Apple has already announced all of its big new hardware devices and planned software updates for the year, but it appears it was not quite done yet announcements. In a “One More Thing” hardware stream, Apple announced new versions of the MacBook Air, the 13-inch MacBook Pro, and the Mac mini. Each one will feature its newly announced M1 system chip that Apple believes will change its hardware game.
The need for speed
The new ARM-based M1 processor is a 5nm chip that Apple says contains the fastest CPU cores of any processor ever made, and the best performance per watt of any CPU in its class on the market. The new eight-core processor sounds incredible and if it really can achieve incredible speeds while using less power, it could be a game-changer in the laptop space. The improved speed is not just down to pure processing power, as the M1’s flash controller will apparently make accessing storage for read / write processes faster than ever before, which is often the biggest bottleneck in modern-day processing where the RAM and cache are not able to keep up with the CPU effectively.
The biggest problem though is that this is simply what Apple spoke about without any actual key demonstrations on what it is truly capable of. For now we’ll have to simply rely on drinking Apple’s Kool-Aid to believe these processors are the next best thing before seeing it in action. For most Apple fans who have been buying into the hype for years, I’m sure they’re all already convinced and this should help sell a good amount of next-generation hardware. Hardware which at least looks impressive.
The more affordable MacBook Air remains a popular choice for Apple users and while the latest model looks the same as the previous one, it’s what is going on underneath that should get users excited. Not only is Apple teasing superior speeds, but it’ll be an impressive 60% more energy-efficient and have up to 18 hours of video playback. Something which is well ahead of most of the competition and makes this even more popular with people looking to combine speed, portability, and value. A new MacBook Air will set you back $999, with local pricing yet to be confirmed. Expect the basic model to probably set you back around R20 000 at the very least.
The Mac Mini is also getting updated with the new M1 magic, where it will reportedly be up to three times faster than ever before. The Mac Mini’s rear I/O panel supports USB 4 and Thunderbolt, and can also connect to the Pro Display XDR with 6K resolution. US prices will start at $699 (R11 500), and you can tweak it to have up to 16GB of RAM and up to 2TB of internal storage as needed.
13-inch MacBook Pro
Apple wouldn’t really be teasing new hardware if it didn’t give its flagship MacBook Pro a boost as well, which sees even bigger speed improvements and battery life than the MacBook Air, with up to 20 hours of video playback. The M1’s camera ISP will enhance the image during video calls so that your colleagues can see your “I just woke up face” or the “I’m too lazy to iron shirt” in even more detail. It will set you back $1299 for the basic version unless you’re prepared to spend the extra money.
A new processor wouldn’t be quite as effective without some new software that is optimised to take advantage of it, and this is where Apple’s new MacOS 11 update is so important. We’ve written on this before, but what is important is that we now know when it will be arriving: November 12. What Apple was able to show off at the event was just how fast apps could load up (here’s looking at you Xbox and PlayStation with your “improved loading speeds”).
It all looks impressive, but for many Apple doubters, we’ll probably want to see actual performance metrics and the new hardware in action before making up our minds. If Apple can back this up though, they will most certainly be well ahead of most of its competitors with these new hardware updates.
Last Updated: November 11, 2020