It’s exciting, but we can probably be a bit skeptical…..
Big Promises on Power
Tech media and some personal friends of ours seem to agree on one thing: Apple is making a huge amount of promises with this processor, along with the machines using it, which are the new MacBook Air, 13 Inch MacBook Pro and new Mac Mini, even if they didn’t actually show demos of them fulfilling said promises. This starts from comparisons of up to 3 times the CPU performance from these processors compared to the Intel equivalent Macs (or some random unnamed Windows computer) as as up to 6 times the GPU performance as well. This slightly differs across the new range of devices as it most seems to be based on cooling and thermal throttling, with the MacBook Air being restricted the most and having one of it’s GPU cores shut down, while the MacBook Pro and Air scale up respectively. Again, all these machines are boosting significant leaps over not only the competition, but Macs that Apple themselves released just this year. It’s a huge claim, and the fact that Apple is using vague jargon doesn’t exactly help. After all claiming that a processor is “up to 3 times faster” doesn’t state when it’s faster, or if it’s faster in most normal workloads. This is likely because Apple themselves are currently handicapped, as they didn’t really have any new Apps to showcase these new processors outside of Davinci Resolve (which was also barely shown). This is because of course this is a new desktop platform. Even if it can rely on the backs of iOS apps for a bit. Instead Apple is likely trying to hype these machines up to push mass adoption which will of course push developers to optimize apps for these new machines, and then we can really see what they can do.
Big promises on efficiency too.
Now I’m just going to straight up say this; Apple thinks they can reach up to 20 Hours of video playback on these new Mac’s batteries. Again 20 hours! That’s at least 2 seasons of your favorite Netflix show playing back to back. And the thing is, I believe them. Windows on ARM laptops (which are at least fundamentally similar to Apple’s M1 Macs) can last up to 16 hours of proven video playback tests, and they likely aren’t as optimized as Apple’s machines just due to them not having control of everything like Apple does. So if the Surface Pro X can reach 16 hours, I’m near certain these machines can probably reach 20. And this isn’t too surprising. After all power efficiency is essentially the biggest reason everyone was thinking Apple is moving to these new Macs. So I’m not surprised if they pull this one off.
Some (Healthy) Skepticism
Now despite all this, technology is not magic, and neither are these M1 Macs, no matter how much Apple may try to make you believe they are. Here’s the thing, we’ve already talked about Apple’s carefully placed wording in its event, and that wording isn’t for no reason. Apple is tiptoeing because while it knows its processors are good enough for what it once to achieve, it knows they don’t work in a vacuum. Apple’s biggest issue now is developer support and optimized programs, and honestly any developer who has to be told “write a program this way so it works faster only on Apple devices” might not exactly be thrilled about that at first, and that might lead to , ironically enough, these new macs seeming slower than the competition for at least the next few years, even if they’re a lot faster and thinner. There’s also the fact that through these, Apple is really cutting off Macs from any common ground with other PCs, including in terms of things like game development and other specialized programs (you can’t exactly make a program for an NVIDIA graphics card if these Macs don’t have one). Hence jumping for joy for these machines, might be something you want to hold off on.
More developer and customer lock-in.
You can’t change RAM on these machines. Simple as that. The RAM is a part of the System-On-Chip where the processor is so it can’t be removed. There’s no two ways about that. And especial for Mac Mini and MacBook Pro users that’s definitely not something to be smiling about. Hopefully later MacBook Pros and the iMacs change this but for now, Apple is again tightening it’s grip of control over users. And then there’s developers, we talked about this before in our last article so we won’t go into it too much, but here’s the basic gist: considering how restrictive iOS development is, and with Mac and iOS development being inevitably merged, what does that mean for the revenue flows and policies of many a Mac dev? Stuff to think on.
Well we said this right at the top. And nothing’s changed, tests and reviews for these machines will start coming out in a week. We have until then to bait our breath over how it will all turn out. Until then, let’s try and remember the world as it is before maybe Apple upends everything.