Apple is preparing to make a major change to the hardware inside its lineup of Mac computers. Starting later this year, the company will begin shipping Macs that contain its own silicon rather than an Intel chipset. That marks a major departure from what the company has been doing for more than a decade.
It also leaves many consumers wondering if they should upgrade to a new Mac now or wait until the Arm-based versions are released. That’s a valid question—and sadly it doesn’t have a clear-cut answer. Yet, there are some important factors to consider before making a decision.
One thing that has been very frustrating for Mac buyers over the years is that Apple tends to include Intel chips that are often a year or more out of date. At one point, it even tried to sell laptops with five-year-old CPUs. Now, at the precipice of Apple’s shift away from Intel silicon, the two companies are working in unison.
The latest Apple computers contain a custom Intel processor that comes from the same generation as the chips shipping in computers from other manufacturers. Ironically enough, there has never been a better time to purchase a Mac—at least from a longevity standpoint. Consumers who purchase a brand-new Mac will know that it contains the latest silicon and should, in theory, last longer.
Many people believed that the recently-released iMac would be the first to ship with an Arm-chip. However, that isn’t the case. The refreshed iMac features Intel’s 10th Gen processors.
It’s almost certainly the last Mac to do so. Apple has promised to start shipping Arm-based Macs later this year. Rumors suggest that the MacBook Pro and the MacBook Air will be the first devices to feature Apple’s in-house CPU.
Beware the Bugs
As with anything, buyers should always be wary when they are considering the first major redesign of a product. When it comes to tech, that’s especially true. First-generation laptops tend to have a lot of bugs that need to be worked out.
Truly, most of these devices don’t start living up to their potential until the second version is released—sometimes years after the original.
Early adopters will surely want to get their hands on a piece of Apple history with a new Arm-based Mac. However, it might not be the best choice for everyday consumers. The rest of us may want to hold off and see how the new Macs perform before shelling out thousands of dollars for a computer that’s essentially an unofficial beta test.
Between the inherent risks of purchasing a majorly redesigned device and the fact that Intel Macs have never been better, there is certainly one choice that seems safer.
Anyone who wants to avoid spending hours at the Apple Genius Bar should probably opt for one of the latest Intel-based Macs. They certainly aren’t a compromise and their cutting-edge Intel silicon ensures they will operate well for years to come.
Consumers who like to live risky who and value the latest and greatest features will probably choose to wait for an Arm-based Mac. Again, there’s nothing wrong with the upcoming Macs. There is simply more risk of something going wrong since they haven’t been tested in the real world.
Ultimately, consumers should think deeply about what they value most in a device—safety and ease or newness and exciting innovation—before choosing what type of Mac to buy.