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