Which Mac should you buy?

A buying guide for one of our most common queries

Mac buying guide
Photo credit: Markus Spiske / Unsplash

The short answer: We recommend the new MacBook Air for casual / light business use, but ensure that it has enough storage

The back story:

We've created this buying guide to reflect the years of mix-up between size and performance between MacBooks and MacBook Airs over the years — once, the Air was a premium product for its thinness and weight, while the MacBook was the "basic" plastic bodied model. Then, as the Airs stalled in development, new aluminum MacBooks retook the spot as the svelte laptop. Now the Macbook has been discontinued again (for now), and the Air has absorbed its spot in the feature set.

Are you running out of space with your current computer?

We specialize in upgrades for computers that are otherwise fine - the performance of a new computer may be one quick upgrade away. Contact us if this situation applies to you.

Do you even need a new Mac?

If you're looking around, you'll doubtless see many used Macs. Macs hold their value astonishingly well. The key is to ensure it meets your needs for performance and security.

Here are some minimum criteria you should look for in a used Mac:

  • For casual use: 2012 and newer
  • For business use: 2015 and newer
  • Technology: A solid state drive. It's a game changer!
  • Memory: 8 GB of RAM
  • Storage: 128 GB of storage space is almost never enough. It's the base model offered, but it can be a rude awakening if you're upgrading from a typical older machine with a hard drive (512 GB or 1 TB). 256 GB is OK. Stuck with a smaller one, or want to save money? We can help you with some affordable work-arounds.

Is the cost still worth it?

The $1000+ tag for a new Mac still seems pricey, but considering the costs over time, research has shown Macs to require less ongoing maintenance and repair, leading to a lower lifetime cost. If you want a good computer that will last you years with minimal headache, it may be well worth it to bite the bullet.

If you're looking to squeeze a few more years out of your current Mac, you may want to consider a SSD (solid state drive) upgrade. We've revitalized many older Macs (and PCs) with this game-changing technology that's only recently become cost-effective as an upgrade option. Contact us for advice on your specific upgrade options.

Keyboard issues

Good news! Apple has announced a repair program and extended (but finite) warranty for its laptops with keyboard issues, and will be redesigning the keyboard one and for all. Read more…

Size and budget

We suggest spending some time at the store to help determine if a 13" display is easy on your eyes when being used for longer stretches of time. The best option for many is to purchase an inexpensive (non-Apple) monitor for your desk and connect it to your laptop when productivity matters. 

The MacBook Pro is fairly pricy to recommend, especially if you don't need the extra power. As of this writing, the 13" MacBook Pro starts at $1299 and the 15" is a whopping $2399. We hate to say it, but if you are on a budget and need a larger screen laptop, you might be better of with a PC.

If you are eligible for academic pricing, it can make the cost of a Mac more palatable.

The clearance option

There are plenty of places in life to avoid the bargain bin, but the Apple's online store is not one of them (nor is it really a bargain, if we're being honest). But very smart alternatives to the Macs with top billing can be found in the Refurbished & Clearance section.  Inventory changes frequently. They are guaranteed to look and perform identically to a new Mac and come with the same 1-year warranty.

Speaking of warranties, you can extend your one year warranty to three by purchasing AppleCare, but a good middle ground is to pay for your computer with an Amex, Amazon or other credit card that comes with a year of warranty protection for free.

An ounce of prevention

There is no laptop accident more common than a liquid spill, and it takes very little to bring about an $800 repair or more. For this reason, a high quality keyboard protector is mandatory. We recommend the Moshi ClearGuard.

Got additional questions to help make your tech decision the right one? Schedule a consultation with us to ensure a good fit between you and your future computer.