Apple launched its new Macs and MacBooks in style. The M1 chip inside the new MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and Mac mini delivers superior performance and efficiency, which is different from Intel as Apple now manufactures silicon for its machines. This allows the company to optimize the entire Mac to suit their vision of what the platform should look like, rather than relying on a third party.
So, should you buy a new Mac M1 or stick with the Intel-equipped Macs that are left in the Apple Store? We take a look at the pros and cons of Apple’s new project.
M1 chip appears to be faster than Intel’s
Although at the time of writing we are still testing our M1 machines, all early indications are that the new chip actually seems to have a bit more oomph (it’s a technical term), as are the Mac M1. receive rave reviews.
Apple designed the M1 system on a chip (SoC) to have on-board memory, what it calls the Unified Memory Architecture, which speeds up data transmission and increases overall speed of performance.
The macOS Big Sur was also built from the ground up with the M1 in mind, so software optimization certainly plays its part.
That’s not to say that the MacBook Pros still on sale from Intel are slow, quite the opposite, but from what we can tell so far, the MacBook Pro M1 is already knocking on its door powered by a stable partner. . Intel.
M1 is Apple’s future in mind
You can be sure that Intel’s MacBooks will still be compatible for a while, but the truth is Apple doesn’t seem to have them in their plans for the future. The company has previously said it intends to transition the entire Mac lineup to its own chips by 2022, which means most of the new capabilities introduced in later versions of MacOS could. just be M1 or definitely work better on this platform.
With that in mind, it’s worth considering how much time usually elapses between updates to your Mac. If it’s every two years, then Intel’s version might be a wise buy, but if it’s every four to five years, it’s harder to predict. how compatible they will be with macOS updates.
M1 machines cost the same as Intel’s
We knew Apple would replace some Intel Macs with its own chips at the end of 2020, but we were surprised when the MacBook Air M1, 13-inch MacBook Pro M1, and Mac mini M1 arrived with no price increase – indeed. , the Mac mini saw the price drop by $ 100. This means that you have nothing more to spend than on the new devices that you would have if you bought the Intel models that they replaced.
As we noted, you can still buy an Intel MacBook Pro, but if you want the same specs as the previous generation, with the added benefit of M1 performance and durability, you don’t have to pay more than necessary. to get it. To see how the whole range lines up, read our Mac buying guide.
M1 devices do not have the same upgrade capabilities
When buying a Mac, we always recommend that you get as much RAM and onboard storage as you think you need for the life of the product, as most are impossible or very difficult to upgrade. .
While Apple allows on-demand build options for the new M1 machines, the 13-inch MacBook Pros in particular have quite different maximum specs.
The M1 version comes with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage as a base, and these can be upgraded to 16GB and 2TB respectively, albeit for sizable sums.
In contrast, the Intel variant comes with 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage, which can be maximized to 32GB and 4TB. It is even possible to upgrade the RAM of Intel MacBooks after purchasing them, but this is not for the faint of heart.
Now, there are considerations here where, due to the aforementioned unified memory architecture, M1 machines might not require the additional space offered by Intel. Only time will tell, but since there is no way to upgrade RAM on M1 Macs, it might be too late by then.
To see how the two 13-inch MacBook Pro variants stack up, read our comparison between the MacBook Pro M1 and the Intel MacBook Pro.
We also have a comparison of M1 vs. Intel MacBook Air and Intel vs. M1 Mac mini.
M1 does not support eGPUs or multiple external displays
If you’re using an external GPU on your Mac, whether it’s for gaming or professional graphics work, you’ll be saddened to know that it won’t work on M1-based Macs. The same goes for multiple external displays, as the new chip only supports one external monitor.
In the case of the former, Apple is confident that the 8-core integrated GPU will be much more powerful than the Intel integrated graphics it replaces, but it was never exactly a worldwide success in the first place.
As for the multiple external display limitation, we have no idea why it exists. Maybe a hardware restriction, but if you like to play at higher resolutions and with multiple displays, the Intel machine will be a better choice.
However, you should know that the MacBook M1 was beaten by a MacBook Pro with an eGPU attached, so this is a distinct downside.
M1 cannot run Windows and other applications at the moment
The change in platform means that existing applications will have to be adapted to work on the new hardware. Apple has already done this with all of its own apps, but it will take time for other companies to catch up. There is Rosetta 2 software on M1 machines that translates app code on the fly, allowing unoptimized apps to be used, but you can be sure it’s not a perfect experience.
The other big concern that some people may have is that at the time of writing this article there is no way to run Windows 10 on M1 machines. The training ground has been pulled and popular emulation software like Parallels and VMware isn’t ready yet, and they’re waiting for the ARM version of Windows to be ready. So if you’re using Windows 10 on your current Mac, you might want to stick around.
We hope these issues will be resolved in time, but switching to M1 machines now might bring some nasty surprises if you rely on software like Windows 10 or earlier, small apps that may not go through at all. For more details, read which apps will run on M1 Macs.
By the way, the developers managed to virtualize Windows on a Mac M1, and the benchmarks are impressive.
It is too early to know what problems may arise with the M1
Early adoption of a product can be exciting and gives you kudos for being the first to get your hands on the latest and greatest. But this exclusivity carries risks. Any new product tends to have startup problems, and this can be magnified when this innovation is the component that controls almost all operations on a computer.
The M1 appears to be an excellent piece of engineering design from Apple, but with so few Mac M1s in the hands of the mainstream, it’s too early to know if there are any serious issues.