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Apple M2 Macs: What Pros Need to Know in a Nutshell

Your computer is getting along in years, and maybe with performance that is less than satisfying—when’s the right time to buy a new Mac, given that the next-generation Apple M2 Macs are on the distant horizon? In a nutshell:

  • MacBook Pro 14 and 16-inch models are due for an update late this year. Probably with the M2 chip. Odd are 50/50 of a delay into early 2022.
  • Mac Pro with high-core-count M2 CPU—my guess is Jan-March 2022.
  • iMac with high-core-count M2 CPU—same guess of Jan-March 2022.

Apple is tight-lipped about all this.

If you need a high-powered Mac now, the best best is the 2020 iMac 5K. See With the Delay of Apple M1/M2 Pro Macs, What to Do Now?

Future compatibility with peripherals

The key thing for those with Thunderbolt 2 Macs is to wait on everything until you have a Thunderbolt 3/4 Mac. But for those with Thunderbolt 3 Macs, have no fear of buying needed peripherals now. You can buy now with confidence of compatibility with an M2 Mac.

OWC has a wide range of Thunderbolt 3/4 products for your current or future Mac.

Don H writes:

I know the Apple guessing game can lead to madness, but I offer two tidbits:

1) Some rumors indicate that Apple might release one more iteration of the current Mac Pro with updated Intel processors (maybe just a speed bump, but no new features otherwise). If true, that could put off M2 Mac Pros until the tail end of 2022, which would still meet their 'two year' transition window. That makes a certain amount of sense from the point of view of add-in card support. It would also allow them to announce new M2 Mac Pros at the June '22 WWDC to give hardware developers some more concrete details of the future specs.

2) Meanwhile, Intel might be working on a new version of Thunderbolt (TB-5) that would increase the throughput to 80 Gbps: https://www.anandtech.com/show/16858/intel-executive-posts-thunderbolt-5-photo-80-gbps-and-pam3-then-deletes-it

That shouldn't change anyone's plans in terms of Thunderbolt purchases, as long as they acquire TB-3 and later peripherals. It is good news if true, although the timeline for this is up in the air. That shouldn't change anyone's plans in terms of Thunderbolt purchases, as long as they acquire TB-3 and later peripherals. It is good news if true, although the timeline for this is up in the air.

MPG: agreed, but IMO, neither point has any bearing on a decision to be made in the next year.

A CPU speed bump in the current Mac Pro would likely be all but immaterial in clock speed terms, but maybe you could get 2 or 4 more cores for the same price and a faster GPU. I’d rather go for an M2 iMac than a Mac Pro anyway, assuming we finally got 4 Thunderbolt ports on the iMac.

As for a Thunderbolt 5, have we ever seen a fast rollout of a new Thunderbolt spec? If it were finalized today, two years seems like a minimum for products with it to appear (beyond token ones).

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