Pick your spec­i­fi­ca­tion

Know­ing what you need is vi­tal


The tech world has a con­cept called “fea­ture creep”, where a prod­uct gains fea­tures un­til it be­comes bloated and com­pli­cated. The same thing can hap­pen when you buy a Mac.

Knowl­edge is power

The key to avoid­ing this sit­u­a­tion is en­sur­ing you know ex­actly what you need be­fore you start look­ing at Macs and get car­ried away. If you stick to that spec, you don’t need to spend more than nec­es­sary.

For ex­am­ple, do you need that In­tel Core i7 pro­ces­sor? It’s a pow­er­ful pro­ces­sor, but un­less you reg­u­larly en­gage in heavy-duty video or photo edit­ing work, you can prob­a­bly go with­out.

For pro­ces­sor clock speed and cores, if you mostly work with audio then fewer cores and a higher clock speed can be ben­e­fi­cial when it comes to la­tency. How­ever, video ex­port and com­pil­ing apps ben­e­fit from ex­tra cores work­ing in tan­dem, de­spite the typ­i­cally lower clock speeds on of­fer.

Ap­ple of­fers a va­ri­ety of stor­age options, from nor­mal hard drives to faster Fu­sion Drives to su­per–speedy SSDs. Work out how much space (and speed) you need, but re­mem­ber that you can ex­pand it with an ex­ter­nal drive down the line.

Sim­i­larly, only get as much mem­ory as you need. For many or­di­nary tasks, 8GB is plenty. If you use your Mac more in­ten­sively, you might need 16GB.

If you in­tend to use an ex­ter­nal 4K or 5K dis­play, make sure your Mac is pow­er­ful enough to run it. The sup­port sec­tion on Ap­ple’s web­site has a page out­lin­ing re­quire­ments ( bitly.com/4K5Kreqs).

Bear in mind that most Macs’ com­po­nents can’t be changed — or not easily — af­ter pur­chase, so you need to con­sider fu­ture uses for your Mac at that time. Thun­der­bolt 3 raises the pos­si­bil­ity of ex­ter­nal graphics cards, but Ap­ple hasn’t yet fi­nal­ized how that will work, and we can’t say for cer­tain which mod­els it’s rel­e­vant to just yet.

Make sure you know what you in­tend to do with your Mac be­fore you buy it. For ex­am­ple, do you need more than 8GB of mem­ory?

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