Whether you’re making the jump into the Apple ecosystem or updating from an older machine, picking up a new Mac can be a great way to supercharge your productivity. How do you decide which type of Mac is right for you? With so many options to choose from, as well as different types of Macs, finding one that fits your setup and delivers everything you need can be tricky.
If you’re going to pick up a new Mac, then going with a desktop Mac can have some distinct advantages over Apple’s portable MacBook options. Don’t get us wrong, all of these machines are perfectly capable of doing what you need them to do, but there are some places where the desktop Macs shine brighter than the MacBooks. As such, here are five great reasons to choose a desktop Mac over a MacBook the next time you upgrade.
1. PORTS AND EXPANDABILITY
One of the biggest benefits of buying a desktop Mac over a MacBook is that desktop Macs tend to have more options for expandability. While the newest MacBook Pros have more ports than they’ve had in many years—three Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C) ports, HDMI, and an SDXC card slot—it’s still a far cry from what you get with the Mac mini (two USB-A ports) and Mac Studio (up to six Thunderbolt 4 ports and two USB-A ports), and even the 24-inch iMac has two Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C) ports and two USB 3 ports. An extra port might not seem like much, but it allows you to connect even more external devices—hard drives, keyboards, and other things you might need for your daily work—without hubs and dongles.
However, the days of tinkering with desktops are over. Even if you get a Mac mini or Mac Studio, Apple silicon Macs do not allow for user-installable internal upgrades, desktop or laptop. The RAM is integrated with the processor, so if you think you need more RAM than the standard configuration, customize your order at the point of purchase. The same goes for the SSD for file storage, though with more ports you can easily add external storage.
The only Mac that Apple currently sells with easy user-upgradable components is the Mac Pro. This computer, however, is designed with high-end professionals in mind, and they’re pricey machines. Also, it is one of two Mac models left that still use Intel processors. It’s possible that Apple will issue a new Mac Pro this year with its own silicon that will be user upgradeable, but it might also be just as locked up as the Mac Studio.
2. BRING YOUR OWN DISPLAY
Another big perk for desktop Macs is the versatility they offer with different displays. Yes, it’s true that you can connect a display to a MacBook, but you’re also paying a higher price for the display that’s built into it, which will more than likely be closed when connected to an external display. If you’re going to be parked at a desk most of the time or want the flexibility of a multiple display setup, a desktop Mac is easily the smarter choice.
Just make sure you know what you need. Apple’s remaining Intel Macs and Mac Studio can power more than two displays, but Apple silicon Macs are different: the M1 Mac mini is limited to a total of two displays (one via Thunderbolt and another using HDMI). The 24-inch iMac can add a second display via Thunderbolt. Still, that’s more than Apple’s M1 laptops–the MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro–which can only connect one additional display, making it difficult to run a proper multi-display setup, and you’ll need to drop $1,999 or more on a 14- or 16-inch MacBook Pro for up to four external displays to using the Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C) and HDMI ports.
So if you want the best value for your multi-display setup, choose a desktop Mac and shop around for a good external display.
3. THE MOST SPEED
One of the main reasons you might choose to go with a desktop Mac over a MacBook is Apple’s M1 Ultra processor. This is the fastest, most powerful chip that Apple has designed to date, and it’s only available on the $3,999 Mac Studio.
Don’t get us wrong, the MacBook Pros offer insanely good performance, especially on the newer models, but they don’t offer the M1 Ultra, which makes Apple’s desktop Macs the company’s most powerful ever. And because of the M1 Ultra’s cooling requirements, it may never make it to a laptop.
4. DESIGN THAT FITS ANYWHERE
While MacBooks can be extremely portable, they might not always fit directly into the style and space you have in your office, another area where desktop Macs can shine. While Apple has some of the more basic-looking designs like that of the Mac mini or Mac Studio, the 24-inch iMac gives Apple users multiple color options to choose from. That means you can choose a computer that fits your office’s color scheme without having to settle for the more minimalistic silvery color of a standard MacBook.
Because there are smaller options like the Mac mini and Mac Studio, you can find a powerful computer that blends right into your office space, even if you don’t have a lot of room on your desk. That allows you to maximize your desk space without losing a lot of it to your computer.
5. THE BEST VALUE
MacBooks can be exceptionally pricey, especially if you’re going for the more powerful models. But you don’t have to settle for breaking the bank to get a great Mac computer. Instead, there are multiple pricing options available for several of the different desktop Macs out there. For instance, the new Mac Studio costs the same price as some of the more powerful MacBook Pros, but you’re getting more power, more ports, and more features.
Further, the 24-inch iMac which Apple launched with the M1 processors starts out at just $1,299, a good deal cheaper than the newer MacBook Pros with smaller displays. Or you can pair a 24-inch 4K display with a Mac mini for even less. Macs aren’t cheap, but with the right combination of desktop and display, you can get a whole lot of computer without needing to bust your budget buying a pricey MacBook Pro. ■