What should I buy?

MPU Advice

So I have a small problem with the devices I have and I need some advice to determine how best to upgrade my machines to make them work the way they need to.

Current Devices:

M1 iPad Air, with Magic Keyboard
M1 MacBook Air, 8 GB, 256 GB

Wife has a 2016 MacBook 12" (adorable)

Current Situation:

I am an instructional coach in a public middle school, so I take my devices with me every day. They supply me with a PC, but at this point it is 11 years old and I prefer to use Mac (obviously :). So, I purchased a dock and used the existing 4K 32" monitor to connect my MacBook Air to every day. And 99% of the time, I leave it there at my desk. I use my iPad Air with Magic Keyboard to take to meetings with teachers, which is what I am doing 50% of every day. In those meetings, I primarily utilize the Google Drive app to see what they are working on, Todoist, Fantastical, and Craft (for notes). Perfect iPad use case.

The biggest issue is that my MacBook Air, which has been wonderful, just isn’t getting it done anymore. When I have to sit down and get big projects done, the web apps that we are asked to use work best in Chrome (yuck). With 20-30 tabs open, plus other apps too it really bogs down my machine. I got a great deal on the base model M1 when it came out, but now I have regrets…

At home, I used to have a desktop PC but it too is aging and I prefer to use Mac. The base model would be fine at home. The most intensive thing I do is record an audio podcast (we use Zencastr to record and GarageBand to edit), so nothing too strenuous. And the M1 Air is powerful enough to do finish up some of my projects at work, just not all of them at once.

My wife’s MacBook just was ruled as a vintage machine and no longer gets the latest updates. She still loves and uses it, but eventually she will need to get a new device too…

After working some side gigs, I have a budget of $1500 to buy or upgrade a machine. Plus, I can get the education discount.

My Goals:

  1. Upgrade the Mac that I use at work.
  2. Carry as few devices back and forth, every day as possible.
  3. Have access to a Mac and iPad at work and home.
  4. Ensure that my wife has her own usable Mac at home.

My Options:

  1. Give my wife my old MacBook Air and buy a new MacBook with 16 GB of RAM and bigger SSD, continue to carry 2 devices.
  2. Buy an additional Mac mini, 16 GB to keep at my desk at work, leave my MacBook Air at home for me, find my wife a refurbished MacBook Air/iMac.
  3. Some other option that you know about that I haven’t thought of yet??

Thanks for all the help!

Highly impressed with your amazingly thorough summary. My only advice is to never buy the base model again. :slightly_smiling_face:


I know you take your iPad for meetings, but with the battery life of new Macs, why not upgrade the laptop and then only bring that to work? Unless you are doing a lot of drawing at the meetings, it seems like you can get the best of both worlds (portability, battery life, all your files in one place).

Also, maybe some of your iPad apps you like are available on the Mac?

There is no way, as far as I know, to really upgrade the devices you have.
So I would go with Option #1!

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That’s not the worst idea in the world. The only issue is that when I disconnect from the big screen (which I would really like to keep using), it causes my windows to jump around everywhere. And my meeting times change day to day, hour to hour, so it would be a lot of unplugging and replugging. Maybe something in Keyboard Maestro would help but I haven’t had time to master that yet.

The apps Stay and Moom both allow you to safe window settings based on monitor configuration.

The windows will still jump around, but they’ll jump to where you want them. :slight_smile:


Your Mac problem sounds like a RAM problem, so option 1 would fix it if you still want a portable Mac.

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At work we use Google Suite a lot, and I have chosen to use Brave instead of Chrome with no noticeable issues. Whenever I install Brave, I spend 2 minutes turning off the news, crypto, and other “features”.

Brave blocks ads and tracking whilst using more RAM (I think…), so depending on what really “bogs down” your machine, I think it’s worth trying out this free and easy option, just in case it solves that problem.