I had no idea what would happen to me that day. It was my last day working for a client in Berlin. I came to the office to work and have a small goodbye party on the sunny terrace. This was the first time in the psychical office, before that I have, like almost everybody else, been working from home.

I had bought my laptop just a year before. It was the most expensive Macbook Pro 16” with 8 Intel CPU cores and it costed 3600 €. It was quite an investment. It was driven by the theoretical argument that if I save just 10 min a day it would, given my high salary, it would pay itself off. With an hourly rate of 100 €, 10 min is 16€ a day. That is 80 € a week and 320 € a month. Utilizing this argument, I am sure many would be forced to upgrade to the newest Macbooks with M1 cores. And likely again with the arrival of the improved M2 cores.

However coming back to my last day at work. After pizza and beers on the terrace, I came back to pick up my stuff before leaving and my laptop was gone. It had been stolen. This happened in late August, just before the release of the new much-expected Macbook Pro with M1 chips. I needed a laptop until then and I ended up leasing the Macbook Air M1 with 7 CPU cores, 16 GB and 256 SDD hard-drive. No reason to buy anything fancy since I was just waiting for the Macbook Pros.

Having used the Macbook Air for a few months and grown fond of it, the new Macbook Pros’ don’t hold much appeal. Yes, performance-wise they are undoubtedly faster, especially at a lot of irrelevant benchmarks. I don’t need to render heavy graphics or encode videos, and even if occasionally I did the Macbook Air performs excellent (yes, I will lose 30 seconds in that, for me, rare use case). Running a large test suite or a massive yarn install would take longer, but we are likely about seconds not minutes. Over the course of the day, my usually CPU utilization is rather minimal, I even make an effort to keep it that way by preferring lightweight tools.

The Macbook Pro’s display is larger and has a higher refresh rate, but most of the time I use an external display for working. And when using the laptop display, I mainly just read or fiddle around in an text editor (as a night owl, an option to dim screen further would be more welcome than higher resolution or graphics performance). And with the arrival of the next generation Macbook Air, this competitive advantage might even be closed.

On the plus side for the Macbook Air M1:

  • it is noticeable thinner and lighter. Macbook Pro’s feel clunky, especially if you are actually using it as a portable computer, i.e. a laptop, and carry it around
  • it is significantly cheaper, prices start at around 1100 € compared the 2200 € for the Macbook Pro. And if the unforeseen happens (breaking it or it gets stolen), you won’t loose a fortune
  • it is still a workhorse, compared to most other laptops, even desktops (all the Apple store clerks recommends me the lowest configuration for the Macbook Pro’s anyhow)

In a way, losing my old expensive top-of-the-line Macbook Pro 16”, gave me room to reflect my laptop needs. And even as a professional developer, who uses the computer extensively, the Macbook Air has the best compromise of battery time, performance, design and price. And of course traveling around with an 1200 € device is less stressful than one costing twice that or more.

I will keep the Macbook Air M1 and look forward to the new M2 models supposedly coming in September 2022. Given the price upgrading more often is affordable.