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, by Tyler Greiner
In the context of the MacBook Air 2017 updates and making of the Apple’s lightest laptop model, a question arises: what are actually the advantages of stationary computers relative to laptops? To discuss the issue we offer an overview of the current Mac desktops.
With the iMac Pro introduced, now there are more Mac desktops than ever in Apple’s lineup. Such a wide variety calls for a detailed overview both to answer the above-mentioned question and to help the consumers make their personal optimal choice. For that purpose, we would like to offer a description of the four current Apple desktop models in the context of their functionalities. We believe that considering their detailed characteristics, you will make the right choice.
The low-coster Mac mini is just aging Mac’s guts stuffed in a 7.7-inch box. The last update took place in 2014, which lowers the model’s competitiveness in the desktop lineup. However, the machine provides a great flexibility making it an attractive alternative as a low-end Mac box.
That’s right, it is truly a box, since, unlike other Mac desktops. Mac mini has to be connected to the external display, keyboard, and mouse. On the other hand, the model is highly customizable. In addition to the three USB 3 ports, Mac mini allows connection of peripherals via its two Thunderbolt 2 ports (each may receive six items). Besides, the model is equipped with such old-fashioned components as HDMI port and built-in SDXC slot, which allow the unlimited combination of peripheral connections.
The model’s flexibility is perfectly illustrated by its main specs. The dual-core processor starts at 1.4GHz, but you can upgrade it to 3.0GHz Intel Core i7. The hard drive option is no less flexible: from 300GB to a 2TB Fusion. The same applies to the model’s RAM range: from 4GB to 16GB. There is a choice as regards graphics too. You may have either HD 5000 on the low level or Iris for the higher versions.
The conclusion about the model is simple: if you have nothing against a desktop with somewhat aged guts, the Mac mini is actually a fine low-cost option for you. Certainly, it is not a machine for advanced gaming or movie editing.
On the other hand, it is fine as a home media server or a basic computer for a small business. Buying a Mac mini may be a great deal for a user having already a display, mouse and keyboard and who needs a flexible machine to engage them.
In the iMac, its processor, GPU, together with other internals are sophisticatedly hidden behind the display. For such a compactly tucked set of components, the computer is surprisingly thin (just 5mm at the edge).
Equipped with a Bluetooth-connected Magic Keyboard and Magic Mouse 2 (which can be swapped to the Magic Trackpad 2), iMac allows the so attractive “right out of the box” working mode.
There are two sizes and three models:
- The 21.5-inch with 1920 x 1080 sRGB display (best suited for educational purposes). A 2.3GHz dual-core i5 processor, the memory from 8 to 16GB. The 1TB hard drive can be upgraded to 1TB Fusion Drive or 256SSD.
- The 21.5-inch with 4096 x 2304 Retina 4K P3 color display. The user can upgrade the starting 3.1Ghz quad-core i5 to as much as 3.6Ghz i7. The RAM is at 8 to 32GB. The 1TB Fusion Drive can be upgraded to 256GB-1TB SSD.
- The 27-inch with 5120 x 2880 Retina 5K P3 display. Sports a 3.4Ghz quad-core i5 (with the possibility to upgrade to 3.6Ghz i7). The impressive 8 to 32 RAM memory choice. And the same 1TB Fusion Drive, this time upgradeable to a 2 or 3TB Fusion drive, or to a 2TB SSD.
Additionally, there is a flexible offer of graphics cards.
The iMac is a real all-in-one high-ender and at the same time sufficiently flexible with its three versions. The basic iMac model is perfect for education and household use, while the 4K may serve as a fine mid-size screen computer and a horsepower for simple video-editing tasks, routine procedures, and gaming. For higher performance, you could consider the 5K model with its impressive parallel processing and graphics. In this model, for your services are excellent VR-ready performance and a vast room for video and photo processing, as well as moderate-level software development.
However, for those professionals who require elevated heavy-duty rendering power or simultaneous processing, maybe even the iMac is not sufficient. In this case, the optimal choice may be found somewhere in the Pro area.
That is, the most suitable option may be iMac Pro or Mac Pro.
The expensive (starting price at $4999) iMac Pro is definitely not for average users. Such a high price has a valuable reason, as the machine is full-packed with advanced hardware for VFZ, video editing, program and VR development, and gaming.
Depending on your preference and budget, the iMac Pro offers the following processor configurations:
- A 3.2Ghz (Turbo Boost up to 4.2Ghz) 8-core Intel Xeon W (basic version)
- A 3.0Ghz (Turbo Boost up to 4.5Ghz) 10-core Intel Xeon W (optimal middle-ground)
- A 2.5Ghz (Turbo Boost up to 4.3Ghz) 14-core Intel Xeon W (super-charged 10-core)
- A 2.3Ghz (Turbo Boost up to 4.3Ghz) 18-core Intel Xeon W (best for multithreaded processes)
There are two graphics platforms based on Radeon Pro Vega 56 (for programmers) and 64 (graphic-intensive). The possibility to hook up external GPU capabilities means a really huge potential for graphic processing. And you can expand memory from 32GB to awesome 128 GB and solid-state storage from 1 to 4 TB (the latter for additional $2800). The configurations are installed on the purchase and can be changed either by Apple itself or by the company’s authorized service providers.
As can be derived from the model’s specs, the iMac pro is mostly dedicated to professionals engaged in graphics and video editors, programmers, and VR developers and audience.
The Mac Pro line is not for everyone, and it won’t become so with the upcoming 2018-2019 Mac Pro models either. Apple positions it as a niche computer for content-creating professionals in such areas as video editing, music, and graphic design.
On the other hand, the current Mac Pro machine was launched in 2013 and has undergone only a little speed improvement ever since.
The model’s most impressive appearance peculiarity is its famous cylindrical design, which makes the computer look like a trash can. However, this mistake is only possible when you look at the picture, as in reality, the machine is lower than 10 inches (which is by itself surprising with such a cool performance). And the unusual shape is a designer’s means to drive away the hot air from the intensively working circuitry.
In the Mac Pro, Intel’s Xeon processor with increased internal cache is used, which was primarily intended for workstations and servers.
The graphics processors are AMD’s Dual FirePro GPUs, which were specially designed for perfect work in high-stress environments (like 3D rendering). Such a choice actually makes any app fly on such advanced chips.
The Mac Pro lacks the conventional hard disk drives and PCI flash storage, which limits the model’s expandability to 1 TB (more than compensated by the unbelievable speed). And RAM can be presently increased to 64 GB (at 1866 MHz DDR with ECC). However, a solid outside expansion is possible. An impressive set of ports including four USB 3.0, dual Gigabit Ethernet and six Thunderbolt 2 allows simultaneous accommodation of up to three 5K displays and lots of other externals.
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