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FrankieMaddox

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 9, 2024
4
6
I am new to the forum but not to Apple, having used iPhones exclusively since the 5, and I'm on my second Mac Mini. I also had a mid 2012 15" MacBook Pro that I used for nearly a decade. Since then I have been using a crappy little Windows laptop I realize now I never should have bought. But that's neither here nor there.

I am debating over the 15" MacBook Air M3 with 16GM RAM and 512 SSD, or a 15" MacBook Air M2, also with 16GB RAM but with 1TB SSD. All the reviews say the difference between the M2 and M3 are too tiny to warrant an upgrade, but what about if you're deciding between the two? The M3 is $100 more than the M2, but obviously the M2 has double the storage.

I should note I am not a power user and the current laptop I'm using has a 256GB SSD that is about half full. Most of it isn't stuff I truly need so it won't be added to the contents of the new MacBook. I love all things new and shiny and that's probably clouding my vision on not just going with the M2 for the extra storage. I hope to keep whatever I buy about 5 years and then trade it in at Apple for a new one again. And the reason it's down to these two configurations is because these are the two I like the best that came be here quickly. I am not only impatient but leaving on a trip soon and other configurations wouldn't be here until after I leave town, and I want to take the laptop with me. So I've narrowed it down to these two.

Which would you choose, and why?
 
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chabig

macrumors G4
Sep 6, 2002
11,317
9,009
I would choose the M3 because of the better neural processing unit. AI is coming fast and Apple will be moving in that direction this year. The M3 should be better for that.
 
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T'hain Esh Kelch

macrumors 603
Aug 5, 2001
6,355
7,230
Denmark
If you are only using 128GB space, why are you looking at 1TB, which is 8 times larger? That makes little sense. Just go for a 512GB model.

Also, you mention absolutely nothing about your use cases, so I would just recommend a 512GB M2 model for you, which should save you another 100$.
 
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FrankieMaddox

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 9, 2024
4
6
If you are only using 128GB space, why are you looking at 1TB, which is 8 times larger? That makes little sense. Just go for a 512GB model.

Also, you mention absolutely nothing about your use cases, so I would just recommend a 512GB M2 model for you, which should save you another 100$.
Because I plan to keep it for many years. And it's always good to have space you don't use. Kind of like you shouldn't max out your credit cards.

I also stated why I was only considering those two models. But thanks for taking the time to reply.
 
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Ifti

macrumors 68040
Dec 14, 2010
3,972
2,487
UK
So you came for opinions, but decided to purchase based on the very first response?? lol 😂

Not that it matters now, but you went for the right choice. I would have gone for the M3 as well, especially if you're looking to future proof too. External storage is much cheaper and faster now, so having everything stored on the internal drive, while convenient, is not so important - especially when you have external SSDs that are very small in physical size......
 

FrankieMaddox

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 9, 2024
4
6
So you came for opinions, but decided to purchase based on the very first response?? lol 😂

Not that it matters now, but you went for the right choice. I would have gone for the M3 as well, especially if you're looking to future proof too. External storage is much cheaper and faster now, so having everything stored on the internal drive, while convenient, is not so important - especially when you have external SSDs that are very small in physical size......
This isn't the only place I asked. And the responses I got all pretty much agreed. As did my husband, which solidified the choice for me.


Is everyone here this rude?
 

casperes1996

macrumors 604
Jan 26, 2014
7,522
5,690
Horsens, Denmark
Is everyone here this rude?
It’s the internet so people don’t have full context for human interactions and can easily come off rude both unintentionally and as a consequence of interacting with text rather than a human in front of them.

MR has some very nice folk but also lesser nice corners. Like most places.

I agree you made the right choice. If your storage needs aren’t that big (and you can always get more external or cloud) the extra capacity doesn’t win you much. The M3 may only be a little faster day to day for your usage but that’s still a better experience than unused storage. Furthermore it is likely the M3 will have a year longer lifespan with software updates and the likes. That’s a win too.
 
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Ifti

macrumors 68040
Dec 14, 2010
3,972
2,487
UK
This isn't the only place I asked. And the responses I got all pretty much agreed. As did my husband, which solidified the choice for me.


Is everyone here this rude?

I actually wasn't being rude, but take it as you will and all the best with your new MacBook
 

krspkbl

macrumors 68020
Jul 20, 2012
2,182
5,274
16GB 512GB.

Obviously only get the M2 1TB if you need the storage.

M3 isn't a huge upgrade over M2 so don't feel bad about going with that.

But if you want something that's going to last longer and retaining more value the get M3.
 

krspkbl

macrumors 68020
Jul 20, 2012
2,182
5,274
I would choose the M3 because of the better neural processing unit. AI is coming fast and Apple will be moving in that direction this year. The M3 should be better for that.
True but if Apple is doing AI and wants to process it on device, because they do that with Siri and they like to make people think they care about your privacy, then we're going to need to think about more RAM and storage.

I'm not saying the current Macs will suck or struggle because Apple will probably do cloud processing at first but eventually I think they will raise base specs in future Macs so they can do everything on device.

AI will eat up all the VRAM you can throw at it. Apple has unified memory so what we have right now needs to be shared between the CPU and GPU. Apple will probably have a limit on how much is allocated to VRAM. On my PC i have 16GB VRAM and AI stuff can use that up no problem. I wish I had got a 24GB GPU.

Also, LLMs will take a chunk out of storage space so MacOS is probably going to get significantly larger. To get an idea, Nvidia's RTX Chat app (which lets you make your own LLM) is a 35GB download and that's before you add any of your data to it. I think Chat-GPT is/was in the hundreds of GBs and could be multiple TBs with the latest version.

8GB and 256GB is likely going to be replaced with the next redesign of Macs.
 
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Sami13496

macrumors 6502a
Jul 25, 2022
526
1,232
OP, I like you.

I think the answer was obvious from the beginning because you only used 128GB of your current storage.

Also

Because you didn't come here to make the choice, you've already made it. You're here to try to understand *why* you made it.

Anyway, let us know how you like your new Air
 
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chabig

macrumors G4
Sep 6, 2002
11,317
9,009
True but if Apple is doing AI and wants to process it on device, because they do that with Siri and they like to make people think they care about your privacy, then we're going to need to think about more RAM and storage.

I'm not saying the current Macs will suck or struggle because Apple will probably do cloud processing at first but eventually I think they will raise base specs in future Macs so they can do everything on device.

AI will eat up all the VRAM you can throw at it. Apple has unified memory so what we have right now needs to be shared between the CPU and GPU. Apple will probably have a limit on how much is allocated to VRAM. On my PC i have 16GB VRAM and AI stuff can use that up no problem. I wish I had got a 24GB GPU.

Also, LLMs will take a chunk out of storage space so MacOS is probably going to get significantly larger. To get an idea, Nvidia's RTX Chat app (which lets you make your own LLM) is a 35GB download and that's before you add any of your data to it. I think Chat-GPT is/was in the hundreds of GBs and could be multiple TBs with the latest version.

8GB and 256GB is likely going to be replaced with the next redesign of Macs.
I agree. That’s why I bought the 24GB/1TB machine.
 

ignatius345

macrumors 604
Aug 20, 2015
7,078
11,657
External storage is much cheaper and faster now, so having everything stored on the internal drive, while convenient, is not so important - especially when you have external SSDs that are very small in physical size......
Using external storage on a laptop is a massive pain in the ass. Even a "very small" external SSD still has to be unplugged if you want to carry the laptop around. So if you're heading out to your commute or a coffee shop or whatever, now you have to close whatever files are open from the external, eject the thing from the Finder, unplug it and pack it and its cable in your bag. Not a great way to use a laptop!
 
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za9ra22

macrumors 65816
Sep 25, 2003
1,441
1,907
Is everyone here this rude?
It sometimes seems so, even when not necessarily trying to be.

On your choice, I would say that since storage can easily be added if and when needed with a cheap NAS or a simple external drive, or even a cloud option, the M3 with 512Gb is the clear and undoubted winner.
 

Ifti

macrumors 68040
Dec 14, 2010
3,972
2,487
UK
Using external storage on a laptop is a massive pain in the ass. Even a "very small" external SSD still has to be unplugged if you want to carry the laptop around. So if you're heading out to your commute or a coffee shop or whatever, now you have to close whatever files are open from the external, eject the thing from the Finder, unplug it and pack it and its cable in your bag. Not a great use of a laptop.

Well I think it is a great use alongside a laptop - not everyone uses their laptops the way you do.
 

jdb8167

macrumors 601
Nov 17, 2008
4,754
4,476
On your choice, I would say that since storage can easily be added if and when needed with a cheap NAS or a simple external drive, or even a cloud option, the M3 with 512Gb is the clear and undoubted winner.
I agree the best choice was the M3 since storage space isn't really an issue. Other benefits: the ability to use 2 external displays (might not matter now but maybe in the future), better graphics which might get more software that uses the new features in the near future, better WiFi (6E) again, maybe no wireless networking owned uses WiFi 6E yet but again the future, for online video, AV1 decoding in hardware, and as @chabig mentioned already, better neural engine.

The M3 is the better future-proof choice.
 
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