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Buying advice: MacBook laptop or Mac desktop? Choosing between Apple's MacBook range and desktop Mac range

Lou Hattersley | Feb. 29, 2016
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.

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. There are three versions available; the standard 13in MacBook Pro, a Retina 13in MacBook Pro or a Retina 15in MacBook Pro. The standard 13in MacBook Pro has a 500GB 5400-rpm hard drive, while the retina display MacBook Pro's feature a newer flash storage system (also found on other MacBooks). The standard 13in 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. 

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, and a lower spec. 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 - although these are supplied when buying an iMac. 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: Wi-Fi and Interenet


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