Choosing the right new computer that best suits your needs can sometimes be a daunting task. If you’re looking to buy a new notebook computer you can’t go wrong with the MacBook range from Apple, which are well known for their power, efficiency, and quality around the world.
Apple have three types of MacBooks in their range – and each has a few unique differences from the others; some are more suitable for using high process software, like Adobe Photoshop, or professional video editing like Final Cut Pro X. Others have price in mind, such as entry level MacBooks, which are suitable for university students.
With this guide I thought I would discuss the MacBook range, and explain their key differences. This might help decide which model is best for you, and how you can make your purchase on the Apple Online Store.
First what are the different types of MacBooks?
As mentioned Apple have only three different models in their range for you to choose from:
The thinnest and lightest Mac ever, with every component meticulously redesigned to create a Mac which weighs just two pounds, and is and 13.1 mm thin.
The new MacBook features a stunning 12-inch Retina display that is the thinnest ever on a Mac. Apple have re-designed the full-size keyboard, which is dramatically thinner and highly responsive, and works dynamically with the all-new Force Touch trackpad. Combined, they bring a new dimension of interactivity to the Mac. For connectivity, a new and incredibly compact USB-C port for data transfer has been implemented to replace other connectors – the USB-C functions as a video out and charging in a single connector. Finally, a new battery has been designed, which utilises every millimeter of remaining space to deliver all day battery life.
All day battery life, fourth generation Intel Core processors with faster graphics, 802.11ac Wi-Fi and flash storage that is up to 45 percent faster than the previous generation.
A stunning high-resolution display, an amazing thin and light design, and the latest technology to power through the most demanding projects.
Before discussing what is different and unique to each MacBook model I thought I’d explain what’s actually equal across all models.
Software & Apps
When you purchase a Mac you’re also getting free Apps made by Apple – including many photo, video and music editing apps, iMessage, iTunes, email and calendar plus a range of apps for creating documents (great for work and uni), presentations and spreadsheets. You’ll also have access to thousands of other apps with the Mac App Store as they have on iPhones and iPads.
As soon as you turn your MacBook on you’ll have a large number of apps to give you plenty to do. No need to go out and spend more money on additional apps.
Apple take design very seriously and it’s one of the best areas I personally love about Apple.
While the appearance and design of each MacBook vary they all use very similar materials. As an example all MacBook computers are made from aluminium instead of plastic, the screen is also covered in glass and not plastic. The quality of the materials can’t be understated – I’m writing this from my 2013 MacBook Pro and it still like new, so you can expect your MacBook to last a long time. The illuminated keyboards on MacBook are another great, intuitive feature for typing in darker conditions.
Warranty & Support
All MacBook models come with 1 year Apple support and 2 years warranty with support available from Apple including their Apple Retail Stores. AppleCare is an optional ‘extended warranty,’ and well worth the additional investment.
If you’re new to MacBook you’ll be happy to know they are very easy to use, however Apple do have free classes at their retail stores for those who want to learn more about their new MacBook.
Each MacBook have differences which distinguish it from the others. Beyond the cosmetic design, a lot of these come down to what’s inside, including: speed (CPU), storage, memory and graphics (which will determine performance for tasks such as gaming, video editing, etc.)
Some models also have a ‘Retina’ Display – a display where text, photos and shapes appear crystal clear, because you cannot define the individual pixels that make up the display with your eyes. If you have an iPhone 4 through to the new iPhone 6/Plus, you might have noticed they have crisp, clear Retina displays, too. Photos and videos look especially stunning on a Retina display.
Below I will discuss which features are unique to each MacBook model, before finally discussing which MacBook is likely best for you.
As mentioned this is Apple’s newest MacBook but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the fastest and ‘best’ MacBook.
It’s the lightest and thinnest MacBook available, it’s also the smallest MacBook with a 12-inch Retina Display. If you want to choose from Silver, Space Grey and Gold colour options you can only do that with this model, as the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro only come in silver.
This model heavily relies on wireless and Apples iCloud service so you won’t find standard USB, HDMI ports on this MacBook, only a single headphone and USB-C port. This model is very much designed for its compactness, and for use on the go.
- Thinnest, lightest & smallest MacBook
- 12-inch Retina Display
- Colour options (Silver, Space Grey & Gold).
- Only two ports: USB-C for charging, data, video out & headphones. (MacBook Air/Pro have more)
For those on a budget the MacBook Air is the most affordable model in the range.
This is perhaps the best model for everyday users who use the web a lot (including YouTube), create the occasional word document or basic photo editing.
Starts at an 11-inch screen with up to 13-inch available, however the display is not Retina unlike other models.
- Thin & light (New 12-inch is the highest).
- 11-inch & 13-inch displays (however are not Retina like the MacBook Air/Pro).
- USB, SD card slot (on 13-inch), thunderbolt ports.
- Silver colour
Although all models in the MacBook series have excellent performance, the most powerful MacBook is definitely the MacBook Pro. The Pro name implies it’s the best option for those who want to get maximum performance. It makes a great notebook for those who are professional photographers, music, or video editors.
There are two models; 13-inch and 15-inch models, which is the largest Retina display in a MacBook. On the inside you get super fast storage, the fastest CPUs available and high speed graphics performance – MacBook Pro is the only series which have dedicated graphics (configurable in 15-inch models.) This is important for professional video editors and those who heavily play games.
- Most powerful MacBook available.
- 13-inch & 15-inch Retina Displays
- USB, SD card slot, thunderbolt, HDMI ports.
- Silver colour
- Some 15-inch models with dedicated graphics
Which one to buy?
This is a common question asked and one you’ll probably spend most asking yourself: which MacBook should I buy?
Well this all really depends on what do you plan to use it for? For example, if you’re going to be blogging and browsing the web a lot, travelling and want something light weight and with the longest battery, or are you a designer/creative who edits a lot of video, or music, or photos?
All of the MacBook range will be suitable for every day takes, will run many of the same apps you get, but some more will perform better than others. Therefore I’ve summarised this guide with a couple of points on each to hopefully help you make your decision a little easier and outline a MacBook is best for. In the future I’ll put together more in-depth guides such as the best for travelling, graphic design, etc.
- Photo editing on the go (Retina Display is better for this)
- Battery life (up to 10 hours)
- University & School
- Those on a budget
- University & School
- Graphic Designers
- Professional photographers
- Professional video editors
- Engineers & Architects (best for CAD)
- Gamers, or just anyone who wants a high-powered personal computer
The complete range of Apple products including all MacBook models are available from the Apple Online Store.
By purchasing from the official online store you’ll have the opportunity to browse their product range, learn more about each product, customise and even order accessories for your new product. You’ll also get free delivery to your home or work.
How much do MacBooks cost?
- New 12-inch MacBook – Starts at $AU1,799
- MacBook Air – Starts at AU$1,249
- MacBook Pro – Starts at AU$1,549
- Retina MacBook Pro – Starts at AU$1,799
Are you a student and/or University student?
Apple have special pricing on all Apple Mac Computers and iPads thanks to their educational promotion. For more information head over to my Educational Discount page to see how you can save up to $280.