Emmitt Wilson ’22
On November 10, Apple revealed its newest series of Mac devices to the world, including a new Mac Mini, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro.
While on the surface, all three of these devices are almost indistinguishable from their predecessors, they have made monumental changes inside.
While the older Macs use a wide range of components, supplied by different companies, the new macs have consolidated most of the processing that the devices do into one SOC or “System on Chip” designed by Apple.
This SOC contains the computer’s processor, memory, graphics and a brand-new neural engine that will supposedly be used for artificial intelligence tasks. In addition, it also handles Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, something normally done by a separate component.
This approach is new for laptops, but it is how smartphones have been built for almost a decade. Apple has used its experience in designing SOCs for their iPhones to create a new one, called the M1 for their Macs.
Thanks to its design, the M1 has a few major advantages over the Intel processors that Apple used in previous Macs, like being physically smaller and much more power-efficient. This means that Macs with the M1 don’t get anywhere near as hot as older models and have around 1.5 times as much battery life.
They can also now run iOS apps as long as the developer allows it. The M1 does have some drawbacks, though, because it achieves its incredible efficiency using the ARM architecture, the same one used for iPhones. This means that applications designed for older Macs and PCs won’t run well on the M1 until their developers update them.
It also means that the number of video games available for Macs—which was already limited compared to Windows devices—is now even smaller, since most games will never be updated to work on the new Macs.
Despite the downsides, the M1 is a big step forward for computers, especially laptops and it will hopefully spur better competition from Apple’s rivals.
The important question, though, is: should you buy one of the M1 Macs? I would caution against it, as they are a first-generation product and there will likely be issues that Apple has not worked out yet.
Additionally, the outside of the new Macs is the same design that Apple has used since 2016. I would recommend waiting for the 2021 Macs which will fix any issues with the first generation and are rumoured to be redesigned with a more modern look.
Photo credits: apple.ca (Apple MacBook Pro and M1 Chip)