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Thanks for nothing, Apple! The new M2 MacBooks just made my choice even harder!

Apple MacBook Air M2
(Image credit: Apple)

Choice is good, right, so the more choice the better? But in the world of business, there’s the concept of ‘overchoice’, or ‘choice overload’. 

To quote from Wikipedia, “The phenomenon of overchoice occurs when many equivalent choices are available. Making a decision becomes overwhelming due to the many potential outcomes and risks that may result from making the wrong choice.”

So this is exactly what has stopped me buying a new MacBook, even though it’s obvious I need one. Even before the M2 processor, just announced, I already had too many choices and – since MacBooks cannot be upgraded or modified later – I HAD to get it right.

I have some basic specs  I want to match: at least 16GB RAM, a fast processor for both stills and video editing, a good screen for high-res screenshots, a good selection of ports, probably a 512GB SSD (I use external drives anyway).

That’s easy to achieve with a whole bunch of MacBooks... and that's the problem. 

The M1 changed everything... and then we got the M1 Pro and M1 Max which changed it some more, and now we've got the M2 which changes everything all over again. (Image credit: Apple)
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How do I choose a MacBook NOW?

I’m quoting prices in US dollars as a kind of universal currency – I just want to show the problems with pricing and decision-making, so it’s probably going to be similar in any currency. 

Here’s why I’m stuck. 

The phenomenon of overchoice occurs when many equivalent choices are available. Making a decision becomes overwhelming due to the many potential outcomes and risks that may result from making the wrong choice.

Wikipedia

So should I get a specced-up M1 MacBook Air ($1,399), or would I be better off with a slightly more expensive 13.6-inch MacBook Pro with the new M2 processor ($1,699)? Apple seems to have dropped the old M1 13-inch MacBook Pro, which makes things a little easier, and kept the M1 chip only for the entry-level Air. But then you can also get an M2 Air with the specs I want for $1,699 (same as the new MacBook Pro – odd).

Already I can’t decide, but then it gets worse. There’s still the 14-inch MacBook Pro with the M1 Pro processor. That’s still better than the M2, right? I have to assume it is. That will cost me $1,999 for the same specs, so it’s not a huge leap for a bigger screen and a faster processor, AND it has an SD card slot.

But if I’m that keen on a good screen and the fastest processing, there’s also the 16-inch MacBook Pro with either the M1 Pro ($2,499) or M1 Max processor with twice the RAM (I admit I am wondering if 16GB is really enough), a 1TB SSD and the scope to spec it up far higher. But I’m already into silly money at $3,499, so this option is no good at all and I’m back where I started.

Too much choice = no sale

I am an indecisive buyer, I’ll admit that right now. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one. The problem for me is that Apple makes MacBooks in four distinct series, each of which can be customized multiple ways and each of which can overlap with the one above.

My first problem is that there are, realistically, maybe five MacBooks which will be fine for me, but I can’t pick one. My second problem is that the relentless upselling of bigger screens, faster processors, more RAM and better ports does not lead me to the perfect MacBook – it spits me out at the top of a price range which is clearly beyond my budget and no wiser about where I should have stepped off the conveyor belt.

I’ve used Macs for decades. I’m a Mac fan. But unless Apple can find a way to make it easier for me to choose one without the risk of making a mistake or wishing later that I’d chosen differently, I’ll probably carry on using my 2013 13-inch MacBook Pro, which is obviously way worse than any of them. God knows how I even made my mind up to buy THAT one.

Read more:

Best MacBook for photo editing
Best laptop for photo editing
Best laptop for video editing

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Rod Lawton
Rod Lawton

Rod is the Group Reviews editor for Digital Camera World and across Future's entire photography portfolio, with decades of experience with cameras of all kinds. Previously he has been technique editor on N-Photo, Head of Testing for the photography division and Camera Channel editor on TechRadar. He has been writing about photography technique, photo editing and digital cameras since they first appeared, and before that began his career writing about film photography. He has used and reviewed practically every interchangeable lens camera launched in the past 20 years, from entry-level DSLRs to medium format cameras, together with lenses, tripods, gimbals, light meters, camera bags and more.