New Mac... can't decide!

I’m in the market for a new Mac and I’m struggling to decide what to get, as the Mac landscape has changed a lot since my last purchase.

My current machine:

MacBook Pro, 13-inch, 2018 with 4 x Thunderbolt ports, 2.7 GHz Intel, 16GB memory, 251GB storage. It’s connected to a huge 31.5-inch BenQ display (which I love). The display is not something I’m looking to change at this point.

I also use:

Windows 10 Alienware laptop, purchased in 2020 by my workplace. I do a lot of video editing for my day job. It’s much more powerful than my MacBook Pro.

What I want!

  • Laptop rather than desktop, as I like to use my computer on the sofa, in bed, when travelling, etc.
  • Something powerful enough for 4K video editing without any lag. I end up using my Windows laptop for video editing but I’d much rather use my MacBook. I use Adobe Premiere Pro as I have a professional licence for it which I am authorised to install and use on my personal machine.
  • WAY more storage than I have at the moment… in total I have another 4TB of files on an external SSD but would love for my MacBook to be my primary source and for the external SSD to be TimeMachine or other backup drive.
  • Plenty of USB-C / Thunderbolt ports
  • For it not to be noisy and hot! My MacBook gets VERY hot and the fan is constantly whirring. I’m guessing this is Intel vs. Silicon.

I am just curious to know what other Mac users would recommend for my specific requirements?

Happy to be here! :slight_smile: I’ve listened to the podcast for a while now but this is my first foray into the forum!

If storage is a necessity then MacBook Pro with either 14 or 16 inch displays would be appropriate. Although it gets expensive very quickly – you’d better evaluate first if you really need it. Taking a model with 32 GB of RAM would probably be a good idea.

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Welcome! Premiere will perform quite a bit faster on an M1 Pro or Max, and yes, it’ll be cool and mostly silent. Here’s an Adobe article last year about some of the initial gains they were seeing on Premiere. It’s been optimized further since then.

In your situation, given you like the power of the Alienware PC, I personally would get a 16" M1 Max with a 4TB SSD, and figure out which of your current 4TB files you can afford to access externally so you don’t have to spring for an 8TB SSD. The M1 Pro would work just fine, too, though, and give you a battery life boost. I wouldn’t go below 32GB RAM either way.

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Given your requirements, eg laptop, video editing, storage, and ports, at the moment you are looking at either the 14” or the 16” MacBookPros. You can outfit either to meet your needs, but the price will go up quickly, unfortunately.

I think your decision points are therefore:

  1. Screen size. If you will use it mostly connected to your external monitor and your portability needs are less weight/size, go with the 14”. If you are going to need a larger screen on the go, then obviously the 16” is the choice. (I went with the 14” as I wanted it to be more portable.)
  2. RAM: You would probably get away with 16GB, but if you can spend the money, I would strongly recommend 32GB.
  3. Storage: You can go up to 8TB, but that is pricey. I went for 4TB, but it sounds like you may have enough storage needs to need to go to 8TB. Given the cost, it’s worth looking at how much of your data needs to be with you when you are on the go, and how much is only needed at home, where you can have an external SSD attached to a dock, for example.
  4. Both models will give you 3 x TB4 ports, an SD card slot, and HDMI output.
  5. Finally, the most difficult question is M1 Pro vs M1 Max. If video production is a primary use, I would argue for the M1 Max, especially as you appear to hold on to a machine for at least 4 years as you are currently using a 2018 model.

This is amazing advice. Thank you so much! The screen size isn’t really an issue for me as I primarily use it connected to an external monitor.

I think I could probably reduce my storage needs to 4 TB. I am doing a big data purge at the moment!

I’m going to look at those models and see what I come up with. Thank you all again! I felt a bit lost when I started browsing the Apple website.

Adding an external SSD can really help cut down costs…

If you are working inside your home from different places, it might be worth to consider the use of either a NAS, or a SSD/HDD with a build-in-Wifi Connection.

I would also consider to take as much RAM, as possible, especially if one of my main task would be video editing. There will be a considerable amount of data running thru your RAM, and if it is too small, it writes also caches to the SSD.
This on the other hand, reduces the “lifetime” of your SSD´s.

I agree. If I were doing a lot of video editing and expected to continue doing so, I’d go for at least 64 GB of RAM, just for future-proofing. In a few years you might be editing 8K video…

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I would second the idea of a NAS, if your budget will allow. Apple charges a premium for internal storage; jumping from 4TB to 8TB on a 14" MBPro is a $1,200 difference. That would buy you a 4-bay Synology with spinning drives that would give you much more than 4TB of available storage.

If you can keep your internal disk usage to active files and that is sufficiently below the 4TB limit (remember, it is not a great idea to fill your drive, as you need “scratch” space for your video editing tasks) then a NAS would give you easy access to your archival data and would be available without having to plug in an external drive for access. Yes, access will be much slower, so you are not going to edit video off the NAS, but a strategy of archiving completed projects to the NAS to keep internal storage free might be workable for you.

As far as RAM goes, I agree that you should max RAM if you plan to keep this computer for several years, since it is not upgradable. You would need to go to the M1Max processor to be able to go to 64GB as the Pro tops out at 32GB. A cost differential of $600 gets you a Max with 24 graphics cores and 64GB of RAM, which isn’t terrible I suppose… (It’s easy to spend someone else’s money!)

I’ll second the Samsung T5 or T7 for offloading some amount of storage. They are super light and super fast. Note that the speed is nothing close to the internal SSD, but you’d be hard pushed to find something faster while being super portable. They’re the size of a credit card and don’t weigh much more either! They come in sizes up to 2TB and are great value for money.

I forgot to mention I have a 6TB NAS! I use it mainly for backups at the moment. It also stores our Plex media library but I should probably start to use it for more long-term storage to keep my actual MacBook SSD smaller.

Since posting this I’ve been thinking a lot and have decided that I could probably do what you’re all suggesting and use my NAS a bit more, plus make better use of my external SSDs. I’ve got 2 x external SSDs, each is 2TB. I use one for my main file storage at the moment (which is backed up to my NAS and also syncs with Google Drive) and one for storage my local originals from my Lightroom catalog.

I think I’ve been trying to get away from having so many things dangling from my USB-C ports… at the moment I’m sitting here with all 4 USB-C ports taken… one with my external mouse dongle, one with my Lightroom SSD, one with my files SSD, and one for the charger. I’ve also recently purchased a Stream Deck so when I plug that in, I have to unplug something else!

Oh and my wrists are hot as my MacBook is HOT!

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Since you use your laptop connected to your external monitor most of the time, I would suggest invested in a Thunderbolt4 dock, to which you can attach all of the above-mentioned peripherals. Then you can simply attach one cable to your laptop.

Since you already have the NAS, it seems the best solution is to use that for both your non-active data and backups. I would strongly suggest a cloud backup option for your NAS if you do not already have one, however, since while the NAS is the backup for any data on your laptop, the archived data itself would then exist only on the NAS. Another option is a large USB drive that you connect to the NAS and have the NAS make backups to the external USB drive. Synology can do that, and I assume other NAS like QNAP have similar capabilities.