They’re a nervous lot, my YouTube audience. And I feel for them because purchasing a new Mac is littered with tricky questions and potential pitfalls.
Apple asks for a lot of money whenever you buy any of its products. Their desktop computers and laptops, in particular, are expensive purchases for most people, and those people desperately want to ensure that their money is well spent.
Buyer’s remorse is the key fear, I think. I see it all the time in the comments on my YouTube videos. How much RAM to buy, what storage option will be best, if I buy this MacBook Air today, will it still be ok in five years’ time? What if I buy the Pro and realise the Air would have been better for me?
I feel for them. Because I feel exactly the same whenever I buy a new Mac, too.
The launch of the M1 chip has only compounded the issue. Weird spec options (yes, I’m looking at you, 7-core GPU) and no clear distinction between Pro and non-Pro models make buying the latest round of Macs rather tricky.
This is a shame because they are brilliant computers.
There are, however, five misnomers that I want to cover today. They’re beginning to permeate throughout the Apple community and beyond, and they’re causing needless angst among those wishing to purchase a new Mac.
So, if you’re about to buy an M1 Mac, here’s what you absolutely don’t need to worry about.
1. SSD wear
There might be an issue with excessive SSD wear on M1 Macs.
This essentially relates to the fact that M1 Macs with 8GB of RAM are likely to use their SSD storage as ‘fake’ RAM to make up for any shortfall during intensive tasks. The result? The SSD gets used more, and its life is consequently shortened.
Now, here’s the rub. The tests which sparked the concerns reveal incredibly strenuous usage of M1 machines. One user, for instance, has experienced 10% SSD wear in two months on his 8GB M1 Mac mini, but has written 165TB of data to the drive during that time.
That is several metric tonnes of data. More than I can get my head around, certainly. The guy in question appears to be a developer and, arguably, should probably be using a machine with more RAM – maybe even an Intel machine.
By comparison, my M1 Mac mini with 16GB of RAM has written 5TB to its SSD in about the same time period and is at 100% health.
Don’t worry about SSD wear on your new M1 Mac. Unless you are an incredibly intensive software developer (in which case you probably should be using something else), the SSD will last years beyond Apple’s warranty period – trust me.
2. Concerns that 8GB won’t be enough
This is by far the most common question I get on my YouTube channel.
“Should I get the 8GB or 16GB version? I don’t know which one to pick.”
I have two M1 Macs. One is a base-spec Air with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD, the other a Mac mini with 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD. In day-to-day use, they feel identical.
The only time the mini outshines the Air is during 4K video editing, which is entirely to be expected. But the Air can handle it, when called upon.
If you can afford the 16GB upgrade, go for it – it’ll give you some peace of mind. But if you can only afford 8GB, don’t sweat it!
3. That one extra graphics core
Oh, man – that 7-core GPU spec on the M1 MacBook Air.
No one on this planet will notice a difference between a single graphics core on these machines.
Sorry, let me correct myself; the only people who will notice that difference will be those who go looking for it. And where’s the fun in that?
Many have suggested that the reason the 7-core GPU option exists is due to manufacturing ‘off-cuts’, and Apple’s desire to throw in a slightly lower-end version to fill a price point. That’s fine; it’s a combination of maximising your supply chain and smart(ish) marketing. But it’s also biblically uninteresting.
So, if you want that base spec Air, just get it and don’t give a second thought about that missing core. Please.
The M1 Mac you buy will last many years – seriously.
I’ll get onto why in a moment, but I struggle to think of any other piece of tech I buy which comes close to the longevity offered by Macs.
If you want your Mac to last a long time, it will. We’re way beyond keyboard issues these days, and, even when you do have a problem, few service centres come close to what’s on offer at Apple’s Genius Bars.
5. What’s coming next
There will always be a new Mac on the way. As I type, people are eagerly awaiting the announcement of Apple’s next event at which they may announce new iMacs, MacBook Pros and many other rumoured goodies.
But if experience tells us anything, it’s that you really can’t trust Apple to deliver what you truly want to see next.
If you’re worried that buying an M1 MacBook Pro today will result in serious buyer’s remorse when the rumoured redesign arrives at some stage this year (if it does), wait.
Unless you need that Mac now, wait.
If you do need it now, or if you’re absolutely desperate to try out the M1, order one. Sure, Apple may launch a replacement, but it’s likely to be more expensive and suffer from the usual first iteration issues.
No one will ever be able to keep up with – or master – Apple’s release cycle. Don’t let it influence your buying decision.
The Mac in the coffee shop with the glowing Apple logo
I always think of this scenario whenever someone quizzes me about the longevity of a potential Mac purchase.
In every coffee shop I frequent, there’s always someone, without fail, happily tapping away on a MacBook with a glowing Apple logo. Some of these devices are battered beyond recognition, others are plastered lovingly with stickers. Some are no longer the colour they once were.
Many of them are absolutely pristine.
You can tell, immediately, that the owners of those laptops love their devices. They don’t want to let go. And they’ve probably been through countless keyboards, logic boards and screen issues. Some, however, may have experienced zero problems. But they still chug happily along with their old MacBooks.
It’s far too easy to get suckered into spec obsession and benchmark number-peeping. It’s exhausting. Just buy the Mac you can afford and enjoy the ownership experience; that’s what Apple wants you to do.