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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.

It's worth noting here that some Apple laptops don't have an ethernet port, so you can only connect them to the internet, or your network, wirelessly. It's worth making sure you won't be putting the IT guy at work out too much if you can only access the network over WiFi. Luckily you can buy adapters that make it possible to plug in to the local network if WiFi isn't an option.

Mac desktop or laptop: Display

Apple prides itself on its Retina displays, first introduced on the iPhone the pixels on a Retina display are said to be packed so tightly together that you cannot actually see them with the naked eye - hence Retina.

Among the MacBook ranges two models offer Retina displays. The new 12in MacBook and the Retina MacBook Pro, available in 13 and 15in versions.

Currently two of the 27in iMac models offer Retina displays for extra pixels, but there are rumours that the 21.5in iMacs will get Retina displays soon.

As for screen sizes there are laptop screens to suit every one: the screen on the MacBook Air starts at 11-inch, then there's the 12in Retina MacBook and 13in MacBook Air and Retina MacBook Pro, and there's also a 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro (there was previously a 17-inch model, but this was discontinued by Apple despite being popular with photographers and videographers).

With regard to the iMac, the screen size ranges from 21.5-inch to 27-inch.

Don't underestimate screen size as a factor in productivity: this Apple study shows that large monitors provide productivity gains of between 50-65 percent.

However, you don't have to settle for the display that comes with your Mac - all Apple Macs can be plugged into a separate display - so if you have a gigantic 30in display that you want to use go ahead and be super productive!

Mac laptop or desktop: Processor speeds and performance

In each category of Mac there are entry level models that tend to share similar specs. For example, the £399 Mac mini and £899 iMac currently sports a 1.4GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor at the entry level.

The entry level MacBook Air used to offer the same 1.4GHz processor but it was updated earlier this year to a newer 1.6GHz processor and saw a slight speed bump thanks to that. The MacBook Air also benefits from a SSD, or Flash drive, which is faster than the standard hard drive in the two other Mac desktops.

There's not a big difference between the specs of the 11in and 13in MacBook Pro models, the only real difference there is the storage and screen size.


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