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.
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 more powerful than its predecessors, but there are reports of the newer keyboard (also found on the current MacBook Pro) being overly susceptible to breakage. It's now the subject of a class-action lawsuit. Oh, and did we mention this fragile “low-end” model is $1300?!
As the aforelinked MacRumors piece notes, “Apple has yet to launch a repair program for MacBook Pro keyboard issues, either publicly or internally, suggesting that the number of customers affected might not meet its threshold for doing so. But, given the increased attention and lawsuit, Apple may feel obligated to take action soon enough.”
Size and Budget
Back to the MacBook itself: 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.
There is another, lower cost option still available, with a tad bigger screen: the 13" MacBook Air. It's an older model but is often plenty for most people's needs. It may be phased out soon, despite its popularity, leaving consumers on a budget with little to no options from Apple.
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. A current student, teacher, or faculty member should be able to get a 13" 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.
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.