For the first time in nearly 15 years Apple’s newest Macbook and Mac mini didn’t come with the intel processor instead they have used the brand new Apple Macbook with M1 chip which was announced recently as a powerful replacement of intel processors that have powered Apple’s computers since 2006.
Apple’s Macbook lineup has been considered the epitome of laptops for as long as they have been around.
Whether you are a student or new into your professional career Macbooks are considered to be the go-to laptop no matter what.
They have never disappointed any of its users and have always been a name that resonates with dependability.
By creating the silicone in-house Apple has much more control over how well Mac OS and the Mac perform together.
Even without touching on the technical specifications of the new M1 chip the improved optimization in MAC OS should make for dramatic performance and reliability improvements.
Now let’s talk about the most awaited upgrade of the Macbook the M1 chip.
According to Apple Macbook the M1 chip is not only an upgrade but a breakthrough, the M1 combines multiple technologies including processors, IO, security and memory which results in a whole new level of integration for more simplicity, more efficiency and amazing performance.
The Macbook with M1 is the first personal computer chip built using industry leading 5 nanometer process technology and packs 16 billion incredibly small transistors measured at an atomic scale.
At the heart of the M1 chip is an eight core chip with four high performance cores and four high efficiency cores.
The high performance cores each provides industry leading performance for single threaded tasks and Apple claims that they are the world’s fastest CPU cores in low power silicon.
Interestingly Apple also claims that four high efficiency cores deliver outstanding performance at a tenth of the power.
In fact the high efficiency cores are so powerful themselves that they deliver similar performance the dual core intel Macbook air while being much more efficient.
The Macbook air, Macbook pro and mac mini use the same M1 processor but the cooling fan in the Macbook pro and mac mini will let the M1 run at top speed for longer that should be helpful during video editing or other tasks that require sustained high performance.
But the M1 doesn’t stop there it also features an 8 core GPU which can execute 25,000 threads concurrently.
According to Apple the M1 has the world’s fastest integrated graphics in a personal computer that can handle extremely demanding tasks with ease.
What does all of this mean for real world usage? It means that you will be able to do things like play Apple Arcade, edit videos, power a 6k external display and more without having any issue.
For the first time the M1 chip also brings Apple’s industry-leading neural engine to the mac that features a 16 core design that can perform 11 trillion operations per second but what kind of improvements can you expect with the neural engine.
Think of the neural engine as something designed specifically for machine learning tasks like video analysis, voice recognition, artificial intelligence and much more.
At present many modern applications increasingly rely on machine learning for everyday tasks.
So the neural engine in the M1 chip will play a very important role, it works in conjunction with the CPU and GPU to power your Apple silicon mac.
Memory & Storage
M1 also features a unified memory architecture that brings together high bandwidth, low latency memory into a single pool within a custom package that allows all of these technologies in the SOC to access the same data without copying in between multiple pools of memory further improving performance and efficiency.
And for SSD storage Apple has included a new high performance storage controller with AES encryption hardware for improved security and faster performance.
In fact Apple claims that the new M1 powered Macbook air offers up to two times faster SSD performance than normal laptop SSDs.
As expected the M1 also features Apple’s secure enclave to handle things like touch id authentication and other security tasks.
This isn’t the first time Apple has brought the secure enclave to the mac though in previous macs, Apple included the secure enclave in the T1 or T2 chip but now it can be integrated directly into the M1.
Since the M1 is based on the arm architecture Apple needs an extra software layer to run apps designed for intel chips which they called Rosetta 2.
The experience of emulated intel apps inside arm on windows is not so great but according to Apple for certain graphically intensive apps it can get better performance on an app running through the Rosetta 2 than it did on an equivalent intel chip.
You might be wondering that all these upgrades will have a serious train on the battery life but both the new M1 based Macbook air and Macbook pro deliver dramatically increased battery life using the same sized batteries as the versions with intel chips.
Apple claims 18 hours of video playback on the Macbook air and 20 hours on the Macbook pro but video playback is a bad metric especially since modern chips are optimized for it so the real thing to note is those claims are significantly higher than what Apple claimed on their intel based processors.
Apple M1 Limitations
The Apple M1 chip is not without limitations which is to be expected since this is the first ever chip designed by Apple for the mac.
Firstly all three of these macs feature two usb-c ports that support usb4 and thunderbolt.
It is a likely limitation for the M1 controller that it only supports two ports.
Secondly you will notice that the M1 max out at 16 gb of ram while intel max can go significantly higher.
The same also applies to SSD storage where M1 max are limited to 2 terabytes but intel max can go to 4 terabytes and even beyond again these are likely limitations of the M1 chip.
Difference Between Air & Pro
The Apple silicon M1 Macbook air and Macbook pro are very similar in terms of specifications both devices support the same M1 processor 13.3 inch display, touch id and ports as well as most other hardware features.
The main differences are the display brightness touch bar microphone and speaker quality two extra hours of battery life and active cooling system that set the machines apart in favor of the Macbook pro.
For casual users this means that the additional three hundred dollars to upgrade to a Macbook pro may be difficult to justify especially without knowing the exact performance benefits at this time.
While the performance difference in real time between the two Macbooks is yet to be seen the Macbook air offers a compelling feature set at a more affordable price.
Most of all the fact that Apple has stopped selling the intel version of the Macbook air is what astonishes us.
The air is Apple’s best-selling mac by far and it is coming off a quarter where Apple made more money on max than it ever had before.
Rather than hedge its bit it’s replacing its most popular computer with this new system.
It’s been a long time since the company has both promised and then delivered a step change improvement in the laptop computers as of this moment we have a brick promise and now we have to see how much Apple can deliver.