Mac Buying Guide 2023

Are you wondering what Mac you should buy? We’ve got the guide for you, as we give our best recommendations on which Apple computer is right based on your circumstances and demands.

With a wide range of choices, Apple allows you to choose your perfect product. Whether it is an affordable iMac or a professional Mac Pro, there’s something for everyone! You may pick from three notebook classes: MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro, as well as four desktops: iMac, iMac Pro, Mac mini, and Mac Pro.

MacBook Air

Macbook Air M2

Photo by James Yarema on Unsplash

Until the Cupertino brand recently unveiled its Macbook Air with the powerful new Apple M2 chip, this lightweight laptop was already a standout. The previous model, powered by an Intel-based processor, was discontinued in November 2020; the Macbook Air with Apple silicon is now the most affordable laptop available from Apple. Starting at $999 and weighing just 2.8 pounds, this sleek device measures only 0.16-0.63 inches making it one of the thinnest laptops on the market.

The renowned laptop remains as light and thin as ever, weighing only 2.8 pounds and measuring just 0.41 inches thick, ensuring maximum portability with its sleek, unibody design. The 13.3″ (M1) or 13.6″ (M2) Retina display is capable of delivering incredibly vivid visuals, while True Tone technology adjusts the color to match the ambient light in the environment. 

The Macbook Air, powered by an M1 or M2 chip, offers impressive performance and efficiency, promising up to 18 hours of battery life between charges. The entry-level model comes with an 8-core CPU and 7-core GPU for the M1 chip, while the revised version comes with an 8-core CPU and up to 10-core GPU. Both laptops come with up to 16GB of unified memory and 2TB of maximum storage, so you can easily store all your documents, photos, and media. The Macbook Air also features a 720p front camera for video calls and Touch ID for secure authentication and Apple Pay purchases.

MacBook Air Specs

The MacBook Air is available in two distinct styles. The following are the details for each:

FeatureMacBook Air (M1)MacBook Air (M2)
Available ColorsSpace Gray, Silver, and GoldMidnight, Starlight, Space Gray, and Silver
Starting Price$999$1,199
Display13.3” Retina display13.6” Liquid Retina display
GPU7-coreUp to 10-core
Unified MemoryUp to 16GBUp to 24GB
Maximum Storage2TB2TB
Battery LifeUp to 18 hoursUp to 18 hours
Front Camera720p FaceTime HD camera1080p FaceTime HD camera
SoundThree-mic array, Stereo speakersThree-mic array, Four-speaker sound system with Spatial Audio
Weight2.8 lb.2.7 lb.
Touch IDYesYes
PortsTwo Thunderbolt / USB 4 portsTwo Thunderbolt / USB 4 ports

The MacBook Air is not Apple’s most powerful laptop, but it will be determined by how important you think it is. It is positioned as the entry-level offering in the MacBook line-up, with lower specifications than the Pro models.

However, the MacBook Air is still a powerful device and can handle most everyday tasks, such as browsing the web, running office applications, and playing media. For more demanding tasks such as video editing, graphic design, and gaming, the MacBook Pro would be the better choice.

Additionally, the MacBook Air is more portable and lighter than the Pro models, making it a better choice for someone who is frequently on the go. The MacBook Air also has a longer battery life than some of the Pro models, which is an added advantage for those looking for a device that can last an entire day without needing a charge.

Choosing the right amount of memory

If you are considering purchasing a Macbook Air, many options are available. The M1 model offers up to 16GB of Unified Memory, while the M2 comes with 8GB,16GB, or 24GB of memory- but which one should you pick? How much will you need for your device to operate optimally?

Unified memory is a type of memory architecture used in the Macbook Air, which combines random access memory (RAM) and read-only memory (ROM) into a single pool of memory. 8GB is sufficient for basic tasks such as web browsing, word processing, and email; however, if you plan to use more demanding applications such as video editing, 3D modeling, or gaming, you may need more memory. 16GB is a good amount for most users and should be sufficient for the abovementioned tasks. 24GB of memory is a good choice for power users who need to perform demanding tasks on their Macbook Air.

More memory means that your Macbook Air can handle more demanding tasks and run more applications simultaneously without slowing down or crashing. If you are still determining which amount of memory is best suited for your needs, read our article explicitly centered around memory for Macbook Air.

Is it a good time to buy a MacBook Air?

The new M2 chip-powered MacBook Air was launched only last year on July 15, 2022. With the latest hardware upgrades and more powerful specs, the MacBook Air is an excellent choice for those who want an entry-level laptop with an impressive performance at a budget-friendly price. It’s unlikely that Apple will update the MacBook Air anytime soon, so now is a great time to buy the latest model, mainly because the novelty of the device is still fresh, there are no better options available in its price range, and either the M1 or M2 models will make you a happy customer.

The MacBook Air is an excellent entry-level laptop that can easily handle most everyday tasks while being lightweight and portable enough to go where you do. Whether you’re looking for a powerful workstation or a device that can keep up with your busy lifestyle, the latest MacBook Air is worth considering.

MacBook Pro

Macbook Pro M2

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Apple updated the 13 “MacBook Pro in November 2020, when it made its two-entry models one of the first to have M1 processors (Instead of Intel.) The mid-range 13 “Pro is from May 2020 and comes with 10th Gen Intel processors. The new Magic Keyboard is available on all 13 “MacBook Pro” models, and the Touch Bar is only available on the higher-end Pro models.

MacBook Pro Specifications

Four distinct MacBook versions are available in 13-inch or 15-inch variants. Furthermore, there are two additional 16-inch MacBook Pros.

Both of the low-end models (13″) have the M1 CPU and GPU 8 cores, whereas the midrange versions include Intel 4-core processors 2.0GHz (10th generation).

Models 13 “2.0 GHz have 16GB RAM and may be expanded up to 32GB, while the M1 models are equipped with 8GB and can be upgraded up to 16 GB.

Here are the range specs:

FeatureMacBook Pro 13” (M2)New MacBook Pro (M2 Pro or M2 Max)
ChipM2M2 Pro or M2 Max
Display13.3” Retina14.2” or 16.2” Liquid Retina XDR
Battery Life20 hours22 hours
Camera720p HD1080p HD
MicrophoneStudio-quality Three-mic arrayStudio-quality Three-mic array
SpeakersStereo with Spatial AudioSix-speaker sound system with Spatial Audio
Weight3.0 lb.3.5 lb. or 4.7 lb.
Touch IDTouch Bar and Touch IDTouch ID
PortsTwo Thunderbolt / USB 4 portsSDXC card slot, HDMI port, 3.5 mm headphone jack, three Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C) ports

One crucial difference between the 13-inch version and the 14 or 16-inch models is that the 13-inch model does not have a MagSafe 3 port, instead relying on the two thunderbolt / USB 4 ports charging. The other Macbook Pro models have built-in MagSafe 3 ports for easy and secure connection to an external power supply.

Who should buy the MacBook Pro?

The MacBook Pro is the perfect choice for those who require a highly-capable computing solution. It is specially designed to cater to creative professionals, power users, and anyone who needs a powerful but portable machine that can handle intensive workflows, support multiple applications, and offer reliable performance on the go. With its powerful processor, ample storage, long battery life, and top-notch display, the MacBook Pro is an excellent choice for those who demand the best from their technology. 

For casual users, the MacBook Pro does the job well but is more expensive than the MacBook Air and may need to offer more performance to justify its price tag. The more affordable MacBook Air may be a better choice for these users. 

Is it a good time to buy a MacBook Pro?

The 14″ and 16″ versions were launched in January 2023, and the 13″ in June 2022; therefore, we won’t see any Apple upgrades to their Macbook Pro range in 2023.

Now is a great time to buy a Macbook Pro if you need a robust and reliable laptop with excellent performance. The current models are faster and more powerful due to Apple’s new M2 processors. Moreover, there is no news of any upcoming models featuring M3 Max or M3 Pro chips soon, so now is the perfect time to invest in a MacBook Pro.

Mac mini

Mac Mini

The Mac mini is Apple’s most inexpensive desktop computer, debuting in 2005. Although the price has risen in recent years, it is still true that the Mac mini is Apple’s cheapest computer. The latest upgrade added some new features to the previous edition, giving it greater functionality and value. The most recent upgrade was in January 2023, when Apple introduced the first version with the M2 chip.

Mac mini Specifications

The Mac mini is available in three different models. On the one hand, the two most inexpensive Mac minis feature the M2 chip, but there’s also a super powerful 12-core CPU, 19-core GPU, 16 core Neural Engine version powered by the M2 Pro chip.

These are the specifications of each one:

Mac mini ($599)

  • Chip: Apple M2 chip with 8-core CPU and 10-core GPU 16-core Neural Engine
  • Storage: 256GB storage ( configurable to 512GB, 1TB, or 2TB)
  • Memory: 8GB unified memory (16GB and 24GB options available)

Mac mini ($799)

  • Chip: Apple M2 chip with 8-core CPU and 10-core GPU 16-core Neural Engine
  • Storage: 512GB storage ( configurable to: 1TB, or 2TB)
  • Memory: 8GB unified memory (16GB and 24GB options available)

Mac mini ($1299)

  • Chip: Apple M2 Pro chip with 10-core CPU and 16-core GPU 16-core Neural Engine
  • Storage: 512GB storage ( Configurable to 1TB, 2TB, 4TB, or 8TB)
  • Memory: 16GB unified memory (Configurable to 32GB)

Is it a good time to buy a Mac Mini

Our verdict is to buy. In January 2023, the Mac mini was upgraded with M2 and M2 Pro chips, so now is a great time to invest in a Mac mini. This upgrade gives the Mac Mini increased performance and better specs to handle more demanding tasks easily. Furthermore, since it has been over two years since its last major update, it may take some time until Apple makes any further upgrades. So now is the perfect time to buy a Mac mini and take advantage of its powerful specs and reliable performance. 

Who should buy the Mac mini?

Mac mini is an excellent solution for everyone looking for a computer to meet their needs without breaking the bank. Whether you are a casual user, creative professional, or home business owner, the Mac mini M2 offers excellent performance and versatility in a compact form factor. It is suitable for everyday tasks such as web browsing, emails, video streaming, and light gaming. The M2 and M2 Pro update became an alternative to those looking for a powerful yet affordable desktop computer capable of handling more demanding tasks.

24″ iMac

Photo by Jay Wennington on Unsplash

The iMac has gone from being bulky to have a slim, sleek design that considers that its screen also houses all of the computer’s internal components. In April 2021, Apple introduced one of the most substantial design changes in recent years. The new size is 24″ instead of 21.5″, and it now has six brand-new colors (in addition to silver).

Imac specifications

In addition to their screen size, the two standard iMac models also contain other unique features. The 24-inch includes Apple’s M1 chip with an 8-core CPU and 7 or 8-core GPU options for you to choose from.

All these models are customizable. The user can choose, for example, if he wants more or less storage or one RAM configuration. You can choose a 256 GB, 512 GB, or 1 TB SSD (also 2 TB in the most premium model) and an 8 GB or 16 GB RAM.

In one of the iMacs currently being sold, you will find two Thunderbolt / USB 4 ports (DisplayPort, Thunderbolt 3, USB 4, USB 3.1, and others with adapters). In the more premium models, we have two additional USB 3 ports.

This is the complete range:

24″ iMac 

  • M1 chip with 8-core CPU and 7-core GPU
  • Neural Engine 16-core
  • 256 storage GB (configurable with 512 GB or 1 TB)
  • 8 GB unified memory (16 GB option available)

24″ iMac 

  • M1 chip with 8-core CPU and 16-core8-core GPU
  • Neural Engine
  • 256GB storage (configurable with 512GB, 1TB, or 2TB)
  • 8GB unified memory (16GB option available)

Who should buy the iMac?

The iMac is a desktop computer, perfect for those who do not need to travel with their work. Although the 24-inch iMac was more designed for general use -maybe at home or in an office-now they’re closer to potential users of larger monitors like the 27-inch model, which are meant mainly for professional fields that require large screens.

Is it a good time to buy an iMac?

Our verdict is to wait. The 24″ iMac is due for an upgrade in 2023 and could be attractive if you want a desktop computer. The M2 chip is expected to bring significant performance improvements and the addition of new colors. Furthermore, storage and memory options should also be improved. We recommend waiting until the 2023 model is released to know precisely what to expect from Apple’s latest iMac. With all the new features, it could be worth the wait.

Mac Studio

Photo by Peng Original on Unsplash

Announced in March 2022, during the “Peak Performance” event, the Mac Studio is somewhere between a Mac mini and a Mac Pro. It is powered by Apple’s M-series processors, making it suitable for video editing, photo manipulation, and music production tasks. With multiple ports, thermal design, and various storage options, the Mac Studio is ideal for professionals looking for a performance that won’t break the bank.

Mac Studio Specifications

SpecificationM1 MaxM1 Ultra
ChipApple M1 Max chipApple M1 Ultra chip
CPU10-core (8 performance cores, 2 efficiency cores)20-core (16 performance cores, 4 efficiency cores)
GPU24-core GPU48-core GPU
Neural Engine16-core Neural Engine32-core Neural Engine
Memory Bandwidth400GB/s800GB/s
Media EngineHardware-accelerated H.264, HEVC, ProRes, and ProRes RAWHardware-accelerated H.264, HEVC, ProRes, and ProRes RAW
Video Decode EngineTwoTwo
Video Encode EngineTwoFour
ProRes Encode/Decode EngineTwoFour
Memory32GB unified memory (configurable to 64GB or 128GB)64GB unified memory (configurable to 128GB)
Storage512GB SSD (configurable to 1TB, 2TB, 4TB, or 8TB)1TB SSD (configurable to 2TB, 4TB, or 8TB)
Video SupportSimultaneously supports up to five displays with support for up to four Pro Display XDRs and one 4K display (HDMI)Supports one display with up to 4K resolution at 60Hz (HDMI)
AudioBuilt-in speaker, 3.5mm headphone jack, multichannel audio output (HDMI)Built-in speaker, 3.5mm headphone jack, multichannel audio output (HDMI)
Connections and ExpansionThunderbolt 4, 10Gb Ethernet, USB-A, HDMI, 3.5mm headphone jack, four Thunderbolt 4 ports, two USB-A ports, two USB-C ports (on front), SDXC card slotThunderbolt 4, 10Gb Ethernet, USB-A, HDMI, 3.5mm headphone jack, two Thunderbolt 4 ports, two USB-A ports, two Thunderbolt 4 ports (on front), SDXC card slot
Communications802.11ax Wi-Fi 6 wireless networking, Bluetooth 5.0, 10Gb Ethernet802.11ax Wi-Fi 6 wireless networking, Bluetooth 5.0, 10Gb Ethernet

Who should buy the iMac Pro?

The Mac Studio is suited for creatives and other professionals who need to use a mighty Mac, whether it is to edit photos and videos; create 3D animations; produce music; develop software, or use virtual reality.

Those looking for high performance in a small form factor and those who want to save money compared to buying a similarly specced MacBook Pro should also consider the Mac Studio. However, users should note that they will need to bring their peripherals since the Mac Studio does not come with any. 

It works perfectly with the new Studio Display or the Pro Display XDR, depending on your needs and budget. Both displays were designed to match the Mac Studio’s performance and deliver a fantastic viewing experience. The new 27-inch 5K Retina display is perfect for those who need an immersive experience while working on creative projects. The ultra-bright 32-inch 6K Retina display supports HDR for photos and videos. 

Whether you are a professional looking for a powerful Mac or just someone who needs an upgrade, the Mac Studio is worth considering. Its impressive specs and affordable price tag make it the perfect choice for those seeking peak performance without breaking the bank.  

Photo by Nana Dua on Unsplash

Is it a good time to buy a Mac Studio?

Even though it is relatively new, the Mac Studio might get an upgrade later this year or early 2024. This is it if you need a powerful machine that can handle demanding tasks and won’t break the bank. However, if you want something more future-proofed, we recommend waiting for the M2 upgrade to see what Apple has in store.

Mac Pro

Mac Pro

Photo by Nana Dua on Unsplash

The Mac Pro has been around since 2007 and received an upgrade in late 2019. It continues to be the most powerful Mac available, offering extreme performance and upgradability. It is ideal for those who need advanced features such as expandable storage and high-end graphic capabilities.

Mac Pro Specifications

The Mac Pro features a powerful Intel Xeon W processor that can be configured from an 8-core to a 28-core, providing ample computing power to handle even the most complex workflows. The processor offers a range of clock speeds, from 3.5GHz for the 8-core to 2.5GHz for the 28-core, and supports Turbo Boost, which allows it to reach clock speeds of up to 4.4GHz.

The Mac Pro also boasts ample memory capacity, with the ability to configure up to 1.5TB of DDR4 ECC memory in 12 user-accessible DIMM slots. The device supports a range of memory configurations, from 32GB to 1.5TB, and can be equipped with a mix of 8GB, 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB DIMMs. The processor’s speed affects the memory speed, with the 8-core processor operating memory at 2666MHz, while the 12-core to 28-core processors operating memory at 2933MHz. The ample memory capacity and speed ensure that the Mac Pro can handle the most demanding tasks without any performance lag.

Who should buy the Mac Pro?

The Mac Pro is best suited for professionals such as videographers, animators, game designers, architects, developers, and engineers who need a powerful and reliable machine. It is also great for those who need a lot of expandability and professionals who use virtual reality or other advanced features.

It should be noted that the Mac Pro is quite expensive, starting at $6,000 for the base model; however, it can be configured with up to 28 cores of processing power and up to 1.5TB of RAM for an even higher price tag. Additionally, the Mac Pro is compatible with the new 32″ 6K Retina display and 8K Pro Display XDR; both offering a great viewing experience for those who need it.

Is it a good time to buy a Mac Pro?

It’s been a while since the Mac Pro upgraded, so it might be prudent to wait and see what Apple has in store. However, if you need extreme performance today and money is not a problem, the Mac Pro is still a great choice, especially paired with the Pro Display XDR. 

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About S. Santos

I am a tech columnist and blogger by trade, but I'm also an avid tennis player. In my spare time, I enjoy reviewing gadgets and gizmos from the world of tech.

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