Today, Apple announced its first three ARM-based Macs – a the MacBook Air, the MacBook Pro 13″, and the Mac Mini. They are all equipped by the Apple M1 system-on-a-chip, which was, of course, the main focus of the unveiling. Apple made a lot of bold claims about their first ARM-based Mac chip, but sadly, refused to show any real-world use cases, benchmarks, or any other verifiable data, making it very hard to assess the company’s lofty claims about performance and battery life.
That being said, AnandTech has done some deep diving into the A14, found in the latest iPhones and iPad Air, and it would seem they boast excellent performance figures.
What we do know is that all of these machines – including the MacBook Pro which definitely has Pro in its name – cap out at a mere 16GB of RAM, which seems paltry, especially since that 16GB is shared with Apple’s integrated GPU. This RAM is on-die, and since there’s no SIM slot on any of the new machines, it cannot be expanded. On top of that, the base models of al of these machines only ship with 8GB of RAM, which should be a crime.
Just like on the latest iPhones, the two laptop models also do not ship with high-refresh rate displays, so you’re stuck with a paltry 60Hz display – it’s not even available as an option. Much like the 8GB of RAM, shipping such expensive machines with mere 60Hz displays is inexcusable.
The MacBook Air is fanless, but the MacBook Pro and Mac Mini are not. This most likely allows the latter two models to sustain their peak performance for longer than the MacBook Air can, which makes sense considering their price points and marketing.
The new machines will ship a week from today.
It’s disappointing that the Mini won’t have upgradeable RAM – again! Saying that, as is the case with iOS versus Android, we could find out in the coming weeks whether macOS under ARM manages memory to the point that a direct comparison between these new machines and those that came before them isn’t useful.
Let’s see how the real-world testing turns out.