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Which MacBook: we help you choose between the MacBook Air, Retina MacBook Pro and the 12in Retina MacBook

Karen Haslam | July 21, 2015
Should you buy the MacBook Air, MacBook, Retina MacBook Pro or non-Retina MacBook Pro? We help you find the right Mac laptop for your needs.

Which MacBook should I buy for running graphics intensive applications?

If you want to use your MacBook for more powerful tasks like running creative applications, then the MacBook Air and MacBook might not be the best option.

If you're a graphic designer, video editor or photographer, then the likelihood is you'll benefit from a bigger display and a more powerful Mac. There's no longer a 17in MacBook Pro option, but there are two 15in MacBook Pro with Retina display models available.

The first has a 2.2GHz dual-core Intel Core i7 processor. It has 16GB 1600MHz memory and 256GB flash storage.

The second has a 2.5GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor and 16GB or 1600MHz memory. It has 512GB of flash storage.

The 2.5GHz model also has a discrete graphics card - the AMD Radeon R9 M370X - in addition to the Intel Iris Pro Graphics, where the other 15in has only the Intel Iris Pro Graphics. The MacBook Pro is able to switch in and our of the two graphics cards depending on the activity. If you are likely to need the best graphics on offer this will be the MacBook for you, but it comes at a high price - £1,999! Hopefully your work will stump up the cash for you.

The 2.2GHz MacBook PRi isn't much cheaper either, it costs £1,599.

Which MacBook should I buy for gaming?

The Mac is growing in popularity as a gaming machine, especially since the launch of the Mac App Store. Plus, the ability to install Windows via Boot Camp on a Mac means Mac gamers can run Windows games too.

If you want to buy a MacBook for gaming, then we'd recommend the (unfortunately most expensive) high-end MacBook Pro with Retina display. It's got AMD Radeon R9 M370X graphics card, which should enable it to provide the best performance out of all of the MacBooks available, and some Mac desktops.

However, even the Intel graphics in the 13in MacBook Pro models could be sufficient for your gaming needs. The Intel HD Graphics 6100 in the 13in model, and Intel Iris Pro Graphics in the 15in model are plenty fast enough for many of today's games.

Which MacBook should I buy for university?

We'd suggest that students will have similar needs to business users. They'll want to be able to carry their MacBook to and from lectures, and probably won't need them to be hugely powerful (unless they're on a graphic design or video editing course).

In that case, we'd suggest the MacBook Air again. Take a look back at the advice we gave at the beginning of this article when discussing portability for more information.


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