If you’re buying a new Mac this year, what specs to recommend?
I have updated each of the categories with new recommendations as needed. All prices lifted directly from Apple Australia
13 inch models
Models Updated June 2022- now with M2 chip!
Entry- M2, 8 core CPU, 10 core GPU, 256GB SSD $1999
Nice machine, but I’d still spend an extra $300 to double the RAM. Extra $600 for 24GB RAM, not so sure- if you need the computer to last a long time- spend the money!
Better- M2, 8 core CPU, 10 core GPU, 512GB SSD $2299
This one has the same CPU/ GPU combo, but has 512GB of storage. So basically it’s one model with a bunch of options, thanks Apple. Yes, I’d still get the extra RAM for $300, and this one is the pick because of the extra storage.
14 inch models
These new 14″ models were introduced at the same time as the 16″ versions, in October 2021- with similar specs and upgrades all the way to match the 16″, so you basically have a choice of screen size- go configure them the same and find out the extra screen real estate doesn’t cost much! These are very powerful machines. But you may not want to carry a big beast around so…
Entry- M1 Pro, 8 core CPU, 14 core GPU, 16GB RAM 512GB SSD $2999
Nice machine, but extra $600 to double the RAM to 32GB
Better- M1 Pro, 10 core CPU, 16 core GPU, 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD $3749
These have the M1 Pro processor, and can be upgraded to the M1 Max (for >$1k) but has 512GB of storage. So basically it’s one model with a bunch of options, thanks Apple. Extra 16GB RAM for $600, if you spend $750 upgrading to the Mi Max chip, you can go all the way to 64GB RAM for $1200 on top!
16 inch models
Did someone say MOAR POWARRRRR?
Entry- M1 Pro, 10 core CPU, 16 core GPU, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD $3749
Pretty beastly for a starting model, pay $300 extra if you do a lot of image work to get the 24 core GPU, or $600 to go all out with a 32 core GPU. On this model $600 will upgrade you to 32GB RAM, and $300 to go to a 1TB SSD. Best Buy? If I’m buying this model, it means I’m trying to save money- this means I’d probably buy the base model and be happy- or pay $600 for the extra RAM and make the computer last a bit longer…
Better- M1 Pro, 10 core CPU, 16 core GPU, 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD $4049
This model has a 1TB drive, for exactly the upgrade price on the lower model. So if you need 1TB just buy this model- it’s likely to come into stock earlier than a CTO version of the lower model. But if you need upgrades, boy do we have loads of upgrades- but nothing much worth having except upgrading to 32GB RAM for $600.
Best- M1 Max, 10 core CPU, 32 core GPU, 32GB RAM, 1TB SSD $5249
Hear that? That was the sound of millions of nerds across the world gasping as Apple unveiled this machine. Oh my!
This one upgrades from the M1 Pro chip to the M1 Max, with extra phwoar… It already has 1TB storage, already has 32GB RAM, already has a 32 core GPU. But- here comes the upgrade train- you can go to 64GB RAM for $600, and if you’re still looking in Mum’s purse for a few extra hundies, you can go to a 2TB SSD for <only> $600 more. Then Apple will blow you a kiss and say ‘nice work kid’ just like Indiana Jones would, but while running away with all of your cash.
13 inch models
Entry – M1, 8 core CPU, 7 core GPU, 256GB SSD $1499.
A $300 upgrade to double the RAM is expensive, but definitely do it.
Updated June 2022- now with M2 chip!
Better- M2, 8 core CPU, 8 core GPU, 256GB SSD $1899
It costs $350 more, but has 512GB SSD and the upgraded 1 more core in it’s GPU, so you’re paying $50 for that. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, spend $300 on the RAM upgrade. Comes with a 30w USB-C power adaptor. Interesting twist- if you upgrade to a 10 core GPU for $150, and also spend $300 to upgrade to 512GB storage, Apple will throw in one of their new dual output USB-C adaptors (normally a $30 upgrade). Problem- the dual port adaptor outputs around half the power- so you can charge 2 things at once, but at half the speed…
Best- M2, 8 core CPU, 10 core GPU, 512GB SSD $2349
It costs $450 more, but has 512GB SSD and the upgraded 2 more cores in it’s GPU, so you’re paying $150 for them. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, spend $300 on the RAM upgrade. Apple will allow you to switch this out for one of their new dual output USB-C adaptors. Problem- the dual port adaptor outputs around half the power- so you can charge 2 things at once, but at half the speed…
24 inch models
Apple has introduced M1 Apple Silicon to the entry level iMac. These now have a 24″ 4.5k Retina display instead of the older 21.5″ display and come in a variety of colours. There is one config of the older Intel 21.5″ still available, probably for the education market
Entry- M1, 8 core CPU, 7 core GPU, 256GB SSD $1899
This machine is hampered with only 2x Thunderbolt/ USB 4 ports and NO ethernet. Don’t do it!
Better- M1, 8 core CPU, 8 core GPU, 256GB SSD $2199
This model has 2x combo Thunderbolt/ USB 4 ports AND 2x USB 3 ports as well as ethernet and a keyboard with TouchID.
Broken record- please add $300 for more RAM
Best- M1, 8 core CPU, 8 core GPU, 512GB SSD $2499
This model has the same 2x combo Thunderbolt/ USB 4 ports AND 2x USB 3 ports as well as ethernet and a keyboard with TouchID. But it also has double the storage, which is a $300 option on the model below. So it’s not really a different model, just a different config. Again, please add $300 for more RAM
– These are all available with a VESA mount adaptor so they can be hung on a wall etc. but they have to be ordered in this config, not an after purchase decision.
27 inch models
No more 27″ iMacs- it’s possible that Apple will release a new Apple Silicon based iMac with an even larger screen, but no one knows yet…
Come with a Magic Mouse 2 and a Magic Keyboard- except M1 iMacs where some now have a keyboard with a TouchID fingerprint reader. I recommend the wireless mouse- it comes with a lightning cable and has built in batteries so you don’t create huge amounts of waste and frustration when your batteries run out. The charging port for the mouse is located where you can’t use the mouse and charge it at the same time, which is spectacularly dumb, but I guess Apple has ‘reasons’….. the keyboard is also quite nice if you really want to ban cables (internal battery, charges with lightning cable) but it is very small, and I still like having home keys and a numeric keypad.
PLEASE consider buying the ‘Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad’ – you can select this under the Mouse & Trackpad options, the link is under ‘Keyboards’ and is marked ‘Change’. It has come down in price from $40 to a $30 upgrade- go on, you can afford that.
Better- M1 Max, 10 Core CPU, 24 Core GPU, 512GB Storage $3099
Very similar specs to the 16″ MacBook Pro and these can be configured until your wallet cries for mercy. On this model, I’d probably consider upgrading to 64GB RAM for $600, and maybe the 1TB storage for $300, but then you’ve just shortened the gap to the M1 Ultra…
Best- M1 Ultra, 20 Core CPU, 48 Core GPU, 1TB Storage $6099
Ohhh myyy… 18 simultaneous streams of 4k video, 9 simultaneous streams of 8k video. Needs vs wants… who cares? just shut up and take my money! On this model you need to decide if you want more internal storage at ridiculous prices, or a single RAM upgrade to 128GB for… $1200
What do you mean it’s a 3 month delivery wait?
Not recommended at this time because of the impending switch to Apple Silicon. Except where you have software that requires an Intel chip, don’t buy these machines.
The ‘entry level’ model is an 8-core Xeon powered device at $9,999 however we can save you real money in upgrades for these beasts…
New M1 models available, alongside Intel based models for a presumably short time…
Entry- M1 8 core CPU, 8 core GPU, 256GB Storage $1099
Yes, get the extra RAM…These are a great device, but please remember it’s kind of an iPad in a box- not really suitable for complex work.
Better- M1 8 core CPU, 8 core GPU, 512GB Storage $1399
Same machine with double the storage. Er, get the extra RAM, you hearing me?
Intel- 6 core i5, 8GB RAM, 512GB SSD Intel Graphics 630 $1699
This model- what a beauty. For $1699 you get a 6 core i5 processor, upgradeable to a 6 core i7 for $300. Leave the RAM because you CAN add more afterwards! Yay! OK you’re going to get ripped off for internal storage, but it’s only $150 to upgrade to 10 gigabit ethernet. That would make a fantastic compute node, and yes I have one for ESXi testing. Brilliant.
Don’t buy a machine with less than 8GB RAM- always get 16GB+ if you can
Don’t buy an Intel based machine unless forced
Do get advice from Servicemax if you have any questions!