The M1 chip. A brand-new piece of technology announced by Apple. This tiny but powerful chip is a significant part of a new lineup of Mac computers. But what exactly is the M1 chip? What does it do, what are the benefits of it, and should you look into buying a Mac that has one? This M1 chip FAQ has answers to these questions and more.
What is the M1 chip?
Wikipedia actually sums up what the M1 chip is quite succinctly:
The Apple M1 is the first ARM-based system on a chip (SoC) designed by Apple Inc. as a central processing unit (CPU) for its line of Macintosh computers.
With the new line of Macs that we’ll list below, the custom-built M1 processor (Apple Silicon) replaces the Intel brand processor.
What are the benefits and features of the M1 chip?
Here’s a summary of the top features the M1 chip brings to the table:
- 8-core CPU with up to 3.5 times faster CPU performance
- Up to 6 times faster GPU performance
- Up to 15 times faster machine learning
- Up to two times longer battery life
- Thunderbolt controller supporting USB 4 with up to 40 Gbps transfer speeds
- Secure Enclave for top-notch security
Is the M1 better than Intel?
Of course, this is a question that many, many people are asking. After all, Intel has been around and working hard in our computers for years. But the general consensus answers “yes.”
While the Macs containing the M1 chip were ready for purchase not long ago, people are still doing their reviews and comparisons. However, anyone who has one of these new Macs can probably tell you that it’s super fast and performs very well.
Does the M1 chip help with battery?
The MacBook Air and MacBook Pro 13-inch 2020 M1 model batteries can handle up to 18 and 20 hours of movie playback, respectively. And for simple web browsing, up to 15 and 17 hours.
When you compare that to previous Mac models without the M1 chip, which could handle up to 12 hours (MacBook Air 2017) and 10 hours (MacBook Pro 13-inch 2016), the answer is “yes.”
Can you use the same apps on Macs with M1?
The quick answer is “yes,” but with a bit of help. You may have heard rumblings of something called Rosetta 2. In short, Rosetta 2 is an application translation technology that aids in the transition from Macs with Intel processors to those with Apple Silicon (M1 chip). This allows apps that have yet to be updated to work universally (on both M1-powered and Intel-powered Macs) to still work.
For more on this topic, check out how to force universal Mac apps to run under Rosetta emulation instead of natively.
Related: How to run any iOS app on Apple Silicon M1 Macs
Which Mac models have the M1 chip?
There are currently three available Mac Apple Silicon computers to pick from:
- MacBook Pro (13-inch, M1, 2020) starting at $1,299
- MacBook Air (M1, 2020) starting at $999
- Mac mini (M1, 2020) starting at $699
Head over to the Apple Store for more details on each model or to make a purchase.
Should you buy a Mac with the M1 chip?
If you’re in the market for a new Mac, then you’re likely to purchase the latest and greatest one within your price range. There is no downside that should keep you from buying an Apple Silicon Mac. And with the highly improved speed and performance you’ll get with a Mac powered by the M1 chip, you’ll likely be thrilled you did.
Related: These are the Apple Silicon optimizations in macOS Big Sur
If you already bought a new Apple Silicon Mac and would like to share your thoughts on it so other readers can benefit, please leave a comment below!