How to choose the right business Mac for you

Anthony Caruana
1 July, 2014
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Mac, business, choose, macworld australiaBuying new computers for your business can be a tricky activity. Almost everyone in the business is an expert and there is no shortage of opinions on what the best computer for your business is.

But for business, the choices are more complex than a simple choice based on specifications. If you need a desktop should you go for a Mac mini, iMac or Mac Pro? And if it’s a notebook then are you looking for a MacBook Pro or MacBook Air?

How do you finance your purchase? What about asset disposal?

Let’s look at the options and work out what will be best for your business.

Start with a budget

Buying a new computer can be a daunting task. It’s easy to get confused by specifications and technical details. Rather than start with specifications as the basis of your purchasing decision, we recommend starting with a budget.

When you start with a budget, you automatically restrict the number of options you have to choose from. This will help, as you won’t have as many different models to evaluate and compare.

Business users have some more flexible financing arrangements available to them as well. You’ll need to choose between buying your computers or leasing.

To make that decision, you’ll need to consider the entire life of the hardware from procurement to disposal.

Buying equipment is relatively easy – just follow your company’s purchasing processes and wait for delivery. But disposal can be more complex as you’ll need to manage depreciation schedules and deal with getting rid of the physical assets.

Leasing through a finance company means you pay a monthly fee that covers the capital cost plus some interest. This means that the business doesn’t have to spend a lump sum of money. Most finance companies will then collect the equipment at the end of the lease period, thus solving the disposal problem for you.

Key specifications

When you run your eye down the list of tech specs for each product on Apple’s website you’ll see a huge array of different details. Although each of these is important, there are a few that are key.

Storage

Apple equips all of its portable computers with Solid State Drives, or SSDs. Capacities start at 128GB and go up to 1TB. Although it might be tempting to skimp on space in order to hit your budget this might be false economy.

With a portable Mac, you might end up having to carry an external drive in order to bring all your data with you. If you’re on a really tight budget, aim for 256GB of space, but 512GB will give most users enough headroom to accommodate the accumulation of data over a couple of years.

Memory

Apple’s entry-level computers come with 4GB of memory. Unless your needs are very basic, we’d suggest 8GB as a more realistic minimum. This will rule out most of Apple’s less expensive computers.

Although OS X Mavericks and OS X Yosemite only require 2GB you’ll need more memory in order to run your applications.

Processor

Apple offers two main processor options – Intel’s Core i5 and Core i7. For the majority of tasks, the Core i5 will be adequate. However, if you’re planning to carry out more intensive tasks such as editing large images or processing video then a Core i7 might be a better choice.

Desktops

In our view, the majority of users will feel right at home with an iMac. The first decision to make when choosing an iMac is screen size. Your choices are 21.5 inches and 27 inches. In our view, you’ll never regret the extra size if your budget and desk space can accommodate it.

The vast majority of business users will find that an iMac meets their needs. It a capable computer that can handle even heavy duty tasks such as video editing and image manipulation. Office productivity applications, web browsing and email – the most heavily used business applications – will be handled easily.

For companies switching to Macs or who need a small system that can be hidden away, the Mac mini is a good option. It needs an external display and you can connect your own mouse and keyboard. It’s very small and makes a great boardroom system as it can be easily hidden away.

The Mac Pro is Apple’s high-end workhorse and offers the fastest processors and most memory in Apple’s range. You’ll be looking at a Mac Pro if you need a small office server or a more powerful machine for multi-media editing, software development or other processor and memory intensive tasks.

Notebooks

Apple has two device families in their notebook range; the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro.

The MacBook Air comes in 11in and 13in variants. We’ve worked with both extensively. If you have a desktop machine and need a computer for when you’re out of the office then the 11in MacBook Air will probably fit the bill.

With the 13in MacBook Air, the decision becomes whether to look at that device or the 13in MacBook Pro.  Although the MacBook Pro costs a little more than the MacBook Air, it does offer a faster processor, more memory and a HDMI port for connecting to projectors and TVs without the need for an adaptor.

If you’re looking for a desktop replacement, then the 15in MacBook Pro offers plenty of memory, up to 1TB of storage and fast processors.

The MacBook Air will suit users that travel a lot, as it’s slimmer and lighter than the MacBook Pro. However, the MacBook Pro offers more power and the option of the high resolution Retina Display.

Five steps to choosing your new business computer

  1. Set a budget and work out the best financing arrangement
  2. Think about the needs of different users – one size may not fit all
  3. With notebooks – is portability or power the main focus?
  4. Work out what screen size will best suit your needs and budget
  5. Ensure that you choose enough storage capacity and memory

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