Best Apple MacBook deals: M1 MacBook Air, M1 MacBook Pro drop to lowest prices ever

March 16, 2021 0 By boss

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Apple made a significant move last fall away from Intel chips toward its own Apple silicon M1 design, and we’re already seeing price breaks on the new M1-powered machines. You’ll find the biggest discounts yet on Apple’s new M1 MacBook Air and M1 MacBook Pro right now, and there are deeper discounts available on Apple’s older Intel-based MacBooks.

The MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro lines received the M1 update, but the big 16-inch MacBook Pro still uses an Intel Core i7 or i9 chip. Apple still sells two higher-end configurations of the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Intel parts and has stated that it will support all the Intel-powered Macs for years to come. 

While you might be tempted by a discount on an older, Intel-based MacBook, it had better be significant in order to pass on a new M1 MacBook. Our preliminary tests of the M1 machines show a significant performance increase over their predecessors. Plus the M1 MacBook Air boasts a fanless design for silent operation.

Read moreA pro photographer tests Apple’s M1 MacBook

Pricing for new M1 MacBooks

The new MacBooks maintain the pricing of the models they replaced: the new MacBook Air starts at $999; the new MacBook Pro starts at $1,299. 

Want to go the refurb route? Apple has started selling refurbished M1 MacBook Air models, but there are currently no M1 models offered on Apple’s Certified Refurbished Mac page. It’s worth keeping an eye on, however, to see if M1 models return to the refurb page. A few weeks ago you could get a refurbished baseline M1 MacBook Air at $849 for $150 in savings, or a refurbished step-up model of the M1 MacBook Air at $1,059, for $190 in savings. Previously, only Intel-based MacBooks were available as cost-saving refurbs. CNET’s resident Cheapskate is a big fan of refurbs, particularly Apple’s, which are often as good as new.

Want to buy new? The step-up M1 MacBook Air with a 512GB SSD is $74 off at Amazon, the biggest discount we’ve seen yet for this model. And the baseline and step-up M1 MacBook Pro models are each discounted by a substantial $149 at Amazon to hit their lowest prices ever. (For both MacBook Pro deals, you need to add the product to your Amazon cart to see the full $149 discount.)

One benefit of paying full price and buying from Apple, however, is you can customize the machine and add more RAM or a higher-capacity solid-state drive, whereas the models sold on Amazon and other retailers are fixed configurations.

It’s also worth noting that the Apple Store offers students an educational discount, which can trim hundreds of dollars from the price of a new laptop or tablet.

Keep reading to see the best prices currently available for Apple’s current and previous-generation MacBooks. We update this list periodically.

Read moreTesting out the entire new Apple Mac M1 lineup

MacBook discounts, compared

Model w/ CPU (and storage capacity) List price Best price (current) Best price (all-time)
New MacBook Air w/ M1 chip (256GB) $999 $979 $950
New MacBook Air w/ M1 chip (512GB) $1,249 $1,175 $1,175
New MacBook Pro w/ M1 chip (256GB) $1,299 $1,150 $1,150
New MacBook Pro w/ M1 chip (512GB) $1,499 $1,350 $1,350
MacBook Air w/ 10th-gen Core i3 (256GB) $999 $879 $850
13-inch MacBook Pro w/ 8th-gen Core i5 (256GB) $1,299 $1,099 $1,049
16-inch MacBook Pro w/ 9th-gen Core i7 (512GB) $2,399 $2,185 $2,079

*Note that “all-time” means the best price that we’ve seen at an Apple-authorized retailer in the product’s lifetime.

Dan Ackerman/CNET

The new, fanless MacBook Air starts at $999 and features Apple’s M1 processor that has an eight‑core CPU, seven‑core GPU and 16‑core Neural Engine. The system also supplies 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. It lacks the Touch Bar (which could be viewed as a net positive) but features a 13.3-inch Retina display, Touch ID and the Magic keyboard. You can save $20 on the rose model at Amazon; the silver and space gray models offer no savings.

Read our MacBook Air (M1) review.

Apple

The step-up MacBook Air model delivers the M1 processor with a slight difference from the baseline model — it has an eight-core GPU versus the seven cores you get in the model above. More significantly, it doubles the storage capacity with a 512GB SSD. Amazon’s prices are currently jumping around, and — strangely — list discounts that don’t line up with the Apple Store price. This model in rose is currently selling for $1,175 on Amazon, which is $74 less than you’d pay from Apple and the lowest price ever for this model. The space gray model is $70 off at $1,179, and the silver model is priced at $1,199.

Read our MacBook Air (M1) review.

Dan Ackerman/CNET

The new 13-inch MacBook Pro uses Apple’s new M1 processor, which is an eight-core CPU with four performance cores and four efficiency cores, an eight-core GPU and a 16-core Neural Engine. The baseline model also features 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, a Retina display, the Magic keyboard and the Touch Bar with Touch ID. The baseline config is currently $99 off at Amazon, and you can take off another $50 when you add it to your cart to bring the price down to $1,150. That’s the lowest price we’ve seen yet for the new M1 MacBook Pro. If you want to upgrade the RAM on a new MacBook Pro, however, you’ll need to buy from Apple.

Apple

The step-up MacBook Pro model doubles the storage capacity with a 512GB SSD and costs $1,499 from Apple. Amazon has it right now for $1,350, which is the lowest price we’ve seen for this model. Similar to the baseline model, you get an additional discount when you add the laptop to your cart for a total savings of $149.

Dan Ackerman/CNET

The baseline Intel-based MacBook Air model features a 10th-gen Core i3 processor, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD as well as the updated Magic Keyboard. It’s currently selling for $120 less than its $999 list price at B&H in gold or silver. This discount shouldn’t be enough to tempt you over the new M1-based Air, especially since students may be eligible for a discount on the new M1-based model with the Apple Store’s educational discount.

Read our 2020 MacBook Air review.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The baseline Intel-based 13-inch MacBook Pro has a list price of $1,299 and is currently selling for $200 less than that at B&H. It features an eighth-gen 1.4GHz Core i5 processor along with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. (The step-up model with a 512GB SSD is also $200 off at B&H.) Either way, I’d still spend a bit more for the newer M1 MacBook Pro if your budget allows. Or opt for the new M1 MacBook Air for even less.

Read our 2020 MacBook Pro hands-on.

Óscar Gutiérrez/CNET

The current 16-inch MacBook Pro was the lone MacBook line not to receive an M1 upgrade. It features a ninth-gen Intel Core i7 CPU, 16GB of RAM, AMD Radeon Pro 5300M graphics and a 512GB SSD. It boasts a bigger screen with a higher resolution than its smaller, 13-inch sibling. This model in space gray is selling at a $214 discount at Amazon. (The step-up model, which bumps up the CPU to an eight-core Core i9 chip, the GPU to the AMD Radeon Pro 5500M and the storage capacity to 1TB, is currently $199 off at Amazon.) Unless you have an urgent need for a giant MacBook Pro, it would be prudent to wait until Apple delivers an M1 update to this line.

Read our 16-inch MacBook Pro review.


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Hands-on with the entire new Apple Mac M1 lineup



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