Whether you are updating your old MacBook laptop 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 time of year Apple usually updates its Macs, and whether an update is expected soon. We'll also mention if there are any particular configurations to avoid.

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.

You may have heard that Apple is in the middle of a transition from Intel processors to its own processors. The first M1 Macs launched in November 2020 and the M1 Pro and M1 Max joined the line up in October 2021. If you are wondering whether to buy one of these Macs read Should I buy an M1 Mac?, we also have Should I buy an Intel Mac? We also run through everything you need to know about the processor inside your Mac here? Apple processor comparison: M1 vs Intel.

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

Should I wait for Black Friday deals?

As we approach the last few months of the year and head into the pre-Christmas buying frenzy we expect to see more and more deals, starting with Black Friday on Friday 26 November. If you are wondering whether to wait until Black Friday, or take advantage of a deal right now that's marked as being 'early Black Friday' or similar, our advice is to just go for it! This year a lot of retailers are holding pre-Black Fridays sales and promising that prices won't go any lower on Black Friday itself. We have a separate article about Black Friday 2021 where you'll be able to find the best Apple Black Friday deals once they start.

It's unlikely that Apple will offer any discounts for Black Friday though. The company tends to offer vouchers with qualifying sales around Black Friday, and we don't expect that to change. So you won't get money off from Apple, but you might be able to get money off something else.

The good news is that we see many resellers offering Black Friday deals on Apple products - but these are often only for discontinued Apple products, rather than the ones Apple currently sells. That said, we do see deals on even new Apple products all year round though - so don't assume you can't get money off a new Apple product.

When will Apple launch new Macs?

There are a couple of things that can help when predicting when a new model might land. One is to be aware of when Apple last updated the range. The other is to note when Apple has previously to announced updates to that range.

Most recent launches:

  • 14in and 16in MacBook Pro, M1 Pro and M1 Max - October 2021
  • 24in iMac, M1 - April 2021
  • MacBook Air, M1 - November 2020
  • MacBook Pro, M1 - November 2020
  • Mac mini, M1 - November 2020 
  • 27in iMac, 3.1GHz 6-core to 3.8GHz 8-core - August 2020
  • 13in MacBook Pro, 2.0GHz quad-core - May 2020
  • 16in MacBook Pro, 2.6GHz 6-core/2.3GHz 8-core - November  2019
  • Mac Pro, 3.5GHz 8-core to 2.5GHz 28-core - on-sale December 2019

As for the times when a Mac launch is most likely. In the past the most likely times to see Mac updates were: WWDC in June for professional Mac models (e.g. 27in iMac, 16in MacBook 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.

These rules are no longer so clear cut though. In the past it was easier to predict when Apple would launch new Macs because the company used to issue a Mac update every 12 to 16 months. Those updates were often tied to the launch of the next generation of Intel processors.

Now that Apple is transitioning from Intel to its own series of processors, it is no longer tied to Intel's upgrade cycle. This doesn't necessarily mean that the updates will happen more frequently though - the transition has only just begun and it's hard to say how regularly Apple will update its own processors.  

We do, however, know that updates for the following Macs are likely to arrive in the next few months:

  • Mac mini: There are two M1 Mac mini models and one Intel Mac mini. Apple is said to be planning an update to this Intel model at some point in 2021 or 2022. We think we may see this update in October 2021. For more information read about new Mac mini.
  • MacBook Air: The MacBook Air gained M1 chips in November 2020 and is a great machine, but rumours suggest a new, redesigned MacBook Air could arrive in spring 2022. Read about the next MacBook Air.
  • 27in iMac: The larger iMac is still using Intel chips so an update to M-series chips is expected. We may also see a larger screen, possibly 32in. We don't expect to see this new model until spring or summer 2022 though. Read about the 32in iMac.
  • Mac Pro: Apple introduced the current iteration of the Mac Pro in December 2019. The company intends to transition it from Intel to its own processors, but this process is likely to take longer than for the other Macs. We wouldn't expect to see a new M-powered Mac Pro before autumn 2022. Read about the New Mac Pro.

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.

Should I buy a MacBook Air now or wait?

Apple MacBook Air (2020) M1
  • Last update: November 2020
  • Next update: Spring/Summer 2022

The MacBook Air was last updated in November 2020 when it gained Apple's M1 chip. It's Apple's cheapest laptop, starting at £999/$999. 

In our review of the M1 MacBook Air 2020 we said: 

There is no doubt at all that the M1 MacBook Air offers a significant improvement compared to its predecessor in every way that matters, the highlights being much better battery life, software improvements to the FaceTime camera, and the significantly faster operation.

There are still some areas for improvement though, for example the fact that you can't plug in more than one other monitor (unless you read this: How to connect two or more external displays to Apple Silicon M1 Macs).

Is now a good time to buy a MacBook Air?

The M1 MacBook Air is an excellent machine, and we do recommend it. However, we would suggest that if you are likely to be pushing your Mac with processor or graphics intensive apps than the M1 MacBook Pro might be a better option. 

Another thing to keep in mind is that Apple is said to be planning a MacBook Air redesign, with new colour options coming. That will probably arrive early in 2022. Read more here: New MacBook Air rumours. We also go into more detail about whether to buy a MacBook Air here: Should I buy a MacBook Air now?

Our recommendation is that if you can find a good discount on the price of the MacBook Air right now then it's a great time to buy. Take a look at our Best MacBook Air deals.

Should I buy a 13in MacBook Pro now or wait?

Apple 13in MacBook Pro (2020) M1 8-core CPU/8-core GPU, 256GB
  • Last update: November 2020
  • Next update: Spring/Summer 2022

All the attention is on the update to the MacBook Air, because that's expected to get a whole new design, but when the M2 MacBook Air arrives the M2 MacBook Pro is also likely to launch.

When it arrives the M2 is likely to offer some boosts compared to the M1, but if you really need a more powerful Mac laptop right now the 14in MacBook Pro might be a better fit with an M1 Pro.

You may still be able to buy the older Intel MacBook Pro models while resellers clear out stock. Apple only discontinued the 2.0GHz Intel MacBook Pro models in October 2021, and when they were introduced in May 2020 (reviewed here) we were impressed. But it has to be said that since the arrival of the M1 MacBook Pro in November 2020 they are looking decidedly average. Read our comparison of the M1 and Intel MacBook Pro.

When we reviewed the M1 MacBook Pro we described it as a revolutionary moment for the Mac, we were that impressed by the benchmarks. But we were disappointed that there wasn't more RAM available - if more RAM is what you need then the 14in or 16in MacBook Pro will offer you that. 

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

We were beyond impressed with the M1 MacBook Pro and we do still recommend it.

Everything that holds that machine back has been addressed in the 14in MacBook Pro though, so if you need something more powerful, or that supports more RAM that would be a better option.

Alternatively you could wait to see what the M2 MacBook Pro brings, which will at least save you a bit of money compared to the high price of the 14in MacBook Pro.

If you want to buy now check out our round up of the Best MacBook Pro deals.

Should I buy a 14in MacBook Pro now or wait?

Apple 14in MacBook Pro, M1 Pro (2021)
  • Last update: October 2021
  • Next update: 2023?

Apple introduced the 14in MacBook Pro with M1 Pro (or M1 Max as a build-to-order option) in October 2021 so we don't expect to see its successor for a long time - probably it won't arrive until 2023.

When it arrives it will likely be powered by the M2 Pro and M2 Max which are likely to offer some boosts compared to the M1 Pro and Max, but the current models are plenty fast enough right now.

Is now a good time to buy a 14in MacBook Pro?

The 14in MacBook Pro offers a solution to all of the things that hold back the 13in MacBook Pro, The only disappointment is the fact that the starting price is a little higher than it was, and in general the price of the range is a lot higher than it used to be.

However, you get a lot for your money and this is a very powerful pro Mac.

We expect to see deals for the 14in MacBook Pro, but right now, as with many new products, there are stock shortages, which may mean it's harder to find one on sale, let alone a good deal. Keep your eyes pealed though!

If you want to buy now check out our round up of the Best MacBook Pro deals.

Should I buy a 16in MacBook Pro now or wait?

Apple 16in MacBook Pro, M1 Pro (2021)
  • Last update: October 2021
  • Next update: 2023?

Alongside the 14in MacBook Pro, Apple introduced a 16in MacBook Pro with M1 Pro or M1 Max. The new models were introduced in October 2021, so we don't really expect to see its successor until 2023.

When the new 16in MacBook Pro arrives it will probably feature a M2 Pro and M2 Max, which are likely to offer some boosts compared to the M1 Pro and Max. It's possible that the next 16in MacBook Pro might support up to 128GB RAM, for example, and offer more graphics cores.

But the current models are plenty fast enough right now. In fact the top of the range 16in MacBook Pro with M1 Max even beats the Mac Pro with the best graphics option.

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

It's a great time to buy the 16in MacBook Pro since it was only introduced in October 2021, so it will be a long time until it is updated again. The only reason to wait might be if you are considering the successor to the 27in iMac as an alternative. We think that Apple will update the larger iMac around the summer of 2022, and that might offer even more graphics cores and support for more RAM.

However, if the 16in MacBook Pro suits you then it's a great time to buy. Check out our round up of the Best MacBook Pro deals.

Should I buy a 24in iMac now or wait?

Apple 24in iMac (2021) M1
  • Last update: May 2021
  • Next update: Late 2022

Apple's 24in iMac is eye-catching, both in terms of the quality of the 4.5K display and the colourful case. There's a choice of seven different colours, with pink, blue, green, orange, yellow, purple and silver on offer and all but silver offering a bold tone on the back that is complemented by a paler version on the front.

The new iMac's screen is larger than its predecessor, although it's not quite the 24in that Apple insinuates by the name: this iMac has a 23in screen compared to the previous generation's 21.5in display.

The M1 chip inside is the same as that used in the M1 MacBook Air and MacBook Pro above, and the Mac mini below. The specs on offer are also the same, however, the iMac does offer the benefit of more efficient cooling and that may be of benefit in processor intensive applications. Read our 24in iMac review.

Is now a good time to buy a 24in iMac?

The 24in iMac went on sale in May 2021, so if it is the Mac that is right for you then this is the perfect time to buy one. Even better if you can get a good discount on one. Check our round up of the best iMac deals. The only issue may be finding a 24in iMac available to buy - Apple has struggled with stock ever since it launched.

If, however, you need an iMac that is designed with creative pros in mind we would suggest that you wait a little longer until Apple updates the 27in iMac. More on that below.

Should I buy a 27in iMac now or wait?

Apple 27in iMac (3.1GHz, 6-core, 10th-gen, 2020)
  • Last update: August 2020
  • Next update: Spring or summer 2022

The 27in iMac is popular with professional creatives thanks to its discrete graphics and high-res 5K display.

It's also popular with other users looking for a more powerful machine with a larger display.

The most recent update was in August 2020 when the 27in models gained 10th-generation Intel processors, now everyone is awaiting the arrival of a version using Apple processors.

And this new model may well offer a larger display - read about the upcoming 32in iMac.

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

The 27in iMac was updated in the summer of 2020, which is a while ago now. It's an excellent Mac, as you can see from our 2020 27in iMac review, however, the promise offered by Apple's own processors, that are already making waves in the industry, can't be ignored.

With indications that the new larger iMac will offer more processor and graphics cores than the already speedy 24in iMac, we do advise that you wait for that model to arrive before buying a 27in iMac.

That's as long as you can wait - we expect that the new 27in (30/32in) iMac will in the first half of 2022. If you can't wait then at least check out our round up of the best iMac deals and grab yourself a bargain.

Should I buy a Mac mini now or wait?

Apple Mac mini (2020) M1
  • Last update: November 2020 (M1), October 2018 (Intel model)
  • Next update: Spring 2022 (Intel model)

When Apple introduced the M1 Mac mini in November 2020 it also kept the 2018 Intel model on sale, so there are two types of Mac mini you can buy right now. The easiest way to tell which is which is by the colour - the silver models are M1, the Space Grey Mac mini is Intel-powered.

The unit we are most interested in here is the M1 Mac mini, which not only gained rave reviews, it is the best value Mac you can buy, with prices starting at £699/$699. Read our Mac mini M1 review.

The Intel model, on the other hand, doesn't really offer much other than the ability to upgrade it to support 64GB RAM, support for up to three 4K displays, and more ports - all of which are features that may well be more important to you than the speed of the M1 chip. Read our review of that model here: 2018 Mac mini.

Is now a good time to buy a Mac mini?

We thoroughly recommend the M1 Mac mini. It offers the same specs as the other M1 Macs for much less money, the only difference being the absence of a screen. But since you can buy a decent 4K display for less than £300/$300 we don't think that is a big problem.

We would note that if you need something a bit more powerful a new Mac mini is said to be in the works at Apple which will slot in at the top of the range. That model may utilise a M1X or M2 chip and support more RAM, rumours suggested we could see it in October 2021, which didn't happen, but we don't think there will be much longer to wait.

On that note, we would advise against buying the Intel-powered Mac mini that Apple is still selling.

If you want to buy a Mac mini check out our round up of the Best Mac mini deals.

Should I buy a Mac Pro now or wait?

Mac Pro (2019)
  • Last update: December 2019
  • Next update: 2022

Apple launched the current Mac Pro in December 2019. That was the first update since December 2013. That was 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. It then took just over two more years to come up with the new model, which has some very impressive specs, but is not cheap.

The main 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. Read our review of the 2019 Mac Pro.

Is now a good time to buy a Mac Pro?

If you need a machine like the Mac Pro then now is a good time to buy.

However, we know that Apple is planning to transition the whole Mac line up to its own processors by the middle of 2022, so it follows that we can expect an update to the Mac Pro next year.

What form that will take remains to be seen. It's likely that Apple will introduce a new line of powerful processors and graphics just for the Mac Pro, but will this meet the needs of the target market.

On the other hand, this new Mac Pro may be less powerful than the current one, but there may be a bigger market for it and a lower price. Read about the new Mac Pro.

One other thing to consider is that the 16in MacBook Pro with M1 Max is giving the Mac Pro a run for its money - just imagine what an Apple-powered Mac Pro might offer!