Sunday, 7 January 2018

Best Mac 2018: the best Macs to buy this year

It’s easy to determine what brand of computer you’re looking for – you’re either a PC or a Mac, and if you’re on this page then we’re assuming you’re the latter. What’s not as easy is determining the best Mac once you’ve concluded that Apple makes the winning fruit. With so many functionally diverse Macs to choose from, you now have to make the choice between iMac, MacBook or the less commonplace Mac mini.

The iMac is an all-in-one gargantuan of a computer. But, at the same time, it’s far more practical than a clunky PC tower that takes up all of your desk space without the monitor attached. The MacBook family, on the other hand, are more traditional laptops featuring massive trackpads and a clean operating system guaranteed to make your Windows friends jealous (though you’ll never get them to admit it).

Better yet, you now have the option of owning an iMac Pro, taking everything we loved about the Mac Pro and squeezing it into a 27-inch, 5K monitor. However, for the fact that most of our readers won’t be happy with spending $4,999 (about £3,870, AU$6,680) on a new computer, below you will find our picks of the current best Macs – all tested and reviewed prior to their placement within the rankings.

1. 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar (2017)


CPU: Dual-core Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640 – 650 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.3-inch, (2,560 x 1,600) IPS | Storage: 256GB – 1TB PCIe 3.0 SSD | Dimensions (H x W x D): 30.41 x 21.24 x 1.49cm

Stronger processor

Faster RAM

Subpar battery life

Keyboard learning curve

If you were expecting the 13-inch MacBook Pro of this year to rectify our complaints of late 2016, you ought to be prepared for disappointment with the latest iteration of Apple’s professional-grade laptop. However, if what you craved were updated internal specs and the same all-aluminum unibody design of yesteryear, the mid-2017 MacBook Pro will absolutely please you. Complete with the same controversial Touch Bar and some pretty beefy specs, the MacBook Pro is a marvel to behold, even if it’s still limited to Thunderbolt 3 ports alone.

2. 27-inch iMac with 5K Retina display (2015)


CPU: Quad-core Intel Core i5 – Core i7 | Graphics: AMD Radeon R9 M380 – R9 M395 (2GB) | RAM: 8GB – 32GB | Screen: 27-inch Retina 5K (5,120 x 2,880) IPS | Storage: 25GB – 1TB PCIe Flash; 2TB – 3TB Fusion Drive | Dimensions (H x W x D): 51.6cm x 65cm x 20.3cm

Display

Performance

Core i7 costs extra

No Target Display Mode

If you want the big screen of an iMac with the precision of a Retina display then there"s only one iMac for you: the iMac with 5K Retina display. It comes with a choice between two Intel Core i5 chips as well as 1TB of HDD or Fusion Drive storage and it’s so pretty we want to marry it. For designers and video creators looking to make the move to pixel-heavy content, the 5K iMac pairs an illustrious display with a heaping deal of screen real estate to boot. It may not have the expandability of a Mac Pro, but at least you don"t have to worry about buying a monitor.

3. 21.5-inch iMac (2017)


CPU: Dual-core Intel Core i5 – quad-core i7 | Graphics: Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640 – AMD Radeon Pro 560 (4GB) | RAM: 8GB – 32GB | Screen: 21.5-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080; sRGB) – 4K UHD (4,096 x 2,304; P3 wide color) Retina IPS display | Storage: 1TB HDD – 1TB Fusion Drive SSD | Dimensions (H x W x D): 20.8 x 6.9 x 17.7 inches (52.8 x 17.5 x 45cm; W x D x H)

Excellent value

Powerful, even at entry level

Poor audio performance

Baffling mouse charging method

You know you’re getting an unusually good value from an Apple product when, even at the entry-level, you can expect high performance, lots of storage and more ports than you know what to do with. The latest in Apple’s all-in-one desktop lineup, that’s the 2017, 21.5-inch iMac in a nutshell. There’s still no touchscreen, but at a fraction of the cost of Microsoft’s Surface Studio, you might be thankful that there isn’t. Instead, you’re getting a 7th-generation Intel processor and your choice of an IPS display carefully wrapped in an all-metal chassis.

4. 12-inch MacBook (2016)


CPU: Dual-core Intel Core m3 – Core m7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 515 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 12-inch Retina (2,304 x 1,440) IPS | Storage: 256GB – 512GB PCIe Flash | Dimensions (W x D x H): 28.05cm x 19.65cm x 1.31cm

Design

Display

Underpowered

Keyboard

Apple"s 2015 MacBook refresh wasn"t for everyone and, despite being rosier and "goldier" than ever, that contention didn’t change in 2016. Most notably, Apple’s replacement of our favorite ports with the brand-new USB-C remains controversial.There"s also the keyboard, wherein Apple has re-engineered every key to be thinner and far less springy to the touch. Even though its Intel Core M processor has nowhere near the power of the Pro or even the Air, the laptop is more than capable of running iMovie, Photos, and even Photoshop with ease.

5. 15-inch MacBook Pro (2016)


CPU: Quad-core Intel Core i7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 530; AMD Radeon Pro 450 – 455 | RAM: 16GB | Screen: 15.4-inch Retina (2,880 x 1,800) IPS | Storage: 256GB – 2TB PCIe Flash | Dimensions (H x W x D): 1.49cm x 30.41cm x 21.24cm

Touch Bar smartly designed

Loads of USB-C ports

Touch Bar needs more app support

Direct light washes out Touch Bar

After some much-needed patience, we finally have the MacBook Pro overhaul we deserve. Complete with a thinner, lighter design, a Space Gray color option and an OLED Touch Bar in lieu of the function keys, this MacBook Pro introduces the big changes we’ve been waiting for. Although you may be turned off by the lack of conventional ports, there’s a lot to love about the 15-inch MacBook Pro, including lots of RAM, fast storage and a massive trackpad. Sure, you"ll be shelling out an extra wad of cash, but it"s the best MacBook Pro money can buy.

6. 13-inch MacBook Air (2015)


CPU: Dual-core Intel Core i5 – Core i7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 6000 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 13.3-inch HD (1,440 x 900) | Storage: 128GB – 512GB PCIe Flash | Dimensions (W x D x H): 19.7cm x 19.7cm x 3.6cm

Battery life

Nippy storage

Dated design

Display

The MacBook Air is in an interesting spot. While it"s still one of the most popular and well-known notebooks around, the iPad Pro and 12-inch MacBook have stolen much of its thunder. That is, unless you need the legacy USB 3, Thunderbolt 2 and SDXC card connectivity. Even without a Retina display or Force Touch trackpad, the 13-inch MacBook Air is a very capable machine, even if the 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage leave a lot to be desired. Plus it still has the beloved MagSafe 2 charger onboard as well as an impeccable battery life.

7. Mac mini (2014)


CPU: Dual-core Intel Core i5 – Core i7 | Graphics: Intel Iris Graphics | RAM: 4GB – 16GB | Storage: 500GB HDD; 256GB – 1TB PCIe Flash; 1TB – 2TB Fusion Drive | Dimensions (W x D x H): 19.7cm x 19.7cm x 3.6cm

Design

Ports

Impossible to upgrade

No monitor

The Mac Mini is Apple"s cheapest computer and has, for a long time, been its least powerful. Fortunately, Intel"s processor technology allows the desktop to be used for heavier tasks and Apple has brought the low-end model up to a decent specification. Available in three different variants – from a $499 (£399, AU$699) version with a 1.4GHz Intel Core i5 processor and 4GB of RAM to a $999 (£949, AU$1,499) model with a 2.8GHz CPU and 8GB of memory – Apple’s smallest Mac is also one of its most resilient.

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