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How to Choose the Right MacBook

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How to Choose the Right MacBook

So you have decided to make the switch to Mac from your Windows laptop.  Good for you.  Personally, I use a 15-inch Macbook Pro that has the latest version of Mac OS X as well as a partition for Windows 10 along with a virtual machine running Ubuntu.  This means that I can run pretty much any operating system I want with just one laptop.  For my line of work, that is quite handy.  But even if you don’t need access to everything, Macs offer many different benefits over a PC making them a worthwhile investment for anyone in search of a new MacBook.

But which MacBook should you choose?  Apple has a varied line of laptops designed to fit the needs of a wide range of users from the most basic of home users all the way up to the high end professionals that need a true work horse.  Which one you choose largely depends on how you want or need to use your computer.  If you make the wrong choice, all the fancy design of your new MacBook will be wasted simply because you didn’t do your homework beforehand.  Luckily, you have us here to help guide you through the selection process.

Benefits of Macs

Before we talk about what you should consider when trying to buy a new Mac, let’s take a moment to examine a few of the benefits of owning a Mac.

  1. Incredible Design – Apple definitely has the market cornered when it comes to design. The sleek style and lines you will find on Apple laptops have yet to be duplicated in the PC world.  If you get a Mac laptop, you will have a computer that will turn heads.
  2. Ease of Use – Mac OS X has been designed to be easy to use. No matter what your skill level, you will find that your Mac will be easier to use than anything computer you have ever used before.  While there may be some differences, you will find that it is easy to get the hang of after only a few minutes of use.
  3. Security – While viruses and malware do exist for Mac OS X, there are far fewer out there compared to the PC. You won’t have to spend a great deal of time managing your antivirus software like you do on a PC.
  4. Community – When you buy a Mac, you become part of a community of Apple users everywhere. These users are passionate about Apple and will help you along the way if you do run into problems.

Choosing the Right MacBook


If you are still reading this it is safe to assume that you understand the benefits of a Mac and you are ready to begin shopping for the perfect Mac.  Congratulations.  You have now committed to one of the best laptops made today.  But before you run out and invest a lot of money in your new MacBook, let’s take a look at some of the factors you must consider before making your purchase.


First, let’s take a look at portability.  How mobile do you want to be with your new Mac laptop?  To be fair, most of the Apple MacBooks including the larger 15-inch MacBook Pros are pretty portable.  They are all lightweight and pretty darn thing making it quite easy to take it with you wherever you go.  But, if you are looking for really portable, I mean so portable you don’t even know you have it in your bag, then you definitely need to look at the small line of MacBook Airs including the 11-inch model or maybe the 12-inch MacBook instead.  These machines are EXTREMELY thin and lightweight with the footprint almost matching an iPad.  This makes them very easy to transport wherever you want to go.

Screen Size

To some people the size of the screen is important.  In the past, you had to also consider whether or not you wanted Retina resolutions on your MacBook, but today you won’t find a laptop from Apple that doesn’t come with their extremely impressive and high resolution screen.  So in the end, it comes down to how large do you want the screen to actually be?  For some, the smaller the better as portability is a concern.  But if you want to use your laptop as a true mobile workstation, you may want to consider the larger 15-inch models that are available instead.  Of course, if you are going for something that is more of a balance between these two extremes, the 13-inch models could be right for you.

Speed & Power

Speed and power are often relative.  How much you need depends more on exactly what you do with it versus what the actual specs are.  In the end, a low end 11-inch MacBook Air will handle the Internet every bit as good as that loaded 15-inch MacBook Pro will.  Where you will notice a difference is when you start running more powerful applications.  If you want to use higher end apps, you are going to need more power and speed from your processor and even out of the other components as well.  Look at what you need to run and what you want to do with it and increase the speed options accordingly.



If you are looking to do any video or graphic editing or maybe even play a few games on your laptop, then you will have to consider the MacBook Pros.  They offer not only larger screens to make this type of work easier, but they also come with more powerful processors and graphics cards designed to push this kind of data.  If you go with something a little more on the lower end of the scale, you will find that your performance suffers quite a bit meaning you won’t like it at all as your Mac will seem slow.  In some cases, these lower end Macs won’t even run the games and other applications at all, because they simply don’t include the hardware to do it.

Battery Life

Ah battery life.  How much time do you spend with your laptop not connected to the wall?  If it is hours upon hours while you travel, then battery life is most definitely an issue.  If you spend much of your time on your laptop plugged into a socket, then you may not have to worry about it at all.  This all depends on where you use it.  While all of Apple’s laptop products today boast relatively high battery life, some are most definitely better than others.  A good rule of thumb to look at is the more powerful your internal specs, the worse your battery life will be no matter what it is rated.  This is because the powerful specs are definitely more power hungry for your precious battery and will consume much more especially if you are really pushing your computer.


One thing that most Apple computers do lack are an abundance of ports.  This is because the machine are designed to be very thin.  When you shrink something down as much as a typical MacBook, something has to be sacrificed.  First went the inclusion of an optical drive and the next casualty was ports.  That’s not to say they don’t run some ports.  They most definitely do and all the MacBooks come with all the basics you need to plug in a wide variety of peripherals.  That doesn’t mean they will have everything and you could find that you need extra USB ports than what you have on the side.  Different models come with different ports, although you will find that all the models are very close to the same.  If ports are important, select the MacBook that has the ports that you need, or consider investing in hubs to add more accessories to your laptop later.


I know, no one likes to talk about money.  But when it comes to buying a laptop, unfortunately we have consider it.  It is even more important when you are thinking about buying a Mac.  MacBooks are well known to be much more expensive when compared to other types of laptops.  That being said, there are several more affordable options.  Before you head out to your favorite Apple Store, you need to sit down and figure out exactly how much you have to spend on your next shiny new laptop.

If you are shopping on a budget, the 11-inch MacBook Air of the 12-inch MacBook could be the best choice for you.  Of course, if budget isn’t an issue and you are looking for more power, then you should consider the 15-inch MacBook Pro as the choice for you.  If that laptop still seems to be a little more expensive, you could go middle of the road and look at the 13-inch lines of the MacBooks or the MacBook Pros.

Our Recommendations


Remember, to consider how you will use your new Mac before you make your decision and invest your hard earned dollars.  If performance and long battery life is what you are looking for, then the MacBook Air can be had for a reasonable price.  If you are a power user or even a gamer, the 15-inch MacBook Pro offers Apple’s amazing Retina display and the internal specs to give you the fast performance that you will need for a workstation class machine or even one that gamers will love.

If you are looking for something that is highly portable, then you should consider the small 11-inch MacBook Air or the 12-inch MacBook could be right for you.  These two are the lightest and most portable options Apple currently has.  However, these devices aren’t much less money compared to the 13-inch MacBook Pro, so if you can deal with a slightly larger machine, you can get much more power.

Final Thoughts

Apple makes a wide variety of laptops that are designed to fit users of all shapes and sizes.  If you are a basic home user that just needs to surf the net and check email, there is a choice for you, and if you are a power user who loves to push the limits of their systems, there are options available for you as well.  Which you choose ultimately is up to you and should be based on your needs and then all the factors we have discussed today.

Remember to make your choices very carefully.  If you choose the wrong MacBook, you will find that it won’t hold up your expectations or you could just be out a bunch of extra money because you simply bought too much Mac.  So what MacBook do you like to use?  Let me know in the comments and we can see how everyone compares.


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By Matt Garrett

Matt is an IT professional with over fifteen years experience supporting network infrastructure and computers. An avid gamer, Matt enjoys his time playing and writing about his experiences both in the IT world and in the gaming communities. You can find more of his writing on our sister ShopNinja sites where he enjoys talking about anything and everything tech.

One reply on “How to Choose the Right MacBook”

The info here is great and I still need some advice. I am a traditional representational artist and after using a coloring app while recovering from a wrist injury, I became interested in learning more about using digital art as a medium. I’m definitely a beginner in digital, but not in drawing, painting and using color. I am leaning toward a MacBook Pro and open to suggestions. Don’t know exactly what to ask about but know I don’t want a bare bones either.

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