Apple Silicon MacBook Air/Pro & Mac mini Buyer's Guide!

Apple Silicon MacBook Air/Pro & Mac mini Buyer's Guide!
10 min read
13 November 2020

Apple’s November 10th Mac Event JUST FINISHED  and let me tell you guys.. I am BLOWN away by   the numbers Apple showed us, and I’m extremely  excited because we’ve already ordered all three   of the new Apple Silicon Macs. The MacBook  Air, the MacBook Pro and the Mac Min

Most of you guys out there are probably  only going to order one of these new Macs,   and with them being available to order  TODAY, it’s a really tough choice to make,   but if you read this review to the  very end, I’m confident that you’ll make   up your mind, so before we get into the  buyer’s guide portion of this review,   let’s talk about the 8 mistakes you should  avoid when ordering your new Apple Silicon Mac.

For avoiding mistake #1, Be sure  to buy the amount of memory that   you think you’ll need right out of the gate  because it is no longer user-replaceable on   the Mac Mini like it used to  be, just like on the MacBooks.Apple Silicon MacBook Air/Pro & Mac mini Buyer's Guide! So if you think you’ll be doing productivity work,   you should probably go for 16GB  of memory for another $200.

For Mistake #2, don’t think you have to pay  a huge premium for Apple’s storage upgrades. Since all of these Macs come  with Thunderbolt 4 ports,   you can buy super-fast external  SSDs like the 2TB Sabrent XTRM-Q,   which is our favorite one ever, for only $360  compared to $800 to Apple’s 2TB storage upgrade. It makes it very convenient since it’s portable,  so you can transfer data between Macs, and even   Windows PCs, since it also supports  USB 3.2 instead of just Thunderbolt.

However, be very cautious because you could  actually make Mistake #3 if you’re not careful. All of these new Apple Silicon Macs  only have two Thunderbolt ports,   even the Mac mini which used  to come with four of them. And the best external SSDs use one  of those ports, and on top of that,   the new Mac Mini no longer has the option  of upgrading to a 10 gigabit Ethernet port,   so you’ll have to use an adapter if you want that,  which takes up another one of those Thunderbolt   ports. And same thing for those who want to  connect to a Thunderbolt display, so if you   know you might be using those two ports, it’ll be  a good idea to actually pay for internal storage.

For Mistake #4,   if you’re thinking of playing games or doing  productivity work on your new Apple Silicon Mac,   it may be a bad idea to go for the MacBook Air  because it comes with a completely fanless design. Because of that, longer workflows  that use the graphics like playing   high-end games like Genshin Impact could  cause it to gradually heat up over time,   and there’s a chance it could throttle  performance since we don’t know how good   the thermal performance is just yet,  but we’ll definitely be testing it! In those cases, it’ll definitely be a good idea   to go for the MacBook Pro or the Mac  mini, which both come with a fan.

However, avoid mistake #5 because if you’re mainly  gonna be browsing the web and using common apps,   the MacBook Air is the best choice  because it will be completely silent   all the time, and those common tasks  won’t cause it to heat up that much. So a lot of the iPhone and iPad apps  that we can now FINALLY run on any   of the new Apple Silicon Macs should  run nice and cool on the MacBook Air. Even things like photo editing or other  workflows that require short bursts of   power should be fine with a fanless design.  And if you’re using skype or Zoom for work,   the Air is the best choice since  it’s gonna be completely silent.

That actually brings us into Mistake #6.   Don’t think you have to buy the MacBook  Pro if you want the best performance.   You can actually get the same exact M1 chip on  the Air and the less expensive Mac Mini. And   if your work happens in short bursts, you  shouldn’t see any throttling due to heat. On top of that, the Air now has  the same color accuracy as the Pro,   finally getting P3 wide color gamut  support, so it’s perfect for photo editing.

Now Mistake #7 is one you probably  aren’t expecting, if you want the best   battery life in a MacBook, the  Air is no longer the one to buy. In previous years, the Air used  to have 2 hours more battery life   compared to the Pro, but  now, it’s actually flipped. Because the Pro has a larger battery and the same  chip, it now gets up to 17 hours of web browsing,   that’s 2 hours more battery life compared to the  Air! And that’s actually a massive 7 hours more   than the previous 2020 Intel MacBook  Pro, which is absolutely incredible!

And finally, for mistake #8, while the new  Mac Mini looks like an excellent deal at just   $700, keep in mind that it doesn’t come  with a display or a mouse, or a keyboard.   And by the time you buy all of those things,  especially a decent color accurate display,   you could end up over the $1000 price of  the MacBook Air, so keep that in mind.

So with all of those mistakes out of the way,   let’s get into exactly who should be buying  each of these new Apple Silicon Macs. If you want the absolute cheapest Mac out  there, the Mac Mini is the one to buy, and the   new Apple Silicon chip is going to make it perform  incredibly well compared to other desktop PCs. This Mac mini is perfect for those  who already have a mouse, a keyboard   and a display on-hand, so it ends up  being a much less expensive option.  

This is great for photo editors who  may already have a nice and expensive   color accurate display, and maybe even an HDR  display, which you don’t get with the MacBooks. So this will make it a killer  Mac for video editing as well,   since you have the fan to keep it cool and the  M1 chip gives you so much graphics performance.

But on the flip side, it’s a great choice for the  regular joe who just wants a reliable computer,   and at $700, it’s probably the best choice you  can make if you want to replace an old Windows   desktop computer that’s starting to slow down  due to virus issues and other things like that. The Mac Mini won’t have these issues,  especially now that the M1 chip gives you   even better security and reliability. And you get  the added bonus of up-to-date specs like Wi-Fi 6,   Bluetooth 5.0, and of course, all of  these new Macs have the ability to run   iPhone and iPad apps which is going to be incredible.

Of course, not everyone  wants a desktop computer,   so let’s get into the new MacBooks which you  can take on the go, starting with the new Air.

At a starting price of $999, it’s  going to be extremely popular since   this is going to be the most reliable  MacBook Air Apple has ever created. The combination of the pricetag, the reliability,  the quick and snappy performance of the M1 chip   and the completely fanless design makes it  the best choice for people working from home.

That includes everything from web browsing,  streaming video, being on Zoom calls with   absolutely no fan noise, using document apps  like Word, excel, and business apps as well.   The Air is perfect for all of those things,  and it’ll satisfy the needs of those who   like to occasionally use performance  apps like some video and photo editing. And it’s actually the absolute  best choice for students as well,   since you can get it for only $899 and it’s by far  the most portable MacBook that Apple has to offer,   giving students everything  they need for their work,   and they can play some casual iPhone and  iPad games if they’d like to as well.

The MacBook Pro is for those who  want long-standing performance on the go.   The base $1299 model comes with the 8-core  graphics right out of the gate, unlike the Air,   so it’s the best choice for those needing  graphics performance. This makes it perfect   for things like video editing  since the fan will keep it cool   when editing 8K ProRes video like  Apple showed off during the event. And for high-end users like that, I would  definitely recommend going for 16GB of RAM.

The built-in fan also makes the MacBook Pro  the best choice for gamers, since you know that   it’ll stay cool during extended gaming sessions,  especially for higher-end competitive games like   Call of Duty mobile which you should be able  to play using a controller, or even games like   Genshin Impact, or anything coming in the  future like League of Legends: Wild Rift.

The Pro also gets some extra bonuses, like  the built-in Touch Bar, a larger trackpad,   a brighter 500nit display  compared to 400 on the Air,   studio-quality microphones, better speakers  with high dynamic range, a larger 61W power   brick compared to 30 on the Air, and of  course, an extra 2 hours of battery life. And for a lot of people, those  things are definitely worth   the extra $300 compared to the Air. 

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Den W. 3K
I'm a passionate tech enthusiast who loves diving into the world of software, programming, and tech reviews.
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