In the ever-evolving landscape of laptops, Apple stands out with its iconic MacBook lineup, offering a range of options to cater to diverse user needs. Apple’s move to powering Macs with their own M-series processors has made what were already great computers, truly unbeatable.
Macs have never been a cheap purchase, and that is still the case. So it’s important to make sure that you buy a Mac that really suits your needs. Under-speccing a new Mac will undercut its value to you, and buying more Mac than you need, will cost you money needlessly. So it is important to really consider what you want out of your Mac and how best to match that to a new system.
Among the key decisions consumers face is choosing between the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, and further, deciding on the screen size — 13-inch or 15-inch for the MacBook Air and 14-inch or 16-inch for the MacBook Pro. In this article, we’ll delve into the features and considerations that can help you make an informed decision.
Apple simplified this for us all with their recent changes to the range, so choosing the right Mac for the right role is easier now:
13 and 15 inch MacBook Airs: admin, executive or student (or home user)
14 and 16 inch MacBook Pros: executive, studio management, graphic design, photographers, architects, video editing
MacBook Air 13 and 15 Inch
The MacBook Air 13-inch is renowned for its ultraportable design, making it an ideal choice for users constantly on the move. It strikes a balance between performance and weight, making it easy to carry anywhere. On the other hand, the 15-inch variant sacrifices some portability for a larger display, catering to those who prioritize screen real estate over absolute mobility.
The 13-inch MacBook Air boasts a Retina display with excellent color accuracy and sharpness, suitable for most users. However, if you’re a content creator or consume a lot of multimedia, the 15-inch variant’s larger display could provide a more immersive experience.
MacBook Pro 14 and 16 Inch
The MacBook Pro lineup is designed for professionals and power users who demand top-notch performance. The 14-inch MacBook Pro, while more portable than its 16-inch counterpart, doesn’t compromise on power. It’s equipped with high-end processors and graphics, making it suitable for demanding tasks. The 16-inch MacBook Pro, however, takes things a step further with even more robust configurations, making it a powerhouse for video editing, 3D rendering, and other intensive applications.
The 14-inch MacBook Pro offers a stunning Liquid Retina XDR display, providing excellent color accuracy and brightness. It strikes a balance between portability and screen size, making it a great choice for creative professionals who need a powerful yet relatively compact device. On the other hand, the 16-inch MacBook Pro delivers an expansive workspace, perfect for multitasking and detailed work. If your workflow involves managing large spreadsheets, editing high-resolution images, or working on multiple applications simultaneously, the 16-inch model might be the better fit.
Both the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models feature an advanced speaker system. spatial audio technology and studio quality microphones, providing an immersive audio experience. If audio quality is a priority for your work or entertainment, either Pro model will exceed your expectations.
Choosing between the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, as well as deciding on the screen size, RAM and SSD size, ultimately depends on your specific needs and preferences. Consider factors such as portability, performance requirements, display preferences, and your budget to make an informed decision that aligns with your usage patterns and professional demands. Whether you opt for the sleek MacBook Air or the powerhouse MacBook Pro, Apple’s commitment to design and functionality ensures a premium computing experience.
Choosing the right amount of storage for your new Mac is a crucial decision that can greatly impact your user experience and productivity. It is also a big factor in the cost of a new system. The SSDs in modern Macs are blazingly fast, but they are not cheap.
The amount of data you work with is the primary consideration. Presuming you are considering a new Mac to replace an older computer, the first thing to consider in assessing your storage needs is how much storage you old computer has, and how full it is. For some users, the fact that their old computer is constantly running out of space is a big part of the motivation in considering a new Mac. So working out how much data you are currently carrying, and how fast that amount of data is likely to grow is the way to assess how much storage you need in a new Mac.
As with RAM, remember that you can not upgrade the SSD in any modern Mac. So choices you make in specifying your new Mac will be with you for the life of that system.
In assessing the amount of data you are holding, it is worth making sure that it is all data that you really need to be keeping.
Some data might be able to be archived to external drives. You can also choose to move a lot of your data to a cloud service like iCloud, Dropbox, Google Drive or OneDrive.
Often users have data that they really don’t need on their drives, and getting rid of this might mean you can live quite comfortably with a smaller SSD. Old user accounts on a computer might be using a big chunk of your drive. Old backups of iOS devices might be taking up space too. Every time you back up an iPhone to your computer, you are copying a big chunk of data to your computer. If your phone has 64GB of storage, and is largely full, every time you back it up you will take up that amount of space on your drive. 4 or 5 of those backups can get to take up a huge proportion of your drive. So rationalising phone and iPad backups to keep only the most recent one, might save you a huge amount of space.
Clearing our old data on your old computer will also make migrating to a new Mac a faster exercise.
If you mainly use your Mac for web browsing, word processing, and lightweight tasks, a smaller SSD (256GB or 512GB) may suffice. However, if you work with large files, such as video editing, high-resolution images or 3D modelling, a larger SSD (1TB or more) would be more suitable. For those on a tight budget, consider a combination of a smaller SSD for essential software and a larger external HDD for data storage.
Future-proofing: Think about your needs in the coming years. Applications and operating systems tend to get larger with time, so it’s wise to leave some room for growth. Opting for a slightly larger SSD now can save you from future storage woes.
Cloud Storage: If you’re comfortable using cloud services like iCloud, Dropbox, Google Drive, or OneDrive, you may not need as much local storage. These services offer a convenient way to store and access your data from anywhere. Keep in mind that a reliable internet connection is essential for seamless cloud storage usage.
External Storage Options: Consider how often you’re willing to rely on external storage solutions. If you’re comfortable with using external hard drives or portable SSDs for additional storage, you can get away with a smaller internal drive. This approach allows you to expand your storage as needed without incurring the cost of a larger internal SSD.
Budget: Your budget is another critical factor. Larger SSDs are more expensive, so you’ll need to balance your storage needs with your financial constraints. If budget is a concern, think about investing in a smaller internal SSD and adding external storage as necessary.
Here are some typical storage configurations for various types of Mac users:
Casual User: A 256GB or 512GB SSD is suitable for those who use their Mac for everyday tasks like web browsing, email, and document editing. Photos can consume a lot of space for these users, but iCloud or Google Drive can be used for photos, allowing you to get by with less local storage.
Content Creator: Content creators, such as video editors, graphic designers, and photographers, should opt for a 1TB or larger SSD, and will probably need additional external disk or cloud storage as well.
Business Professional: Business professionals who rely on productivity software, presentations, and documents can comfortably use a 512GB SSD, and they may choose to supplement their storage with cloud services.
Power User: For power users who do a bit of everything, a 1TB SSD is a good middle-ground option. It provides ample storage for various applications and tasks.
Pro User: Professional users with demanding workflows should consider 2TB or larger SSDs. These individuals often work with massive datasets and need the extra capacity.
Deciding how much storage you need in your new Mac is a personalized process that depends on your specific usage, future plans, and budget. By considering the factors mentioned above, you can make an informed decision that ensures your Mac meets your needs without overcommitting to unnecessary storage, or under specifying. Remember that external storage options and cloud services can also help bridge any storage gaps as your needs evolve.
If in doubt as to how much storage you need in your new Mac, talk to Mac Aid.
We have often written in our newsletters about the need to improve IT security. Security should be a central consideration for all device users and business owners. Generally we talk about IT security in terms of the nuts and bolts of what good security practices entail in a technical sense. And all of that advice still stands:
But another aspect of IT security to consider is the evolving legal and governmental obligations regarding keeping your own and others data safe. High profile IT security incidents in Australia over the past few years have meant that federal and state governments are looking at this area with a view to tightening and improving IT security regulations and obligations.
One of the changes that seems inevitable is the removal or weakening of exceptions that small businesses have previously had to existing law in this area. These legislative changes are still under consideration, but it seems probable that change will occur, and so it is more vital than ever to make sure that your IT security is best practice.
We are IT providers, not lawyers, so can’t offer you advice about these likely regulatory changes. But the likely solution won’t change, it will still all be about improving your security practices. This is something Mac Aid can help you with.
Areas that seem likely to be legislated include:
A point of contention in discussion of privacy changes is the compliance burden of these changes for small business. A solid IT Security strategy won’t absolve you of these obligations or costs for your business. But it is logical that the best way to avoid expensive problems is by making sure that your IT security is best practice and so minimise the chance of breaches.
Talk to Mac Aid about the IT security stance of your business and what positive steps we can help you with to improve your preparedness.
This article from the Victorian Chamber of Commerce gives a good overview of the current state of affairs.
When buying a new Mac, many people don’t give enough thought to how much RAM they need. Often the choice is made by the available stock and even just on price. Whilst cost has to be considered, it is worthwhile stopping to analyse how much RAM you really need.
RAM is a crucial component of your computer that impacts its performance and multitasking capabilities. Ultimately it is a big decider in how usable your new Mac will be and for how long. In this article, we’ll look at the factors to consider when deciding how much RAM you really need for your Mac.
Remember that these days RAM is not upgradable after purchase for any new Mac. So it is more important than ever to specify your Mac with sufficient RAM at purchase.
RAM is the temporary working memory of your computer. It stores data and instructions that are actively being used by your Mac. When you start your Mac into macOS, run applications or open files, they are all loaded into RAM – that is the process you see when you start up, launch an app, or open a file.
Several factors determine how much RAM you need in your Mac.
Your typical usage patterns are a major factor: If you primarily use your Mac for very basic tasks like web browsing, email, and word processing, you won’t need as much RAM as someone who uses resource-intensive applications like design, video editing, CAD, 3D rendering, or virtual machines. How much you use your Mac day-to-day should be considered too. Do you use your Mac for an hour or two for emails, web browsing and basic tasks, or do you use it heavily all day?
macOS Version: Different versions of macOS have varying RAM requirements. Newer versions of the operating system and more modern applications demand more RAM for optimal performance.
Future-Proofing: Consider your Mac’s lifespan. If you plan to keep it for several years, you should factor in the growing demands of software and operating systems. More RAM can help future-proof your system. What is “enough” RAM today, likely won’t be enough in future.
Let’s break down RAM recommendations for different types of users:
If you use your Mac for very basic personal tasks, 8GB of RAM could suffice. It will handle web browsing, email, and office document editing comfortably. These days Mac Aid would only recommend 8GB RAM for the most basic home use, on a consumer level Mac like an iMac or MacBook Air. But 8GB of RAM is not a very good strategic choice these days, because although it might be adequate now, it won’t be enough in a couple of years as the macOS and the applications you use become more demanding. So a new Mac with 8GB RAM is not going to be a great investment, if you can stretch to it, 16GB is a much better choice.
Recommended Mac specs for this user: M1 MacBook Air with 8GB RAM. 13 or 15 inch M2 MacBook Air with 16GB RAM. M2 Mac mini with 16GB RAM. M3 iMac with 16GB RAM.
If you use your Mac all day, every day, dealing with lots of email, messaging apps, web-platforms, Dropbox, Microsoft Office apps, and even perhaps work with photo editing or editing small videos, 16GB of RAM is a sensible choice. This will ensure smoother performance when running resource-intensive applications. 16GB RAM is the standard Mac Aid recommendation for most users these days. A Mac with 16GB RAM is going to be productive for years to come.
Recommended Mac specs for this user: 13 or 15 inch M2 MacBook Air with 16GB RAM. M3 14 or 16 inch MacBook Pro with 16GB RAM. M2 Pro Mac mini with 16GB GB RAM. M3 iMac with 16GB RAM.
For users involved in design, photo editing, video editing, architecture, 3D modelling, or who run virtual machines, 32GB or more of RAM is advisable. These applications require substantial memory for efficient editing, scrolling and display rendering. A Mac for this level of user is going to be an expensive purchase anyway, so it is unwise to skimp on RAM. 32GB is a good spec here, although serious heavy-hitters might even get value out of 64GB RAM – or more. Professional level Macs like the 14 and 16 inch MacBook Pros and Mac Studios can be specified with even more RAM. The use cases here are very specialised, so if this is you, talk to Mac Aid so that we can make a proper assessment of your needs.
Recommended Mac specs for this user: M3 Pro or M3 Max 14 or 16 inch MacBook Pro with 36GB RAM or more. M3 iMac with 24GB RAM, M2 Pro Mac mini with 32 GB RAM, M2 Max or M2 Ultra Mac Studio with 32GB RAM or more.
Regardless of how much RAM you have, it also helps if you manage it efficiently.
Quit applications you are not actively using to free up RAM. This means actively quitting apps, not just closing windows.
Consider the size and resolution of photos, videos and other assets you work with. If your final video projects are going to be viewed as HD or 4K, transcode larger formats to a smaller size. Similarly with photos, consider the final resolution you actually need rather than just keeping the original hi-res files. If you create PDFs, make sure that you use the smallest acceptable quality for your use case.
Use Activity Monitor to monitor your RAM use. macOS has a built-in tool called Activity Monitor that allows you to monitor RAM usage. You can identify memory-hungry applications and close them if necessary, or look for less RAM hungry alternatives.
You might be surprised which apps are memory hungry. Web browsers – Google Chrome in particular – can consume huge amounts of RAM, particularly if you tend to have many tabs open. Microsoft Teams tends to use a lot of system resources, including RAM. Dropbox uses more RAM than you might expect. Email clients can also use a lot of RAM, if you work with particularly large mailboxes. Design, video or audio apps are big RAM consumers too. If any of these are in your workflow, they should be considered in assessing how much RAM you need.
Ultimately, specifying your new Mac with the right amount of RAM ensures that it will run smoothly, handle multitasking efficiently, and remain productive and a pleasure to use for years to come. Evaluate your needs, consider your budget, and make an informed decision to get the best performance and value from your Mac. If in doubt about how much RAM you need in a new Mac, give Mac Aid a call.
With the release of the iPhone 15 with its USB-C charging port, Apple have started the final phase of their switch to USB-C. So we thought it was a good time to discuss completing the change to USB-C for all of your devices.
In the ever-evolving landscape of technology, Apple has been at the forefront of innovation for decades. However, one area where they have been rather slow to fully adapt is the universal adoption of USB-C across their product lineup.
Moving completely to USB-C will simplify your life massively, you won’t need as many cables and adapters, and any device or cable you grab will work with everything.
If you have bought a Mac or iPad in recent years you will already have started the change to USB-C. But you have probably had to deal with adapters to connect USB-A devices you already had, like USB sticks, external drives and printers.
By re-equipping with a few cheap cables, you can unify your IT kit so that is everything is natively USB-C.
Even now, many external hard drives still come with USB-A cables. But some do now come with a USB-C adapter cable in the box. So if you are buying an external drive now, shop carefully and you should be able to find an drive that will natively connect to your USB-C devices. Otherwise, you can often replace the cable that came with your hard drive with an equivalent USB-C cable.
USB sticks that are both USB-A and USB-C are commonly available now, sometimes called “dual flash drives” they are a good way to connect to your USB-C devices, but also maintain compatibility with legacy devices that may still only have USB-A, like televisions or older PCs.
Likewise, any printer cables that are USB-A can probably be replaced with an equivalent USB-C cable.
USB-C, also known as USB Type-C, is a versatile and universally accepted standard for data transfer and charging. Its slim, reversible design has made it a favorite among tech enthusiasts and manufacturers alike. USB-C is an open standard, which means it’s not limited to one company or ecosystem. This universality brings many advantages.
One of the most significant benefits is compatibility. USB-C is found on a vast array of devices, from laptops and smartphones to tablets and accessories. This universality eliminates the need for multiple cables and adapters, simplifying your tech ecosystem and reducing electronic waste.
When it comes to data transfer, USB-C is a clear winner. USB-C ports support blazing-fast data transfer speeds, making file transfers between your devices lightning-fast. Whether you’re transferring photos, videos, or documents, USB-C can handle it all with ease.
While Apple has made strides in adopting USB-C, it’s time for users to take the initiative and fully commit to this versatile and universally accepted standard. Say goodbye to the tangle of cables and adapters and hello to a more streamlined and efficient tech ecosystem. Make the change today, and you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.