Fancier MacBooks Are on the Way, but You Probably Don’t Need One

Rumours are abundant, and so it must be true that in the coming months Apple will release updated versions its high-end computers. But for the majority of users, even us “professionals”, the current crop of M1 Macs will probably do just fine.

I’ve been using an M1 MacBook Pro as my own personal laptop now for 3 and a half months and I have to admit, the hype is real. It’s a beast. Day to day it’s exceedingly fast at nearly everything I throw at it. Anything you could possibly consider “day to day” use doesn’t even warrant a mention – it’s blindingly fast. It breezed through more advanced photo editing, compiling apps using Xcode, editing video in the Photos app, and pretty much every other task I’ve thrown at it. Contrary to many reports however is the fan. It does get extremely loud when performing intense tasks. In my case, when transcoding video that wasn’t natively supported by the M1’s instruction set.

In comparison to my other laptop, a work-provided 15″ Dell XPS 9500 running Intel’s 2020 i7 which has a bigger screen and costs £400 more but is far is hotter, slower and less reliable (frequently overheating while charging to a point it shuts itself off, and unable to stay in sleep mode without draining the battery completely over night) the latest MacBook Air and MacBook Pro are no-brainers for anyone who doesn’t need Windows to do their job.

Unless you are playing (or making) AAA games, working with video at a professional level, or training large machine learning models, the current crop of M1 Macs will likely far exceed your needs. Even Marco Arment can get by with the latest MacBook Air for software development. As with any processor transition, it’s not all plain sailing – I struggled to get an older version of TensorFlow working on the M1 Mac because Apple have forked the project for M1 at a later version – but these kind of teething issues will resolve themselves over time. As with anything like this, if you have specific software needs, check compatibility first.

So while the latest, shiniest, fastest laptop might seem temping, the mid-range is where the value is right now.

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