Read this before you buy a MacBook this Black Friday

An M3-chipped MacBook Pro on a purple gradient background
(Image credit: Apple)

Hoping to find a good Black Friday MacBook deal? Then make sure you've done some research first. A little preparation beforehand can ensure you know a real MacBook deal when you spot one and help you decide when the price is right.

While there are still three weeks until Black Friday itself, some retailers have already started their sales. That means that in some cases, it might be better to buy now rather than to wait until later in the month. That's especially true if you want the new 2023 M2 MacBook Air – now at a record low price of $1,049.99 at Amazon.

You'll be able to find all of the best prices during the sale event in our roundups of the best MacBook Black Friday deals and Apple Black Friday 2023 deals in general. But for now, let's consider everything you should bear in mind when choosing a Black Friday MacBook deal to ensure you get the best buy.

How to find the best Black Friday MacBook deal

With so many online retailers offering Black Friday discounts on laptops, sorting through them to find the best price is a full-time job. It's my job, in fact, and I've already started, along with the rest of the team at Creative Bloq. 

We're tracking prices across all of the main online retailers so that we can provide updates when an especially good deal comes up. We'll be updating our roundup of the best MacBook Black Friday deals up to and during the sale but we'll also be publishing a live blog and news pieces, so stay tuned.

Decide which MacBook you want

MacBook Pro M3

The new M3-chipped MacBook Pros (Image credit: Apple)

Apple's MacBook range is getting bigger all the time. It can be broadly split into two ranges: the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. But within those are multiple models with different chips, different configurations and different sizes.

Very generally, if you're a professional creative working with high-resolution video, especially raw video, or 3D modelling, you'll want a MacBook Pro. If you're not, and you prefer a lighter device, the MacBook Air will probably serve you fine while also being more compact. All three readily available MacBook Airs made it into our pick of the best MacBooks for programming.

But then you have to consider size and configuration. Knowing in advance what screen size you want and how much storage space and RAM you need will help you to choose the right product faster when you see a deal that looks promising.

You might not decide on one specific model in advance. But if you, for example, decide that you want a 14in MacBook Pro with 16GB RAM and a 1TB SSD, you can compare prices between the M1, M2 and M3 models to look for the best deal. Given that the M2 Pro/Max MacBook Pro 14 and 14 were only released 10 months ago, they could be very sensible buys if they're going for cheaper than the new M3 devices.

Familiarise yourself with Apple MacBook prices

MacBook Air 2020 on background that says low price

The 2021 M1 MacBook Air is the cheapest MacBook. It now starts at $999 from Apple, but other retailers often have the price reduced to below $800 (Image credit: Apple/Future)

The best way to ensure you know a real deal when you see one is to be aware of Apple's own recommended retail price. Retailers sometimes inflate prices in order to claim that they're offering a discount. Knowing the official price is a good way to avoid falling for this.

Of course, there are so many different configurations that it can be hard to keep every price in mind, but here are a few key numbers. The new M3 MacBook Pros start at $1,599 for the 14in M3 model with 8GB RAM and 512GB SSD. Upgrading to the M3 Pro chip and 18GB RAM takes the price up to $1,999. The 16in device starts at $2,499.00  (with the M3 Pro).

For comparison, the starting model of January's M2 Pro MacBook Pro 16 is now $2,422.93 at Amazon – not enough of a discount for it to really be worth going for the older laptop, but this price could fall further. The 2021 M1 Pro MacBook Pro 16 is now $1,999 – $500 cheaper, and this is for a model with 32GB of RAM.

As for the MacBook Air, Apple sells the 2021 M1-chipped 13-in model for $999, the M2 version for $1,099 and the M2 15-inch MacBook Air from $1,299. That M1 MacBook Air is the cheapest MacBook currently available, and while it will still cost you almost $1000 direct from Apple, other retailers often have it on sale for less than $800. It's currently $749.99 at Amazon.

Know which MacBooks are likely to get Black Friday discounts

Both the 14-and 16-inch MacBook Pro models.

The M2 Pro/Max MacBook Pro 14 and 16 were only released in January but have already been superseded by the new M3 models. This could make them good opportunities for deals (Image credit: Future)

Another way to prepare is have a realistic idea of what to expect. This includes considering just how big deals on Apple laptops tend to get. If you don't do this, you could miss a decent saving by holding out for a better deal that's never going to arrive.

We've been tracking MacBook prices for years, so we have a good idea of how low they an go. It's extremely rare for the price of a cheaper MacBook Pro 13 or MacBook Air to be cut by any more than $200 / £200, so if you see that kind of saving on one of the cheaper Apple laptops with a smaller SSD and lower chip configuration, that's probably as good as it's going to get. 

With the more expensive 2023 MacBook Air 15, we've already seen discounts of $250, reducing the price to $1,049 at Amazon. That's a deal I would go for. The lower configurations of MacBook Pros can also get discounts of around this amount. Any savings bigger than this tend to come on higher-end configurations of the MacBook Pro 14 and the MacBook Pro 16, usually those that have an SSD of 1TB or 2TB. 

Apple has just announced new 14in and 16in MacBook Pros with a choice of M3, M3 Pro and M3 Max chips. This is a departure from previous releases, which have seen the base M1 and M2 chips used only in the 13in MacBook and the M1/2 Pro/Max coming later in the 14in and 16in. Incredibly, we're already seeing Black Friday deals on these laptops, with Amazon offering up to $200 off.

And the release of new MacBook Pros just ahead of Black Friday does increase the chances that we might see good deals on the M2 MacBook Pros, two of which (the 14in and 15in laptops) were only released in January of this year. Considering that the jury is still out on how much of a boost in performance the M3 chips really provide (strangely, Apple itself has been measuring them against the 2021 M1 chip, not the M2 chip), these are the laptops that I would be watching most carefully for deals. 

We can get a good idea of what to expect in terms of deals on these laptops by looking at what happened with the 2021 M1Pro/Max MacBook Pros after the M2 Pro models were released. During Amazon Prime Day in July, we saw savings of up to $700 on the 2021 MacBook Pro 16. The price of the base configuration fell as low as $1,799.

Don't dismiss early Black Friday MacBook Pro discounts

Remember that while the biggest discounts often still fall during Black Friday weekend itself, that isn't always the case. For example, we've already saw the 2022 M2 MacBook Air reduced to a record low price of $899 last week at B&H Photo, but that deal has already ended. That price might be matched at Black Friday, but I would be surprised to see it beaten.

The Best Buy Black Friday sale has already begun, but it's deals aren't as good as the deal above or other current deals. This leads back to my previous point, if you know how much of a saving you can realistically expect, you can judge whether an early Black Friday MacBook deal is likely to be beaten or not. 

From my experience of years of tracking MacBook prices, I would say that if you see $200 of the MacBook Air or MacBook Pro 13, that's probably the best deal you'll get. As for the MacBook Pro 14 and 16, you can expect up to around $250 off newish models and lower configurations and up to as much as $700 off higher-end configurations once they have been on the market for around a year.

Know where to find Black Friday MacBook deals

You also need to know where to find the deals. Amazon tends to have the most regular discounts, but it doesn't always have the best price. In the US, Best Buy and B&H Photo often match Amazon prices and sometimes even beat them on specific configurations. 

In the UK, Currys, Laptopsdirect, Very and John Lewis are also worth checking. We track the prices at all of these retailers and more to save you from doing the legwork and we provide direct links to their deals (see the best current prices in your region below.  The one place where it doesn't make much sense to look is at Apple itself, at least not if you're expecting a direct discount. While Apple doesn't run Black Friday discounts, it does usually offer gift vouchers with the purchase of certain products during Black Friday weekend.

You might also want to consider the dates of each retailers' Black Friday deals. Black Friday itself falls on Friday 24 November, but Best Buy and Target have started their Black Friday deals already, at least in name. Walmart says its Black Friday sale will start on 8 November. 

In the UK, Currysand Very say their Black Friday deals have started already, while Amazon UK says its sale will start on 17 November (no word yet on Amazon US).

Consider a trade in

Don't forget that the best way to save money on a new MacBook is by trading in your current device. Apple offers up to $1,360 off when you trade in a MacBook Pro and Best Buy offers up to $825.

Joseph Foley

Joe is a regular freelance journalist and editor at Creative Bloq. He writes news and features, updates buying guides and keeps track of the best equipment for creatives, from monitors to accessories and office supplies. A writer and translator, he also works as a project manager at London and Buenos Aires-based design, production and branding agency Hermana Creatives, where he manages a team of designers, photographers and video editors who specialise in producing photography, video content, graphic design and collaterals for the hospitality sector. He enjoys photography, particularly nature photography, wellness and he dances Argentine tango.