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With Apple Silicon now a thing, do used Macs STILL make great sense? Are they your 1st choice?

Apple Silicon has changed the way Mac’s are holding their value. Are the older machines still relevant?

M1 Max Apple Silicon MacBook Pro
image courtesy of author

The advent of M1

In November 2020, the world of computing changed, pretty much, forever. Apple released the first Macs with Arm-based chips, initially debuting three new Macs. There was the 13 – inch MacBook Pro, MacBook Air and the Mac mini from which to choose. They were swiftly followed by two more variants early in 2021 with the release of the 24-inch iMac and M1 iPad Pro.

These releases were about 10 years in the making, and were based on the A14 chips. The new wave of Mac’s were lauded for their performance andefficiency. The M1 was Apple’s first SoC (System on Chip), a chip specifically designed for use in the Mac, and their first move away from a long-standing association with Intel.

Mac’s with Intel inside, used multiple chips for security, CPU and I/O. The M1 however, integrates all these functions on just the single chip, along with the SSD controller and encode/decode engines too. The unified memory element means that with SoC, the M1 can access all system data without having to swap between various pools of memory.

Real-world applications

Apple Silicon
image courtesy of MacRumours

I have recently moved from Intel to Apple Silicon, and the hype is true. Its a great user experience. The M1 range currently has four variants – the base M1, M1 Pro, M1 Max and most recently, the M1 Ultra.

In turn, this means there is an Apple Silicon powered Mac at numerous price-points. You can gain entry to the Mac ecosystem for only £699 with an M1 Mac mini, an M1 MacBook Air can be yours for £999, or an iMac can be on your desk for £1249. There are the high-end Macs too of course, such as the 16-inch MacBook Pro I am working on now, from £3299 or the new Mac Studio with the latest iteration of M1 – the Ultra from £3999.

That all means there is a Mac for everyone and all workflows. Students, casual users, retailers, and professionals are now catered for with this current array of hardware. Many, who are far more qualified than myself, consider this to possibly be a halcyon period that we are witnessing. This is the most wide-ranging, and affordable array Macs we have ever seen.

The odd rub of this, though, has turned out to be residuals and the duration that Macs will last their owners.

So to M2

Apple Silicon M2
image courtesy of Apple

The M2 chip, which was announced at WWDC last week, is still based on 5nm technology, and for many, will not prove enough to tempt them in to swapping Macs any time soon. The chips highlight is probably that the unified memory can now be configured with up to 24GB of performance, but apart from that, the improvements are incremental – meaningful, but incremental nonetheless.

It is likely no coincidence, that over the past fortnight, I have two or three friends message or call me asking for advice. They have varied requirements and budgets, but all want change.

Not too long ago, I may have suggested looking at recent ‘old’ second hand Macs. With the comprehensive range of Macs described above, though, that route is starting to make less, and less sense.

Checking on Ebay this morning, I saw this 2020 Touchbar, Intel MacBook for instance. But how, in good faith, could I now recommend at 2-year-old Intel powered Mac? If you could take a knock with the onboard storage, you could buy the 13-inch MacBook shown last week, with 1TB of storage, but with M2 technology, and still with the Touchbar for only £150 more! It’s a no-brainer, right?

The used, and second hand market, is about to take a proper battering. With M2 now released, there will inevitably be some that want to be early adopters. This means the first raft of M1 Macs will start to trickle their way to market. In turn, this will further de-value the Intel Macs, whilst the M1s will be holding their value better, but possibly still not where the smart dollar should be.

Ownership

Apple Silicon M1
image courtesy of MacRumours

The durability and future-proof’ness of these new M powered Macs could actually, perversely, prove a problem for Apple. Take, for instance, my circumstance. I have just spent an indecent amount of money on an M1 Max MacBook. I made sure to tick as many boxes as I could, to guarantee that I was set for a good few years to come. 4TB of storage, 32GB of unified memory and the M1 Max chip, I can’t see need me needing to change Macs for 5 or may be 6 years. It is probably more spec than I need right now, but I have learned that workflows can change over the period of ownership.

Apple, therefore, are going to have to keep developing their SoC Macs at pace, and look to offer genuine reasons for owners to change. Besides speed, what can or will those changes be?

The law of diminishing returns

With great advance, also comes the resultant law of diminishing returns. Intel Mac users, such as myself, will gradually be switching over to Apple Silicon. The major advances of performance, speed, battery performance, and port array will have already been made. Yes, the M2, M3 and so on, may offer some resultant improvements, but if you are already an Apple Silicon owner, would those incremental improvements be enough to tempt you in to change?

In short, how much performance do most of us require? Look, I know technology never stands still – that is part of its allure. None of us saw the advances of Apple Silicon coming downstream, but the Macs now are quiet, efficient, and fast. We have battery life that to see most of us through an 8-hour working day, and enough power on hand to satisfy almost all professionals.

A word to the wise

So, in wrapping up, all I would suggest, is make sure, at the point of purchase, to spec your M1 or M2 Mac as much as you can. If you think you need 1TB of storage, and can possibly afford that extra TB….go for it. If you can possibly afford 16GB of unified memory, rather than 8GB…do it! Over the course of the 5 or 6 years that your next Mac will surely last you, the relatively small, extra outlay now, will serve you a high return on investment.

Whatever Mac you are about to buy, from personal experience, I can attest, you’ll not be disappointed…but what I want you enjoy the benefit of longevity., and not suffer from buyers remorse.

Let Apple worry about coming up the next latest and greatest, but just be sure to ring-fence your purchase, and spec a Mac that will last you way in to the future.

Getting involved

There are a number of ways to stay in touch with me. You could join my Discord Server here or, even, join up for my weekly newsletter. Every Sunday, I send out a free, newsletter video, chatting about what has been going on. You can add your name to the list here.

And…if you really enjoy these blogs, then why not subscribe to Medium, for unlimited access, to not only my blogs, but loads of great content from other writers as well.

Finally, keep your Mac as new with CleanMyMac – my go-to tool for making sure my Mac stays match-fit.

Originally published 14th June 2022 https://talkingtechandaudio.com

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