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iMac vs MacBook Air

Martyn Casserly | July 11, 2016
We compare Apple’s iMac and MacBook Air so you can judge which is the right for your needs.

The base model is cheap for an iMac, coming in at £899. Its specs aren't bad either. It has a 1.6GHz dual-core, Intel Core i5 CPU, Intel HD 6000 graphics, and 1TB hard drive with 8GB of RAM configurable to 16GB for £160.

Spend a bit extra on a 21in model and you'll move up to either a 2.8GHz quad-core, Intel Core i5 (£1,049) with 1TB a hard drive, 8GB RAM, and Intel Iris Pro graphics 6200. This extra horsepower would certainly make it a better choice if you want to play games or edit more effects-heavy home videos.

Better yet you could opt for the Retina 4K 21in iMac. This comes with a 3.1GHz quad-core Intel Core i5  processor, 1TB storage, 8GB of RAM configurable up to 16GB, Intel Iris Pro Graphics 6200 and of course that incredible, crisp display. And quite reasonably, this beauty comes in at £1,199, so you're looking at £150 more for a bit of extra power and a significantly improved display.

Moving up to the 27in models you'll find a 3.2GHz quad-core, Intel Core i5 with 8GB RAM and a 5K Retina display for £1,449 with AMD Radeon R9 M380 graphics and a 1TB hard drive or for £1,599 for a boost to AMD Radeon R9 M390 graphics and a Fusion Drive. Find out more about Fusion Drive here.

There's also a 3.3GHz quad-code i5 model with 8GB of RAM, a 2TB Fusion Drive AMD Radeon R9 M395 graphics and the 5K display for £1,849, so that's a hefty investment.

As with the MacBook Airs, you can upgrade various aspects of each iMac, including RAM, storage, and in some cases the CPU. We would definitely recommend upgrading to a Fusion Drive where possible, as the extra £80 spent will noticeably improve the day to day performance.  

You can also buy the iMacs from John LewisCurrys, and other third-party retailers as well as Apple.

iMac vs MacBook Air: Comparing the choices

With computers being so powerful these days, it makes good financial sense to not overpay for features you'll most likely never use. If your intended use for your device involves not much more than general media consumptions (watching films, listening to music), internet browsing, social media, and office-style productivity, then you should consider the entry-level models in both the iMac and MacBook Air line up.


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