pcgoto.com is reader-supported. We may earn commissions if you buy through our links. (As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.)



Is an M1 MacBook Worth It? (Pros & Cons. Lifespan, etc.)

The M1 MacBooks have become the focus of attention for those looking to get a new laptop. Due to the fact that Apple designed their own chip and is now competing with Intel and AMD, the MacBooks are in the spotlight and many people aren’t sure if they are worth the money or if they just pay for the brand.

The M1 chip is a revolution when it comes to the incredible performance it achieves without sacrificing power efficiency. For this reason, M1 MacBooks offer outstanding performance while still delivering a great battery life, you can easily have a day or two of work on a single charge.

This is the short answer, but if you want to know the main advantages of M1 MacBooks, what performance they offer, how well they hold their value, and how long they last, then you are in luck because I cover all of these topics in this article!

Main Advantages of M1 MacBooks

MacBook M1

MacBooks based on the M1 chip have a totally different hardware architecture than older Macbooks based on Intel processors, the M1 chip integrates the CPU, GPU, unified memory architecture (RAM), Secure Enclave, Neural Engine, SSD controller, image processor, encode/decode engines in the same chip and this increases its efficiency and performance by a lot.

The M1 MacBooks come with a series of advantages:

  • Great single-core performance: the M1 chip has incredible single-core performance that will beat by far all the processors in the older generation of MacBooks and will outperform most of the CPUs from the equivalent Windows laptops on the market.
  • Unified memory: the same memory is shared by all the technologies included in the M1 chip so there is no need to move data from different memory locations, this has a great impact on efficiency and performance.
  • Great graphics performance: the integrated graphics in the M1 chip is by far the most powerful integrated graphics available for laptops on the market, the equivalent of the GeForce GTX 1050 Ti dedicated graphics card.
  • Neural Engine: designed to accelerate the machine learning capabilities for the Mac on tasks like video analysis, voice recognition, image processing, and more.
  • Better security: the M1 chip has Secure Enclave built-in, which handles the Touch ID and a storage controller with AES encryption hardware for SSD performance, resulting in a greater level of security.
  • Battery life: due to the incredible power efficiency of the M1 chip the battery life on these MacBooks is incredible ( MacBook Air – up to 18h, MacBook Pro 13″ – up to 20h, MacBook Pro 14″ – up to 17h, MacBook Pro 16″ – up to 21h ).
  • Quiet: again the efficiency of the M1 chip allows the MacBooks to be incredibly quiet even under heavy stress and the MacBook Air doesn’t even have a fan, so is dead quiet all the time.

The Disadvantages of M1 MacBooks

The M1 MacBooks have many advantages and really very few disadvantages but still, they are there and are very important when it comes to deciding if the M1 MacBooks are worth it or not.

The main disadvantages of the M1 MacBooks are:

  • The RAM memory isn’t user upgradeable: due to the unified memory architecture the M1 MacBooks can’t be upgraded with more RAM, you are stuck with what you buy initially.
  • Fanless design (MackBook Air): the M1 on the MacBook Air can be held back a little bit by the fanless design.
  • Fewer connectivity options: without using external adapters the M1 MacBooks don’t have lots of connectivity options, the MacBook Air only has 2 USB C ports and a headphone jack.
  • Only one external display supported: yes the M1 chip supports only one external display so no double or triple display setup is possible with the M1 MacBooks.

Many of these disadvantages will not affect the majority of users but still, it is good to know about them, and maybe some of them will affect you, in this case now you can make an informed decision.

Are The M1 MacBooks Better?

M1 Pro & Max

In general, M1 MacBooks are better than Intel-based ones because the new M1 chip is more thermally efficient and the Apple applications are very optimized for the new M1 architecture. M1 MacBooks are absolute powerhouses that run without overheating and are very quiet.

Intel CPUs will run at much higher wattage and will dissipate much more heat than M1 chips and this is very important when we are talking about laptops.

When we compare the M1 MacBook Air with its older Intel i3 versions the results are as clear as day, the M1 chip will absolutely destroy the i3 in every test possible, and let us not forget that the M1 MacBook Air has no fan, despite this, it will still run at lower temperatures than his fan-cooled i3 counterpart.

Comparing the i7 MacBook Air to the M1 MacBook air will have similar results because the i7 will overheat and the resulting performance will be similar to the i3. The case is just too small for a processor with such a high TDP.

When it comes to MacBook Pro the results still stack in the favor of the M1 chip. Keep in mind that the MacBooks with the M1 chip will run at lower temperatures, will be much quieter, and will have better battery life.

To better understand the differences between the two CPUs I summarized the tests comparing a MacBook Pro with an M1 chip (8 CPU cores and 8 GPU cores) and a MacBook Pro with a 6-Core i7 intel CPU and AMD 4GB 5300M GPU:

Type Of Test DoneM1 Performance Compared to i7
Web browsingM1 is 17% faster
Geekbench 5 CPU testsingle-core M1 is 69% faster
multicore – M1 is 37% faster
Geekbench 5 graphics testi7 MacBook is 7% faster due
to the dedicated 5300M GPU
Cinebench R23M1 was faster
Gaming performance with GFXbenchi7 outperformed the M1 by 12 FPS,
due to the dedicated 5300M GPU
Logic Pro Music ProductionM1 can handle +20 tracks more at once
Max Tech Xcode TestM1 is 87 sec faster
Lightroom Classic Photo EditingEditing is the same
exporting 50 pics to jpeg M1 is 66s faster
4K Video EditingM1 is 30s faster
Thermal Heat Testing
(temp measured on the surface
of the laptop, not actual CPU temp)
M1 – 37 degrees C
i7 – 42 degrees C

As you can see the M1 outperforms the i7 in almost every task and it runs cooler, keep in mind that this isn’t the most powerful M1 chip, you can get an M1 with 10 CPU cores and 16 GPU cores and this one can beat even the most powerful i9 laptops running Windows.

In tasks that are CPU intensive, it is very important to have a CPU with very good single-core performance, according to Geekbench Mac Benchmark Chart the new M1 MacBooks are dominating the top 10 positions when it comes to single-core performance. So there is no surprise that the M1 performed so well in tests.

Mac single core performance

So are M1 MacBooks better than Intel-powered MacBooks? Most surely YES!

Are The M1 MacBooks Better Value Than Windows Laptops?

As a general rule, the M1 MacBooks will outperform their Windows laptop counterparts on almost any real-world task and even when the MacBook isn’t plugged in and the Windows laptop is. The amount of performance that the M1 MacBooks offer while staying cool and quiet, is absolutely amazing.

When comparing the premium feel of MacBooks it is hard to find a Windows laptop in the same price bracket as them, the MacBook Air seems to be in a league of its own, offering amazing performance while being unplugged and having a very long battery life.

You can easily use a MacBook without charging for a day’s work ( frankly most often you will get 2 days’ work out of one charge ), it is very hard to find a Windows machine that comes even close to these numbers.

MacBooks offer a complete premium package, from the quality of the display to the internal speakers, keyboard, trackpad, etc. To find a Windows laptop that offers the same premium feel overall is very hard and most often they are at a higher price tear.

Let’s not forget that MacBooks are renowned for their premium operating system, the macOS, which will give a much better user experience and more stability and security if you need the laptop for work.

Practically at this point, the M1 MacBooks offer far better performance, reliability, security, and battery live than their Windows laptop counterpart, so yes they offer better value for the money than a Windows machine will but the only problem is that you won’t find MacBooks for a tight budget.

The biggest advantage that Windows laptops have is in the gaming world, not all games are optimized for Apple silicon so if your main activity is gaming you may be better off buying a gaming laptop with Windows on it.

The cheapest MacBook is around the 900$ mark and this can be more than they can afford to spend on a laptop for some people, but if you can afford it and you aren’t a heavy gamer then a MacBook will be the best choice for you.

If you need the laptop mainly for work I recommend that you research to see if you can find the main software that you use on macOS and if the answer is yes then the decision should be easy, get a MacBook!

How Do M1 MacBooks Hold Their Value?

As a general rule, MacBooks have always held their value even in the second-hand market, now with the outstanding performance of the M1 chip, there is no reason to believe that the new line of MacBooks will not hold their value.

But there is a catch here, the base models with no upgrades held their value much better than the upgraded ones. Now it is hard to find an M1 MacBook with a price that is less than 12% of its full price on the second-hand market. So if your wood needs to upgrade in the future you won’t lose too much when you sell your old machine.

There are many people still buying the 2015 MacBooks at prices that exed 300$, so even after 6-7 years they still have value.

How Long Will an M1 MacBook Last?

MacBooks are renowned for their longevity and I know many users that have MacBooks older than 8 years and they still work.

To really answer this question we need to take into consideration the 2 main reasons you would need to get a new MacBook, it is outdated and doesn’t perform anymore or it fails and you need to replace it.

Taking into consideration that even the base model of the M1 chip is outperforming almost all the i7 laptop processors on the market I think it is safe to say that you are as future-proof as you can be by buying an M1 MacBook and for basic use, you will be ok for at least 10 years and you are a more intense user (photo editing, video editing, 3D graphics rendering, etc.) most surely you can rely on you MacBook for at least 3-5 years.

Now when it comes to breaking down there are two main components that will have a massive impact on your laptop lifespan:

  • SSD storage
  • battery

M1 MackBooks SSDs

Yes, now we need to address the elephant in the room, the M1 Macbooks have the SSD soldered into the motherboard so you can’t replace it, and SSDs will die after a number of writes cycles, so do you need to worry?

SSDs will have a controller that will even out the number of write cycles on every cell of memory, this is why the bigger the SSD is the longer it will last you, below you can find an average estimate of the TBW ( Terabytes Written ) regarding SSD capacity.

SSD CapacityTBW
256GB150
500GB300
1TB600
2TB1200

Know that more premium SSDs have even double the TDW mentioned in the table above, this is the amount of data that the manufacturer guarantees its SSD, which doesn’t mean that your SSD will break when you touch this point. Apple’s SSDs most surely have bigger TBWs than those in the table above, I just wanted to give you an average so you know that the life of your MacBook is dependent on the size of the SSD.

Ok now let me get to the point, even if you get the smallest SSD you will still have an estimate of 8 years of life if you write every day a total of 50GB of data, many average users will not write this amount every single day of the year.

I know that your fear comes from all the news circulating the web about the flaws in the M1 architecture that will swap RAM with SSD memory often and these will make your MacBook breach very fast, but in reality, this doesn’t need to concern you too much.

All this fuss started when a user posted that after 2 months of using his MacBook SSD reached 1% of the total TBW, this means that 1% of his SSD’s estimated life is spent, but let us think a little here, even if you have a 1% SSD where after 2 months (more than 90% of users are below 1%) this means that your MacBook lifespan should be 100 x 2 months = 200 months.

This practically means that your MacBook will last you more than 16 years if the percentage of SSD wear is linear, I am sure that you will want to get a new MacBook before reaching 16 years of use.

Battery Life

To understand the battery lifespan of a MacBook we must think of cycles, a cycle is when you have your battery charged to 100%, and then you use it until it becomes 0% and you need to charge it again. If you use your MacBook until the battery is at 50% and then charge it this counts for one-half of a cycle.

The battery of your MacBook will last you roughly 1000 cycles, so if you completely drain the battery of your MacBook once every 2 days then you would need to replace the battery after 5-6 years, but most users will not complete a whole cycle in 2 days, so expect your battery to last at least 6 years.

The M1 MacBook lifespan verdict

After all that has been discussed above, we can easily say that an M1 MacBook will last you between 6 – 9+ years depending on how much you use it, keep in mind that the MacBook will still be useable after the battery will wear out but it will defeat the purpose of a laptop.

Conclusion

In the end, after we analyzed all the benefits/performance/lifespan and how they maintain their value on the second-hand market I think that it is only fair to conclude that the M1 MacBooks are definitely worth the investment.

But still because the 13″ MacBook Pro doesn’t offer too much-added value compared with the MacBook Air it is recommended that you skip it and buy the 14″ MacBook Pro if you need more performance than the Air offers.

Sources

I started building and fixing PCs in high school. After a couple of years of offering consultancy to a PC repair shop, I became the goto guy for all my acquaintances for PC/Laptop related buying advice or troubleshooting.