Mac M1: Apple’s First Miracle 50% Faster than Intel Chip

15 March, 2021

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We did not want to react directly to the launch of the Mac M1 (we will have the opportunity to come back to this soon), preferring to wait until the machine is in our hands to talk about it in more detail.

We managed to get a MacBook Air M1 (256 GB, 8GB of RAM, entry-level, simple, basic) last month, Apple is struggling to deliver at the moment. Got to our office, unboxing the Mac, starting up …

Ah yes, it starts quickly. Really fast. But even more, it is the constant fluidity of the machine that surprises. And, of course, no heat, no noise.

In terms of performance… it costs money.

For fun, had fun doing one of lab’s favourite tests: launching a bunch of applications in the chain… like all the apps in the Applications and Utility folders. The apps launch at an impressive speed, but above all, the machine remains responsive AND silent. Where the same test on a 2019 MacBook Air triggers the fans in seconds. Impressive.

Talking about display fluidity, a quick little test, Installed Office 2019 on this Mac, and launched Excel. We did see, on the RAM consumption side, it’s not really that:

We did see, RAM’s consumption was very high, even with a simple Excel document launched. Programe works very well but seems hungry in RAM: almost 1 GB direct. Ouch.

Likewise, the quality of the display is splendid. Resize a page, and it jerks quite a bit. But beware: it remains totally, perfectly usable, as much as on a native Intel processor, or even better! And that alone is already very impressive. For example, launched Pixelmator on the MacBook Air, and only wondered if had a M1 supported version … and in fact, no (in fact, only Pixelmator Pro will have a M1 mac chip version, a priori … well, already have).

But when you install the original M1 version (still in beta) of Excel & co, behaviour changes radically. RAM consumption becomes totally delusional: at launch, Excel only consumes 200 MB of RAM, or even less (there it is almost 110 MB …), the system seems much faster to allocate RAM to apps or also to retrieve it.

These differences in RAM consumption behaviour are very interesting and very exciting and raise the question of the relevance of using machines with more RAM. For 95% of users, 8 GB should be enough for years to come. However, if you have any doubts, take 16 GB, but just tell yourself that it should still be OK with 8 GB for most cases.

What is always surprising is the responsiveness of the application that impresses, where Excel could remain heavy in use even with a recent Mac. There, it always remains ultra-fluid. Use Mission Control, even with 40 windows, and the effect always stays smooth where the MBA sticks its tongue out.

And autonomy? Again, it’s still very impressive since We have been using this MBA since last night around 9:30 p.m., and we don’t have to try to charge it, and at 3 p.m., it still has 38% battery power, while installed software, surfed, watched videos on Netflix… On the other hand, we think it even lost a lot of battery during the night (about 10%, after about 10 hours of standby). To check. But in any case, we find the consumption very reasonable, especially given the performance behind.

And that’s just the beginning.

We will complete impressions during the next few days. Still, for the moment, totally amazed by the performance of these new Macs, their autonomy, and this even if they are ultimately the same machines externally speaking. And unless you have very specialized apps that could be problematic for, I urge you to seriously consider option M1 if you are considering switching to a Mac. Admittedly, maybe the first few months will be a bit rock’n’roll while the M1 apps arrive in store.

And then, of course, there are still problems related to the lack of Windows compatibility. Perhaps crippling for some, not so much for the majority. Again, if you need to use VMs en masse, Intel Macs remain the preferred solution.

We will try to come back soon to a little more technical points on these new machines. But today, can only applaud Apple for having dared to take this very bold step towards Macs entirely based on its own silicon. Suppose the first generation of M1 processors dedicated to Macs gives such breathtaking performance (corroborated by all the tests We have read). In that case, We can only be impatient to see what it will provide future professional machines.

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