Intel Now or Apple Silicon Later?

I’ve had several emails from readers and listeners asking this question. If you are planning on upgrading your Mac in a few years, the answer to this is obvious. Indeed, in a few years, I think you will be hard-pressed to find Apple selling an Intel Mac. But what if you need a machine now?

My advice, in that case, is almost as simple. If you need a new Mac right now, I’d recommend you buy Apple silicon, unless …. That list of unless is a lot smaller than you’d think:

  • unless you need to run Bootcamp and Windows

  • unless you are running Intel-only software that very specifically requires an Intel chip. (I’m thinking industry-specific weird stuff, not run-of-the-mill but not yet optimized for Apple silicon software.)

The Apple silicon has a better battery life and will be faster than a comparably priced Intel machine. Indeed, some new features are coming with Monterey that will only work with Apple silicon.

The only other downsides to Apple silicon right now come with the territory of being an early adopter. Bluetooth seems a little wonky on some machines. The laptops will only work with one external monitor, not two. If those are deal-breakers for you, I still probably wouldn’t buy a new Intel machine. I would get a used one with the understanding I will be selling it once the Apple silicon is more mature.

Note I’m not saying you should run out and buy your Apple silicon today. There will be many more options available to you in the next year than there are at that moment. But if you are to buy a new Mac today, the Apple silicon M1 is the obvious choice, unless ….