Is it worth buying the new Apple M1 MacBooks?

The reviews for the new Apple M1 MacBooks are in and they are spectacular. Not only are they faster than Apple's previous Intel machines, they're also some of the fastest Apple laptops ever made. In some tests, they even have that 16-inch flagship MacBook Pro exceeded. As a 16-inch MacBook Pro owner, the latter, of course, affects me personally. So are the new MacBook laptops with M1 really that good?

First of all, I have to be honest. All three new M1 computers from Apple made a serious impression on me. Apple has stopped the long-standing use of Intel processors for a brand new, self-developed chip called the Apple M1, which takes the performance of these machines to a new (previously unattained) level. The MacBook Air in particular really benefits from the increase in performance and even comes pretty close to the M1-based MacBook Pro despite its low starting price of 1.100 euros. With this system-on-chip processor (SoC) with up to 16 cores for computing and graphics tasks, however, there are many things to consider.

For many, the main question now is ... do I need a new MacBook?

If you have an old MacBook ...

This is probably the simplest recommendation. Do you have a Mac laptop (Air, Pro, or a basic 12-inch MacBook) that's more than two or three years old? You will likely want one of the new MacBooks soon. If you like and use MacBooks but your current model is malfunctioning, generally showing its age, or otherwise frustrated with the performance of your old laptop ... the answer is relatively simple.

The M1 chip is a breath of fresh air, especially if you are a MacBook Air user. The smallest MacBook is now actually as fast as the 13-inch MacBook Pro. This transforms the new M1 MacBook Air into an almost professional laptop despite its slim design. If keyboard upgrades and more modest component improvements in recent years weren't enough to make you buy a new model, it was worth the wait. The almost unbelievably improved battery life also helps. The new M1 MacBooks are simply a much better deal than before. We haven't actually been able to say this for a long time at Apple, but the M1 MacBook Air gives you more value for money than Windows. If your MacBook Air is more than a few years old, it will likely be using the "Broadwell" (5th generation core) version of the Intel mobile CPU. Is this the case with you? Then the change from this chip generation to M1 is a very big leap.

For MacBook Pro owners, those are new laptops Not as big of an upgrade as an old MacBook Air, but they're still absolutely faster than previous models. The M1 is a real performance improvement over Intel-based MacBooks.

In summary: If you own an old MacBook Air, MacBook, or MacBook Pro and are looking for a replacement in the market, buy one of the new Apple M1 MacBooks. As a desktop user you will also benefit from the new M2018-based model (if you have an older Mac mini before 1).

If you have a current Mac ...

From here, the answer to "Is it worth buying the new Apple M1 MacBooks?" Is already more difficult. If you've bought a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro or Mac mini in the past few years and it's working fine, it's quite difficult to tell you in good conscience to buy a new one.

Of course, the M1 machines are definitely faster. Especially if you're using a MacBook Air. Even the Intel-based model from the beginning of 2020 does very poorly in comparison with the new M1 model. The decision here is particularly difficult for photographers and professional users. The M1-based model allows media tasks that would never have been possible for previous versions of the MacBook Air.

The extension of the battery life is also attractive. But again, I have a hard time telling someone with a working 2020 MacBook Air to spend 1100 euros on a new MacBook. However, maybe you can sell your older laptop to warrant the purchase?

With MacBook Air owners, I could just barely justify choosing a new M1 model. But for owners of a newer MacBook Pro, it is almost impossible for me to justify the investment in one of the new Apple M1 MacBooks. The M1 is undoubtedly superior to the Intel models. But even the improved performance, in my opinion, isn't enough to tell you to trade in a perfect 2019 or 2020 MacBook Pro for an M1.

If you are a Windows user ...

Finally, we come to the amount that Apple would need to convert. Not all Windows users can or would switch to a Mac. Be it due to Windows-specific program requirements or due to familiarity with Windows. But not all laptop buyers are loyal to Windows.

In fact, the MacBook Air makes a strong case for buyers looking for value for money in a portable laptop. MacBooks haven't usually been associated with good value for money. Because Apple fans have so far been willing to accept a premium on the price. But the affordable M1 MacBook Air changes that. The new MacBook Air is faster than comparable and even some more expensive Windows laptops and at least as well built as the most beautiful Windows computers.

Like you in our laptop comparison As you can see, we're big fans of the Dell XPS 13 and would normally recommend it to ultra-portable buyers. But the MacBook Air convinces with the increased performance of the M1 chip. Suddenly it is not only comparable to Windows equivalents, but in many cases superior. That alone makes it an appealing proposition. For $ 1100, I have a hard time finding a reason not to suggest it as a gateway Mac to Windows users.

The only hurdle is the macOS. As mentioned earlier, this is the biggest caveat for anyone considering jumping to Apple's M1. Your willingness to test the M1 depends more than anything on it.

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About David Maul

David Maul is a qualified business IT specialist with a passion for hardware

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