Help me chose a new MacBook?

Hi all!

I would really appreciate your input on a new computer. I have a 2017 MacBookPro (that I actually got in mid-2018) that was purchased for me by my employer. I may be able to get a new one in the coming months and I’m trying to figure out what would be best.

A few factors:

  1. I work for a non-profit, so cost is important. They will pay for the tool I need to do my job, but not a lot of extras.

  2. Most of my work is web-based–email, lots of Google Drive, social media management and other communications tasks. I work from home most of the time so lots of Zoom calls as well. I do go into the office occasionally, so I need something portable.

  3. I do a little bit of video editing, etc, but it’s just on iMovie, not too complicated.

  4. My current machine is very often slow and the fan is usually loud. I often get notices on Safari that the website I’m on is “using significant memory, etc”.

  5. When I installed Monterrey for the first time, I had to dump a bunch of files and apps to have enough room. I have recently deleted and/or moved a ton of stuff to free up some storage space.

I am thinking the way to go would be an M1 MacBook Air with a memory upgrade to 16GB. I think that would be a similar price as my current machine. I might be able to justify a bump up to 512GB SSD. Do you think I need that? I’m attaching screenshots of my current situation.

Is it worth it to try to trade my current machine into Apple to reduce the cost a bit?

Thanks for your thoughts!

If you can, wait for the M2 Air that should be available very soon!

Yeah, it’s not an issue of waiting. I’m just wondering if the M2 is really worth it for my needs. I could get an M1 with 16GB of memory for the same price as an M2 with 8GB. Which I think is better for what I need? But maybe I’m wrong. This is basically what I’m asking.

The additional memory may be the better priority since I don’t believe you’ll really tax the CPU with web based activities. The CPU performance difference between M1 and M2 is nice but not likely noticeable in the work you describe.

One other consideration would be the camera quality (e.g., for Zoom), which is improved on the M2 version.


That’s the machine I have for a quite similar use case. I’m both a teacher and attorney.

Simply put: I love it and don’t see any need to upgrade to M2 or any other machine, to be honest.

As per the 512GB, since I like to have all my files always with me, this is a go. I even considered a 1TB, but that’s still a few years along the way until I need it.

However, the bulk of this data is huge images, PDFs, and videos that could be offloaded to the Cloud or an external drive for retrieval when needed. If you can do so, then you’ll be fine with the 256GB as per your screenshot on your current data usage.

When editing videos, data usage will skyrocket, but I rather keep my Final Cut Data in an external drive.


This is very helpful. Thanks!!

Good point re: the camera. I’ll think about that. I’m not unhappy with the camera I have now, and might even try to use my iPhone in the future.

Another thought would be to look at Apple refurbished to get some extra cost savings and/or upgrade slightly for similar price as new.

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Yes, use refurb or your employer’s non-profit business account. (If they don’t have this set up, they should work with a larger non-profit who can purchase discounted equipment for them.)

Do you have an external monitor? The M2 Air, and the M1 14" Pro screens are a lot better than the M1 Air’s screen, but if you do your video editing on a decent monitor, this isn’t as much a factor. Same consideration for the speakers.


I had a similar conversation here, I forget where: power user @karlnyhus suggested that I would never need more than a MacBook Air M1 for my own needs, similar to yours as far as I can see. I worked out on my over-powered intel 16 inch that I never use more than 16GB really, even without M1 or M2. I installed iStat to work it all out. My next machine, as things stand will be a M2 MacBook Air. Really I don’t need more than an M1 16GB. I would go for that extra bit though.
My wife settled for an M1 last month, plenty of power for her, again similar to you but without any editing at all.

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It never hurts to get as many resources as you can afford! :slightly_smiling_face:

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If it comes down to this choice, I’d pick the M1 with 16GB over an M2 with 8GB


Thanks for your insights. I have iStat, but I’m not always sure what I am looking at. I’ll try to pay closer attention as I’m mulling over this decision.

That’s what I’m thinking. Thanks!

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If I understand rightly the setting called ‘Memory’ is the one that corresponds more or less to the ‘unified’ memory you see in the specs, usually 8 GB, 16GB up to 64GB and beyond. Used to be called RAM and is a kind of ‘working’ memory as opposed to storage. It is the spec that seems to matter a lot regarding how much you can do on a computer at once as it were.
Though I am speced up to 64GB I never reached 16GB on my current Intel MacBook. I did test it with videos running on two browsers, that kind of thing, that I never actually do. 50 tabs open in Safari which is more than I ever really have open…
I did, when loaded right up find the heat rose a bit though and I believe M1 and M2 deal better with that too. Let us know what you decide and how it works out though would you? It will be interesting.

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Every time I’ve bought a computer I’ve regretted not getting more RAM!

Web based applications just seem to be the biggest RAM hog culprits (at least what I find).

If it was me, I’d prioritise a Ram upgrade!

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One considers for the M2 over the M1 Air is that the M2 had the video processing cores built in that were exclusive to the M1 Pro and up chips. This machine is going to be a video editing powerhouse that is still super portable and power efficient.

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I will, thanks! It probably won’t be for a month or so, if I officially get approved at all! But I’ll definitely report back if/when it happens.

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Exciting news! I got the go-ahead to order an M1 Air with 16GB memory and 512GB SSD. It shipped yesterday, so I should be getting it next week. My 2018 MacBook Pro is getting increasingly slow and annoying, so I’m very excited to make the switch! Thanks for all your input!