As it is well known, Apple sells various Mac models for the same “magic” price of $1,299, which is a so-called price point, a kind of marketing concept widely used not only by Apple but also by many other companies.
We are not going to discuss that concept in marketing terms, as after all, it is the Apple’s business and not ours. And our business lies on the consumer side of the phenomenon. Namely, we will try to assist the customers of the company’s products in choosing the best suitable computer from various $1,299 Mac models.
We suggest you not try to save on cheaper models, as such economy is usually misleading. The cheaper models may either have lower features as, for example, iMac or simply be older models like the Mac mini or MacBook Air. In both cases, you may lose on the model’s parameters so much that your saving would not compensate it. Certainly, a consumer should consider all aspects including price so sometimes purchasing a cheaper model may be optimal. That is the reason why we are not going to “strongly recommend” you not to buy them… But let us focus on the much more functional $1,299 contenders.
The Macs at the “magic” price point
The models offered for $1,299 including MacBook, MacBook Pro, and iMac. Apple also sells build-to-order versions of MacBook Air and Mac mini. The customer can order their upgrade for the same “magic” price of $1,299. So the whole line up of $1,299 Macs now looks as follows:
- MacBook with 1.2GHz Intel m3 Kaby Lake Processor (Turbo Boost up to 3.0GHz), 12-inch of size, 256GB Storage, 8GB RAM, and integrated Intel HD Graphics 615. On sale since June 2017.
- MacBook Pro with 2.3GHz Intel i5 Kaby Lake dual-core processor (Turbo Boost up to 3.6GHz), 13-inch of size,128GB Storage, 8GB RAM, and integrated Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640. On sale since June 2017 too.
- MacBook Air with 1.8GHz Intel Core i5 Broadwell dual-core processor (Turbo Boost up to 2.9GHz), 512GB Storage, 8GB RAM, and Intel HD Graphics 6000. Essentially, the same machine as the corresponding Apple model on sale since 2015. The only upgraded feature of the build-to-order version is greater storage.
- iMac with Retina 4K Display, 3.0GHz i5 Kaby Lake quad-core Processor (Turbo Boost up to 3.5GHz), 21.5-inch in size, having 1TB Storage, and a discreet Radeon Pro 555 graphics card with 2GB video memory. On sale since June 2017.
- And the build-to-order Mac mini. To bring the price to the point of $1,299 (actually not exactly $1,299 but very close), the model has been upgraded to 3.0GHz i7 dual-core processor (Turbo Boost up to 3.5GHz), 8GB RAM, 2TB Fusion Drive, 8GB RAM, Intel Iris Graphics, and an Apple HDMI added to the DVI Adapter.
So you have a choice how to spend the same amount of money buying a single Mac from several options. Actually, the arguments for your right model are quite simple: all depends on what you intend to do on your Mac. For a particular user, the decisive feature may be, for example, the fastest processor, availability of a specific port or a powerful graphic card.
The deal-breaking feature: processor?
Maybe it is the processor performance that you need most.
To be exact, the speed of your machine is not solely defined by processor capacity, but also on such a parameter as data processing. So with a flash storage, a laptop may perform better than a more powerful desktop machine with a standard hard drive.
Overall, the smartest processor is installed on the 21.5-inch iMac. It is the 3.0GHz quad-core i5 Kaby Lake. Its perfect capacity is not only due to the highest speed but also to the fact that it has four cores, while the other options only have two. It is only in terms of Turbo Boost that is not the best. The leader here is the 2.3GHz MacBook Pro (Turbo Boost 3.6GHz).
And one more point about processor performance. The 3.0GHz i7 dual-core processor in the Mac mini has not been updated since 2014 so it is actually not better but worse than the new i5 processors of the Kaby Lake generation.
If your priority is graphics…
And in terms of graphics, we must suggest you iMac as well. Such judgment is obvious as this is the only model in the list that has a discrete graphics card (Radeon Pro 555) instead of onboard one.
So if you enjoy video and games, the $1,299 iMac is undoubtedly your correct choice.
The display that satisfies your wishes.
And as regards the displays, here again, the 21.5-inch iMac wins the race with its $1,299 counterparts. The model’s improved 4K Retina display belongs to a new generation. With the resolution remained at 4,096×2,304 pixels, it offers 500nits and 10-bit dithering meaning a 43 percent gain in brightness and one billion colors.
There are also two Mac laptops with Retina displays in the lineup: the MacBook Pro and the MacBook. The choice between them may be probably determined by the screen size.
All the more so as the MacBook Pro offers the unique opportunity to use more than one port to plug in.
And the Mac mini has an advantage too, which is the model’s extra storage capacity. Unfortunately, this machine is considerably older than its competitors in the lineup.
Conclusive buying advice
In our opinion, it is quite clear that the best option of the $1,299 Macs is the iMac model which has a perfect screen, powerful quad-core processor, discrete graphic card and a few other attractive trifles like Thunderbolt and flexible USB.