One More Very Big Thing: Apple Launches First ARM-Based Macs

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Today, during its special “One More Thing” live event, Apple launched its new line of ARM-based computers: the MacBook Air, Mac mini, and 13" MacBook Pro. Each new Mac features Apple’s new M1 chip, which was designed specifically for Mac computers and kicks off a bold new era for Apple’s computer ecosystem. As evidenced by each of the three Macs, that bold new era includes dramatically increased performance speed, battery life, and access to the fastest, most powerful apps in the world.

Small chip. Giant leap. Introducing the new MacBook Air, 13‑inch MacBook Pro, and Mac mini, all with the Apple M1 chip.
Small chip. Giant leap. Introducing the new MacBook Air, 13‑inch MacBook Pro, and Mac mini, all with the Apple M1 chip.

MacBook Air

Apple kicked things off with its most popular notebook, the MacBook Air. Like all of today's big announcements, the 2020 MacBook Air features Apple's new ARM-based M1 processor, which will deliver huge leaps in performance speeds, including graphics that are 5x faster—which is the largest speed boost ever recorded between generations of MacBook Air.

MacBook Air
MacBook Air

The impressive numbers don't stop there, either. According to Apple, the powerful M1 chip allows the new MacBook Air to achieve CPU performance that is up to 3.5x faster, SSD performance that's up to 2x faster, and on down the line. In terms of real-world applications, here's a snapshot of some of the things you can do with the new MacBook Air and its ARM-based M1 processor compared to its predecessor:

• Export photos from Lightroom 2x faster.

• Export projects for the Web using iMovie up to 3x faster.

• Integrate 3D effects in Final Cut Pro up to 5x faster.

• Play back and edit multiple streams of 4K ProRes video in Final Cut Pro without dropping a frame—that's not even possible with the previous generation!

In addition to drastically increasing the performance speed of literally every single MacBook Air application, the new M1 chip also extends its battery life by making it more efficient. According to Apple, the 2020 MacBook Air can give you up to 18 hours on a single charge—that's the longest battery life for a MacBook Air ever.

In terms of its other specs, the new MacBook Air shares some similarities with its predecessor, especially its design. It features a 13" Retina display with P3 wide color gamut, the now-standard scissor-switch keyboard, a 720p webcam, and Touch ID. It also includes some welcome new features like dual Thunderbolt™ ports with USB 4 support and, incredibly, there's no fan inside, so the MacBook Air should run whisper quiet.

Mac mini

Like the MacBook Air, the new ARM-based Mac mini also promised dramatic increases in speed and performance, thanks to its M1 chip. How dramatic? According to Apple, the Mac mini offers CPU performance speeds 3x faster than its predecessor, graphics performance that's up to 6x faster, and machine learning performance that somehow is up to 15x faster than its predecessor. In other words, the new Mac mini is remarkably small, and incredibly fast.

Mac mini
Mac mini

And like the MacBook Air, the huge jumps in speed allow Mac mini users to maximize their workflows, regardless of the project. Comparing the new Mac mini with its M1 processor to its predecessor, you can:

• Compile code in programs like Xcode up to 3x faster.

• Render timelines in Final Cut Pro up to 6x faster.

• Add up to 3x as many real-time plug-ins in Logic Pro.

And, in case your workflow is more of a "gameflow," the new M1-powered Mac mini allows you to play graphics-intensive games with up to 4x higher frame rates.

MacBook Pro

The final announcement of today's event was the new ARM-based 13" MacBook Pro, which combines Apple's most powerful laptop with its most powerful chip. The result is an absolute performance monster that somehow manages to outpace its predecessor in nearly every category—a feat that is kind of insane when you consider the previous generation of MacBook Pro is one of the most powerful and sophisticated laptops in the world.

MacBook Pro
MacBook Pro

What kind enhancements are we talking about? Well, according to Apple, the new MacBook Pro features graphics performance that is up to 5x faster. Its machine learning performance is up to 11x faster. And, thanks to its vastly superior active cooling system, the new MacBook Pro can achieve higher performance speeds across the board, including faster times transcoding video, editing hi-res images, compiling code, and much more. Here's a snapshot of some of the things you can do more quickly with the new MacBook Pro:

• Play back 8K ProRes video in DaVinci Resolve without dropping a single frame.

• Render complex 3D titles in Final Cut Pro up to 5.9x faster.

• Compile code in programs like Xcode up to 2.8x faster.

• Design and edit games scenes in programs like Unity Editor up to 3.5x faster.

Like the new MacBook Air, the M1-powered MacBook Pro also boasts a big jump in battery life. According to Apple, you can get up to 17 hours of web browsing or 20 hours of video playback. If that sounds like a lot of battery, that's because it is. In fact, if those numbers hold, that's the longest battery life ever offered on a Mac device.

Right now, the ARM-based MacBook Pro is only available with a 13" display, but there are multiple storage and memory configurations you can choose from. You can customize and orders yours, along with the new MacBook Air and Mac mini at B&H.

If you're interested in seeing keynote in its entirety, you can check out the video below. It's definitely worth your time if you're interested in seeing how the transition from Intel® to ARM-based silicon came about, the decade-long process it took to create the new M1 chip, and what we can expect from Apple products moving forward.

3 Comments

That's a fanboy article. I'll be interested to read independent, quantitative analyses of increases in real app speed, battery life, and experiences from disinterested users. If everything pans out, I'm due for some upgrades.

agreed.

That was close: I was getting ready to bid on an MBP Pro 16" ending in a few hours! But this sounds like I just avoided one big mistake!

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