Macintosh buying guide 2010

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So you've decided to buy that special someone on your holiday shopping list a brand-new Mac. Hooray! A new Mac is guaranteed to put a very big smile on your recipient's face.

However, you might have a look of confusion as you try to decide which Mac you should buy. Fortunately, we've tested them all, from the $999 MacBook to the $4999 Mac Pro. We're quite familiar with Apple's Mac line, and we're here to offer our assistance.

In this buying guide, we'll cover all the Mac models available, tell you how they differ from their respective previous models, and show you how well they did in our benchmark tests. If you want to read the full review for each Mac, just click on the "Read our complete review" links. We've also provided links to help you find the best prices.

If you're interested in more personal advice -- opinions on each Mac model from people who use them daily -- read Mac buying guide: Which Mac is right for you? Six Macworld editors and contributors talk about what they do and how that influenced their buying decision.



The MacBook was updated in May, and the changes were welcome but not dramatic -- a better processor, improved battery life, a trackpad with support for inertial scrolling, a Mini DisplayPort that supports both audio- and video-out with a compatible third-party adapter, and a new graphics chip.

Other than that, this year's MacBook is similar to its predecessor. It still has the unibody white plastic case and a nonremovable battery. And it's still $999.

Previous MacBook models did not have FireWire; that's still true with the current MacBook. It has two USB 2.0 ports for connecting a hard drive, a mouse, a camera or another peripheral. It also has a gigabit ethernet port, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth.

Configurations: Only one configuration of the MacBook is available. For $999, you get a 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo processor, 2GB of DDR3 RAM, a 250GB hard drive, an 8X SuperDrive, and the Nvidia GeForce 320M integrated graphics system, which uses 256MB of main memory for video. (Get best current price.)

Performance: Since the changes were relatively minor overall, the new MacBook provides a slight performance boost over its predecessor (2.4GHz in the new, compared with 2.26GHz in the old). The current MacBook's GeForce 320M graphics chip does provide a significant boost over the GeForce 9400M used in the older MacBook. Compared with the 13-inch 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo MacBook Pro, the MacBook was as fast as the MacBook Pro in many of our benchmark tests.

Macworld's buying advice: People love the MacBook because it's affordable and performs well for general purpose tasks. If you need FireWire or perform processor-intensive tasks on a regular basis, you might want to consider a MacBook Pro.

For a more personal account from a MacBook user, read Blair Hanley Frank's explanation as to why the MacBook is the ideal computer. It's an affordable Mac laptop that does everything you need without sacrificing quality.

Read our complete review of the MacBook

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