After teasing it way back in June at WWDC 2020, Apple has finally unveiled its ARM-based Mac computers with in-house Apple Silicon, the Apple M1 chip. These include Apple 13-inch MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and Mac mini. These new macs look exactly like its predecessors. But it brings a lot of upgrades under the hood thanks to the new Apple M1 chipset with bold performance claims.
All the latest Macs can deliver up to 3.5x faster CPU, up to 6x faster GPU, up to 15x faster machine learning (ML) capabilities, and up to 2x battery life. There are a lot of various improvements that come with this new ARM-based chipset. So before going to these new macs features and pricing, first we will discuss the Apple M1 chip in simple terms, and then we will discuss everything you need to know about the new line-up of Macs.
Apple M1 chip
Majority of our readers would be familiar with ARM based chipset. We use ARM-based chipset in our smartphones, tablets and other small electronic accessories. Earlier days the chipset we saw on computers and mobile had considerable differences in terms of performance. But every year ARM-based chipset gets considerable improvements in terms of capabilities and efficiencies compared to typical Intel or AMD processors.
We usually call ARM based chipset as System on Chip(SoC), because in ARM based chipsets we have many components like CPU, GPU, ISP, DSP, etc. in a single unit. ARM-based chipsets are becoming so powerful these days that they can rival many desktop Chipsets.
Typically the processors we see in ultraportable laptops have average TDP(power consumption rating) of 15Watts and Desktop processors have average TDP of 45Watts. In comparison, the SoC seen on our smartphones and tablets has a lower TDP of below 5W because there are a lot of constraints like heating, power in such devices.
But when we use these ARM based chipset on Laptops or computers, we don’t have such constraints due to large size for bigger batteries and cooling purposes. So we can add more powerful cores and can use higher clock speeds. Let me explain…
Currently, the iPhone 12 series comes with Hexa-core A14 bionic with two high-performance cores and four high-efficiency cores. Also, Apple bionic comes with a 4-core GPU. Compared to this, the new Apple M1 comes Octa-core CPU and Up to Octa-Core(7 or 8) GPU. So there are four high-performance cores and four high-efficiency cores. GPU cores usually take more power, so in smartphones, we typically see 4-cores. But here power is not a limitation because we have an 8-Core GPU. Still, the overall average TDP is just 10watts.
Apple M1 Chip Specifications and Features
Apple M1 chip is on the latest 5nm manufacturing process. Packed with an astonishing 16 billion transistors, the Apple M1 system on a chip (SoC) integrates the CPU, GPU, Neural Engine, I/O and so much more onto a single tiny chip. It comes with 8-core CPU, Up to 8-core GPU(7 or 8), 16-core Neural Engine(11 trillion operations per second), Industry-leading Performance per watt (10W TDP), Machine learning accelerators, Advanced Image Signal Processors(ISP), Thunderbolt/USB 4 controller, Unified memory architecture, Gen 4 PCI Express, HDR Imaging, etc.
Let me explain some of these things like Unified memory architecture, which give equal access to RAM for CPU, GPU and other components. Secure Enclave provides the high-end security that comes with other Apple products which have been missing from the macs due to intel based processors.
Advanced image signal processors, the intel-based chipset doesn’t come with Image signal processors or ISPs. So due to the presence of ISPs in M1 Chip, we can get better quality videos from web camera(supports HDR imaging)
Also, one of the key improvements will be in terms of battery life and sleep mode. We can get up to 2 times battery life than typical intel based macs due to very high efficiency and these laptops will always-on laptops. Just like our smartphones, they can wake instantaneously.
Packed with an astonishing 16 billion transistors, the Apple M1 system on a chip (SoC) integrates the CPU, GPU, Neural Engine, I/O and so much more onto a single tiny chip. With incredible performance, custom technologies and industry-leading power efficiency.
Apple M1 Benchmarks
According to Apple Apple M1 is up to 3.5x faster CPU, up to 6x faster GPU, up to 15x faster machine learning (ML) capabilities. But they are not correctly mentioned compared to which devices or processors.
But in our research, they compared Apple M1 CPU capabilities to i7-1060NG7(quad-core 1.2Ghz chip with a 3.8GHz Turbo Boost and 8MB of L3 cache), which is present in the Intel based MacBook Air.
The 6X faster GPU and 15X faster machine learning capability claim come from the Apple M1 vs 3.6GHz quad-core Intel Core i3–based Mac mini systems with Intel UHD Graphics 630.
So in these comparisons, they mainly compare Apple M1 with baseline previous-gen macs, and we couldn’t get a good idea about its capabilities. But we can for some days and probably Linus tech tips, Hardware Canucks or Dave2D will come up with detailed benchmarks very soon.
Until then it seems their CPUs are very capable and GPU’s very good among integrated graphics cards. They are especially comparing its graphics capability with 10 th gen or 8 th intel’s processors. The 11 th intel’s processors have considerable improvements in terms of integrated graphics. Also, the 3-rd Gen(4000 series) AMD processors already have excellent integrated graphics(in between intel 10 th gen and 11 th gen). Still, soon they will release 4 th gen processors with much better-integrated graphics.
macOS Big Sur
Apple will release the stable version of macOS Big Sur tomorrow, November 12th. The update will be rolled out to iMacs and MacBooks dating back to 2013, bringing a refreshed user interface, new features and performance improvements.
So we are only concentrating on three new things on the macOS Big Sur here. Universal Apps, Rosetta 2 and iPhone and iPad Apps.
1. Universal Apps
It will allow developers to bring programs compatible with both the Apple Silicon and Intel-powered Macs. Means the Software package includes the native binary version built for the Apple Silicon and the one for Intel Macs.
It is a dynamic binary translator, which will allow users to run x86 apps(intel based Apps) on M1-powered devices. with so many apps designed natively for Intel, Rosetta 2 will allow these programs to run smoothly on the new Apple Silicon with similar or slightly lesser performance
3. iPhone and iPad Apps
Now All the Apple devices will use ARM-based chipset. Means all the Apps for iPhone, iPad and Macs are made for the same platform, and they are cross-compatible, means you can run iPhone and iPad apps on a new Mac based on Apple Silicon.
Apple 13‑inch MacBook Pro
The new MacBook Pro looks the same as the previous generation and comes with the same 13-inch Retina display, but the significant changes are under the hood due to the Apple M1 chip.
Apple claims the new 13‑inch MacBook Pro is up to 2.8 times faster in terms of CPU performance, and five times faster in GPU performance when compared to the last generation MacBook Pro with i7-8557U(1.7 GHz Intel Core i7 processor with up to 4.5 GHz of Turbo Boost supported and an Intel Iris Plus Graphics 645 graphics processor).
Apple claims that the new MacBook Pro can build code in Xcode up to 2.8x faster and render complex 3D titles in Final Cut Pro up to 5.9 faster as compared to the previous generation. The laptop supports full-quality, 8K ProRes video in DaVinci Resolve without dropping a single frame. The computer can perform ML tasks in Create ML up to 11x faster, and one can separate beats, instrumentals, and vocal tracks from a recording in real-time in djay Pro AI.
Along with that, you can configure the MacBook Pro with up to 16GB RAM and up to a 2TB SSD( 3.3GB/s sequential read speeds, Gen 3 PCI SSD, even though M1 supports Gen 4). The FaceTime HD camera is getting improvements thanks to the new ISP in the M1 chip. You get better noise reduction, greater dynamic range, and face detection as well.
In terms of battery life, there are huge improvements, thanks to the highly efficient M1 chip. Apple is claiming that the new MacBook Pro can offer 17 hours of web browsing and 20 hours of video playback. That’s quite impressive and nearly twice when compared to the previous generation MacBook Pro.
The new MacBook Pro comes with a single fan for active cooling. The lack of fans in the base model of MacBook Air with the same Apple M1 chip may indicate there will be some overclocking happening here, but Apple haven’t mentioned anything about clock speed for any of these new Macs.
Other features include Studio quality mics, Magic Keyboard+Touch Bar, Touch ID, Wi-Fi 6, Thunderbolt / USB 4(USB 3 in last-gen) etc. Also, new macs support iPhone and iPad Apps, which we already mentioned in the macOS Big Sur section.
The new MacBook Pro with M1 processor is priced at $1299, but education users can get it for $1199. The laptop can be pre-ordered right away and will go on sale this Thursday. The Indian pricing for different configurations of the new MacBook Pro mentioned in the following table.
|8GB+2 TB SSD||₹2,02,900|
|16GB +2TB SSD||₹2,22,900|
New MacBook Air
The latest MacBook Air now comes with Apple M1 chipset that drastically improves its performance. Apple is claiming that the new e MacBook Air is now three times faster than the best selling Windows laptop in its class, and faster than 98% of Windows laptops sold this year, which is a pretty big claim.
The company claims that the new notebook can deliver up to 3.5x faster performance than the previous generation i7-1060NG7 (a quad-core 1.2Ghz chip with a 3.8GHz Turbo Boost and 8MB of L3 cache). It also has 5x faster integrated GPU and 9x faster machine learning capabilities with its previous generation.
The MacBook Air is now fanless, and Apple seems confident that M1 can maintain its performance without any active cooling on the new MacBook Air. Apple is claiming that the MacBook Air will last up to 15 hours of web browsing and 18 hours of video playback.
It comes with up to 16GB RAM and up to a 2TB SSD.Apple is also saying that the SSD is now two times faster than before, thanks to the M1’s storage controller and faster flash memory. In terms of audio, it comes with stereo speakers with wide stereo sound and support for Dolby Atmos.
Thanks to the new ISP in the M1, the MacBook Air’s webcam video quality is going to be better with better noise reduction, better white balance and greater dynamic range. Other features include two Thunderbolt ports with support for USB 4, iPhone and iPad Apps.
The new MacBook Air is priced starting at $999, and you can pre-order it right away. It will be available this Thursday.
Indian pricing of new MacBook Air along with different configuration
|8GB+2 TB SSD||₹1,72,900|
|16GB +2TB SSD||₹1,92,900|
New Mac mini with M1 Chip
As expected, the new Apple M1 chip brings considerable improvements to the performance over last-gen Intel-based Mac mini. Apple is claiming that the Mac mini now has 3x Faster CPU, 6x faster graphics, 15x faster machine learning capabilities compared to last generation Mac mini (3.6GHz quad-core 8th-generation Intel Core i3 processor, Intel UHD Graphics 630)
For I/O, the Mac Mini gets pretty much all the ports you’d need. There are two USB Type-A ports, an Ethernet port, two Thunderbolt ports, an HDMI port on the back of the device, along with a 3.5mm headphone jack.
Mac mini also features an advanced thermal design to sustain its breakthrough performance while staying cool and quiet, support for up to two displays including Apple’s Pro Display XDR at its full 6K resolution thanks to the faster Thunderbolt ports.
The new Mac mini priced at $699, which is $100 lower than the previous Mac Mini. It goes on sale from Thursday, but you can pre-order it right away.
Indian pricing of new Mac mini along with different configuration
|8GB+2 TB SSD||₹1,44,900|
|16GB +2TB SSD||₹1,64,900|
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