which macbook air? m1 or m2, m3, refurbished?

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gips
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which macbook air? m1 or m2, m3, refurbished?

Post by gips »

My wife has used pcs all her life but has asked for a mac. Her needs are basic: web browsing, google mail, google docs. I was in tech, a cto, and know quite a bit about pcs but next to nothing about macs.

option 1: $700 m1, 8mb, 256 SSD from Walmart or best buy. However, it's a 2020 machine which I believe means OS and security updates will end in 3 years or so.

option 2: $1000 M2, 8mb, 256mb SSD, however I've read that the SSD is slow. this is fixed by purchasing a 512mb SSD for another $200, so $1200 for the machine

option 3: $1099 edit: $949 at Costco!, M3 8mb, 256mb SSD which, fixes the SSD problem and contains a more powerful chip

option 4: refurb m2 from apple and for $929

I'm leaning towards the $700 model or the $1099 m3, some questions:
- how concerned should I be about lack of os updates in 3 years? I understand the laptop will continue to function.
- Am I correct that the m1 will be more than sufficient for web browsing?
- Is there any reason not to purchase an apple refurb? I note it comes with a full warranty
- Is apple care+ worth it?
- should I be considering any of the other options I listed?
- edit: the m3 is now $949 at costco, thinking that's the way to go, $249 for a new machine and more os updates.

best,
ps please don't suggest a PC, Chromebook or linux-based laptop, we're both fully aware of those options and she wants a MacBook.
Last edited by gips on Wed May 15, 2024 1:16 pm, edited 3 times in total.
bondsr4me
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Re: which macbook air? m1 or m2, m3, refurbished?

Post by bondsr4me »

A few months ago I got the M2, 256mb, 8mb ram.

I always used to buy MacBookPro's, but the prices/performances of the MBA sucked me in.

It works really really well....I can't really "see" the difference between the MBP and MBA...except in my checkbook!

The MBA does everything I need to do and does it really fast.

You can't wrong with it.

Good Luck with your choice.
chinchin
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Re: which macbook air? m1 or m2, m3, refurbished?

Post by chinchin »

I use the M1 MBA to run Final Cut Pro. It's sufficient for web browsing. Personally I would buy an M1 MBA in your case since it is the cheapest and your wife is a new Mac user and may end up disliking it.
not financial advice
Normchad
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Re: which macbook air? m1 or m2, m3, refurbished?

Post by Normchad »

I’ve got. an M2 MacBook Pro now. Prior to that I had an older intel based Mac book pro. I think you’ll be happy with any of the mac books.

I’ve never purchased apple care on anything. I keep some of this stuff for many ,many years, And Apple still keeps rolling out OS updates for them. Honestly, the last Intel Mac I had is still 100% fine for anything I want to do. I believe it was a 2017 model.

I *inherited* this M2 machine from my daughter, who is switching completely over to the new M4 iPad Pro. I’ll be interested to see how that goes…..
WhiteMaxima
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Re: which macbook air? m1 or m2, m3, refurbished?

Post by WhiteMaxima »

M1 Macbook Air @walmat.com. Done.
MarkRoulo
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Re: which macbook air? m1 or m2, m3, refurbished?

Post by MarkRoulo »

gips wrote: Wed May 15, 2024 11:00 am My wife has used pcs all her life but has asked for a mac. Her needs are basic: web browsing, google mail, google docs. I was in tech, a cto, and know quite a bit about pcs but next to nothing about macs.

option 1: $700 m1, 8mb, 256 SSD from Walmart or best buy. However, it's a 2020 machine which I believe means OS and security updates will end in 3 years or so.

option 2: $1000 M2, 8mb, 256mb SSD, however I've read that the SSD is slow. this is fixed by purchasing a 512mb SSD for another $200, so $1200 for the machine

option 3: $1099 M3 8mb, 256mb SSD which, fixes the SSD problem and contains a more powerful chip

option 4: refurb m2 from apple and for $929

I'm leaning towards the $700 model or the $1099 m3, some questions:
- how concerned should I be about lack of os updates in 3 years? I understand the laptop will continue to function.
- Am I correct that the m1 will be more than sufficient for web browsing?
- Is there any reason not to purchase an apple refurb? I note it comes with a full warranty
- Is apple care+ worth it?
- should I be considering any of the other options I listed?

best,
ps please don't suggest a PC, Chromebook or linux-based laptop, we're both fully aware of those options and she wants a MacBook.
All of these will work well for web browsing, e-mail, Google docs, etc.

My personal machine is a 2019 Intel MacBook Pro. The most recent macOS (Sonoma) supports 2018 and later Intel MacBook Pros so right now I'm seeing 5 - 6 (or maybe a bit more) years of getting new OSes for my computer. I expect about three years of support after the last OS version that is released for my laptop, so I'll probably be fine until sometime around 2027 or later. And, as you mention, it isn't like the hardware and software fail when OS support ends.

Historically, the problem with a lack of OS support has been that 3rd party software (e.g. TurboTax) won't work on the last OS you can install on the hardware even though the hardware and OS are running fine.

M1 will be *FINE* for web browsing. The M1 is faster than any x86 based Mac Laptop. And the last released x86 MacBook Pros were fast.

Apple refurbs are fine.

I tend to purchase AppleCare. In general, though, Apple hardware is high quality and Apple pays attention to build quality.

I would probably choose the newer M3 just to push off how long until I needed to upgrade.

Apple has a developer conference in about a month and you might want to wait until then to see if there is anything new. For your purposes, though, it probably doesn't matter.

You want a backup plan. Apple's TimeMachine "just works."
ThankYouJack
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Re: which macbook air? m1 or m2, m3, refurbished?

Post by ThankYouJack »

I would check SlickDeals. I personally like the 15" over the 13" and you can probably get an M2 15" for under $1,000.

I wouldn't go with the M1 if OS and security updates are ending in 3 years.
Horologium
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Re: which macbook air? m1 or m2, m3, refurbished?

Post by Horologium »

gips wrote: Wed May 15, 2024 11:00 am My wife has used pcs all her life but has asked for a mac. Her needs are basic: web browsing, google mail, google docs.
Based on her intended use, I would go with the cheapest Mac. I have a 2022 MBA with the base configuration. I use it for email, web browsing, wasting time watching YT videos, etc. and it is fine. I don't think you need more unless your editing videos or gaming.

My only caveat is if your wife is like my wife. My beloved wife seems to think that if she closes a tab, it's gone forever. She doesn't deal with bookmarks, Pocket/Instapaper, browser history, search engines, etc. Consequently, she keeps (I am not making this up) dozens of tabs open on her browser because she intends to go back and read them someday. This only got worse when I mistakenly showed her that you could open more than one instance of a web browser at a time. Now, she has a dozen instances of Chrome open with dozens of of tabs open on each one.

So, for her MBA, I got the upgraded RAM. :happy
gips wrote: Wed May 15, 2024 11:00 am I'm leaning towards the $700 model or the $1099 m3, some questions:
- how concerned should I be about lack of os updates in 3 years? I understand the laptop will continue to function.
Are you sure about this? Before getting my updated MBA, I had a 2015 MBP and I *think* I was still getting OS updates in 2022.
gips wrote: Wed May 15, 2024 11:00 am - Is apple care+ worth it?
I don't think so for a laptop. I've been a Mac user since the 90s and have never needed to have a Mac serviced. I do have Apple Care for my AirPods, but only because I think there is a greater chance they could be lost or damaged
mikejuss
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Re: which macbook air? m1 or m2, m3, refurbished?

Post by mikejuss »

Refurbished (but, then again, I also buy used rather than new cars).
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WhiteMaxima
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Re: which macbook air? m1 or m2, m3, refurbished?

Post by WhiteMaxima »

The M4 will be AI enhanced. Save the $360 difference to buy two shares of AAPL. Then use the AAPL gain to buy M4 or M6. Repeat the cycle again.
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Re: which macbook air? m1 or m2, m3, refurbished?

Post by fogalog »

gips wrote: Wed May 15, 2024 11:00 am My wife has used pcs all her life but has asked for a mac. Her needs are basic: web browsing, google mail, google docs. I was in tech, a cto, and know quite a bit about pcs but next to nothing about macs.

option 1: $700 m1, 8mb, 256 SSD from Walmart or best buy. However, it's a 2020 machine which I believe means OS and security updates will end in 3 years or so.

option 2: $1000 M2, 8mb, 256mb SSD, however I've read that the SSD is slow. this is fixed by purchasing a 512mb SSD for another $200, so $1200 for the machine

option 3: $1099 M3 8mb, 256mb SSD which, fixes the SSD problem and contains a more powerful chip

option 4: refurb m2 from apple and for $929

I'm leaning towards the $700 model or the $1099 m3, some questions:
- how concerned should I be about lack of os updates in 3 years? I understand the laptop will continue to function.
- Am I correct that the m1 will be more than sufficient for web browsing?
- Is there any reason not to purchase an apple refurb? I note it comes with a full warranty
- Is apple care+ worth it?
- should I be considering any of the other options I listed?

best,
ps please don't suggest a PC, Chromebook or linux-based laptop, we're both fully aware of those options and she wants a MacBook.
I'd go with an M2 Air - I did and I love it. Best laptop I've ever owned.

An M2 has Magsafe and the newer screen which the M1 does not. It is a lovely screen and a great keyboard for typing.

I would strongly suggest 16GB versus 8GB. More memory will increase the effective life of your laptop much more than a slightly newer CPU: I had my last Macbook Pro for 10 years.

Apple refurb is excellent. It is basically new. I almost never buy non-refurb.

Good luck!
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Re: which macbook air? m1 or m2, m3, refurbished?

Post by Darth Vanguard »

I can't comment on the Apple products, as I have always used PC's. However, I have had very good luck buying refurbished PC's - both desktops and laptops. I can't even tell they are used, to be honest.

Whatever you decide, I would encourage you to look at the refurbished - usually a little cheaper, and then there is "less stuff" being made/wasted.

Good luck.
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ejvyas
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Re: which macbook air? m1 or m2, m3, refurbished?

Post by ejvyas »

Basic chromebook will do the job for ~300. Refurb should b ~200.

If you really want to choose from the Mac options, whatever is the cheapest eg. option 1
ThankYouJack
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Re: which macbook air? m1 or m2, m3, refurbished?

Post by ThankYouJack »

Horologium wrote: Wed May 15, 2024 11:38 am
gips wrote: Wed May 15, 2024 11:00 am I'm leaning towards the $700 model or the $1099 m3, some questions:
- how concerned should I be about lack of os updates in 3 years? I understand the laptop will continue to function.
Are you sure about this? Before getting my updated MBA, I had a 2015 MBP and I *think* I was still getting OS updates in 2022.

MBAs are typically supported for 7 years (MBPs are supported for longer). So if the OP buys an MBA that was released in 2020, that would give just 3 more years for updates. Seems penny wise, pound foolish to me.
Parkinglotracer
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Re: which macbook air? m1 or m2, m3, refurbished?

Post by Parkinglotracer »

I got the M2 air on sale for 1K

I have not noticed anything slow

Getting used to the laptop keyboard coming from an iMac is a bit different
N.Y.Cab
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Re: which macbook air? m1 or m2, m3, refurbished?

Post by N.Y.Cab »

M1 would probably be more than enough. Another good choice is the Mac mini if don’t need the portability and already have nice monitor, keyboard and mouse at home.

https://www.apple.com/us-edu/shop/buy-mac/mac-mini
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Re: which macbook air? m1 or m2, m3, refurbished?

Post by syngameon »

WhiteMaxima wrote: Wed May 15, 2024 11:45 am The M4 will be AI enhanced. Save the $360 difference to buy two shares of AAPL. Then use the AAPL gain to buy M4 or M6. Repeat the cycle again.
It will be a long time before any growth in AAPL makes it worthwhile to sell it for profit. You also gotta consider income tax on any gains and a penalty if you keep it for less than a year.
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Re: which macbook air? m1 or m2, m3, refurbished?

Post by PersonalFinanceJam »

Just went through this not long ago. Got a Walmart special M1 for a family member who doesn't have heavy requirements (even though they think they might..lol) and it's been a champ. They have only used Macs all their life and had one of the last Intel machines. Even with 8GB of RAM the machine is surprisingly spry. Since Apple transitioned to the M architecture it's really shocking how well MacOS can manage memory but it also makes sense because they learned how to do it from the iPhone. I figure it will be replaced by another Walmart special or equivalent in 3 to 5 years.

My own Intel Mac was recently replaced with an M3 air 15 inch. I did get the 16 GB of memory but I do run the occasional virtual machine. Although much of that is outsourced to cloud providers these days.

In each of the above cases I opted for new machines as opposed to refurbished or used since they came with full warranties. Refurbished from Apple usually comes with a full warranty but those are usually at a premium. Used wasn't going to save that much money. Best Buy and Micro Center were both running 10% off deals on the newest models which is how I got my M3 Air. I'm not sure if they still are or not. I think you also had to at least be able to pick up in store.
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Re: which macbook air? m1 or m2, m3, refurbished?

Post by BIGal »

I bought a MacBook Air M1 a couple of years ago at Best Buy with the student discount and it has been an excellent machine.
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Re: which macbook air? m1 or m2, m3, refurbished?

Post by WhiteMaxima »

As an average user, you won't notice the 20-40% benchmark difference between M1, M2 and M3. The SSD on the M1 is better than M2 and M3. So save your $400 and get a brand new M1 Macnbook from W-Mart if they still have some left. The M4 and on silicon CPU will be AI enhanced.
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Re: which macbook air? m1 or m2, m3, refurbished?

Post by alexbogle »

Hardware-wise any of the models would do. I think if you got an m1 air you would probably want to upgrade in 3 years anyway so I don't see the support as a factor.

Try m1 and m2/m3 and see if she prefers one form factor over the other. m1 is smaller and leaner.
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Re: which macbook air? m1 or m2, m3, refurbished?

Post by Garfieldthecat »

A few comments:

- With your wife's existing PC/laptop, how much hard drive space does she use? Do you save files/pictures/videos on the PC, or in the cloud (Onedrive, icloud, etc..) That will help determine hard drive size. The "slower" SSD drives in the M2 aren't a big deal. Yes, the max speed is slower, but it is still way faster then you need, so it's really a non issue.

-M1/M2/M3, for the uses you list, are all about the same perceptual speed. For email/youtube/browsing I doubt in a blind test anyone could tell the difference, so don't worry about what CPU you get.

-As other people mentioned, LCD screens are different, and you get the Magsafe charger with M2 and M3.

-8Gig RAM should be fine

I got my wife an M1 8Gig RAM with 256Gig HD a few years ago and it's still fine. Assuming it doesn't break, she probably can get 5-6 years at least out of it, if not longer. Personally, I'd probably go with the refurb M2 just for the longer OS updates, and magsafe charger.
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Re: which macbook air? m1 or m2, m3, refurbished?

Post by cbs2002 »

Longtime Mac user, currently on close-to-base M2 Macbook Pro. I think the hard drive speed thing (same "issue" affected the M1 Pro to M2 Pro transition) is irrelevant to your use case. I researched this before I purchased and unless you are doing work that requires regular movement of massive files, you will not notice any difference. Any performance bottleneck would be elsewhere. My computer is lightning fast.

I would look at 16 GB RAM though, I think that will matter much more to longevity, though Apple does a really good job with memory management.

Have bought numerous items off Apple refurb store. All have appeared as new and worked flawlessly as designed.
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Re: which macbook air? m1 or m2, m3, refurbished?

Post by exodusing »

The consensus on the forums I've read (although nothing is universal) is that the M1 is fine for your wife's use case, 8gb is enough unless you're going to be opening very many tabs or programs at once, very few seem concerned about OS updates stopping (and many people keep Macs beyond the update period). While the M2 256gb has a slower SSD speed, it's unlikely to matter for her uses.

Perhaps have her look at each version in a store to see if she has preferences.

Amazon refurbs have a 90 day return period compared to Apple refurbs at 14 days so if you buy from Amazon she'd have longer to see if she likes whatever you buy. OTOH, buying from Apple may be more comforting.
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Re: which macbook air? m1 or m2, m3, refurbished?

Post by anoop »

Of the 3, I'd go with the M3.

I wouldn't worry about lack of updates if you choose to go with the M1.

But I am concerned with your choice of 8/256. 256GB SSD is a very small. Are you sure it will be enough for years to come? Keep in mind SSD performance degrades quite a bit once it exceeds about 75% storage capacity.
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Re: which macbook air? m1 or m2, m3, refurbished?

Post by bombcar »

gips wrote: Wed May 15, 2024 11:00 am option 1: $700 m1, 8mb, 256 SSD from Walmart or best buy. However, it's a 2020 machine which I believe means OS and security updates will end in 3 years or so.
It's being sold new today so support for it should go for quite awhile, at least five years.

But you should checkout Apple's refurbished if you're looking at the low-end: https://www.apple.com/shop/refurbished

Their refurbished are really nice, I rarely get anything but.
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Re: which macbook air? m1 or m2, m3, refurbished?

Post by exodusing »

anoop wrote: Wed May 15, 2024 2:25 pmBut I am concerned with your choice of 8/256. 256GB SSD is a very small. Are you sure it will be enough for years to come? Keep in mind SSD performance degrades quite a bit once it exceeds about 75% storage capacity.
Apple wants $200 to go from 256gb to 512gb. For $200 you can get a nice 2,000gb external SSD and money back.

web browsing, google mail, google docs don't sound likely to fill even a 256gb drive.
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Re: which macbook air? m1 or m2, m3, refurbished?

Post by illumination »

As long as you have the hard drive space you need, I think you will find almost no real world difference in performance with any of these options. I think the "update" situation with Apple's OS is really overstated and it's just not something you should worry about. I wouldnt buy a newer unit purely for that reason.

The memory situation is frustrating, these things really should just have a minimum of 500GB as standard, but they want to sell Cloud services and you pay hundreds more for what should be a $20 upgrade. Just get either an external SSD drive or thumb drive for media.


My strategy with Apple laptops is go cheap and upgrade more often. Usually the battery life failing is when I find myself wanting a new laptop.
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Re: which macbook air? m1 or m2, m3, refurbished?

Post by ask729 »

Are you looking to browse the web, use Google Mail, and Google Docs? Consider purchasing the most affordable refurbished M1 laptop and then invest the money you save.

I currently use an M1 MacBook for work, where I run a few local AI models on it. While I have the option to upgrade to an M4, I find that my current laptop meets all my needs. Until recently, I used a 2009 iMac as my home computer, but I replaced it with a used M1 Mac mini.

I have been using Macs since the 90s and have over 35 years of experience in the tech industry, am a tech executive, and I am still employed :)
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Re: which macbook air? m1 or m2, m3, refurbished?

Post by jaMichael »

I just got an M1 MacBook Air 16/1TB renewed from Amazon. Very happy with it. Tough to beat the value. In fairness, though, two of the renewed MacBooks we’ve purchased from Amazon have had issues - one cosmetic and one more serious - and had to be exchanged, which was a minor annoyance. My partner is a tech professional and won’t let me buy any tech that isn’t Apple, and won’t let me buy any Apple laptops unless refurbished/renewed. Were it up to me, I’d buy new, but my partner makes a compelling argument on refurbished from a value standpoint.
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Re: which macbook air? m1 or m2, m3, refurbished?

Post by ThankYouJack »

WhiteMaxima wrote: Wed May 15, 2024 1:27 pm So save your $400 and get a brand new M1 Macnbook from W-Mart if they still have some left.
If the difference is $400, I agree. I bought a M2 15" for $259 more than the Walmart special. Well worth it for a faster chip, larger screen, magsafe and will be supported longer (an extra 3 years?). I've owned 4 MacBook Pros in the past so wasn't sure about switching to an Air but the speed and battery life have been fantastic.
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Re: which macbook air? m1 or m2, m3, refurbished?

Post by Jungle »

Typing this on an m1 macbook air right now and it is probably the best computer I've ever owned, zero issues, runs cool and quiet

with that said, based on value, it sounds like the $949 M3 is the way to go. M1, M2, M3 are all more than powerful enough for daily tasks. SSD speed should be more than enough on all units.

I would recommend the 16gb RAM model if you can find one. 8gb is getting pretty tight nowadays, even for the basics. It will cost a bit extra but add several years of longevity. These computers run out of RAM before anything else.

I would pass on the Apple care. It is essentially insurance. If you are on this forum, you are likely able to self-insure for computer issues. Generally any sort of aftermarket plan is a profit generator for the issuing company. You will come out ahead, over a lifetime, only insuring for the risks that would be truly catastrophic.
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Re: which macbook air? m1 or m2, m3, refurbished?

Post by Jungle »

Parkinglotracer wrote: Wed May 15, 2024 12:42 pm I got the M2 air on sale for 1K

I have not noticed anything slow

Getting used to the laptop keyboard coming from an iMac is a bit different
This is an important point. The airs have a very short-throw keyboard that is an acquired taste. OP may want to have his wife try it at a best buy, apple store etc before buying. Could also use an external keyboard, but it's another step
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Re: which macbook air? m1 or m2, m3, refurbished?

Post by Dottie57 »

I have a Macbook Air M2. The smaller version. It works amazingly well. Quiet, doesn’t get hot, decent keyboard, beautiful screen. However I would get the M3 version if buying today.

P.s. I would probably get the larger version today.
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Re: which macbook air? m1 or m2, m3, refurbished?

Post by Dottie57 »

Updates will come for at least 5 years maybe 10.
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Re: which macbook air? m1 or m2, m3, refurbished?

Post by Parkinglotracer »

Jungle wrote: Thu May 16, 2024 7:32 am
Parkinglotracer wrote: Wed May 15, 2024 12:42 pm I got the M2 air on sale for 1K

I have not noticed anything slow

Getting used to the laptop keyboard coming from an iMac is a bit different
This is an important point. The airs have a very short-throw keyboard that is an acquired taste. OP may want to have his wife try it at a best buy, apple store etc before buying. Could also use an external keyboard, but it's another step
I don’t like the air laptop keyboard and touch pad and I find myself touching the screen like it’s an iPad. But I am 63 and Trainable. The reason I got rid of our iMacs is I don’t want to have to have two computers at two locations so we went with 1 MacBook Air M2. I already added an external mouse. Maybe I can link my external keyboard from my iMac. A couple years from now I will like my new MacBook Air and not even remember what the iMacs were like! Dinosaurs died because they couldn’t change.
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StevieG72
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Re: which macbook air? m1 or m2, m3, refurbished?

Post by StevieG72 »

M1 will easily handle her needs. I would go with that option.

My daughter uses a M1 MacBook at university and it gets a work out. It handles it well and keeps up with the competing machines. ( they do some complex chemistry equations in a group setting and lesser pcs take forever)

Tell the wife to keep beverages away from it! Expensive repair, my kiddo spilled the tea. Repair was $700 at mac repair shop. I was lucky and found the parts on ebay and repaired it for much less.

The M2 , M3 will be overkill for her use in my opinion.
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Re: which macbook air? m1 or m2, m3, refurbished?

Post by CyclingDuo »

gips wrote: Wed May 15, 2024 11:00 amoption 3: $1099 edit: $949 at Costco!, M3 8mb, 256mb SSD which, fixes the SSD problem and contains a more powerful chip
^^^^There's your best option.

Longevity. Faster processor than the M1 and M2. Why buy older technology with the speed things move software/hardware these days?

CyclingDuo
"Save like a pessimist, invest like an optimist." - Morgan Housel | "Pick a bushel, save a peck!" - Grandpa
srouen
Posts: 68
Joined: Wed Jun 14, 2017 9:33 am

Re: which macbook air? m1 or m2, m3, refurbished?

Post by srouen »

Before you buy one, you should know, as our house knows now: they're not pickle juice-proof.
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