Consumer Desktop Mac Buying Guide: Which Is Right For You?

In his article, Julio said,

External display support. TidBITS publisher Adam Engst recently encouraged me to try dual-display computing via an iMac paired with an external monitor. Such a setup isn’t new (iMacs have supported the feature for years), but it has been a revelation for me, and I may not be able to go back to a single screen again.

I connected three Apple 12" RGB monitors on my Mac IIci in the late 20th century. This worked fine, especially for multiple remote Xwindow sessions to VMS and Unix systems. But I had to quit this, not only because someone wanted their display and adapter card back, but because it exceeded the load capacity of the office furniture.

As to usefulness today of three displays, consider a Zoom meeting with full screen gallery display. and full screen active speaker/shared content display. The third screen is vital to preparing shared items, such as a keynote presentation, without interrupting full participation in the ongoing meeting displays. Or, for example, the same scenario except the third screen displays local text which is being referenced.

My intel mini easily supports my two main Dell screens and the third screen is just a repurposed smaller screen from another system. I’ll keep this mini as long as I can.

As to “It’s clunky to balance an external webcam atop my display.”, better webcams have folding mounts and even a tripod thread insert – no balancing required. My latest webcam, the Anker PowerConf D300, has the best external webcam image I have ever found. The supplied ankerWork software does not zoom in as close as possible, so I use Webcam I gave Anker my feedback and hope to see an improved version of

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2 months ago I became frustrated with my 15" mid 2012 MBP; it has 500G SSD but —just too slow. I was facing exactly the choices discussed in the article. I had a Magic mouse2 and an Apple blue tooth keyboard & have recently bought an LG 27" HDR monitor on sale to replace my 24" 2000 vintage BenQ. I went with the M1 mini (with 1T SSD). I am more than happy with the results: the M1 mini is happy to support both monitors (the BenQ secondary through the HDMI, the LG through Thunderbolt) plenty of connectivity. I keep using my older USB3 hub for the older peripherals for less than $100 I bought a Logitech HD 1080 camera on a mini tripod --has a little flap to physically prevent unwanted exposure :wink: A lovely semi-portable workstation! an I kept the BMP onCatalina (its market value has evaporated) to deal with several legacy programs that I still use from time to time. Of course its not blue, pink or 'product red… But I can live with that. (one caveat: the LG -connected via USB-C occasionally goes black, the computer "sees the monitor but appears to be not sending signals; a re-plug always solves the issue, but if anyone has the same experience -or a solution- I would like to hear.

I’m wanting to replace my oldish 27inch with a new iMac and hoping that a 27inch M1-based iMac will be coming off the production line soon. Does anybody have any ideas if a 27inch one is planned and if so when?

Love clamshell mode and would prefer to operate in that mode exclusively as I did with my old Dell Latitude at work. I thought I had a good thing going with my 13” 2020 MacBook Pro (Intel), two 24” Philips monitors and a Kensington hub. Unfortunately, DisplayLink’s support for clamshell mode broke with the release of BigSur and has yet to be fixed:

*“Clamshell mode (lid closed) is supported on computers using Apple M1 silicon with external power connected (e.g. Apple macbook power adapter or docking station with charging capability) on macOS Big Sur version 11.1 and later. *
Clamshell mode is not supported on Intel-based macbooks, this is under development.”

No updates in over six months… :rage:

Just an educated guess, but Apple is done rolling out its consumer Macs, so it’s time for it to address higher-level users, likely later this year. I’m supposing that includes iMacs as well as MacBook Pro models.

Thank you - sounds promising for later this year.

3 posts were split to a new topic: Target Display Mode

You don’t mention camera solutions with either of the external monitors (either for laptop or mini). From what I can tell, the screens do not include a camera. That would require additional cost, and balancing it on the screen [extra cost, wiring, and the loss of that beautiful Mac integration.] Suggestions?

I have the MBA M1.

It is possible to connect an external screen very easily.
I bought a $30 dongle, one of those 10-in-1 offering extra USB-C ports, USB-A, VGA, HDMI, card reader, etc.

I can connect either a VGA or a HDMI monitor to my MBA, which recognizes it right away.
I didn’t try one VGA plus one HDMI as I don’t have that many monitors in the same area.

From time to time we use our MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2016, Two Thunderbolt 3 ports) as a TV in our summer house. But on long term the screen is too small. What would you recommend, to buy a small LG TV (we do not want a large TV screen) or the LG display (as mentioned here) connected to our MacBook ?

Either will work fine. Since you’re talking about watching TV, resolution and color accuracy don’t need to be high so probably whatever’s cheapest at the size you want is best. Just make sure to get a USB-C to HDMI or DisplayPort (depending on what the required input is on the TV or monitor) cable and you’ll be good to go.

Great, good to know, thanks Simon!

One of the things I found exciting about the mac Mini was finding a couple of usb-c hubs that have the form factor of the mini, so they blend in with the box, and a couple of those had room for a 2.5" SATA drive, so you can add storage. I’ve seen them on Amazon for around $79. One was by AGPTEK and another by Hagibis. (They appear to be identical.) My idea was to save money by getting a smaller drive size Mac Mini for the OS boot drive and drop a 1TB or larger SSD into the dock for music, apps, and photos, et cetera.

My current mac is a 2014 vintage Mac Mini, so the the M1 machines would all be a screaming speed boost. I’ve got a 1 TB SSD drive in it now, but the upgrade to Big Sur has really slowed it down.

My M1 Mac mini has one shortcoming I need help with. There’s no microphone or camera for zoom meetings or using the built-in Apple dictation feature and no speakers for music or videos. Anyone have suggestions for and audio Device that could at least provide for dictation and audio?

If you’re looking at a web camera, just about any USB camera will work. I’m currently using a cheap Logitech C310, which has both camera and microphone.

If you’re looking for a high quality audio device instead of a camera, I have always had good experience with Jabra’s devices. I currently use a Jabra Speak 410 on my work computer. (I use it’s built-in camera for video, but it’s built-in microphone is terrible.)

The Jabra devices have really good quality, but they are a bit expensive. In my case, my employer paid for it, but I still think they are worth the price.

A webcam will solve your camera and microphone problem. I have had great luck with Logitech webcams.

For Mac mini audio, try a HomePod mini. It not only makes a fine speaker but is great as a speakerphone for calls, and handles all manner of Siri requests.

+1 for Logitech’s cameras. I have their Streamcam which has 60fps HD which is nice and smooth but my wife is happy with her 30fps C310. Their built in mic is good but I’ve long used a Yeti X for audio and it is excellent. It depends on how important quality is there for you, if you teach for example or regularly speak to a lot of people or record podcasts, a dedicated mic brings a lot. But the webcam mic is fine for Zoom chats. I agree with Julio, hard to argue with the choice of a HomePod Mini as a speaker, so surprisingly good.

Plus me for Logitech.

I looked at the Home Pod but it looks like it can’t be used as a microphone other than Siri commands. Has anyone seen it used for MacOS dictation?

As far as I’m aware, no, there’s no way to use a HomePod for audio input to a Mac. You can use it as an input for phone calls as well, but nothing Mac-related.