PowerBook G4

Buy an Intel-based Mac now or wait for the Apple Silicon, what’s the best way?

Now it’s official: Apple will soon divorce Intel and start working with its own chips on the Mac. Apple promised the first computer equipped with the so-called Apple Silicon yet to 2020, and the full transition is expected to take about two years – that is, if all goes well, the entire line of Macs will already be equipped with Apple chips by the end of 2022.

We have already explained all the reasons behind the decision and the (possible) fruits that future Macs will reap on account of the new processors, but not everything is resolved. The fact is, at this very moment and for the next two years, users – current and potential – of Apple computers will find themselves in an important dilemma: is it healthy to invest in a Mac with Intel right now, or is it better to wait to jump on the Apple train already? Silicon?

The short answer is: depends on your need. Below, we will expand this with some important points to consider in the decision.

Who should buy

If you have an immediate need for a new computer, don’t hesitate. If your current Mac is asking for water, if it went from there to the best, or if you need to enter the Apple ecosystem (because of a job or some specific need), you can rest assured: your new purchase will continue to work well for quite a while time – the average lifetime of a Mac, at least.

PowerBook G4

PowerBook G4, one of the last Macs equipped with a PowerPC processor

Those who followed the PowerPC saga in the mid-2000s, should remember that the first operating system exclusively compatible with Intel Macs was the Mac OS X Snow Leopard, launched in 2009 – three years after the transition was completed. Rosetta (a utility that allowed PowerPC-based applications to run on Intel Macs) lasted even longer, until OS X Lion (the following year).

It is worth noting that even with the end of support for operating systems, Macs with PowerPC continued to receive security updates and support from Apple for some years. As is well known, Apple fully supports a given model for five years after it is discontinued – and even so, in the next two years it is still possible to obtain parts and support, depending on availability.

By purchasing a Mac with Intel now, therefore, you can have the peace of mind that, for at least five years after the model is discontinued, you will continue to receive support and security updates. And, if the desire to switch to Apple Silicon is too great before then, there is always the possibility of selling your computer – keep in mind, however, that models with Intel processors will suffer some devaluation since Macs with their own chips reach the market.

We still have to mention a specific portion of the public: the one who uses the Mac professionally – and, more specifically, depends on specific (or some) non-native software to do their work. In this case, there are two ways to go: either change your Mac now, staying at Intel for a few years, or keep your current machine and wait until the Apple Silicon matures.

New 13-inch MacBook Pro running Final Cut Pro

That’s because, even with a solid and well-planned transition, it is inevitable that some mishaps will occur: certain software will take a while to update, some compatibility problems may arise here and there, and your work may be compromised in the midst of changes . Therefore, the most important thing is that professional users feel the atmosphere: talk to colleagues, read forums and consult opinions on the internet related to your area and the software you use. When the scenario looks favorable to bid farewell to Intel and join the Apple Silicon gang, be happy.

Who should wait

On the other hand, if you have no immediate need to buy a new Mac, it never hurts to wait a few more months and see what Apple has up its sleeves. As mentioned above, the company promised to announce the first computer with Apple Silicon later this year, so it shouldn’t be much longer before we know more about the company’s plans.

Of course, no one knows exactly what will be the first Mac to make the transition (rumors currently point to the 13/14 inch MacBook Pro or perhaps the iMac). Anyway, waiting a few more months (or even a year) can be a good strategy if you don’t have a lot of urgency to change machines.

In exchange for your patience, you’ll be sure to have the latest Apple technology in your hands, with guaranteed support and upgrades for a long time – possibly even longer than Apple’s five-year warranty after discontinuation.

It is not yet possible to talk about the performance of future Macs, but we can expect machines with performance at least similar to today’s computers; it wouldn’t make sense, after all, Apple to implement a change of this magnitude to tell consumers “look, new Macs are weaker, but at least we make the chips” – the benefits, after all, have to be practical for customers, not just conceptual ones.

Developer Transition Kit (DTK) Mac mini

Mac mini from the Developer Transition Kit (DTK), used by developers

In this sense, the benchmarks Mac mini with A12Z Bionic chip (distributed in the developer kit) are exciting, considering that we are talking about a processor that is already a year old, designed for iPads (not for Macs) and with Geekbench running on top of a layer for compatibility (Rosetta 2). Therefore, performance will not be a problem for those who make the transition early – compatibility, on the other hand, can be a bit more thorny, as mentioned above.

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In the end, therefore, the whole issue boils down to your need right now – whichever path you choose to follow, it is certain that you will receive support and security updates for much of your machine’s life.

What are your opinions?