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The MacBook Air now fills the role of Apple’s entry level laptop, yet has the power needed for general computing and still offers class-leading battery life and portability. Featuring Intel Core CPUs, ultra-fast PCIe flash storage, 802.11ac along with two USB 3.0 ports and a Thunderbolt 2 port, the MacBook Air has what it takes to handle your daily computing needs. Available with a 13-inch display and weighing just 1.35 kg, the aluminum MacBook Air continues to lead the pack for portability among affordable laptops. And it does so while offering all-day battery life of up to 12 hours and a full-sized, backlit keyboard.
Ideal For: Anyone who needs a lightweight laptop with all-day battery life and the connectivity for legacy accessories, those looking for an Apple laptop for less.
Apple designed the MacBook Pro to be a portable replacement for a desktop PC, offering all the performance and connectivity in a single, sleek package. The base 13″ and 15″ MacBook Pro are thin, light and affordable; they are built with premium components to handle computing needs for everyone from students to the business professional. Select the configuration that best suits your needs, right up to a premium Retina display, industry leading i7 Intel processor, and solid state hard drives for maximum performance.
In 2017, all-new MacBook Pros were introduced and they represent a huge leap forward in Apple’s prosumer laptops.
The new MacBook Pro models are thinner and faster than ever before, with the brightest Retina displays yet. They pack 7th generation Intel Core processors (up to a Core i7), use fast LPDDR3 RAM and come standard with the latest generation PCIe storage. The full-sized backlit keyboard uses the innovative butterfly mechanisms first introduced with the MacBook and is supplemented by a super-sized Force Touch trackpad. All ports are now USB-C with Thunderbolt 3 support. The MacBook Pro is equipped for the future of USB-C accessories, and any of its ports can also be used for power.
The 15-inch MacBook Pro is equipped with a Radeon Pro 555 graphic card with 2GB of GDDR5 RAM for high powered video performance. Both the 13-inch and 15-inch models are rated for up to 10 hours of use on a single charge.
But the big story with the new MacBook Pro is the Touch Bar. This is an OLED multi-touch strip that replaces the function keys with programmable, contextually aware controls and a Touch ID sensor. The MacBook Pro is offered in 13-inch and 15-inch versions with the Touch Bar. There is a base 13-inch model without the Touch Bar that makes for an affordable option—and it also happens to be thinner overall and nearly as light as the 13-inch MacBook Air.
Ideal For: Mobile professionals, anyone who needs desktop-class performance in a laptop, MacBook Air owners who want to upgrade to a Retina display.
Apple’s latest notebook is also the thinnest and lightest the company has ever offered, at just 1.31 cm at its thickest point and weighing only 920 grams. The MacBook is packed with the latest technology including 7th generation Intel processors, PCIe flash storage, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, fanless cooling and a new butterfly mechanism keyboard. Clutter is minimized through the use of the latest high-speed, versatile port, USB-C. The MacBook’s single USB-C port handles everything from powering the laptop to connecting accessories and driving an external monitor. The display also impresses with a 12-inch Retina panel with edge-to-edge glass and over 3 million pixels. The stunning looks of this ultra light-weight notebook only get better with the colour choices for the unibody aluminum: Space Grey, Silver, Gold and Rose Gold.
The Mac mini is Apple’s ultra-compact desktop PC. It’s machined from a single block of aluminum and measures just 20 cm square and 4 cm tall, including the built-in power supply. It’s billed as the world’s most energy efficient desktop PC, exceeding ENERGY STAR requirements seven time over. Despite the diminutive size and power efficiency, the Mac mini is a full-featured PC, with Intel Core processors, flash or Fusion Drive storage and a full range of connectivity options include USB 3.0, Gigabit ethernet, Thunderbolt 2, HDMI, SD card slot, Bluetooth and 802.11ac Wi-Fi. Make sure to choose the RAM you need now, as it is not user upgradable.
Ideal For: Casual computer users looking for an affordable Mac, anyone who wants a desktop Mac that doesn’t have a built-in display, space-constrained Mac shoppers.
The iMac delivers the ultimate all-in-one desktop PC experience, with a range of configurations that make it ideal for everyone from students to professionals. The centrepiece of the iMac experience is the brilliant LED-backlit display, available in 21.5-inch and 27-inch sizes and resolutions up to an awe-inspiring 5k. The iMac is machined from aluminum, sports edges just 5 mm thick and is held securely and ergonomically on an adjustable metal stand that also minimizes its footprint. Inside are high performance components including the option of Fusion or SSD storage, Intel Core CPUs (including the option of a 7th generation, quad-core Intel Core i7 at 4.0GHz), up to 32GB of RAM and optional Radeon Pro 570, 575, or 580 graphics cards. Apple iMacs offer a full complement of expansion ports and 802.11ac Wi-Fi.
Even Apple’s wireless Magic Keyboard and Magic Mouse 2 are included in the box.
Features to Consider
Desktop vs Laptop
When considering an Apple computer, the first key decision is whether to choose a laptop or a desktop.
A laptop is a self-contained portable solution. It uses little desk space, so you can set it up anywhere. Slip it in a case and you can take it with you to use in a cafe, at a meeting, in a class or on the train. All Apple laptops offer excellent battery life, so in most situations you won’t have to worry about searching for a power outlet. If you want to expand your setup at home or the office, you can always plug in a big screen monitor, add a wireless keyboard and mouse and plug in an external hard drive.
A desktop PC lacks the portability of a laptop, but is usually more powerful, with desktop-class CPUs. Apple offers a wide range of desktop computers from the ultra-compact Mac mini to the workstation-class Mc Pro, with the sleek all-in-one iMac showing up everywhere from homes to offices and on the desktops of creative professionals. Bring your own favourite monitor, keyboard and mouse, or choose the iMac to get everything you need right out of the box.
Laptop vs. Tablet
The distinction between laptop and tablet used to be very clear: a laptop was the best choice for productivity, while a tablet was great for casual use such as web-surfing and watching videos.
That line has blurred somewhat with Apple’s latest class of devices. The MacBook is thin and light enough to rival many tablets when it comes to portability, while the iPad Pro brings a new level of productivity to tablets, especially when equipped with a Smart Keyboard case. The availability of mobile app versions of popular software like Microsoft Word also makes it more feasible to use an iPad Pro as an ultra-portable laptop.
However, when choosing between laptop and tablet, there are still some clear advantages to each option. Tablets like an iPad are ideal for casual use, ultra portability and touch control. But when it comes to serious productivity, it’s tough to beat the full-sized keyboard of a laptop, along with its ports for connecting peripherals and accessories. A Mac laptop has a much more powerful processor than an iPad and can often top it for both storage capacity and battery life as well. A Mac laptop also runs macOS instead of iOS, so it’s not limited in the software that can be used with it the way an iPad can be.
Apple computers use Intel processors exclusively. Product lines are refreshed at different times and currently range from the dual-core, 7th generation Core m3 and Core m5 used in the MacBook to the 7th generation, quad-core Intel Core i7 CPU available in the iMac and the mighty 6-core Xeon E5 that’s an option for the Mac Pro. All Mac computers are equipped with processors that ensure they have the power needed to get the job done and to ensure an extended useful life.
RAM is a critical component that greatly influences the overall performance of a computer: the more RAM available, the more applications and windows can be open before the system starts to slow down. All Macs are equipped with a minimum of 4GB of RAM, with most offering 8GB as the starting point. With some models, RAM is user upgradeable but with others—like the MacBook and MacBook Air—RAM is soldered onto the motherboard, making it very important to pick the right amount.
Apple computers offer a range of storage options. Several still offer traditional hard drives, but the company pioneered the use of SSDs as standard equipment in its ultra-portables, so many come with solid state storage as the default option. Most Macs are currently offered with PCIe flash storage, which is much faster than previous generation SSDs. For massive storage capacity to handle collections of videos, music and games, some Macs are also offered with Fusion hybrid drives that combine the affordable mass storage of traditional hard drives with the fast system-level performance of SSDs.
Mac notebooks have a reputation for all-day battery life, and in this case “all-day” will exceed what most people would ever need. For example, the 13-inch MacBook Air is rated at up to 12 hours of web browsing, while the big 15.4-inch MacBook Pro can put in a solid 10 hours of use between charges.
Wi-Fi is more important than ever, as more services move to the cloud. 802.11ac, the latest generation of wireless communication, is now mainstream, offering three times the speed or more of 802.11n Wi-Fi. Apple equips all its latest Macs with 802.11ac to take advantage of the wireless performance boost when connecting to a Gigabit Wi-Fi router.
Mac vs. Windows PC
Whether you’re a first-time computer buyer or someone thinking of making the switch from Windows, these features make Apple computers stand out from the pack.
OS X (macOS)
Formerly known as OS X, macOS is the operating system that powers Apple’s computers. Offering a refined user experience with the built-in security of its UNIX heritage, Apple upgrades macOS yearly—and for the past several cycles, that upgrade has been free. Included with macOS are preloaded applications, including iTunes, Pages, iMovie and Apple’s Safari web browser. Owners of other Apple devices will appreciate the consistency between macOS and iOS, and the ability to seamlessly move between apps on an iPhone or iPad and a Mac using Handoff.
Windows on Macs
There are Mac-native versions of most popular applications such as Microsoft Office. However, if you want to run Windows on your Mac, you can! Using Bootcamp, you can directly install Windows and Windows applications, then choose whether you want to boot the computer into Windows or OS X. You can also run Windows using an emulator, so you can have both environments active at the same time and even share files between them.
What’s New in the World of Macs
Released in the fall of 2016, macOS Sierra brings Siri to the Mac desktop. Now you can use Apple’s voice assistant to do everything from search for files to add meetings to your calendar. Other new features include Apple Pay support in Safari, automatic storage optimization using iCloud, support for copying and pasting between iOS devices and Mac computers, and the ability to log into a Mac using an Apple Watch.
Many of Apple’s laptops and computers feature high resolution, Retina displays. These panels don’t just offer extraordinary detail, they also produce high quality colour reproduction with a bright image that pops. At the top of the Retina scale, the 27-inch iMac with Retina 5K display packs 14.7 million pixels—6 million more than 4K Ultra HD.
7th Generation Intel Processors
Apple laptops use Intel processors for power, efficiency and graphics capabilities. Mac OS X takes full advantage of Intel’s multi-core architecture for maximum performance. Many of Apple’s newest laptops and iMacs use Intel’s latest 7th generation “Kaby Lake” CPUs for even greater speed.
An innovative new feature introduced with the 2016 MacBook Pro, the Touch Bar is a multi-touch, OLED strip that replaces the traditional function keys. The Touch Bar presents buttons and other inputs that are specific to the software being used. It also incorporates a Touch ID sensor for using fingerprint sign-in.
If you choose a Mac Mini or Mac Pro, a Bluetooth keyboard is a must. It’s also a handy addition if you want to use your Mac laptop as a “desktop” PC. Apple’s Magic Keyboard is a great option, offering full-sized layout in a compact and wireless form factor that complements your Apple Computer’s aluminum look. It even has a built-in rechargeable battery! If you’re a number cruncher, consider a wireless keyboard with a numeric keypad for greater efficiency.
Apple’s Magic Mouse 2 offers all the advantages of the original—wireless operation, Multi-Touch support for OS X gestures, laser tracking and an ergonomic design—but adds a built-in rechargeable battery. For the ultimate in touch navigation without having to move your hand, the glass-surfaced Magic Trackpad 2 even includes support for Apple’s new Force Touch feature. You can also use many third party Bluetooth mice with Apple computers.
With the MacBook laptop, Apple introduced the new USB-C standard to the mainstream. USB-C offers many advantages, including speed, fuss-free connectors (there is no “right” or “wrong” way to plug them in) and the ability to carry enough power to run a laptop. An increasing number of accessories and peripherals are switching to USB-C. However, the MacBook has a single USB-C port and that does double duty as its power supply. So consider investing in a USB-C hub, so you can expand its connectivity. The base MacBook Pro has two USB-C ports, while other MacBook Pros are equipped with four, so you should be okay.
Airport Express and Airport Extreme
The Airport Extreme router offers 802.11ac Wi-Fi that’s a breeze to configure and use with your Apple computers, iOS devices, PCs and game consoles. A stylish white case has a small footprint and no visible antennas, yet offers the performance you expect with features like dual-band support, three streams, beamforming, 1.3G Gbps speeds, backward compatibility with 802.11a/b/g/n devices and USB ports for sharing storage or printers over your network. Airport Express is a compact 802.11n Wi-Fi router that can be used standalone, as a network extender, or you can plug in a speaker system for wireless music.
Airport Time Capsule
Airport Time Capsule is the ultimate all-in-one Wi-Fi solution. Like the Airport Extreme, it’s a fast Wi-Fi base station with 802.11ac support. But the Time Capsule adds up to 3TB of built-in storage, so your Mac computers can automatically and wirelessly back up, using Apple’s Time Machine software.
If you buy an Apple laptop and plan to take it anywhere with you, a case or sleeve is an essential accessory. Both will protect your MacBook, MacBook Air or MacBook Pro from scratches and the elements, while a case adds storage so you can conveniently bring along accessories like a power adapter, Bluetooth mouse or thumb drive. If you want to go as light as possible, consider a laptop skin for protection from minor bumps and scratches without the bulk of a sleeve or case.
Take the Next Step
With the knowledge you’ve gained about Apple computers, you have everything you need to make make an informed decision about which one is right for you. Best Buy carries a large selection of MacBooks, MacBook Airs, MacBook Pros, iMacs, Mac minis and Mac Pros so there’s guaranteed to be a Mac model that fits your lifestyle and needs. Best Buy offers a specialized range of iMacs and Apple laptops that have unique specifications outside of the standard retail models, so you can get the exact Mac you want, right away.