If you've been thinking about upgrading to a new MacBook, there's never been a worse time to buy than right now. With the exception of the underpowered 12-inch MacBook, which was just refreshed last spring, Apple's notebooks haven't been updated in years. We expect the company to announce a new laptop lineup within the next few weeks, complete with a host of long-awaited improvements. If you buy a MacBook in the interim, you're boarding the express train to buyer's remorse. Here's why.
1. The current MacBooks are extremely outdated.
If you're like most people, you're going to hold onto your laptop for three to five years (or even longer), unless it breaks. If you buy a MacBook that's long-in-the-tooth today, it will have a giant overbite when you're still using it as your daily driver in 2019.
Now, think back to spring 2015. Uptown Funk topped the charts, Furious 7 was No. 1 at the box office and Apple offered its most recent and very minor MacBook updates.
Both MacBook Air models — the 11-inch and 13-inch versions — were updated to Intel 5th Generation Core Series CPUs but retained the same design and painfully low-res screens (1366 x 768 and 1440 x 900, respectively) that they have had since 2010. The 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pros with Retina displays got an upgrade to Intel 4th generation Core Series processors but kept the same design and displays they've had since 2013. The non-Retina version of the MacBook Pro is still for sale, but it hasn't gotten any kind of refresh since 2012! If you still want a laptop with a DVD drive and a FireWire port, here's your chance.
By contrast, all of the current PCs from other laptop makers are running on Intel 6th Generation Core processors, with the 7th Generation "Kaby Lake" models expected later this year.
We doubt that Apple will even keep offering the non-Retina MacBook Pro for long. Many industry experts also believe that the MacBook Air line is about to be discontinued. However, it's likely that Apple will offer some kind of mainstream laptop to accompany its high-end lineup of MacBook Pros with Retina displays and its Lilliputian 12-inch MacBook.
2. New MacBooks will offer significantly better performance.
Today's MacBooks are powered by Intel's 4th or 5th generation CPUs, which are one or two generations behind the latest standard. However, most experts expect that the new MacBooks will launch with the upcoming 7th Generation Core Series.
Newer processors offer the stronger performance you need — not just for today's applications but tomorrow's. Intel will probably introduce its 10th generation Core series CPU later this decade. Do you want to be on Generation 4 when others are using 9 or 10?
When it comes to graphics, the current MacBook Pros trail their PC brethren by an even wider margin, sporting an integrated GPU on the 13-inch model and an ancient AMD R9 M370X GPU on the 15-inch model. According to rumors, the upcoming laptops will ship with AMD's new and much more powerful Polaris graphics chips.
3. Hold out for the new OLED touch strip.
One of the most persistent rumors about the new MacBook claims that it will come with an OLED touch-screen strip where the function keys sit now.
According to the rumors, the strip will light up with different buttons or controls, based on the software. Lenovo tried something similar on its third-generation ThinkPad X1 Carbon but used a series of fixed, gray-scale lights instead of a completely open color OLED panel. This new function row could change into media controls when you're playing music or into special image macro keys when you're using a photo editor. How cool is that?
4. USB Type-C and Thunderbolt 3 ports are coming.
If your next computer doesn't have at least one USB Type-C port, you're going to be sorry in two years when all of the new peripherals use that connector.
We expect the new MacBooks to come with USB Type-C ports, which may also double as Thunderbolt 3 connections. Hopefully, the new MacBooks will be able to charge over USB Type-C, opening up a whole new world of universal chargers and docks based on the standard.
Graphics professionals who use MacBook Pros need Thunderbolt 3 ASAP. With Thunderbolt 3's 40 Gbps of bandwidth, you can connect to dual 4K monitors or copy giant RAW video files in a matter of seconds.
5. A Touch ID fingerprint reader will improve security.
According to 9 to 5 Mac, the new laptops will come with a Touch ID sensor on their power buttons. With Touch ID, you'll be able to log in to the operating system and make online purchases without typing in a password. Windows 10 laptops with fingerprint readers already have this capability thanks to Microsoft's Windows Hello feature. It's time for Apple to catch up.
We don't know everything about the next generation of MacBooks, but we do know that they're coming soon and that they'll be a lot better than the outdated MacBook Airs and Pros available today. You may be using your next laptop in the 2020s, so you should be willing to wait another month or two to buy it.
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