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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.

MacBook Air. The MacBook Air is Apple's cheapest laptop and most popular model, with its super-light and super-small design (either 11-inch or 13-inch screen). It's no slouch though and the latest model offers a tremendous amount of battery life (up to 12 hours according to Apple).

MacBook Pro. The MacBook Pro is the closest Apple has to a more traditional laptop. Only one version is available (with a 13-inch screen). It has a 500GB 5400-rpm hard drive instead of the newer flash storage system found on the other MacBooks. The MacBook Pro is also the only Mac still being sold with a built-in optical SuperDrive (CD/DVD writer). Although you can purchase an external Apple DVD Superdrive to go with other Macs. This Mac has not been updated by Apple since 2012, we're kind of surprised people still buy it, at £899 it's not even the cheapest option.

MacBook Pro with Retina Display. The super-high resolution display on the Retina MacBook Pro looks amazing. The MacBook Pro models are available with 13-inch and 15-inch screens.

Retina MacBook. At the beginning of 2015 Apple introduced the new Retina MacBook, an even thinner and lighter MacBook than the MacBook Air - but with a higher price. It comes in gold, silver and space grey, just like the iPhone.

Prices start at £749 for a MacBook Air, £899 for a MacBook Pro and £999 for a MacBook Pro with Retina Display. The Retina MacBook starts at £1,049.

Mac laptop or desktop: The main difference

Comparing a desktop to a laptop throws up some pretty straightforward differences. The first being that a desktop is clearly designed to sit on a desk, while the laptop is designed to be carried around with you, or, as the name suggests, used on your lap (we think the reason why in the US laptops tend to be referred to as Notebooks is because companies are worried about being sued by people with burned laps - do be aware that having your laptop in your lap may not be the best place for it).

The Mac Pro and Mac mini will also need an external monitor, and while the iMac has an integrated display you still need a separate keyboard and mouse (or Magic Trackpad). Laptops, in contrast, have the keyboard, trackpad and monitor contained within a package small enough to carry around.

It may sound like we're stating the obvious, but it's worth noting because it means that there are extra expenses to be factored in when purchasing a desktop that you might overlook when comparing prices with Apple's laptop range.

Mac laptop or desktop: WiFi and Internet

All Macs feature Wi-Fi (known as AirPort), but the portable nature of a laptop doesn't doesn't just mean that you can take the computer to a local coffee shop, a MacBook can be moved into meeting rooms for presentations, and if you're at home you can move from the desk to the couch and carry on using your computer.


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