When should I buy a new MacBook? A guide to picking the right time to upgrade

When should you buy a new MacBook?
(Image credit: Future)

“Should I buy a new MacBook right now or wait?” It’s a common question that is a little tricky to answer, but we can help with that!

You see, there are some trends to look out for, whether you’re looking to buy the latest and greatest or snag a good deal, that can help you decide whether now is the right time or whether you should save your money.

One thing we can say for sure is that this year’s Black Friday MacBook deals are amongst some of the best we’ve ever seen. But let’s get to the core of this and answer the big questions that come with this purchasing decision. 

How often should you buy a new MacBook?

In short 

You should think about upgrading every 4-5 years — provided you can afford it. MacBooks do have the potential to last longer than this if you need to stretch it out. 

MacBook Air M2 review

(Image credit: Future)

In detail 

Let’s get the first obvious question out of the way — how many years should you wait before you think about buying a new MacBook? 

Apple puts a lot of work into what I used to call “burning your wallet” during my time working in marketing. By that, I mean sensationalizing that new gizmo to the point that buying one felt like a life-changing requirement. 

But if we take a look around, specifically at the list of MacBooks that support the latest macOS Ventura, we can start to put a bit of a general time window together. The earliest MacBook model that’s supported dates back to 2017, which sets a clear five-year cut-off for software support.

That’s a good time range to aim for when it comes to upgrading, but don’t feel like this is set in stone. The last MacBook I used before my 13-inch M1 MacBook Pro dated back to 2014, and while the battery life was more like five minutes than five hours, it did what I needed it to do with relative ease. 

When should I look for a MacBook deal?

In short 

Black Friday season is always a great time to wait for when it comes to cheaper MacBooks! Another time would be to wait until a new MacBook launches as we expect to see price drops in the following weeks..

For example: shop for a cheap M1 Pro MacBook Pro when the M2 Pro model gets announced.

Apple MacBook Pro 2021 (14-inch)

(Image credit: Future)

In detail 

There are three key windows to snag a MacBook deal: Black Friday, after a new release and in the weeks before any announcements. 

For example, once the M2 MacBook Air launched, the M1 Air (which I’d still heartily recommend as a great ultraportable) dropped to $799, and it will be back at that price over Black Friday for sure.

The other key one is in those final months before a new model appears. A great example is the amazing deals we’re seeing on the 14 and 16-inch MacBook Pros. We know that M2 models are coming soon, but you can get up to $500 off the current Pros. If you’re confident in knowing these M1 Pro speed demons will last you a good long while, then you should absolutely dive in and grab one.

Should I wait for a new MacBook to come out?

In short 

New models of the MacBook and MacBook Pro are usually released every 18-24 months. Once you are within five-six months of the end of its shelf life, I recommend holding off and checking out our MacBook news coverage for any notice of a new model coming down the line.

At the beginning of fall, don’t buy the current MacBook Air or MacBook Pro models. Chances are a redesigned or updated version is just around the corner. However, don’t take this as a hard and fast rule.

M1 MacBook Pro

(Image credit: Future)

In detail 

In recent years, Apple has been largely consistent with when new MacBooks get announced — give or take a couple of exceptions, which we can use to make an informed opinion.

The original M1 MacBooks dropped in November 2020. Following this in October 2021 came the beastly 14 and 16-inch MacBook Pros with M1 Pro and M1 Max chipsets.

Catching us a little off guard was WWDC 2022, where the M2 MacBook Air and M2 13-inch MacBook Pro dropped. This indicates a potential 18-month chip refresh cycle for Apple silicon, which may potentially line up with the rumors that we’re expecting to see the M2 Pro and M2 Max MacBook Pros in Spring 2023.

So, my advice would be this. Take a look at when that model of MacBook you want got announced. If it was over 13-14 months ago and you’re under no pressure to get a better machine, I’d seriously consider waiting just that little bit longer and grabbing the next one.

Bottom line

As we said at the outset, the question of when to buy a new MacBook is a bit up in the air. But hopefully we’ve provided some clarity on the lifespan of the latest models and when you could potentially bag yourself a great deal.

To most of you reading this, chances are the MacBook you already have will do pretty much all of what you need at a respectable speed, and that won’t change for a while. That is the beauty of processors over the past couple of years, which have amazing capabilities that still stand up to today and tomorrow’s standards.

But if you are within the time window discussed above and feeling your machine getting strained, then with this looking like one of the best Black Fridays on record for MacBook deals, you’ve got a good chance to get something great for another few years. 

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Jason England
Staff Writer

Jason brings a decade of tech and gaming journalism experience to his role as a writer at Laptop Mag. He takes a particular interest in writing articles and creating videos about laptops, headphones and games. He has previously written for Kotaku, Stuff and BBC Science Focus. In his spare time, you'll find Jason looking for good dogs to pet or thinking about eating pizza if he isn't already.