8 Reasons to Wait Before Buying an M1 MacBook Air 🚫💻

8 Reasons to Wait Before Buying an M1 MacBook Air 🚫💻

Part 1: Introduction – The Allure of the M1 Chip

M1 Chip For MacBook Air 2020

The release of Apple’s new M1 chip for MacBooks in late 2020 sparked major hype. With its blazing fast performance and improved efficiency, the M1 seemed like a game-changer. As many reviewers raved about the new MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models equipped with the chip, it was tempting to rush out and upgrade right away. However, buying one of the first M1-based laptops could actually be a mistake for some users.

In this epic 8-part blog post, we’ll break down the key arguments against buying an M1 MacBook Air. We’ll also offer some practical advice on when and why upgrading to Apple silicon could be right for you. Get ready for an entertaining and informative tour through the peaks and pitfalls of being an early adopter!


What if you upgraded to that slick new M1 MacBook, only to regret it down the line?

Before taking the plunge, let’s dive deeper…


Estimated reading time: 8 minutes, 40 seconds. Contains 1734 words



1. Thermal throttling limits performance during intensive tasks

2. Software compatibility issues disrupt workflows during transition

3. Shortened 3-4 year lifespan due to rapid chip iterations

4. Increased risk of bugs and instability in early ecosystem

5. Waiting 12-18 months allows for native software optimizations

6. Skipping first-gen hardware ensures a less compromised experience

7. Students, newcomers, and bleeding-edge creators may still benefit

8. Preparing workflows in advance smooths the transition

9. Patience saves money as prices drop on older models

10. Balancing needs with practical wisdom is key to embracing Apple silicon


Part 2: The Thermal Throttling Tradeoff

Picture this: You finally get your hands on the new blazing-fast M1 MacBook Air you’ve been eyeing for months. You excitedly fire it up, eager to experience the next level of speed and efficiency Apple has been boasting about. But as you push the laptop to its limits with intensive tasks, you notice performance starts to drop. Apps begin lagging, and beachballs pop up out of nowhere. What gives?

The issue lies with thermal throttling. The industrial design of the M1 MacBook Air is virtually identical to previous models. This slim, fanless form factor looks sexy, but comes with cooling limitations because when the M1 chip reaches high temperatures from sustained intensive use, it automatically throttles itself to regulate heat, reducing speed and performance.

For many casual users, this thermal throttling won’t make a big difference, but power users will notice apps, games, video editing, and other demanding creative workloads slowing down during longer sessions. This leads to a critical conclusion:


“If you’re going to be pushing this thing a lot, I might actually avoid the M1 MacBook Air.”

thermal throttling for the M1 MacBook Air 2020

The thermal throttling tradeoff is the first major compromise early M1 adopters will need to accept. Let’s see what other gotchas await…


Part 3: The Pain of Transitioning Software

Ah, the bleeding edge. That thrilling phase when new technology first bursts onto the scene, promising to change everything. Early adopters rush to be the first to experience the next big thing, but what casual enthusiasts may not realise is that for power users, jumping into a major platform shift like Apple silicon can mean months of software instability, compatibility issues, and adjustment headaches.

The M1 MacBook Air launched when software support for the new chip was still quite limited. Most pro apps, like Adobe Creative Cloud, for example, had not yet been optimized. Using these Intel-based apps requires going through Apple’s Rosetta 2 translation layer, which often carries performance and stability hits. Additionally, popular plugins, utilities, and even web apps faced compatibility challenges during the transition period. From complex creative workflows to basic business software, the early days of Apple silicon required users to adapt to shifts and inconsistencies across the software ecosystem.

For example, I was suddenly not able to adjust the mouse sensitivity the way I was used to on past Macs. It was a tiny change in behavior caused by the differences between Apple and Intel chips, but an adjustment he would need to adapt to.

So while M1 offered blazing fast performance for native apps, the transitional period proved rocky for professionals relying on a complex stack of creative or productivity software. It could take 6 months to a year before essential professional apps fully supported Apple silicon. That’s a long time to endure software instability while paying premium prices for Apple’s latest hardware.


Part 4: Shortened Software Lifespan

Alright, let’s say you take the early adopter plunge anyway, accepting the thermal throttling and software-growing pains that come with being first in line for Apple silicon. Surely your shiny new M1-powered machine will still give you a solid 5+ years of use before needing an upgrade, right?

Maybe not. Purchasing first-generation Apple silicon hardware may actually shorten the functional lifespan of your device. The key factor here is the rapid two-year cadence of Apple’s chip release roadmap. With the M2 already on the horizon for launch in 2022, followed by the M3, M4, and so on, Apple is moving at breakneck speed to introduce faster, more advanced processors.

This has two consequences for first-gen M1 buyers:

  • Software demands will increase much more quickly, meaning M1 Macs could start feeling outdated sooner.
  • The resale value depreciates faster, reducing the return when reselling your device.


“I think there’s a good chance when the M2 comes out, this thing is going to feel a little long in the tooth.”


This accelerated pace of Mac hardware innovation means buyers need to recalibrate software lifespan expectations.

While Intel Macs comfortably delivered 5+ years of use, early Apple silicon adopters may feel the pinch in just 3–4 years. That’s a major reduction in value for such a premium kit.


Part 5: Maturing Ecosystem Offers Less Risky Entry Point

If the compromises and uncertainties facing early M1 adopters have you second-guessing a switch to Apple silicon, don’t panic. The goal of this post is not to condemn Apple or the M1 chip itself. The hardware and performance gains truly are impressive when taken in the right context, but the key here is to wait for a more mature entry point into the Apple silicon transition. Here’s some advice for minimising your risk:

Wait 12–18 months.

Over the next year or two, the Apple silicon ecosystem will become much more stable and optimized. By late 2022, the vast majority of professional Mac software will offer full native support for the latest M-series chips. Performance and compatibility issues will be ironed out.


Skip First-Gen Hardware

Avoid being the test dummy for version 1.0 Apple silicon Macs. Instead, wait for the M2, M3, or later models. Thermal design will improve, and speed and efficiency will increase. Plus, you’ll extend the usable software lifespan of your machine.


Take advantage of falling prices.

As Apple rapidly iterates new silicon each year, prices on previous models will drop quickly. Buying an M1 device once M3 models launch could net you some huge savings. Manage FOMO and exercise patience.


By following this measured approach, you can embrace Apple silicon at a more mature stage, with fewer bugs, more stability, better performance, and potentially cheaper entry prices. Then you can finally enjoy those productivity and creative gains properly!


Part 6: Preparing Your Workflow For Apple Silicon

Alright, let’s shift gears now. While we’ve covered reasons you may want to delay an upgrade, some of you simply can’t wait to start enjoying Apple’s silicon’s benefits. A few key groups will still find compelling reasons to adopt early:

  • Students – If you rely mainly on web apps, simple creative tools, and native Apple software like iWork or GarageBand, you’ll see great gains now. There is less risk of compatibility issues.
  • Mac Newcomers: Those switching from Windows can dive right in with a clean slate rather than worrying about transitioning complex workflows.
  • Visionary Creators: Artists, developers, and creators who want to innovate on the bleeding edge can benefit from adopting early.


If you fall into one of these use cases, or just love living dangerously, then preparing your workflow for Apple silicon now will help smooth the transition. Here are three key steps to take:

  1. Audit Your App Stack: Take inventory of all the software you rely on for work and creativity. Check developer sites to confirm Apple silicon support for critical apps. Identify problem areas.
  2. Test Crossover Performance: If essential apps haven’t been updated yet, test performance using Rosetta 2 translation. Benchmark speed to estimate performance hits.
  3. Shift Habits Gradually: Begin shifting peripheral aspects of your workflow to native Apple silicon apps first. Ease into new creative patterns before tackling mission-critical work.


Planning ahead is vital when undertaking a major platform shift. By scoping out your app stack, testing translation performance, and shifting habits in phases, you can feel confident jumping into Apple silicon, whenever you feel the time is right!


Part 7: The Verdict – Patience Is a Virtue

We’ve covered a lot of ground, analysing cautionary arguments against buying an M1 MacBook Air in late 2020. To recap the key points:

  • Thermal limitations reduce performance during intensive workloads due to minimal fanless cooling.
  • Software instability during the Apple silicon transition period impacts production workflows.
  • A shorter lifespan of just 3–4 years means upgrading again more quickly.
  • Lack of maturity in this version 1.0 ecosystem increases the chances of bugs and compatibility issues.


Do these compromises make Apple’s silicon a bad choice?

Absolutely not! The M1 chip itself offers a genuine leap forward, delivering blazing fast performance, excellent efficiency, and a promising foundation for future Macs. However, as is often true with emerging technology, the first wave comes with inherent risks. By exercising some patience and waiting 12–18 months, Mac buyers can embrace Apple silicon at a much safer point, with many of the early wrinkles ironed out.

For power users, especially, the entry point into this transition matters greatly. If your livelihood depends on stable, compatible software and hardware, then joining the bleeding edge may lead to unwanted headaches. By taking a measured approach, you can balance your eagerness to upgrade with practical needs and avoid turning Apple silicon into your biggest mistake!


Part 8: Key Takeaways – When to Embrace Apple Silicon

We’ve explored many angles of the central argument against buying an M1 MacBook Air in late 2020. To close out this epic blog journey, let’s condense the key wisdom into concise takeaways:

Wait 12–18 months

This allows time for native software support, performance optimisations, bug fixes, and a maturing ecosystem.


Skip First-Gen Hardware

Instead, start with 2nd or 3rd generation Apple silicon Macs for a less compromised experience.


Entry Point Aligns with Use Case

Students, newcomers, and bleeding edge creators may still benefit from adopting early.


Prepare Workflows in Advance

Audit your software stack, test translation performance, and shift peripheral habits first.


Patience Saves Money

Waiting means you can buy in at lower prices, as early models receive discounts.


Evaluating when to embrace Apple silicon requires balancing your needs with some practical wisdom. Avoid overeager mistakes! Take a measured approach and time your entry point wisely.


The M1 chip kicks off an exciting new Apple silicon era, but think carefully before jumping on board new Macs right away. With a few smart precautions, you can adopt them at the right moment for your creative flow and budget. Here’s to many more magical years of Mac innovation ahead!