you WANT or NEED it to be, then wait and buy after the next release.

It always feels better to buy after the latest release than right before it.

Buy how do you know when to buy. My friends over at MacRumors do a great job of tracking Apple. If you'd like to see what they project, click the link below:

MacRumors' Projections

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I have made my recommendations, now you can make yours. Let me know how I can make this site more useful to you.

Share your thoughts - What else would you like to see in this lens?

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    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      Great lens. I love Mac computers and I would probably never consider buying anything else. Their the only computer that hasn't given me problems.

    • profile image

      yangahearter 

      6 years ago

      laptop battery

      laptop power adapter

      batteries laptop

      asus adapter

    • profile image

      dvpwli 

      7 years ago

      I like this lens and i as a squid angle, i have blessed lenses

    • xbumper profile image

      xbumper 

      7 years ago

      great lens. Sometimes I miss my MacBook Pro but it is not capable of about 10% of the stuff I need to do so for now I have to use my PC

    • profile image

      LilyCrawford 

      8 years ago

      Thanks for sharing this lens to us! You're really a big help to those people who wanted to buy Apple products like ipod nano or iphone 4 but don't know how and what to buy. Thanks!

      absolute apple lover

    • Mickie Gee profile image

      Mickie Goad 

      8 years ago

      I finally got my Mac last October. I love it. My husband loves it. The model I bought? MacBook Pro 13". It is perfect.

    • mrsir2009 lm profile image

      mrsir2009 lm 

      8 years ago

      Hey, great Lens! I'm a Mac person too... I have an iMac, MacBook Pro, older iMac, and a really old Mac.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      9 years ago

      [in reply to Surly-Mac] OOPS! That should have been 'CRAVE all things 'Mac'"...

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      9 years ago

      I Love my Surly Cross-Check Bike and my PowerMac G5 2.0 dual core (Late 2005) - that's why I'm Surly-Mac! Since I grave all things "Mac", I think this is a terrific lens.

    • profile image

      Suko 

      9 years ago

      This is a terrific lens on the world's greatest computer.

      I'm definitely a Mac person!

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      9 years ago

      Like buying a used car, you can never be sure what you are going to get. But if you have the opportunity to use it for more than a few minutes and it works well for you, it is a gamble worth considering. I would recommend a refurb before a used machine.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      10 years ago

      I didn't see much about used machines. What are your thoughts on buying a used mac?

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