Apple Computers are known for their great design and user friendly interface. Their hardware is typically very reliable. Apple is not exactly a brand of personal computer. It is something completely different.

Most personal desktop computers and laptops are in the category of “IBM compatible PC”. These computers typically use Microsoft Windows as their operating system (aka OS). Without getting too technical, the operation system is the program which helps other programs talk to various parts of the computer itself. The OS is a very important part of the computer. Without it, the computer is a useless paperweight.

Apple computers do not come with Microsoft Windows as their main OS. They come with an operating system known as OS X (pronounced either as the letter “X” or the number “10”). This operating system is very different from Windows, but at its core, it is doing exactly the same thing. Other than the operating system there are only a few minor difference between an Apple and any other computer. They are a little more expensive, but they typically only make “top of the line” computers. Even their affordable Mac Mini is a high-end affordable computer.

Apple currently makes three types of desktop computers. They are the iMac, the Mac Pro, and the Mac Mini. Each offers advantages over the others. Let’s look at each model and some of the features associated with each.

1.) Mac Mini

The Mini is a very powerful computer in a small box. The computer itself is only 2″ x 6″ x 6″. It’s a very quite computer. The current base model of Mac Mini features a dual core processor running at 2.26Ghz, a 160GB hard drive, and 2GB of RAM. The base price for a brand new Mac Mini from Apple is $599. This is a decent price for what you get, although you can find a much better deal on other brands of PCs. Of course, those are PCs and this is a Mac. They are different. Some people prefer a Mac. Others prefer a PC.

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Essentially, a Mac is a PC. It can run Windows. It is easy to install Windows on a Mac, but not as easy to install OS X on a non-Mac PC. The Mac Mini is a great computer none-the-less, because it has many features that other of the cheaper brands don’t have. For instance, the base model Mac Mini comes with built-in sound. It has a mini speaker inside. Granted, that speaker isn’t very loud. It also has built-in 802.11n wireless. That’s hard to find on other PCs of this form factor. There’s also built-in gigabit ethernet. That’s ten times faster than the standard 10/100 mbit ethernet on most PC models. It has a DVD burner. It has built-in bluetooth. I’ve been hard-pressed to find high-end PCs of other brands that even have bluetooth built in.

These features add up, and along with OS X, make this computer a great choice for beginners to intermediates. The graphics capabilities aren’t top of the line. So, the latest games won’t be amazing on it, but that’s to be expected on any non-high-end computer system. Another factor when it comes to gaming is that most game manufactures don’t make versions of their games for OS X. This means that in order to play games on a Mac, you’ll probably want to install Windows on it. Again, this isn’t hard, but it does require the purchase of Windows.

I recommend Mac Mini’s to anyone. They are great little machines that are capable of a lot. They aren’t high-end machines, but high-end machines are usually just useful for playing graphic-entensive games. You can still play solitaire and even many 3D first person shooters on a Mac Mini. So, don’t be afraid to buy one because you think you’ll want to play some games some day. You can play games on the Mac Mini, but the latest, greatest game will not run as fast on the Mini as on a high-end machine.

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For some good deals on Mac Minis, check out our Mac Mini Deals page.

2.) iMac

The next level up is the mid-grade iMac. These are actually very powerful computers. The iMac is a true desktop and reduces the amount of cables and such on your desk. It does this because it’s a computer and monitor in one. The newest rendition features an option for a 27″ LED backlit LCD display. They are beautiful. My next computer will be a 27″ iMac, and I’m not even an Apple nut. I love the display. It’s big, bright, and gorgeous. The display alone is worth half the price of the computer.

But what about some of the other specs. The base model iMac starts at $1199 from Apple. Of course, we know where to find them at better prices. Check out our iMac Deals page under the Apple category for more details. The base iMac has a dual core 3.06GHZ CPU, a 21.5″ wide screen display, 4GB of RAM, a 500GB hard drive, and comes with a keyboard and mouse. This computer will play most of the latest games. It’ll also do anything else you want to throw at it. It has built-in 802.11n wireless, gigabit ethernet, and a DVD burner. Don’t forget the built-in bluetooth. If you are in the market for a Mac, get either a Mac Mini or an iMac. If you have a display, keyboard, and mouse, you’ll probably be set to go with the Mac Mini. It’s a good machine and can do anything you will need for the next few years. Get the iMac if you want a beautiful display and a built-in webcam and microphone, or if you need a bit more horsepower.

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3.) Mac Pro

There are many proponents of the the Mac Pro. I’m not one of them. Don’t get me wrong. The Mac Pro is a great machine. I just don’t feel that there’s enough value in the Mac Pro for the price. This is the very high-end Mac desktop, and only the most demanding graphics artist and such will need it or be able to afford it. I also don’t recommend the Mac Pro because comparable PCs can be built for half the price. I’ve done it.

The base price of a Mac Pro is $2499. I’d like to mention that you should never buy RAM upgrades from Apple. It’s extremely expensive. The base Mac Pro has less RAM than the base iMac. Some of the other specs are higher than the iMac, but they don’t justify the extremely expensive price tag. The Mac Pro does not include a monitor.

The Mac Pro has many good features, but I just don’t feel that the expense is justified, and it’s probably not the computer you are looking for here. Here we specialize is finding great computer deals. The Mac Pro isn’t a great deal unless you can find it for half price somewhere. That is probably not going to happen. So lets concentrate on the computers that are good deals.

Check out the Mac Mini, iMac, and even Mac Pro pages here on this site for the best deals we can find.