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ctjack

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Mar 8, 2020
899
858
Okay, made a ton of research so sharing my findings here without further ado:
Disclaimer: order of numbers below doesn't mean anything. Probably the only connection is i am going from most cheap to most expensive. The main note: I am making the list with the budget in mind, meaning that we try to maximize our utility with the least amount of money spent - so maximum performance/happiness for less money.

1) Category - #1 top bang for the buck or the most sensible choice. Base MBP 14 8/14/16/512. $2000
Reason: well it can do everything others(maxed 14/16 inchers) can do on the same level and if losing then not by much. If you are really budget constrained and $500 is a big deal to you or you don't need the 16 inch size because of the bulk, then the base 14 is a winner. Add the fact that you love portability and this is it.
2) Category - "economy powerhouse". All base MBP 14 but with 32GB of RAM. $2400
Reason: if you want the most for your money, then this is it. 32GB of ram helps to destroy 16 inch base in most heavy tasks, so overall makes more sense to buy this build, as it is an "ultimate power tool" on a budget. Usually the person buying this will have 4k 27 inch external so doesn't care about 16 inch display.
3) Category - most balanced config for your money. Base MBP 14 with 32gb of ram and 1tb ssd. $2600
Reasoning: you get everything from number 2, but for the price equal($2600) to base MBP 16($2500) you get the ultimate solution that rivals base 16 incher and goes a long way in terms of the comfort that 1tb ssd provides. As opposed, you get only 16gb of ram and 512gb ssd in 16 inch MBP - it is like a jeep wrangler with 2 liter engine.

At this point want to end the 14 inchers, because money/performance ends here. All the other options are considered as per your wish, meaning that further money spent on this builds will have diminishing returns and totally depends on your wallet.

4) Category - #2 top bang for the buck or the most sensible choice 2. Base MBP 16 with 10/16/16/512. $2500
Reason: well the same reasoning as with the base 14, the only difference of $500 where you get +2 core CPU and +2 core GPU. The main thing here is the display, battery life, overall perception. CPU cores might be not really worth it, but you can't get 16 inch hdr screen for less. And for some, 16 inch display is far more noticeable upgrade rather than 32GB of ram or 1tb ssd.
5) Category - most balanced non-budget powerhouse. MBP 16 with 10/16/32/1tb. $3100
Reasoning: 32GB of RAM, because that is crucial when it comes to performance and the difference can be had and worth $400 if you have it of course. 1TB because we already spent ton of money, so saving $200 is just cheap-skating at this point. If you are interested in 512GB and most power, then go for number 2 option. Otherwise, the bulk of MBP 16 goes wasted if you get 512GB, when in reality this body could hold whopping 8TB.
6) Category - ultimate performance for your money. MBP M1 Max with 10/24/32/1tb. $3300
Reason: basically the same thing as number 5, except double the decoders in M1 max, double bandwidth of RAM and only $200 difference. Basically if you have another $200 to spare then why not to upgrade if possible. Higher bandwidth of RAM and more GPU might not make any difference to your work style and hard to notice(even harder than the usefulness of 32GB of Ram), but might be useful for some. Still 1 TB because whatever amount is insufficient, so you would have to use external ssds, also it makes more sense money wise. It is just 1tb gives you the most TBW, most comfort before you have to use externals.

Conclusion: the list provides the most money saving options. There is no other options for MBP 14 to increase the difference between MBP 16 - i mean to stretch out initial $500 difference fully towards performance by not exceeding the price of 16 inch.
 
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gren81

macrumors member
Sep 15, 2013
37
14
Thanks for the above post. Very useful.

I had concluded the same as option #3 ($2600 14”) above - but for more emotional “want” reasons. At least the analysis confirms my choice, but the analysis also confirms that I should be satisfied with 14” base. If I am honest to myself, my tasks really do not “need” the MBP M1 Pro.

Currently, I am holding out for a 2022 / 2023 upgraded MB Air to replace my mid-2012 13” MBP i5 and an iPad (touch screen) that I don’t have.
 

bsmr

macrumors 6502a
Oct 4, 2005
894
230
Germany
Thx for it.

For me I'm struggling between staying with my M1 (2020) 13" Mac Book Pro OR buying the new 14" MBP M1....

Think I will stay with the old one, as the new ones are really expensive.
 

dallegre

macrumors regular
Feb 25, 2016
196
184
Thx for it.

For me I'm struggling between staying with my M1 (2020) 13" Mac Book Pro OR buying the new 14" MBP M1....

Think I will stay with the old one, as the new ones are really expensive.

I think the reason the price seems so high coming from a 13" is that the performance tier and price of the 14" is now more in line with the previous Intel 15/16" models. There's no longer a (significant) price/performance gap between the small model and the large model.
 
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ctjack

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Mar 8, 2020
899
858
For me I'm struggling between staying with my M1 (2020) 13" Mac Book Pro
If your signature is correct, then I would sit still until the next updates. Currently I have m1 Air with 8gb of RAM and I would tell you that the itch to switch is strong and justified. I mean i lose more by selling mine and picking up 16/512 Air(-$500), could as well splurge for new ones.
 

darngooddesign

macrumors P6
Jul 4, 2007
15,325
6,189
Atlanta, GA
I went with the 16" 10/16 M1-Pro with 16GB and 2TB.

My rational:
RAM - I have 16GB on my 2014 MBP and 95% of what I do keeps memory pressure in the green so no reason to get 32.
Drive - While 1TB is large enough for my Photos library, Music library, documents, and apps; it isn't large enough for all that, RAM swap, and Photoshop scratch disk. with 2TB I can even keep my RAW files on it. My current computer is eight years old so I'm not too concerned about the additional drive cost.
Display - The larger screen is only $200 more and with that I also get better speakers, better cooling, and a bigger battery.

Now I just have to wait a month(ish) for it to arrive.
 
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IJBrekke

macrumors 6502a
Oct 24, 2009
563
534
Long Beach, CA
Thanks for your helpful post. I will be turning in a work MacBook in the near future and will be shopping for a personal computer again, so this all frames that search very nicely.

Honestly, it also highlights how great of a deal the Mac Air is with the M1. Half the price and 85% of the performance with greater battery life. It’s a great machine.
 
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ctjack

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Mar 8, 2020
899
858
Honestly, it also highlights how great of a deal the Mac Air is with the M1. Half the price and 85% of the performance with greater battery life. It’s a great machine.
Air M1 is great! I haven't included them, since it is an obvious choice if you opt for 16GB of RAM and you are a first time buyer. Especially at $1229 in Apple's refurbished store for 16/512 build.

I wouldn't be shopping for another laptop for the next 2 years if I only had 16gb of ram in my Air m1. But currently, selling my 8gb Air and picking up another 16GB is $500 for me and hard to justify. First time shoppers have an edge here.
 

Christopher Kim

macrumors 6502a
Nov 18, 2016
601
540
Good post, I generally agree with your considerations. I ended up getting the 14" 10/16 32gb/1TB.

I wanted to upgrade memory to 32gb (even though the +$400 was tough / poor "bang-for-buck" to swallow), and the 1TB was right size for my use case to keep most of my files local, and not need to use my external drives that much. I also preferred the portability of the 14" (and as you mentioned, I do have the external monitor at home, so don't need the larger screen as much).

Only difference with me is I took the +$300 upgrade to get the unbinned 10-core CPU / 16-core GPU. Less because I thought I needed the power of the additional cores, but more because I just didn't like the idea of getting a double-binned chip. It's probably not true, but deep down, I wondered if some cores didn't pass tests, the chip may have some other negative effect in the long-run (eg. that would make its longevity weaker in some way) vs just not having those cores activated. Probably not true, but would be lying if I said it wasn't one of the factors (even if a smaller one).
 
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ctjack

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Mar 8, 2020
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It's probably not true, but deep down, I wondered if some cores didn't pass tests, the chip may have some other negative effect in the long-run (eg. that would make its longevity weaker in some way) vs just not having those cores activated. Probably not true, but would be lying if I said it wasn't one of the factors (even if a smaller one).
Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I truly agree with you as it makes sense.
Personally I would have went with the same config as yours but in a 16 inch body for an extra +$200. Because I don't have a TV in my kitchen and 16" works good for that matter.:)
 

sb in ak

macrumors member
Apr 15, 2014
73
41
Homer, Alaska
I got a base MBP 16 with 1TB SSD. If I did it over, I'd probably go for the base 14 with 32GB/1TB. I'm not sure I'd notice the binned SOC but Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop are really ram intensive. The 16" screen is really nice but I use an external display for critical photo editing work. Though... I use the laptop as my TV on the couch and elsewhere so it is nice having the big screen. it's my do-everything device.

I'm curious if Lightroom still has memory leak issues. It was using about 32GB of Ram last night just running in the background, which seems kinda ridiculous. The machine still ran smoothly using 16GB swap, though I do worry a little bit about that affecting the life of the SSD.
 
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happyslayer

macrumors 65816
Feb 3, 2008
1,014
559
Glendale, AZ
Great post and I agree with most of your reasoning. I personally went with the base 14" and it suits my needs and handles all the tasks I need it for--internet browsing, remote computer/server support, Office365, Scrivener, Parallels with Windows 11 ARM (Preview) and even the occasional bit of light gaming. To the person(s) considering the upgrade from the 13" M1 Air or Pro, I upgraded from the M1 Air mostly for the amazing screen, and, too me, it was well worth doing. It's just stunning with deep blacks, HDR and overall crispness. Also, as an added bonus, the speakers sound really great also.
 
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SpunZ

macrumors newbie
Dec 29, 2018
19
23
Great post and I agree with most of your reasoning. I personally went with the base 14" and it suits my needs and handles all the tasks I need it for--internet browsing, remote computer/server support, Office365, Scrivener, Parallels with Windows 11 ARM (Preview) and even the occasional bit of light gaming. To the person(s) considering the upgrade from the 13" M1 Air or Pro, I upgraded from the M1 Air mostly for the amazing screen, and, too me, it was well worth doing. It's just stunning with deep blacks, HDR and overall crispness. Also, as an added bonus, the speakers sound really great also.
I am upgrading from a 13 inch 2018 intel MBA to a 14 inch MBP base, can't wait for the performance increase in addition to everything else.
 
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clevins

macrumors 6502
Jul 26, 2014
409
650
The other thing to consider if you're someone who doesnt NEED to upgrade right now is that the Air is allegedly getting updated and redesigned this year. If Air specs (16g RAM, mostly) are OK with you and you can wait, I would. I say this as I'm typing on a 2020 Air and it's great. But it has 2 main limitations that you can't overcome:

1) 16gig RAM max
2) only one external screen supported.
 

TriApple

macrumors regular
Mar 16, 2011
182
138
Tend to agree with OP here. I ended up returning #2 in the 14" category for the 10-core / 32gb / 1tb.. so a bump up from #3 specially for the use case of VMs and wanted the cores to assign to my Windows 11 VM.

Great machine. I mean, seriously it's really an incredible tool for so many use cases.
 
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ctjack

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Mar 8, 2020
899
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Tend to agree with OP here. I ended up returning #2 in the 14" category for the 10-core / 32gb / 1tb.. so a bump up from #3 specially for the use case of VMs and wanted the cores to assign to my Windows 11 VM.

Great machine. I mean, seriously it's really an incredible tool for so many use cases.
So you got #5 from the list in a 14 inch body - saved $200 and got portability as a bonus. Great choice!
It is good to hear that the list makes people think about justification of the upgrades - do we really need it? You already know that extra cores will greatly improve your VM work, thus nice reasoning to choose 10 core CPU.
 

Larabee119

macrumors regular
Sep 16, 2014
155
263
If you live in the US, just buy whatever within your budget then claim it as business expense. You have to pay tax anyway, why not deduct that and make it technically a free machine.
I find 32 GB of RAM quite limited and 1TB nvme filled up in about 1 month. I’m at the point of 64GB is just barely enough.

This buying guide is quite useful for light to medium workload.
 

Christopher Kim

macrumors 6502a
Nov 18, 2016
601
540
Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I truly agree with you as it makes sense.
Personally I would have went with the same config as yours but in a 16 inch body for an extra +$200. Because I don't have a TV in my kitchen and 16" works good for that matter.:)
Yah, makes sense. It's pretty cool that for the first time with the Macs, the configs between the 14" and 16" can be made identical, and it's just +$200 to go from 14" > 16" if you want the bigger size. Now it seems apparent that because of the better thermals (and battery / power) on the 16", even spec-alike, the 16" performs better than the 14". Given that, I think even more so, if you prefer / can deal with the bigger size, getting the 16" is really a great way to go. It just isn't me, so I went with the 14". And can be just as happy!

The other thing to consider if you're someone who doesnt NEED to upgrade right now is that the Air is allegedly getting updated and redesigned this year. If Air specs (16g RAM, mostly) are OK with you and you can wait, I would. I say this as I'm typing on a 2020 Air and it's great. But it has 2 main limitations that you can't overcome:

1) 16gig RAM max
2) only one external screen supported.
Yes, this is true. And even more so, if you go with the MBA now, it's technically a 1yr old machine which is likely to be "dated" in <1yr. Yes, you can say that anything you need, the current 2020 MBA will do for you. But still, it can be a bit of a downer when the new model comes out and is different from yours, and makes yours feel old.

If Apple does go with an every-2-yr cycle for updates, I like that having just got the 14" MBP, I don't have to see any updated machines get released for a little bit longer! Haha
 
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MrAverigeUser

macrumors 6502a
May 20, 2015
858
379
europe
Yah, makes sense. It's pretty cool that for the first time with the Macs, the configs between the 14" and 16" can be made identical, and it's just +$200 to go from 14" > 16" if you want the bigger size. Now it seems apparent that because of the better thermals (and battery / power) on the 16", even spec-alike, the 16" performs better than the 14". Given that, I think even more so, if you prefer / can deal with the bigger size, getting the 16" is really a great way to go. It just isn't me, so I went with the 14". And can be just as happy!


Yes, this is true. And even more so, if you go with the MBA now, it's technically a 1yr old machine which is likely to be "dated" in <1yr. Yes, you can say that anything you need, the current 2020 MBA will do for you. But still, it can be a bit of a downer when the new model comes out and is different from yours, and makes yours feel old.

If Apple does go with an every-2-yr cycle for updates, I like that having just got the 14" MBP, I don't have to see any updated machines get released for a little bit longer! Haha


I want to purchase a MBP M1 perhaps in at least 1 year from now - since apple had always problems with not-so-brilliant design, think of grilled GPUs from 20108-2014,
failing keyboards over many yearsm, the Desaster of the „trash can“ MP and a lot of other mismanagement of the R&D Dep.

always claiming for years that „You‘re holding it wrong“ or waiting for years and many class suit action to be lost until they confessed to have been wrong..

Ok, thank god Joni „form over function“ Ive is now history and function seems to be something to think about now.
But I will still wait.

As for if was me to buy soon, I‘ wait for the new MBA tomcome this year soon.

Maybe I want to purchase this, or the MBP 14/16 - or I will purchase the MBA THEN because it’s price will get even lower than now. If the MBA 2020 is enough for someone, this might lead to a „Best Buy“ when purchasing the MBA THEN.

At home I have still the OWC Thunderbolt 2 dock, so at Home no problem with lack of connection…

A friend of mine purchased the MBA M1 2020 some weeks ago and is very happy with it.

So - waiting for the claimed enormous change in design of the MBA and lower prices or just be more sure that this time apple dis do it right with their new MBP 14/16….

cheers
 

Christopher Kim

macrumors 6502a
Nov 18, 2016
601
540
Maybe I want to purchase this, or the MBP 14/16 - or I will purchase the MBA THEN because it’s price will get even lower than now. If the MBA 2020 is enough for someone, this might lead to a „Best Buy“ when purchasing the MBA THEN.

So - waiting for the claimed enormous change in design of the MBA and lower prices or just be more sure that this time apple dis do it right with their new MBP 14/16….
Yes, very true, that if you are able to, and do, wait until new M2 MBA released (presumably later this year), even if you decide you're happy with the 2020 M1 MBA, prices for the latter should go down so you can save money by waiting. Most likely, you won't be able to get directly from Apple, but as you said plenty of other big-box retailers (eg. Best Buy) and on the secondary market should start blowing out a bunch of stock.

I've done this a few times, eg. with my 11" 2018 iPad Pro (came out Oct 2018), I didn't buy until the newer 2020 11" iPad Pro came out (released Mar 2020, which was a very modest upgrade with dual-camera / LIDAR which meant nothing to me, and A12Z vs A12X processor). Saved a bunch of money buying a new-in-box 2018 iPad Pro because I was able to wait.

All that to be said, as @clevins said, if you're in the market for an MBA and you're able to wait, it makes more sense to do so now than at other times, given we're on the cusp of a likely model-redesign.
 

russell_314

macrumors 603
Feb 10, 2019
5,419
7,764
USA
Thx for it.

For me I'm struggling between staying with my M1 (2020) 13" Mac Book Pro OR buying the new 14" MBP M1....

Think I will stay with the old one, as the new ones are really expensive.
I would stick with your current MacBook Pro if it’s doing the job. The screen is the only reason you would want to upgrade.

My reasoning behind this is you said the new ones are really expensive so you’re probably not doing anything crazy that pushes your MacBook needing the new M1 Pro/Max. Using them for light tasks you won’t even notice a difference. I think there’s going to be a 14” MacBook Air coming out soon. It might have a performance bump over the current 13” MacBook Pro but It’ll definitely have a better screen. This is what I’m waiting for. I need something portable and if it’s as powerful as the M1 but with a more modern screen I’m buying it
 

Sanpete

macrumors 68040
Nov 17, 2016
3,693
1,665
Utah
Which model gives the best bang for the buck depends a lot on what you plan to use it for. Base models do tend to give certain kinds of bang for the buck, though, since they have almost all the same main features.

#1 top bang for the buck or the most sensible choice. Base MBP 14 8/14/16/512. $2000
Reason: well it can do everything others(maxed 14/16 inchers) can do on the same level and if losing then not by much.
I don't follow this part. The Max models can easily be twice as fast or more some some things. Though the 14" Max appears to be power throttled, which cuts into performance sometimes.

2) Category - "economy powerhouse". All base MBP 14 but with 32GB of RAM. $2400
Reason: if you want the most for your money, then this is it. 32GB of ram helps to destroy 16 inch base in most heavy tasks
In most heavy tasks it won't make a difference, but it can in some.

Usually the person buying this will have 4k 27 inch external so doesn't care about 16 inch display.
I doubt this. I know I don't. People who get the 16" usually really do want more screen space.

you get only 16gb of ram and 512gb ssd in 16 inch MBP - it is like a jeep wrangler with 2 liter engine.
More like a F-150 Limited with base cab and bed options.
 
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ctjack

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Mar 8, 2020
899
858
I don't follow this part. The Max models can easily be twice as fast or more some some things. Though the 14" Max appears to be power throttled, which cuts into performance sometimes.
Twice fast only in certain video tasks, which involves "double decoders/encoders, prores". Otherwise they are all sitting on the same M1 CPU cores either 8 or 10. Difference between the 8 and 10 is minimal, unless you know for sure that you need that extra cores for VM. Because VM doesn't care about performance of your cores but rather nothing can replace the physical availability of those cores to assign.
You also mentioned about power cut in the max model for 14" - why pay the same price if it performs less than the same 16 inch.
In most heavy tasks it won't make a difference, but it can in some.
Right, but let's say Artisright channel on Youtube have shown that MBP 16 with 16gb of RAM lags in pano edits with LR, while base 14 with 32gb ram did not.
So nobody said that the difference would be obvious and all time present - but it will be there for you to appreciate it from time to time when the extra +16gb of ram will kick in.
I doubt this. I know I don't. People who get the 16" usually really do want more screen space.
It is all up to you. If watching 14" screen 8-10 hours a day for most of the year works fine for you then why not. But it is not the most logical decision at that price point ($2400) because money wise external display instead of 32gb of ram or jumping to base 16 will be more beneficial.
More like a F-150 Limited with base cab and bed options.
Aren't limiteds already coming with double cab and normal bed at its' base config?
 
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