M1 Mac First Impressions

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Ever since Apple started shipping their ARM Apple Silicon Macs, I've been really toying with getting one. Basically, my primary MacBook Pro, which I love dearly, is near a decade old(mid-2012 non-Retina). It was one of the last user-upgradeable laptops, and I've done a LOT to upgrade it. Still, though, it's increasingly long in the tooth. I need to replace the battery, and a lot of the stuff I'm doing now(especially my heavy Zoom useage) just beats the heck out of it.

The M1s offer a whole lot of promise, and all the reviews I've read rave about them. I had thought I'd maybe wait for the second generation(which is supposed to bring back Magsafe, USB-A, and a few other things) but I don't know when that will be and I probably need a computer sooner rather than later.

I have a 2015 13" Retina, which is an incredible computer but it's lacking a bit for some of my uses. In particular, at the time you could not get more than a dual core CPU in a 13" Mac, and that left my old 2012 with its several generation old quad core better for many tasks.

I had, however, skipped the interim generation of MBPs-the USB-C only ones with the touchbar. They had too many downsides for me, including redesigning the keyboard 4 times before giving up and going back to a scissor type mechanism on the 16"(which I love, but was out of my budget).

Enter a trip to BestBuy this afternoon, where I went in to browse thinking that buying could be a possibility, and 20 minutes later I was making sure I had enough dongles to get me by for what I need.

I ended up with a base model MBP. I'd have up-specced the RAM if they'd had 16gb in stock, but they don't carry any off-the-shelf configs with 16gb. I could have gone to 512gb onboard storage, but opted out. For one, I'm carrying too much digital baggage anyway, and this will force me to be smart. For another, I have stupid amounts of cloud storage in Dropbox and iCloud. Finally, external drives are fast and cheap now.

On paper, the Pro and Air specs are incredibly close to the point where it can be hard to make an argument for the Pro. The Pro screen is a bit brighter, but to me that's not a huge deal(I cranked it up to full blast and said "no way can I use it there"). The real differences are the battery life and that the pro is actively cooled. Reviews point to the Air throttling under heavy load, and to ridiculous battery life on the pro.

I'm still setting mine up-or really I'm mostly playing with it before I let migration assistant run over night. For one, the fan hasn't even turned, and the computer is completely cool to the touch. I'm using Firefox, which is my preferred browser but isn't the most CPU friendly, and the fan has yet to turn on on mine(my Intel computers would be cooking me, especially with all the other set-up stuff I have running in the background).

The battery really is that good. I've seen reports of 16-20 hour battery lives, or really, truly all-day batteries. Mine was at 66% when I unboxed it. Between installing software and other set-up stuff, I'm still at 55% 2 hours later.

The computer is FAST. I haven't hit it yet with Lightroom(will install that tomorrow) but just general zippiness and responsiveness are better than any computer I've used. So far every program I've run has been ARM native(A lot of the big programs now have native versions, although you might have to look a bit when downloading), but emulation under Rosetta 2 is supposed to be fast. I'll be curious to see what happens if I end up running software via Rosetta in Snow Leopard in VMWare under Rosetta 2.

Two bad things, and these aren't M1 specific-First, I hate the touchbar. In theory it could be good, but I keep doing things like brushing the volume and brightness controls. Current rumors are that the next generation is going to ditch it. I'm a heavy user of the function keys just for general OS navigation, and I much prefer consistent placement. The second is that I'm really sorry I'm forced to use Big Sur. It's improved a lot since the first Beta, but it's added too many iOS features that IMO just get in the way. It's removed functionality that I like such as showing the battery percentage in the menu bar, and unless I'm missing how to re-arrange the bar, I hate that Spotlight(something I use a whole lot) isn't at the far right.

Overall, though, I think this is a win, and I'm excited to see what the next generation brings.
 
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Glad you like it so much but if you are planning on keeping this for 10 years like your old, that 8gb of ram is going to bite you.
Did you see what Apple charges for the bump to 16GB. It's absurd especially with the cost of RAM at an all time low. For a PC jumping from 8GB to 16GB of RAM would cost you like $30. Last year I got a new work laptop, a Lenovo T495s with a Ryzen CPU and 16GB of RAM and I'm kicking myself for not going with 32GB of RAM.
 
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bunnspecial

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I'm not laboring under any delusions that this computer will last for 10 years. I consider it my entry into the new architecture, and once it matures a bit more I will max out a system.

BTW, at this point, as strange as it may sound, if I'm going to bump RAM I will bump it to 32gb minimum. I haven't really tried this myself, but a significant number of the reviews have stated that memory management in ARM is different enough that, combined with an insanely fast system bus and storage, you can get away with less RAM for many uses.

Whatever the case, though, I've realized since posting this that 256gb storage is nowhere near enough for me. I'm boxing it up here in a bit to exchange for a 512gb model.
 
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I think you are going to be in awe over the new M1 Mac. As you may know I competed my move into the Mac world just this past Christmas with the addition of a new MacBook M1 Air. I know all about the Pro too, awesome machine, Im sure what you had would have been fine but never knock anyone who wants more upgrades.

Have been windows computing for the last 25 years Im freaking amazed every time I turn on the Base Model M1 MacBook Air freaking thing is awesome and fast. Its primary for browsing stuff, research and forums.
My other is a year old + Mac mini Intel i5, same deal, love it and iPhone XR.

Love the thoughtless integration of all my devices, for lack of a better word, love the fact that its not loaded with Windows Bloat that I have no interest in. Love computing and moving into the Mac World makes me feel like a kid again .. *L*
Just an awesome experience, quality is outstanding on all 3.
 

bunnspecial

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I think you are going to be in awe over the new M1 Mac. As you may know I competed my move into the Mac world just this past Christmas with the addition of a new MacBook M1 Air. I know all about the Pro too, awesome machine, Im sure what you had would have been fine but never knock anyone who wants more upgrades.

Have been windows computing for the last 25 years Im freaking amazed every time I turn on the Base Model M1 MacBook Air freaking thing is awesome and fast. Its primary for browsing stuff, research and forums.
My other is a year old + Mac mini Intel i5, same deal, love it and iPhone XR.

Love the thoughtless integration of all my devices, for lack of a better word, love the fact that its not loaded with Windows Bloat that I have no interest in. Love computing and moving into the Mac World makes me feel like a kid again .. *L*
Just an awesome experience, quality is outstanding on all 3.

I've been an "all Mac" user since 2011, and in the interim went kind of nutty collecting Macs(yes, its a thing). If it weren't in storage now, just for the heck of it, I'd love to set up my 1984 "Macintosh"(128K) next to the M1 just for a photo op. Heck, last week I was playing with a friends dial-up ISP using OS 9 on a Titanium PowerBook...and yes it's useless :) (the dial-up-it's a curiosity. A 1ghz TiBook is the gold standard for an OS 9 portable).

So far, the M1 is just-insane. That's the best way I can describe it. BTW, as of now, I've been unplugged for over a half hour and my battery is STILL sitting at 100%. I've heard it called "iPad like battery life" but I don't know that I've seen battery life like this on an iPad.

My biggest issue now is that I've been drug kicking and screaming into using Big Sur, which I didn't like when I ran it as a beta. I'm still not a fan of it, and I sometimes feel like Apple messes with stuff for no good reason(I like my dashboard, thank you, and lots of other things that have changed since Mojave).
 
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Yeah I’ve read about that battery life on the pro, the air is really, really good but the pro from what I understand has a couple more hours, insane it is!
I believe the air only uses seven of the eight cores and why no fan or better said too avoid using a fan. I am amazed as far as heat, there is none!
I always had cheaper windows laptops because I really don’t use it for much except for what I stated in the other post but wow I’m just loving it and the display is great, I believe the pro takes it up another level.if that’s possible!
I love the touchpad as well and do not in anyway miss my touch screen Windows machines.
My wife who is still in the windows world except her recent iPhone 11 I just got her for Christmas, I bought her a Lenovo yoga as well, mid to upper level and it’s a really nice machine, beautiful but much prefer the air for me.
I was just ready for a new operating system and I just love the clean feel of apple
 

bunnspecial

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Yeah I’ve read about that battery life on the pro, the air is really, really good but the pro from what I understand has a couple more hours, insane it is!
I believe the air only uses seven of the eight cores and why no fan or better said too avoid using a fan. I am amazed as far as heat, there is none!
I always had cheaper windows laptops because I really don’t use it for much except for what I stated in the other post but wow I’m just loving it and the display is great, I believe the pro takes it up another level.if that’s possible!
I love the touchpad as well and do not in anyway miss my touch screen Windows machines.
My wife who is still in the windows world except her recent iPhone 11 I just got her for Christmas, I bought her a Lenovo yoga as well, mid to upper level and it’s a really nice machine, beautiful but much prefer the air for me.
I was just ready for a new operating system and I just love the clean feel of apple

To be honest, this conceivably is truly potentially the holy grail of an "all day" laptop. Heck, even for me this could be a 2 day laptop. That's game changing.

Aside from that, the fact that it's not hitting the battery so hard constantly should make the battery life(in terms of cycles/longevity, not run time) really good also.

And yes, doing very much on my old faithful MBP 9,1 gets it cooking and 90º+ temps are common even in routine tasks. I've yet to have the fan turn on in the M1. I'll do some photo editing in Lightroom tomorrow and see if I can punch it a bit more, but its yet to get beyond even just a little warm. BTW, the thermal management is one of the key differences between the Pro and Air, as the air will throttle to keep temps under control while the pro can kick on the fan to keep temperatures down.

Also, the core distinction on the Air is a bit weird. Both the Air and the Pro have the same 8 core CPU. How they differ is that the base model air has a 7 core GPU while the next step up Air and all the Pros have 8 core GPUs. To be honest, it's not totally clear to me yet what difference that makes. Apple's still a bit scarce with information on these, or at least information I can find.

These first gen models are impressive enough that I'm excited to see what the future holds for this architecture in Macs. If a laptop can be this crazy cool, think of what can be done with all of the cooling headroom in a desktop. Apple has tried twice to make a bigger-than-a-Mini-smaller-than-a-tower stylish desktop. The Cube worked well enough for what it was, but really even 500mhz and a kind of wimpy GPU was pushing it for passive cooling. Steve Jobs was adamant about it being fanless(one of his perpetual obsessions, and something that ate analog boards left right and center in the original Macintosh, plus gave awkward aftermarket products like the Kensington System Saver that was a big fan you stuck on the top), but the Cube designers "snuck" a mounting bracket for a standard sized PC fan into the bottom of the case. I have several Cubes with aftermarket CPU upgrades and two stock ones. Installing a fan is mandatory for the upgrades, and my stock ones have it too. In any case, the "Trashcan"(Mac Pro 6,1) actually has virtually the same dimensions as the Cube aside from the obvious part of it being round or square. Still, though, it's eerie that it's the same height and its diameter is the same as the width of the Cube. The base models, aside from being underspecced even in 2013, run cool but were not really fitting for a "Mac Pro" in 2013. When it sat for years without any upgrades, Apple finally admitted that they just couldn't get better components(in particular better GPUs) into it and keep the temperature in check. These ARM processors could really make for an incredible system in that size case.

I did break my "no first generation Apple products" rule by buying one of these, but eventually most of the first gen stuff ends up in my collection anyway and I'll have had this one from new and actually get to use it as intended. Unlike some of the real clunkers like, say, the first Macbook Air, this is an amazingly capable computer.
 
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I have a non-M1 MBP (13 inch with touchbar and 512gb) from 2018. It's my first Mac though I've had several iPhones. It's a great machine and I am sure that the M1s are even better (I'd lie if I said I wasn't browsing them, but I could never justify the upgrade). The keyboard on mine is not my favorite but to Apple's credit they did cover it for four years on all affected models, which helps ease that pain (I just got the replacement done).
 
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The 7 cores in the MacBook Air, as I read it from a "story" tech magazine is the 8th core is not used (turned off) to reduce the needs for fan cooling.
My take = to dumb it down a little from the Pro which the Pro is designed for super heavy applications yet to me the Air will still blow away/meet almost any Windows pcs in the price class = I will never use the MacBook air to its full potential. For not much more money I could have had the Pro but already knew I wasnt going to be using the Air to its full potential. I pretty much do everything in my office on my Mac mini... including these long posts in the morning while I drink my coffee before work. *L*

Same goes with the Mac mini ... dont over read any negative comments, been computing since 1995 and the i5 Mac mini I have blows any windows desktop I ever owned out of the water. Once again, I will never be able to use it to its full potential and that it with the i5.
Im sure the M1 Mini's will continue the trend of being unmatched for its price range.

Once again love the design of the MacBook Air, the case and construction. The timing was perfect, new m1, new keyboard ya da ya da.
I read your comments on the TouchBar on the Pro. Its why I like the air. I dont use the Air to its full potential so never would come close with using the Pro to its full potential and why I didnt give much consideration, other then M1 to the base model.
Not sure if you remember my posts from around Christmas. My first one was a MacBook Air intel processor, what a mistake that was. The reason was Big Sur was designed with the new M1s in mind and had a bug in it which prevented the MacBook Intel airs from turning on at times.
I returned two in a row and at the time glowing reviews started coming out on the M1 so got the M1, no issues at all and would have been so upset if I had the Intel model now.
Im sure the bug was taken care of by an update but wasnt going to settle for that and oh my am I glad I ended up with the M1
I, know looking forward to an M1 mini (just because) if my wife takes a liking to her iPhone, maybe my next step would be to move her to a desktop from her current Windows and give her mine, get an M1 for me.

Being I am new to Mac, Big Sur is fine with me because I still dont know any different and cant even remember what was on the mini when I bought it in 2019
 
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bunnspecial

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The 7 cores in the MacBook Air, as I read it from a "story" tech magazine is the 8th core is not used (turned off) to reduce the needs for fan cooling.

It's correct that in the 7 GPU core MBA, the additional core is there but "turned off". All of these M1 CPUs are fundamentally the same and the CPU in your Air could have come from the same silicone wafer as the one in my MBP. That's true of all CPUs and GPUs of a given type/family-basically a bunch of identical ones are lithographed onto a wafer and then manufactured and tested. Sometimes for whatever reason a certain feature in a given CPU doesn't work quite right(i.e. not all the GPU cores in one of these M1 chips, or maybe not all the CPU cores in an Intel chip). Some might also run stably at a higher frequency than others.

The whole process for doing this is called "binning" and it's an economical way to basically get the highest yield you can out of a wafer. You just shut off parts of the less-perfect ones that don't work rather than tossing them.

In any case, the MBA IS available with an 8 core GPU, it's just the higher spec model https://www.apple.com/shop/buy-mac/...-m1-chip-with-8-core-cpu-and-8-core-gpu-512gb
 

gathermewool

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I don’t understand how you‘re going to keep your fingers warm typing in the winter

I use my 2015 iPad Pro w/ Magic Keyboard in the summer and my gaming laptop in the winter. The gaming laptop sure does keep me warm!
 
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Looking for a new Mac for around the house for my wife-web surfing mainly and sending pics to Costco, very basic stuff, maybe some photo editing. Would a M1 MacBook Air with the 8 core processor and 8gb of Ram be fine or should I step up to a Pro? Mind you, we still limp along a 2008ish MacBook Pro that I added a stick of RAM to but it’s very long in the tooth.

Basically between these 2
3CDB6FBE-35AF-45B1-932B-F9CC437B3253.jpeg
 
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Well, after reading your glowing reviews here and some reviews online, I ordered the M1 Air with the 8 core chips and 512 GB storage. I think it will be plenty for what our needs are. I’ll report back when it arrives.
 

gathermewool

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Well, after reading your glowing reviews here and some reviews online, I ordered the M1 Air with the 8 core chips and 512 GB storage. I think it will be plenty for what our needs are. I’ll report back when it arrives.

I would have gone for an iPad Air with such basic use. Buy a Magic Keyboard if you need one. My six YO iPad Pro is great for surfing and movie watching.
 
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I would have gone for an iPad Air with such basic use. Buy a Magic Keyboard if you need one. My six YO iPad Pro is great for surfing and movie watching.
The iPad Air and Mac Air aren't comparable. However he iPad Pro and the Mac Air price is very close and it VERY possible to pay more for the iPad Pro.

The iPad Air comes with an 11 inch screen, 64 megs of memory, no keyboard and is a tablet. Cost $750

The iPad Air Pro comes with a 12.9 inch screen same amount of memory, no keyboard and is a tablet. Cost $999
It cost more then the MacBook Air if you outfit it with a keyboard. Making the MacBook Air at the same price a bargain

The iPad Pro 11Inch cost the same or more then the MacBook Air if you buy a keyboard.

The MacBook Air comes with a 13.3 inch screen same amount of memory, awesome keyboard.

Then you have the standard iPad Air which comes with a 10.9 inch screen and cost $750 again with the same amount of memory as the MacBook Air and doesn't have a keyboard.

Bottom line is they both serve a purpose.
I seriously looked at the iPad Pro and the iPad Air, for my purpose it makes the MacBook Air look quite reasonable in price, IF you want a laptop/notebook. If you don't, iPads are great tablets and come with cameras if that is what one wants.
 

gathermewool

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If you’re paying full price die an iPad you simply don’t know any better. I was quoting Rhondahonda, btw. His wife’s usage doesn’t seem more demanding than an Air would be. As it turns out I rarely use my laptop. I almost always grab my 6YO iPad.

Unlike most of you I was able to get my 2015 iPad Pro with the keyboard for $150 from a friend. My iPad before that? An iPad 2018, which is now my son’s. Before that an Air 2 for $250 several years ago was all I needed for basic surfing and movie watching. The screen, being laminated, was better than my ‘18 iPad, to be honest. I gave that Air2 to my mom and dad for FaceTime use mostly.

My point is, if you can wait for deals you’ll find that paying full price for ANY product, INCLUDING MACS, is foolish.
 

gathermewool

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If you’re OK with the base model:

 
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