Apple M1 Chip Powers New MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and Mac mini

I’d point out those i3/i5 minis were also more expensive. I believe we just might be observing a split on the mini similar to what has already existed on the 13" MBP. Apple sees 4 TB ports as a more “pro” feature and considers that to be reserved for more expensive models. The 2-port models are lower end and less expensive. It appears Apple has chosen to launch the M1 on those lower-end models.

I’m not at all against 4-port models (I only buy those myself), but I can see how Apple would want to use this to differentiate between more casual and more serious use with an obvious difference in price point. That said, I have zero doubt Apple will release M1X or similar with support for 4 TB ports etc. It’s just I expect those to be reserved for more expensive MBP and mini models.

And that’s where our opinions differ. I think the 2-port mini is a stopgap because Apple felt that they must update the mini (because a mini-like system was used for the developer kit).

I think that once an M-series chip with 4 TB support is released, the next Mac mini refresh (possibly at this time next year) will once again offer four ports on all models.

But this is just two differing speculations. I certainly wouldn’t place any bets based on my opinion here.

A few points of clarification/correction/encouragement:

First, this is the low end of the Mac line and according to preliminary benchmarks, these Macs are faster than the 2020 MBP 16 (geekbench 5 scores of 7220 are showing up). So cheaper and faster, yet still some people’s wish lists are out there. I get it, but these are the first releases at the low end of the price range.

limited to 8 and 16 GB or ram, these are more than adequate for most uses, and combined with the faster SSDs and uber faster M1, you may not even notice that a program is using virtual memory instead of RAM. Again, on the cheapest configurations at prices below those with intel chips

“Apple made a big fuss”. if you meant they mentioned the cameras should look better than yah, but I’m going with mentioned, not “big fuss”

“I recommend avoiding the 7-core model”…why? it seems really weird to make this statement with no reason.

“the weird 7-core GPU”, yah got it, you think its weird, again with no reason.

oops, You missed the brighter display on the MBP 13 500 nits/400 nits. While the published specs are the same, is it the same display just turned up higher, or a better display?

“4 thunderbolt ports, instead of 2”. while true, you know they can be daisy chained, right? If there are the same number of controllers inside, this would not represent any change In performance (OK, you might have to buy a dock to connect more if your device does not allow daisy chaining, but they are pretty cheap now). and USB 4 while not out yet is a way bigger deal

To re-emphasize, these are the low end offerings, which literally blow away the intel machines and a lower price point, so while faceID, better cameras (you know you can get an external cam if 720 HD, is not good enough), thinner bezels (except some people will use an unnecessary and bulky camera cover and break the screen glass), touch screen, and Apple Pencil (can’t you do that by connecting an iPad?).

Gorsh (to quote Goofy) these are the first releases of the low price offerings which blow away the intel equivalents in performance. Yah, they don’t have everything for everybody, but they are a dynamite offering at the price/performance point.


So… who’s buying one?

My first Mac was a Power Mac 6100 (first PowerPC Mac). I also had the first MacBook Pro (first intel Mac).

And PowerBook 190cs (last 68k laptop).

I also had a Bondi blue iMac.

The MacBook Air is the star of the show, but I might only join in later.

I’m just waiting to see benchmarks for the MBA. I want to convince myself throttling is reasonable. Once I’ve seen those figures and things look good I’m buying my wife a 16/1TB MBA to replace her 2010 13" MBP. It’s getting time to update that dinosaur.

Well that sure didn’t take long. Doesn’t look like too serious throttling.

13" MBA M1 8GB RAM: GB5 1687/7433
13" MBP M1 16GB RAM: GB5 1714/6802
Mac mini M1 16GB RAM: GB5 1682/7097

Obviously these are just individual benchmarks, but consider that the high-end 10th-gen Intel i9 16" MBP scores 1096/6870 in GB5 this just goes to show how awesome these new AS Macs will be. :slight_smile:

Now I just have to convince the wife she finally needs to replace her old MBP so I can order one of these to play with. :wink:

And here are links to the GB5 search pages so you’ll get updates scores as they come in.

13" MBA M1 “MacBookAir10,1”
13" MBP M1 “MacBookPro17,1”
Mac mini M1 " Macmini9,1"

whereas the M1 Mac mini has only two Thunderbolt 3 ports

That “3” should be removed, right? The sentence that follows says the mini’s ports are Thunderbolt/USB 4, like the other M1 models.

Great write up! I was commenting in other section, and on reddit (before Mac Mods gave me the boot) that the M1 is Apple’s answer to Intel’s design flaws (5 years of unfixable security flaws) and a move to have one OS instead of the iOS and MacOS as some have “forseen”.
My two bytes on this M1 is that I am disappointed in the MacMini’s castration of ports. Apple continues to remove ports based on its “analysis” and data gathering of users. “Use bluetooth input devices to save ports!” they claim. More like, “Marketing says to Engineering to limit the ports and save costs, increase profit. Users that need more should be coddled to higher-end models or use docks/hub that we license out for…”. Right?
I would buy that MacMini with M1 “if” it had 4 ports (USB or USB4), Gigabit with option for 10Gb (maybe this is only been boon for MacPro buyers?), and 64GB/128GB ram (I use creative apps like Affinity and Adobe) and dual internal storage (user accessible). Why not a Raid1 internal option? Push me toward a Raid USB4/Tbolt array? OK. But now, have a hydra of cabling that dwarves the Mini.
But the price for a Mini with 16GB ram, 1TB ssd, is $1400. Through in a 4K LG display and now at $2000. Which then puts you in the iMac 5K range (if the M1 or variant for that comes out).
Having Wifi 6 is a good start. I suppose we’ll see OWC and others with Thunderbolt 3/USB4 docks/arrays and hubs trickle out.
How is it the MacbookAir (M1) can have Space gray and not the Mac Mini (M1). Intel version can.
And why no other colors? (Seems the Air can have colors). And what is with ram limit to 16GB? (Apple wants you to buy higher (cost) end models…I get it).
If anything is desirable, and some of you would agree, is that there needs a model between the Mac Mini and the Mac Pro that isn’t an iMac (you bring your own display) but fills that gap for storage and price.

I agree. I’m wondering if macOS may use RAM a little differently when it’s being shared between the CPU, GPU, and Neural Engine too.

It was something they called out explicitly with both laptops, and I suspect it was to head off the legitimate criticism that these two machines still have 720p FaceTime HD cameras. Would have been nice for Apple to bump them to 1080p at least.

It’s weird because 7 isn’t a number you ever see in the computer world. Powers of two, multiples of 2, etc. It seems likely that the 7-core model are chips where one GPU core failed testing. Is that indicative of anything? Probably not, but it’s an outlier.

Yep. I don’t think anything has changed there, nor do I have a sense of whether 100 nits is a big deal or not. I’d need to see them side-by-side.

Yep, but as you say, you may need a hub, which isn’t always convenient with a travel Mac.

I ordered a 16 GB/512 GB MacBook Air as soon as I was done writing. :slight_smile:

I’m still wrapping my head around all this. I think it’s still correct to say that they’re Thunderbolt 3 ports because they are. What Apple’s saying now is that Thunderbolt 3 is basically USB 4 (or, more accurately, USB 4 is basically Thunderbolt 3). There are a few differences but not many. So Apple hasn’t really changed anything, I don’t think, apart from now talking about USB 4.

With a Mac mini, Thunderbolt daisy-chaining or a hub would seem to be a good solution, no?


My sense is that there’s not intended to be a market for a Mini plus a good-quality display as a cheaper alternative to the iMac. The Mini is an option if you already have a display; if you’re committed to having a separate display, then you can choose Mini+display over iMac but without a significant cost savings for it.

I’m still working with a 10-year-old 27" iMac; I’m hoping it holds out long enough for me to replace it with an Apple Silicon iMac–I definitely feel like my 2010 decision to buy at the top end for longevity was a good one. If circumstances don’t force me, I’m not sure whether I’ll go for the first or second generation of Apple Silicon iMacs. (Maybe the first generation of AS iMacs will represent the second generation of AS machines?)

For the daisy-chaining of Thunderbolt ports, its been mixed for me. I had to shutdown an array (Tbolt) that is connected to a OWC dock but you want the Display in the chain to always be at the end (bandwidth of storage should take priority). Well, I lose the display once I disconnect/powered down the array - where I was adding a drive.
A big deal when its a hydra of wires behind my desk. Now, with HDMI 2.0, I am not concerned in that I can use a display (4K) on the HDMI port, and save the Tbolt3 ports for other storage or devices.

Oh and PC World has not a nice word about Mac Laptops.

Congrats! :slight_smile: :+1:

The reason why many people, including my husband and I, will not consider an iMac is because we live in a densely populated urban area where parking, traffic on streets and sidewalks makes bringing an iMac to an Apple Store a major challenge. An exception is lucky few who live near a Store and don’t have to drag the iMac up and down flights of steep stairs and through croweded streets. Bad weather exacerbates the situation even further. At least in NYC, dragging an iMac on the subway or buses is inviting disaster. I don’t know about Uber or Lyft drivers, but yellow cab hacks have been reknown for passing by hailers with big boxes that are clearly not luggage; iMacs are hard to conceal.

And here some GB5 results when running the benchmark as x86 code through Rosetta 2. The 8 GB MBA scored 1313/5888. Rosetta in this case therefore delivers just shy of 80% of the native performance. :astonished:

That score means even under emulation this new $1249 Mac beats the single-core GB5 score of any shipping Intel Mac, including the $2499 2020 3.6 GHz 10-core 27" iMac (scoring 1251). :astonished: :astonished: :astonished:

The fastest Intel Mac your money can buy is now an M1 Mac. :wink:

:+1: :slight_smile:


And for built-in graphics M1 is also doing really well. Beats the pants off 75W desktop GPUs. Not the latest and greatest (released in 2017 in fact), but still, this is a 10W CPU’s built-in vs. dedicated 75W GPUs. 2.6 TFLOPS of throughput.

Very encouraging for integrated graphics in a lightweight low-end Mac. In terms of AS graphics performance, I guess the real test will be how higher end AS Macs do when they’re benchmarked against PCs running dedicated GPUs from 2020.


In regards to “So… who’s buying one?”.

I have a 2009 MacMini with 4 GB RAM, 5 USB ports, 1 FireWire (anybody remember that?), 1 mini-DVI, and 8x SuperDrive (or that?). So 2, 4, or 8 thunderbolt ports, not really my issue, as I don’t have anything that needs them. I want a SuperDive back (yes, that boat has long since sailed away) so I can continue to watch DVDs once in awhile (good thing we did not have too many of those). The MacMini is connected to our TV/monitor and has been our CD (for music) and DVD (for movies) player for quite some time. If I was not stuck on El Capitan (10.11.6) and my MacMini starting to make a strange sound at start up and doing this strange double start up, I would still be trying to get some more life out of this machine, as it does the job for the “rest of us” out there. I am not doing video or animation or playing games. 8 GB RAMs sounds awesome. I take pictures and I use it for edits (long since past using PhotoShop and now taking the best possible picture in camera (which is my new computer) and just using Apple’s Photos to tweak; if I need to do much more than that then I have not taken a good picture. I stopped trying to make something good out of something bad a long time ago).

Put me down for a new MacMini. CDs are already burned to to an external hard drive, so I either transfer them to the new MacMini or buy a new hard drive that uses thunderbolt, as the 2 USB ports is my main issue; all 5 USB ports on my current MacMini are being used. Pictures have already been moved to an external hard drive long before I up graded to the Fuji X-T30. I take too many pictures (now at 24 MP), so storing to the computer was not an option and I need to rethink where I store them. Most likely some cloud service (let them worry about replacing technology). Anybody want a FireWire external hard drive?

In regards to 7, 8, or 16 GB RAM, Apple only showed one picture of the M1 and it included 16 GB RAM, so I am thinking their new 5 nanometer process has a decent failure rate and the M1 that pass the 16 GB test are the 16 GB M1 and those folks that are buy the machines with them are subsidizing for the folks that are buying the 7 and the 8; where the 7 would be a two part failure: the eight is broken into two parts and one part has failed and then the one part that has not failed shows seven good of the remaining eight and then any failures after that the M1 gets tossed. But I keep seeing statements that it does not meet the “test”, so that does not necessarily mean an out right failure; it just means they can’t take credit for it or does that mean it has truly been disabled? So if not disabled and not an outright failure, maybe for one that buys an M1 with 8 GB it is really 8 GB minimum? If that is the case, sign me up for the 8 GB min.

But regardless, I think Adam has it right when he stated that the MacMini “very well may outperform the remaining Intel model”; Apple showed it doing all the leap and bounds that the laptops were doing and they said it is faster than the previous model. The existing Intel is the previous model. Don’t know why they are keeping it around. Do folks really need that extra RAM? You are buying a computer that you cannot upgrade its operating system; ever. I should have replaced my MacMini when I could no longer upgrade the operating system. But I have been holding out for “One More Thing”.

Not to distract from your enthusiasm for the new M1 mini (which I share BTW), but I feel the need to set this straight. Intel Macs will see their OS updated another several times, not ‘never ever’.

Big Sur is universal, and since Apple expects to be releasing Intel Macs for another two years we can also expect another roughly two years of OS updates for Intel Macs beyond Big Sur. So even if Apple were to stop making macOS universal immediately after they stop selling Intel Macs (which I think is unlikely, I’d expect another 1-2 years), we’ll be seeing at least three years worth of universal macOS releases that should run just fine on Intel Macs. That would also be roughly in line with what we saw last time Apple did this. IIRC Rosetta emulation in OS X and PPC OS X releases were kept around for 5 years after the first Intel Mac launched.

Apple still sells the USB SuperDrive. I’ve been using it for 9 years on a 2011 Mac mini and I’m now using it on a 2018 Mac mini. I fully expect it to work with the 2020 Mac mini as well.

Not necessarily. Apple’s SoCs are not a single silicon die in that package. There are typically at least two “boards” in that package, connected with BGA solder connections (similar to the ones used to connect the SoC to the motherboard). The RAM (at least on the A-series of SoCs) is on a separate board, allowing Apple to make versions with different amounts of RAM (e.g. A10 variations shipped with 2G and 3G of RAM).

I suspect the M1 is doing something similar, with two different RAM boards that can be attached to the board with the main system die.

I bought a 2018 Mac Mini a few months ago. I knew perfectly well that a new Apple Silicon Mac was going to become available very soon.

I chose a last-generation Intel Mac over a first-generation Apple Silicon Mac for several reasons:

  • No version 1.0 product is ever bug free. The PowerPC wasn’t. Intel Macs weren’t, and these won’t be either. I absolutely do not want to have to fix or work around these bugs, should the affect me.

  • I have several apps that I depend on and I don’t know when ARM versions will be available. Maybe Rosetta will be everything promised. Maybe not. Again, I want to find out by reading about other people’s experiences.

  • RAM expansion is a big deal. I bought mine with 16GB. I could easily see myself needing to upgrade it before I need to replace the computer. The requirements of software will grow over time and I’d much rather buy more RAM than a whole new computer.

  • Big Sur is brand new. No macOS release has been perfectly stable in its X.0 revision for a very long time. If I buy a Mac today (especially an Apple Silicon Mac), then I’m forced into using it before the bugs have been fixed. The Mac I bought shipped with Catalina, and it will remain on Catalina until after Apple fixes the inevitable bugs in Big Sur (and I am confident that my apps will remain compatible with it.)

  • Apple tends to quickly retire first-generation hardware. For instance, the first Intel Mac mini was only sold for 7 months (February to September 2006). The first MacBook was only sold for 6 months (May to November, 2006). The first MacBook Pro got replaced after only 3 months (February to May, 2006).

  • Similarly for system software support. Those 2006 Mac minis shipped with Mac OS X 10.4 and can be upgraded to 10.6. Ditto for the original MacBook and MacBook Pro. We also saw that in the iPad line - a first-generation iPad shipped with iOS 3 and could be upgdaded to 5 (two major revisions), but later models lasted much longer. An iPad 2 shipped with iOS 4 and could be upgraded to version 9 (5 major revisions).

In other words, I fully expect that these new Macs, as nice as they are, will not have the longevity of the second generation of Apple Silicon Macs, both in terms of the amount of time the hardware is sold and the amount of time macOS supports the hardware.

As for upgrading Intel Macs, Apple said they are continuing to build and ship Intel systems for two years, as a part of their transition plan. This means macOS is going to continue to support Intel Macs for at least as long. Apple is not going to release macOS 12 for Apple Silicon and tell the people buying new Intel Macs that they are stuck running 11. Apple has never done this in the past and I see no reason to believe they will in the future.

Once Apple stops making Intel Macs (in two years or so), then the next version of macOS after that might be for Apple Silicon only. But again, we should look at history. The last PowerPC Mac to be manufactured was the Power Mac G5 (Late 2005) - it was discontinued in August 2006. The latest version of macOS it can run is 10.5.8, which was released in August 2009 (three years later) and was supported through 2011 (two years after that).

If Apple follows this pattern, then I would expect the last-generation Intel Macs (sold until some time in 2022) to continue to get macOS upgrades until about 2024 and to have support for its last-compatible version until about 2026. And I would expect similar OS support for today’s Intel Macs, much like how most PowerPC Macs in the last few years (including my definitely-not-last-generation QuickSilver-2002 PowerMac) were able to run Mac OS X 10.5.

Of course, this is all speculation, but I am confident in my assumptions, given the history of the PowerPC-Intel transition.

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And now some Cinebench scores are in. The M1 MBP is basically performing at the level of high-end 16" MBPs. :sunglasses: :+1: