So, in today’s show, I’ll make my best to help you choose which desktop Mac to buy for your business.
This is the last of a three-part series where I explore the different Macs that Apple offers at the beginning of 2019.
If you haven’t decided between a laptop and a desktop yet, listen to episode 29 first as I go through a series of question that will help you make up your mind.
In that episode, I said that Apple was offering 4 types of desktop computers when in fact there are really 6 different models to choose from:
- Mac Mini 2018
- 21,5 inch iMac without Retina screen
- 21,5 inch iMac with 4K Retina screen
- 27-inch 5K Retina iMac
- 27-inch iMac Pro
- Mac Pro
With the Mac Mini and the Mac Pro, you’ll need to either purchase a screen, a keyboard and a mouse or re-use existing hardware.
Here’s how I’ve structured today’s episode. I’ll go through each desktop Mac model from the cheapest to the most expensive and for each, I will give the pros, the cons as well as which kind of professional should consider buying it
In order to prepare for this show, I’ve created a table with all the models, and their price in three different configurations:
- Cheapest option one can buy and what we get for that
- What I consider a good standard configuration for most people, that is 512GB of internal storage and 16GB of RAM
- And finally, how much it can cost when maxing all the specs out
Pricing comparison (in US dollars extracted from Apple.com on March 14th, 2019)
Mac Mini 2018
- Small footprint and thus can be rack mountable
- Give the opportunity to connect a computer screen bigger than 27-inches
- Four Thunderbolt 3 ports which can drive a 5K display or two 4K displays or connect to an eGPU
- Integrates the new T2 chip from Apple for increased security and faster disk encryption
- Can be upgraded to a 6-core CPU, 2TB SSD, 64 gigs of Ram and even a 10 Gigabit Ethernet connection
- Need to buy a screen separately and, in most cases, a webcam too, since most third-party screens don’t integrate it
- A professional who wants a bigger screen, like a 32 or even a 38-inch ultrawide model (like the ViewSonic VP3881)
- For musicians and software developers who want a reliable machine
- Also good in a conference room or an exhibition hall
Fully equipped, it’s clearly fitting into pro territory, and it’s not a coincidence that the 2018 Mac Mini model comes in space grey, like the iMac Pro.
21,5 inch iMac without Retina screen
- Cheapest iMac in town, fully upgraded it only costs about 1500 dollars
- All-in-one with SDXC card reader and that’s about it
- Limited to 256GB SSD and 16GB of RAM
- Non-retina screen
- Slowest machine (processor and spinning hard drive by default)
- Only 2 Thunderbolt 3 ports
Professional on a budget who only does e-mail and web browsing and uses a desktop occasionally or in a hotel lobby
21,5 inch iMac with 4K Retina screen
- Retina screen
- All-in-one with SDXC card reader
- Cheaper than the 27-inch 5K model
- Limited to 1TB SSD and 32GB of RAM
- Only 2 Thunderbolt 3 ports
Professional with a budget of up to $2000 who mainly does e-mail and web browsing and uses the computer on a daily basis
27-inch 5K Retina iMac
- Retina screen and higher resolution than the 4K model so more space on the desktop
- Can be fitted with a 2TB SSD or a 3TB Fusion drive (even if I don’t recommend the Fusion technology)
- Can be fitted with up to 64GB of RAM
- Pricey for office-type work
Professional who wants a gorgeous 27-inch screen, lots of internal disk space and occasionally does some photo or video editing
Mac Pro 2013
I won’t go into much details about this computer because it has not been updated for the past 6 years and Apple is offering an even more powerful machine since December 2017; the iMac Pro.
The professional who needs the kind of computing power should either wait for the successor of the Mac Pro or buy the iMac Pro.
27-inch iMac Pro
- Intel Xeon processor starting with 8 cores and upgradeable up to an 18-core model
- Can be fitted up to 4TB of SSD and 128GB of Ram
- Has four Thunderbolt 3 ports
- The only other desktop Mac equipped with the T2 Security chip
- Cost: starting at $5000 and can go up to $13200
Professional graphic designer, photographer or videographer or app/game developer or involved with music or movie production. If you’re not sure you need it, it’s simple, you don’t.
If you have an existing screen or want one bigger than 27-inch and you don’t need the power offered by the iMac Pro, then you should buy the 2018 Mac Mini.
If your budget is tight and need a computer for office-type work, then the 21 inch with 4K retina screen is the obvious choice.
If you have a budget between $2000 and $5000, then you should directly go for the 27-inch 5K Retina iMac.
And finally, if you need as much power as possible and your budget is above $5000, the latest iMac Pro will most probably make you very happy, unless you’re OK to wait a bit more until Apple releases the successor of the 2013 Mac Pro.
And you, what kind of desktop Mac do you have right now? And are you thinking of upgrading it?
Please let me know by leaving a comment below.
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