The M1

Posted on November 11, 2020

Yesterday Apple officially announced the M1 Chip and the initial lineup of new Macs using it. I’ve been looking forward to hearing about this since the transition was announced at WWDC this year.

The first Macs to use the new chip are, predictably, those Macs that do not require extreme performance characteristics. It seems like the MacBook Air, 13" Pro, and even the Mac mini are just scaled up form factors loosely based around the iPad Pro lineup of chips. This is a great place to start and I’ll be curious to hear about the performance of these machines over the months to come. The MacBook Air is really a perfect starting point. It’s a relatively cheap and baseline model laptop that is suitable for most ‘normal people’ that don’t have complex computing needs. These people are most likely to not even notice or care about the chipset inside the computer, but will certainly notice the longer battery life .

The Mac mini is a curious inclusion in this first round of updates. I’ve been eyeing a mini for a while now to solve some uninteresting needs in my office, and was about to pick one up this week before the announcement. I’m glad I waited! I don’t have anything performance intensive for my use case (basically just a network file server) so I’m going to pick up one of the M1 minis to try it out. I think it’s a bit strange that the mini has the exact same chip (from what I can tell) as the laptops, but doesn’t need to fit within the same power envelope at all. The mini is plugged into power all of the time, and has no battery, so I’m wondering why it couldn’t have a more powerful chip. Maybe the M1 is so good it doesn’t matter.

This is the first step of several over the next few years for Apple to transition its chips entirely to its own silicon. There are plenty of Intel Macs still for sale, and it seems like that will be the case for at least a year or two. This week’s announcements are a very solid first step.