Need advice on buying a new laptop

This is my situation: I have a 2009 MacBook Pro running High Sierra (highest OS it will run). I have a 256 Gig SSD and 8 gigs of memory. Clean my Mac says it is full —both hard drive and memory.

I keep the MBP plugged in all the time because the battery doesn’t last long. The laptop has been running hot —especially in the upper left area where the power cord plugs in. I was thinking maybe a new battery —- but can’t find where the battery compartment is! I keep the computer on about 30 minutes and then have to turn it off, especially if I have been on the internet.

I am a casual user—- internet, writing newsletters and reviews, banking, photos, etc…

SO — i want/need a new laptop. I don’t know as much about the new Macs as I used to. The talk here is about M1’s, M2’s and now M3’s. I don’t know which one to get —this will probably be my last laptop. I am tired of fighting the capacity of the hard drive and memory, so I want more than what I have. I have bought top of the line in the past because I keep my Macs a long time. (I have a 2008 iMac that runs slow, but Ok.)

Any suggestions would be welcome. I have a top budget of about $1200-$1500

I think the M1 MacBook Air should satisfy your requirements. Walmart still sells new ones for $699. You will be delighted by how much better a laptop it is - light, silent (no fan), cool, long battery life, snappy performance and should be well supported in terms of software updates for quite a few more years.

While this M1 MBA has 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB storage, additional storage can be added fairly inexpensively using external SSDs; USB 3.1/3.2 drives can transfer data at 10Gbps which is plenty fast for your use case. 8 GB of RAM sounds fairly limited, but macOS manages memory usage well and coupled with the fast internal storage, it is not a practical limitation for light usage. You can also add an external display and use it in desktop mode.

The main downside to the M1 MBA is the limited number of ports, i.e. two Thunderbolt USB C ports. Nonetheless, you can use a hub/dongle to connect different types of peripherals to the MBA. The M1 MBA can drive a 6K display through one of the Thunderbolt ports, and many displays can charge the MBA while connected.

The differences between M1, M2 and M3 are really immaterial in light usage cases; the differences are mainly down to manufacturing processes (which improves power efficiency and allows for more transistors) and technical design (e.g. how CPU cores are clustered and managed, improved specialised computing units for media, numerical operations etc.).


I agree that an M1 is all you need (and you need at least an M1, not an Intel chip). However, I would counsel getting as large an internal SSD as you can. In your case, I would suggest a minimum of 1 TB. The way the OS works now, you can’t really substitute external storage for internal storage the way you expect, so it isn’t as useful. In addition, you don’t want it to ever get it more than 50% or 60% full because it starts to really slow down. Because the OS is aggressive about using Virtual RAM, a large internal SSD will do double duty as RAM, so you can get by with 8 GB (it won’t use external storage for Virtual RAM). Also, you can’t use external storage for DropBox or other cloud services. Apple really-really-really doesn’t want you to use external storage to substitute for the internal storage that they sell at huge markups, but they let you use it for RAM when you need extra RAM, so just don’t skimp on the SSD.


Apple is selling MacBook Airs in their refurbished store. This M2 with 8 GB RAM and 512 GB storage is $1019, and they have the M1 model with the same memory and storage for as low as $909.‑core-cpu-and-10‑core-gpu-space-gray


I agree the M1 MacBook Air is all you need, but if you’re bumping up against the 256 GB of storage in your current MacBook, getting 512 GB would make sense. External storage works fine for archival materials but can be inconvenient for current data, particularly with a laptop. So I’d recommend the refurbished M1 MacBook Air with 512 GB storage for $909. The link below is silver, but it’s also available in space gray and gold. For what you’re doing, the 7-core GPU is totally fine.‑core-cpu-and-7‑core-gpu-silver


@ddmiller Doug, it sounds like this MacBook Air may work for me. I definitely like the larger hard drive, but I am concerned about only 8 gigs of memory, that is what I am up against now.

With a larger hard drive, —which I will definitely use —- won’t I need more memory?

Thanks for the link.

@ace I clicked the link you supplied —thanks—- and the MacBook Air looks good, but it was produced in 2020. It is already 4 years old. I don’t know how long Apple will support the M1 MBAs. That is something to consider.

Yes, the M1 is four years old, but it’s Apple silicon, and I’m not aware of any features in macOS or apps that are specific to certain generations of the M-series chips. Yes, overall performance has increased, but the basic functionality remains the same. The M2 that @ddmiller shared would be slightly newer, and there’s nothing wrong with it, but I doubt it will have a significantly longer lifespan.

8 GB of memory should be fine for your needs—Apple silicon is more efficient in its memory use than Intel chips.

All that said, if you really want the latest with higher specs to ensure longer lifespan, the M3 MacBook Air with 16 GB of memory and 512 GB of storage lists for $1500. On the edge of your budget, but it’s a great machine.


Just to add to what Adam posted, in the refurbished store, if you switch to 16 GB of RAM, the only machines that Apple now has have 1 TB and the least expensive is $1249.‑core-cpu-and-8‑core-gpu-space-gray?fnode=0feba61df9e3dd620c6cff695a7bbd5199f0b5768a5ce066daa6951bc31cce66aadd4db983371b1e0b190857b786d73f4260598ac814da13d628959d45d7c213987a10a7a516debaf8ccd73ddb8195c3

The M2 version is $1359.‑core-cpu-and-10‑core-gpu-starlight?fnode=0feba61df9e3dd620c6cff695a7bbd5199f0b5768a5ce066daa6951bc31cce66aadd4db983371b1e0b190857b786d73f4260598ac814da13d628959d45d7c213987a10a7a516debaf8ccd73ddb8195c3

Honestly I think I’d chose which storage capability that you need and go from there. As Adam said, I think that 8 GB will be enough for general use of an Apple Silicon Mac. But you can’t add RAM or storage to a MacBook, so, sure, you’ll want to be sure that you are future-proofed. I think that Apple intends to make sure that 8 GB will be enough to use MacOS for several more years, because they still sell entry-level machines with 8 GB today.

The things that I like about the M2 and M3 MBA over the M1 is the smaller size and MagSafe charging, and the display on the M2 and M3 are better. But honestly if there wasn’t an M2 or M3 in my budget I’d be able to get by easily with an M1. I have a 16 GB/1TB M2 Air. When I look at Activity Monitor I never use swap space, so the 16 GB is more than enough for what I need.


If you want to spend your entire budget, a new M3 MacBook Air with 16 GB RAM and 512 GB SSD will run you $1499 (plus tax). That would be substantially future proofed and would set you up nicely for a long time.

(Edit: Ninja’d by Adam).

A new M2 with similar specs would run $1399, so more breathing room for the budget.


When upgrading to the latest MacOS and chip architectures, you should consider the state of your apps. Your apps will almost certainly require updates, and some will require paid upgrades. You should check the situation for your essential apps and, if costs are involved, budget for them.

How well do the iMac and MacBook work together? To maintain compatibility with the iMac, you may need to limit certain features and file formats for applications that require coordination with the iMac.


For what you’re doing…any of the M series Airs will be fine…but to best future proof it and stay in your budgetI would go with an M2 Air 13 inch with 16 GB and 512 GB for 1259. Nothing you do really requires anything more than the original M1…but as others have stated we know of nothing that the M1 hardware limits you from doing anyway. If you want a bigger screen…you’ll have to go to the M3 and the same config there is 1529…and you get the larger screen.

In your case I would get the M2 13 unless the larger size screen is really a need…but I personally find the 13 to have too small a screen pixel wise, not actual size wise…but then I’m running Lightroom and it needs more pixels. For light duty I can use my wife’s 13 Air but although it will run Lightroom it was pretty constraining screen pixel size wise.


For someone who’s used to using an older laptop computer, the notch at the top of the screen on the M2 and M3 models might be an issue where the MacBook Air M1’s screen does not have one.


I would agree with the sentiment many have had here. Get at least 16GB of RAM and as much storage space as you can swing in order to be able to keep your next laptop as long as you have the previous one. While I would focus on the M2 chip as a balance between future proofing and c cost, the M1 really is likely to meet your needs for a while. Good luck.

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I have an M1 MBA, 8GB, 512GB storage. I’ve use it for a lot more intensive applications than you are talking about. 8GB will be fine. I also have a macMini with 32GB and 2TB of storage and hardly notice the difference. The mini is connected to a 27" monitor.

Right now I have 29 apps opened and still have memory.
8GB. I know the 16GB commenters mean well, but 8GB will be fine. I payed too much attention to that kind of comment when I got my mini, 32GB is probably too much. I do use the 2TB for lots of photos.

The speed of the M chips are amazing compared to Intel.


Absolutely…in all likelihood 8 GB will be fine for what OP is doing…but he keeps machines a long time…and his need may change. Given that…he should consider his budget and if feasible 16 is still a good idea. It lowers VM usage on the SSD and even though Apple Silicon is pretty good at managing both memory and SSD space…in most cases real RAM is better than VM. Whether that makes a difference to OP’s needs today or in the future is unknown…and while I agree the he’s probably fine with 8…unless budget is an issue then I always recommend more RAM and SSD size than you think you need, particularly for long kept machines.


It is, but I would be more concerned with Intel-based machines. My 2019 27-inch Intel iMac, purchased in 2020, is the last of its tribe. I maxed it out heavily because I was doing production video with it. Knowing that my 2017 MBPro (also maxed out) is now shut out of future MacOS versions, I expect maybe one more major version update before my iMac goes down that same path. It would be a gradual catastrophe in terms of other software updates, though I’ve managed to keep my 2011 iMac running well on older software and a sparse Internet diet.

I do suspect that the M-series hardware won’t have such tight obsolescence curves. Apple was clearly ready to turn the page on Intel processors, which promised a lot of performance when they replaced Motorola processors in the early 2000s. They delivered some speed bumps but as I understand it did not live up to those promises.

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I suggest that you look at the link about. It leads you to the Apple Refurbished equipment website. The Give you the same warranty as a new one but with a discount $$$$. All of my new computers over the years have been purchase thru this website.
Respectfully Yours
Timothy Freitas

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Sorry, can you point me to something with more information? This is the first I’ve heard of such a thing.

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Here is one video but there are others:

It isn’t always there as it depends on the program or task at the time but still can be annoying for some.

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