Apple Actually Did it: M1 Macs are a technical marvel, being as fast (and often faster) than Intel Macs and THE MAJORITY of most laptops in existence.
I literally have no words…
So last week Apple unveiled it’s M1 processor and the three Macs that would be powered by it. We covered the event in detail and shared our thoughts, namely that Apple was making bold claims and that if these chips were even half as powerful and efficient as they claimed, they would bring a huge shift to the laptop and processor industry. Here’s the thing: Apple wasn’t bluffing. The M1 powered Macs aren’t just adequate (which is what most people prayed they would be) , they’re impressive, bring incredible power and performance in a way no other PC has done before. Check the Video above to see what we mean!
Now just to bring it back for a second, we should all realize that these new Macs are fundamentally different from any Mac that came before them because of the processor inside: Apple’s M1 SoC which for all intensive purposes, is a variation of Apple’s A14 processor from it’s most recent iPhones. In other words, a modified smartphone processor is running at the heart of Apple’s new PCs and not only is it matching some of the best that AMD and Intel have to offer, it’s beating them on so many fronts too, including entry level graphics! It sounds crazy even saying it , but It’s true. If the Verge video above didn’t convince you there’s a Dave2D one below that’s also testing these macs and essentially pulling out the same results. These machines are beasts, and we all didn’t expect the performance on these things to be this good right off the jump.
What’s most amazing however, is the compatibility these processors are showing with Intel based apps as well as the hybrid universal ones. To put it simply, while ARM Chromebooks and Windows on ARM machines both claim to support legacy desktop apps, they both fall apart as soon as you run something more complex such as Photoshop. And yet these machines run Adobe apps (the old ones not the newer optimized versions coming next year), specialized benchmarks and games as good or even better than some recent Macs. Essentially while higher end MacBooks like the 16 inch Pro might barely beat them for now in certain workloads, these macs beat any mac from 2018 and before and pretty much any equivalent Intel machine (think 8th gen and older). This is all because of Rosetta 2, Apple’s translation layer that turns the code from Intel x86 apps into code for the M1. Microsoft uses emulation for Windows on ARM PC’s but Rosetta 2 proves they just got that wrong and need to go back to the drawing board, because while emulation barely makes ARM PCs handle x86 apps, Rosetta makes some of them run better on the M1 Macs.
As for the other claims? Battery life , image processing benefits, running iOS apps? Well here Apple’s claims kind of fall of a little. The battery part mostly holds up, but in certain scenarios under certain conditions. These processors were always going to bring better batter, so this was always the expected benefit. The 20-hour milestone Apple touted might be a little harder to reach, but this is definitely higher than most laptops and an improvement on the macs as well. Ironically, running iOS apps is seemingly the biggest weakness here, though that’s more of a flaw of MacOS itself and none of these machines having touchscreens rather than it actually being the processors’ fault. And as for the webcams? Computational photography doesn’t work here Apple just put in better cameras. Simply put the machines aren’t perfect, but macs have never been perfect, and these ones improve on most macs in most ways with the downfalls mainly coming from Apple needing to get cozier with thunderbolt 3 (2 ports vs 4 doesn’t help Apple). But while imperfect, these machines perfectly do what they were really meant to: sell you on Apple’s future processors, and honestly, I’m sold. Intel, AMD, Qualcomm and Microsoft all have their work cut out for them now, because for the first time in a while Apple has actually changed the game, and now it’s time to see how everyone else reacts.
This was just a first impression of the reviews for these machines, we’ll have more info as more people test them and get into the technical bits of these machines so stay tuned.