Firstly, let me introduce myself. I am Archie, the son of Anne Marie and an avid techie. I will be writing a lot of product reviews and covering the recent technology news, helping you discover, understand and learn about all the latest tech gadgets. I am so excited to share my love of tech with you, and help you come to the best purchase decisions. My hope is that I can make concise, interesting, easy to understand blog posts that everyone can take interest in, even if you aren’t into technology.
Every Mac always had a huge caveat, you could get an equivalent Windows PC for half the price, but Apple’s recent announcement didn’t just change that stigma, but completely flipped it on it’s head. So what has changed and why should you care?
In layman’s terms, they took their ultra efficient iPhone processors and scaled them up to their Macs, but there is a lot more to unpack here. The processor (CPU) is the most important part of the computer, and for Macs these were made by Intel. However over the last few years we’ve seen Intel trail behind its competitors in performance, price and thermals while their yearly upgrades were became more and more incremental. In contrast to this, Apple’s processor business has been rapidly improving. Apple have been making their own processors for the iPhone and iPad since the iPhone 4. Apple’s processors (named Apple Silicon) have been notorious for being incredibly powerful whilst being very battery efficient. Apple Silicon has also kept a rapid pace of improvement. It also gives Apple the advantage of complete vertical integration, which does wonders for optimisation.
These Apple processors manage to pack such a punch due to the chip architecture in which they are built on. Laptops and computers are usually built on the x86 architecture, whilst your phone, tablet and even your smartwatch is usually powered by ARM processors. ARM processors are much more efficient and Apple has been on the forefront of ARM innovation. Apple want to scale up their ARM chips onto their Macs. So on the 22nd of June, Apple announced that in two years time, every Mac in their lineup will be replaced by Apple Silicon.
Since then Apple have released 3 new Macs with Apple Silicon. A Mac mini, MacBook Air and 13” MacBook Pro which all come with what apple calls the M1 chip. The new MacBook Air, Apple’s most affordable laptop starting at £999 provides 5 times the performance and 3 times the battery life of the previous model. For context, you would struggle to find a Windows laptop for £2000 with similar performance; forget the fact that the Windows laptop probably has much worse battery life, a much heavier and thicker body and loud fans. Because did I mention that this MacBook Air also has a very lightweight design with no fans. Which means the computer will always be deadly silent. This is a huge breakthrough and I would argue is Apple’s biggest innovation since the iPhone. The new MacBook Pro offers similar performance and battery perks, but with a longer 20 hour battery life and a touch screen strip above the keyboard, offering extra functionality. I am currently writing this from the M1 MacBook Pro. And finally the Mac mini, starting at £699 is a very compact Desktop that you plug into a monitor.
And it’s working. New Mac shipments increased by 49% last quarter, boosting the Mac’s market share to a record of 8%.
But as Apple slowly replaces each Mac with an Apple Silicon processor, this transition period leaves the lineup in an awkward place. Apple’s more expensive Macs are still rocking older Intel processors, meaning that a £999 MacBook Air is more powerful then a £6000 16” MacBook Pro. Because this disparity can be confusing, here is a quick Mac buyers guide:
If you only need a Mac for doing light web browsing and video/photo editing, on the go, the MacBook Air is the best option. The M1 MacBook Pro is great for doing more intensive tasks like photoshop and 4K video editing. You should get the M1 Mac mini if you already have a monitor and don’t want to spend extra to get a laptop. Keep in mind that in March, Apple will be updating their more expensive MacBooks Pros with an even more powerful chips. But remember these will most likely be very expensive, so I would only wait until then if you’re a video, music or photo professional. In November it is likely that Apple will do a redesign of their Laptops, but these will only be design changes, so if you need a MacBook right now, go ahead. In the case where you don’t really need a MacBook right now you could wait until the end of the year for a thinner design.
But whatever you do, do not buy an Intel Mac. If you require a desktop computer, hold on! Wait until Apple replaces its desktops with Apple Silicon, and then go ahead and buy a Mac Desktop. Apple are also reportedly redesigning the iMac and Mac Pro, so you’ll get 5 Times the performance and a new flashy design if you wait for a few more months. Not to mention that Apple silicon Macs can run iPhone apps, and will get updated for a very long time, increasing the longevity of the Computer.
However, if you are in to gaming, don’t buy a Mac. Video-Games are much better optimised for Windows PC’s. I should also mention that some older, niche apps may not be optimised for Apple Silicon, meaning that they will run a little slower than the rest of the apps in the short term.