MacBook Pro, M1 or Intel?

MacBook Pro M1 and Intel-based are powerful machines, which one should you choose? Newer is not always better.

If you are a casual user don't spend more money on a Pro machine, you will never, ever need it, period. In the other hand, if you're a pro user or you are going to get a MacBook Pro anyway you have two options:

  1. MacBook Pro 16" Intel-based

  2. MacBook Pro 13" M1

Even though the MacBook Pro M1 machines are newer and, in some aspect, better than the Intel-based MacBook Pro 16" is still an inferior device for many use cases; smaller display is its biggest downside and no having a dedicated graphic option on the M1 may restrict many use cases.

It doesn't matter if you get the MacBook Pro 13" or 16", you need to be aware of the M1 advantages and limitations:

  • No more than 32 GB Memory

  • Many applications are unsupported, meaning that they were not built to be run in an M1 processor.

  • Only one external monitor

  • No Bootcamp

  • First generation device

  • M1 consume way less energy (more power efficient)

  • Built-in Graphic Processor (GPU)

  • No External high-end GPU support


About first-generation devices

M1 chips aren't really first generation, it's based on the Apple A14 Bionic Chip used on all the iPhone 12's but it's the first time it's being use on a laptop.

The problem here is that we don't have an idea of the long-term performance or stability of the processors will be. Apple has, almost always, deliver good, stable, long-term devices, but there is no real proof for this.

Buy for what is offer today

You should always buy anything for what it does today and no for the promises of what it will do in the future.

The reality is that we don't know how developers and even Apple itself will do with the new M1 processors. Yes, it is the newest Apple Laptop chip, and Apple has always been a company of its own words, but this doesn't inherit the fate on "oh, yes they would fix this later".

Be realistic

You should not be spending more on a computer for the sake of "in case I need it on the future", the reality is that unless you change your career or start developing new skills you will never use the full potential of your machine.

Laptops aren't meant to be change so often

There will always be something new, faster, better, slim, whatever you can think off but realistically people will use a laptop for at least a couple of years so if you have a laptop no older than 2-3 years the benefits may not be so noticeable.

Yes, arguably there is some percentage improvement between the old and new machine, but those improvements will be noticed in very particular use cases in which if you're a "pro" user you have more than this article to make a wise purchase decision.

Retailers know nothing

The only exception is the Apple Genius guys, they are trained with every question that a customer may have, apart from them third-party authorized retailers may not know as much as you think; specially in terms of evaluating what fits better for you.

Do you own diligence

With zillions of blogs, videos, articles available online there is an extremely high chance that somebody has created something to respond your same questions. Look for your questions, technical specs and any other thing that is relevant for you yourself.

For example, many retailers are discounting the new Mac Mini M1, but they are really discounting the cheapest of the two versions which has only 8GB of Memory compared to the "high-end" model that has 16GB of Memory. Many people are caught in this trap and later they know the lower performance Mac Mini M1 can't do everything they wanted to do.

Compare

There are a few configurations available for almost every Apple device, thankfully, Apple has a comparison tool so you can compare the options you're interested in before purchasing.

Apple Compare Page

Wrap-up

  1. Wait if you can. Second-generations are usually much better

  2. Don't buy a Pro if you don't need it

  3. Make sure that all your critical applications run on the M1 processor

  4. Intel-based will be supported for at least 3 more years