From the cheap and cheerful Mac Mini to the monster Mac Pro, there’s never been such a wide range of Macs to choose from to suit your budget.
Every one of them is a superbly engineered device with an equally superb OS. But which one is best for you? Let’s discover the sweet spots in Apple’s ever-expanding Mac line-up.
MacBook Air (13-inch, 2015)
Excellent battery life means Apple's bigger Air lasts all day
CPU: 1.6GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 | Graphics: Intel HD 6000 | RAM: 4GB | Screen: 13.3-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit glossy widescreen display | Storage: 128GB PCIe-based flash storage | Connectivity: 2 x USB 3.0, Thunderbolt 2, MagSafe 2 power, SDXC slot | Camera: 720p FaceTime HD camera | Weight: 1.35kg | Dimensions: 1.7cm x 32.5cm x 22.7cm (H x W x D)
The £849 Air is just a little bit cheaper than the entry level MacBook Pro and has slightly lower-spec processors, but it has a higher-resolution screen, flash storage by default, much better battery life and the latest 802.11ac Wi-Fi. We think that makes it the better all-rounder than the slightly more powerful MacBook Pro, and it’s the Mac we’d choose if we wanted a laptop for everyday use. The extra two inches of screen over the 11-inch model make a big difference, especially if you don’t have or don’t want to buy an external display.
Read the full review: MacBook Air 13-inch
iMac with Retina 5K display
An incredible display suitable for editing 4K video
CPU: 3.3GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 processor (Turbo Boost up to 3.7GHz) | Graphics: AMD Radeon R9 M290X GPU | RAM: 8GB (two 4GB) upgradable to 16GB or 32GB | Screen: 27-inch (diagonal) Retina display with IPS technology (5,120 x 2,880 resolution) | Storage: 1TB Fusion Drive Configurable to 3TB Fusion Drive | Connectivity: Headphone port, SDXC card slot, x4 USB 3.0, x2 Thunderbolt 2 ports, Mini DisplayPort output, Ethernet | Camera: 720p FaceTime HD camera
We know a smaller one’s coming, but right now 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 of two quad-core Intel Core i5s at 3.3GHz and 3.5GHz respectively, a 1TB hard drive or Fusion Drive, and it’s so pretty we want to marry it. If you’re dropping more than a grand and a half on an iMac you might as well go the whole hog and get the faster, Fusion Drive-packing model.
Read the full review: iMac with Retina 5K display
iMac (21.5-inch, 2015)
A good balance of power and price
CPU: 1.4GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor (Turbo Boost up to 2.7GHz) with 3MB shared L3 cache | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5000 | RAM: 8GB of 1600MHz LPDDR3 onboard memory | Storage: 500GB (5400-rpm) hard drive | Connectivity: Headphone, SDXC, x4 USB 3 ports, x2 Thunderbolt ports, Mini DisplayPort output, Support for DVI, VGA and dual-link DVI, Ethernet
If you can’t afford or don’t want the Retina iMac, you can pick up a new iMac from as little as £899 for the 21.5-inch model, although the 27-incher is a good bit more expensive at £1,449. We’d be wary about buying the big one when there’s a smaller Retina iMac imminent, so we’d stick with the smaller model for now. Once again the sweet spot is in the middle of the range: choosing the £1,049 model over the £899 one nearly doubles the processor speed, doubles the storage and gives you a better graphics system too, or you could go for the entry level iMac and replace the hard disk with 256GB of flash storage or a 1TB Fusion Drive for a total of £1099.
Read the full review: 21.5-inch iMac
MacBook Pro with Retina display (13-inch, 2015)
Packs plenty of ports and power while remaining portable
CPU: 2.7GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor (Turbo Boost up to 3.1GHz) with 3MB shared L3 cache | Graphics: Intel Iris Graphics 6100 | RAM: 8GB of 1866MHz LPDDR3 onboard memory | Screen: 13.3-inch LED-backlit display with IPS technology (2,560 x 1,600 pixel-resolution) | Storage: 128GB PCIe-based flash storage (configurable to 256GB or 512GB) | Connectivity: Thunderbolt, DVI, VGA, dual-link DVI and HDMI | Camera: 720p FaceTime HD camera
There are two kinds of 13-inch MacBook Pro in 2015: the non-Retina model, and the Retina models. The former is cheap at £899, but £100 more gets you a faster processor, an utterly superb screen, more RAM, flash storage and better battery life so unless you’re really strapped for cash, the non-Retina Pro is a false economy.
Unusually we think the sweet spot isn’t the middle model but the cheapest of the Retina MacBook Pros: the storage isn’t massive, but when you’re on the move that isn’t a problem. Its USB 3 and Thunderbolt 2 ports mean you can add high-speed mass storage with a single plug.
Read the full review: 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display
MacBook Pro with Retina display (15-inch, 2015)
Apple's biggest, boldest and most powerful MacBook
CPU: 2.2GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor (Turbo Boost up to 3.4GHz) | Graphics: Intel Iris Pro (configurable up to AMD Radeon R9 M370X with 2GB of DDR5 memory) | RAM: 16GB of 1600MHz DDR3L onboard memory | Screen: 15.4-inch LED-backlit display with IPS technology (2,880 x 1,800 pixel-resolution) | Storage: 256GB or 512GB PCIe-based flash storage (configurable to 1TB) | Connectivity: Thunderbolt, DVI, VGA, dual-link DVI, HDMI | Camera: 720p FaceTime HD camera
If you’re a mobile worker who needs everything but the kitchen sink available wherever you go, there’s only one Mac for you: the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display. There are two models to choose from at £1,599 and £1,999 respectively; the latter ups the quad-core i7 processor from 2.2GHz to 2.5GHz, the flash storage from 256GB to 512GB and adds an AMD Radeon R9 M370X with 2GB of GDDR5 memory. Whichever model you go for, the battery’s good for nine hours and it can drive two external displays.
Read the full review: MacBook Pro with Retina Display 15-inch
Mac Mini (2015)
Apple's compact desktop Mac is also its cheapest
CPU: 1.5GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 (Turbo Boost up to 2.7GHz) with 3MB on-chip shared L3 cache | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5000 | RAM: 4GB of 1600MHz LPDDR3 memory (configurable to 8GB or 16GB) | Storage: 600GB (5400-rpm) hard drive (configurable to 1TB Fusion Drive) | Connectivity: x2 Thunderbolt 2 ports (up to 20Gbps), x4 USB 3 ports (up to 5Gbps), HDMI port, SDXC port, Gigabit Ethernet port, Audio in port, Headphone port, IR reciever | Camera: 720p FaceTime HD camera
At just £399 the Mac Mini is the cheapest new Mac you can buy, although you’ll need to factor in the cost of a display, a keyboard and a mouse too if you don’t already have them lying around. Prices soar if you want better processors, more storage, flash storage or a Fusion Drive - swapping out the £799 model’s Fusion Drive for 512GB of flash storage takes the total to £1,039 - but while the basic model is cheap it’s also a little bit underpowered. The sweet spot is the middle of the range, the £569 model with 2.6GHz processor and a 1TB hard disk. If you’d prefer flash storage, 256GB is an extra £160.
Read the full review: Mac mini
A tower of power
CPU: 3.7GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon E5 processor | Graphics: Dual AMD FIrePro D300 with 2GB GDDR5 VRAM each| RAM: 8GB of 1600MHz LPDDR3 memory | Storage: 256GB PCIe-based flash storage | Connectivity: 4x USB 3.0, x6 Thunderbolt 2, Dual Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI 1.4 UltraHD
Planning a moonshot or making a movie? Say hello to the Mac Pro, aka Darth Vader’s dustbin. There are two models: one with a 3.7GHz quad-core Xeon and one with a 3.6GHz six-core, with 12GB and 16GB of DDR3 RAM respectively. The cheaper model has dual AMD FirePro D300s with 2GB of VRAM, while the range topper gets dual D500s with 3GB apiece. Both Pros come with 256GB of PCIe-based flash storage, and you can up that to 1TB if you have the cash. Even if you don’t it’s fun to play with the options: upping the top-end Mac Pro to a 12-core 2.7GHz processor, 64GB of RAM, 1TB of flash storage and dual AMD FirePro D700s with 6GB apiece takes the price tag up to £7,779.00.
Read the full review: Mac Pro
MacBook Air (11-inch, 2015)
Apple's cheapest MacBook is its most portable too.
We love the MacBook Air, and the 11-inch model is the cheapest laptop Apple currently makes. At £749 it’s a bit more expensive than some high-spec Windows machines, but it’s a lovely thing that’s particularly good for students and anybody who wants a lightweight, long-lasting Mac laptop for everyday use. Flash storage means it’s lightning quick, and unlike the new MacBook it doesn’t sacrifice ports for slimness. The screen’s small, of course, but you can always hook up a large monitor when you’re back home or at the office.
An impressive feat of engineering
CPU: 1.1GHz dual-core Intel Core M processor (Turbo Boost up to 2.4GHz) with 4MB shared L3 cache | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5300 | RAM: 8GB of 1600MHz LPDDR3 memory | Storage: 8GB of 1600MHz LPDDR3 onboard memory | Connectivity: USB Type-C port, Headphone port | Camera: 480p FaceTime HD camera
The incredibly thin new MacBook is a triumph of engineering, but that sleek chassis doesn’t leave room for the various ports we’ve come to expect in laptops. One single USB-C port is designed to do everything from charging to connecting peripherals, so if you’ve got lots of stuff to connect you’ll need to invest in a hub. There isn’t even an Ethernet port.
At least the choice is simple: there’s a £1,049 model with 1.1GHz processor and 256GB of flash storage, or there’s a £1,299 model with 512GB. Both versions are available in silver, gold or space grey. If you’re minimalist enough to want the new MacBook, you’re probably minimalist enough not to need more storage or a slightly quicker processor.
Read the full review: New MacBook