MacBook Air vs. iMac

Jessica08

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Nov 2, 2015
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I am going to be upgrading my 2009 mini soon. I am torn about which Mac to get to replace it. I mainly use my mini to store photos, update my iTunes, and backup my iPad and iPhone. I’ll sometimes do school work on it, so using word and PowerPoint. I’ll be graduating with my ASN in nursing in May, but I’ll continue my education soon after. I don’t do much of anything else on it. My main web browsing I do is on my iPad Pro, but I love the look of the new MacBook Air that I played with at the store earlier this week. I wasn’t a fan of laptops when I had one many years ago, but it wasn’t an Apple. It was a cheap HP, so I may fall in love with the Apple notebook. I sometimes found it cumbersome to type on, but again it was an HP. After I got my mini and my iPad, I’m an Apple girl all the way.

I don’t know if I should wait to see what the new iMac holds or go ahead and get an air. I’m just looking for some suggestions for which you think would work best for my needs and which would be the best bang for my buck? Also, can either of these be upgraded many years down the road when the computer slows down? I was able to replace the ram and hard drive in my mini myself.

Thank you for any suggestions that might help me decide. :eek::)
 

SandboxGeneral

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The biggest difference would be the portability of them. The MacBook Air being one you can carry about, the iMac and Mac mini, not so much. Obviously. Do you need to be able to carry it around? If so, then the MacBook Air would be the logical choice.

But the MacBook Air cannot be upgraded for RAM or SSD. The new 2018 Mac mini can have the RAM user upgradable. However, regarding the Mac's slowing down over the years, that isn't something I worry about. If you have plenty of RAM, I recommend 16GB or more and an SSD, you really don't have to worry about hardware slowness. I put an SSD in my old 2012 MacBook Pro and it sailed along just fine for the last 6 years and never slowed down.

I just replaced that old MacBook Pro with the new MacBook Air and I couldn't be happier. This laptop is wonderful and I really enjoy it a lot.

If you need a computer now, then get one now and don't wait around until a new iMac is released. We never know when Apple will release a new version.
 

Jessica08

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Nov 2, 2015
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Thank you for the reply. I don’t see myself having to carry it around. I use my iPad now for my ebooks and if I need to take it to school with me I do, but I haven’t had to carry it much this semester. I planned on upgrading after the new year so I can still get the student discount. I’ll have until May when I graduate to buy a new one to still be eligible for the discount. I guess I could always try the MacBook Air for a few days and return it if I still find I dislike a laptop.
 

SandboxGeneral

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Certainly stop by an Apple store and give the MacBook Air a try. If you buy it and decide its not for you, you can always return it.

You have the advantage of time it sounds like, so perhaps before you really need something new, Apple with have released a new iMac and then you'd have more choices to consider.

Do what makes the best sense for you. Good luck!
 

Jessica08

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Nov 2, 2015
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I’ve been watching some videos about the new air. I’m not real familiar with the thunderbolt ports, so how would I hook up my iPhone and iPad to it? Usually I just take the cable that came with my phone, plug it into my mini, and it connects, but I thought that was a USB port.
 

SandboxGeneral

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digger10

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Sep 12, 2014
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If you're happy to be confined to one place in one room get a desktop. You'll get more performance for your buck. Though it sounds like any modern Mac would comfortably cover the needs you've described. In raw performance/$ terms though base Mini > base iMac > Air.

If you're happy with whatever display you're using with a current Mini you could get another one. I think you'd need to look at the storage options as the SSD is not user replaceable and you seem to be doing mostly back-up tasks. Those tasks will require more storage over time as you take more photos and your iTunes library/back-up sizes grow etc. Cloud or external storage options are plentiful too if you want to get the base. You could then upgrade the RAM, should you need to, a few years down the track.

If you're not happy with whatever display you're using with your Mini get an iMac. All will handle your current tasks, but I'd recommend stepping up to the fusion-drive ($100) or the full SSD ($200). SSDs are way faster than the base config and more reliable over time due to the removal of moving parts. The fusion option is slower and slightly less reliable than the full SSD - those spinning parts - but gives you more internal storage.

Strange thing to consider but lastly the typing experience. The iMac will come with a keyboard and the Mini will not. If you like whatever keyboard you're using with your current Mini just keep it and it's not an issue to be costed in.


When to buy it? If you've got the time as you seem to, you could keep taking a lazy look at the Apple refurb store over the next few months and see if something you like comes up, in which case you'd save a couple of hundred bucks. Or Apple may have updated the iMac in that time. By May leaks about what Apple plans to update at WWDC in June should be pretty concrete. If that includes the iMac - and you've decided it's an iMac you want - hold off a month and either get the updated one or the current one cheaper when retailers start discounting their left-over stock.
 
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airjay75

macrumors regular
Oct 1, 2014
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I actually just ditched my iMac and iPad for the latest MBA. The MBA isn't quite as portable as an iPad, but I personally prefer it. Plus, it feels nice to consolidate devices. The one thing I will say is that, if you go for the iMac, spend the money to upgrade to a fusion drive or SSD. I did not when I bought my last iMac and instead just went for the standard 1 TB hard drive and I really regretted it, especially over time as the iMac got slower and slower.
 

Howard2k

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Mar 10, 2016
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If you're not going to be using it mobile, I would get a Mac Mini or iMac. The beauty of a laptop is the portability, but on a price/performance basis they're not great.