When To Buy a Mac: Should You Buy A Mac Or MacBook Now?

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Whether you are updating your old MacBook laptop or planning to buy your first Mac part of the decision of which model to buy should be based on timing. Before you part with your money you should check that the model you are buying isn’t about to be upgraded by Apple. There is nothing worse than buying a new MacBook Air only to see Apple update the models a month later. Luckily you are here reading this article so the chance of you making a mistake like that is slim (although you should check the date this article was last updated!)

In this article we’ll tell you the best time to buy a MacBook, when to buy a Mac, at what time of year Apple usually updates its Macs, and whether an update is expected soon. We’ll also mention if there are any particular configurations to avoid.

We will run through each Mac and MacBook Apple currently sells and assess whether now is a good time to buy one based on educated guesses as to when the next one will launch. Sometimes if you want a month or two you can get more for your money – provided Apple keeps its prices the same.

You may have heard that Apple has started a transition from Intel processors to its own processors. The first M1 Macs launched in November 2020. If you are wondering whether to buy one of these Macs read Should I buy an M1 Mac?, we also have Should I buy an Intel Mac?

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Before you make the decision of which Mac to buy you should also check out our desktop Mac buying guide and our MacBook buying guide

When will Apple launch new Macs?

There are a couple of things that can help when predicting when a new model might land. One is to be aware of when Apple last updated the range. The other is to note when Apple has previously to announced updates to that range.

Most recent launches:

  • 24in iMac, M1 – April 2021
  • MacBook Air, M1 – November 2020
  • MacBook Pro, M1 – November 2020
  • Mac mini, M1 – November 2020 
  • 27in iMac, 3.1GHz 6-core to 3.8GHz 8-core – August 2020
  • 13in MacBook Pro, 2.0GHz quad-core – May 2020
  • 16in MacBook Pro, 2.6GHz 6-core/2.3GHz 8-core – November  2019
  • Mac Pro, 3.5GHz 8-core to 2.5GHz 28-core – on-sale December 2019

As for the times when a Mac launch is most likely. In the past the most likely times to see Mac updates were: WWDC in June for professional Mac models (e.g. 27in iMac, 16in MacBook Pro and Mac Pro) and October for consumer-focused Macs (e.g. MacBook Air and Mac mini). However, as you will see when you read on, this is not a rule that Apple abides by particularly, nor does Apple always launch new Macs at special events: it often just takes the Apple Store offline for a few hours and then when it returns new Mac models are available.

These rules are no longer so clear cut though. In the past it was easier to predict when Apple would launch new Macs because the company used to issue a Mac update every 12 to 16 months. Those updates were often tied to the launch of the next generation of Intel processors.

Now that Apple is transitioning from Intel to its own series of processors, it is no longer tied to Intel’s upgrade cycle. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the updates will happen more frequently though – the transition has only just begun and it’s hard to say how regularly Apple will update its own processors.  

We do, however, know that updates for the following Macs are likely to arrive in the next few months:

  • 13in MacBook Pro: The 2.0GHz Intel model was last updated in March 2020. Expect to see a M-series replacement for this model soon. Indications are that we could see a 14in model in June 2021. Read about the 14in MacBook Pro.
  • 16in MacBook Pro: This model was introduced at the end of 2019. Back then Apple increased the screen size from 15in, but the components were unchanged from those used in the mid-2019 15in MacBook Pro. We expect that Apple will update this soon with it’s own M-series chips. Apparently  delays and component shortages mean we could be waiting until autumn 2021 though. Read about the 16in MacBook Pro.
  • 27in iMac: The larger iMac is still using Intel chips so an update to M-series chips is expected. We may also see a larger screen, possibly 32in. We don’t expect to see this new model until autumn 2021 though. Read about the 32in iMac.
  • Mac Pro: Apple introduced the current iteration of the Mac Pro in December 2019. The company intends to transition it from Intel to its own processors but this process is likely to take longer than for the other Macs. We wouldn’t expect to see a new M-powered Mac Pro until 2022. Read about the New Mac Pro.
  • MacBook Air: The MacBook Air gained M1 chips in November 2020. It’s gained rave reviews. You may assume that it would be a great time to buy – and it is. Except that rumours suggest a new, redesigned MacBook Air could arrive early in 2022. Read about the next MacBook Air.

Let’s take a look at each Mac and MacBook on the market and assess if you should consider buying it now. Check the date at the top of the article to see when we last updated this information.

Should I buy a MacBook Air now or wait?

Apple MacBook Air (2020) M1

Should I buy a 13in MacBook Pro now or wait?

Apple 13in MacBook Pro (2020) M1

Should I buy a 16in MacBook Pro now or wait?

Apple 16in MacBook Pro (2019)

Should I buy a 24in iMac now or wait?

Apple 21.5in iMac (4-core, 3.6GHz, 2019)

Should I buy a 21.5in iMac now or wait?

Apple 21.5in iMac (2.3GHz, dual-core, 2017 - now with 256GB SSD)

Should I buy a 27in iMac now or wait?

Apple 27in iMac (3.1GHz, 6-core, 10th-gen, 2020)

Should I buy a Mac mini now or wait?

Apple Mac mini (2018)

Should I buy a Mac Pro now or wait?

Mac Pro (2019)

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