16th February 2016

Which Macbook is right for you?

This week a customer asked us to quote on 2 MacBook Laptops. A simple enough task you might think, but with so many options to choose from it can sometimes become a little hard to see the wood for the trees.

Here we examine which portable Mac is right for you and the things that you need to consider. When our customer approached us they had been using an iPad with a Belkin keyboard attached but were finding that this set up didn’t really cut it on a day to day basis. They needed a MacBook laptop that would allow them to connect to projectors, external monitors and perform office administration functions with ease.

The level of connectivity that this customer required immediately puts the MacBook on the back foot. With just one USB-C port and the need for adaptors to connect it to external devices it instantly struggles against other models in the range. Both the Air range and the MacBook Pro with Retina Display models provide USB 3, Thunderbolt 2 and on the latter you also get a HDMI connection.

Another important consideration is screen size. This is a personal preference but many of clients find the 11” MacBook Air a little difficult to work from on a daily basis. This does lead us to the 13” plus screen size and here the MacBook Air scores highly as the 13” model offers the best balance of portability and weight. However, the without a Retina Display you feel naturally drawn to the incredible displays on both the MacBook and MacBook Pro ranges.

Graphics capability is also a key question for many of our clients. For this particular one they are not a creative based business so the MacBook with its Intel HD 5300 graphics would be fine. As you move through the range the MacBook Air comes with the better Intel HD 6000 graphics. The 13” MacBook Pro with Retina Display range steps up again with the Intel Iris 6100 graphics, whilst the entry 15” gives you the Intel Iris Pro Graphics. Finally, the top of the range 15” MacBook Pro with Retina Display gives you a 2GB AMD Radeon R9 M370X dedicated graphics card.

If you are using creative apps we would really recommend looking at the 15” MacBook Pro with Retina Display. Yes it is the more expensive option but the 2GB AMD card is only just below the graphics capability that you would get on the latest 27” iMac.

The same thought process can be applied to the amount of storage that you go for. The advantage of the MacBook laptops are that they all come with flash storage as standard. For those companies who are like our customer we would recommend looking at 256GB flash storage options. This gives you a good amount of storage for your office apps and data storage.

For creatives you may want to consider a larger drive of 512GB. This gives you the greater flexibility over the course of our 3 year leases. Whilst you can always upgrade to 1TB Flash we would have to recommend buying an external USB 3 or Thunderbolt storage device. This route is so much cheaper than upgrading to 1TB Flash and it provides you with a source of external back up as well.

Finally, the processing power is also a key consideration. As you might expect the MacBook with its Dual Core M processors and the MacBook Air are at the lighter end of the scale. The 13” MacBook Pros have significantly more powerful Dual Core i5 processors and as you would expect the 15” provides a Quad Core processor of 2.2GHz or 2.5GHz performance.

The upshot being that the MacBook is great for surfing and being online but if you need serious performance for undertaking work on Adobe CC then look no further than the high end 13 or 15” MacBook Pro models.

So having undertaken this thought process what advice did we give to our customer? In this instance, for a company dealing with office apps and presentations, with a data store of around 100GB, a Dropbox account and a need for connectivity and portability we recommended the 13” MacBook Pro with Retina Display with 256GB Flash Storage.

Although slightly more expensive than the 13” MacBook Air, we felt the improved processor, Retina Display, Force Touch trackpad justified the increased cost. The Air does provide a better battery life but it wasn’t enough to swing our recommendation.

The exercise did illustrate that at present it is possible to provide customers with a variety of different MacBook laptops with a similar specification at a similar price. The picture is muddied even further if you throw in the iPad Pro as well. We really expect that during 2016 Apple will clean up the MacBook laptop line to give us a more defined model choice.