Which Mac should I buy?

One of our most common questions

Predictably, the answer depends on your needs, but this guide is written for the general user looking for a laptop, and thus should be a useful starting point for most people.

Photo credit: Markus Spiske / Unsplash

UPDATE: We recommend the new MacBook Air over the MacBook. In years past, the Air was a premium product for its thinness and weight, while the MacBook was the "basic" model. As of this writing, most users would be best served with the 13" MacBook Air.

Is the cost still worth it?

The $1199 price is still prohibitive for many, with only the non-Retina 13" Air as Apple's "sub–$1000" offering (at $999 before tax). In our view, it's too much to spend, given the specs, if you don't care about owning a Mac. In other words, a fine computer can be found for much less. However, if you are accustomed to Macs, you won't go wrong by buying a new one, so long as it's in your budget.

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 an older Mac 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.

As Mac professionals, we're remiss to admit we're not terribly pleased with Apple's current offerings. The basic 12" MacBook is lightweight and powerful for most people, but the keyboard has been derided as overly susceptible to breakage; the subject of three class-action lawsuits. Oh, and did we mention this “low-end” model starts at $1300?

Apple has announced a repair program for its laptops with keyboard issue, but it doesn't appear the design flaw has actually been fixed, and a repair may take a minimum of five days to complete.

Size and Budget

It's worth mentioning that its crisp display is only 12" (measured diagonally). We suggest spending some time with one to help determine if it's 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 your productivity demands a larger screen. 

The MacBook Pro is fairly pricy to recommend, especially if you don't need the extra power. The 13" starts at $1300 and 15" is a whopping $2000 (for the older model without the touch bar). We hate to say it, but if you are on a budget and want a larger screen, you might be better of with a PC.

Past research has suggested that it may be worth overcoming the sticker shock of a Mac because the maintenance costs of a PC might mean more over the life of the machine, but it's not clear if those findings are still relevant today.

If you are eligible for academic pricing, it can make the cost of a Mac more palatable. As if this writing, a current student, teacher, or faculty member should be able to get a 13" non-Retina MacBook Air for $849 before tax.

The Clearance Option

There are plenty of places in life to avoid the bargain section, 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 daily, but as of this writing, a refurbished 15" MacBook Pro is $1700. They are guaranteed to look the same as 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 will add a year of warranty protection for free.

Keyboard Insurance

There is no laptop accident more common than a liquid spill, and it takes very little to bring about a $500 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.

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