Quick. Can you name the latest and greatest Mac that money can buy? Of course you can. iMac Pro. $4,999 or more gets you the fastest you’ve ever owned, and at 1984 original Mac prices, it’s a bargain.
A bargain? Check out “Why A $4,999 iMac Pro Is A Bargain” for proof, but just remember– that new Mac, for now, is at the top of price stack. What about affordable Macs?
Affordable Macs are much like beauty. They’re in the eyes of the beholder. Many of us know about the Total Cost of Ownership metric which differentiates price from cost. Affordability should be in the mix somewhere, too, right? After all, IBM says macs save each user more than $500 a year vs. traditional Windows-based PCs. True costs are determined by a variety of factors, including requirements, support, upgrades, usage, and much more.
Affordable? Let’s go with those Macs which are the lower priced versions. Yes, an iMac Pro in 1984 dollars is a bargain at $4,999, but most of us don’t have the extra cash lying around behind and under sofa pillows to pay for one.
Affordable? Here’s what Apple says about the Mac mini which starts at just $499.
Mac mini is an affordable powerhouse that packs the entire Mac experience into a 7.7-inch-square frame. Just connect your own display, keyboard, and mouse, and you’re ready to make big things happen.
Alright, affordability comes at a price. You have to have a display, keyboard, and mouse already. Many of us do and if we don’t, they’re not exactly expensive anyway.
Mac mini makes everyday tasks a breeze with fourth-generation Intel Core processors, a flash storage option that’s up to 50 percent faster, and wireless performance up to three times quicker than its predecessor. With Intel Iris Graphics or Intel HD Graphics 5000, it also delivers graphics performance up to 90 percent faster than the previous generation.
It helps to quibble over the details. The reason the Mac mini is affordable at $499 is because Apple hasn’t upgraded the diminutive beast in years. Intel sells 8th generation CPUs these days. All the Windows kids are shopping for those. Apple doesn’t have a Mac with an 8th generation Intel Inside.
Touting an SSD flash storage option is marketing speak for “let’s double the price.” That’s right. A Mac mini with SSD inside is a dollar short of $900, and nearly double the entry-level price tag– but still with an Intel 4th generation CPU Inside, older graphics, Thunderbolt 2 and… well, you get the picture. Affordable to Apple means technology that is a few years old.
The next most affordable Mac is not the entry-level MacBook or similarly priced MacBook Pro. It’s the MacBook Air. Yes, Apple still makes an Air– the little wedge-shapped notebook started life at a Macworld event more than a decade ago. It was small and light and expensive. Today’s MacBook Air– at $999– isn’t as small or light as the MacBook notebook, doesn’t have a Retina display, but Apple can’t stop selling them because customers can’t stop buying them.
Why not? Think of it as old Apple technology on sale. In fact, Apple does a similar thing– older technology sold as new— with iPhone: iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, then iPhone 7 and iPhone 7s Plus. Old devices sold as new devices. Just like Mac mini and MacBook Air.
It would appear– at least as far as affordability goes– the Mac state of the union is about the same as the iPhone and iPad state of the union.