Whether you are updating your old MacBook or planning to buy your first Mac part of the decision of which model to buy should be based on timing. Before you part with your money you should check that the model you are buying isn't about to be upgraded by Apple. There is nothing worse than buying a new MacBook Air only to see Apple update the models a month later. Luckily you are here reading this article so the chance of you making a mistake like that is slim (although you should check the date this article was last updated!)

In this article we'll tell you the best time to buy a MacBook, when to buy a Mac, at what times of year Apple usually updates its Macs, and whether an update is expected soon.

We will run through each Mac and MacBook Apple currently sells and assess whether now is a good time to buy one based on educated guesses as to when the next one will launch. Sometimes if you want a month or two you can get more for your money - provided Apple keeps its prices the same.

Before you make the decision of which Mac to buy you should also check out our desktop Mac buying guide and our MacBook buying guide

How often does Apple update Macs and MacBooks?

It depends on the product but you’ll usually get a Mac update every 12 months, even if it’s just to the next generation of Intel processors. But it's not always the case and launch dates are rarely predictable as you will see if you read on.

We would say that the most likely times to see updates are: WWDC in June for professional Mac models (e.g. 27in iMac, 16in MacBook Pro, iMac Pro and Mac Pro) and October for consumer-focused Macs (e.g. MacBook Air and Mac mini). However, as you will see when you read on, this is not a rule that Apple abides by particularly, nor does Apple always launch new Macs at special events: it often just takes the Apple Store offline for a few hours and then when it returns new Mac models are available.

Let’s take a look at each Mac and MacBook on the market and assess if you should consider buying it now. Check the date at the top of the article to see when we last updated this information.

Note that the star ratings associated with each product are the original rating we gave it when it was first launched.

Best time to buy MacBook Air

Apple MacBook Air (2019)
  • Last update: July 2019
  • Next update: By June 2020
  • Should I buy a MacBook Air: We recommend waiting for the new model which will offer a new and improved keyboard

Current MacBook Air

The MacBook Air was last updated in July 2019, although the update wasn't a huge one. It got a price reduction and a new True Tone display, and the non-Retina model was removed from the line-up. The processor and other components were identical to the previous update 10 months earlier in October 2018. 

That's a perfect example of an update that doesn't abide by any of the 'rules' the uninitiated might give Apple's upgrade cycle. It was within 12 months, didn't change the specs of the machines (beyond a change to the screen), but it did see a price drop.

The update in November 2018 was much more siBygnificant - in that case we finally saw a redesign for the MacBook Air after years of waiting (the previous model, while usually described as the 2017 MacBook Air, was still using processor from 2015!) In that case the wait had been unusually long, so long in fact that many were predicting that the Air would be discontinued...

So, what of the next MacBook Air? When will Apple update the MacBook Air for 2020? On the basis that the July 2019 update was quite insignificant we think we can expect an update with new processors, improved graphics and more in the first half of 2020 - potentially at Apple's WWDC event, but it might happen before that. We have more information about the new MacBook Air here.

Is now a good time to buy a MacBook Air?

Our advice is wait - the current MacBook Air has an issue with the keyboard that we know will be rectified in the new model.

Read our latest MacBook Air review here.

Best time to buy 16in MacBook Pro

Apple 16in MacBook Pro (2020)
  • Last update: November 2019
  • Next update: Possibly June 2020
  • Should I buy a 16in MacBook Pro: The 16in MacBook Pro has the same specs as the 15in model it replaced but due to other changes it's faster and more powerful. It's also got the new keyboard. We'd say now is a good time to buy unless you want to wait to see if Apple updates the processor.

Current 16in MacBook Pro

The 16in MacBook Pro was last updated in November 201 when we saw Apple discontinue the 15in model and replace it with a 16in MacBook Pro with improved keyboard and a bigger screen, while maintaining similar dimensions.

The 15in MacBook Pro had been updated a few months earlier in July 2019 when it saw a price hike and a slight processor upgrade (same generation processors). Yet another example of a Mac not fitting any predictable pattern for updates.

So what's in the pipeline? Apple introduced the 16in Macbook Pro in November 2019 so will we have to wait until November 2020 before it updates it again? We think that in this case the wait will be less than a year because Apple will look to upgrade the processors which are currently 9th-gen to the latest 10th-gen processors.

Is now a good time to buy a 16in MacBook Pro?

We think it's a good time to buy unless you would prefer to wait until Apple upgrades the processors to Intel's 10th-gen. We think that could happen around the time of WWDC, so June 2020.

Read out 16in MacBook Pro review here.

Best time to buy 13in MacBook Pro

Apple 13in MacBook Pro (2019)
  • Last update: July 2019
  • Next update: By June 2020
  • Should I buy a 13in MacBook Pro: There is one good reason to wait for Apple to update the 13in model you are after - when it launches the new 13in MacBook Pro will feature an improved keyboard.

Current 13in MacBook Pro

The 13in MacBook Pro was last updated in July 2019, when Apple finally updated the entry-level models that previously had no Touch Bar and ageing processors.

There are two other 13in MacBook Pro models, which were updated in May 2019 with a minor processor tweak from the previous 2018 generation.

If you are in the UK the MacBook Pro saw a price increase of £50-£100 in July 2019. A great example of a case where buying a new Mac prior to an update can be beneficial.

When will Apple update the 13in MacBook Pro? We think that an update will arrive in the first half of 2020 as Apple seeks to rectify the issues with the current keyboards with a new keyboard design that has already been adopted by the 16in MacBook Pro. It's thought that this update will come in the first half of 2020.

Is now a good time to buy a 13in MacBook Pro?

This question depends on which 13in model you want to buy. There are two 1.4GHz models and two 2.4GHz models.  

The May 2019 update to the 2.4GHz MacBook Air only tweaked the processor speed rather than the generation, so we'd recommend waiting for Apple to add new Intel processors. The July 2019 update to the entry-level 1.4GHz MacBook Pro models was more significant - but it would have been better if Apple had addressed the problems with the keyboard.

If you want your 13in MacBook Pro to have the latest processors and an improved keyboard then we recommend waiting. Hopefully Apple will update the range by June 2020.

Read our entry-level 13in MacBook Pro review here.

Best time to buy a 21.5in iMac

Apple 21.5in iMac (3.6GHz, 4-core, 2019)
  • Last update: March 2019 (except for the entry-level model which is older)
  • Next update: By June 2020
  • Should I buy a 21.5in iMac: Yes if you want to avoid a potential price hike in the UK; no if you'd prefer to wait for a processor update

Current 21.5in iMac

Part of Apple's range of 21.5in iMacs was updated in March 2019, almost two years after the last upgrade.

The entry-level 21.5in iMac has not been updated since 2017 and lacks a Retina display. It's the cheapest iMac, but we would not advise buying it currently.

As for the rest of the 2019 21.5in line up, when they launched we were impressed by the power improvements. However, now that they are approaching a year old we are looking towards the next generation of Intel chips that could appear in the next generation.

Is now a good time to buy a 21.5in iMac?

The iMac remains a go-to choice Mac for many professionals and businesses, while also being an excellent home computer in its own right.

The (relative) affordability of the 21.5in iMac, paired with more than capable specs for most people, puts it at a slight advantage to the still-excellent 27in version (discussed next).

However, as we mentioned above, the entry-level 21.5in model hasn't been updated since 2017 and is one to avoid right now. We really hope that Apple will do away with this model and reduce the price of the better specced model above it.

As for the rest of the range, the 8th-generation Intel Coffee Lake processors in the current line up were a significant boost on the previous 7th-generation processors. But since Coffee Lake dates back to 2018 we'd like to see a processor generation update in the next iMac.

There's one reason not to wait before you buy though. It's possible that we will soon see a price bump to the iMac range to align with the US pricing, similar to that which happened with the MacBook Pro in 2019. We expect the price to increase £50-£100 in the near future.

Read about the new iMac for 2020 here. Our 2019 21in iMac review is here.

Best time to buy a 27in iMac

Apple 27in iMac (3.1GHz, 6-core, 8th-gen, 2019)
  • Last update: March 2019
  • Next update: By June 2020
  • Should I buy a 27in iMac: Yes if you want to avoid a potential price hike in the UK; no if you'd prefer to wait for a processor update

Current 27in iMac

The 27in iMac is popular with professional creatives as well as business users looking for a more powerful machine with a larger display.

The most recent update was in March 2019 when two of the 27in models gained 8th-generation processors, while the top-of-the-range iMac got a 9th generation Intel processor.

The previous update was in June 2017 when the models had 7th generation Kaby Lake chips.

Is now a good time to buy a 27in iMac?

While the iMac upgrade cycle seems to be a little less frequent than once-yearly, an update is likely on the basis that one standard iMac already features a 9th generation processor and the market for the 27in iMac will be waiting for the rest of the range to come into line with that.

Another reason to wait is that we think that Apple might be working on a redesign for the iMac. If you'd like to see a bigger screen and a sightly more ergonomic design it might be worth waiting (although you could be waiting more than a year).

However, as we said above, we predict that we will soon see a slight price bump to the iMac range in the UK to align with the US pricing, so if the processor generation isn't important to you this is a good time to buy.

Read about the new iMac design here. Our 27in iMac 2019 review is here.

Best time to buy a Mac mini

Apple Mac mini (2018)
  • Last update: October 208
  • Next update: By June 2020
  • Should I buy a Mac mini: It's over a year old, so we'd advise waiting - but don't assume an update will come soon

Current Mac mini

Apple finally updated the Mac mini in October 2018 a full four years after the last iteration. This was long overdue and while this 2018 mini is more expensive than before, it’s a whole lot better.

In our glowing review of the Mac mini we praised the performance and comparable savings on a full desktop Mac. For some this is the perfect small and cheap(er) Mac. For others a laptop will always be a more attractive option.

Is now a good time to buy a Mac mini?

It's now been more than a year since Apple updated the Mac mini so it is feasible that the company could issue another update soon. However, based on the fact that it took Apple four years to update the Mac mini last time it's quite possible that we could be waiting a long time for the next update.

Best time to buy an iMac Pro

Apple iMac Pro (2017)
  • Last update: December 2017
  • Next update: By June 2020
  • Should I buy a iMac Pro: It's over a year old, so we'd advise waiting - but don't assume Apple will update the iMac Pro now that the Mac Pro is here

Current iMac Pro

Returning to the iMac briefly, there is one other model: the iMac Pro. This is a more powerful iMac with more powerful, workstation-level processors that is aimed at the more demanding creative professional.

It went on sale in December 2017 and is an absolute beast - but it's not been significantly* updated since and the 27in iMac has been closing the gap, and the Mac Pro (discussed below) is now encroaching on its territory. Read how the iMac and iMac Pro compare here, and how the iMac Pro and Mac Pro compare here.

*We say it's not been updated but Apple did make a few tweaks to the build-to-order iMac Pro options in March 2019. There is now a 256GB RAM option and a new Radeon Pro Vega 64X graphics chip.

Is now a good time to buy a iMac Pro?

Never mind if it’s a good time to buy it, the first question you should be asking yourself is if you should be buying one at all.

With an astronomical starting price it’s only a Mac to consider if you professionally need to edit, process and render very large image and video files. These are machines that should bank a production studio, not a home office.

If you need the power though, then you might want to hold off to see if Apple updates the internals again, or brings down the price. Or you might like to turn your attention on the Mac Pro - more on that below...

Our iMac Pro review is here.

Best time to buy an Mac Pro

Mac Pro (2019)
  • Last update: December 2019
  • Next update: 2021
  • Should I buy a Mac Pro: If this is the Mac you need then now is a great time to buy

Current Mac Pro

Apple launched the brand new Mac Pro in December 2019! This was the first update since December 2013. That's a wait of Six. Whole. Years!!!

Apple took the extreme measure (in 2017) of admitting to journalists that it messed up with the Mac Pro, and now it's here. It's got some very impressive specs but it's not cheap (although its starting price isn't much higher than the iMac Pro).

Is now a good time to buy a Mac Pro?

If you need a machine like the Mac Pro then now is most definitely the time to buy. Based on Apple's upgrade cycle for the Mac Pro we wouldn't expect any significant change to come in the next year or so. 

What we might see is improved build-top-order options, such as new graphics cards: Apple's revealed that some Radeon Pro W5700X options are 'coming soon'. But the benefit of the 2019 Mac Pro design is that it should be possible to update it at a later date if you do want to take advantage of new options and offerings.

It's worth noting that there is a Rack mount version of the Mac Pro in the pipeline which hasn't yet launched - so if you want that, you'll need to wait a little longer.

It's very unlikely that you'll want to buy one when they launch, unless you have very specific needs.

Read more about the Mac Pro here.

Best time to buy an MacBook

Apple 12in MacBook (2017)

A quick word on the MacBook...

In July 2019, Apple discontinued the 12in MacBook. If you really, really want to buy one, you may still find it available from some third-parties and in the Apple Refurbished Store, but you won't find it among Apple's current line-up.

We do think that Apple might have future plans for the MacBook brand, but for now we'd recommend buying the MacBook Air instead.