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Best Apple MacBook deals: Save $35 on M1 MacBook Air, $60 on M1 MacBook Pro and more on older models

The new M1 MacBook models are out and already discounted, and better deals can be had on the older, Intel-based models.

As you wave goodbye to 2020 and look to the new year for a fresh start, could a new MacBook help get 2021 started off on the right foot? There are some good deals available from retailers on Apple's older Intel-based MacBooks, and you'll even find discounts on both of Apple's new M1 MacBook Pro models along with the step-up model of the MacBook Air.

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. And 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. The early 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 moreTesting out the entire new Apple Mac M1 lineup

Pricing for new M1 MacBooks

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

You'll find a $35 discount on the step-up $1,249 model of the MacBook Air and a $49 or $60 discount on the 13-inch MacBook Pro M1, the first price breaks we've seen on any of the new models. 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, baseline 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.

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 $999 $999
New MacBook Air w/ M1 chip (512GB) $1,249 $1,214 $1,214
New MacBook Pro w/ M1 chip (256GB) $1,299 $1,239 $1,199
New MacBook Pro w/ M1 chip (512GB) $1,499 $1,450 $1,449
MacBook Air w/ 10th-gen Core i3 (256GB) $999 $899 $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 $2,199 $2,079
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. 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 doesn't offer a discount on the baseline model but lets you save $35 on this step-up model -- the first price break we've seen on the new M1 MacBook Air. 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 in space gray is currently $60 off at Amazon (the color silver has a $50 discount). 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 is $49 less than its $1,499 list price at Amazon.

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 $100 less than its $999 list price at Amazon. 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 list 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 $250 off at B&H.) The $250 discount brings this model to its lowest price ever, but 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. In space gray only, this model is selling at a $200 discount at Amazon. (The step-up model in space gray that 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 $250 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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