For many years, Apple used Intel chips to power the Macs as they offered good CPU performance at the time. But time has caught up, and Apple has transitioned to ARM-based processors, leaving Intel behind.
Apple silicon has overtaken Intel, resulting in the new generation of Macs providing unprecedented performance and battery life. However, some might still consider buying older Intel Macs since prices have dropped drastically compared to the newer models.
But there are several reasons why you shouldn’t buy one.
6. Poor Battery Life
Arguably the most important part of a laptop that people care about is battery life. Intel-based MacBooks had good battery life at the time, but our expectations for a MacBook’s battery life have drastically changed since the introduction of the M1 chip.
Apple silicon has dramatically improved the battery life of MacBooks since the M series chips are significantly more power efficient. Apple silicon has some of the best performance-per-watt for a processor.
For some perspective, the 2020 Intel MacBook Air delivers up to 12 hours of battery life, while the M1 version gets up to 18 hours of battery life. If you purchase an Intel MacBook, you will get a much worse battery life than you can get from even Apple’s baseline M1 MacBook Air.
Many people use a laptop as their primary machine, so you want it to last as long as possible on a charge. However, if you only use a Mac desktop, you can also benefit from the Apple silicon versions since they are significantly more power-efficient desktops.
5. Worse Performance
While the Intel-powered MacBooks delivered good performance for their times, they don’t compare to Apple silicon today. For example, the baseline M2 MacBook Pro is more powerful for certain tasks than the Intel Xeon chip that is in the 2019 Mac Pro.
That’s a $1,300 laptop outperforming a $6,000 desktop. In the past, you had to upgrade the specifications of your Mac to get somewhat similar performance. Now, you can get even better performance at a fraction of the price.
On top of that, Intel processors run hotter than Apple silicon Macs under heavy workloads. Apple silicon is known for operating cool and silently. Purchasing a new Mac gives you significantly more power, even at the base models, compared to their Intel counterparts. Apple outperforming Intel in the processor department has even pushed the CPU maker to bring back Mac vs. PC ads to smear the new Macs.
4. Software Support Is Doubtful
Apple users generally expect to get software updates for years when they purchase a relatively new Mac, iPhone, or iPad. Updates bring new features, bug fixes, and security patches.
At WWDC 2020, when Apple announced Apple silicon, the company stated that it would support Intel Macs for years, but that is a vague timeline; this could be seven years or two years.
Considering we’re already inching towards 2023, this is a risk you take since you can miss out on software updates, and your device will largely remain the same until it can no longer function.
Having a device that can no longer get software updates can also reduce its worth if you try to sell it. This is a major reason why you shouldn’t purchase any Intel Macs now.
3. Intel Macs Will Miss Features in macOS Updates
Going back to software updates, Apple has been introducing new features in macOS that only work on Apple silicon Macs. In macOS Monterey, certain Intel Macs can’t use seven major Monterey features such as FaceTime Portrait Mode, Live Text, and more.
The newer macOS Ventura update also doesn’t support multiple features on Intel Macs. For example, these machines are missing Live Captions, Reference Mode with Sidecar, and more.
This means that an Intel Mac will not provide the complete experience of using macOS for the foreseeable future since Apple will likely continue this trend with future software updates. If you purchase an Intel Mac, you risk missing out on software features that you may benefit from.
2. Apple Silicon Macs Go on Sale Frequently
Except for the high-end MacBook Pro models, Apple has kept the pricing for its Apple silicon Macs mostly the same compared to the older Intel-powered variants. But since Intel Macs have been dropping in price due to the release of Apple silicon, they can appear to be a compelling option for people who want to purchase a relatively new Mac and save money in the process.
However, Apple silicon Macs also go on sale from third-party vendors now and then. For instance, the M1 MacBook Air is typically sold for around $850 new, which is a good deal, despite it being a laptop from 2020.
Even Apple’s high-end MacBook Pros have seen discounts in 2022, with some vendors offering up to $400 off the base model 14-inch MacBook Pro. Also, if you are a student looking for a Mac for school, you can purchase a new Mac with an educational discount through Apple’s Education store.
Another option you have if you want to save money on a Mac is to buy one through Apple’s Certified Refurbished store. The store offers multiple Apple Silicon Macs, such as the M1 MacBook Pro, the M1 MacBook Air, the 24-inch iMac, and more. These computers are hundreds of dollars cheaper and go through a thorough refurbishing process.
1. Intel Macs Don’t Offer the Latest Intel Hardware
Since Intel-based Macs are older models, they don’t offer the latest processors from Intel. This means they are further behind the latest processing power, even for Intel’s standards. Since Apple transitioned to its in-house ARM-based chips, Intel has moved on to 11th and 12th-generation processors.
Apple has no plans to refresh its current Intel Macs—the 2018 Mac mini and the 2019 Mac Pro—to feature these new processors. Instead, we will likely see the machines phased out, just like the other Intel-based models.
Intel Isn’t the Way Forward
For most people, purchasing an Intel Mac after the Apple silicon transition isn’t a smart move. The only reason to still consider buying an Intel machine is that there are certain apps that Apple silicon doesn’t support yet.
However, if you don’t fall under that niche category of creative users, it’s best to stay clear of them. It would be best if you looked into the M2 MacBook Air since it is the best Apple silicon Mac for most people.