Apple has finally unveiled its new M1 ARM-based chip. This week the company officially released THREE new Macs with said chip: the Mac mini, the MacBook Air, and the 13in MacBook Pro.
The official launch of the M1 ARM-based Mac is a monumental shift in the company’s history. For over 15 years Apple has used Intel chips in all their Macs. But after designing their own A-series chips for their iPhones and iPads for almost as long, Apple clearly thought they could do better if they designed the silicon in their computers, too.
The big question is, should you go out and buy a new ARM-based M1 Mac? Here are three reasons why you should–and three reasons why you shouldn’t.
Why You Should Buy An M1 Mac: The Processing Power
Without a doubt, the M1 chip is already looking to be the fastest chipset in a Mac ever–except for the most recent Mac Pro. Matter of fact, the M1 chip in the new MacBook Air beats the chipset still found in Apple’s 16in MacBook Pro. As MacRumors notes:
In comparison to Macs, the single-core performance is better than any other available Mac, and the multi-core performance beats out all of the 2019 16-inch MacBook Pro models, including the 10th-generation high-end 2.4GHz Intel Core i9 model. That high-end 16-inch MacBook Pro earned a single-core score of 1096 and a multi-core score of 6870.
In other words, the M1 is insanely fast and powerful–most likely faster and more powerful than the chip in the Mac you own right now.
Why You Shouldn’t Buy An M1 Mac: The Design
A big bummer with the unveiling of the first M1 Macs is that Appel kept the design of the computers EXACTLY the same. The M1 MacBook Air, the 13in MacBook Pro, and the Mac mini all look identical to the models they replaced.
It’s likely the next iteration of these M-series Macs will have redesigns, however. That means it may be worth waiting a year to buy a MacBook Air, 13in MacBook Pro, or the Mac mini if you were hoping for a new industrial design.
Why You Should Buy An M1 Mac: iOS Apps On The Mac
A MASSIVE benefit of the M1 Macs is that since the chip is ARM-based, like the A-series chips found in the iPad and iPhone, those M1 Macs can now actually run iOS apps natively. Yep, that’s right–you can literally download and run your favorite iOS app right on a new M1-based Mac.
There are a few caveats to this, though. The first is developers can decide to switch off the ability for their iOS apps to run on an M1 Mac. Facebook and Google appear to have already opted out. Also, iOS apps that rely on features like a rear camera or Face ID will not work on an M1 Mac since those Macs lack the required hardware.
Why You Shouldn’t Buy An M1 Mac: No BootCamp For Windows
But while you gain the ability to run iOS apps on M1 Macs, you lose the ability to run BootCamp. Yep, you can no longer run Windows natively on a M1-based Mac. This could very well change in the future, however. It really depends what Microsoft’s and Apple’s priorities are.
Do note, however, that major virtualization software providers have said they will enable their software to run on M1-based Macs, which means you can run a version of Windows inside macOS on an M1 Mac.
Why You Should Buy An M1 Mac: The Battery Life
Thanks to the power efficiency of the M1 chipset, the new M1 Macs have phenomenal battery life. The new MacBook Air has up to 18 hours of battery life, while the new 13in MacBook Pro has up to 20 hours of battery life. That’s the longest battery life in a Mac laptop ever.
Why You Shouldn’t Buy An M1 Mac: M2 Macs Are Going To Be Even Better
When Apple transitioned from PowerPC chips to Intel chips in the mid-2000’s, the first Intel chips were much faster than the PowerPC chips they came after. However, just a year later, the next Intel chips in a Mac blew away the first Intel-based Macs by a mile.
The point is, the M1 chip is just the first of the M-series chips. That series is Apple’s future. But the first iteration, while impressive, will always pale in comparison to what comes next. So, if you don’t NEED a new Mac right away, it is likely worth waiting another year to scoop up an M2-based Mac.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is ARM based Mac?
An ARM-based Mac is a Mac desktop or laptop that has a chipset (CPU) based on ARM architecture. The first ARM-based Macs have the M1 chipset in them, as opposed to Macs that use Intel-based chips.
Q: Will ARM based Macs be cheaper?
One of the ARM-based Mac is cheaper than the Intel version. The Mac mini with the new M1 chip is $699. The Intel-based Mac mini it replaced cost $799.
Q: How much will ARM Macs cost?
The M1 ARM-based Mac mini starts at $699. The M1 ARM-based MacBook Air starts at $999. The M1 ARM-based 13in MacBook Pro starts at $1,299.
Apple expert and novelist, Michael Grothaus has been covering tech on KnowYourMobile for the best part of 10 years. Prior to this, he worked at Apple. And before that, he was a film journalist. Michael is a published author; his book Epiphany Jones was voted as one of the best novels about Hollywood by Entertainment Weekly. Michael is also a writer at other publications including VICE and Fast Company.