Apple Silicon Macs

Apple held an online event today officially releasing Macs running on Apple’s own custom built chips, starting with the M1. Specifically they announced a new 13″ MacBook Air, a new 13″ MacBook Pro, and a new Mac Mini.

M1 Chip

The M1 sounds like a pretty amazing chip if Apple’s claims hold up. There were a lot of specs, stats and numbers thrown around, but basically they state that it’s around 2x faster than the latest PC laptop chip, and it does this while consuming much less power.

This new chip encompasses everything in the one chip, including CPU, GPU, and RAM. This is to increase performance by reducing CPU overhead, allowing the GPU to access the RAM directly. It also integrates the latest Secure Enclave, and a Neural Engine. The CPU itself is an 8-core design, although it combines 4 high-performance cores and 4 high-efficiency cores. The downside to having the RAM on the chip, is that it can never be upgraded without replacing the whole chip.

MacBook Air

This is Apple’s best-selling laptop, and the new M1 version should be a great seller. (It looks like Apple is no longer offering the Intel version.) Apple boasts performance on this M1 MacBook Air as being 3.5x faster than the previous generation MacBook Air. That is a huge performance boost, especially considering the last generation came out earlier in 2020. It also has 5x the graphics performance. Factor in that it comes with TouchID, and thanks to the M1, a much longer battery life, it’s a truly impressive laptop. It also has no fans, so it will never get loud. I don’t know how hot the M1 gets before it throttles down or if it will even be comfortable to use in your lap. It retains its anemic 2 USB-C port design, and has physical function keys (no touch bar.)

MacBook Pro

The 13″ MacBook Pro is a great performer for Apple, it gives buyers a powerful laptop in a very portable package. This new M1 version boasts 2.8x faster CPU and 5x faster graphics. (I assume compared to the previous 13″ MacBook Pro.) The laptop includes the Touch Bar and a physical Escape key. It’s only available with 2 USB-C ports though.

Mac mini

The new M1 Mac mini boasts 3x faster CPU performance than the previous generation, and 6x faster graphics performance. The mini is a great device to use if you don’t need the portability of a laptop. It’s likely the best value computer you can purchase.

Final Thoughts

All three of the announced products (MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and Mac mini) feature the same M1 chip. Apple doesn’t mention clock-speeds, which would be meaningless anyway as there’s nothing to compare them with. I do wonder if all three of these devices are running the M1’s at the same speed, as long as they stay cool enough, or are they clocked differently from the start.

  • I’m disappointed that the MacBook Pro only has 2 ports. I regularly use all 4 of mine now, and have a USB hub plugged into one of them.
  • All of these products seem to be reasonably priced, especially compared with a new iPhone 12 Pro Max.
  • I wonder how well (if at all) a Windows VM will run, or docker with a bunch of linux containers.
  • When they roll out the 16″ MacBook Pro, will it come with an M2? Either way will it include Apple or AMD graphics?