As you may already know, Apple is currently in the middle of very big change happening inside of all the new Macs. They are currently in the process of transitioning all Macs away from Intel processors and to their own Apple Silicon processors. This is a substantial improvement that has led to Macs being faster, less prone to overheating, and having longer battery life. So, these new processors are definitely the way forward, and all new Macs have them.
And recently, I’ve had a lot of clients asking me about which one of these new Macs would be the best option when they are ready to upgrade. So I thought I would go over the various pros and cons of each Mac currently available if you’re thinking about buying one soon. I’m only covering Macs with the new M1 processors in this list, so I won’t be talking about some of the options still available with an Intel processor, such as the Mac Pro. But let’s be clear, the new M1 processors currently powering these new Macs are very powerful and it means that all the new M1 Macs are vastly faster machines than the Intel powered Macs that came out until 2020, with the Mac Pro (which starts at $6000) being the only exception.
The MacBooks :
First off, it should be pointed out that all of the current Apple laptops have received incredibly good reviews across the board. With the introduction of the M1 processors, the balance of performance and battery life in the new MacBooks is pretty much unmatched in any other laptops.
The MacBook Air has been a consumer favorite for many years because of its light weight, affordable price and decent performance for most tasks. But the new MacBook Air with M1 processor gives it a major boost in performance, and even better battery life. It is now a fantastic All-Rounder for most computer users who need a small but fast computer for e-mail, web surfing, organizing their photos and running apps such as Word and Excel. You can do a lot with the MacBook Air, and the battery will last you all day. And you can purchase one starting at $1000, even though you may want to spend a little extra to add more RAM and get the Apple Care coverage. You can plug 1 external monitor to it if you’d like to use it with a large screen. Overall, the general consensus is that the current MacBook Air is probably the best option for most people looking to spend $1500 or less on a Mac.
The 13-inch MacBook Pro with M1 Processor: This computer came out at the same time as the M1 MacBook Air, and they are almost identical in most aspects. The key difference is that you get the Touch Bar with the MacBook Pro. The Touch Bar is the strip on top of the keyboard which changes depending which program you’re using. It makes it easier to accomplish certain tasks such as flipping through photos or scrolling through a video really easily much as you would on an iPad. The Touch Bar has been very polarizing in the Apple community … some people love it, while many others do not. And it looks like Apple may be doing away with it as the the new larger MacBook Pros released in 2021 do not have the Touch Bar. So, if you’d like an M1 Mac with a Touch Bar, this model may be your last chance to get one. The other difference between the MacBook Air and the 13-inch MacBook Pro is that the Pro has a bigger battery, and therefore a slightly better battery life. Up to an extra couple hours a day for normal use. The 13-inch M1 Mac Book Pro starts at $1300.
The 2021 MacBook Pros: The 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros were released in the fall of 2021 and are very clearly aimed at users with more professional needs. There are many key differences between these larger MacBook Pros and the smaller laptops released in 2020. The most important difference is the newer and more powerful M1 Pro and M1 Max processors available in these units. These processors are up to 2 to 3 times faster than the regular M1 processors. These processors make these MacBook Pros ideal for anyone who needs a very fast machine in order to work in fields such as photography, video editing, coding, 3-D rendering, motion graphics, audio production and other computer intensive tasks. Another key difference is that you can add a lot more RAM to Macs than the 13-inch models. Up to 64 GB of RAM versus up to 16 GB on the smaller models. For anyone using Photoshop, Final Cut or Premier Pro, that is a very important difference. You also get quite a few more ports with these models. You get 3 USB-C ports (versus just 2 on the smaller MacBooks), as well as an HDMI port and an SDXC card slot. All those ports mean that these models are much more capable of handling various connection without the need for dongles or docks. Other important highlights are bigger storage options on the hard drive, an improved 1080p FaceTime HD camera, better quality speakers and built-in microphone, and a much more powerful graphics card. On the downside, the most obvious difference is the price. The 14-inch MacBook Pro starts at $2000, while the 16-inch MacBook Pro starts at $2500. And most people who need such a computer will most likely need to spend at least a few extra hundred dollars to configure their Mac up to their desired specifications. And then, there is also a noticeable weight difference. The two 13-inch models come in at right around 3 pounds, while the 14-inch MBP is 3.5 pounds, and the 16-inch MBP weighs in at 4.7 pounds. So, that 16-inch model weighs significantly more, and many reviewers have mentioned that it just feels really heavy compared to what most of us have come to expect from a laptop.
The Mac Mini: The Mac Mini has long served as a great way to get a Mac for an affordable price which can then easily be customized with your own monitor, keyboard, mouse and other peripherals. It’s very compact computer with more ports than you typically find on other Macs. The latest Mac Mini is very similar inside to the two 13-inch MacBook Pros. And at a starting price of $700, it is easily the most affordable Mac currently available. It is a great option for anyone needing a home or office Mac who does not need the portability of a MacBook and wants to be able to choose their own monitor. This is the Apple computer that still has 2 of the traditional USB-A ports which which makes it easier to connect older external drives without needing an adapter. Personally, I’m a big fan of the Mac Mini, and I think it is one of best options for anyone who needs a really solid computer on a budget.
The iMac: The iMac has been around for a very long time and they did not change that much over the last 10 years or so. Until last year that is. Apple released a new 24-inch iMac last fall with brand new color options and the M1 processor inside. The new iMac also gets the improved 1080p FaceTime HD camera in it, the improved speaker system and microphone. But in many respects, these are quite similar to what you get with the 13-inch MacBook Pros. You can get an iMac with 4 ports instead of 2 by purchasing the higher end iMac. But the 2021 iMacs are clearly meant for general use and not computer intensive work. You can only get up to 16 GB or RAM in it, and you cannot upgrade to the M1 Pro or M1 Max processors like you can with the larger MacBook Pros. So, these are great in an office or small business setting where you need something functional, yet kind of stylish.
But Apple has traditionally had 2 different sized options with the iMac line. Recently, we’ve had a choice between the 21.5 inch iMac and a 27 inch iMac. And that larger iMac has become the tool of choice for many professionals who do not need something quite as powerful (or expensive) as the Mac Pro. Personally, the 27-inch iMac has been my favorite Mac for a number of years and my preferred workstation for almost everything that I do. We do not yet know if and when a larger M1 Mac will come out in 2022. But the rumors point to a possible 32-inch iMac with the more powerful M1 Pro and M1 Max processors (or something similar) coming out in the spring or summer. So, if you’re considering purchasing an iMac in 2022, I would wait at least until late spring to consider your options.
Alright, I hope this has been helpful if you’re trying to figure out which Mac may be a good option in 2022. I will keep this article updated as new Macs get released this year, and feel free to reach out if you have any questions.