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?