I raise this specifically here as this is a question I’ve encountered more than once.
In short, if you need to ask the question “do I need a Mac?”, the answer is most probably no.
Now Apple fanboys may think that’s a sacrilegious comment, so let me explain.
I first used a Mac back in the late 80s, an Apple Mac Plus, and I’ve used them professionally for the best part of three decades. Additionally I’ve owned Macs myself for a couple of decades.
I explain that only to try and convince you I don’t have some kind of anti-Mac agenda. For some jobs, they’re a great tool.
My Mac Pro served me daily for 13 years and I could probably have got another couple of years out of it by spending a few hundred dollars more on another upgrade.
The first reason I wouldn’t buy a Mac now is simply that a Mac is no longer the right tool for me.
When I bought each of my Macs, they were the right tool for the work I was doing. I was designing and creating print ready artwork for catalogs, brochures and various other graphic design jobs and needed powerful computers to let me work with large image files.
Now most of my work is writing code which requires little power and the little design I do is for online use which generally involves much smaller image files.
So I no longer require a particularly powerful machine and can’t justify buying something I don’t really need.
Secondly, while Macs used to last an absurd amount of time, that’s not quite the case now.
They’re still built to last and with care can look almost as good as new after five years or more. However, looking like a new machine doesn’t mean it works like a new machine.
In the past, once a Mac felt tired and a little slow, you could double the RAM or more and add a new hard drive. As a result, you’d have often doubled the lifespan of the machine and even combining the cost of upgrades with original purchase price, you may have saved money over buying several cheaper machines that only last a few years.
That’s not the case now.
All the current Mac laptops have their RAM soldered to the logic board. That means you can’t add more RAM after a few years to give your Mac a new lease of life. In fact with the very latest M1 Macs, the RAM is actually combined into the processor at the heart of the machine.
To be sure a Mac is still a usable machine in five or more years, you need to specify as much RAM as you can afford when you buy it. Problem is, Apple charges about four times more for RAM than you’d pay a company like Crucial.
It’s not just RAM that you won’t be upgrading either. The SSD is also soldered onto the logic board, so you best buy the biggest you can afford, because you’re going to be stuck with it. Oh, and as you’re buying from Apple, you’ll be paying twice as much if not more for that too.
And you really do have to pay that or the machine could look perfect in five years but be frustrating to use because it’s performance has slowed down so much relatively.
In fairness to Apple though, that is oversimplifying things.
An Apple Mac of any description is going to feel a lot more special than your average black plastic laptop. It’s also going to project something about you and your personal brand.
When was the last time you saw a guru of any description pretending to work on anything other than a MacBook of some description?
If image is important to you, then you may accept you’re paying more for something that’s indefinable and that you won’t get from most anonymous Windows powered laptops.
Additionally, unlike your average laptop, Macs hold their value quite well. You could consider changing a Mac every few years, selling it privately to achieve the best sale price.
So the answer to “do I need a Mac” maybe no, but the answer to “do I want a Mac” could still be yes.
Hopefully, in the next few years we’ll see Macs become user serviceable again as consumers demand products that have a longer lifespan. There are certainly moves in the EU to bring such legislation in, though without it, we may not see any change soon.
In the meantime, if it’s the ruggedness of a MacBook’s metal case that appeals, there are other options. Some of the Windows powered competitors can be just as expensive, but you could look into Linux laptops. These would give you the closest to a Mac experience as the operating system is more similar to MacOS than Windows is.
As I’m in Spain, I’d probably look at a Slimbook (https://slimbook.es/) laptop. This Spanish company produce a few machines, including some laptops with full magnesium alloy bodies and user replaceable RAM and SSDs.
It’s not as powerful as top end MacBooks and doesn’t look as desirable, but with the ability to upgrade it yourself, it’s a lot more future proof.
Order it with the Elementary OS option and it comes with a desktop that owes more than a bit of its style to MacOS.
In the USA, System76 (https://system76.com/laptops) offer Linux laptops with aluminum bodies.