M1 Mac – Buy Now, or Wait

At the Owl workshop last month Jon and Andrew asked me this very question – should they buy the M1 Mac or wait. The simple answer is wait.

As good as the M1 Macs are they, they have limitations: –

  • Maximum 16GB RAM
  • Maximum 2TB internal storage
  • Support for only 1 external monitor on the two laptop models and iMac, or 2 on the Mac Mini
  • Limited I/O ports. The two laptops only have 2 x Thunderbolt 3 ports

I have replaced my 16-core, 64GB PC with dedicated graphics with a MacBook Air because the performance is all I need, and it is utterly silent having no fan.  This is all good, but remember the M1 represents Apple’s entry-level computers. For photography this is all many of us will ever need, but if you need more graphics power or are affected by any of the limitations above then you should wait for the next model.

So what is coming next?

Two things are a given. A bigger Macbook Pro, probably a replacement for the 16” model, and a high-end iMac to replace the 27” model and the iMac Pro. They will have what is rumored to be called the ‘M1X’ CPU, but other than that the rest is pure speculation. Apple has stated their system on a chip concept of the M1 will scale to high CPU and graphics capabilities, but we should also expect higher amounts of RAM, storage and ports. It should also consume considerably less power than the Intel predecessor. Apple will no doubt make them better in every conceivable way than the last model and while there might not be the big jump in performance that we saw at the low-end with the M1 there will probably be an improvement in speed, but a big improvement in efficiency. I reckon the price will remain around the same as it is now. New screen technologies similar to those in the new iPad Pro are also expected.

The big grey area is the Mac Pro, and the big gaping hole in the product line up between the Mac Mini and the Mac Pro if you don’t want an iMac. Apple has already shown they want to use each chip in as many models as possible to make best use of their investment, so it makes sense the M1X will be available at least the larger iMac and Macbook Pro models, but possibly another desktop – an enhanced Mac Mini, or a smaller Mac Pro? Who knows.

Then there is the halo product that is the Mac Pro. Apple will likely have a high-end M1 model just for the Mac Pro to warrant the high price tag.

Finally there’s already rumours of an M2 for a redesigned Macbook Air, which probably will be all colourful like the new iMac is.

The only thing for certain is there will be plenty of new models coming out later this year that will address the shortcomings of the M1 so unless you want an entry-level computer then just wait. Good things are coming.

Published in Member Blogs
  1. Great summary.
    I think the only unknown problem is how long is the wait with the shortage of chip / silicon.
    Nearly ordered an air last week as my 2010 iMac 27″ decided not to play anymore but I did eventually give it the kiss of life with a disc format and reinstall operating system. It is so much faster now, only goes to show what rubbish builds up over 11 years !!

  2. As always Shaun a succinct summary of tech innovations. Very readable.

  3. Thanks Shaun 🙂

  4. Some good advice there, Shaun. And I think we’ll take it. Hopefully we’ll see a new 27″ imac released around Sept/Oct that’ll fit the bill better than the current crop.

    • That’s what I’m waiting for. Rumour is it will be a 30″ but not much bigger case as bezel will be narrower but rumours up to now have been rubbish!!

    • It’s their best selling iMac. No reason there won’t be one – they’ve updated the little one, now it’s time for the big one. Apple have just invested a reported £200m in factories to manufacture mini LED screens, which will probably be for the new iMacs and larger MacBook Pro’s. So I’d say it’s not unreasonable to think of a very big iPad Pro look alike for the new iMac as this is their current design language. Rumours are 8 performance cores and 2 efficiency cores, which makes sense as they are using a ‘cell’ concept where more powerful versions of this will just have multiple cells (blocks of 8 performance, 2 efficiency cores) bundled together. It’s cheaper to manufacture chips this way so it sounds realistic.

      With regards to screen size and the trend for smaller bezels, I’d say 30-32″ in a similar sized case will probably be what comes out. I can’t see them going mental and releasing a 40″ model as it would kill sales of their high-end screen. My money would be on a 6K 32″ screen as this fits with the dpi for their retina screens.

      • Looking forward to it. They need to hurry up, my imac27 is living on borrowed time so I might have to buy an air for the interim whilst waiting.

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