When is the wrong time in the cycle to buy a MacBook? + M4 Rumours?

I have an old 2018 intel MacBook and am in a place to get a new MacBook pro. There’s always a new version coming, but I don’t have any immediate need to buy a new MacBook outside of having the ability and generally needing one as mine struggles to render a 4k screen and use most apps now is sluggish. This is a personal computer, not used for work.

I figure MPU would have the best experience on this, is there a good time in the cycle to buy a MacBook? Is there a bad time to buy one? Do I wait for an M4, or look to go now on an M3?

I’m used to the iPhone cycle where the price doesn’t drop over the product cycle so if its close to September to wait for that - but with Macs, they’re a once or twice a decade purchase so I don’t have that beat on them.

The M4 being on the horizon may be either incremental like the M2 to M3 or revolutionary AI stuff depending on the day of the week in the rumors pages, so that doesn’t help.

Help appreciated.

I assume you know about the MacRumors Buyer’s Guide?

Since WWDC is just a month away, I’d wait for that at least. They probably won’t release a new MacBook then, but you never know.


No, I had no idea! That’s super helpful thanks. It even says how long in each normal cycle - this is great.

Oh yeah, WWDC might give a hint, that’s not a bad idea - I’ll at least wait for WWDC.


I’m afraid now is the wrong time and still I need to buy very soon… :cry:

(Currently using a company MacBook, but that will end on May 31 - just a bit too soon for WWDC)

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Historic information pre M class chips is out of date and useless now, Apple are building new cadences for their Macs. Mac cycles are getting shorter, not longer, so there’s usually something new around the corner.

Beyond any of that, there’s no better advice than: If you need/want a new computer, buy it now. If you don’t… Wait.


Barring a new M1 style leap, I don’t think anybody would regret buying an M3 when the M4 comes out. There’s already a neural engine there. Apple hasn’t really started talking about AI at all, but they’ve spent half a decade or more talking about machine learning at length, which is the same thing. I think the rumours are largely about Apple’s semantic pivot from ML to AI. Not about some revolution in their chip design.


Now there’s a bold statement. Don’t let “Experts” hear you saying that.

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M3 is new enough and really smartly designed with the diversity in the p/e core distribution across the line. You shouldn’t feel bad when M4 comes out (guessing it’ll be this fall.)

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There’s a 14-day return window. Buy at the last possible moment and hope for good news on June 10th at WWDC?

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We’ve had lots of language models before. Now they’re just bigger and hungrier. I’m impressed, but I think it’s way too early to assume this is an everlasting new part of our lives or even just a trend.

But anyway… I guess the earlier point was that I should stop talking, huh?

I live in the EU.

We’re also allowed to return (most) online purchases in the first 14 days, but I don’t believe we can return products when we have started using them?

(I think we are only allowed to do the same things we would have been able to do in a physical store to determine whether we want to buy a product - using it for 2 weeks does not fall in that category?)

I thought Apple had a 30 days return policy even if it’s used, so long as it’s not damaged

There’s a train of thought that firmly believes that Machine Learning isn’t AI. I think it’s a rational position.

Thanks, I think I can hold out for WWDC to see if there’s anything groundbreaking teased, and then order from there.

This is not a position held by researchers in the computer science field of artificial intelligence.

Note that the goalposts for what qualifies as “real AI”, note the scare quotes, have been moving since at least the 1970s. As soon as something goes mainstream, it is no longer “AI”. This may account for the “train of thought” that ML, which most assuredly is AI, is not. And of course, the marketing definition of “AI” often has very little to do with computer science research into machine intelligence.

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I don’t know anything about that. But I’d argue that LLMs aren’t really AI or ML, since they can’t learn on their own and therefore aren’t intelligent. Somebody call me once the machines can actually intuit and assemble new information.

It’s currently neat. But it’s like the current incarnation of a self driving car. We’re just not there yet.


In the past Apple was hamstrung by the availability of mobile chips from Intel. They didn’t really follow a good timeline. In addition some chip upgrades required re-engineering the logic boards to accommodate them. Now they can make their SOCs work with existing logic boards.

That’s a good idea. Iirc, there’s a longer return window if you order from Apple online through their website than if you buy from a physical Apple Store. 3rd party retailers have their own policies, of course.

I wouldn’t even sweat it. You could buy a used M1 MacBook (and it funds are tight, I would suggest it) and have your mind blown by the difference from the Intel Mac. Sincerely. It’s that huge of a difference. It’s the first Apple product in many years that made me say, “Holy crap! Now that’s not just an iteration but a real innovation!!”

And yes, I said M1.
And yes, I am typing on an M1 Air right now, beside my M2 Air (whose keyboard feels way nicer).
And yes, I’m shopping for an M3 because “There’s no cure for equipment lust” :stuck_out_tongue:


The wrong time is “when you do not need to upgrade”.

If you need to upgrade, do it. Don’t worry about what is coming in a month or two. Let’s face the facts. You are coming from a 2018 Macbook. You would be happy with an M1 Air. If you feel the need for more, get an M2 Air but if you are just now deciding to dump the 2018, an M2 may be overkill.

That said, Apple wants you to waste money. So you can give them what they want or not. :grinning: