Apple has had a busy few months. First came iPads, then came iPhones, and today came the new Macs. Following up on its promise at WWDC earlier this year, Apple announced its first ARM-powered Macs, marking the beginning of a new era for the company.
The new Apple Silicon lineup promises dramatic performance and battery life improvements thanks to a more efficient architecture, though developers now have to make the transition to make the most of the new hardware.
Here’s everything Apple announced at a fairly concise event.
Apple M1 chip
Apple’s M1 chip is designed for compact devices. It makes its debut in the new MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and Mac Mini.
The chip appears to essentially be a superpowered version of the A14 Bionic that debuted in the new iPad and iPhones, adding two cores to the CPU and doubling the core count on the GPU. Half of the CPU cores are meant to be high performance, while the other half are focused on high-efficiency. This combination should theoretically help the M1 chip offer more performance per watt than competing devices.
The A14 was already an impressively powerful chip, easily leading the mobile ARM market, and the addition of a dedicated neural engine means the chip can handle machine learning tasks up to 11 times faster than the old Intel chips could, according to Apple.
Although Apple is using the same chip in all three devices, the company is still able to differentiate their performance to a degree. Some SKUs appear to come with 7 GPU cores and others with 8. The company may also run different clock speeds on the processors different devices, depending on their thermal capabilities. The MacBook Air doesn’t have a fan, for instance, while 13-inch the MacBook Pro does. Speaking of…
The new MacBook Air looks a lot like the old MacBook Air. From the outside, it seem nearly impossible to tell them apart. Inside, the device is running the aforementioned M1 chip that promises major performance gains when paired with apps created for the new chip.
In all, Apple claims the Air can provide up to 3.5x faster CPU performance and 5x graphics performance compared to the previous generation. There’s no fan this time around — that’s how efficient the new M1 chip is (again, think glorified iPhone processor).
Battery life is also majorly improved, as it can allegedly run for 15 hours of wireless web browsing or 18 hours of video — 6 hours longer than before. And because it’s 2020, Apple says it can last twice as long on video calls too.
The laptop is available to order on Apple.com starting at $999 and ships next week.
13-inch MacBook Pro
The new 13-inch MacBook Pro is much the same story as the MacBook Air. It looks essentially identical, but Apple says it’s 2.8x faster than the previous generation, and that it can deliver “game-changing performance when compiling code, transcoding video, editing high-resolution photos, and more.”
It also has the longest battery life ever on a Mac, able to handle up to 17 hours of web browsing and 20 hours of video playback.
The 13-inch MacBook Pro starts at $1,299 and is also available starting today.
It’s getting a bit old, but the new Mac Mini offers — you guessed it — 3x faster performance over the previous generation and up to 6x faster graphics. Machine Learning tasks can run up to 15x faster. It starts at $699, so it’s actually 100 bucks cheaper than the old one was. Availability is the same as above: it goes on sale today and ships next week.
They still have headphone jacks and chargers
In case you were wondering, the new Macs do, in fact, still come with headphone jacks. Granted, part of that may just be because the company hardly changed the chassis design, but it’s nice to know Apple didn’t see fit to remove the jacks on actual get-stuff-done computers. The same goes for the charger; no need to pony up for a new laptop brick.
MacOS Big Sur arrives November 12
You won’t have to wait long for the latest iteration of macOS: the company says it will launch November 12.
The update brings a refreshed design that is decidedly more iOS like. That’s fitting, considering that with Big Sur, M1-powered Macs will be able to run iOS and iPad apps natively. For more on Big Sur, check out our past coverage here.
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