Mac Apple Silicon, first reviews and hands-on videos

With the arrival of the new Apple Silicon Macs, the first reviews and hands-on videos also arrive.

The first Apple Silicon Macs reached users and some journalists shared their first impressions of the new machines.

MacBook Air

Dieter Bohn of The Verge noted that “The MacBook Air with the M1 chip is the most impressive laptop I’ve used in recent years.”

David Phelan of Forbes described the experience similar to “when you switch to a new iPhone with the latest processor, everything feels incredibly fast and responsive.”

Bohn talked about the performance of the M1, even when using demanding “professional” apps or using multiple apps at the same time:

The MacBook Air‌ works like a professional-grade laptop. I didn’t experience any slowdowns even with multiple apps open. (I’ve run more than a dozen at a time.) It handles apps intensive like Photoshop and even video editing apps like Adobe Premiere with no complaints.

Phelan also noticed a noticeable speed improvement when starting the ‌MacBook Air‌:

One small detail is the way the computer turns on instantly, something we’re used to seeing on phones and tablets, but not so much on computers. It works brilliantly.

Bohn reported that the ‌MacBook Air‌ offers excellent thermal performance, despite having a fanless passive cooling system:

The other differences are all inside. There is no more fan, for one thing, just an aluminum heat spreader. But even pushing this car to the limit, I never felt it got too hot.

On the battery front, the new machine offers excellent performance but not up to those declared by Apple:

I reach 8 0 10 hours of real and sustained work depending on how much I’m pushing it. It’s not 50 percent better than the latest ‌MacBook Air‌, but it’s pretty close.

The area most criticized by the reviewers was the delMacBook Air‌ camera :

Unfortunately, that similarity extends to the webcam, which still has a 720p resolution and is terrible. Apple has tried to borrow some of its real-time image processing from the iPhone to try and beautify the image and I find it does a great job of evenly illuminating my face, but a camera with a resolution of 1080p would be was a very welcome addition.

Macbook Pro

TechCrunch’s Matthew Panzarino said, “The MacBook Pro M1 runs smoothly, launching apps so quickly that they often open before the cursor leaves the dock. Each click is more responsive. Every interaction is immediate ”.

Nilay Patel of The Verge talked about the best thermal design of the MacBook Pro, as it uses an active cooling system with a fan. However, Patel didn’t notice many improvements over the ‌MacBook Air‌:

The Pro appears to have a better and more effective thermal design than the Air in general – we ran our standard 4K export test in Adobe Premiere Pro multiple times and the fan never turned on, but export times remained flat .

It is actually difficult to get the fan to turn on. While some apps like Google Metal in Chrome instantly activate the fan on an Intel-based 16-inch MacBook Pro, they have no impact on the MacBook Pro M1. Unless you’re regularly pushing heavy, sustained workloads to your laptop, the performance difference between the Air and Pro isn’t really noticeable.

Patel said it got “10 hours of consecutive use on one charge”. Also, just like the ‌MacBook Air‌, Patel criticized the camera:

We really considered giving these machines a score of 10 out of 10, but this camera is terrible, especially on a professional laptop that costs more than the Air.

Mac mini

Chris Welch of The Verge said the M1 chip in the Mac mini is able to perform better due to its improved thermal design:

And since Apple doesn’t have to take into account the tight confines of a laptop with the ‌Mac mini‌, the M1 chip can reach the best speeds it is capable of and sustain them without throttling. Heck, I’ve never even heard the fan spin during repeated 30-minute Cinebench tests or when transcoding several 4K Blu-ray videos. The mini has remained silent no matter how hard you work it.

PCMag’s John Burek had a similar experience, commenting:

In the course of testing, we noticed one important thing: Through all these benchmarks, pushing the CPU and GPU to their limits, the ‌Mac mini‌ was quiet. And the chassis stays remarkably cool throughout. There was no point in performing external thermal tests because the frame was barely warm to the touch, anywhere on the surface, even at peak activity.

Burek found that the ‌Mac mini‌ performed better than the ‌MacBook Air‌ and MacBook Pro, but not with many differences. However Welch was disappointed that, despite being more energy efficient, the M1 chip does not offer a reduction in power consumption:

Battery life isn’t an important factor on the ‌Mac mini‌, of course, and the M1 mini uses the same 150W power supply as the Intel model, so if there are any improvements in energy efficiency, they’re not obvious.

It doesn’t hide the disappointment of the loss of two Thunderbolt 3 ports on the Mac mini:

Apple has gone from four USB-C / Thunderbolt 3 ports to just two, plus the pair of USB-A ports that are still present. Technically, USB-C ports are more advanced (USB 4), and you can daisy-chain Thunderbolt devices as you please. But there’s nothing cheaper than built-in ports and, looking at it objectively, it’s a downgrade to the expandability of the mini.

Is fewer Thunderbolt ports than before a big deal? For most casual users, not really. It would be difficult to install four Thunderbolt 3 peripherals at the same time. If you’re using an HDMI-connected monitor, you have two more free Thunderbolt / USB-C ports. Additionally, some Thunderbolt 3 compatible peripherals support daisy chaining, so you won’t necessarily feel the problem if you have more than two devices.

Finally, Welch criticized the ‌Mac mini‌ internal speaker, saying that “it’s the kind of speaker you’ll never, ever want to use”.

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