Apple: Does the M3 chip make the M1 and M2 chips obsolete? Here is some grain to grind

Estimated read time 6 min read

Apple: Does the M3 chip make the M1 and M2 chips obsolete? Here is some grain to grind

At the last Apple presentation, as soon as Tim Cook disappeared from the screen, my wife turned to me and asked: “M3, huh? Does this mean that all our new Macs are now obsolete?”In fact, the M3, M3 Pro and M3 Max processors had been announced, as well as a new MacBook Pro and a new iMac.

And for companies, this kind of announcement can be quite desperate. Over the past two years, we have upgraded all of our company’s Macs (about a dozen) from Intel chips to M1 and M2 architectures. My wife’s computers are now based on M2 processors, while I use a very well equipped Mac Studio M1 Max. I also have several Mac minis on M1 and a MacBook Air on M1.

Of course, we spent a lot of money on these machines. My wife’s main machine is a MacBook Air M2 at the maximum of its capabilities, which was elected Product of the year 2022 by ZDNET. And let me tell you that optimizing the storage and RAM of a Mac is not a given.

So the concern about potential obsolescence could be justified. Fortunately, there is no need to worry. The latest MacBook Air M2 still offers professional-level performance with a more impressive form factor and price. The Mac M1 and M2 remain great machines, always up to date, and working well. But let’s go a little further. Why would you upgrade to the M3?

Why switch to the M3?

I regularly update my machines. Why? Because I am always looking for time savings. If I thought that these new devices with M3 chips would save me an hour or two a day, I would jump at the chance. But I’m sticking to my M1s because I don’t feel it.

My current devices are not a problem for me. And believe me, I have known misery. Before the wave of Apple updates in 2018, the company let the Mac range wither for years.

My productivity at work suffered, and I even considered switching to the PC. But it would have been a significant effort because I use some special software, including Final Cut Pro and Keyboard Maestro, which run exclusively on Mac.

Finally, when Apple offered an update, first to a new Intel-based Mac mini in 2018, then to the Apple chip, I was immediately excited. Because I needed this long-awaited performance.

Generally speaking, let’s take a look at the main reasons for upgrading a computer, be it a Mac or a PC, and therefore for the latest Apple computers equipped with the M3 processor.

Obviously, the performances are at the head of the pack.

If you feel a drop in performance on your computer

Are Final Cut renderings taking longer and longer? Does it take forever to complete a task in Photoshop? Is your programming environment getting lazy? When you feel like your machine is preventing you from moving forward, it’s time to change it.

If you need another configuration

Macs are equipped with a storage system and a random access memory soldered on the motherboard. Although you can hook an external drive to the machine, it is not as fast as internal storage.

We recently replaced my company’s Mac mini M1 with an M2. But we didn’t do it because of the M2. His M1 was a basic model, with just a little RAM and storage. When we bought the M1, this is all I needed. But over time, I had to do a lot more graphics, and I needed more RAM and storage. So the upgrade was justified.

If you need a new feature that your current machine is missing

One of the reasons I gave up my MacBook Air M1 as my main machine in favor of the Mac Studio was the multi-monitor support. I could only hang one monitor on my MacBook Air. I have three monitors connected to the Mac Studio.

If you need a laptop with a larger screen, you can opt for an upgrade. Or if you need more ports or a variety of different ports. I wouldn’t necessarily buy a Mac Studio for more than two thousand euros just for the SD card slot on the front, but I find it incredibly useful. This is a function of my upgraded computer that I use every day.

If the performance has decreased

With mobile devices, the battery life decreases over time. I changed laptops when the battery life was no longer enough to be useful. This situation is different from the performance bottleneck discussed earlier. In this case, your demand for performance has increased. Here, the existing performance has deteriorated.

If your device is no longer compatible

This is the case when the applications or the operating system are no longer supported by your machine. We still have an Intel Mac mini in service, and it works very well. The latest version of macOS, Sonoma, still works on it. But next year’s macOS will probably no longer be compatible with this Mac mini running Intel.

Moreover, it is not only the obvious things, such as operating system changes, that can push for an upgrade. I had a Mac mini that couldn’t support the latest operating system, and Gmail and Chrome refused to work. I would have been happy to use an older version of the operating system, but when the main tools that I was using all day stopped working, this machine had to be decommissioned and a new machine was purchased to replace it.

M1 and M2 are far from obsolete

Unless you are upgrading from a basic M1 to an M3 Max, it is unlikely that you will feel a significant performance gain by switching from one generation of Apple silicon to another. But if you are using an Intel Mac, that’s a completely different matter. In this case, you will notice a huge performance gain and you will see that everything works faster and easier.

I recommend those who own M1 and M2 machines not to worry about the M3, unless one of the reasons mentioned above applies to you. For my part, I don’t feel any slowdown on my M1 machines, especially on my well-configured Mac Studio. Until I start to feel some level of frustration about performance or capabilities, I stick with the hardware I have.

What is it for you? Are you planning to jump on the M3 bandwagon? Let us know in the comments below.

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