After the credits rolled on Apple’s short but sweet “One more thing” event Tuesday, we knew two things for sure: Apple isn’t hiding any more events in 2020 and the new Macs are very different than the old ones.
We’ll have deeper-dive news stories shortly, but for now, here’s the summary report.
As expected, Apple rolled out the first Macs with Apple silicon processors, and Craig Federighi and crew spent a lot of time playing up the difference between them and similar Windows machines. According to the somewhat vague charts and claims, the new M1 chip delivers “a giant leap in performance per watt” with “the world’s fastest” CPU core and the highest performance CPU Apple has ever created.
Apple says the M1 chip delivers a 3x improvement in performance per watt over the prior generation of Macs with Intel chips, and has the fastest integrated graphics GPU available in a PC. Plus you get a 16-core Neural Engine, Secure Enclave, and custom image signal processors, all built on an industry-leading 5nm process with some 16 billion transistors.
The first machines to include the new chip are the MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro, and Mac mini, all of which feature a near-identical design as the models they replace. Performance is obviously the selling point here, as Apple promises up to 3.5 times faster performance, 5 times faster graphics, and 2 times faster SSD speeds compared to the previous generations.
Those are impressive numbers. Equally impressive is the battery life, which jumps to 15 hours on the Air (from 11 hours) and 17 hours on the Pro (from 10 hours). And you get the same retina displays and Magic Keyboards as before. The laptops all have the same prices as before, with the Mac mini getting a $100 price cut to $699.
Apple spent a lot of time showcasing the speed and power of its latest Macs, but the new chips are versatile too. Since they’re built on the same architecture as the A14 chip in the iPhone, you’ll now be able to run iOS and iPad OS apps alongside Mac ones, and Intel apps will run using a new Rosetta 2 emulation environment.
So while these new Macs might look the same as their predecessors, they break new ground for both Apple and the Mac. We’ll be testing them soon, but based on what we’ve seen, they’re gonna be absolute screamers. Be sure to check out the rest of our coverage of the new Macs and the M1 chip all week long and stay tuned for our full in-depth reviews and testing.
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Michael Simon has been covering Apple since the iPod was the iWalk. His obsession with technology goes back to his first PC—the IBM Thinkpad with the lift-up keyboard for swapping out the drive. He's still waiting for that to come back in style tbh.