What they have in common: the Apple M1
Apple produced its own processor for the first Macs: the Apple M1. The cores are probably based on the Apple A14. All M1 chips have a total of eight cores: four performance cores and four cores, which are designed for energy efficiency. In addition, all M1 chips have eight graphics cores – except for the entry-level model of the MacBook Air. Apple never tired of mentioning that the M1 is clearly superior to the current Mac models and the range from the Windows world – spoke at the event the company often reports a performance increase of the CPU by a factor of 3 and on the graphics side by a factor of 5. Apple compares the M1 with the entry-level models of the last Intel series. But: If these increases correspond to reality, the Mac mini and the MacBook Air would now be as fast or faster than a MacBook Pro 16 “with top equipment. The SSDs of the M1 Macs should also be faster by a factor of two (up to to 3.3 GB / s read rate) – an impressive achievement.
But all M1 models have limitations: All Mac models only have two USB 4 / Thunderbolt 3 ports. For many users, this is not a major limitation in practice – but some customers will be annoyed at having to purchase additional hubs. Another limitation that all M1 Macs have in common: a maximum of 16 GB of memory is available. Thanks to the unified memory architecture, it can be divided more flexibly between CPU and GPU, some double memory occupancy in the RAM and VRam is superfluous and the higher-performance SSD makes the swap memory faster – but some customers who rely on significantly more than 16 GB are currently unable to find a suitable M1 Mac.
The Mac mini with M1
Apple significantly upgraded the Mac mini: the customer receives a significantly faster model with a significantly higher-performance CPU and GPU at a lower entry-level price. Thanks to the M1, the Mac mini is now – if you are to believe Apple’s statements – even for computing and GPU-intensive tasks. Games are now also possible on the Mac mini – this was previously unthinkable due to the Intel GMA, as soon as the game has reasonably decent graphics.
In short: the Mac mini with M1 is an extremely successful upgrade – only the two missing USB 4 ports are a step backwards.
The MacBook Air
Here the M1 can really show what it can do: Significantly longer battery life – with top performance at the same time. If you believe the Apple information, the MacBook Air is now even suitable for more complex tasks. Before that, the MacBook Air was a thin, light ultra-book with limitations: Due to the dimensions, customers had to live with mediocre performance at best. But with the new M1 model this has come to an end: the CPU and GPU performance has multiplied compared to its predecessor – an incredible achievement from Apple. Apple is now delivering the fastest ultra-book in the world – no other model of this size can compete with this model in terms of speed and battery life. Apple also mentions that the MacBook Air is now suitable for games – this was not possible on the previous model due to the CPU and especially the GPU performance.
The MacBook Air, just like an iPad, does not have a fan – initial tests will clarify how long the M1 processor can maintain the (previously unknown) maximum clock without being throttled. But: The MacBook Air is now completely quiet when working. Apple says the MacBook Air allows 15 hours of web surfing and 18 hours of video playback. This means that the MacBook Air can last a whole working day without a power adapter – a real selling point for many customers.
MacBook Pro 13 “
Apple is also converting the MacBook Pro 13 “to the M1 – but this model has fans so that the M1 can maintain the maximum impressive clock rate for longer. Compared to the predecessor model with Intel, the M1 is said to be up to 2.8 times as fast – The M1-GPU surpasses the Intel GMA by an impressive factor of 5. But the MacBook Pro has the same setback as the Mac mini: Only two instead of four USB / Thunderbolt ports are available. Apple writes, that the MacBook Pro 13 “can run for up to 20 hours without a power adapter – longer than any other Mac before.
The MacBook Pro 13 “with M1 is also superior to the previous model in almost every respect – however, tests have to show how clear the performance advantage over the MacBook Air is thanks to the active cooling. The switch on the M1 is the performance gap to the MacBook Air definitely shrunk.
No price increases
It is very commendable that Apple has not raised the prices (and in one case even lowered them) on the announced models. In the vast majority of cases, the customer now receives a noticeably faster device with a longer battery life for the same price. Apple can now boast of being able to offer the fastest models with the longest battery life in the respective device classes – at the same prices as the previous models.
Somewhat surprising is that Apple spoke at the “One More Thing” event of a multi-year transition phase – in the summer, Tim Cook said that the transition will be completed in two years. Problems with the high-end models may have occurred in recent months, so Apple needs more time to develop.
No MacBook Pro 16 “
Bloomberg recently announced that Apple would present a MacBook Pro 16 “at today’s event – but Apple’s high-end laptop was missing from the presentation. Many had hoped to see a Mac with an even more powerful Apple chip – but unfortunately, the one was missing Top model every track.
No AirTags, no AirPods Studio
Those who were hoping for more announcements today were unfortunately disappointed by “One More Thing” – today it was all about the Mac. No AirTags, no AirPods Studio – the (surprisingly short) event lacked any innovations apart from the Mac.
There has never been such a performance increase with longer battery life in the history of the Mac – if you believe Apple’s performance data. Unfortunately, Apple did not bring it across as the spectacular innovation at the “One More Thing” event – for example, there was no visible comparison with similar Windows laptops. If Apple’s information is correct, the immense performance of the M1 could have been better presented to the audience.