To say Apple's new Mac OS X Lion OS is generating interest is an understatement. Even when PC sales are lagging, Mac sales are setting records. Performing just a little homework can help ensure businesses select and deploy the best Mac desktops for their staff.
Basically, Apple desktop offerings break into three models: mini, iMac and Mac Pro. Here's what you need to know about each.
There's nothing mini about the mini except its size. The 7.7" by 7.7" by 1.4" desktop is a potent system packed in a small package. At just $599, the system currently ships with Lion, a 2.3GHz Intel Core i5 CPU, and 2GB RAM. For an additional two-hundred dollars the mini ships with a 2.5GHz CPU and twice the RAM (4GB). Both models include a 500GB 5400RPM hard disk, an integrated Intel HD graphics chip and HDMI, DVI and Thunderbolt ports.
Who's it for?
The minis make excellent desktops for business users who work primarily with documents, spreadsheets, presentations, the Internet and email. The mini can more than manage those tasks, as well as occasional photo and Web editing jobs. Because the mini ships without a mouse, keyboard or monitor, business users should factor those extra costs if such peripherals are required, especially if multiple units are needed.
Two iMac models are now available: 21.5" and 27". Both, of course, include Lion. The 21.5" models start at $1199 and include a 2.5GHz Intel Core i5 CPU (with twice the L3 cache of a mini), 1920x1080 resolution, 4GB RAM, a 500GB 7200RPM hard disk and an AMD Radeon HD graphics processor with 512MB memory.
27" models start at $1699, kick the CPU up to a 2.7GHz Intel Core i5 and increase resolution to 2560 by 1440 pixels. The hard disk on the 27" models grows to 1TB, too.
Who's it for?
iMacs are smart desktop choices for office workers who also need a new display. And because the models include a more capable CPU (again, twice the L2 cache of the mini) and faster hard drives, they're better served to fulfill more intensive processing requirements, such as might occur when performing graphic arts, photo editing and similar tasks. From a cost comparison perspective, iMacs also include a display, keyboard and mouse.
Mac Pros may be the most capable desktop computers available to businesses today. Starting at $2,499, the base model boasts Lion, a 2.8GHz Intel Xeon CPU, 3GB RAM, a 1TB drive, 1GB of onboard video RAM and significant expansion capability. Just how potent can a Mac Pro system be? Up to two 2.92GHz 6-core Xeon's can be specified, along with 64GB of RAM, multiple 2TB drives and even RAID controllers to help manage storage requirements.
Who's it for?
Mac Pros aren't for the faint of heart. These machines are incredibly potent systems. Typically businesses will deploy them when scientific calculations, CAD drawing, audio editing, video rendering and similarly incredibly demanding tasks must regularly be completed, or when a server must be deployed. Additionally, Mac Pros possess the capacity to manage database operations. Generally, they possess way more horsepower than most organizations are ever going to require. But, when demanding challenges arise, the Mac Pro is up to the task.
Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president of Eckel Media Corp., a communications company specializing in public relations and technical authoring projects.