Apple Silicon Macs for the Average User

Not that many here are completely average but there’s so much hype out there that it can be difficult to cut through the BS when all you need is something that’ll browse, do email, some photo editing, and typical (light) Office stuff. There was a recent thread at MacRumors forum where a guy spent $4000 on a maxed-out 14" M1 MacBook for exactly those functions. A complete and utter waste, as Rene Ritchie explains in a video:

I mean, I could probably get by fine on my old Galaxy Book 12 doing his workload. It’s not demanding in the slightest. But he’s likely one of those price insensitive guys that Ritchie mentions. Pocket change.

Anyway, the truth is that every single one of the M1 Macs, from Air to Studio Extreme, perform about the same if you’re doing a light load. Maybe in some cases you need 16GB instead of 8GB, or you can’t live without 16" or an XDR display or more ports, but the average user won’t see a performance difference. Those who do need the M1 Pro, Max, or Ultra know who they are. Or they don’t care about money.

Which is a good thing in my opinion. For the first time in forever you don’t have to break the bank to get a higher level Mac because your needs or desires aren’t fulfilled by the base models.

(True reason for this: there wasn’t an appropriate existing topic for Rene’s video and its points, and I liked it and thought it was worth knowing about, so I made this new topic.)


Good find, but OTOH you could also make the case that the majority of users would be fine with a Chromebook. Both of my parents and my own sister being great examples as everything they use a computer for is web based anyway


Agreed! But this was for those who want an APPLE MAC. :smile_cat:

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Also agreed, but… (and we are headed towards a possibly contentious discussion :innocent:) but the same would apply for many for an iPad and a smart keyboard. With the downside being the “Apple Tax” compared to a decent mid level chrome book.


I think the question of best machine “for the average user” is actually quite complex to answer. For example, when do you recommend a Chromebook over a base $330 iPad? The ecosystem on iOS is arguably far better for incidental needs (“there’s an app for that”) and likely, better integrated and intuitive (>50% iPhone US market share).

There also a cultural element in my experience. In Asia, many people grew up with phones as their only computing device, so there is no expectation of a PC as a large screen, desk/lap based system. It’s no surprise that the birth of the “$1000 phone” originated in Asia, where with the means, spending that much for your main computing device is a no-brainer.

I believe this is why Samsung has pushed the development of DeX so heavily: it meets the needs for the majority of Asian users who just want a ‘laptop/desktop’ mode on the side for spreadsheets and such. So I would even consider just a monitor + kb/mouse to be a viable PC alternative for this audience.

Overall, it’s interesting to observe the contrast in Apple’s focus on the US (compact PCs as main computing device) vs. Samsung’s focus on Asia (phones as main computing device), and how it’s shaped the evolution of the “everyman’s” computer.


Yes definitely on all fronts. I’m constantly reminding some of my peers that in many especially Asian countries, a smartphone is many peoples primary and often only computer.

And in fact I see it somewhat in my own son, in that he has access to a wealth of different types of computing devices, but much more often than not. picks up his phone first and then if the task isn’t suited to it, then seeks out something else.

Or my daughter who very much uses her iPad Pro as primary system, something that has only frustrated me when I’ve tried it

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I had the feeling this would turn into a general “How Much of a Device Do You Really Need?” :rofl:


This is especially true for Macs, as I have learned. Rule #1, ALWAYS check the Apple refurb site first. Prices are always better, selection changes daily, and you get their new system warranty. Also check out BB for its selection - that’s how I got a 21% discount on mine. If you do buy at BB, the purchase date is set for the ORIGINAL purchaser, so call Apple directly, send in your BB receipt, and they will reset date to YOUR purchase date. Now for the real questions:

As @Dellaster and @Desertlap above have discussed, there can be severe overkill will with Macs, especially if you are a producer and not a creator. For me, the dividing line was two external monitors. I have to have that in my workflow - but it is an all productivity workflow (MS Office and Adobe Acrobat Pro). The M1 MacBook Air was more than adequate power wise, but no dual monitors without a “work around” involving virtual display drivers - not on my production unit. (Note - even if you don’t need two external drives, I would never go 8gb though - the present and future makes a 16gb RAM a baseline for me). So that left me with the MacBook Pro 2021. I also have to have 1tb storage for all of the historical documents for cllents that I keep with me at all time.

Now come processors - unless you are a HEAVY creative, especially for commercial purposes, the M1 Max makes sense, but other wise it is M1 Pro, and you can easily make do with the base model with 8 core CPU. Remember that ALL the M1’s, even the vaunted Ultra, have the SAME single core performance, so unless you have massive data sets (Excel or Access) Office doesn’t make a lot of use of all that multi-core glory. That all led me to the M1 Pro 14” and luckily snagged that big savings at BB on the 16gb/1tb/10c model.

I wonder each day if the rumored M2 MacBook Air redesign would float my boat, especially if it is sub 2.5# and supports two external monitors, BUT that 16gb/1tb requirement is likely to come in at or even above the $1957 I paid for this M1 Pro. So again, watch Apple Refurbs daily and good luck.

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For a long while, back when new Macs would come out, I’d make it a point to configure a maxxed out machine — for a long while, it was pretty easy to hit six figures — it’s really amazing what one can get now, and how relatively affordable even a maxxed out machine is.

My problem of course is that Apple simply isn’t making anything which I want:

  • iPad too limited
  • MacBook, no touch/stylus

Yes, I know I’m supposed to buy both and use Sidecar, but I just can’t justify that, and I wouldn’t find the iPad useful enough when not connected to the MacBook.

As I’ve noted in other threads, I’m seriously considering giving up portability and just getting a Mac Mini and a Wacom Cintiq Pro — which just saddens me given how I used to schlep my 128K Mac around.

Here’s to hoping Apple will make a machine which is better than an iPad and actually on topic for this site.


I know we make fun of marketing lingo all the time, but the term “Pro” in the Apple product name I think is apropos here.

Apple isn’t marketing the M1 Pro/Max/Ultra-equipped Macs towards the average consumer; the base M1 iMac and MacBooks models are precisely designed and targeted for the mainstream. So I don’t see much danger in the average person “buying overkill”.

In fact, I think Apple overall does the “Pro”/non-“Pro” destinction much better than PC manufactures, whose “Pro” models (eg. “Surface Pro”, “Galaxy Book Pro”) etc. really are just upper-midrange consumer lines. Whereas Apple’s “Pro” Macs really are geared at professionals.


You are probably more right than I want to admit, but like EVERYTHING Apple, they always leave one thing or another across the dividing line from what you need; and look at the M1 MacBook Pro 13 is in wasteland - it’s basically an Air with better thermal performance thanks to having fans.

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I’m sorry but I think “Pro” is the most meaningless and abused term in tech, and Apple led the way on it with MacBook Pro etc… I’m actually seeing a glimmer of hope with the terminology they have started to use with variants of the m1 chip such as Max and Ultra , but I’m sure the dilution and abuse of those terms is close at hand…


Even worse is nonexistent identification of true generations - just call it MacBook Pro 2022; iPad 2018; whatever - it’s a nightmare identifying older generations when buying/selling.

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In my opionion this is also why they work so hard on foldable phones. Here you get the big screen by opening it.

My sister works for a huge retailer and gets a big discount on anything they sell - so she chose a maxed out MacBook Pro 5 years ago and my brother (IT guy) and I have spent 5 years sine alternately laughing at her for buying such a powerful machine for email use only and providing personal IT support to her for sometimes even the most simple of tasks. She’d have been perfectly fine with a base iPad in terms of her needs but she was seduced by the size of her discount. :smile:

All you need to do is watch an artist review of sidecar running Photoshop to know why it’s a terrible option.

To be fair to Apple, the MacBook Pro was the first Apple silicon device and they popped it out there to test the waters. Later machines have responded to Intel and AMD’s newer developments.


What did Intel/AMD push out that topped the M1?

Alder Lake is Intel’s hasty response.
I didn’t claim it’s better than the M1 but the Alder Lake i9 is seen as a rival to the M1 Max. Certainly Intel still needs twice the wattage to achieve what Apple does with M chips and I’m not going to go into the specifics of how the M1 integrates both hardware and software to achieve what it does but Intel doesn’t have that advantage.

yeah, no.

Work on Alder lake was started, as are all intel revisions of their core I chipsets for at least the least decade, well before the M chips were even announced.

And for that matter, work on what became the M1 started right after the release of the iPhone 6. so over a decade before the actual chips were released.

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If I’ve given everyone the impression Intel suddenly engineered a new chipset in response to the M1 chip - then I’ve worded my responses badly.

That wan’t my issue - it’s more what do these chips offer that would trump the M1, much less Pro/Max/Ultra.