Apple Silicon Macs will be cheaper than Intel Macs, right?

Pull up a chair, friend, and let me tell you a thing or two about a little company called Apple.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Contributing Writer

There's a lot that we don't know about Apple Silicon powered Macs, but one question that's on the mind of a lot of people is whether this shift will result in cheaper Macs.

It's a logical question. After all, an Apple Silicon Arm chip such as the A12X will surely be cheaper than a chip from Intel, right?

Well, pull up a chair, friend, and let me tell you a thing or two about a little company called Apple.

First up, Apple isn't a name that synonymous with cheap.

Products such as the iPad and iPhone SE are, in the Apple world, considered cheap. But with a starting price of $329 and $399 respectively, neither are cheap.

You can easily find cheaper laptops.

It is highly unlikely that Apple is going to use the switch to its own processors as the time to start race to the bottom. After all, who is it competing against? Itself?

It just doesn't make sense.

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At WWDC 2020, Apple showed off a Mac running an A12X chip. That's a two-year-old chip from a 2018 iPad Pro.

Which brings me to the second point: the iPad Pro isn't a cheap device. Starting at $799 and going all the way up to $1,649 for a full-loaded setup, the iPad Pro isn't cheap.

In fact, the cheapest Mac -- the Mac mini -- also starts at $799.

Also, it's worth bearing in mind that what we've seen so far from Apple are chips that have been retrofitted for use in Macs and that the final chips are likely to be specifically optimized for Mac workflows.

Finally, we don't know how much the chips Apple uses in iPads and iPhones actually cost. Like me, you've probably come across hand-waving and back-of-the-envelope calculations from teardowns, but given what A-series processors are capable of, they're not cheap. Then there's all the R&D work, both on the chips themselves and in getting macOS ready for Arm hardware.

So no, the bad news is that Apple Silicon Macs aren't going to be cheaper. The good news, however, is that I doubt they are going to be more expensive. Apple has very likely timed the transition such that it can offer the benefits of making a shift to Arm without the downside of additional cost.

I also doubt that Apple is going to have a firesale on Intel Macs at any point either. Apple's channel inventory isn't all that big, so it's not like the company is going to have warehouses filled with Intel-powered Macs that no one wants.

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