For the longest time I would try to sell the Mac I had to upgrade to a new one. Thats because I always felt I was pushing the limits of my new computer. I would be making it too hot with Xcode or it wouldn’t be fast enough. After I got my M1 MacBook Air this stopped. I didn’t feel the urge to upgrade all the time. I could build the apps I had in my head and my Mac could keep up with me.
Fast forward 3 years and while this is still true it’s not the same. My MacBook Air is still an amazing machine but almost 3 years on I think I am feeling its limits. I tried to future proof it with 16GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD. Those were really great decisions because its let this computer age well. But now I find myself when working on Bridges making the machine a little warm and every so often see slow downs. I don’t often use the iOS simulator but that eats up a ton of RAM.
So I have been thinking about what I want to do. I really miss the days when you can get a real MacBook Pro for under $2k. I have an Apple Studio Display I love and I enjoy using a laptop as my main Mac. I have had my eyes on the Mac Studio but I don’t think I can commit to having my only Mac being a desktop. I had wrestled with the idea and I know that I would only use the laptop as a laptop very infrequently.
From a cost perspective you get way more value with a desktop. The base M2 Mac Studio with an upgrade to a 1TB SSD is a no brainer computer with tons going for it. Looking at lots of 14-inch MacBook Pro configurations you often spend $1k more to get a screen and keyboard. I definitely would be over the moon with a Mac Studio but I would be happier with the flexibility of a MacBook Pro. So what could I feel comfortable buying that would be an upgrade and not cost much more than $2199. Thats the cost of an M2 Mac Studio with 32GB of RAM an M2 Max chip and a 1TB SSD.
After lots of comparisons and research I think I have the Mac I want to get next. Build times are really important and from a Pro chip to a Max chip it does seem that you don’t have that much change. Going up in core count is more of an impact for reducing your time waiting for your app. The GPU is more of a differentiator for these processors and with the Vision Pro I guess I should also take that into account. But factoring many things into this I still think getting an M2 Pro chip is the best value. Getting a M2 Pro with 12 CPU cores instead of 10 is a $300 upgrade. For only two extra cores I think it’s best not to check that box.
I definitely don’t want to get 16GB of RAM and need at least 32. I feel that limit now and it would be a big downgrade for that to stay the same. I have enough storage still at 1TB and I have a few external SSD’s. So I think the best Mac for me is the base model 14-inch MacBook Pro with a 10 core CPU, 32GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD. That machine comes to $2599 or $216.58/month if you’re using the Apple Card monthly installments. I really like the monthly installments because it’s way easier to pay for it and theres no interest. I definitely don’t feel good about it being this close to $3k but I would be happy with these specs. It gives me enough headway for the future with ought getting too far from the better value $2199 Mac Studio. Im not sure when I’ll make this upgrade. I know the M3 chips are rumored for the fall. But Apple takes time to launch the Pro and Max chips. Whenever I do get it I’ll probably write about it here.