Recommended Nerd Purchases

Notebook Computer
MacBook Air, late 2018 model
If you can afford a little more storage, bump it up to 256 GB. Do your best to avoid eating crumbly food around the keyboard because is a different design (and not in the best way). Oh, know that the ports have changed. It’ll be better in the long run, but today is a bit of a pain.

Desktop Computer
iMac 4K
Do not buy the stock configuration of the iMac 4K. You are going to want to double the RAM (to 16 GB) since it can’t be upgraded later. Same for the storage in the machine: spend the money on the SSD. In fact, if you can’t only afford to upgrade the RAM or upgrade to the SSD, go for the SSD.

Now if you already have a good monitor, the 2018 Mac Mini is a hell of a little computer. Buy as much SSD as you can afford and don’t sweat the RAM if you can’t afford more since the RAM in the Mac mini can be upgraded later.

iPhone
iPhone 11 The iPhone 11 Pro is a great iPhone, but, bang-for-the-buck, the 128 GB iPhone 11 is the one to get. $749 (list) price gets you great cameras, good battery life, and an iPhone that’ll last many years. And you can get it in purple!

In the past I recommended the 64 GB version of the iPhone XR, but for $50 you’ll get twice the amount of storage on the iPhone. You have to pay $150 to get more storage on the Pro line (and, yes, you get more storage, but $50 vs $150 is too much).

iPad
iPad
The iPad 10.2 (introduced in September 2019) is a solid machine and the iPad most people should buy. Get the 128 GB model. The updated iPad Mini is also great if you want something small to chuck in your bag. In fact, ounce for ounce, the iPad Mini is the most powerful tablet made by anyone. For any price.

Apple Watch
Series 5
There’s no getting around it: The Series 5 is a spendy watch. If you can’t afford the Series 5, then just wait until you can. While Apple sells the Series 3 still, it’s the Series 5 you want. The always-on screen makes it work like all watches used to and the faster processor makes it more responsive. In fact, starting with the Series 4 Apple Watch, this is how the Apple Watch should have felt all along.

AirPods
AirPods
If you can only get one item this year, get the AirPods. Using them has changed everything. They are nearly perfect and you will love them. Absolutely love them. You don’t need to buy the wireless charging case. These things charge so quickly via lightning that I can’t imagine anyone needing the Qi charging model. If you have the money for the wireless charging, sure. That money is better spent on more iCloud storage.

iCloud Storage
200 GB
You should get over yourself and throw a couple of bucks at Apple for the iCloud storage. The prices are competitive and, if you make sure to set it up correctly, your iPhone will back itself up each night. Then turn on iCloud Photo Library and have all your photos available to you even if you fill up your iPhone. Seriously, we’re talking about three bucks a month.

Certified Refurbished
If you don’t shy from refurbs, getting one of these machines from Apple’s Certified Refurbished store is a great deal. iPhone and iPads come with new outer shells, new batteries, and have the regular one-year warranty. The products are even eligible for the extra-cost extended warranty. I bought a 2015 MacBook Pro in 2018 and it now has a full warranty until 2021. And I’m looking to get a 2018 Mac Mini refurb… for no good reason.

Page updated: October 2019