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Mac Buying Guide 2021: Find the Right Mac for You

Apple has a wide range of Macs that are available for purchase, and it can be challenging to find the one that is right for you. To help make your decision easier, we’ve created a Mac buying guide that will provide an overview of all the Mac models available and what each Mac does well.

Mac Laptop Or Mac Desktop? 

Mac laptops and Mac desktops are the two main types of computers that Apple offers. It can be challenging to decide which one will work best for you, so we'll talk about what each device is capable of doing. The significant difference between a laptop computer and a desktop computer comes down to portability vs. power. 

Apple is now transitioning its entire Mac lineup away from Intel processors to Apple Silicon chips. In November, the company updated the MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and Mac Mini with their new M1 chip; in April 2021, they released a 24-inch iMac powered by this same processor.

You have to be aware of what kind of Mac you're buying as you scroll through the online store. For example, the 16-inch MacBook Pro doesn't have an M1 variant yet — it's Intel. While it's still a good computer, it's recommended you wait for the faster M1 model to be released. First, we will be covering the best Mac laptops to buy in 2021.

Mac Buying Guide 2021: Find the Right Mac for You
Mac Buying Guide 2021: Find the Right Mac for You

Mac Buying Guide 2021: Find the Right MacBook for You

Apple's new M1 chip in the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro 13-inch is not only the latest improvement to their laptop range, but it also packs a punch. With an eight-core CPU and either a seven or eight-core GPU, depending on your model, this system-on-a-chip can significantly boost power for Apple's laptops while giving them some significant battery life as well.

If you are in the market for a new MacBook, that means you have a lot to think about. Do you go for a new M1 model or an Intel-based MacBook? And if you do decide to go with the new M1 models, which one is the best for you? Well, let's take a look at what Macbook models are currently available from Apple.

Apple MacBook Air (M1 2020)

Display: 13.3 inches; 2,560 x 1,600 | CPU: Apple M1 | GPU: Integrated 8-core GPU | RAM: 8GB-16GB / Storage: 256GB-2TB SSD | Weight: 2.8 pounds

Apple's MacBook Air is the laptop to go for if you want a lightweight, portable machine. It used to mean you had to sacrifice performance for portability but now, thanks in part to Apple's M1 chip that has changed, and it can still be fast without being heavy or bulky.

The Air starts at $1,000 and comes in one size (13 inches). It's a smart choice for everyday use. The laptop can run an array of apps, whether that be a web browser such as Chrome or Firefox, word processors like Google Docs or Pages, spreadsheet programs like Excel or Numbers—even iPhone/iPad apps! All this while never worrying about battery life because the MacBook Air has up to 15 hours of wireless internet usage.

Apple's new MacBook Air laptop is lightweight and airy, just like the name suggests. This laptop is lightweight and perfect for carrying around an airport or on your lap during a long flight.

The MacBook Air starts with the Apple M1 processor, 8 gigabytes of memory, and 256GB of solid-state storage. Typically lasted between 11 to 12.5 hours in testing, depending on how hard it's pushed. The Intel model that was replaced averaged 7 to 12.25 hours, but this new M1 version lasts longer, all said!

Mac Buying Guide 2021: Find the Right Mac for You

ON SALE
2020 Apple MacBook Air Laptop: Apple M1 Chip, 13” Retina Display, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD Storage, Backlit Keyboard, FaceTime HD Camera, Touch ID. Works with iPhone/iPad; Gold
9,284 Reviews
2020 Apple MacBook Air Laptop: Apple M1 Chip, 13” Retina Display, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD Storage, Backlit Keyboard, FaceTime HD Camera, Touch ID. Works with iPhone/iPad; Gold
  • All-Day Battery Life – Go longer than ever with up to 18 hours of battery life.
  • Powerful Performance – Take on everything from professional-quality editing to action-packed gaming with ease. The Apple M1 chip with an 8-core CPU delivers up to 3.5x faster performance than the previous generation while using way less power.
  • Superfast Memory – 8GB of unified memory makes your entire system speedy and responsive. That way it can support tasks like memory-hogging multitab browsing and opening a huge graphic file quickly and easily.

Last update on 2021-09-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

ON SALE
2020 Apple MacBook Air Laptop: Apple M1 Chip, 13” Retina Display, 8GB RAM, 512GB SSD Storage, Backlit Keyboard, FaceTime HD Camera, Touch ID. Works with iPhone/iPad; Gold
9,284 Reviews
2020 Apple MacBook Air Laptop: Apple M1 Chip, 13” Retina Display, 8GB RAM, 512GB SSD Storage, Backlit Keyboard, FaceTime HD Camera, Touch ID. Works with iPhone/iPad; Gold
  • All-Day Battery Life – Go longer than ever with up to 18 hours of battery life.
  • Powerful Performance – Take on everything from professional-quality editing to action-packed gaming with ease. The Apple M1 chip with an 8-core CPU delivers up to 3.5x faster performance than the previous generation while using way less power.
  • Superfast Memory – 8GB of unified memory makes your entire system speedy and responsive. That way it can support tasks like memory-hogging multitab browsing and opening a huge graphic file quickly and easily.

Last update on 2021-09-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Apple MacBook Pro (13-inch M1 2020)

Display: 13.3 inches, 2560 x 1600-pixel | CPU: Apple M1 8-core CPU | GPU: Apple M1 8-core GPU | RAM: 8GB to 16GB Storage: 256GB to 2TB SSD | Weight: 3.0 pounds

The new MacBook Pro with M1 is not dramatically faster than the MacBook Air. However, it has a fan that lets the processor get a little warmer and eke out more power over a more extended period. 

Other perks include improved speakers with Dolby Atmos playback, Studio-quality three-microphone array, brighter 13-inch screen, Touch Bar, and longer battery life. The only downside to this laptop is its slightly increased weight compared to the Macbook Air – which doesn't matter much anyway because both are light enough for comfort while carrying around campus or the airport.

If you're looking to buy a new MacBook Pro, don't be fooled by Apple's outdated 10th-generation processor. The company still sells the 13-inch laptop with Intel's older chip, but it doesn't perform well enough for its price tag of $1,800 and up compared with the newer M1 model that outperforms CPU and GPU benchmarks. Although the Intel NUC supports 4 USB-C ports, it is not worth purchasing because of its high price.

ON SALE
2020 Apple MacBook Pro with Apple M1 Chip (13-inch, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD Storage) - Space Gray
4,095 Reviews
2020 Apple MacBook Pro with Apple M1 Chip (13-inch, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD Storage) - Space Gray
  • Apple-designed M1 chip for a giant leap in CPU, GPU, and machine learning performance
  • Get more done with up to 20 hours of battery life, the longest ever in a Mac
  • 8-core CPU delivers up to 2.8x faster performance to fly through workflows quicker than ever

Last update on 2021-09-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

ON SALE
2020 Apple MacBook Pro with Apple M1 Chip (13-inch, 8GB RAM, 512GB SSD Storage) - Space Gray
4,095 Reviews
2020 Apple MacBook Pro with Apple M1 Chip (13-inch, 8GB RAM, 512GB SSD Storage) - Space Gray
  • Apple-designed M1 chip for a giant leap in CPU, GPU, and machine learning performance
  • Get more done with up to 20 hours of battery life, the longest ever in a Mac
  • 8-core CPU delivers up to 2.8x faster performance to fly through workflows quicker than ever

Last update on 2021-09-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Mac Buying Guide 2021: Find the Right Mac for You

MacBook Air or MacBook Pro?

With its two 13-inch laptops, Apple has crafted machines that are perhaps not as different from one another as you may think but still very distinct in specific categories. The $999 model of the MacBook Air is probably your best bet for value seekers who use computers only on a casual basis or those with lighter workloads. 

Plenty of shoppers are primarily concerned with the physical traits of each laptop, which makes those factors a natural starting point for comparison. However, you should also pay attention to the specs since not all laptops have equal power and price points; some may top out at less powerful component options while others offer more flexibility in their pricing models. If you're looking for an affordable option that's still versatile enough to handle your needs, look no further than Apple's MacBook Air! 

The components tell a story about who these laptops are made for, though you might not be able to see this from the starting configurations. The $999 MacBook Air and $1,299 MacBook Pro starts with an M1 processor and 8GB of memory, while the more expensive Pro counterpart offers two hidden differences:

The design of the Air is unique because it does not have a cooling fan. Instead, heat follows away from the processor and through an exhaust vent all on its own.

Your long, intense tasks will be much easier to finish on your 13-inch Pro that has an onboard fan. The fan helps the laptop keep cool and allows it to push harder for longer without overheating. This not only makes this device perfect for professionals but other people who frequently use demanding apps such as Adobe Photoshop.

The second vital component difference separating the entry-level Pro and entry-level Air is the amount of graphics cores. The entry-level Air has seven graphic cores, while M1 versions of the Pro and top-end Air have eight. It's a slight difference that most users won't notice while browsing the web or performing small tasks, but the upgrade might make sense for those graphics professionals.

With its two 13-inch laptops, Apple has crafted machines that are perhaps not as different from one another as you may think but still very distinct in specific categories. The $999 model of the MacBook Air is probably your best bet for value seekers who use computers only on a casual basis or those with lighter workloads.

Mac Buying Guide 2021: Find the Right Mac for You
Mac Buying Guide 2021: Find the Right Mac for You

Mac Buying Guide 2021: Find the Right Mac Desktop for You

Apple Mac mini (M1 2020)

Apple's newest Mac mini remains the sleek square shape with rounded corners. The aluminum chassis, which has been milled out of a single block and finished in silvery bare aluminum, remains unchanged from the previous model despite Apple moving to its proprietary silicon processors rather than Intel cores inside the machine. This rectangular box packs an impressive punch considering it houses both powerful hardware and plenty of ports on its backside that are perfect for connecting hard drives or other peripherals.

The Mac Mini is the most affordable member of the famous Apple family, starting at just $699. You can choose to purchase peripherals for a bit more, but you could also use them with many other accessories and displays that already exist in your life.

The Mac Mini has the same M1 processor as other new Apple products. You can expect lots of multitasking power for video edits, music production or firing up the latest Arcade games on this device. This computer is also configurable with up to 2TB storage space if you're willing to pay $600 for the upgrade.

The Mac Mini stands out among the M1 Macs with its port selection. The latest model gets you two Thunderbolt USB-C ports, two USB-A ports for older accessories, and an Ethernet port for wired internet as well as HDMI 2.0 to connect your monitors–all without using a hub or dongle.

The Mac Mini is the perfect desktop for those who want to have a little do-it-yourself fun. The Mac mini requires more effort than the new iMac and M1 Macbooks to get started. 

Mac Buying Guide 2021: Find the Right Mac for You

ON SALE
2020 Apple Mac Mini with Apple M1 Chip (8GB RAM, 256GB SSD Storage)
2,028 Reviews
2020 Apple Mac Mini with Apple M1 Chip (8GB RAM, 256GB SSD Storage)
  • Apple-designed M1 chip for a giant leap in CPU, GPU, and machine learning performance
  • 8-core CPU packs up to 3x faster performance to fly through workflows quicker than ever*
  • 8-core GPU with up to 6x faster graphics for graphics-intensive apps and games*

Last update on 2021-09-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

2020 Apple Mac Mini with Apple M1 Chip (8GB RAM, 512GB SSD Storage)
2,028 Reviews
2020 Apple Mac Mini with Apple M1 Chip (8GB RAM, 512GB SSD Storage)
  • Apple-designed M1 chip for a giant leap in CPU, GPU, and machine learning performance
  • 8-core CPU packs up to 3x faster performance to fly through workflows quicker than ever*
  • 8-core GPU with up to 6x faster graphics for graphics-intensive apps and games*

Last update on 2021-09-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Apple iMac (M1 2021)

Apple has just introduced the new iMac, an all-in-one computer that promises to provide you with everything you need for work and play. The sleek design features a bright enough screen to be displayed on its own in any room while still being slim enough not to take up much space at home or office. It also comes with keyboards and mice to start running right off of the box without purchasing anything else separately! So if you want your whole experience within a big display without sacrificing too much free desk space, the new iMac is for you.

The iMac has a 24-inch display that is designed to make videos, photos, and games look as vibrant and detailed as feasible. It comes with the tech specs to back it up, boasting 4.5K resolution (4480 x 2520). This should create an excellent canvas in which you can do concentrated creative tasks. The Apple M1 processor will allow you to edit up to five streams of 4K footage streams at once if you opt for more powerful eight-core graphics processing options!

The new iMac is the best Mac for video calling. It has a 1080p camera and advanced software smarts to help you look your best on calls, while the M1 MacBook Pro and Air have 720p cameras. The Mac Mini doesn't have a built-in webcam, and you will need to purchase your webcam. The new iMac ships with a wireless Magic Mouse and the choice of three different models for your keyboard depending on if you want extra features like a Touch ID fingerprint scanner. Regardless, though, it will be color-matched to your iMac along with the mouse.

The latest generation of Apple's iMac is available in three storage options and starts at 256GB, which is a big step up from the 128GB that their previous model started with. This new iMac may not have enough storage for some users because its maximum internal capacity maxes out at 1TB – considerably less than what both the MacBook Pro (2TB) and Mac Mini can offer (2TB).

Mac Buying Guide 2021: Find the Right Mac for You

2021 Apple iMac (24-inch, Apple M1 chip with 8‑core CPU and 7‑core GPU, 8GB RAM, 256GB) - Silver
433 Reviews
2021 Apple iMac (24-inch, Apple M1 chip with 8‑core CPU and 7‑core GPU, 8GB RAM, 256GB) - Silver
  • Immersive 24-inch 4.5K Retina display with P3 wide color gamut and 500 nits of brightness
  • Apple M1 chip delivers powerful performance with 8-core CPU and 7-core GPU
  • Strikingly thin 11.5 mm design in vibrant colors

Last update on 2021-09-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

2021 Apple iMac (24-inch, Apple M1 chip with 8‑core CPU and 8‑core GPU, 8GB RAM, 256GB) - Green
429 Reviews
2021 Apple iMac (24-inch, Apple M1 chip with 8‑core CPU and 8‑core GPU, 8GB RAM, 256GB) - Green
  • Immersive 24-inch 4.5K Retina display with P3 wide color gamut and 500 nits of brightness
  • Apple M1 chip delivers powerful performance with 8-core CPU and 8-core GPU
  • Strikingly thin 11.5 mm design in vibrant colors

Last update on 2021-09-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

2021 Apple iMac (24-inch, Apple M1 chip with 8‑core CPU and 8‑core GPU, 8GB RAM, 512GB) - Pink
429 Reviews
2021 Apple iMac (24-inch, Apple M1 chip with 8‑core CPU and 8‑core GPU, 8GB RAM, 512GB) - Pink
  • Immersive 24-inch 4.5K Retina display with P3 wide color gamut and 500 nits of brightness
  • Apple M1 chip delivers powerful performance with 8-core CPU and 8-core GPU
  • Strikingly thin 11.5 mm design in vibrant colors

Last update on 2021-09-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Mac Buying Guide 2021: Things to consider when shopping for a new Mac

Performance 

MacBooks are Apple's best-selling computers, and they're perfect for all sorts of needs. Some people need power, some want portability, but the right MacBook will always be there with you every step of your journey! There is a large variety to choose from, including powerful workhorses like the 13″ Intel-powered Pro or 16″ M1 Powered pro, which can also have up to 32GB RAM. At the same time, more affordable models come in both m1 and intel variants as well. 

Battery life

Suppose battery longevity is what interests you most when deciding which laptop should be yours next. In that case, there are two major choices: Macbooks with Intel chips (which have an expected 10-12 hour lifespan) versus their new line that uses ARM architecture instead—the M1 series laptops like the MacBook Pro and Air. These come at different prices but boast more than double the lifespan; they're estimated at 20 hours per charge while providing less weight overall.

Storage

Storage is one of the most important considerations to have in mind when you're looking for a new Mac. If more space than possible is your goal, then take advantage of Apple's 16-inch MacBook Pro that can reach up to 8TB configurable capacity or their 13-inch Intel-powered machine with four ports which has 4 TB available storage options. 

The other current laptops offered by Apple include their M1 and MBP models. Still, these are only configured at 2TB maximum storage size, so be sure to consider what fits best within your budget while maximizing features as well!

Size

There is a laptop for all of your needs. The MacBook Pro line has the most extensive available screen size at 16 inches, perfect if you want to get the most out of a desktop-like setup and need more space than what's offered on 13-inch screens. If minimalism suits you better, consider getting an Air. 

It weighs less than 3 pounds with its compact design that still delivers excellent performance from Apple products without taking up much room in your backpack or bag while being light enough to use anywhere conveniences are found!

Apple's latest lineup of laptops and desktops is sleeker than ever, with powerful features that will be sure to meet your needs. With the iMac, MacBook Pro, or Mac Mini, there's never been a better time to purchase a Mac.

If you're looking for a computer to use at home, work, or on the go, there's something perfect in Apple's M1 Mac lineup. The latest iMac is ideal for folks who want a big stationary screen while at home, while the M1 MacBooks let you take work and play on the road with excellent battery life and within highly transportable designs. Furthermore, if you want a compact computer that you can utilize with any monitor, keyboard, and mouse you like, the M1 Mac Mini's versatility is hard to beat.

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