It’s easy to switch from a Windows-based PC to a Mac. The platforms probably aren’t as different as you’ve heard. Our handy guide will have you up to speed in no time!
Choose a Mac
If you haven’t already purchased your Mac (or you’re still mulling it over), you should try to decide which computer is right for you. Apple’s lineup is divided into three classes: laptops, consumer home computers, and powerful high-end behemoths.
For portable use, Apple currently offers two laptops: the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. The 13-inch MacBook Air (starting at $1,099, at this writing) is a great all-rounder, with a new Retina (high-DPi) display, energy-efficient performance, and the classic “wedge” shape. It’s ideal for web browsing, typing essays, watching Netflix, and can even handle some light sub-4K video editing.
If you need more power on the go, particularly in the graphics department, the MacBook Pro is the next logical choice. It’s a mobile powerhouse available in both 13- and 15-inch models (at this writing, starting at $1,299 and $2,399, respectively). It’s fatter, heavier, and packs far more punch than its lightweight sibling. It’s also considerably more expensive. You customize both models at checkout, but you get more options if you opt for the Pro.
Consumer Home Computers
For home and office users, the iMac is a great choice. It’s available with a built-in 21.5-inch display up to 4K or 27-inch 5K display (at this writing, starting at $1,099 or $1,799, respectively). It’s great value for the money, even when you compare it to building your own computer. You get a lot more performance for your money if you opt for the larger, desktop type. You also get expansion ports to add more RAM, a proper array of ports on the back, Apple’s decent keyboard, and its passable mouse.
If you already have a monitor and peripherals, you might be interested in the Mac mini (starting at $799 at this writing). This is the most affordable computer Apple manufactures, partly due to the somewhat limited hardware. You won’t get iMac-like performance, nor are these machines armed with powerful GPUs, but you can beef up the RAM and processor selection at checkout if you want.
High-End Professional Systems
Professional users are left with the iMac Pro and the Mac Pro. Generally speaking, if you have to ask, you don’t really need either of these machines. They’re stuffed with high-end components, like Intel Xeon server-grade processors, Radeon Pro Vega GPUs, and more RAM than you know what to do with. At this writing, the iMac Pro starts at $4,999, and the Mac Pro isn’t shipping until late 2019 (price to be announced).
For most people, an iMac or MacBook Air are the obvious choices. If you’re happy to trade some performance for portability, the MacBook Pro should be on your radar. If you’re buying your primary computer, and you opt for a laptop, avoid the smallest SSD.
At this writing, you can upgrade the MacBook Air’s tiny 128 GB SSD to 256 GB for $200, or 512 GB for $400. If you’re going to store your main photo library on the machine, along with software like Office or Photoshop, you’ll need that extra space a few years down the line. While increasing your MacBook’s storage later is sometimes possible, solutions can be expensive and inconvenient.
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