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Buying advice: MacBook laptop or Mac desktop? Choosing between an Apple laptop and desktop computer

Lou Hattersley | July 16, 2015
Which type of Apple computer should you buy? Apple desktops have huge screens, but MacBooks offer portability. This guide to buying Mac computers will help you choose between an Apple Mac desktop and a MacBook laptop computer.

Should I buy an Apple laptop (MacBook Air, MacBook Pro or MacBook) or an iMac, Mac mini or Mac Pro desktop computer? What are the pros and cons of Apple's laptops and desktops? We answer your questions below!

If you are trying to decide whether to buy a Mac desktop or a MacBook laptop (also known as a Mac notebook) you've come to the right place.

In many ways most Macs are broadly similar when it comes to price and specs, each category of Mac often offers a range of specs similar to another Mac category, but in other ways Mac desktops and MacBook laptops can be very different. For example, Apple's Mac desktops usually ramp up to higher-spec models when compared to Mac notebooks, so if it's the most powerful Mac you need a desktop is probably going to suit you best. However, many of the Mac desktops still use older hard disks rather than the flash storage that the laptops use - which can slow them down in typical operation. Plus desktop computers chain you to a desk; while Apple's MacBook laptops let you roam free.

In this feature we look at Apple's Mac desktop and MacBook laptop range of computers, and help you work out which option is right for you.

Mac laptop or desktop: Apple's desktop computer range

Apple currently makes three different models of desktop computer:

iMac. The most famous Mac is the all-in-one iMac with its built in display (either 21.5-inch or 27-inch). At the top of the line up are two 27-inch iMacs with 5K Retina displays.  

Mac mini. The diminutive Mac mini needs a separate screen, keyboard and mouse but has a wide range of connections including HDMI making it perfect as a Home Entertainment device plugged into your TV. It's also Apple's cheapest Mac starting at £399.

Mac Pro. Finally there is the Mac Pro, which offers incredible speed in a cylindrical design. There are two models available: a 3.7GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon powerhouse and a 3.5GHz 6-Core behemoth. Both feature dual AMD FirePro graphics cards and lots of build to order options. 

Prices start at £399 for the Mac mini (although you'll need to factor in the cost of a screen if you haven't got one) and £899 for the iMac (the iMac 5K Retina Display starts at £1,599). The Mac Pro starts at £2,499.

Mac laptop or desktop: Apple's MacBook range

Apple's laptop/notebook range is more popular than its desktop range (Apple sells more laptops than desktops). Apple has four different Mac notebook models to choose from:

 

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