Who can buy a brand new Mac now, and who ought to wait

This story is part of Apple Event, our full coverage of the latest news from Apple headquarters.

At Apple’s WWDC 2021 keynote, new Mac {hardware} was nowhere to be seen. After a seven-month stretch that introduced us new M1-powered laptops and desktops, there’s nonetheless no signal of an Apple silicon Mac Professional, larger-screen MacBook Professional or 27-inch iMac. 

As a part of its aggressive transfer away from Intel-powered computer systems, the corporate launched a MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Professional and Mac Mini desktop utilizing its personal M1 processors in late 2020. In April 2021, the smaller of two iMac desktop fashions was redesigned with a larger 24-inch screen, an M1 chip and a new, colorful body. The final new Intel-powered Mac to be introduced was the Intel Core i9 27-inch iMac in the summer of 2020, which was most notable for including a superb 1080p webcam, a model of which is now within the 24-inch iMac. 


However not noted of the primary two rounds of M1 Macs had been programs for the form of high-end artistic professionals who depend on the extra highly effective Mac Professional or 16-inch MacBook Professional. The M1 Macs are at present restricted to 16GB of RAM and do not supply the discrete AMD graphics playing cards out there in some Intel-powered Macs. 

With WWDC so centered on builders, it will have been the right time to introduce new Mac {hardware} for these energy customers, nevertheless it was to not be. New MacBook Professional fashions, doubtlessly in 14-inch and 16-inch variations are nonetheless a risk for this summer season or later in 2021. 

With new MacOS updates and potential upcoming {hardware} in thoughts, this is the place every of the present Macs sit within the lineup, and who ought to think about shopping for now and who ought to think about ready. 

M1 MacBook Air

The M1 MacBook Air

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MacBook Air

With the latest M1 version, launched in late 2020, the basic $999 MacBook Air as soon as once more turned one of the vital universally helpful laptops you should purchase. It has basically the identical M1 CPU because the 13-inch Professional and 24-inch iMac, together with glorious battery life and a slim, mild design. The largest efficiency variations amongst M1 programs come from seven-core vs. eight-core graphics constructed into the M1, and the extra efficiency overhead out there in programs with followers, just like the MacBook Professional and 24-inch iMac, which lets programs run hotter, longer. 

For college kids, writers, work-from-home sorts and most mainstream customers, I nonetheless assume the MacBook Air represents an important worth and a very good place to begin (and perhaps end) your hunt for a brand new laptop. 

Learn extra: MacBook Air M1 review: Big changes from Apple silicon

MacBook Professional

My tackle the M1 13-inch MacBook Professional has not modified a lot because it was launched final yr. With basically similar efficiency to the less-expensive Air, you are paying for a barely brighter display, the Contact Bar and fan-based cooling. Except you are a Contact Bar fan, I might persist with the Air. 

The 16-inch Professional stays an Intel-only system, and might ramp as much as 64GB of RAM and an AMD 5600M GPU, making it way more appropriate for true “professional” customers who’re holding off on an Apple silicon Mac till there’s one thing just like the rumored M2 version with GPU help. 


Apple’s M1 Mac Mini. 

Dan Ackerman/CNET

Mac Mini

The customarily-overlooked Mac Mini is the least-expensive option to get each a MacOS system and an M1 machine. In testing, we discovered it affords efficiency on par with or barely higher than the M1 MacBook Professional, which prices almost twice as a lot. However the Mac Mini can also be a distinct segment product. It is nice for those who’re engaged on not-too-taxing video work or podcasting and wish to use your individual show and enter units. It is an important laptop for small manufacturing studios, as a result of it may be tucked away virtually anyplace. 


The 24-inch iMac is the primary Mac designed from the bottom up as an M1 system, and likewise the primary main design replace to the iMac line in about eight years. Whereas it would not transfer the bar on efficiency or part choices from the sooner M1 Macs, the superb digital camera, a lot lighter weight and smaller, smarter-looking design all come collectively to make this an important household or dwelling workplace laptop. I might think about it finest for the work-from-home kind who needs a much bigger display. 

Learn extra: Apple 24-inch iMac review: A colorful new M1 Mac for the post-quarantine world

Mac Professional 

The Mac Professional appears like a lifetime away from one thing just like the MacBook Air. It has been via so many fully totally different iterations through the years, from the trash can mini-desktop to the current industrial tower design. Beginning at $6,000, nobody goes to confuse this for one the M1 Macs. It begins with Intel Xeon processors and affords varied AMD Radeon GPUs and as much as 1.5TB of RAM (which is actually a $25,000 improve). And do not forget the $400 wheels. 

My recommendation as of proper now’s that, for those who’re ready for an AMD-equipped pro-level new Mac, both go along with the still-available Intel variations, which shall be supported for years to come back, or maintain ready to see what occurs later in 2021. In the event you’re a scholar or informal person who has been ready to purchase a brand new MacBook, I can safely say that after seven months, I’ve solely had a few very minor compatibility points with the M1 MacBook Air, and it’s hands-down my choose for probably the most sensible Mac. I am nonetheless ready for a 27-inch model of the modern new iMac, however the 24-inch mannequin has virtually every little thing else I would like, so long as you are happy with the smaller display. 

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