New MacBook processor. Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) review
Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) review
The MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) is the most exciting laptop Apple has released in years. The new M1 chip offers exceptional battery life, and in our early testing performance has been excellent. It’s just a shame about the old design.
- Huge battery life
- Great performance
- Can run iOS apps
- Magic Keyboard feels great
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Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020): Two-minute review
Despite being two years old, the Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch is still a great laptop and holds its own against newer laptops. The MacBook Pro 13-inch launched in 2020 with the M1 chip, replacing previous Intel processors that used to power Apple computers and ushering in a new era of Apple computer technology.
The Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch is still superior to the early 2020 model it replaced because of the impressive tech upgrades it received. It’s 2.8 times faster than the earlier model, three times as quick as comparable Windows laptops, and has a longer battery life than the earlier 2020 model.
The only potential downside of the MacBook Pro 13-inch is it keeps the original design of the earlier 2020 model, which can be good or bad depending on how you think about it. On the one hand, the previous design of the Apple MacBook Pro was great. thin, light, and featuring the impressive Magic Keyboard. Conversely, it would have been interesting to see Apple take up a new design for the MacBook Pro 13-inch to match the formerly new M1 chip.
While the MacBook Pro 13-inch is no longer the most recent professional laptop from Apple, you should still consider buying one because of its impressive interior hardware and decent price tag. The 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models may be the newest releases, but they can get expensive and you may not need all of their capabilities depending on what you use your laptop for.
The MacBook Pro 14-inch and 16-inch models are equipped with the more powerful M1 Pro and M1 Max chips, which are perfect for creative professionals or content creators, but may be more powerful than what you need if you’re just in the market for a new laptop that doesn’t need the extra processing power.
Will there be an Apple M2 chip?
With the Apple M1 chip released in 2020 and follow-up, more powerful M1 Pro and M1 Max chips found in Apple MacBook Pro 14-inch and 16-inch devices, it’s entirely possible we’ll see a new M2 chip revealed at the 2022 Apple Worldwide Developers Conference. WWDC 2022 will last from Monday, June 6 to Friday, June 10, with people already guessing what might be unveiled.
Given the age of the Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch and how it was the first model to introduce the M1 chip, it makes sense that Apple might release a new M2 chip in a new, potentially upgraded version of the MacBook Pro 13-inch. There have also been supply chain rumours indicating that a MacBook Pro with an M2 chip will be released within 2022, further cementing the idea we could see it at WWDC 2022.
Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020): Price and availability
for the MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) start at 1,299 / £1,299 / AU1,999 for the 256GB SSD/8GB RAM model, with the 2TB SSD/16GB RAM model selling for 2,299 / £2,299 / AU3,499.
Both models come with the same M1 chip with an 8-core CPU and 8-core GPU, and storage can be configured up to 2TB.
For comparison, the MacBook Pro (2020) launched earlier in 2020 for 1,299 / £1,299 / AU1,999, so we’re not seeing the price cut on the MacBook Pro some were hoping to see now that Apple has moved to its own silicon, but we commend Apple for releasing this version at the same price as the previous model.
What’s interesting is that the MacBook Air (M1, 2020) is available with the same M1 chip, and with the same amount of RAM and 512GB storage, for 1,249 / £1,249 / AU1,949. Usually, we wouldn’t compare the MacBook Pro with the MacBook Air, but considering how close the specs are, and the fact that MacBook Air also features a screen that supports the P3 color gamut, previously exclusive to MacBook Pros, there may be some people who think going for the Air is a better choice, especially as it comes with double the capacity for less money.
However, the MacBook Air (M1, 2020) has a fanless design, whereas the MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) still has fans. This means the MacBook Air is limited in how long it can run intensive tasks for before its performance is throttled in order to prevent overheating, due to there being no fans to cool it down.
If you’re going to have your machine working for hours on end on rendering tasks, for example, then the MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) will be worth the extra outlay.
Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020): Design
Here is the 13-inch MacBook Pro (M1, 2020) configuration sent to TechRadar for review:
CPU: Apple M1 (8-core) Graphics: Integrated 8-core GPU RAM: 8GB Unified PDDR4X-4266 MHz SDRAM Screen: 13.3-inch, 2,560 x 1,600 Retina display (backlit LED, IPS, 500 nits brightness, wide color P3 gamut) Storage: 256GB SSD Ports: 2x Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C), 3.5mm headphone jack Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0 Camera: 720p FaceTime HD webcam Weight: 3.0 pounds (1.4kg) Size: 11.97 x 8.36 x 0.61 inches (30.41 x 21.24 x 1.56cm; W x D x H)
The MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) is one of the most exciting releases from Apple for a while, thanks to its M1 silicon brains, but you probably wouldn’t think that when you first get it out of the box.
That’s because, with its dimensions of 0.61 x 11.97 x 8.36 inches (1.56 x 30.41 x 21.24cm) and a weight of 3.0 pounds (1.4kg) it’s pretty much the same as the previous model. It certainly looks and feels identical to previous MacBook Pro 13-inch models, so anyone hoping for a radical new look to match the radical new hardware within should look instead at the MacBook Pro 14-inch and 16-inch models that launched in 2021.
We feel that this is a bit of a missed opportunity for Apple. It’s made a big deal of what a revolutionary change its move to the M1 chip is, along with macOS Big Sur – which is a big enough change to warrant naming it ‘macOS 11’, and not ‘macOS 10.17′ – so we’d have like to see Apple be just as bold with the look of the MacBook Pro 13-inch.
Apple would probably argue, along with some of its fans, that the MacBook Pro 13-inch’s design is perfect, so there’s no point changing it. In a way that’s fair – this is still a good-looking laptop after all, and it remains impressively thin and light; but when Apple’s rivals, such as Dell and HP, are doing some innovative things with their designs, be it super-slim bezels or 2-in-1 designs that let you use the laptop like a tablet, the MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020)’s look starts to feel a little dated.
For a while now, many people felt that Apple had neglected the Mac and MacBook in favor of the iPhone. After all, could you imagine Apple sticking with the same iPhone design since 2016? That’s pretty much what it has done with the MacBook Pro 13-inch, barring a few tweaks.
It’s a bit of a shame, as in other respects – the revolutionary M1 chip and the improvements the company has brought to macOS Big Sur – it does feel like Apple is excited about MacBooks again.
Still, for the purpose of this MacBook review, the design of the MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) isn’t bad by any means, just rather familiar – and that sense of familiarity is maintained when you open the laptop. The TouchBar returns – if you’re not familiar with this, it’s a thin touchscreen that runs along the top of the keyboard, and which shows context-sensitive buttons and shortcuts depending on what app or tool you’re currently using.
When it first appeared four years ago, opinion was divided as how useful it was, but over the years we’ve found ourselves warming to it, and as more third-party applications have added TouchBar functionality it’s become more useful. It’s good to see it back, and it shows that Apple’s move to the M1 chip and macOS Big Sur hasn’t caused it to ditch this feature. The escape key on the left is once again separate, rather than being included in the TouchBar, which was a request of many people who use the key a lot (such as developers).
The keyboard is the same Magic Keyboard as the one introduced with the MacBook Pro 13-inch from earlier this year. This was a welcome change at the time, as it replaced the controversial Butterfly switch keyboard, which was often prone to reliability problems. It’s good to see it back in the MacBook Pro 13-inch, and it again feels great to type on.
The screen is also unchanged, with a Retina resolution of 2560 x 1600. This results in a sharp image, but again Apple is being outclassed here by rivals such as HP and Dell, who are putting higher-resolution screens on their 13-inch laptops.
Still, the screen of the Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) remains bright and vibrant. It also supports the P3 wide color gamut, offering excellent color reproduction – this is great for photographers and video editors, who need true-to-life colors, but it’s worth pointing out that the MacBook Air (M1, 2020) also now comes with P3 wide color support. This makes the more affordable MacBook Air a viable alternative for budget-conscious creatives, and deprives the MacBook Pro of a key selling point.
When it comes to ports, the Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) sticks with just the two Thunderbolt 3 ports (both on the left-hand side), and an audio jack on the right.
While we’re glad that Apple’s move away from Intel hasn’t meant losing Thunderbolt 3 (it’s an Intel product, after all), this lack of ports continues to be a bit of a pain point for professionals. If you want to copy photos from a memory card, or use peripherals that rely on the older USB-A ports, then you’re going to need to buy a dongle. While Dell includes one in many of its USB-C only laptops, Apple doesn’t.
Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020): Performance
Here’s how the 13-inch MacBook Pro (M1, 2020) performed in our suite of benchmark tests:
Cinebench R23 CPU: Single-Core: 1,491; Multi-core: 7,768 Geekbench 5 Single-Core: 1,732; Multi-Core: 7,590 Battery Life (TechRadar movie test): 13 hours and 22 minutes
In our time with the MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) we were been impressed by its performance. Apple talked a big game about the M1 chip, and claims that its CPU is 2.8 times faster at building Xcode projects, and delivers twice as fast vector performance in Affinity Photo, plus 5.9 times the 3D title render speeds in Final Cut Pro and 2.9 times the performance in Shadow of the Tomb Raider thanks to its GPU.
For a fair MacBook review, we had to take these claims with a hefty dose of salt, as Apple is a bit vague about some of its tests, and when it comes to GPU performance it’s comparing this to a base MacBook Pro 13-inch from the previous generation, which uses an older 8th-generation Intel processor with integrated graphics.
Now that we’ve had the MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) for a while, we can delve deeper into its performance. We ran both native M1 apps and older legacy apps designed for Intel Macs, and they performed really well. We opened up several demanding apps at once, and swapped between them, and throughout macOS Big Sur didn’t miss a beat. They opened quickly, and switching between them was almost instantaneous.
As we said in our MacBook Air (M1, 2020) review, the fact that Apple has switched to an ARM-based chip, but via its Rosetta tool allows you to continue to run older apps without any major issues, is commendable. Microsoft has a version of Windows 10 that runs on ARM-based laptops like its own Surface Pro X, but it’s limited to only being able to run apps from the Microsoft Store that have been built for ARM architecture – and that means many popular apps just don’t work on Windows 10 on ARM.
The fact that Apple is not only ensuring that pretty much all older Mac apps work on the M1-toting MacBook Pro 13-inch, but also thousands of iOS apps as well, really highlights what a poor effort Microsoft has made with Windows 10 on ARM. It needs to seriously up its game.
Unlike the MacBook Air (M1, 2020), which runs silently thanks to its fanless design, the MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) does still have fans, and they do kick in after a while when you’re doing some strenuous work on the device. The laptop also gets rather warm towards the back at times. However, the fans don’t ever get too distracting, and for day to day use you’ll never hear them.
The fact that the MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) has fans means it can work harder and longer than the MacBook Air (M1, 2020) as well. Due to its fanless design, the MacBook Air has to throttle performance (by lowering the speed of the M1 chip) to avoid overheating. This makes the Pro the better choice for professionals that are using it for prolonged intensive tasks, such as rendering complex 3D animations.
The benchmark results were also incredibly impressive. We’d seen leaked Cinebench scores suggesting that the M1 chip can beat powerful Intel 11th gen chips, and it proved to be correct. In the intensive Cinebench R23 benchmark, the MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) scored a whopping 7, 768 points in the multi-core test. That puts it well above the performance of the entry-level MacBook Pro 16-inch 2019 with a six-core 9th generation Intel Core i7 processor. The fact that the laptop sells for 2,399 (£2,399 / AU3,799), which is around 1,000/£1,000 more, and has a dedicated graphics card, casts the cheaper MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020)’s performance in a very positive light.
The Geekbench 5 results also show what a big improvement the M1 chip is compared to the previous model with a 2.0GHz Intel Core i5-1038NG7 quad-core processor. Scoring 1,732 in the single-core tests, and 7,590 in the multi-core tests, it roundly beats the earlier model, which scored 1,268 and 4,490 in the same tests. The extra four cores of the M1’s CPU (it’s an octa-core chip) are obviously doing some heavy lifting here.
We also had a play around with Final Cut Pro, Apple’s video editing software which has been updated to run on the M1 chip, and used it to editing an 8K video using multiple sources. The MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) kept up admirably, allowing us to scrub through the footage while showing a preview of the video at the same time. It was seriously impressive. The app did crash once on us, however, when we were adding some titles and fancy effects, but that appeared to be a one off.
On the whole, the video editing performance of the MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) was remarkable, with 8K video editing a possibility with the M1’s GPU.
Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020): Battery life
At the time of its release, Apple has claimed that the MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) has the longest battery life ever in a Mac, promising a huge 17 hours of wireless web browsing, and up to 20 hours of video playback – a whopping 10 hours more than the previous model.
Again, these are big claims from Apple, and by its very nature you’re going to be using the MacBook Pro 13-inch for more intensive tasks than that, but we’ve usually found Apple’s battery claims to be pretty on the mark.
In our battery life benchmark test, the MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) lasted 13 hours and 22 minutes. During this test we play a looped 1080p video with the screen at 50% brightness until the battery dies. Now, while that isn’t quite as long as the 20 hours Apple was claiming, it’s still a very impressive score, and a decent improvement over the earlier 2020 Intel model, which lasted 8 hours and 31 minutes in the same test.
That around a 5-hour bump. seriously impressive. It’s also longer than the MacBook Pro 16-inch 2019’s record of 11 hours and 41 minutes, and also beats the latest Dell XPS 13 Late 2020 model, which scored 11 hours.
The battery life of the Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) is so impressive, that we were actually able to use it straight out of the box, and didn’t plug it in for a couple of days later. This was doing a bit of light use. browsing the web and writing emails. so when it comes to much more intensive tasks, that battery life is going to deplete faster. Still, this is very impressive.
Buy it if.
You want a powerful (and small) MacBook The MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) has had an impressive power boost thanks to the M1 chip. It’s genuinely quite exciting what Apple has achieved here.
You want excellent battery life Normally powerful laptops have to make do with short battery lives, but the MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) manages to balance performance with a battery life that can last well beyond the whole work day.
You want to edit ultra-high definition videos The performance of the MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) is good enough to easily handle 4K. and even 8K. videos. This is impressive stuff.
Don’t buy it if.
You’re on a budget While the MacBook Pro 13-inch is the most affordable MacBook Pro, it’s still very expensive. Meanwhile, the MacBook Air (M1, 2020), offers similar performance in many areas, for quite a bit less.
You want a graphical powerhouse While the 13-inch MacBook Pro is no slouch in the performance department, it still relies on integrated graphics, which means it’s not great at seriously intensive graphical tasks.
You don’t like Apple’s designs Once again, Apple hasn’t made any big changes to the overall design of the MacBook Pro 13-inch. It’s now been a few years, and if you didn’t like how it looked before, this won’t change your mind.
Apple MacBook Pro 2023 (M2 Pro) Review: Powerful And Fast, With Lots Of Stamina
Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.
The Apple MacBook Pro (2023) lineup brings the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro laptops up to date with Apple’s M2 generation processors. The M2 first debuted in 2021, with both last summer’s Apple MacBook Air 2022 and Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch 2022 sporting M2 processors. Unlike those models, the new, larger MacBook Pros get a choice of M2 processor variants—the M2 Pro (which is faster than the M2) and M2 Max, which is faster still. And as I found in this review, the extra cores in those processors help these new models power to previously unseen performance heights.
The previous generation’s 14-inch and 16-inch models introduced the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips in 2021, and these were blazing-fast leaps forward from the Intel-chipped models which preceded them. Not only were they much faster, but they also had significantly enhanced battery life.
So, how much better can the new models be? The M1 Pro and M1 Max variants are no longer available, but it’s worth asking if the new processors are worth having—especially if you’re considering upgrading from either the M1 series or the earlier Intel MacBook Pro.
There are few differences between the 14-inch and 16-inch versions of the Apple MacBook Pro. Essentially, the 16-incher is—no surprise—bigger in every way. It’s heavier, has a bigger screen and a bigger price tag than its smaller sibling. Performance is identical between the two, though, so choose one according to your desired screen or your budget. Read on to learn more about my experience with these laptops in our review.
Apple MacBook Pro 2023 (M2 Pro Processor) 16-Inch Technical Specifications
Price as tested: 2,499 Processor Apple M2 Pro | Memory: 16GB | Storage: 512GB | Display: 16.2-inch, 3,456 x 2,234 pixels, 1,000 nits | Battery: Up to 22 hours video playback | Dimensions: 14.0 x 9.8 x 0.7 inches | Weight: 4.7 pounds
Apple MacBook Pro 2023 (M2 Pro Processor) 14-Inch Technical Specifications
Price as tested: 1999 | Processor Apple M2 Pro | Memory: 16GB | Storage: 512GB SSD | Display: 14.2-inches (3,024 x 1,964 pixels), 1,000 nits | Battery: Up to 18 hours video playback | Dimensions: 12.3 x 8.7 x 0.6 inches | Weight 3.5 pounds
- Not the huge performance leap that M1 was over Intel
- Higher spec options get pricey
- The 16-incher is a hair heavier than before
Apple MacBook Pro 2023 (M2 Pro Processor): Design
The new laptops look identical to the Apple MacBook Pro models released in fall 2021. This is hardly a shame as the last generation of Pro laptops introduced a splendid new industrial design, and it continues to look classy, business-like and opulent.
Just like the class of 2021, this means an all-aluminum body with a flat lid, unlike the tapered style of the last Intel Apple MacBook Pro laptops. There’s also a 16.2-inch screen (14.2-inch on the smaller model), complete with a cut-out where the newly updated front-facing camera sits.
That last change was met with skepticism from many, last time around, saying it would be too intrusive. In my experience at least, it was no trouble at all, not least because the menu bar matched the depth of the cut-out and because video playback was laid out in a way that the cut-out was offscreen.
The 2023 models keep the MagSafe connector, reintroduced with the 2021 iterations. MagSafe is Apple’s clever power connection which detaches the cable easily. MagSafe also offers a faster recharge. They also retain the SD card slot, especially useful for photographers.
Bottom line: If you’re upgrading from a fall 2021 Apple MacBook Pro, there’s nothing new to see here. Same bright, detailed display, same six-speaker audio with support for sumptuous spatial audio with supported content, same immaculate build quality, same smoothly comfortable keyboard and same extensive touchpad. If you’re trading up from an Intel Apple MacBook Pro, or from many PC laptops, you’re in for a lot of big changes.
Internally, the big change is the adoption of Wi-Fi 6E connectivity. For most people, I’d say this is more for future proofing than anything else, as these faster routers, including the best mesh Wi-Fi systems—are only first becoming more commonplace.
Apple MacBook Pro 2023 (M2 Pro Processor): Performance
This is the big one. The big reason this otherwise-sleepy update matters. With Apple’s latest silicon comes a huge potential for tremendous performance improvements. When the M2 replaced the M1, Apple noted the difference, though palpable, would not match the gain from Intel to M1. There are some M1 Pro and M1 Max configurations which beat the power of the more recent M2 processors. But in most iterations, including the ones I tested, the new M2 Pro and M2 Max chips are enough to push the bar once more.
Whereas the original M2 has an 8-core CPU, the M2 Pro and M2 Max each have a 12-core CPU. As for graphics handling, where the M2 GPU has 10 cores, the new ones have up to 38 cores. And while the M2 can support 24GB of system memory, the M2 Pro and M2 Max support up to 96GB (though at a price, obviously). All these extra cores can translate into serious processing power.
Here’s the thing: the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips were enough to ensure a relentlessly fast and efficient experience in the 2021 Pro laptops. And try as I might, the power of the M2 Pro in my review unit has outpaced whatever I have asked it to do.
Video looks great on this bright, HDR-capable display. The presence of Mini LED backlights in the display panel means that with the right content, video really shines. And if you’re looking at spreadsheets or presentations, the screen is plenty bright to use the display outdoors (it’s twice as bright as on the Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch or Apple MacBook Air). Similarly, these have the tremendous audio expertise of the Apple MacBook Pro, unchanged from last time around. Spatial audio sounds wonderful, offering a wide sound stage that’s crisp, clear and immersive.
One of Apple’s claims is the Apple MacBook Pro performs, at speed and at length, just as well when it’s working off the battery, rather than plugged into the wall. Certainly, apart from the inevitable dimming of the display when you disconnect the power (and which is quickly restored by a couple of taps on the brightness key or a changing of settings), I experienced no apparent dip in this laptop’s performance.
How much faster is this laptop than the 2021 model? It’s hard to quantify in a meaningful, day-to-day way. Apple has plenty of comparisons that it offers, revealing that you can run multiple 8K video streams simultaneously in video-editing apps, for instance. Benchmarks show a significant uptick, as well.
But the truth is it’s just very, very fast, doing everything without breaking a sweat. Almost literally, since the fan, which would cool the silicon if heavy demands made it too hot, has never whirred into life. Whatever my demands, this processor could handle it easily.
If you’re a creator, this is the perfect laptop. When you’re busy immersed in a creative process, the last thing you want is to be distracted by something holding you up while a process completes. Losing the creative flow can be a disaster. That shouldn’t happen with the new MacBook Pro, which is perfect for processor-intensive video and photo editing tasks. While no laptop can actually inspire you, I’d suggest either of the new MacBook Pros can, at the least, get out of the way of your creativity.
Apple MacBook Pro 2023 (M2 Pro Processor): Battery
MagSafe offers fast-charging, new for these models. This may be the most tangible improvement to this laptop. As mentioned above, performance on battery remains so fast, and the battery life so extensive, that you may rarely connect that MagSafe cable in everyday use, instead plugging it in at the end of the working day as if it were a smartphone—or at the start of a day when you realize you want to begin with extra juice.
No matter how hard I pushed this laptop, the battery level stubbornly refused to drop, it felt like. It went on and on. Apple claims up to 18 hours of movie playback on the 14-inch model and 22 hours on the 16-inch model—the longest battery life ever in a Mac laptop. For the 16-inch laptop that’s an extra hour compared to the last-gen model.
While one extra hour doesn’t sound like an age, it’s important to remember that the Intel models that the last generation replaced, had significantly shorter battery life. The 2019 Intel 16-inch Apple MacBook Pro offered 11 hours of video playback, so the fact that that’s now been doubled is pretty impressive.
MacBook Pro 2023 (M2 Pro Processor): How It Compares
These are not cheap laptops. But both the Apple MacBook Pro 14-inch and the Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch are sensational performers that build on an already astonishingly fast and capable base, the M1 Pro and M1 Max models from 2021. And the performance this time around is faster and more effective still. You can see why these laptops have the word Pro in their names.
For many people, the Apple MacBook Air will be more than enough power to use. But the Pro offers long-lasting stamina as well, so that you can run more programs for longer on battery alone, with no slowdown or warming up enough to invoke the fan. These models hold performance boosts for all of us, and not just the most Pro of users.
That said, creators can get the most out of the improved performance, particularly for video workflows. Since the 2021 versions have the same design, the only real reason to upgrade is if you perceive the new processors and fast-charging power can benefit what tasks you do on your laptop. If you’re an Intel Apple MacBook Pro user who sat on the fence with the M1-generation, now is the time to upgrade. These 2023 Apple MacBook Pros are the ultimate Mac laptops, combining stunning looks and build with irreproachably outstanding performance.
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I’ve been writing about technology for two decades and am routinely struck by how the sector swings from startling innovation to persistent repetitiveness. My areas of specialty are wearable tech, cameras, home entertainment and mobile technology. I also work as an actor, enjoying equally the first Mission Impossible movie, a season at Shakespeare’s Globe and a part in the fourth series of The Crown.
I’ve written for the Daily Telegraph, the Sunday Times, the Daily Mail, the Sun, Metro, Stuff, T3.lint, Wareable.com and Wired. Right now most of my work away from Forbes appears in the Independent, the Evening Standard and Monocle Magazine. Follow me on Instagram: davidphelantech, or : @davidphelan2009.
Apple reveals new Macs, including a 600 Mac Mini
Apple is bringing refreshed MacBook Pro models, but the new Mac Mini seems to deliver a ton of bang for your buck.
- Apple has announced two new MacBook Pro models and a Mac Mini.
- The MacBook Pro models come with M2 Pro or M2 Max chips, while the Mac Mini comes with an M2 or M2 Pro SoC.
Apple’s MacBooks deliver some impressive horsepower and efficiency thanks to the company’s in-house Arm processors. Now, the company has announced new processors, along with new MacBook Pro models and a refreshed Mac Mini.
New Apple chips debut
The new MacBook Pro models are powered by new Apple chips, namely the M2 Pro or M2 Max. The 5nm M2 Pro brings a 10 or 12 core CPU (up to eight performance cores and four efficiency cores) and a 19-core GPU. Meanwhile, the M2 Max offers the same 12-core CPU but up to 38 cores for the GPU.
Apple claims that the M2 Pro brings a 20% CPU performance boost over the M1 Pro, a 30% boost for the GPU, and a 40% boost for the AI silicon. The company asserts that the M2 Max delivers a 20% CPU performance boost over the M1 Max and a 30% performance boost for the GPU.
New MacBook Pros
Along with the new chips, Apple also announced two new MacBook Pro models, namely 14-inch and 16-inch laptops. The new MacBooks are powered by either the M2 Pro or M2 Max processors. In fact, the MacBook Pro models powered by the M2 Pro support up to 32GB of RAM, while M2 Max-powered models can be configured with up to 96GB of RAM.
Apple is also claiming other notable features on these new laptops, namely up to 22 hours of battery life, Wi-Fi 6E (up from Wi-Fi 6), and HDMI 2.1 (supporting 8K/60Hz or 4K/240Hz).
Otherwise, you can expect features like a 1080p webcam in a notch, a six-speaker setup, fingerprint scanner, SD card slot, three Thunderbolt 4 ports, MagSafe 3 charging, and Mac OS Ventura.
A new Mac Mini appears
It’s been a while since we’ve seen a refreshed Mac Mini, dating back to the M1 Mac Mini back in 2020. Now, Apple has indeed announced a new model, powered by either the M2 or M2 Pro silicon.
The new Mac Mini delivers a healthy variety of ports and connectivity options too, namely two Thunderbolt 4 ports (or four ports on the M2 Pro model), two full-sized USB ports, HDMI, Gigabit Ethernet port, a 3.5mm port with support for high-impedance headphones, Bluetooth 5.3, and Wi-Fi 6E.
MacBook Pro and Mac Mini pricing
Apple confirmed that the new MacBook Pro models and refreshed Mac Mini are available to order from January 17 in 27 markets and should ship by January 24. The 14-inch model starts at 1,999, while the 16-inch variant starts at 2,499. Want the M2 Max models, instead? Then you’ll be paying 3,099 and 3,499 respectively.
Meanwhile, the M2-powered Mac Mini starts at just 599, albeit with 8GB of RAM. You’ll need to splash out 200 extra for a model with 16GB of RAM. Otherwise, those wanting an M2 Pro-toting Mac Mini will need to spend 1,299.
Nevertheless, the 599 starting price is 100 cheaper than the base M1 Mac Mini was at launch back in 2020. So those on the hunt for a more affordable Mac experience should keep this model in mind.
Apple’s M3 chip is a bigger deal than you might think
Apple Reality, India and security are emerging as three of the biggest stories for Apple in 2023, but there is another: Apple Silicon, principally the move to 3nm process technology in the upcoming A17 and M3 (series) processor upgrades. We’re beginning to hear whispers suggesting what those chip upgrades mean.
computer for less power
We already know what to expect: more computational performance at lower wattage than before, essentially enabling Apple’s devices to do more work for less energy.
No, as the M1 to M2 migration showed, we’re not anticipating the same huge leap the company achieved on moving from Intel processors to its own chips in Macs, but the improvements are generous all the same.
How generous? According to claimed Geekbench scores, we’re looking at a 20% performance boost on the upcoming iPhone chip, A17. That boost will evidence itself in useful features, such as swift image editing and even more beautiful visual effects.
The claims appear to emanate from China so we’ve been unable to verify their veracity. But they seem reasonable, given the anticipated benefits of moving to 3nm process tech. It may be worth noting that this leaker also warned of an upcoming yellow iPhone, which was subsequently introduced.
Leaked A17 benchmarks seem promising
The leaker states single-core scores of 3,019 and multi-core score of 7,860 on Geekbench 6. That’s up on iPhone 14 Pro’s A16 Bionic, which achieves 2,504 and 6,314, respectively, but lower than earlier claimed leaked scores of 3,986 and 8,841.
Though these scores may not be accurate or genuine, but they do seem to marry closely to what’s expected from the shift to 3nm chips. The processors are around 35% more efficient, according to Digitimes.
That’s for the iPhone. Apple is also expected to introduce its first M3 Mac processors this year and most speculation suggests these will also be based on a 3nm process. Just as the M1 chips are a grown-up version of Apple’s mobile processors, the M3 will make use of some shared assets.
That means it’s reasonable to imagine Macs equipped with those processors will see similar performance gains.
A little contextual information
To put these anticipated benefits into context, think Photoshop. Adobe was thrilled with the huge 50% performance boost it experienced when it brought Photoshop to M1 Macs from Intel.
Introducing the MacBook Air running the M2 chip in 2022, Apple claimed this would run some key Photoshop transitions five times faster than on an Intel Mac — and 20% faster than on the previous M1 systems. Now we’re looking at another 20% or so improvement.
It’s quite clear Apple’s silicon teams are forging ahead, and as the computational performance per watt improves in every chip, this also means these new systems will compete even more aggressively with high-end systems.
That all this performance is wrapped in systems that require quantifiably less power continues to have big implications for business running large numbers of computers. The best recent insight came from MacStadium’s revelation that server centers hosting its Mac mini servers complained that the computers were not using as much power as MacStadium was paying for under its hosting plans. At scale, that’s good for energy bills as well as being good for the environment.
These performance gains are significant. They put Apple at the very top of the pack for low-power silicon speed and competing systems cannot seem to match them on energy consumption.
Strategic investments, steady road map
That strategic importance is reflected in Apple’s investment. TSMC held a ceremony Dec. 29 at its Fab 18 new construction site in the Southern Taiwan Science Park to announce mass production of 3nm chips had begun, estimating these would deliver 1.5 trillion revenue within the next five years.
Subsequently, Digitimes claimed Apple purchased chip manufacturer TSMC’s entire yield of 3nm processors, giving it a unique position as the only manufacturer able to ship mobile devices and computers equipped with 3nm chips in mass market quantities.
That investment matters because it also gives Apple access to a clear path toward future improvements in its chips. In a statement, TSMC said: “Compared with the 5nm (N5) process, TSMC’s 3nm process offers up to 1.6X logic density gain and 30-35% power reduction at the same speed, and supports the innovative TSMC FINFLEX architecture.”
Fun and FINFLEX
FINFLEX delivers signature benefits to Apple by laying out a road map for future improvements to chips built under 3nm. That road map means we get M1, M1 Pro, M1 Max, M1 Ultra, M2, M2 Pro, and the M2 Max ,as FINFLEX architecture already lets Apple’s silicon teams accurately optimize performance and power consumption.
Nor is TSMC sitting still — previous reports have claimed the company is already preparing to introduce N3E, an enhanced version of its existing 3nm production technology by the end of this year. Apple is supposed to be the first customer for that as well.
So, what’s the takeaway from this dizzying series of facts, rumours and speculations?
Where is this puck going?
Not only is Apple about to carve out a unique advantage as the sole vendor with 3nm chips in quantity, but it is also in position to build incremental improvements on those processors, with an apparent road map for new processor designs next year.
We can’t know for sure if this means Apple plans to upgrade some or all its Macs with new chips every year, as it already does iPhones, but the frequency with which it introduces new chips says it might.
Maybe it intends on upgrading notebooks more frequently, while delivering the greatest relative improvement in less frequently updated desktops. But, whichever approach it chooses to take, the days in which Macs fell behind on performance increases are lost to us. There’s no AIM Alliance roadblock, no waiting for Intel. And TSMC’s preparing to build chip production in the US, which will help Apple secure future processor supply.
The upshot is that Apple seems to be in position to deliver powerful Mac, iPad, and iPhone upgrades as often as once a year. That means that if Macs don’t yet deliver the performance your business needs, it’s only a matter of (what seems likely to be a short) time until they do.
Apple’s processor story will inevitably translate into increasing Mac market share, even as overall PC market growth erodes. And that’s no virtual reality.