Which Mac should you buy?

When it comes to pur­chas­ing a Mac, Ro­man Loy­ola has the low­down on each model to help you make a buying de­ci­sion

Macworld - - CONTENTS -

If you’re read­ing this, chances are you’re think­ing about buying a new Mac and may be in need of a lit­tle guid­ance. For­tu­nately, we’re quite fa­mil­iar with Ap­ple’s Macs, and we’re happy to help you choose the right Mac for you.

Be­fore we pro­ceed, we should specif­i­cally ad­dress Ap­ple’s desk­top Macs. It’s been a while since the com­pany has up­dated the Mac mini and Mac Pro. While our ad­vice for each Mac model pro­vides guid­ance as to which model you should buy, you might ac­tu­ally con­sider wait­ing to see if Ap­ple re­leases a new Mac mini or Mac Pro, or con­sider buying an iMac.

This guide pro­vides an over­view of all the Mac mod­els avail­able, and what each one is best suited for. All prices are cor­rect at the time of writ­ing.

MacBook Air

What is it? The Air is Ap­ple’s af­ford­able line of lap­tops. Ap­ple cur­rently of­fers two 13in mod­els.

The com­pany used to sell an 11in MacBook Air, but it is no longer avail­able to the gen­eral pub­lic. If you re­ally want an 11in model, you can try look­ing in Ap­ple’s Cer­ti­fied Re­fur­bished Store (tinyurl.com/ ybopp226). (The 11in model is only avail­able as a bulk pur­chase by ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions.)

Who’s it for? The MacBook Air is ideal for the bud­get con­scious. It’s also for any­one who is al­ways on the go, doesn’t want to be bogged down by a reg­u­lar-size lap­top, and needs a com­puter that’s more ver­sa­tile than an iPad.

What are the spec­i­fi­ca­tions? The two MacBook Air mod­els have the same 1.8GHz dual-core Core i5 (Broad­well) pro­ces­sor and 8GB of RAM. All MacBook Air mod­els come with in­te­grated In­tel HD

How do I con­nect stuff? The MacBook Air has builtin Wi-Fi for con­nect­ing to a net­work. It also pro­vides built-in Blue­tooth for wire­lessly con­nect­ing a mouse or other pe­riph­eral. If you want to con­nect to an eth­er­net net­work, you’ll need a USB eth­er­net Adapter (£29 from fave.co/2t35WQh).

Thun­der­bolt 2 is the MacBook Air’s high-speed con­nec­tor. The lap­top also has a pair of USB 3.0 ports, which can work with de­vices that use USB Graph­ics 6000 tech­nol­ogy. Ap­ple claims 12 hours of bat­tery life for both wire­less web and iTunes movie play­back. The main dif­fer­ence be­tween the lap­tops is stor­age. The £949 model (avail­able from fave.co/2t2PZtf) has 128GB of flash stor­age, while the £1,099 model (avail­able from fave. co/2sOU67Z) has 256GB.

2.0. If you have a FireWire 800 drive, you’ll need to buy a Thun­der­bolt-to-FireWire Adapter (£29 from fave.co/2t32ULC).

How fast is it? The MacBook Air is quite ca­pa­ble of han­dling ev­ery­day tasks, such as send­ing and re­ceiv­ing email, brows­ing the web, and us­ing of­fice ap­pli­ca­tions. You can even use it for edit­ing short videos, or for work­ing with JPEGs from your iPhone or point-and-shoot cam­era.

Mac­world’s buying ad­vice: The MacBook Air is a great af­ford­able lap­top for some­one who does gen­eral-pur­pose work and moves around a lot, such as a stu­dent or a self-em­ployed per­son. Since it’s at the lower end of Ap­ple’s lap­top lineup in terms of price, you won’t find the Retina dis­play that’s on the Retina MacBook Pro or the MacBook. Also, you can’t eas­ily up­grade the stor­age af­ter pur­chase, so you should buy the model with the largest amount of stor­age you can af­ford. (Af­ter-mar­ket stor­age up­grades are avail­able, but Ap­ple does not pro­vide sup­port for such up­grades.)

MacBook

What is it? The MacBook is Ap­ple’s en­try in the ul­tra-por­ta­ble lap­top mar­ket. It’s ac­tu­ally lighter and smaller than the 13in MacBook Air.

Who’s it for? The MacBook is made for users who pri­or­i­tize mo­bil­ity over ev­ery­thing else, in­clud­ing features and per­for­mance.

What are the spec­i­fi­ca­tions? The MacBook comes in only one size: a 12in model avail­able in rose gold, space grey, gold or sil­ver.

There are two mod­els of the MacBook. The £1,249 model (avail­able from fave.co/2sZW1Lc) has a 1.2GHz dual-core In­tel Core m3 (Kaby Lake) pro­ces­sor and 256GB of flash stor­age. The £1,549 model (avail­able from fave.co/2tJhLs4) has a 1.3GHz dual-core In­tel Core i5 (Kaby Lake) pro­ces­sor and 512GB of flash stor­age. Both mod­els in­clude 8GB of mem­ory and an in­te­grated In­tel HD Graph­ics 615 pro­ces­sor.

The MacBook has a Retina dis­play, which means it has an ul­tra-high res­o­lu­tion screen that’s ca­pa­ble of show­ing crisper im­ages than on the Air, which has a stan­dard dis­play. The MacBook has a na­tive res­o­lu­tion of 2304x1440

and of­fers scaled res­o­lu­tions of 1024x640, 1280x800, and 1440x900.

How do I con­nect stuff? The MacBook has Wi-Fi for con­nect­ing to a net­work and Blue­tooth for your de­vices. There’s only one USB-C port for con­nect­ing stor­age de­vices, print­ers, ex­ter­nal dis­plays, power adap­tors, or any­thing else. If you have older USB pe­riph­er­als, you need to use a USB-C to USB Adapter (£19 from tinyurl.com/ yb44r7aw) that will al­low you to con­nect USB 3 and USB 2 de­vices to the MacBook. Want to con­nect to eth­er­net? You need the USB-C to USB Adapter and the USB eth­er­net Adap­tor (£29 from fave. co/2t33Hw6). If you want to con­nect an HDMI dis­play and USB de­vices, you need to get the USB-C Dig­i­tal AV Mul­ti­port Adapter (£49 from fave.co/2t32gOg). Or if you want to con­nect a VGA dis­play, you need the USB-C VGA Mul­ti­port Adapter (£49 from fave.co/2t3hnr6).

How fast is it? The pro­ces­sors in the MacBook are made to be ef­fi­cient and cool. They’re not a top-per­form­ing pro­ces­sors, though we’ve found that the MacBook out­paces the Air. Com­pared to pre­vi­ous MacBook gen­er­a­tions, the cur­rent ver­sion pro­vides a much needed per­for­mance boost. It’s a bet­ter value than it has been, thanks to the Kaby Lake pro­ces­sor. That said, it can han­dle ev­ery­thing your typ­i­cal user does on a daily ba­sis. It can even han­dle some high-end, pro­fes­sional pro­duc­tion tasks. It just won’t be the fastest to the fin­ish line.

Mac­world’s buying ad­vice: The MacBook is for any­one who’s con­stantly on the go and sel­dom needs to con­nect de­vices – be pre­pared to carry a bunch of adap­tors if you have to make con­nec­tions.

MacBook Pro

What is it? The MacBook Pro has a high-den­sity dis­play with so many pix­els that im­ages and text look es­pe­cially smooth and clean. At nor­mal view­ing dis­tances, you can’t dis­cern in­di­vid­ual pix­els.

Who’s it for? The MacBook Pro is for the de­mand­ing user who wants a por­ta­ble com­puter that also per­forms well. MacBook Pro mod­els sit at the top of the per­for­mance chart of Mac lap­tops. What are the spec­i­fi­ca­tions? The MacBook Pro is avail­able in screen sizes of 13- and 15 inches.

There are four 13in mod­els:

• £1,249 model (from fave.co/2t3gPS7): 2.3GHz dual-core In­tel Core i5 (Kaby Lake) pro­ces­sor, 8GB of mem­ory, 128GB of flash stor­age, In­tel Iris Graph­ics 640 in­te­grated graph­ics, and no Touch Bar.

• £1,449 model (from fave.co/2t3eUNg): 2.3GHz dual-core In­tel Core i5 (Kaby Lake) pro­ces­sor, 8GB of mem­ory, 246GB of flash stor­age, In­tel Iris Graph­ics 640 in­te­grated graph­ics, and no Touch Bar.

• £1,749 model (from fave.co/2sPiYwE): 3.1GHz dual-core In­tel Core i5 (Kaby Lake) pro­ces­sor , 8GB of mem­ory, 256GB of flash stor­age, In­tel Iris Graph­ics 650 in­te­grated graph­ics, and the Touch Bar.

• £1,949 model (from fave.co/2sOTLlQ): 3.1GHz dual-core In­tel Core i5 (Kaby Lake) pro­ces­sor, 8GB of mem­ory, 512GB of flash stor­age, In­tel Iris Graph­ics 650 in­te­grated graph­ics, and the Touch Bar.

Ap­ple has two 15in MacBook Pros:

• £2,349 model (from fave.co/2tJy­bAw): 2.8GHz quad-core In­tel Core i7 (Kaby Lake) pro­ces­sor, 16GB of mem­ory, 256GB of flash stor­age, In­tel HD Graph­ics 630 in­te­grated graph­ics, 2GB Radeon Pro 555 dis­crete graph­ics, and the Touch Bar.

• £2,699 model (from fave.co/2tJWXjO): 2.9GHz quad-core Core i7 pro­ces­sor, 16GB of mem­ory,

512GB flash stor­age, In­tel HD Graph­ics 630 in­te­grated graph­ics, 4GB Radeon Pro 560 dis­crete graph­ics, and the Touch Bar.

The 13in Retina dis­play has a na­tive res­o­lu­tion of 2560x1600, and OS X of­fers a scaled res­o­lu­tion up to 1680x1050. The 15in Retina dis­play has a na­tive res­o­lu­tion of 2880x1800, and OS X’s high­est scaled res­o­lu­tion on those lap­tops is 1920x1200.

Th­ese high-scale res­o­lu­tions can ac­com­mo­date the workspace of a larger-screen stan­dard Mac lap­top on a smaller Retina MacBook Pro if you can tol­er­ate the smaller icons, text, and other graph­ics on the screen. If you use a third-party app such as Quick­Res, you can set the Retina screen to use res­o­lu­tions higher than the scaled set­tings OS X of­fers, in­clud­ing the na­tive res­o­lu­tion.

The MacBook Pro does not have a Su­perDrive, so if you need one, you’ll have to buy an ex­ter­nal USB op­ti­cal drive.

What is the Touch Bar that’s men­tioned in the specs above? The Touch Bar is a new in­put de­vice. It sits on top of the key­board, and it’s ba­si­cally

a nar­row touch­screen. The but­ton and con­trols avail­able on the Touch Bar change de­pend­ing on the soft­ware you are us­ing. Learn more about the Touch Bar.

Note: the Touch Bar is not avail­able on the £1,249 and £1,449 13in MacBook Pro. That model has the tra­di­tional func­tion keys.

How do I con­nect stuff? No need to worry about wire­less con­nec­tiv­ity: The MacBook Pro has WiFi and Blue­tooth.

It’s the wired con­nec­tiv­ity you need to be con­cerned with. The MacBook Pro has only Thun­der­bolt 3 ports, which are com­pat­i­ble with USB-C. The £1,249 and £1,449 13in MacBook Pro mod­els have two ports, while ev­ery other MacBook model has four.

If you have a Thun­der­bolt 3 de­vice, you can plug it in di­rectly. The same goes for any USB-C de­vice. How­ever, if you have wired de­vices that aren’t USB-C or Thun­der­bolt 3, you’ll need an adap­tor. We have a sep­a­rate MacBook Pro Thun­der­bolt 3 adap­tor guide to help you de­cide which ones you’ll need. Un­for­tu­nately, be pre­pared to shell out a good amount of ex­tra cash.

How fast is it? The MacBook Pro mod­els are, to no sur­prise, the fastest lap­tops Ap­ple has ever re­leased. They are sig­nif­i­cantly faster than the MacBook Air. The 2017 MacBook cut the dif­fer­ence down, thanks to its Kaby Lake pro­ces­sor. But if it’s pro­cess­ing power you seek, it’s the Pro you want.

Mac­world’s buying ad­vice: For the most de­mand­ing mo­bile Mac user – some­one whose work re­quires a lot of pro­cess­ing power – the MacBook Pro is the ticket. If you’re look­ing at a 13in model, the £1,749 Retina MacBook Pro hits a sweet spot for price and per­for­mance. The money that sep­a­rates the two 15in Retina MacBook Pro mod­els is a hefty chunk of change; the £2,699 MacBook Pro is the top-of-the-line Mac lap­top, of­fer­ing the strong­est per­for­mance. If your work mostly in­volves In­ter­net ac­cess and other pro­duc­tiv­ity tasks, how­ever, go for a MacBook Air.

Mac mini

What is it? The Mac mini is Ap­ple’s en­try-level desk­top Mac. It’s slower than Ap­ple’s other desk­top com­put­ers – the iMac and the Mac Pro – but it re­mains fast enough for gen­eral-pur­pose use.

Who’s it for? Ap­ple tar­gets first-time Mac users with the Mac mini. If you’re switch­ing from a PC, you can use your PC’s key­board and mouse with the Mac mini. The Mac mini is also ideal as a sec­ondary Mac in your home, and it can in­te­grate into your home en­ter­tain­ment cen­tre.

What are the spec­i­fi­ca­tions? What makes the Mac mini stand out is its small size. It doesn’t take up a lot of desk space. Ap­ple sells three Mac mini mod­els. The £479 (from fave.co/2sPo4Jl) model has a 1.4GHz

dual-core Core i5 CPU, a 5,400rpm 500GB hard drive, 4GB of mem­ory and an in­te­grated In­tel HD Graph­ics 5000 GPU. The £679 model (from fave. co/2t2J03w) in­cludes a 2.6GHz dual-core Core i5 pro­ces­sor, a 5,400rpm 1TB hard drive 8GB of mem­ory, and In­tel Iris Graph­ics. The £949 (from fave.co/2t3k6AQ) model has a 2.8GHz dual-core Core i5 pro­ces­sor, a 1TB Fu­sion Drive, 8GB of mem­ory, and In­tel Iris Graph­ics.

The Mac mini does not in­clude a dis­play, key­board, or mouse, so you’ll have to pro­vide your own – or you can cus­tom­ize your or­der to in­clude th­ese de­vices as ex­tra-cost op­tions.

Since the Mac mini lacks an op­ti­cal drive, you need to buy an ex­ter­nal USB op­ti­cal drive if you want to read or burn CDs and DVDs.

How do I con­nect stuff? Like Ap­ple’s other Macs, the Mac mini has Wi-Fi and Blue­tooth. It also has four USB 3.0 ports, two Thun­der­bolt 2 ports, and an SDXC card slot. It also has a gi­ga­bit eth­er­net port, in case you want to con­nect to a wired net­work.

To con­nect a dis­play, you can use the HDMI port or a Thun­der­bolt 2 port. You might have to buy an adap­tor if your dis­play doesn’t have ei­ther HDMI or Mini Dis­playPort (which con­nects to the Mac mini’s Thun­der­bolt port). If you own a dis­play with VGA and/or DVI out­put, you’ll need ei­ther the Mini Dis­playPort-to-VGA Adap­tor (£29 from fave. co/2sP2jcj) or the Mini Dis­playPort-to-DVI Adap­tor (£29 from tinyurl.com/ybg4z95w).

How fast is it? The Mac mini won’t set any speed records – it’s among the slow­est Macs in Ap­ple’s line-up. But don’t judge its per­for­mance too harshly. For gen­eral use (writ­ing, email, web, so­cial me­dia) and for edit­ing short videos, the Mac mini does just fine.

Mac­world’s buying ad­vice: For new Mac users switch­ing from a PC, the Mac mini is an ex­cel­lent ma­chine, if you don’t mind not hav­ing the lat­est pro­ces­sors. It’s a great choice for shop­pers on a bud­get, or for some­one who wants a second com­puter in the home. It han­dles ev­ery­day us­age well. If, how­ever, you want to use a Mac as a pro­duc­tion ma­chine for video edit­ing or some other task that re­quires sub­stan­tial pro­cess­ing power, con­sider an iMac.

iMac

Ap­ple has two ver­sions of the iMac. Let’s go over the stan­dard model first, fol­lowed by the iMac with Retina dis­play.

What is it? The iMac is Ap­ple’s iconic all-in-one com­puter. Made of alu­minium, the iMac has a builtin dis­play and looks stately as it sits on a desk. It also of­fers top-notch per­for­mance.

Who’s it for? The iMac is great for both novices and de­mand­ing users. It can han­dle gen­eral-pur­pose and heavy-duty tasks equally well. It’s ideal for some­one who needs to buy a com­plete com­puter

setup (key­board, mouse or track­pad, and dis­play) and wants to max­i­mize workspace ef­fi­ciency.

What are the spec­i­fi­ca­tions? One stan­dard iMac model is cur­rently avail­able with a 21.5in 1920x1080-res­o­lu­tion dis­play. It has a 1TB hard drive. (Ap­ple no longer makes a 27in iMac with a stan­dard dis­play – more on that later).

The en­try-level 21.5in £1,049 iMac (from fave. co/2sPp­kfr) has a 2.3GHz dual-core In­tel Core i5 pro­ces­sor and In­tel Iris Plus Graph­ics 640 in­te­grated graph­ics. The hard drive in the 21.5in iMac mod­els is a 5,400rpm drive.

You can’t up­grade the 21.5in iMac your­self af­ter you buy it, so con­sider pay­ing an ex­tra £180 at the out­set for a mem­ory up­grade to 16GB. If you want to add more RAM later, you need to bring the iMac in to an Ap­ple store. The 21.5in iMac also of­fers

a Fu­sion Drive or a flash stor­age up­grade. The iMac comes with Ap­ple’s Magic Key­board and Magic Mouse 2. If you or­der on­line from the Ap­ple Store, how­ever, you can switch the key­board to a ver­sion with a numeric key­pad, and switch the mouse to a wired Ap­ple Mouse or a Magic Track­pad 2 (£50). You can opt to get both a Magic Mouse 2 and a Magic Track­pad 2 for £129 ex­tra.

The iMac does not have an op­ti­cal drive. If you want to read or burn CDs and DVDs, you need to buy an ex­ter­nal USB op­ti­cal drive.

How do I con­nect stuff? Wi-Fi and Blue­tooth are built-in. All iMacs have four USB 3.0 ports, two Thun­der­bolt 3 ports, a gi­ga­bit eth­er­net port, and an SDXC card slot.

If you want to con­nect a FireWire de­vice, you’ll need to use a Thun­der­bolt-to-FireWire Adap­tor (£29 from fave.co/2t32ULC). USB 2.0 de­vices can con­nect to the iMac’s USB 3.0 ports.

How fast is it? The iMacs are among Ap­ple’s fastest com­put­ers, how­ever, the £1,049 iMac is Ap­ple’s slow­est iMac. Also, if the iMac has a hard drive, it’s a per­for­mance bot­tle­neck. If you can up­grade to a Fu­sion Drive or flash stor­age, you’ll gain a sig­nif­i­cant per­for­mance boost. The £1,049 ver­sion has an at­trac­tive price, but you make huge sac­ri­fices in per­for­mance. Mac­world’s buying ad­vice: For new Mac own­ers, the £1,049 iMac is a good al­ter­na­tive to the Mac

mini, pro­vid­ing a nice per­for­mance in­crease. If per­for­mance is your top pri­or­ity, con­sider a Fu­sion Drive up­grade. On a 21.5in iMac, the 8GB of RAM should be fine, but buying the RAM up­grade at the point of pur­chase could help you avoid some has­sle in the fu­ture.

iMac with Retina dis­play

What is it? The iMac with Retina dis­play is like Ap­ple’s stan­dard iMac, but with an ul­tra high­res­o­lu­tion dis­play.

Who’s it for? The Retina iMac is de­signed for pro­fes­sion­als who work with high-res­o­lu­tion videos, pho­tos, or im­ages. Or it’s for the de­mand­ing user who wants the best im­age qual­ity for ev­ery­day use.

What are the spec­i­fi­ca­tions? Ap­ple calls its two 21.5in mod­els the 21.5in iMac with Retina 4K dis­play. Th­ese iMacs have a 4096x2304 res­o­lu­tion screen. The £1,249 model (from fave.co/2sPn6wE) has a 3GHz quad-core In­tel Core i5 pro­ces­sor, 8GB of RAM, a 1TB 5,400rpm hard drive, and 2GB Radeon Pro 555 graph­ics. The £1,449 model (from fave. co/2t3c­sqa) has a 3.4GHz quad-core In­tel Core i5 pro­ces­sor, 8GB of RAM, a 1TB Fu­sion Drive, and 4GB Radeon Pro 560 graph­ics.

Ap­ple’s 27in iMacs (called the 27in iMac with Retina 5K dis­play) come with a 5120x2880res­o­lu­tion Retina dis­play. Ap­ple of­fers three mod­els of the 27in Retina iMac. The £1,749 model (from fave.co/2t3e­jvb) has a 3.4GHz quad-core In­tel Core

i5 pro­ces­sor, a 1TB Fu­sion Drive, and 4GB Radeon Pro 570 graph­ics. The £1,949 model (from fave. co/2t3raxh) has a 3.5GHz quad-core In­tel Core i5 pro­ces­sor, a 1TB Fu­sion Drive and 4GB Radeon Pro 575 graph­ics. The £2,249 (from fave.co/2sP565x) model has a 3.8GHz quad-core In­tel Core i5 pro­ces­sor, a 2TB Fu­sion Drive, and 8GB Radeon Pro 580 graph­ics.

Users can up­grade the RAM on the 27in iMac eas­ily. The ma­chine has four RAM slots, ac­ces­si­ble through the back. Ap­ple in­stalls the stan­dard 8GB as a pair of 4GB mem­ory mod­ules, so you can add more RAM af­ter you buy the sys­tem. Or if you pre­fer, you can up­grade the RAM at the point of pur­chase to 16GB (£180) or 32GB (£540). How do I con­nect stuff? W-Fi and Blue­tooth are built-in. All Retina iMacs have four USB 3.0 ports, two Thun­der­bolt 3 ports, a gi­ga­bit eth­er­net port, and an SDXC card slot.

If you want to con­nect a FireWire de­vice, you’ll need to use a

Thun­der­bolt-to-FireWire Adap­tor (£29 from fave. co/2t32ULC). USB 2.0 de­vices can con­nect to the iMac’s USB 3.0 ports.

How fast is it? The Retina iMacs are among Ap­ple’s fastest com­put­ers when it comes to sin­glecore per­for­mance. When it comes to multi-core speed, the Mac Pros with more than four cores are faster ma­chines. You can im­prove the mul­ti­core per­for­mance by opt­ing for the 4.2GHz Core i7 up­grade in the £1,949 and £2,249 in the 27in mod­els, or the 3.6GHz Core i7 up­grade in the 21.5in model – you’ll pay more, but it may be worth it to your for the per­for­mance boost.

Mac­world’s buying ad­vice: The al­lure of the Retina dis­play is strong; you’ll love the way it looks. You may not love the way the price looks, how­ever. If you are hes­i­tant about the price, it won’t take long to get over it, once you’ve used the Retina iMac for a cou­ple of weeks.

iMac Pro

Who’s it for? This is the com­puter for peo­ple who with the most de­mand­ing tasks. It’s tar­geted at cre­ative pro­fes­sion­als, sci­en­tists, and soft­ware devel­op­ers.

What are the spec­i­fi­ca­tions? Ap­ple hasn’t spec­i­fied which pro­ces­sors are in the iMac Pro, but ru­mour has it that they will be In­tel Xeon pro­ces­sors. Ap­ple has stated that the pro­ces­sors will be avail­able with

8, 10, or 18 cores. The iMac Pro will comes stan­dard with 32GB of 2666MHz DDR4 ECC mem­ory. You can con­fig­ure it to 64GB or 128GB. The stor­age de­vice is a 1TB SSD, with op­tions for 2- or 4TB. The graph­ics card is a Radeon Pro Vega 56 graph­ics pro­ces­sor with 8GB of HBM2 mem­ory.

Ap­ple has not re­leased con­fig­u­ra­tions. Pric­ing will start at $4,999 (£TBC). The iMac Pro comes in an alu­minium space grey case. It also has match­ing space grey Magic Key­board with numeric key­board and Magic Mouse 2.

How do I con­nect stuff? Wi-Fi and Blue­tooth are in­cluded for wire­less con­nec­tiv­ity. The back of the iMac Pro has four USB 3 ports, four Thun­der­bolt 3 ports, a 10-gi­ga­bit eth­er­net jack, and a SDXC card slot.

How fast is it? Bench­marks of the iMac Pro are not yet avail­able. The ma­chine will be a mul­ti­pro­cess­ing beast, de­signed to work­ing with pro-level apps that de­mand mul­ti­ple pro­cess­ing cores.

Mac­world’s buying ad­vice: This will prob­a­bly be the fastest avail­able Mac in Ap­ple’s lineup when it is re­leased. If you want the fastest pro­cess­ing speed avail­able, this is the Mac to get. There doesn’t seem to be a Mac Pro com­ing in the near fu­ture, de­spite what Ap­ple said about it. So if you’d rather wait for a new Mac Pro, you might be wait­ing for a while.

The Mac Pro (2013)

What is it? The Mac Pro is Ap­ple’s work­sta­tion. It’s de­signed for pro­fes­sion­als who need a pow­er­ful and flex­i­ble ma­chine.

Who’s it for? The Mac Pro is ideal for pro­fes­sion­als who work with ap­pli­ca­tions that use as many pro­cess­ing cores as pos­si­ble – video-edit­ing ap­pli­ca­tions, im­age-edit­ing soft­ware, 3D ap­pli­ca­tions, and the like. What are the spec­i­fi­ca­tions? You’ll find two stan­dard-con­fig­u­ra­tion mod­els. The £2,999 Mac

Pro (from fave.co/2t3dKRO) has a 3.5GHz 6-core Xeon E5 pro­ces­sor, 16GB of mem­ory, and dual AMD FirePro D500 graph­ics pro­ces­sors with 3GB of video mem­ory each. The £3,899 ver­sion (from tinyurl.com/yd2b­cy6z) pro­vides a 3GHz 8-core Xeon E5 pro­ces­sor, 16GB of mem­ory, and dual AMD FirePro D700 graph­ics pro­ces­sors with 6GB of video mem­ory each. Both mod­els in­clude 256GB of flash stor­age.

The Mac Pro of­fers buy­ers some ap­peal­ing build-to-or­der op­tions. You can add up to 64GB of mem­ory, up­grade to 512GB or 1TB of flash stor­age, up­grade the graph­ics, or up­grade the pro­ces­sor (to a 12-core CPU). How do I con­nect stuff? Un­like the pre­vi­ous Mac Pro, the new Mac Pro has no in­ter­nal op­tions for con­nect­ing PCI ex­pan­sion cards or in­ter­nal stor­age drives. The new Mac Pro re­lies on its six ex­ter­nal Thun­der­bolt 2 ports for add-ons. If you have an old Mac Pro tower and PCI cards and/or drives that you want to use, you’ll need to buy a Thun­der­bolt

ex­pan­sion chas­sis for the cards and ex­ter­nal cases for the drives.

Wi-Fi and Blue­tooth come built-in on the new Mac Pro. The ma­chine has four USB 3 ports, dual gi­ga­bit eth­er­net jacks, and HDMI. Au­dio pro­fes­sion­als should know that the Mac Pro has a com­bined op­ti­cal dig­i­tal au­dio in­put and ana­logue\ out­put mini­jack. The com­puter doesn’t have FireWire con­nec­tions.

How fast is it? Ap­ple says that the new Mac Pro is a “video edit­ing pow­er­house” ca­pa­ble of han­dling 4K video edit­ing, that 3D ap­pli­ca­tions will see “ul­tra­fast ren­der­ing”, and on and on. And our first set of tests re­flects that. If you use Fi­nal Cut Pro X, you’ll see huge per­for­mance gains. If you use ap­pli­ca­tions that can take ad­van­tage of as many pro­cess­ing cores as are avail­able, then the Mac Pro re­ally shines. How­ever, if you’re more of a ‘pro­sumer’ than a pro­fes­sional – some­one who is an ex­pert Mac user, but doesn’t use high-end apps – then you’re not go­ing to see a big jump in per­for­mance. You’re prob­a­bly bet­ter off with an iMac, es­pe­cially if you use the iLife apps a lot. iLife ac­tu­ally per­forms bet­ter with the pro­ces­sors in the iMac than those in the Mac Pro.

Mac­world’s buying ad­vice: In April 2017, Ap­ple pro­vided some much-needed in­sight into the Mac Pro. Orig­i­nally re­leased in 2013, the Mac Pro hasn’t re­ceived a se­ri­ous up­grade since then. The cur­rent mod­els were orig­i­nally of­fered as build-to-or­der

op­tions for the mod­els re­leased about four years ago. So the cur­rent model still has old tech­nol­ogy.

Ap­ple ad­mit­ted that the Mac Pro’s de­sign se­verely lim­its what the com­pany can do with the ma­chine in terms of up­grades, and that, as Ap­ple VP Phil Schiller puts it, they are “com­pletely re­think­ing” the Mac Pro.

The next Mac Pro will be bet­ter able to sup­port the lat­est CPU and GPU tech­nolo­gies, ac­cord­ing to Ap­ple. But you’ll have to wait un­til next year for the new, re­designed Mac Pro to make its ap­pear­ance.

In the mean­time, should you buy the Mac Pro that’s cur­rently avail­able? If you are do­ing pro­fes­sional work and re­quire ex­treme mul­ti­pro­cess­ing ca­pa­bil­ity, and you’re us­ing a old pre-2013 Mac Pro or an older iMac, you’ll def­i­nitely see a per­for­mance boost with the cur­rent Mac Pro.

But if you al­ready have the 2013 Mac Pro, there’s no rea­son to buy what Ap­ple is sell­ing now, un­less you are mak­ing a sig­nif­i­cant jump in the num­ber of pro­cess­ing cores (say, from a four-core to a 12-core CPU). Try to hold out for next year.

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