Apple Desktop Computer Buying Guide

Often credited as the creators of the most elegant computers on the planet, many people have become attracted to Apple for numerous reasons. Their desktop computers combine power and efficiency with their simple OS X interface to help both basic and power users complete their everyday tasks. Here you'll see the different types of Apple desktops along with tips for what to look for when buying one of these computers.

Types of Apple Desktops

There are three main desktops along with subdivisions within each category. The most popular is the all-in-one iMac, which is a desktop and monitor combo that is most often associated with the Apple brand of desktops. Sporting powerful hardware, a monitor with superb resolution and wireless keyboard and mouse, this computer gives you everything you would ever need to get started.

Next is the Mac Mini. This is an ideal computer for those thinking about their budget because the Mac Mini provides the Apple experience and adequate hardware at a reduced price. Unlike the iMac, you will have to buy all the other accessories associated with a computer, such as the monitor, keyboard and mouse. This is like a tower, but the Mac Mini only stands 1.4 inches tall. The hardware is primarily what you would find in a powerful laptop, but many users find that it's perfect for common tasks.

The last Apple desktop is the Mac Pro. Coveted by power users for its intense hardware specs, this is a necessity for anyone who is accustomed to 3D animation, game design, computer engineering and anyone else who needs superb performance. Coming with either a four-core or six-core CPU and two GPUs, this is the strongest and most expensive offering from Apple. Like the Mac Mini, you will need your own monitor and accessories.

Pay Attention To


One of the most distinct differences between each Apple computer is the CPU, especially within the same category. For example, the Mac Mini features a 1.4GHz, 2.6GHz or 2.8GHz dual-core CPU depending on which model you choose. The iMac has a 1.6GHz dual-core CPU along with a 2.8GHz and 3.1GHz quad-core. The Mac Pro offers a 3.7GHz quad-core and 3.5GHz six-core CPU. While the other specs, such as hard drive space and RAM, also go up, the one that you'll notice the most is the CPU performance.

Light users will likely be fine with the entry-level models, but most users require either the mid-tier or top-tier offerings. The Mac Pro's quad-core and six-core offerings will be more than enough for most users, though power users should have a clear idea of what they need based on their normal tasks.

Hard Drive Type

Like most computer companies, Apple offers hard drives in various sizes. What sets Apple apart from other desktop manufacturers is that they openly offer different types of hard drives. The most common is the traditional ATA drive that is slow but reliable while offering a massive amount of space. Flash drives are small, but they offer the fastest memory retrieval currently available. Fusion drives combine the two by putting frequently used files in the flash storage and others in the ATA drive.

Most users will be happy with the ATA drive, but those looking for the best speed should consider a fusion or flash hard drive.

Resolution and Monitor Size

Only one Apple desktop comes with a monitor, but it's the most popular product and it comes with numerous offerings. You can choose between a 21.5-inch or 27-inch monitor. The smaller size offers the Retina display that made Apple's mobile products so popular and it's often considered to be one of the most ingenious and smoothest resolutions. You can also choose a 4K resolution that is even higher and offers incredibly pixel density.

The 27-inch monitor currently only offers 5K resolution, which is unrivaled and will give you the best possible clarity. This is a must for gamers, movie lovers and anyone who is excited by the prospect of a crystal clear visual experience.

Video Card

Most people don't even pay attention to the video card, but it's essential for games and many applications. As expected, the Mac Mini offers the weakest video card due to the limited space. The entry-level Mac Mini often uses a last-generation video card to drive down prices, while the mid-tier and top-tier products usually have current video cards.

The iMac uses powerful video cards that should have no problem running modern applications with high frame rates. The Mac Pro is easily the best in this regard by starting at 2GB of video RAM and then going up from there.


Even though most computer accessories are becoming wireless, such as keyboards and mice, ports are still an important part of buying any computer. Aside from the number of ports, you should also give consideration to what type of ports are available. Every Apple desktop comes with Thunderbolt, USB and Ethernet ports. What sets the Mac Mini and Mac Pro apart from the iMac is that these two models also offer an HDMI port, making them ideal for setting up a home media center.

Top Product Lines


the all-around favorite because it gives you great power while also offering a simple, all-in-one experience.

Mac Mini

an inexpensive Apple desktop with adequate power and an HDMI port, but you will need your own monitor to make this work.

Mac Pro

a beast for power users that offers state-of-the-art hardware for intense gaming, engineering and animating.


Shopping around for an Apple desktop is the same as buying any other computer. Aside from knowing your needs and budget, you should also consider what type of hardware you're getting, whether you want to buy your own accessories or get an all-in-one model and getting a computer to suit your normal tasks. From there the answer should become obvious. All Apple products are considered elegant and you'll find out why so many people have ditched Windows for the Mac experience.