Which Mac to buy? Decision support.
From Mac mini to MacBooks and iMac (Pro)s to Mac Pro, Apple offers a computer for every application, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. We try to navigate you through the offer and give you a decision support.
Let’s start with the professional desktop Macs: If you are looking for the maximum computing power because you do a lot of video editing, run scientific simulations or use other compute-intensive applications, you should take a look at the iMac Pro and, in special cases, the Mac Pro.
In this case, read on the iMac page, there you’ll find criteria on how the devices differ and which is most suitable for you. If you don’t have a high budget but still need high performance, a well-equipped iMac can be an alternative.
We have also created a separate detail for the boundaries differences betwwen MacBook, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro , which you can find here. The criterion for mobile Macs is always portable computing power. The differences between the models are not to be neglected, therefore we tried to work out the peculiarities of the models for you well.
The display is a quick decision criterion: Do you want a large display, don’t have one yet and want a tidy desk? Then the iMac is your first choice. With its beauty and good usability, no desktop computer has established itself as a designer object like the iMac. Have we met your taste with this argument, read here in the iMac chapter for further detail information and what you should be aware of when making a purchase. Even for users with a limited budget, a good “normal” iMac is a good alternative to the iMac Pro.
Mac mini or MacBook Air non-Retina? The often overlooked alternative
Since the criteria for large stationary Macs and the mobile MacBooks are quite clear, we refer directly to the detail pages for these computers. More interesting is the choice between a Mac mini and a MacBook Air, which we will discuss below.
If you already own peripherals like mouse, keyboard and monitor, then you are well prepared and perhaps have a Mac mini in mind. However, the following should be noted in the current situation: The Mac mini is now a very powerful model for pros, not the affordable little Mac for beginners. The price starts at almost 800 dollars. And interesting alternative therefore is the MacBook Air Non-Retina, which is still sold.
MacBook Air’s 1.8GHz i5 processor configuration is significantly slower than Mac mini’s 3.6GHz quad-core, but if you are looking for a “normal” computer that doesn’t do a lot of CPU work and is just surfing the net, you’ll be fine. Both devices have 128 GB memory, the MacBook Air also comes with a screen, keyboard, a fantastic trackpad and a rechargeable battery. If you order these on the Mac mini for almost 100 dollars each, the MacBook Air is exactly the same price as the MacBook Air with its 999 dollars – the screen is, so to speak, available in exchange for the lower processor performance. The advantage over Mac mini is obvious: you also have a fully mobile Mac. So if you want to work on the go, you can do it at no extra cost, all you have to do is unplug a few cables.
The full range of possible models and useful features for the Mac mini can be found below.
MacBook Air details are available on the MacBook Detail page.
When to buy a Mac mini?
The Mac mini lineup was last updated in October 2018.
We inform you here if it is a good time to buy the product.
green means: up to date
orange means: coming to the end of the product cycle
red means: don’t buy, an update is coming soon
Which Mac mini to buy? Decision criteria.
Apple has redefined the role of the Mac mini. For a long time, the mini was the cheapest Mac in the portfolio and served as an entry-level computer, but now it’s almost twice as expensive as it was at the beginning. Nowadays it is more aimed at professionals. Today, newcomers are more likely to buy MacBook Air – with or without a retina display. Apple has seized the opportunity and repositioned the Mac mini.
It is aimed at professional users who need a lot of computing power and who bring their own monitors with them, for example on the film set, or who may no longer use them at all because the Mac is only used as a computing machine. But also users who prefer to use a separate monitor and therefore can’t make friends with an iMac are addressed.
Apple has greatly increased the computing power of the current Mac mini, even giving it the ability to connect to the network at 10 Gbps.
The processors have at least four cores, optionally six cores are also included. The biggest processor is an i7 for an additional 240 dollars. However, these are well invested if you buy the mini for its computing power.
What has changed?
As already mentioned by the new positioning of the new Mac mini – everything: The processors have more cores, the Ethernet is faster, the case now space gray and the main memory is expandable up to 64 GB. Even SSDs are available in sizes up to 2 TB.
The ports on the back are finally up to date: There are four Thunderbolt 3 ports, two USB 3.0 ports and one HDMI port, plus a 3.5mm jack. The infrared port on the front is omitted. The network is connected either with 1 GBit/s or with 10, which costs surcharge.
- 3.6 GHz Quad-Core processor
- 8 GB RAM, optional up to 64 GB
- 128 GB, optional up to 2 TB
- Intel UHD Graphics 630
Mac mini 3.0 GHz 6-Core
- 3.0 GHz 6-Core processor
- 8 GB RAM, optional up to 64 GB
- 256 GB SSD, optional up to 64 GB
- Intel UHD Graphics 630
The same over all models:
- audio out
- two USB 3.0 ports
- four Thunderbolt 3 ports
- one Gigabit Ethernetport
- ac Wifi and Bluetooth 5.0
- HDMI port
Mac mini vs. iMac
The current edition of the Mac mini is no longer a beginner’s computer, but a professional one with a lot of computing power that is an alternative to the iMac.
This can come into its own if you need a lot of computing power, but want to provide all the peripherals yourself. It is therefore the most compact version of computing power and macOS that Apple offers. But also friends of free monitor choice can now get CPU performance on the level of iMac and can freely assemble their system.